Chapter 1: caught in the act….

Devaki crept up behind a clueless merchant. A wealthy, clueless merchant. He walked unawares in the market, looking at the wares the other merchants had to sell.

Stealthily, she crept up to the man, and as he stopped to chat with a friend of his, she secreted a hand into his leather pouch that held his coins. She took hold of it and cut it with a dagger, with as little movement as possible to alert the merchant of the theft.

The merchant felt nothing and saw nothing. His friend however, was a different matter….

"Stop!" the friend of the merchant said. "Stop, thief!"

Quick as the wind, Devaki turned tail and ran with both men running after her. They cried out "Thief! Stop him!" to the crowd as they tried to gain on her. She was faster and soon lost sight of both men with the turns and corners she took to shake them off. She turned several more times before she climbed up to the rooftops of the city, Kalimanth.

Devaki sat on an upturned crate and opened the leather bag to count the coins. Two gold maleks and fifteen silver shatis. Not bad at all for a girl disguising as a boy.

Until someone grabbed her behind her neck and hauled her off the crate.

"Got you," The merchant's friend said quietly.

He turned her around to face him. All the while, she tried to think of and escape route as she struggled.

"Don't even think of it," the man said, shaking her slightly.

"Now," the man began, " You must be the little thief the guards can't seem to catch. I'll have my friend's money back."

He held out an expectant hand. Devaki sighed and handed over the pouch. All the while was happening, she hadn't said a word to the man.

"I wonder, should I hand you over to the authorities or not. You picked a wrong day for your thieving lad," the man said admonishingly.

Devaki's mind raced. He still though she was a boy? She was as silent as the night.

"Well? Speak up lad!" he said sharply. " Or has the cat got your tongue?"

She only looked around the man as if she was interested in something behind him. He fell for it and turned.

In a flash, she had reached the ladder and slid down it. Years of experience had honed her reflexes to a fine point. She was on the street and running again. She thought she had nearly gained her freedom until she was tackled to the ground.

"I forgot to tell you why today was unfortunate," the man said, barring his teeth. "I'm a sorceror."

His admission only made her struggle all the harder. She had no wish to consort with the magical people. Escpecially when one might reveal her secret and show it of the world to see.

The man brought a fist down on her head and the world turned black.