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Cage of Deceit

By´╝ÜJennifer Anne Davis

Running along the edge of the rooftop, Allyssa kept an eye on the man below. He was three blocks ahead of her as he sprinted down the street, clutching a bag of coins. Allyssa jumped the two-foot gap to the adjacent rooftop, not wanting to lose sight of the thief. He slowed and turned a corner into an alleyway. With any luck, he’d hide there and she could catch him by surprise.

Allyssa couldn’t believe she was the one running on rooftops after him. Grevik had insisted only she could do such a thing because she was smaller, lighter, and more agile. She suspected her friend was just too much of a pansy to do it himself.

There was one more building to go. Unfortunately, the next one was much further away. If she had to guess, it was a good eight to ten feet. Keeping her breathing steady, she steeled her resolve and ran a bit quicker. She pumped her legs faster and faster, the edge of the rooftop rapidly approaching. Twenty feet to go. Why did she agree to this? Focus, she scolded herself. Now was not the time to think about it. Ten feet to go. Here goes nothing.

Her right boot hit the edge of the roof. Using all her strength, she pushed off, flying through the moonlit night. Her arms waved and her legs ran on air as she hurtled toward the adjacent rooftop landing with a jolt. Starting to fall forward, she tucked her head, rolled onto her back, and somersaulted. Crouching low, her heart beat frantically. Blimey. A smile burst on her face. That was fun. Not that she was about to do it again, though.

Jumping to her feet, she glanced over the edge of the two-story building, searching for the thief. Sure enough, he was right below, hiding in the alley. Allyssa pulled out her dagger and slid onto her stomach. Peering over the side, she carefully aimed her weapon at him. As long as the thief stood still, striking him would be relatively simple. She counted to three and threw her knife, watching it zoom down thirty feet and whack the man dead center in his right shoulder. He screamed, dropping the bag of coins as he looked frantically about for his attacker. The hilt was facing straight up and hopefully wouldn’t give away her position.

If only Grevik would hurry and catch up. Shortly after they had started pursuing the thief, a rowdy crowd of about twenty men spilled out from a tavern, blocking the street as a fight broke out. Since Allyssa and Grevik didn’t want to lose the thief, he told her to climb the building so she could follow him. She hoped Grevik had made it through the crowd without incident.

Standing, she scanned the adjacent streets, not finding her friend anywhere in sight. The thief still stood in the alleyway, not making an attempt to run. It was up to her then. She climbed down the ladder attached to the side of the building. Taking a deep breath, she stalked around the corner.

The man stood in the middle of the dark alley, clutching his shoulder. “Stay back or I’ll gut you!” he screamed.

“Funny coming from an injured lowlife who steals,” she answered, trying to use a deep voice.

The man laughed. “Go back home where you belong, little girl,” he said, shaking his head.

“That’s no way to speak to someone who’s about to wallop you.” She plucked her knives free and held them low. “Now give me the bag of coins you stole from the baker and maybe, just maybe, I won’t kill you.”

The man yanked the dagger out of his shoulder, stifling a scream. When his head tilted up, his eyes gleamed with malice. Based upon the way he held his body, prepared to fight, he had to have some skill. Nothing she couldn’t handle, though. Not wanting to risk the weapon cutting her, she threw her knife at the dagger he held, hitting it hard enough that he dropped it, the metal clanging on the stone street.

“What are you waiting for? Scared?” the man taunted.

Allyssa meandered toward him as she tossed her cape behind her shoulders, freeing her arms and legs. “Yes,” she whispered when she was only three feet away. “I am scared. Scared I’ll kill you when you really deserve to be rotting in a jail cell.” And with that, she spun and kicked his head, sending him to the ground. Much faster than she expected, he sprang to his feet and swung his fist at her. She stepped out of the way and was about to hit him when he punched her cheek. Stars exploded across her vision. Blasted. That would leave a mark.

“You did not just hit me,” Allyssa said, seething with rage.

The man had the audacity to laugh at her. She flung her last knife into his thigh. He screamed. Wimp. Using a front kick, she struck his chest and he went flying to the ground. Just for good measure, and because he’d hit her face of all places, she went over and kicked his groin. He had the decency to curl into a ball and surrender.

A man ran into the alley behind her. She spun around and came face to face with her friend, Grevik. “It’s about time you showed up.” She smiled sweetly at him. “You missed all the fun.”

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