By Emily Guettler
Fall had begun a couple of weeks ago, and the once green leaves were now vibrant reds and yellows. In the shadows of these newly painted trees, a lone boy crouched down in the grass, waiting, a bow in hand. A dusty road lay in front of him, nothing in sight in either direction except for gentle hills. However, he was not worried. Something would come. Something always came.
Beyond a hill less than a kilometer away, a wealthy lady sat in her lavishly decorated horse-drawn carriage, gossiping with two friends. They spoke of senseless, unimportant things, like the beauty of their dresses or the new love between Lord Irving and Lady Rosalina.
The woman, named Gertrude, was well-known and popular in her town. Many men fancied her, and the majority of their hearts were broken when she dumped them unceremoniously a week later. Maybe it was her slender beauty or her emerald green eyes and elegant blonde hair that drew men’s gaze.
Her neck was adorned with fancy, jeweled necklaces, and strings of pearls were woven into her magnificent up-do. Her maroon dress was just as extravagant. Diamonds studded the collar and sparkled on her bodice. Rich, purple amethysts decorated her expensive skirt. The expense was so blatantly put into it that it was enough to make any sensible person puke and question why she was wearing it for travel.
Lady Gertrude's friends paled in comparison to her obvious wealth. They were jealous sycophants no doubt, and probably hoped to one day be like Lady Gertrude. Both would have difficulty with achieving such a goal, though neither knew it.
The younger of the two ladies, Laila, watched the trees slide by. They had been on the road for several hours, and her bottom was growing sore, despite the fancy cushions of the carriage. Luckily for her, their destination was only two kilometers away.
The journey had been smooth and uneventful so far. This was unsurprising considering the recently instituted laws in burglary and kidnapping, especially on the road. Under the new rules, someone convicted of burglary, kidnapping, or a similar offense, would be instantly sentenced to death. In an effort to make this law more effective, the king had also set up several patrols to enforce it. Thus far, it had been a worthwhile expense, but no system is perfect.
Outside the carriage, the horses began to act strangely. The driver swore at the animals and jerked them back under control. The elegant beasts continued to roll their eyes and try to see around them, but the blinkers on their face prevented them from doing so. One of them even pinned its ears back. The driver could not understand why they were acting this way, but reasoned that it was probably just a fox.
Annoyed, he stopped the carriage in a valley between two hills. With the halting of her vehicle, Lady Gertrude stuck her head out the window. She was clearly upset.
“Gordon, why are we stopped?” she asked, her voice like poisoned honey.
“It’s them horses ma’am. They be acting strange.” he hastily replied.
Lady Gertrude made a disbelieving noise and pulled her head back into the carriage. Her companions said nothing for fear of being left on the side of the road.
Outside, Gordon tried to calm the horses. Despite his best efforts, the beast remained jumpy. He would never find out why.
The boy watched the carriage stop. It was always the same, his very presence made horses skittish, probably because of his blood-stained cloak or his dangerous air. The driver went over to the animals. A woman stuck her head out the window. To him, the details were unimportant with the exception of the jewels she wore. Those were essential.
After pulling his hood down to hide his face in deep shadow, he silently placed an arrow on his bowstring. He smiled as he drew the string back and tapped his forefinger against his cheek twice before letting the arrow fly.
Gordon didn't even see it coming. The arrow pierced his throat. For a few seconds, he groped feebly at the shaft, and then he died.
Inside the carriage, the ladies didn’t know he was dead and were completely unaware of what was going on outside. They didn’t know that a burglar was approaching until the door was ripped open. All three of them screamed.
Deftly, he drew a dagger and held it up for them to see. Sunlight glinted off the deadly blade.
“Out,” he commanded, his voice dangerously low.
Desperate, Lady Gertrude shoved her two companions in front of her, as if they would give her protection. The boy pulled them down from the carriage before extending his gloved hand to help the trembling Lady Gertrude get out of her coach.
“Oh, but my lady,” he purred after she gave his hand a disgusted look, “Don’t you want to know what I’m all about?”
Lady Gertrude could not resist such a lure. Smiling slyly, she swept out of the carriage, and up to the burglar. She was immediately disappointed when she did not receive the kiss she had been expecting. Though she could not see it beneath his hood, he was smirking at her shallowness.
“Turn around.” he instructed, his voice once again dark and low. This time, the three ladies did as they were told immediately and without hesitation. The boy quickly tied each of the ladies’ hands behind their back. They had no room to move their wrists even half a centimeter.
He then proceeded to strip Lady Gertrude's dress of all the diamonds and amethysts and place them in a pouch tied to his hip. The bag grew quite heavy as her gown was stripped of gems and the pearls were ripped from her hair. The boy then went through the same process with the other two ladies, although he didn’t reap as much reward from them. He left them there as he wrecked the carriage in the search for extra bounty. Clothes fell to the floor in a tangled mess as jewelry was liberated from extravagant boxes.
Once he was sure that he had extracted everything that he could from this robbery, the boy told the ladies, “Stay still until you are absolutely positive that I am gone. If you move any earlier, I will kill you without remorse.”
Lady Laila squeaked out a shrill, “Yes,” in response to the boy's statement.
He smiled wickedly before taking off into the woods, his steps silent as a deer’s.
Lit. Mag. Staff
Table of Contents
~"Sonnet" by Pavan Dayal (Poetry)
~"The Five Performers" by Javier Flores (Poetry)
~"Don't Forget to Remember" by Jillian Wolstromer (Fiction)
~"Waterfall" by Tianna Perry (Poetry)
~"Bipliophile" by Ye Yee Mary Song (Artwork)
~"In the Dark?" by Maya Tisdale (Poetry)
~"Outcast" by Michaela Gathings (Poetry)
~"I am Woman" by Oluwajoba Ogun (Poetry)
~"Enigma" by Serena Wooten (Fiction)
~"Robbery on the Dusty Road" by Emily Guettler (Fiction)
~"Seasons and Relationships" by Kaylee Kalaf (Poetry)
~"Lullaby" by Caitlyn Doan (Poetry)
~"The Crown" by Olivia King (Fiction)
~"Skull" by Ye Yee Mary Song (Artwork)
~"Dying Ugly" by Maya Tisdale (Poetry)
~"The Haunts of Brynmor House" by Emily Guettler (Fiction)
~"Swamp Town" by Samuel Asabor (Fiction)