Bal crouched down in the bar, eyes trained on the heavy purse of the foreign lord, who had one too many a few hours ago. The drunken lord was the ideal target: rich, unsuspecting, and large; he was perfectly hidden in the shadows. Bal cupped the purse with both hands, being careful and slow despite the obnoxious heat pressing down on him. It was nearly unbearable! The only thing that kept him from quitting was the bill that sat at his own table from his much-needed meal. In fact, his waitress hovered by the door, looking for him. Making a run for it was NOT an option.

Bal's uneven black hair was slicked back from his face, keeping his vision clear. His steel gray eyes were fixed solely on the purse in his hands; it was fine leather—unlike his clothes. His vest was light brown with ripped sleeves and it only covered his upper chest; his pants were light brown as well, but with dark ties, and his boots were black with metal slates just under the rubber souls. The leather clung to him from the heat, making his moments a little hesitant. He carefully avoided the small amount of light out of fear that it would catch on his arm bracers or the metal plates on the back of his hands. He shuffled a bit closer, keeping his left knee on the ground to not dump his dagger out of its sheath. A trickle of sweat tickled away down from his thin eyebrows, as if it was tracing his thin face from his smooth forehead to his triangular jaw line. He licked his thin lips as he started to untie the string from the lord's hip. His thin nose twitched as the lord coughed. Even from here, his breath reeked of bad ale and expensive cigars.

"Betty," the lord called to his waitress, "One more ale."

"But Milord, it would not be wise…" The woman was a lovely sight, Bal concluded. Her hair was sunlight blond and her eyes were lush grass green. She was in a very nice outfit: a brown wool dress that followed her curves in a constant line, leaving the best mental image that he could have hoped for. Her voice was sweet, even, and made him wish to hear her speak in another setting. "There are rogues everywhere…" Bal forced himself not to move. Had this angel of beauty spotted him?

"Let them come!" The lord shouted, drawing his rapier from his hip. Bal shifted just enough so the blade wouldn't knick him. "I'll take them all on single handed!" He swung the blade wildly while laughing, rocking slightly on his stool. Bal swayed with him, watching the tip of the blade carefully while his hands were still at work. The lord laughed loudly while the waitress, Betty, covered her mouth.

"Milord! Careful! You may put an eye out!"

Bal got the bag free and pulled back slightly from the Lord, eyeing his prize. The lord grunted, "Only idiots and fools come close enough to let that happen!" He belched; Bal turned his head to keep from having to face the gas that came from the other end as its echo. He heard Betty gasp. Bal covered his nose, not wanting to risk its strength. "Now, where's my next ale?" He swung his hand to grab his purse; though he seemed to forget, his hand still held his rapier. The hilt came inches of Bal's face, freezing him on the spot. He watched as two fingers started for where the purse was. He held his hand out, letting the Lord's fingers brush the bag. His eyes watched the lord's head as he nodded, putting his weapon up so he could hit the table with both fists. "Another ale! Another ale!"

"Yes sir!" Bal couldn't help but watch as the waitress hurried off, hips swaying. He smiled softly, his imagination trailing off slightly. Something brushed his fingers and he jumped. His head snapped back to the purse in his hand, and the Lord's hand stroking his fingers. A chill ran up his spin; how could the Lord do that and NOT know he was here? He shifted his fingers so the Lord was stroking his purse gently instead. He then looked for the waitress Betty once more. She was returning, a large mug in her hand. She put it on the table, "Here you are, Milord! The barkeep says you have to pay before you become too… engrossed in your drink to remember the tab…"

"A'ight, A'ight. Let me see here." His hand gripped so tightly around his fingers so suddenly, Bal took a sharp breath. The lord's strength was amazing—of course, Bal should have known as much. The larger man easily dragged Bal, him being built like a runner and not a fighter, to his side. His drunken eyes settled on Bal's as if trying to see through him.

He gave his best innocent grin. "Afternoon, Sir!" he gave a tap to his invisible hat, "Do you mind lettin' go of me wrist?"

The lord narrowed his eyes, obviously struggling to focus on his face. "What are you doing with your hands on my gold?"

"Mighty Lord! What are you talkin' about?" He's smile wavered slightly but only for a second. "I don't know what you're hintin' at."

"I bet you don't!" He lets Bal go, getting to his feet; his hand grabbed his rapier hilt just as Bal jumped up on the table. Betty recoiled, screaming. His interest in her left instantly. She was too weak for his taste.

"Come now, Mighty Lord?" Bal slowly took steps back across the large tabletop. His heel tipped the ale mug, and he glanced behind him for just a second. A second was all the Lord needed, it seemed. When Bal looked back, the blade was coming at his head. "LORD!" He dropped down into a spider-crawl stance as the blade whistled through the air. "Calm yourself!" His eyes glanced around the bar. Everyone was silent, staring. 'Hell', he muttered, 'guess this means it's time for me to pack up and move out.' He looked back at the Lord and gave out a cry of surprise. He kicked off with his feet as the blade came down. With a loud 'thunk', the rapier stuck in the wood. Bal stood on his hands, staring at the Lord as he cursed loudly. "Mighty Lord, I think your language matches your breath: repulsive." His face paled, but not from being upside down.

"YOU RIFT-RAFT!" He lunged at Bal; "I'LL SEE YOU DEAD FOR THAT!"

"Please, Might lord!" Bal pushed off the table just as the tip of the blade stabbed the air below him. "I might get violent!" He landed on the edge of the table with grace, fingering the hilt of his dagger. A laugh crept out of the Lord's throat. "Am I amusin' you, Mighty Lord?"

"A dagger? What are you going to do with a bloody dagger?" He laughed louder.

"Nothin'."

"Then why draw it in a battle?"

"To distract you." He jumped up, keeping his torso still in the air. His legs shot down on the end of the table, sending the other end up. A loud crack filled the room as the table hit the Lord's chin. As if weightless, the body went up into the air as the rest of the bar gasped. Bal stumbled backwards as the body fell with a loud crash. "Ok, where's my tab?" He pulled out three gold coins with a sheepish grin. "I've got the money to pay. It was on my person the whole time." He ran up to his waitress, pushed the coins in her hands, and then raced off.

Betty slowly walked to the Lord and knelt down beside him. "Milord?" he shook him lightly. "Milord?" She then looked at his jaw. "His jaw is shattered…" Slowly, she got to her feet. "Call the officers! He killed the land lord!"

Bal dashed through the allies of Cornola, ducking behind things here and there. He ran through a great deal of people, swiping goods now and again. He turned another corner, putting his back to a wall. With haste, he ruffled his hair so it fell in a shaggy mat over his eyes; he slapped some tobacco powder on his hands and put some glasses on. All he needed now was a cloak and he'd be covered. Peaking around the corner—this being difficult with specks that weren't for him—he scanned the shops as quickly as he could. After a moment, whistles filled the air. The police were on to him. No time to be good. He raced out into the street and skidded into the table. Cloth fell everywhere. "Hey! You! Watch it!" The owner stormed over to him, yanking the cloth back onto the stall. "You bumbling idiot!" He grabbed one cloth and yanked Bal to his feet. The cloak was tied tightly around his neck and he flailed his arms.

"Let go! Let go!"

"Are you the guy the police are looking for?"

"Let go! The hamsters will get me!"

"The… what are you blabbing about?"

"THEY'RE RIGHT THERE!" He pointed behind the owner, jaw gaping and body trembling. The owner turned around, looking.

"What are right there?" When he turned back, Bal was gone. "Th-that thief! Call the officers! I've been robbed!"

---

Run! Bal shouted to himself, don't stop until you can hide! Run, run, run! He had been blindly running for nearly an hour now and his body was drowning in the need of rest. His mind called out for time to think instead of act. He needed a place to rest soon or it'd find a place to rest—safe or not—on it's own. Bal thought about this for the two seconds he could, and didn't like the idea of a forced vacation by his own body. He turned the corner and crashed through stable doors, only to fall face first in some patties. Sitting up slowly, he cursed himself for his clumsiness while his body blessed itself for the rest area. A bell laugh filled the stable, jerking his head up to look at where it came from. When he saw the brown muck—he yanked the glasses off to clear his vision of the patties—when he saw the woman sitting on the edge of a stall, he couldn't help but have his eyes wander. She was thin, petite, and built like him—to run and hide. They were just a few inches apart, and from the looks of it, the same age. Her hair was dark brown, pulled back in a braid that reached her hip; her eyes were a dark blue that could have been mistaken for black easily. She was in a red cotton shirt with a side tie instead of the normal front tie and her pants were dark brown leather pants made for riding. Her boots were like his: black leather and up to mid shin—except his were hidden under his pants. Humor sparkled in her stare.

This didn't please Bal at all. "What are you laughin' at, woman?"

The humor left instantly. "It's not nice to address someone like that, thief."

"Thief?" He got to his knees, knocking the patty remains off him. "I'm not a thief. But you, woman, should be at home cookin' to please a man or at a bar servin' ale to one." He took this moment to look at her some more. Her face had smooth features—save for her lips, they were thin and made for a sharp comeback—that made her look soft and delicate. He looked at her eyes again, which were now filled with such rage it made him want to look away. Her eyes were hard, cold, and told a different story than her body—not that bodies told stories, he quickly corrected himself. She stood up and he noticed now the leather belt that wrapped around her hip to support a quiver of arrows. 'Ah,' he thought to himself, 'archer. That would explain her sharp eyes and quick tongue. Why does it have to be a female archer though?' He stood up, finishing his brush down.

She jumped down on the other side of the wall. "OFFICERS!" her voice shot through the air like a blade cutting through flesh. His body chilled as he sprinted to the wall she jumped down from. "OFFICERS! HE'S IN HERE!"

"Woman." He growled under his breath as he vaulted the wall with one hand. He landed and looked up at an arrow tip. The woman had a bow in her hands, an obviously custom made iron-tip arrow ready to fire, and her eyes sighting down at him. He let his shoulders hunch. "If you're going to kill me, then just do it." He grumbled. "It's bad enough to have to leave town because I've been found out, but to be conscious of the fact that a woman bested me…" he shook his head, "That'd be hell for eternity."

She stared for a second, then slowly let up on the string. He flashed her a grin; drawing his dagger and cutting her bowstring with speed would rival a monk from the mountains. He spun the dagger around, cutting her belt easily to cause her quiver to fall to the ground. He turned, grabbing a riding hood from the supply wall. When he turned back around, the woman had just figured out what happened. He put the hood on her head backwards. "STOP IT!" She shrilled, fists flying in a blind fury. He ducked under it and gave her a quick punch to her gut. With a sharp hiss of air, her body went slack. Slowly and carefully, he lowered her to the ground. He couldn't be caught here. He had to get out before the officers arrived. He picked up the quiver with one hand while he put the dagger up. He grabbed the bow and hesitated to smile.

"Good night, woman." He chuckled as he scampered out a window and to the rooftops.

He had to admit the view was great from the top of the buildings. People looked like ants, officers looked like confused ants, and children looked like really confused ants. Bal sat down, looking at the bowstring. He shouldn't have cut it, he figured. It could have been useful. Putting it aside, he looked at the quiver. The arrows, he figured, could have another purpose to assist him in his escape. He closed his eyes, going through the steps while he shouted out, "DERDASH STRIKES AGAIN!" Cornola had been his base for too long and now the great Bal 'Derdash' Buttinsky had to find a way out of yet another mess…