The beggar; dirty, unshaven, hair long, unkempt and matted in places; sat against a wall on a small side street. His clothes were a tattered and torn robe loosely wrapped around a thin hunched over body. A bandage wrapped around his head covering one eye. Coins clinked in a small metal cup attached to a stick attached to a leather wrist cuff. Where a hand should extend out of the cuff there was nothing.
With a practiced bounce of his arm, the coins clinked in the cup.
Clink clink … clink clink … clink clink
A deft flick threw them into the air, clearing the edge. He listened to the coins hit the bottom of the cup.
clink clink Clunk clink clink
A second flick threw them higher out of the cup.
clink Clunk clink clink clink
He glanced up and down the street. No one in sight. He bounced the coins a couple more times and then flicked them straight up higher than a standing man.
clink clink clink … clink
The beggar looked around for the missing coin. On his blind side, a man stood examining the coin he had plucked from the air. The silver piece that a kind woman had dropped into his cup earlier today. He had meant to squirrel it away in his hidden coin purse but he had liked the weight it added to his cup.
“Please sir, may I have my coin back?” the beggar asked. The man smiled and pulled his cloak open on one side to reveal his coin purse hanging on his belt and dropped the beggar’s silver piece inside.
“What is your name?” the man asked.
The beggar pleaded, “I’m just a poor beggar. Please sir, may I have my coin back?”
“No,” the man said. The beggar exploded from his seated position, grabbed the man and spun both of them around. He slammed the man into the wall he had been sitting against and held a dagger to his throat. The cup on the stick cuff clattered on the cobblestone street. It had been replaced with a dagger built into a similar leather cuff which the beggar tightened onto his wrist.
“I’m impress –” the man was cut off by the beggar pulling the bandage from his head and stuffing it into the man’s mouth.
“I’m not a thief,” the beggar smiled, “Not anymore at least but I can’t let myself be taken advantage of either.” He looked around again. Still no one but this man had snuck up on him and taken his coin. The beggar took a firm grasp of the man’s cloak and forced him down the street to a narrow gap between two buildings.
“I’m going to ungag you but if you scream or yell I will slit you open and take your purse without a second of remorse. Understand?” The man nodded. He pulled the bandage from his mouth. “Who are you?”
“I’m looking for a bowman by the name of Brent.”
“There are no bowmen here,” the beggar said waving his stump dagger in the man’s face.
“What if I could make it possible for you to pull a bow string again?”
“It doesn’t matter. No one wants to hire a one-handed bowman,” the beggar said bitterly.
“I want to hire a one-handed bowman.”
“I need the best bowman I can find. My sources say that’s you. Do you want the job or not?” the man demanded.
“You do remember I have a dagger pressed against your gut, don’t you?” The beggar pressed the tip of the dagger into the man’s stomach.
He grunted and said with a little less bravado, “I remember but I came here to offer you a job, so I am.”
“Why did you take my coin? Why not just offer me the job?”
“Would you have talked to me? Or would you have evaded and run away when you had the chance? I needed to get your attention.” The man shifted uneasy with the small space.
“Well, you have it.”
“I’m putting together a team for a big job. Take my coin purse as an advance. If you’re interested in making more come find me at the Deer’s Hide tavern in Berdla in two weeks.”
“What makes you think you’re going walk away from this alive.”
A sharp whistle came from up the street. The man smiled, “That’s my associate bringing five hired thugs to insure my life. They won’t attack you unless I’m harmed.”
The beggar edged back to the opening and looked out onto the street. A young woman stood halfway up the street to the next intersection looking around the area. She spotted the beggar, cocked her head to the side and smiled. The loose grouping of men and one woman spotted him as well and moved toward the gap.
“Well, that makes things a little more complicated. I wasn’t really going to kill you. Just put a little scare in you, maybe give you a cut that would scar so you could remember me.” The beggar forced himself past the man in the narrow gap and grabbed him from behind, dagger at his throat. “Don’t try anything or I will slit your throat. Walk out slowly.”
The thugs had spread out to surround the opening the two men walked out of. “It’s ok, don’t attack unless he kills me,” the man called out to them.
The young woman cocked and eyebrow, held both her fists with thumbs up, one in front of her body and made small circles with the other from her side toward the other. She opened both hands vertically flat and made a swinging motion with both to the left. The man nodded. She gave two whistles.
“Everyone move that way,” the beggar said pointing up the street with his hand oblivious to their communication. Slowly the thugs moved leaving him a clear path of escape. He turned and backed away from them down the street.
“Will I see you in two weeks?” the man asked.
“I’ll see you in hell,” the beggar said pushing the man forward and running back into narrow side streets.
The young woman helped the man to his feet. He dusted himself off, taking note of his missing coin purse. She tossed her head in the direction the beggar had fled and looked back at the man with a raised eyebrow.
He lifted both shoulders in an exaggerated shrug, “I don’t know.” He held up two fingers, brought the tips of his fingers together in front of him and then made a hooking motion with both forefingers across his body, while saying, “We have two more people to recruit.” He held one hand vertically flat in front of him and brushed it in an upwards out motion with the other, “Let’s go.”
The woman whistled and the thugs formed up behind them.
Author’s note: So, it’s been a little longer than I expected to get this part out. At the end of this part is the first appearance of the people who are putting together the team. The young woman if you couldn’t tell is deaf and uses sign language to communicate. I’ve agonized over how to portray this. I’ve been teaching myself some basic ASL from websites and reading up on Deaf culture. For the brief exchanges here, I looked up the signs and described them as well as I could. I’m not perfectly happy with this but it’s better than saying the character waved their hands around.