THE LESSONS OF LEON THE LONG

A SANTHARIAN SHORT STORY

 
The Frethoni Book of Fables   
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Introduction. During a visit to the town of Cavthan Danner Ash apparently had too much time on his hands. His brother had found some work for the next few days and he was left to wander the wonderful merchant town. During this time he evidently had little to do other than follow a shifty looking fellow through his daily routine. While doing so he was able to learn much and gained a story from his experience. So now Danner Ash gives you the story of Leon the Long, Leon the Lonely, Left-handed Leon, Lean Leon, and the Master Thief of Cavthan. And if you couldn't guess - they are all one and the same.
 

7th Day of Awakening Earth

t was one rather soggy day when we ventured into the port city of merchants, Cavthan. The sun had been concealed by the dark storm clouds that hung overhead. Rain poured down on those that were unlucky enough to be out this day. Fortunately is was just the rain that assaulted the traveller, thunder and lightening being held at bay by some unknown force. We sat atop our Koríoch fey Mologh horses, Rust and Thor, moving forward slowly through the press of people retreating to the indoors. Through the Northern Gate and into the Inner City the road led us. Soon after reaching the inner city we saw an inn. We dismounted near the stables and my brother, Todd, tossed me the reins to Rust. As he went into the inn I was left to see to the animals.
 
It was easy enough to deposit them with an eager stable boy that wished to earn a few coins. With the promise from the boy that our mounts would be well taken care of to get some money in return I headed toward the inn. Upon reaching the door I noticed the sign that hung overhead, the name of the inn engraved in a slab of worn wood, "The Twilight's Hearth". I pulled open the heavy wooden door and entered the inn. The common room was packed to the max; one only had to draw a breath to bump someone. I pushed my way through the crowed room, toward a table in the back where I found my brother. Todd was already surrounded by people of all shapes and sizes, sharing one of his tallest tales. I grabbed a seat nearby and watched quietly, taking in everything about the inn I could. I didn't get far before my eyes fell on one man in particular.

This man stood out amongst the others. While most of the patrons in the inn were under two peds, he looked to be about two peds and at least a fore in height. He was also very slim; the loose black clothing he wore was drapped over what appeared to be only skin and bones. Long, dark brown hair fell to the middle of his back, and pulled back into a ponytail. Amber eyes surveyed the room from beneath thick brows. He held a mug of ale in one large hand, and stood in a corner, talking to some man. I noticed that he had an arrogant sneer upon his face and apparently thought of those around him as lesser beings.

As the night wore on the crowds began to fade. All the men around the tall man had left, though he stayed, taking one of the seats the others had vacated. When there were only a handful of people in the room I stood and strolled over to the man. He was odd and something about him had drawn me too him even though his attitude seemed to want to push people away.

"Mind if I have a seat?" I asked him.

He nodded slightly, watching me with intense amber eyes.

"I'm Danner," I said, trying to make conversation, "Nice to meet you... uh... - Say, what's your name?"

"Leon," the man replied in an icy tone. And with that brief introduction he stood and headed upstairs, obviously quite reluctant to talk to stranger asking names. Leon... The name played over in my mind, his tone, and his movements; obviously he didn't want me around him. That wouldn't stop me though, there was something strange about him and I was determined to find out what it was.

That night is stayed up in the common room. The bartender didn't like it but he let it slide since I was sitting harmlessly at a table in the corner recording the day's events. After he left I changed tables, positioning myself so I would be hidden in the shadows come morning. My brother had already made plans to work for one of the guys he had met for the next few days. And as I couldn't say that I had work to tend to in Cavthan, my only plan became to learn more about Leon.

8th Day of Awakening Earth
I had dozed a little that night but not much. I had no clue when Leon would come down to the common room or what he would do after that but I didn't want to miss him. I wanted to learn about this strange man, my natural curiosity coming into play. I knew if he left the inn without me I wouldn't be able to find him again in this city, even with his large size. So I waited. Leon emerged from his room at the beginning of Lighthrive. He sauntered down the steps lazily, and yawned as he seated himself at a table near the hearth. Leon seemed to have timed it perfectly because only moments after that the bartender appeared from the kitchen. Leon stood and stretched, then slowly walked over to the man to talk. I couldnít make out what they said but it wasn't long before the bartender walked back into the kitchen. With a self-important grin on his face he reached over the bar and filled a mug of dwarven ale and downed it quickly. He returned the mug and resumed his original position as the man came rushing back into the common room with a tray of food in hand. Leon dropped a few sans on the bar before going back to his seat and leisurely eating his breakfast. Apparently unaware that he had been spotted swiping a mug. There was his first mistake.

He finished breakfast as the patrons that had rented room had begun to wake and stood leaving the tray on the table. He headed over to the door and stepped out into the street. I waited a few moments before following him out. As I left the inn I could see his tall form moving around the small crowds of people heading toward the market. I followed a good distance behind and watched as he casually lifted quite a few people's coin pouches. I was shocked that none had seen this but it seemed that Leon had become a master of his trade, or maybe something else was his secret.

We soon reached an open market and I watched as Leon greeted many people by name, heading in one direction for a moment before 'accidentally' bumping in to them moments later. Sometimes I couldn't even notice him pilfering someone's coin pouch until moments later when he slipped the pouch into the folds of his large shirt. It seemed that after a while he had filled all his hiding spots within his shirt and just wandered around snatching sweets or little oddities from carts and passing them off to ragged children. I grinned at this. I had been in too many big cities to think this man kind. He was just passing items off to the younger generation of thieves to profit his organization. I had to admit that his man was good. I admired the mastery of thieving he possessed but still hated the man deep inside for the wrong he was doing to all those people that had greeted him kindly.

This went on all day and as the sky began to darken Leon headed back to the "Twilight's Hearth" inn. I wandered about the street for about a half hour, looking into the windows of some of the rather interesting shops before returning to the inn. The "Twilight's Hearth" was packed again and my brother was once more surrounded by people. I found an empty chair next to a group of men and asked if I could have a seat. They seemed glad to have another person to talk to and I sat down and listened. They talked long about the things going on in the city and I listened, adding my opinion when it was asked. My eyes remained on Leon the whole time though.
"What do you guys know about the tall guy in the corner?" I finally asked.

Their faces grew grim and the conversation died abruptly. I watched each of them, trying to read something from their expressions but I couldn't, and I didnít have to. One of the men spoke up after a moment.

"That's Lonely Leon. He grew up here. His parents died when he was five, then his uncle took him in. When he was ten his uncle died and poor Leon was turned out onto the streets. And on top of all that a couple years back his wife and newborn son passed away. Most here know his story and have known the man since he was little but none really know him that well. He's a nice guy, but he pushes people away," the man said.

He fell silent once more, and they waited for another question but I was silent so they went back to their conversation. I began to feel sorry for the man but nothing in that arrogant sneer came across as a man consumed by sorrow from so much loss. I slowly began to figure out his trick. The history, kind nature, and born in the city attitude. I was all meant to throw others off, to have him looking at his right hand while his left went for your purse. I grinned, knowing I'd figured this man out. Lonely Leon was a ploy. Maybe he had lost his parents, uncle, wife, and son. Maybe that had an affect on the man on the inside. But on the outside it was just a ploy to gain sympathy while he played his little magic act. Another name for the man would be Left-handed Leon, soon.

Now I had a plan. I thought deeply about what I was going to do. It wouldn't really be ratting the man out, just drawing away the protective shield of sympathy that followed him.

9th Day of Awakening Earth
Again I had stayed in the shadows that night, and as Lighthrive was almost upon the land I let out a great yawn, knowing that I would need to get some sleep in the days to come. I put that thought aside as Leon came down the stairs. Once more the bartender came in right after he did and I grinned. As the bartender ran off and Leon leaned over the counter I stood. The chair I had been sitting in fell over as I stood up. That hadn't been my plan but it worked a heck of a lot better than mine would have. Leon jumped, dropping his full mug of ale to the floor behind the bar. He nearly flew over the bar trying to grab the mug before it fell to the floor with a loud thud.

The bartender rushed back into the room at the sound of the chair falling and the thud of the mug as it hit the ground. He lumbered into Leon, both falling to the floor in a loud crash. The noise from the recent happenings had brought a large crowd of angry patrons who had just woken. My brother was one of them and he looked at me with one of his "I'm gonna kill you" looks. I just turned away from him and watched.

"Thief," the bartender cried.

The crowd seemed to wake up immediately at that declaration. Murmurs of "Leon the Long a thief?" and "Lean Leon goes bad?" ran through the gathered patrons. The bartender confirmed it and all saw the pouches of coins littering the floor. It seemed the blindfold had been removed and all saw what they knew to be true all along. The city guards came and hauled "Lax Leon" away. And that day Leon the master thief learned his greatest lesson: Don't get caught.

And I learned not to wake my brother before noon.


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Short Story written by Garret Arroway View Profile