Thief, p.1

Thief, page 1

 

Thief
 



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Thief
Brotherhood of the Throne

  Book 1

  Thief

  Jane Glatt

  Copyright © 2012 Roberta Jane Glatt

  Jane Glatt Enterprises Inc.

  www.Janeglatt.com

  ISBN 978-0-9880291-3-2

  All Rights Reserved worldwide under the Berne Convention. No part of this document or the related files may be reproduced or transmitted in any form, by any means (electronic, photocopying, recording, or otherwise) without the prior written permission of the publisher.

  All characters appearing in this work are fictitious. Any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.

  one

  Her mother would be furious but she climbed up onto the roof anyway. Tomorrow was her sixteenth nameday and there was nothing anyone could do to stop it from coming. But she wasn’t sixteen yet so she was going to enjoy her last night of childhood, her last night of freedom, the last night she could do as she pleased. She was going to the one spot in her world where she felt completely safe.

  Brenna hunched over as she scrambled across the cold slate tiles. The biting wind whipped mountain snow across the roof. She paused to blow on her hands in an effort to keep them warm and supple. She’d made this climb at least once a week since she was eight and she knew which shingles were loose, knew where the pigeons roosted, knew where lamplight shone when the Duke and his household were awake in the night. Like now.

  She shielded her eyes against the glare from the window and watched, grateful for her ability to see well in the dark, a trait she shared with her mother. After a few minutes of nothing but night Brenna eased across the patch of light. When she was in the shadow below the window she breathed out once, a dim cloud in the cold air.

  “Brenna.”

  She whirled and reached one hand out towards the voice. Her hand closed tightly on an arm and she wrenched it against her chest. Her other hand wrapped over a mouth and clamped down and she pulled the smaller body up against her, the head chin height.

  “I told you to stay inside tonight brat,” Brenna hissed. She removed her hand from his mouth.

  “But it’s your last night.”

  “And I told you to stay inside.” Brenna released her grip and sighed. “Beldyn this is the one night when he’ll be much harder on you than me if we’re caught.” She turned him around until she could peer down into his eyes. “Brat you know he needs me whole and sound for tomorrow. He’d take it all out on you.”

  “I don’t care.” Beldyn leaned into her and she ruffled his hair, her hand gliding from his head to the back of his finely knit wool tunic.

  “But I do. That stubborn streak will get you into trouble,” Brenna said. She shook her head, recognizing her mother’s words, her mother’s fears. “And how many times do I have to say good bye to you? Time for you to go back to your rooms.”

  “I don’t want you to leave.” Beldyn stepped back from her and she saw the glint of tears. “He’s the one I want to leave.”

  “You know that won’t happen. He’s the Duke and this estate belongs to him.” By right of legitimate birth, Brenna thought, and she pushed the old anger back down, hard. “Besides, you’ll forget all about me in a few weeks.”

  “You know I won’t.” Beldyn looked up at her and she was surprised by the fierceness in his face. “You’ve been my only friend. You’ve treated me better than my own mother.”

  “She has her own demons to deal with,” Brenna said. Even after all she’d seen and heard she was unwilling to demean the mother in front of the son.

  “And I’m on my own now. At least I always had you.”

  “We both know I’m not leaving because I want to.”

  “I know. It’s him. He did this. I wish he were dead.”

  And Brenna, shocked at the hatred she heard in the boy’s voice, grabbed Beldyn’s shoulders and pulled him to face her.

  “Brat you can’t let him make you mean, do you hear me? If you do you’ll be just like him. And where would that leave me?” She heard the desperation in her voice and stopped, trying to settle the knot in her stomach. “You’re my hope, brat. I need you to look out for my mother. And when you’re older and he is dead I need you to come find me. That’s what we talked about - my safe place for your promise to find me when he’s gone.”

  “I remember,” Beldyn said.

  His head rubbed against her shoulder as he nodded into the cloth of her coat.

  “I won’t ever forget Brenna.”

  “Good. I need you to survive him, Beldyn. For both of us.” Brenna straightened up and ruffled his hair again. “Time to get back inside before anyone notices you’re missing.”

  Beldyn nodded and turned back toward the window. He reached up to the ledge and jumped. His hands gripped tightly while his foot found the toe hold Brenna had gouged into the stone years ago. When he pulled himself up to sit on the window ledge she nodded, satisfied.

  “Are you going up there now?” Beldyn asked. “To the safe place?”

  “Yes. It seemed like the best place to spend my last night.”

  “I’ll miss you Brenna. May the One-God keep you.” And then the boy slipped into the darkened room.

  Brenna, alone on the cold rooftop, murmured prayers to her own gods, the old gods, into the icy wind. She tucked her hair behind her ear and blew on her hands, once, twice, before she moved on.

  A few short minutes later Brenna folded herself into the gap between two stone blocks. The old blanket was where she’d left it, some straw still tucked under it, saved somehow from the fierce winds that blew down from the mountains. Brenna piled the straw and sat down before she pulled the blanket up and over her head. She wished for better made clothing, like the fine wool Beldyn wore rather than coarse, heavy cotton. Then she was settled and out of the wind and her physical discomfort faded in the face of her fear of what the morning would bring. A morning that would see her sent away from the only life she had ever known, away from her mother, the only person who truly loved her. All because of the circumstances of her birth, all because she was the illegitimate child of an indentured servant.

  Brenna looked directly out across the rooftop to the large window in front of her. An overhanging gable kept her position completely in the shadows yet allowed her a clear view of the room and its occupant. Tonight, as always, the room was lit with so many lamps and candles that she could see straight through to the door at the far end of the room. Just for a moment, her heart raced and she felt the panic start. Then she saw him and she calmed, her eyes fixed on the figure seated by the fire.

  Her safe place was a cold perch on top of a roof. But it was safe because she could see him, she knew were he was. Safe because when he was in there and she was out here, he couldn’t reach her. Now it would become Beldyn’s safe place, where he too could be safe from Duke Thorold, where he too could be out of his reach - at least for a few moments.

  She started awake and was half standing before she remembered where she was. A quick look showed her only a dim glow in the dark squares of the Duke’s windows. Brenna sat back down and pulled the blanket even tighter across her shoulders. She should go down now while she had the chance, she knew. Her mother would be looking for her on this, her last night.

  But she stayed were she was because it was after midnight and she was sixteen now, by law a woman full grown. But there would be no celebration for her nameday; she would see no pride in her mother’s eyes today. No, Brenna would see only fear and sadness and worry when she looked at her mother for what might be the very last time in her life. So it had been for her mother when she turned sixteen and had been sold into Duke Thorold’s household, so it would be for Brenna as she was sold into servitude.

  Reaching into her pocket, fingers clumsy with cold, Brenna searched unti
l she found the small pouch she kept her herbs in. She pulled it out and loosened the leather thongs. She needed to stay awake now with dawn so close. Her hand closed on the knobby ginseng root and she pulled it out and took a bite, feeling the sharp tang on her tongue. She retied the pouch and shoved it back in her pocket, waiting for the ginseng to take away the worst of her weariness.

  Brenna tracked the time not by the stars as they moved across the sky, nor by any brightening of the winter sky. She tracked the time by the glow of firelight coming from Duke Thorold’s bedchamber window. When the glow increased she knew the servants had come to start the Duke’s day. Carefully she stood and stretched her cold, stiff muscles. Then she folded the blanket and tucked it back into the niche. With an eye on the windows above her she brushed straw off her black breeches and backed away down the roof. In less than fifteen minutes she was back on the roof of the stable. She inched herself over the eave towards the window of the small loft she shared with her mother. She toed open the shutter, planted her feet on the window sill, and swung down.

  “Brenna, there you are.”

  Brenna crouched in the window frame then jumped softly to the floor. “I’ve been seeing my nameday in, Mama.”

  “I can see that. Here,” Wynne Trewen took the blanket from her shoulders. “I’ve been sitting by the fire, I’m warm enough.”

  “Thanks Mama,” Brenna said as she wrapped
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