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Jousting Festival 2019 Writing Contest: Help By A Criminal

Help By A Criminal
By: WhiteVixen

Aubrey watched her prey from her perch in the tree. He was exiting the local tavern, a drunken mess clinking his gold around in its pouch. “Here goes nothing,'' she mumbled. Flinging herself down, she landed on the wickerbeast with a loud thud. “Wha..”, he barely mumbled out. Grabbing his jaw, she pushed into the pressure point and knocked him out. Aubrey quickly moved away from him, slipping his coin pouch into her belt loop. She did another look around to make sure nobody was there and dashed into a nearby alley. Once in the alley she noticed a wanted poster for her on it. She felt quite proud that she was made onto this list, even if it made her ‘job’ that much harder.

She slinked even farther down the alley and hid in a dark corner to count her earnings. The night was still, with the occasional clashing of swords. The villagers preparing for the mornings festivities. Jousting was a sport favored and widely celebrated during this month along with a few other small events. “Annnddd, that makes it a hundred thousand furcash. With a few furdollars in the mix.” Aubrey slowly let the coins clink back into the pouch and closed it. While she wouldn’t mind sticking around picking off of stragglers, she had to keep moving. The royal guards were closing in on her and she wasn’t ready to pay for her crimes just yet, if ever. Drawing herself out of the alley, she tried to as inconspicuous as possible, make it to the local transportation station. She had a pal that worked there who could help her out of sticky situations for the right price.

Two blocks away from her destination, she feels something prod her in the back. Aubrey clenches her jaw and stops moving. “Crap. I was too slow.” Finally whoever was behind her spoke, “I expected it to be harder to find you, Aubrey Cadwell.” Aubrey shifted her weight, “Well, I’m just full of surprises. Now if you don’t mind, I’d like to get my capture over with.” A low snort was let out, the warmth of it warming her neck. “As much as I’d like to do that, I need your help.” Aubrey cocked her ears in interest. “A guard with business that can only be helped by a low life criminal. I’m listening. Though I’d prefer to do this face to face.”

She felt her dagger behind removed from its sheath. ‘So much for my escape plan. Could’ve sworn I hid it well enough.’ she told herself, grinding her teeth in agitation. “Just a precaution. You’re not going to get the jump on me, missy.” The sword was slowly removed from Aubreys back. As much as she was tempted to take the chance on knocking her assailant out and run, she was caught like a fish on a hook. Turning around she was met with the cloaked face of a feline or what she thought was a feline. “Wait. You’re not a royal guard.” The feline chuckled, removing her hood, “I never said I was. I found it funny to let you think of me that way.” Aubrey glared into her cyan eyes, ashamed she fell for such a trick. She was usually good at knowing if someone was a guard or not.

Her assailant shrugged, “Happens to the best of us. Now do you want the job or not?” Aubrey didn’t shift her piercing glare. “You never said it was a job, you said you needed my help.” The feline raised an eyebrow and snorted. “Same difference. Besides, I doubt you’re in a position to decline.” She rotated Aubrey's dagger in her gloved hands, the point pushed against her ring finger. Aubrey hissed, “Guess not. Fine, I’ll help you, but I have two terms.” The feline rotated one of her hands as to suggest for her to get on with it. “One, you won’t turn me in to the royal guards after this is done. Two, I expect some form of payment after or before we start.” The feline nodded her head, “Very well. I’ll follow your terms, but know this, at any moment I feel you’re misleading me, I will not hesitate to turn you in.”

Aubrey sucked her teeth and held out her hand for the feline to shake. One the deal was done, they began walking down the dark streets. “So, what do you need help with and what’s your name? You know everything about me, but I know nothing about you.”, Aubrey shuddered. She hated when it played out that way, but more often times than not, she knew her assailant. After a few more steps the feline finally spoke, “Well. I need your help finding my boyfriend, Seth. He entered for the jousting tournament and he wouldn’t just disappear. Of course, nobody else would believe me. When I caught whiff of you, I figured you’d do it under the right pressure. My name is Brine, by the way.”

Nodding the whole time Brine was explaining herself, she had to agree that she wouldn’t of went willingly with her if she had asked. While scratching her ear Aubrey asked, “Do you have any idea on where he might’ve gone?” Brine mumbled in thought finally answered, “Earlier today he said he found a place to practice where he couldn’t be bothered. I thought he meant his own arena he set up last year, but I guess not. So, maybe in the hills? He has a weird fascination with them.” Aubrey began picking up her pace, mainly due to not wanting to give the royal guards more time than they already have of finding her. It was a long walk to the hills, but when they finally reached the peak, they found nothing.

Aubrey shrugged, “Well, there goes that.” Turning around she began to go back the way they came. When Brine grabbed her shoulder and spoke, “What’s that over there? It looks like him. I know that cap anywhere.” Aubrey followed her finger to where she was pointing and leaned in closer. Straining her eyes to see as far as she could she asked, “Is he a brown cat?” She had to stop Brine from running down the hill to him. “Wait. Look over there to the left of him, he’s not alone.” He was being charged at by two figures wearing black cloaks, pinned between them and the woods. “We have to help him!”, Brine yelped. Aubrey internally did an eye roll. “Let’s see how this’ll play out then we’ll step in to help.” The watched the encounter play out and waited for the opportunity. So far the cloaked assailants were just observing him, but he was ready with his sword pointed at them.

As soon as one made a lunge for him, Brine and Aubrey rushed to intercept. Seth momentarily let his guard down when they appeared in front of him. Aubrey, who had slipped her dagger back from Brine’s belt loop, now held it in her hand. Brine took a stance next to Seth, sword at the ready. The cloaked assailants let out a huff and ran the opposite way, not wanting to take a chance on battling. “Yeah, you better run!” Brine yelled after them. While Aubrey was sheathing her dagger, Seth held his sword to her neck. “Well, well, well. If it isn’t Aubrey Cadwell. Finally deciding to help instead of take?” Aubrey glared at him, “Like girlfriend like boyfriend, hmm?” Brine stepped in and made him lower his weapon. “I made a deal with her for her help. When you go off all willy nilly, you know I get worried! You’re lucky we got here when we did or else you’d be chopped meat. What were you doing out here anyway?” Seth lowered his eyes and ears, “I’m sorry, love. I was just trying to practice my new weapons before tomorrow.” He pointed at the tree behind him that proved him right.

Brine sighed, “It’s okay. I’m glad you’re safe more than anything. Now let’s get moving before they come back. Not like we can’t handle them, but that’s besides the point.” Aubrey stopped Brine before she could follow Seth. “Look, as much as I like that you guys have reunited, I still want to get paid.” Brine pulled out her pouch and clinked it into her hands. “There, that should be enough payment.” Brine rushed off to catch up with Seth, leaving Aubrey be. Finally able to get back on task, she began the trek at quite a distance from Brine and Seth, to return to Olde Foxbury. She was not continuing north as that would lead to Tigereye Peak, she needed to get to Dragonsmaw Manor. Back in town, she approached the transportation station.

When suddenly, a hand was placed on her shoulder. She growled, ‘Not again, I’m not becoming the local detective.’ Quickly turning around and about to pull out her dagger, she stopped. It was Seth. Raising an eyebrow, she curiously peered at him, “Now why are you following me? I did my part and would like to continue on my way.” Seth chuckled, pulling his hands back showing no harm. “I just wanted to personally say thank you. Brine told me about what you did and if it wasn’t for you as she said, I’d be chopped meat. To also show my appreciation, I’d like to invite you to the tournament and festival with us tomorrow.” Aubrey sheathed her dagger and snorted, “As much as I’d like to join in on the festivities, I have a warrant out for my arrest, so I have to decline. Good day.” She turned around to enter the door, when he put his paw on her shoulder a second time.

“You don’t know how to take a hint, do you?”, she growled at him. He whistled through his teeth, “I just wanted to say you’re alright in my book. Don’t be scared to find me if you need help. I have a boat just begging to be used frequently again.” At that he tipped his hat and walked away. Aubrey stood there still trying to process what he had just said. “Maybe being helpful isn’t such a bad thing.” she muttered only to snort, “Nah. My life is more excitable.” She slightly opened the door, half expecting another hand to be pressed on her shoulder, letting out a breath of relief when it wasn’t. Though, what she had just done wasn’t all that bad, she gained a new ally and got some cash out of it too. She stepped into the silent station and muttered, “Well, time to finally get this show on the road.”