∴ A Diamond in the Rough ∴
The auburn-haired rogue sways out of the inn, a smile twisting his handsome face and a heavy velvet pouch in his hand. The game was good tonight; the players gullible. There’s still money to be made from that thick-headed sellsword, he reckons. Might be time for a new locale though. The inn keeper’s daughter is onto him.
He presses the pouch into a pocket and pulls on perfumed gloves. The jasmine scent still lingers on the kidskin, a welcome respite from the stink of the stables.
“You boy,” he calls to the youth skulking in the stalls. “Bring my grey gelding.”
The surly lad glances up, and the gambler’s surprised to see it’s not a lad after all. The tousle-haired girl shrugs and unhitches the horse from its post. A fine mount, the rogue thinks to himself. He won it in the capital. Diced a guard down to his last penny, and took the horse as a mercy.
The stable girl hands him the reins, eyes glittering as she takes in his fine clothes, the jasmine scent. She hovers until he flicks a coin from his pocket. After all, he’s feeling generous.
“I’ll be wanting more than that, I reckon.” Her tone is even, undaunted.
The rogue is surprised by her insolence. The boy who used to tend the horses here couldn’t thank him enough for a tip.
“How’s this for more?” he asks, making to cuff the urchin around the ear. “Go on, away with you.”
But the perfumed glove never connects with the dirt-rimed ear. Instead the girl slips neatly to one side, and draws a dagger from her back.
The rogue steps back, a sinking feeling in his stomach. He recognises the weapon instantly, for its sister hangs at his side. Like his own knife, it has an ovoid pommel and a copper-braided grip gleaming beneath the black bars of its sail. But where his guard takes the shape of a heart, the girl’s bears a single black diamond.
“Where in seven hells did you get that?” he growls, low, dangerous.
The girl only laughs before cutting the reins of the horse and vaulting onto its back.
The auburn-haired rogue watches, dumbfounded, as his prize gelding diminishes into dark distance. Suddenly clasping at his pocket, he is ashamed but not at all surprised to find the velvet pouch missing.