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Browse erotica

Shadow (completed)

Chapter 1

I was born William Edward Kingson. My mother worked as a maid in King Henry's castle. I was the illegitimate son that he, like several others, refused to acknowledge. My mother ended up marrying the captain of his guard. It was he who taught me how to use weapons and fight. I was fourteen when the king fell ill. Captain Mumbly has arranged for me to act as guard for a caravan leaving the kingdom.

I traveled around the world for four years and learned a lot. When I returned to Austria, I found out about my mother's death. She died shortly after the captain, who died shortly after the king. The whole kingdom has changed. It was difficult or impossible for people to leave, and the nobles destroyed everyone. The only real job I could find was as a bartender.

I knew better than to tell my stepbrother I was here, he would have me killed like the other three bastards. The captain taught me a lot and showed me things I had never thought of. With a large city sprawling on both sides of the river, the nobles retreated and the royal fortress ended up on an island in the middle of the river. There were two bridges to the retreat. Both had huge stone arches at each end of the walkways.

What people didn't know was that in each arch there was a small room with a staircase. The second floor occupied the entire width of the street and featured a narrow walkway that allowed men to cross the bridge from arch to arch. A week after I arrived I sold the horse, couldn't afford a room and remembered the lodges. Because of the river snakes, everyone on the river was very careful. They were poisonous and came to sunbathe on the warm rocks during the day.

I worked at the tavern for almost a month and things kept getting worse. I could barely pay for enough food to feed myself. Conditions in the city worsened for almost everyone. The only people who had it easier were the nobles and their favorites, including the wealthier merchants. The night I was fired for breaking up a fight started by a young noble was the start of something else.

I stood there for a long time, watching the dark house, before finally crossing the street and walking down the alley next to it. I stopped halfway and listened. I turned around and used the cracks between the rocks to start climbing. On the third floor I carefully pulled myself onto a narrow windowsill. I pulled a very thin dagger from the sheath on my hand and stuck it between the windows. I lifted it and the inner latch came out of the lock.

I quietly opened the window, slipped in and closed the window behind me. I walked across the room in silence and opened the door before slipping out. I reached the servants' stairs and went down. On the first floor I walked through a dark corridor to the office door. The moment the tip of the dagger was between the door and the frame was enough to unlock the door.

I slipped into the room, closed the door, and then took the tiny dark metal flashlight from my belt. As I approached the table, I opened a shutter. I'm currently looking at another door with a large ornate lock. I sat down and walked across the table with the flashlight. In a side drawer I found a few stacks of gold coins. I took them and a small bundle of candles. I grabbed the ornate key from the top drawer and walked to the side door.

As I entered the room I saw several small chests. The first two chests contained copper pennies or six brass coins. The next chest contained small bags, I opened one and found rare spices. I pulled them out to fill the small backpack I was carrying. There were two chests left: the first contained silver coins and the second contained gold. I hesitated, then took the chest with the silver coins and poured them into the chest with the gold coins.

I carried the heavy chest out and locked the door. I put the key back on the table and went to the door to listen. I closed the lantern, opened the door quietly, and carried the chest into the hallway before closing it. I returned to the window I came in and put the chest down. I unwrapped the cord around my waist, secured it to my chest, and leaned forward to lower it.

I wrapped a piece of string around the latch and pulled one end under the window and the other over the window. I slid onto the windowsill and closed the window before pulling on the rope that ran under the edge of the window. The latch closed and the rope slowly ran through the top of the window and then out the bottom again. I slowly went down and picked up the heavy chest.

I carefully made my way through the alley. I waited and listened before crossing the main street and slipping into the dark alley on the other side. It was too dangerous to move around here in the dark. I carefully opened the lantern shop and moved slowly through the alley. I turned right between two buildings and squeezed through until I was at the river bank.

I moved to the right and watched minesteps and looks for snakes. I went to the dark, dingy door and pulled the old key out of the door. The heavy door opened silently and I slipped inside before placing the chest on the floor and closing the door behind me. I opened the lantern shop wider and looked around before slowly pushing the two locking bars into the door.

I picked up the chest, went to the spiral staircase and climbed to the next floor. I went to the narrow table and gratefully put the chest down. I took the lantern from my belt and placed it on the table as well. I took out the pack and took out a few candles before lighting one from the lantern. I placed it in an empty glass bowl and separated it before moving to another narrow table next to a small iron tile. I took out the spice packets and tossed the empty packet aside.

The room was twelve feet wide and twenty feet long. My sword and bow lay on a shelf at the far end of the room, and underneath lay a folded cloth that held my mail. I used a basin of water to wash my face and hands before extinguishing the candle and lantern. I slipped into bed and relaxed before falling asleep.

I woke up to the sound of morning traffic driving across the bridge toward the shelter. I sat up and looked at the chest before getting out of bed. I poured the dirty water into the drain hole in the side wall. I got dressed and went to the chest before filling my belt pouch with silver coins. I slipped out and locked the door behind me, then moved carefully along the river, chasing a few smaller snakes into the water.

I walked through town until I got to the farmers market. I opened the bag and took out a piece of silver. I started to cross the street and stopped when I saw a small group of homeless people huddled at the edge of the market. I sighed and turned to them, stopping in front of them and pointing at the sausage roll seller, "Follow me and I'll make sure everyone gets fed."

I turned around as they hesitated and walked toward the clerk. Some time passed and I had to pay before he started handing out the sausage rolls. Everyone got two and I left with three less silver medals, but I felt much better. Everyone heard about the merchant's robbery even before the city began to revive. After hearing the rumors, I bought several small packets of spices. I had an idea about food and, after spending the day walking, headed for the river. I chose a location near an urban environment.

I found several large snakes on the cobblestones of the street; it wasn't difficult to catch them and rip their heads off. I cut the heads off six inches from the back of the head, gutted them, and skinned them before heading out into the wasteland. There were several groups of homeless people nearby and I walked towards one of them where a small fire was burning.

It was a family with two boys and a little girl. I smiled, knelt down, and reached for the stick the older boy was holding. I cut off a piece of one of the snakes and handed him the end. “Keep turning until it is cooked.”

He looked at his scared mother and father and I shrugged. “They are only poisonous when they bite you, not when you eat them.” You just have to be careful with your head.”

Soon several groups were preparing the line. I returned to the warm cobblestone street several times to retrieve the snakes. As night fell, people moved further and further away from the river. I slipped away and returned to the bridge. I was already thinking about the future and relaxed back in my chair and waited until it got dark.

I quietly opened the bridge door and slipped out. I walked across the bridge with a small bottle of lamp oil. At the end of the retreat, I opened the door to the walkway leading to the gatehouse and entered. I oiled the tarnished hinges before quietly descending the stairs, with only the beam of light from a small, dark lantern illuminating me. I oiled the hinges and waited before slowly opening the outside door.

When I opened the door I covered the hinges with a few rags. The quiet screech wasn't very loud, but I waited and looked into the darkness and listened. I heard two guards talking from the other side of the arch and finally walked out. I closed the door and locked it before using the shadows to walk along the wall.

After walking a hundred steps, I turned around and walked into the night. I mostly used the side streets that led behind the noble estates. I stood behind Duke Fistel's large estate and waited. I ignored the distant servant's gate and jumped up to grab hold of the top of the wall. I pulled myself up and looked around before lying down on the wall. I watched for a long time, then fell down and moved silently towards the property.

I went to the left corner and used larger rocks to hold my arms and legs. I stood up slowly, trying not to make a sound. On the second floor I moved to the right until My foot touched the window sill. I moved further and then pushed the window slightly open. It opened even wider and I froze, listening to heavy breathing. Finally I moved and slipped into the room. I looked at the bed and the fat man sleeping there.

I walked quietly to the door and listened before opening it and slipping out. I went to the servants' stairs and climbed down. Before I went into the office, I looked around the first floor. I knelt down and opened the lock with a thin dagger. I slipped into the room and went straight to the standing closet. I pulled out a small, heavy chest that I knew contained small gold bars and carried it to the table before setting it down.

I walked around and knelt to pull out the last drawer. The key I was looking for was right at the back. I left the drawer open and stood up. I walked to the door and listened before opening it and silently walking towards the door across the hall. The key opened the door and I turned on the dark flashlight to see two chests instead of the one I remembered.

The first contained smaller coins made of copper and brass, the second contained silver and gold. I could barely lift it, but I pulled it out and carried it to the office. I went back and brought the second chest into the office before coming back and locking the door before entering the office and closing the door. I went to the window and opened it before walking over to the desk and placing the key where I found it. I lowered the small chest a few feet to the floor and then the larger ones.

I used the cord to close and lock the window before I fell to the ground. I hesitated, then lifted a chest over my shoulder and crouched down to grab the smaller chest. Getting to the opposite wall was difficult as the two chests probably weighed around two hundred stone. I squatted against the wall and lowered first the smaller breast and then the larger one.

I got another chest and carried it to the wall. I used the cord around my waist to tie a breast, then climbed the wall and lifted it up. I slowly lowered him to the other side and then collapsed next to him. I untied the cord, climbed over the wall again and pulled them over one after the other.

When I was finished, I carried the copper and brass chest to the corner where there was a large barrel of rainwater. I slowly put the chest into the large barrel and returned to the other two. I lifted the large breast onto my shoulder and then squatted to lift the smaller breast. I returned the same way I came, only much slower. When I reached the wall I couldn't hear anything from the bridge and moved slowly. Finally I lowered the small chest and pulled out the key.

I unlocked the door and opened it hesitantly, but this time it was silent. I slipped in and placed the chest on the floor before returning to another one. I carried him inside, turned around, quietly closed the door and pushed the bolts into place. I left the large chest, climbed the stairs and went to the dais. Looking down, I saw two guards sitting on crates leaning against the wall.

After putting the smaller chest in my room, I came back to get another, heavier one. Once both chests were in my room, I undressed and washed myself before going back to bed. Tomorrow there will be a lot of shouting and the city guards will be running around looking at everything and everyone.

Chapter 2

I woke up from the noise of the morning and got up. Before I looked around, I filled my bag with silver. I emptied the shelves on one side of the room and climbed them to the ceiling. I opened the hatch and climbed onto the archer's perch. I turned around and picked up the heaviest chest before pushing it into the corner. I did the same thing with the smaller chest and then with the merchant chest. I closed the hatch, went downstairs and put everything back on the shelves.

I grabbed a few small packets of spices and slipped outside towards the market. Just like the morning before, I gathered the homeless people walking around the market square and gave them something to eat. The city was full of guards and everyone was talking about another robbery, this time in retreat. At lunchtime I bought a large pot and a bag of vegetables before heading into town.

It seemed like they were waiting for me. Several older boys held cleaned and skinned snake bodies in their hands. I asked the young girl to get water to fill the pot while I put it down and poured out the vegetables. Two women lit a fire for me and two men made a tripod for me to hang it on. I cut up the snakes one by one and threw them into the water.

The women gathered and started chopping vegetables, and I pulled out bags of spices and spread them out. Soon the smell of cooking food filled the entire room. I gave the young man some silver coins: “Take a few boys with you and buy a bag of rolls and another bag of vegetables.”

He hesitated andThen he nodded and disappeared with the two younger versions of himself. Several guards who passed by looked at us but ignored us. As the day went on, more and more people seemed to get full. An elderly woman and her husband stayed nearby. I spoke to them and learned that they were thrown out because they couldn't pay the king's taxes.

This has been a topic when I've spoken to others. When the pot was empty, we filled it again and several young men were constantly hunting snakes while sunbathing. As evening approached, the large crowd slowly began to disappear. Before I left, I asked a young man to hide the boiler. I quietly slipped into the lodge and sat back on the bed to relax.

I woke up to the sound of the midnight bell. I slid off the catwalk and quietly crossed the bridge. The guards seemed to have woken up this evening as I slipped out the door and down the dark wall. Fifteen minutes later I returned with a chest filled with heavy water. I closed the door and locked it, went up the stairs and onto the podium. I carried the chest up to the first floor and set it on its side to allow the water to drain out.

I slipped out the door and walked away from the river with a small dark flashlight. I stayed in the shadows and moved through the city's alleys. The large property I wanted to go to was on the outer wall. I entered through the side entrance, crossed the yard and tried the side door, it was locked. I walked to an ivy-covered overpass and slowly climbed up.

I climbed onto the second floor balcony and went to the door. It opened gently and I crossed the room as the occupant continued to sleep. I walked quietly through the house until I came to a large door that led to the attached warehouse. I pulled out a thin-bladed knife and began working on the old castle. A moment later it unlocked and I opened it and slipped inside.

I stood and listened for a long time before turning around and walking back. The office featured a large oak bar with locks on either end securing the door. The merchant had a bad habit of using old locks. I pulled out a small steel dumbbell that I had taken from the fighter as soon as I returned to town. I inserted it into the locking bar and twisted it.

I dropped the lock and went to another one, and after a moment I picked up the deadbolt and carefully set it aside. I entered the large office and went to another door. In the inner office I found a heavy money chest with the lock open. I placed the lock on the table before lifting the lid of the chest, closing it and taking it. I went back through the warehouse, but not through the side door, which was locked.

I walked back through town through the side streets. Inside the hut I climbed up, took everything off the shelves and lifted the chest into the archers' place. I pushed the chest into a corner and went to bed. I woke up early, got up and did some stretching exercises. Today was laundry day and I put the dirty laundry in the bag.

Downstairs, I adjusted the chest with the copper and brass coins before filling them into the large purse. I fed the small crowd at the sausage stand again and then made my way to the cleaning lady who did my laundry. After taking off my dirty clothes, I returned to the market.

I bought tubers and other green vegetables as well as a large bag of bread. When I arrived at the community, the boiler was already on low. During the day I heard rumors that the king would send his militia out into the streets at night to patrol. The two merchants practically begged their customers for money so they could continue their business. I understand that Baron Gregory has offered to finance both merchants sixty percent of their business.

There was a relaxed and happy atmosphere, with women and children running around and men chatting in small groups. I spoke to several men about the card business after Merchant Harris went out of business. I told everyone: “We will have a lot of people willing to work.”

They looked at each other and finally nodded. I looked around: “Does anyone know of a large empty warehouse?”

The little man with the gray head grinned: “Yes.”

I smiled as I stood up. “We need to find some carts and carts.”

They nodded and turned to the other men as I left the community. I walked through the side streets and carefully slipped along the river to the gatehouse. I took a large bag and filled it with several gold coins and a lot of silver. When I met other men on the square, it seemed to me that the air was full of hope.

Ten of us walked through the streets to see a large warehouse. When I saw this, I knew it was what we needed. It was outside the city gates, against the wall, on the other side was a huge earthen corral for horses and carts, and next to it was a tannery that I knew all about. We returned through the city to Magistrate Square. There was the campabandoned, I paid the town clerk one gold and two silver, and it became our property.

Then there were several stops where I allowed different men to haggle for carts or carts. I gave the only two gold coins left in my pocket to an old man who had once been a farmer. He went looking for horses while we moved the wagons and carts by hand through the city to the warehouse. We put the carts inside, leaving space between them and the carts in a separate part of the enclosure.

We went back to the church and everyone was talking. On the way I stopped again and put down a full sack of brown bread, and one of the men who was with me put a huge wheel of cheese next to it. Many pieces of snake were roasted on the fire. We talked about sending someone to different places to talk to people.

I knew that if Baron Gregory managed to support both merchants, it would be more difficult for these people to start a business. I mentioned that anyone who needs shelter can go to the camp. I left early and slipped through the streets and alleys. In the evening, many more guards and militiamen appeared on the street. I slipped into the hut unnoticed and went upstairs to lie down and rest.

When I woke up, the guards below me were arguing because some of them were sleeping and others were watching. I went to the clothes press and changed into darker clothes. I walked through the podium door and walked to the other side in silence. The guards below were clearly visible as they rolled the dice together. I quietly slipped out the door and walked into the darkness. There were more patrols, but they were easily avoided when I moved to another bridge.

Baron Gregory's estate was larger than it should have been for his rank. I climbed the ten-foot wall and carefully moved the glass onto it before lying down. I watched as a lone security guard walked around the property. I fell to the ground after he rounded the back corner and quickly walked towards the property. I reached the second floor via the wooden grille.

I climbed over the railing onto the small balcony, knelt, and waited for the guard to come and go. A few minutes later I turned to the French doors and used a thin-bladed dagger to pick up the latch. The door opened quietly and I entered silently. I saw the fat baron snoring in his bed and went across the room to the other door. I put my ear to the door and listened before opening it quietly.

I heard voices downstairs as I walked down the hall to the servants' stairs. As I descended, I used the edge of each step to avoid noise. On the first floor I slipped into the shadows of the hallway. I waited, and a few minutes later a security guard came out of the large room to check the office door. He returned to the large room and I quickly went to the door.

A thin-bladed dagger pushed its way between the door and the jam before I pressed it and moved it. The door swung open and I opened it even wider. I stepped into the darkness and closed the door quietly behind me, making sure it was locked. I pulled out a dark lantern, looked around, and went to the pantry door.

The baron took some precautions and two new locks appeared on the door. I placed the flashlight on the bookshelf next to me and pulled out the two thick wires I was carrying. A few years ago a traveler showed me how to do this. I inserted the stiff wires I had with me into the first lock and moved it until I heard a click. The second piece of wire went in and I twisted both.

The lock opened and I moved to another lock. It took a little longer, but it finally opened. It wasn't so much a room as it was a closet with thick walls. Inside were four chests, each containing a different type of coin. I managed to collect all the silver and gold before putting the chest in the work window. I came back and poured as many copper coins as I could into the chest with the bronze coins. There were only a handful left and I put them in my bag.

I placed the chest next to the other and closed the dark lantern. I pulled back the curtain slightly and looked out the window. I watched and waited for the security guard to come over and open the window. I carried two chests into the narrow stone courtyard and closed the door. I hid the second chest between two bushes and picked up the other chest.

I walked onto the lawn and stood next to a bush against the wall. I put the chest on the floor and waited for the security guard. After he came and went, I took the chest and walked to the wall. I knelt to tie the rope around my chest and then quickly climbed up the wall. I picked up the chest and lowered it to the other side before the guard returned.

I untied the cord and went back through the wall to the other chest. So I moved the chests one by one. As I closed the gatehouse door after bringing in the second chest, I set it down and lay down on the cool floor. As I rested,I took the chest to the second floor and then to my room. I brought in the second chest and lifted it with a rope to the archer's place. I filled two large bags with copper and bronze coins and then lifted the chest.

I was a light sleeper and was woken up by screaming from downstairs. I got up and went downstairs to listen to the guards and soldiers arguing about someone sneaking across the bridge at night. I came back to get two bags of copper and bronze, then finished dressing and left the hut. I thought about it and realized I couldn't stay on the bridge any longer.

I went to the butcher shop and bought a hundred pounds of sausage. Then there was a trip to the bakery to pick up a huge bag of hard crust rolls. I found all the homeless people waiting in the market square and they helped me carry everything to the common area. I sent the three older boys to the outskirts of town to get firewood, and the man had to bring a cart to take the firewood to the community.

I prepared everything as people gathered and prepared a fire. When I turned around to get the sausage, several women were already there. Soon rumors began to circulate about Baron Gregory. The day before, almost all the people went to my warehouse to spend the night and found themselves outside the city gates. I walked around and talked, and after breakfast some of the men who had left came back and said this trader or this farmer needed a wagon or something.

I pulled an elderly woman out of the fire. When she was younger she worked as a writer. “You will be our accountant.”

She looked at me and then grinned as life seemed to return to her face. I waved to us: “This is our company.” When someone gets a contract, they bring it to you.”

I looked at the men: “The old office in the warehouse needs cleaning.” The entire warehouse needs to be cleaned. They know what a business in the city is worth. If the merchants or nobles don't pay, we won't endure it."

They looked at each other, then grinned and nodded. I waved to us: "Stop wandering around the wasteland, everyone go to the warehouse." I want one of you to get me two large ovens. We need large stones for the fire pit and wood for building the benches. Everyone else can go around town and advertise our company.”

They looked at each other and then walked away. Soon everyone moved excitedly and left. I caught a few of the older boys and fished half a dozen silver coins out of my fanny pack (turning it over): "Go buy a pig, some potatoes and vegetables and take them to the warehouse."

They grinned and nodded before disappearing. I slipped away and returned to the lodge. I had to be very quiet as I went upstairs and filled my bag with silver. I gathered everything I had and left. When I entered the warehouse, it was full of women sweeping the floors and men brushing cobwebs off the walls. I put my things in the office and grabbed the three older girls.

I led her to the stairs that lead to the top of the office. "Go up the stairs and clear the upper area." You girls will sleep up there after I find someone to build the walls.

They grinned and gave me a quick bow before heading up the stairs. I found an old man who looked lost. I put my hand on his shoulder: “Can you build walls?”

He nodded. “Yes, sir.”

I shook my head: “Not sir, my name is William.”

I threw a bundle of silver into his hand: “Take these strong young fellows and bring some firewood.”

I pointed to where the girls were cleaning: “I need walls around the edges so the young ladies can sleep there safely.”

He looked and then nodded. I grinned. "I want you to teach these boys how to do it, so don't try it yourself."

The old man grinned. “I will do it.”

He turned around and reached out to grab the boy's shoulder. It was a busy day, but I was still able to hear the rumors about the thefts that plagued the city. I don't know where they found two large iron furnaces. They were both dirty and a little rusty, so I knew they had never been used. I installed them near the office and asked several men to work on the chimneys.

The stones for the fire were collected from the fields and I assigned several girls and boys to wash them. Four men worked on building the pit and another four built benches around it. The fireplace was located next to the warehouse, almost against the city wall, and was therefore an ideal heat reflector. All the while men were coming and going, pulling carts or carts.

The fire pit was quickly ready and the two women took over the lighting while the new fire was lit. They began cooking the waiting wild boar and other foods appeared. The boy I gave the money to grinned and dropped two silver coinspieces in my hand. It was as if everyone had come back to life and hope was in the air. That day, several men even stopped farmers on their way home. Dinner that evening was like a celebration. Even the horses came to the fence to be closer.

Several guards approached and walked back to the gate. After dinner, I persuaded several men to empty the water trough and take it to the warehouse so that the women could bathe there. When the women found out about this, they would have thought I was their new saint. When it was finally time for bed, I slipped into the study and grinned at the old sissy when she lifted her head to look at me. I spread out my bed and lay down with a sigh.

I rested for several hours and finally slipped out of bed and put on dark clothes. The old clerk was fast asleep while I slipped out of the office. Several people in the camp were worried, but no one saw me sneak out. I moved away from the gate and walked silently towards the distant river. At the river bank I stripped off my clothes and put all my clothes into a large leather bag that I knew was waterproof.

I entered the river and swam halfway before making my way to the wall. I had to stay away from the shore where the snake mainly lived. I attached the bag to the metal bars leading from the wall to the river. I dove and swam to the bottom before holding on to the poles and sliding under where the river was washing away.

I swam over and untied my bag before floating down the river. A hundred steps from the wall there was a small stone pier on the royal river bank. Immediately behind him, a dozen paces away, stood a small building half submerged in the water, and a hedge grew on the river bank.

I crawled out of the water and walked towards the hedge. I opened my bag and quickly dressed before entering the nobles' hideout and moving carefully through the quiet streets. The property I was heading to was richly decorated and constantly guarded. The walls were guarded inside and out, but there was one point that always remained in the dark.

It was a far corner and my shadow disappeared from the dimly lit street after two guards passed by. I quickly climbed up the wall and lay down on it. Inside, a security guard walked by and I waited before jumping off the wall. I moved quickly and quietly towards the large mansion. I climbed over large cracks in the building blocks.

I stood just under the roof until another guard passed beneath me. I grabbed the roof and let go of the wall. My body swayed and my other hand reached up. I pulled myself onto the roof and carefully moved to the side. I went to the roof vent and pulled out a small knife with a thick blade. I stuck the blade into the bottom crack and pulled it to the side.

A moment later I opened the vent and quietly crawled into the attic. I closed the vent and pulled out a dark lantern. I opened it a crack and walked down the attic until I reached the stairs that led downstairs. I listened at the door for a few minutes and then used the dagger again to open the door lock. I knew the Countess would have posted at least one guard in her counting room, but I knew something she didn't.

I went down the servants' stairs to the second floor. I crept along the empty corridor to the second door from the last one. It was unlocked and empty, it was a guest room and the Countess never had any guests. I went to the large fireplace, crawled past the grate and looked down. I was surprised to see the light, and then I realized that the Countess had probably locked a servant in the counting room for the night.

I turned around and sank my feet into the wide chimney, leaned my back against the wall and slowly moved downwards. When I got downstairs, I knelt and looked out the fireplace. I saw a guard lying next to the door with his head facing the other way. I quietly crawled forward and pulled the small bottle from under my shirt. I took a deep breath and held it before holding it in front of the guard's face.

I waited and waited and finally pulled the bottle back out and put the cap back on. I shook the guard, but he continued to snore. I turned to two large chests on the side wall and looked inside. I shook my head at all the gold coins, the Countess was always a miser, I put both chests by the fireplace. I unwound the strong cord around my waist. I tied one end to the first chest and pushed the chest closer before standing on it.

I leaned back against the wall and climbed through the chimney to the next floor. Raising the chest was hard work. I picked it up, entered the room and went down to get another chest. This time the breast seemed much heavier, but I knew it was just my imagination. Then I carried the chest into the room and wrapped the cord around my waist again. I took the first chest and went to the door.

I pulled out two cloth overshoes to hide the black grease and tied them tightly before leaving the room. I reached the end of the hall andcarefully opened the narrow door. I walked quietly down the steep, dark steps until I reached the bottom. It was a narrow hall that led to the back of the stables. I placed the chest next to the dim light coming from under the stone door.

I returned to the room carrying another chest. I put it on another chest and went to the door. The locking lever clicked and I pushed on one side of the door. The whole door swiveled and I slipped into a stone-walled cabin. The only lamp in the stable was dim and the horses were restless. I peeked out from the counter and then went back through the door to retrieve two chests.

I closed the door and picked up one of the chests. I carried him along the center island to the other end of the barn and placed him next to the large pile of manure. I brought the second chest and placed it next to the first. I listened near the side door that opened through the wide front gate. I took the latch and placed it next to the door. When I heard the outside guard walk past, I opened the door and turned to pick up the top chest.

I placed the chest next to the door and closed the door before picking it up and walking across the street. I moved as quickly as I could and was still silent. I slipped through the wall into a narrow alley before placing the chest on the ground and turning back to wait for the guard. After the guard passed by, I came back to get another chest. I pulled out the chest and turned to the door. I inserted one end of the locking bar into the holder before sliding the dagger under the other end and closing the door.

I lowered the dagger and felt the bar click into place before turning, picking up the chest and heading towards the alley. I made it just in time and saw the guards walk past before making my way to the other end of the alley. It seemed to take forever to get the two chests to the river. I lowered both chests into a small building that was half submerged after filling the bag.

It was an old, abandoned boathouse. I stripped off my clothes and put my clothes back in the waterproof bag I had used while swimming. I slid into the water and moved toward the middle, then swam up the river to the wall. By the time I staggered out of the water on the other side of the wall, I was already defeated. I dried myself off and quickly dressed before heading to the warehouse.

It was quiet as I slipped back into the warehouse. As I lay down in the office, the clerk stirred but didn't seem to wake up. I think I had just closed my eyes when I heard a noise coming from the warehouse as everyone woke up.

Chapter 3

I sat down and grumbled, and the old clerk grinned: "Stay a night and maybe you'll get some rest."

I looked at her and she just stood up and started getting dressed. Before I left, I undressed and put on soft gray clothes. Someone had already lit two ovens and I grabbed two men. I pulled out a single gold coin: "We need ham and fresh eggs for breakfast." Also try buying half a beef for the evening."

They grinned and the one with the freshly scratched face nodded. I turned around and saw people waking up and starting to move. I caught an old man who started saying on the walls at the top of the office, "When you're done with the girls' loft, come to me." I think we're going to build a second floor with walls in that everyone can sleep.”

He turned around and looked around thoughtfully: “That’s a lot of work.”

I grinned. “We can do this together.”

He looked at me and grinned before nodding. I caught the older boy and pulled out a silver coin: “As much tea as you can buy.”

He nodded and ran out as I walked outside. I stretched out and went to help water and feed the animals. When I returned to the warehouse there were already several guards there and everyone was talking about robbing Countess Tressliss. Breakfast was a real treat, not only with ham and eggs but also porridge that someone had found. One of the women asked the guards if they were safe from this thief and the guard snorted.

The day was spent sending runners out looking for work, talking to farmers coming into town and men leaving in carts or wagons. At the end of the day we were able to show a good profit. We also quietly brought beams and thick posts purchased from farmers to start building another floor. I listened to all the rumors and one of them bothered me.

This implied that all the robberies were committed by homeless people. There were many more guards than usual, and I stopped one of the guards warming his hands near the fire: "Did anyone pass through the gate at night?"

He looked at me: “I don’t know.”

I looked around: "Well, if a thief lives outside the city walls, he has to go through the gate, right?"

The security guard seemed surprised, but nodded, “Yes.”

He seemed to think about it and finallyLeft. I went to bed early and woke up when the security guard poked his head through the door, I looked at him and he closed the door. I got dressed, went outside and found two men awake and talking to two guards. It appears that the guards and army were again doubled and were traveling on foot. I went back to bed and was woken up by a little boy waking me up. I looked at him and he smiled, “Mommy said to wake you up.”

When I came out there was a smell of tea. The women toasted bread with leftover cheese and ham from the day before. I put most of the gold in my wallet into a small box that was used to store funds. We worked on the second floor while runners came and went. When someone called for a cart or cart, the man always rushed to leave.

There were rumors that the Baron was caught on the street last night. The guards and police were so angry that they beat him. Several more homeless families showed up and were accepted into our group. The second floor seemed to have collapsed. We were halfway done before it was time for dinner. This time a farmer came to us to sell some slaughtered sheep.

While the sheep were being cooked, several guards approached and the conversation turned to another rich trader who started pointing his finger at us. The guards shook their heads. “That stupid ass just wants the king to take everything you have so he can come in and take over.”

Everyone was angry, but the guards snorted: "The guard commander indicated to the king that everyone here stays behind the walls, so it can't be your group."

I thought about it and decided to visit the dealer. It was already late when I raised my head and looked around the dark office. I slid off the ramp and turned around to fix it so anyone looking in would think I was still there. I was prepared for this; the office window was oiled in advance and opened quietly. I slipped out and walked to the wall, then walked in the shadows to the gate.

I found a spot I could use and started climbing up the rough stones of the wall. When I reached the top, I hesitated and listened before sliding down. I crossed the guard platform at the top of the wall and climbed over the side. The descent was much slower as I searched for support in the darkness. I moved away from the dark shadows of the wall and walked through the city in silence.

As I entered the lodge I realized that no one had been there since I left. Before I left, I went to the archers' place and filled my purse with silver. I knew the dealer was probably up to something, so I went to his store instead of his house. Merchant Dillon was a silversmith and had a huge business. I walked down the alley and climbed up the wall next to his shop.

I knew he had students who usually slept above the workshop. I climbed over his neighbor's roof and through the attic shaft into his shop. I slowly and quietly went to the ceiling hatch and opened it. A close look revealed no one nearby and I walked down to the second floor hall in silence. I went to the stairs and crawled down. There was a bell above the door that rang when someone opened the door, but that was all.

I walked through the store and entered the back work area where there were several blacksmiths. I turned to go to the only office, looking around before pulling out a thin bladed knife. I wedged it between the door and the lock and pushed it towards the lock. I moved the blade and moved it further down as the latch slid into the door. Finally there was a click and I slowly pulled the door open.

It opened silently and I put the knife away as I entered the office. On the back wall were silver bars and what looked like a safe. I don't think the box with the lock had been there for long as it didn't allow anyone to easily get to the silver. It wasn't difficult to pick the lock on the box. I opened it and grinned when I saw the gold coins inside.

I looked around and grabbed a large velvet lined bag. It was probably used to transport new silver items to their owners. I filled it with all the gold and took off the backpack. I carefully placed the silver bars and the gold-filled bag in my backpack and left. I locked the office behind me and went back through the front entrance. At the top, I glanced at the open hatch and sighed before removing my backpack and putting it back in its place.

I unwound the cord from my belt, tied one end to my backpack, and panted at the other end. I jumped up and grabbed the edge of the hatch before pulling myself up and going through. I turned around and steeled myself before picking up my backpack. I untied the rope and rewound it before closing the hatch in the ceiling and carrying the backpack to the vent.

As I walked back over the rooftops, the traffic slowed. Returning to the alley, I walked to a section of the wall that I only vaguely remembered. That was the real reason I came tonight. I had to wait a while before crossing the street. When I arrived at the large hotel I was looking for, my childhood memories came flooding back to me. I was very careful when enteringHotel stable yard.

I slipped into the stables and walked silently along the wide passage between the stables. At the very end was the old grain room. I checked the hinges and pulled out a small oil bulb. I sprayed oil on the hinges and removed it before slowly opening the door. It opened quietly and I closed it after I entered. I crossed the dark room and felt one of the walls.

On the back wall I found an old thick door that merged with the wall. I only found it because of the rusty lock. I dug into my shirt for the small master key I had carried with me for the last ten years. The lock clicked and I smiled before pushing the door open. This was the old back gate, a hotel had been built here long ago and a stable was attached to the city wall. It didn't even occur to them to brick up the little door.

I had to stop a few times to grease the old hinges before I could open the door enough to squeeze through. I turned around and closed the door before looking around another dark room. I stumbled several times before I found the door and opened it. The building built against the wall on this side was an old tannery that had gone bankrupt.

It took me a while to get out the side door. I walked in silence in the shadow of the wall, several times guards passed a few steps away from me. When it became clear, I went to the open window of the office. Before I climbed in, I lowered my backpack through the window. I stowed my backpack in a corner and undressed before curling up under the covers.

I woke up at the slightest movement, rolled over and jumped to the window, to the man flying halfway. He had just hit the ground when I collided with him. He screamed and tried to turn around when I stepped back and kicked him in the knee. He gave way and I spun him around as he fell. The clerk yelled as I approached the man. He stood up, dagger in hand, and I stepped back.

The office door swung open and two guards and a small group of men entered. The man turned around and I kicked him between the legs. As he curled up and fell to the ground, two guards came up and grabbed him. I looked around at all the people: “QUIET!”

Everyone fell silent and I nodded to the man struggling in the guard's arms: "He climbed through my window."

I turned around and went to my bedroom and some clothes. “Let me get dressed.”

The guards dragged him out of the room and the crowd followed them. I quickly dressed and followed them, noticing that everyone was crowding around a few guards in front of me. As I approached the guards, they brought me a lantern and one of them pulled the man by the head. I shook my head: “I don’t believe it.”

The man tried to get up: "I was just trying..."

The guard hit him on the head with a short baton: "We don't care what you try, you bastard."

Two of them grabbed his legs and began pulling him away. I turned around: "Okay, it's over, everyone is back in bed."

I squeezed through and went to the fire. A little later several dressed men came and sat next to me while I revived the extinguished fire. I shook my head and sighed, "I knew Trader Dillon was in trouble, but..."

The men snorted: “He was rich and tried to steal from us.”

I nodded and looked around: “We need wooden slats on the windows and a few people to start a night vigil, maybe just two hours a night.”

They nodded, and then one of them grinned in the firelight: "All the rich people have been robbed, and we'll catch the thief right here."

The man next to him patted him on the shoulder: “He wanted to take advantage of other robberies.”

Everyone nodded and more and more men came out. I sighed as I looked at the rising sun. “I really hate getting up before the sun.”

Everyone laughed again and I shook myself: “Okay, on to the first case.”

I looked around: “As soon as the sun comes up, we will start extorting again.” We also start checking incoming farmers. Some younger boys and girls may go door to door asking if they want to buy fresh groceries. We also need to finish the second floor so everyone has a safe place to sleep. Once the second floor is completed, we will need movable partitions on the first floor to accommodate excess items.”

I thought about it and grinned, "Let everyone talk about Trader Dillon breaking into the house while we were sleeping." If they find out we were here and someone tried to rob us, they'll look for the thief somewhere else look and stop pointing the finger at us.”

At this everyone nodded and I looked around: "Have one of the youths return to the community when it is nice and warm." They should walk the streets and the cobblestones and look for vipers. Let them cut off their heads and use themThese tongs are used to throw heads into buckets and burn them. We clean and skin the snakes they bring with them. We can roast the snakes, but we clean the skins and stretch them to make belts and fanny packs.”

All the men were grinning and I glanced at a few women struggling with buckets of water. I sighed. “I think the women need help fetching water for bathing.”

I got up and went to help and the others started talking. It wasn't long before breakfast spread through the area and people started pulling out carts and carts. Men and women started on the second floor as I walked into town with an older man. I bought several large barrels of flour and clothes rolls to make new shirts or dresses. All the talk was about Dillon, whose body was hung in the central square for everyone to see. I think the guards knew he wasn't a real thief, but the other merchants and nobles were worried.

I sent the man back with my purchases and orders for those he couldn't pick up himself. I took a walk through the streets of the posh district. They stopped letting people through who had no reason to be there. I thought about doing something and went back to the warehouse to find it in chaos. The king sent a tax collector, although his arrival was still three weeks away.

Needless to say our money was gone. I was angry but didn't show it, instead I went in and closed the office door before going to my backpack in the corner. I pulled out a few large handfuls of gold and went to the jar where we kept the money. I carried him to the middle of the gathered crowd and raised my hand. When it became quiet, I handed the glass to the woman who was our scribe and opened it so several people could see it.

There were gasps and whispers in the crowd as the old woman looked me in the face. I shrugged my shoulders. “We don’t have to note it because it’s an anonymous donation.”

The people laughed, and the scribe grinned and closed the jar: “I will put it in a private book.”

I nodded and gestured, "Let's finish the bedroom floor." Tomorrow the boys can work on privacy screens.

The crowd dispersed, the women came out into the street and next thing they knew they were busy sewing shirts and dresses. The large paddock was a hive of activity with farmers coming in with their produce and people putting it into our wagons or carts. They headed into town and the runners started coming and going. I helped with heavy beams and other work in the camp.

I also started a personal project, building walls for a large room in a back corner. Several people helped me bring in three new water troughs and set up a small copper kettle in the corner. I asked the scribe to give the runner a gold coin and sent him to the potter. I ordered several pieces of clay pipes, which were commonly used in rich homes to dispose of garbage.

I also sent the old trough back to the paddock and installed a new one a few feet higher up, directly behind the storage shed I was building. A few more people joined us and were welcomed and put to work. At the end of the day we sat by the fire and had a delicious dinner. I smiled at the large group of women frowning at the water troughs in the paddock. “Come and see the room I built downstairs.”

They looked at each other and left, but when they didn't come back, the other women went to see what was going on. Eventually all the women and older girls left and the men giggled. They were the ones who helped build this room and knew that this was a women's only bathroom. That night I slept outside by the fire and managed to sneak away in the middle of the night.

I used the river again to swim to the Nobles' Island. This time I used a few empty barrels to move the chests to the grate under the wall. I lowered the chests before filling the barrels with water. I swam with them under the grate and then slowly floated to the surface. On the surface I drained the water from the barrels and plugged the hole with a plug. Before I surfaced, I pulled two chests under the grate.

Using the rope, I slowly pulled them out and tied them to the barrels before swimming to shore. One by one I carried the chests to the back of the warehouse. I dried myself off and got dressed before going to bed. I woke up to men coming out and throwing the dark blanket off me. The guard sat at the pit, looked at the coals and jumped in surprise: “Shit!”

I stood up and stretched and he laughed, “I didn’t see you there.”

I smiled. “This is better than a thief stepping on me while climbing through the window.”

He grinned. “That’s right.”

The day began with reports of two thieves caught in the city. Both were caught red-handed and hanged. The second floor was almost finished and the runners headed into town. The carts came out with several carts as everyone was busy.I went into town to Magistrate Square. I paid the town clerk for the old tannery and left.

On the way back I stopped at a tannery to lock the door to a room that had a doorway in the wall. A huge crowd of new people who had just arrived from other cities had gathered in the warehouse. I sighed and pulled aside the old man who was in charge of building the second floor. “Go to the old tannery next door and see what we need to clean up.”

He looked at me: “Tannery?”

I nodded. “Maybe we can just add another floor and make it a place for people to sleep.”

He grinned. “I'll take a few boys and girls too.”

I took a few men aside who had experience with wagons and began pulling a wagon with various springs. When I finished, I looked around and shook my head: "I sent old Jacob to the next house, see if there is room to build carts like the one I just showed you." Go Also, go to a blacksmith and ask how much it would cost to make new feathers.”

They nodded and walked away and I turned to look at a few women walking towards me. The next thing I knew, I was sending her out to buy more fabric. I also sent the boys to the market to get some fresh bread and some other things we needed. Later I checked on Jacob and saw that they were cleaning everything up. I took it upon myself to remove the lock in the back room and replace it with a new one. I grinned at Jacob. “There are no windows for a thief to enter.”

He grinned and “ruined the sport.”

I spent the rest of the day organizing people for Jacob and paying for materials. I also brought a dozen large empty barrels into town and into an alley by the river. The women made it a rule to bathe together, and the men stayed by the fire and talked. The top floor of the warehouse was finished and when it started to get dark everyone went to bed. I moved my things and waited a bit, then carefully carried the two chests to the tannery room and buried them in my room.

I locked the door and slipped through the wall. There were small security patrols on the streets. I walked silently to the bridge and slipped inside. Once at the top, he rearranged his things and climbed into the archers' place. I pushed the chests down one by one and then moved them towards the door. I opened the outside door and began carrying the chest along the river bank.

After the last one I came back, closed the door and locked it. One by one I tied the chests to empty barrels and lowered them quietly into the river. After the last one came in, I took off my clothes, put my clothes in another empty barrel and entered the river. I tied the line around my waist and swam to the middle of the river, dragging the floating barrels behind me.

I was exhausted when I finally reached the wall, then I pulled each barrel to the grate and untied the chest. They sank to the ground and I let go of the barrel to do the next one. After the last one was untied, I tied the barrel full of clothes to the grate and dove underwater. I swam down and under the bars before climbing up to the other side. I pulled my clothes out of the barrel and untied them before swimming to shore.

I dried myself and dressed before slipping into the shadows towards the fire. I was warming my hands after lighting the fire a bit when the guard appeared. He looked at me: “Are you late?”

I nodded, "Trouble sleeping." I thought I heard something near the tannery, but couldn't find anything."

He turned around and looked into the darkness: “The king spoke to the commander about the curfew.”

I frowned: “The thief attacked again?”

The guard shook his head and warmed his hands: “We think he’s gone.”

I sighed. “I should go and try to get some sleep.”

He watched as I walked out and down to the seemingly empty tannery. I thought about what he had said and shook my head. "It's not over yet because a lot of you bastards are still running things."

I left the door open and quickly fell asleep.

Chapter 4

I got up at first light and got dressed before heading next door. The men were already on their way and some were making their way to the gate to catch the farmers on their way into the city. I caught a few of the older boys saying, "Find a boat and go to the wall on the river bank." I thought: Sometimes traders just throw empty barrels into the river. The city guard only clears the bars once a month, and I don't think they have done that in a long time."

They looked at each other and I said, “Just think, guys, what do dealers always need?” They’re constantly buying new barrels. What if we gave them a few pieces?”

They turned their frown into a smile. I nodded. “Be careful on the river and watch out for snakes.”

They sobered up and nodded, and I gestured, “One of you, check how many barrels there are andSome of you will find out if we have an empty wagon here to transport the barrels.

I let them sort it out and looked at the tannery. Everything went smoothly, so I went into town. I was buying fresh bread when I almost ran into Duke Edwards. I turned around, crouched down, and craned my neck as I bought a few large bags of rolls. As always, he was arrogant, rude and stuffy. He was also one of the few people who could recognize me.

When he left, I paid the baker and left, thinking about it the whole time. When I got there, the warehouse seemed cheerful and full of barrels. I had to smile at the huge supply the boys had brought with them. I patted one on the shoulder: “Now ask a few boys and girls to go shopping and ask if they need barrels.”

He grinned and nodded and started calling out names. I helped here and there while the men moved wagons and carts. All day I thought about Duke Edward, he was a powerful noble. He had also fallen out of favor with my brother because he cared about the people of his duchy. Just before dinner a large group of families arrived.

Jacob was next to me, muttering that they were from the other side of town. They were homeless and everyone just moved out and we made room. That night I slipped through the streets, it was already past midnight, and I reached the bridge silently. I slipped in and went upstairs to get past security. I slid quietly from the bridge to the other side.

The large estate I visited was near a fork in the river and the royal fortress. To get in I used the small side gate. I watched the guards before entering the property and climbing onto the wooden railings. I quietly slipped onto the second floor balcony and went to the door. It unlocked and I slipped inside before stopping to let my eyes adjust.

“It took long enough.”

I looked at the fireplace and saw the faint silhouette of the Duke sitting in front of it. I looked at the bed and he snorted, "You know she always slept soundly."

I went to another chair and sat next to him. "Have you seen Me".

He chuckled. “I would have to be blind if I didn’t do that.”

I hesitated: “Did you tell my brother?”

He snorted again. “As if he even agreed to see me.”

I looked at him: “What are you going to do?”

The Duke smiled. “Besides, watching you rob rich snobs who are trying to ruin the country?”

I smiled: “You know that too.”

He nodded and moved: "The Duke of Brasalov is now standing near your brother." He whispers in his ear, and most of the laws and regulations come from him."

I frowned: “I thought Brasalov was a baron?”

The Duke snorted again, "That was until your brother removed Duke Patrick and installed Brasalov in his place."

I thought about it: “What happened to Patrick and his family?”

He sighed and finally moved: "He should have been hanged and his family thrown out."

I looked at him and then grinned: “Are they here?”

He nodded and I leaned back in my chair. “Could you maybe deliver them to the warehouse I use?”

The Duke looked at me: “Why?”

I smiled. "Well, it's not as nice as here, but I could use it."

He smiled and then laughed: “More plans for the poor?”

I nodded: “For people.”

The Duke grinned and leaned back in his chair. “I’ll send a list of them.”

I stood up: “No need to wave my hand, uncle.”

He grinned and nodded towards the window: "These guards may be mine, but they report everything to your brother."

I slipped out of the mansion and then out of the mansion. I hesitated before heading towards the royal fortress and the large estate next to it. It was fairly easy to slip in and through the property. I was able to use the side door and shook my head at the lack of security. I found the office and unlocked the door before entering. The other door was locked and I opened it to reveal several large chests. Each of them was filled with gold and silver coins.

I closed the door and locked it before locking the office door behind me. By the time I crawled into bed, it was almost time to get up. The morning, like every morning, was busy gathering food for everyone. I looked up as a man and a woman in raincoats with two small children approached the fire. I smiled. “Welcome, Uncle.”

Duke Patrick smiled. “Hello William, how was your adventure?”

I grinned, “insightful.”

I smiled at his wife. “I’m glad you’re okay.”

She smiled and looked around: “Nice place.”

I looked around: “It’s growing.”

I sighed and looked at Patrick. “Are you coming with me?”

He nodded: “What can I do?”

I looked back again: “I started a company to donate.”They hope. I need someone who knows the business. Those who are struggling in the city can use the services of a good lender. I think if they had... unaccounted funds they would be better off."

Patrick grinned: “And be in your debt?”

I shrugged, “Our duty.” My brother may not always be in power.”

He nodded. “It is true that most loyal nobles keep their heads down, but that can change.”

I looked around: “Can you make a list of those still here in town?”

Patrick nodded, “easy.”

I caught an older boy walking by: "I need two of you and one of the older girls to know their numbers."

He grinned. “Of course we were just following a nest of snakes, as the security guard reported.”

Patrick hissed and his wife turned pale. I sighed. “Tell them to use long sticks and move their heads back a few inches…”

He grinned. “We know.”

I nodded and let go of him before looking at Patrick. “One of the things I learned while traveling.”

I smiled as I thought and looked at him, "Look into the old tannery to find a place for you and your family." Start with small traders like bakers, blacksmiths and butchers and any farmer who needs help, let ...Jacob or my clerk know if they just need helpers.”

Patrick nodded and looked around. “Who can I see if I lend them money?”

I raised an eyebrow and he nodded before turning away. I went to the clerk to tell her about a new man named Patrick and what he was doing. Afterwards I took a walk through the city. I listened to rumors and gossip and complaints. Much was sent to the king and remained unanswered. I was on my way back when a new objection was published.

This was a new tax that the king imposed on shopkeepers and merchants. When I arrived at the warehouse, men and women were arguing and I moved towards the middle: “Quiet!”

I looked around: “The tax is collected from traders and shopkeepers.” I am a registered dealer here.”

I looked around at everyone and smiled: "We don't have to tell the tax collector that the profits don't go to me."

A moment passed before they laughed and everything became clear. On the way out of town a few farmers stopped to sell us some food. Patrick and his family seemed to be fitting in as everyone tried to get things done. His wife and daughters fled with other women. When he looked back and asked where the women had gone, all the men laughed.

When it got dark everyone went to their beds. Before I went to my room, I made sure Patrick and his family had somewhere to stay. I slipped through the wall and walked along the dark streets. There seemed to be a lot going on tonight. I slipped into the gatehouse and made my way to the nobles' hideout. Now I moved more carefully. When I reached the estate that Brasalov had captured, I waited and watched.

As before there was no security, I made my way into the property and into the property. I picked the locks again and heard laughter in the great hall. I picked up the first chest and silently carried it to the wall. I came back to get another chest, then another, making four chests in total. I still had to use the relay to move the chest across the retreat.

I knew that if Brasalov had influence over my brother, every house would be searched. I carried the chests to the old, half-sunken boathouse. I had to drive away several snakes before drowning them in the river. I went back to the bridge and slid across it before walking through the city. I took extra time to push the old hay in front of the granary door before slipping inside.

I fell asleep and woke up to a knock on the door.

Chapter 5

When I opened it, Patrick and a few men were there. "Yes?"

Patrick smiled, “The guards are searching the city. The thief struck again and stole everything the new Duke of Brasalov had.”

The other men nodded and I opened the door wide, revealing I was in my nightgown, "light the fire and light the stoves." When the guards show up, ask them to accompany them so we know “Don’t take anything with you.”

The men nodded and left. Patrick grinned. “Have a nice evening?”

I smiled, “Actually, it was.”

I turned around to get dressed before following him. It was almost midday when the guards approached us. Their search would have ended if it had been carried out reluctantly. We already had the cart and runners when Patrick saw me working in the tannery attic. He grinned. “I have a few customers.”

I nodded and straightened up before walking up the new stairs and into my room. I quietly opened one of the chests while Patrick watched me from the door. I scooped out what he needed and then covered the chest again. He grinned and patted me on the shoulder before walking away. I went toCheck out some other projects, including a new van that some men built. I also brought four large empty barrels to the river bank inside the city.

That evening I called a meeting at dinner and after everyone had gathered, I asked several people to report on the state of affairs. A dozen more families joined us throughout the day, but they were already settling in. All but one of the clothing stores in town were out of business, so I suggested opening one here. Several times the guards walked past or approached the fire to warm their hands.

I think my brother got angry and rolled his head. A new curfew law applied throughout the city. As soon as the sun had set, we should start. When it got dark everyone went to their beds and I slipped into the shade, waited and went to the river. The older boys spent the whole day hunting for snakes along the shore. As I undressed and hung my clothes in the enclosure of another abandoned warehouse, only a few snakes moved.

I slipped into the water and swam to the middle of the river before turning around and letting the current carry me towards the wall. I dove and swam down and under the grate before emerging on the other side. I carefully floated the waiting barrels to the side. I quietly placed the barrels in the river and began swimming across. I let the current pull me downstream a little as I swam until I finally reached an old, half-sunken boathouse.

Using a rope I pulled out the money boxes and secured them under each barrel. The sailing back up the river with the barrels was accompanied by loud roars and flashes. I sank the chests again and released the barrels before swimming down and pulling each chest under the bars. I floated to the other side of the wall and looked around as lightning lit up the area.

I swam to shore and got out before drying myself with a rag. I got dressed and carefully slid along the wall to the tannery. I saw the guards several times but managed to get to the safety of my room. I lay down thoughtfully and grinned before standing up. I carefully walked through the door in the wall and pushed back the hay to cover the grain door before slipping through town as it began to rain heavily.

It was easy to enter the lodge and cross the street. All the guards huddled under whatever they could find. I walked through the quiet streets straight towards the royal fortress. I slipped through the outer walls to a fork in the river before approaching a small door hidden in the wall. I used a long, thin dagger between the door frame to lift the interior strike plate.

After I entered, I closed the door and lit the tiny lantern on the wall with the sulfur matches I had in the pack. Before I took off my wet clothes, I checked the floor for snakes. I used the lantern and followed the narrow path into the fortress. This was one of the ancient hidden escape routes from the fortress. When I reached the other end, I hung the lantern before blowing it out.

I pulled the wooden lever and the thick panel opened. I entered the old, dusty room and looked around, smiling. This had once been my room, but now it was just a small, dusty room, unused. I closed the flap and went to another door. I turned around, grabbed the small, dusty cloak from the hanger and wrapped it around myself before slipping into the hallway.

I walked down the hallway, glancing at the stone stairs before quickly passing them. At the other end of the hallway was a small linen closet. I opened the door and looked up the stairs when I heard footsteps. I slipped into the closet and closed the door before feeling the back wall. I pushed on the right side and the wall rotated. I slipped into the small room and carefully pushed the wall back into place.

The room I was in was one step wide and two steps long. It had wooden lintels that looked like a ladder. They went behind every linen closet on the upper floors. I stood up in the complete darkness and felt the wall with my hands. On the third floor, I pulled and tugged at the wall to turn it. I carefully slipped into the closet and closed the back panel.

I listened before opening the door and looking around the empty, dimly lit room. I closed the door and walked down the corridor to the room at the end. I listened before opening the door and slipping inside. I glanced at the man and woman sleeping on the bed before walking to the fireplace. The embers of the fire still radiated light, allowing me to find the stone I was looking for.

The sides of the fireplace stretched out before turning toward the wall. I pushed the stone in and there was a hole in the stone underneath that looked like a handle. I looked at the sleeping couple before pulling out the bottom stone. The wall creaked slightly as it twisted and turned. I glanced at the bed before carefully sliding onto my side. I took rough stones and covered the wall.

I moved and felt the pitch black darkness.with my legs. The little hole seemed much smaller than I remembered, but I managed to climb through. After I got to the ground floor, I listened for a long time. Finally I felt around until I found a stone lever and pulled it. I pushed and the wall opened into another room lit by smoldering coals.

I slipped in and looked around my brother's office. On the opposite wall were treasure chests, each with a coat of arms hanging above it. I walked over to the large table and looked around before putting the bag of gold aside. I then placed each of the chests in the spot next to the fireplace. I had to stack them to fit them, and then I went to the wall where my father's sword was kept.

I took it down and placed it next to the chests before climbing on top of them and turning around to close the wall. It seemed to take much longer to find my way back the way I came, but the thunder and heavy rain seemed to drown out any noise I made. After grabbing my clothes, I got dressed and opened the door to see the river swelling. Almost at the door, I turned around and pushed the dagger under the latch.

I closed the door and locked it before moving along the walls of the fortress. It was easy to return to the bridge and cross it. As I reached the inn and stables, I almost ran into three guards huddled together in the stables. They were trying to stay dry, so I had to sneak back into the shade. I managed to climb to the window of the stable's attic and climb in.

I stayed there and listened to the angry grumbling of the guards. It was almost morning when the rain let up and they left. I slipped back into my room and locked the door before undressing. I put on warm, dry clothes and lie down on the bed. I woke up to a knock on the door and went to help start the day. By late morning, rumors were spreading.

The king was angry and the guards tore up every hiding place in the city to find his treasure. Patrick looked at me, talking to the dealer and wringing his hands, I shrugged and he shook his head. I went into the city and locked the granary door and also completely blocked the granary door. I put an old rusty lock on the door of my room and made sure there was no sign that it had been opened.

I sent all the older boys along the river to look for snakes, and they returned with dozens when a squad of guards appeared. Prince Brasalow watched in silence as they searched everything. While he was there, I stood behind him so he wouldn't see me. When they searched my room, they broke the lock on the door and tried to open it. When they didn't succeed, they threw everything in the room and left. Even the soldiers' and guards' quarters were searched, which angered them even more.

My brother ordered constant patrols, people were stopped and detained. There were quiet rumors and whispers about the barons' conversation. That night, when everyone was asleep, I slipped out of the house and went to the river. I carried an oil-wrapped bag containing clothing and weapons. I spent hours digging chests out from under the wall. When I was finished, I swam down the river and let the current carry me along.

When I reached the royal fortress and swam ashore, I opened the package. I got dressed, used the secret door and walked through the fortress. Before I even reached my brother's chambers, I heard his drunken moans. The guards who were supposed to guard his door were nowhere to be seen. I opened the door and went in to see him and Duke Brasalov drinking by the fire.

Brasalov turned around and growled: “We said: Don’t bother us!”

I bowed and went to them. He staggered as I approached him, pulled out a dagger and struck. It slipped under his jaw and into his brain. I dropped him and turned to kick my standing brother. I followed him as he tried to find the dagger on his belt. I grabbed him by his hair and slammed his head against the wall, causing him to fall to the floor.

I looked around before walking over to the dirty bed and peeling off the sheets. I cut them into strips and tied them together before going to my brother. I lifted him onto my shoulder and carried him out. I walked through the back halls until I came to a door on the wall. As I walked around the wall and towards the front of the fortress, several guards looked at me and stepped aside before following me.

As I approached the gate, I dropped my brother and tied one end of the sheet to the metal post before kneeling down and making a noose. I put it around my brother's neck, picked him up and threw him over the wall. As he convulsed and strangled me, I turned to the guards: “My name is William Edward Kingson.” My father was King Henry.

I pointed at the wall: “That rotten piece of crap was my brother.”

I looked at each of them as they moved, "I'm the king now." Does anyone have a problem with that?”

They looked at each other and then looked back at me and shook their heads. I nodded: “First I want toYour officers, all of them. Next I want every noble to be brought to the great hall.”

I gestured, “We have work to do.”

They straightened up before nodding and murmuring together as they parted ways. I walked back along the wall, leaving my brother swaying and pulling at the edge of the sheet. I went down to the large hall and found several officers waiting for me. I walked over to the new gold-plated throne my brother was using and threw it off the platform. I signaled to one of the officers: “Take this chair with you.”

He turned around and saw a common chair that minions use and grabbed it before bringing it to me. I put him down and sat down: “Now, gentlemen, we will put this kingdom in order.”

I looked at them as another couple entered. “I want the army and all the guards to gather in front of the fortress gate.” From now on, work for me and the people, the curfew is over.”

I glanced at the doors, where dozens of guards and soldiers stood. “Once we have spoken to the nobles, they will return to their lands.” Their job is not and never has been to rally around the king and protect him. Your job is to protect the kingdom.

One moved: “What about the royal treasury?”

I smiled. “I’ll take care of the payment.” The first thing I want to see is a plan to move the border back to the border forts.”

I pointed to an old officer I knew: "Captain Trent, you are now the Marshal of the Army." Meet with the other captains and start making travel plans."

I pointed to the head city guard: "Return the guards to regular shifts." There is no longer a need to stop citizens just for walking."

He nodded and I leaned back in my chair. “Once the army and guards are assembled, I will speak to them.”

I looked at the door as several barons snaked through: "Go ahead and leave with your people."

I waited as the barons approached me, some looking as if they wanted to say something. Another hour passed until the rest of the nobles came in and I stood up: "My name is William Edward Kingson." My brother is dead and I am the king.

I let my words sink in before looking at them: “The time of corruption is over…”;

The Baron, whom I did not know, stepped forward: “Why should we follow you?”

I smiled. “Because if you don’t, I will strip you of your title and cut your throat.”

I looked at the other nobles, "Our kingdom is dying." You and my brother strangled the common people until we had little trade left and many farms lay fallow. You are responsible for taking care of your people and your country. The fewer people, the less taxes. We must give them enough to live on and not take away everything they have, otherwise they will leave and you will be left with nothing.”

They looked at each other and others joined us. I looked at each of them: “I want each of you to go back to your land and do the accounting.” We need to know how bad the situation is across the Kingdom.”

I spent the morning chatting with people before setting out to walk around the city. People came to me because I had a few guards and an employee with me who was taking notes. As I entered the warehouse, people were staring and whispering. I pointed at Patrick and he grinned as he walked towards me, “Your Highness.”

I raised an eyebrow. “Go back to your estate and find out what damage that idiot has caused before you come back.”

I pointed to the old scribe and then to Jacob. They slowly walked towards me and I smiled, "You two are in charge here." Make sure everyone is taken care of. If you need help, let me know.”

They began to bow and I caught them. I looked at the writer: “I have a treasure buried in my room, use it.”

She nodded and I looked around. “Maybe one day I’ll come to your place for a nice dinner.”

The last few weeks haven't been easy, there were several nobles who didn't take me seriously. I followed through on my threat and hung their bodies. I also found money in the river and added it to the treasury. It only took a few years to bring the kingdom back from darkness. I escape a few times a week to spend time in the warehouse, but many of the people who came here had homes.again.

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