The Thief, Mr. DeCorvi

The Thief, Mr. DeCorvi

The Red Raven, Part 2

The Red Raven . . . What was it? Where had it come from?

The man wondered as he hunkered down into the bush.

It was an idea–a symbol–an ancient being. In other words, a very good myth. Whatever any of it meant . . . He laughed to himself, a bit on edge.

The Red Raven, it was said, was the cause of dreams, the true king of the dream world. Day or night, it cast out its seeds, good or bad, to be had by the dreamer. Rich or poor, woman or man, the Red Raven cared not. The being was a chaotic agent, and therefore did not care what it did, without being good nor evil. According to many stories, the sovereign had reigned supreme, until its downfall, when it lost its crown . . .

. . . It glinted in the afternoon light; up until now it had been a miserable day. Joseph let out another laugh, less shakily this time, as he stashed the crown back in his bag.

The crown had until very recently belonged to an older, wealthier family . . . How they had acquired it he had no inkling. Why they had kept it he had no clue. It was a rather ugly looking heirloom, made of steel, heavy and plain. The crowns glory (and redeeming quality) lay in the curious gem at its centre. It had all the colours of the rainbow, including black and white. One could not tell whether it was real or fake. It was not glass, of that he was certain.

Off in the distance he could hear the baying of dogs, accompanied by shouts. “They’ve finally noticed!” he said to himself, before proceeding to make a series of false trails.

If the pay had not been so handsome, and if he had not received such a hefty advance, Joseph would not have risked his neck for an ugly steel crown. At the moment he was having trouble figuring out why any one would want it, let alone keep the thing. His thoughts occupied him as he doubled back and forth, bounded through thickets and over dales, until he finally found an overhanging river bank. Aquatic life disgusted him, but he grit his teeth as he slid into the water.

*

For the next hour or so he waited neck-deep in the cold water, his insides churning. The change in the weather had not lasted long; the sky was overcast once more, and it was beginning to drizzle. Something brushed past him in the water and he almost bit his tongue. Water–or more specifically, what was in water–made him uneasy.

Damn this! I’m going to get pneumonia if I keep this up! The hunting party had passed by twice already, but Joseph did not want to risk being caught. They haven’t been around for at least an hour! He countered. But just so, who’s to say that they aren’t waiting on the bank? He closed his eyes.

The rain picked up.

Faster and harder.

Until he could hear nothing else.

They’d be mad to wait for him in this. He pushed himself out of the water slowly, inch by inch, centimetre by centimetre . . . The water was starting to rise faster than him. Joseph flinched at a peal of thunder; he almost slipped under the water’s surface. How long had he been waiting?

Finally, fed up with waiting in the water, Joseph peeked his head over the bank. He wanted to hit himself.

There was no one there!

Swearing under his breath, Joseph scrambled up the bank; the grass was slippery, but he made it. It took him a while to steady himself. Every inch of his body was sore, numb.

If he stopped now, he would die.

If anyone had thought to ask him how he had gotten this far in life, he would have no answer. There wasn’t much of a life, so to speak. He had no idea how he had gotten this far, let alone how he he managed to pull off such a heist . . . The manor had been heavily guarded, belonging to a wealthy and very well-known family.

The heist had only just begun.

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