The thief stole my dagger in the middle of the bazaar, in broad daylight. I was looking at Sasha's new carpets, a riot of colors hanging between Merim's sacks of spices and Tiya's produce stand, when I felt the barest pressure on my belt as the holster was cut - the kid was good, I'll give him that. But to steal from me? That also made him either bold as brass, or dumber than a sack of hammers.
I watched a set of narrow shoulders move nonchalantly away from me through the crowd, and noted the direction. One of The Tailor's spawn. I'd have to go pay him a visit, but only after letting him sweat for a day or so. Nothing on the knife was remarkable or especially marked it as mine, so I had no fear that it would be used in ways that would damage my excellent reputation. So why steal it? Was someone trying to send me a message?
While I pondered this, I shouldered my way through the crowded, awning-covered aisles towards Hiram's chai cart. Hiram was a notorious gossip, so just in case the kid didn't know who he'd fingered, I'd make sure the word was out before I was ten feet from my tea.
The next day found me standing in the street across from The Tailor's rathole. The brass gongs on the mayor's roof announced the hour, and before they'd finished ringing, The Tailor was standing in front of me, holding a thin young man by the arm. The Tailor was sweating like a draft mule, which amused me enough that I had to consciously keep from lifting my lip in the barest of grins.
"Take him!" he bellowed, pushing the lad towards me. "He won't be working for me no more, not after this! You can be sure of it. He's good, but he ain't smart. I had nothin' to do with it, you have to believe me."
I nodded ever so slightly. "Do you have my property, Tailor?"
He groped in his omnipresent grubby satchel with alacrity until he produced my modest knife - my eating knife, if truth be told, although after seeing The Tailor handle it, I considered re-purposing it.
"Here it is, sir, and to hell with the boy for taking it!! Remember my apologies come with it - I considered sending it back in this idiot's back, but then figured you might have other plans for him. Take them both, I'm done with that pimple on my business!" He shoved the lad forward, and to the boy's credit, he didn't move a muscle in his face, or look away from mine during the entire exchange.
I reached out and lightly touched the boy's arm. The Tailor spat with finality, glared once more at the thief, then turned on his heel and hastily limped back into his warehouse of pickpockets and stolen goods.
"Come with me." I commanded. The boy stared at me without moving. I sighed."Do you have a name, then?"
"Okay, Larus, please walk with me. I want to ask you some questions, and since the Tailor has disavowed your company, I'd suggest that you answer them. Come." I pivoted slightly so that we were side-by-side, and put the gentlest pressure on his arm to follow me before loosing him and walking off. He hesitated for less time than I'd anticipated, and then followed me. Nice of him to save me the effort of shooting poison darts into his neck had he chosen to flee - I pushed the tube back into my sleeve, and this time, I allowed myself that barest of smiles. He wasn't stupid. And I needed a new apprentice.