Orderly - A work in progress - by Joshua Taylor

Orderly - A work in progress - by Joshua Taylor


Act 1: A Certain Kingdom

Joshua Taylor

‘One. . . two. . . one. . . two’ a cloaked figure chants. Their feet drag ever forward in rhythm, willing them forward. The sun glares down on them and the sand blankets their boots with every step as if to pin them to the spot and devour them whole.

The desert. It’s an unforgiving landscape that paints all who treads in beige.  In the distance, a city blurrily forms: large cuts of sandstone are erected around an oasis. Tiny specks seem to appear and disappear from a gaping maw cut into the stone.

‘Almost . . .there’ the figure reaches into their cloak and retrieves a pouch made of hide; a slight trickle of water teases their lips but nonetheless, strength flows from them, their steps more sure, their march more dire. 

Even in this harsh area, humanity has found a way to not only survive, but to thrive. Trade flows in and out of this ‘natural’ fortress bringing its citizens water, hides, and fruits aplenty. 

This is the city of Melia, also known as the City of Thieves. 

‘Aye, the youn’ling made it back, ‘ere, ‘ave some water’ the guard tosses a canister to the feet of the young man, he scrambles to the ground and wrestles with the lid with a look of possession. ‘Hoo, you must’ve ‘ad quite a time of chartin’ the land, eh? Was quite cocky of ya ta think it was such a simple job, foreig- agh’ Another guard appears, kicking the first’s shin and flashing him a look before turning his attention to the young man. Saying the boy was haggard was putting it lightly, the sun had bleached the color from his attire, and his skin was dark and blistered raw. He was in need of liquid, shade, and food, or else they would soon have to deal with yet another body.

‘Excuse him, he’s crude but means well. Let me get you to the guild so you can report in and rest.’ The new guard declares as he offers a hand. The young man reaches out to take his hand, his eyes unwavering and steady.

‘Ah, thanks’ he says as he collapses.

The Guild is a place of odd jobs and odder inhabitants. The building itself looks normal enough, old sand-colored stone bricks stacked neatly sitting off a back street. But that was it, the building stuck out like a sore thumb in an area of decay, it was the centerpiece of the slums built by the locals to give purpose to those without. Those that work and live here are the gutter rats of the city, their presence is tolerated but only in so long as they can put in the labor for morally questionable lines of work. In this boy’s case: chartering the desert landscape.

‘Al, are you with me?’ A woman calls out. She roughly smears a jelly across Al’s burnt face, Al gasps in pain, his eyes swimming in tears.

‘You could’ve been gentler’ Al grimaces as he sits up.

‘Blame yourself for being so pale, kid’ she stated bluntly.

‘I can’t help that I’m not from here. But Racheal, how long have I been out?’ Al asks meekly.

‘Long enough that my work is piling up. Get it together before the Council decides to replace both our beds.’ She leaves his bedside to put away the medicine and clean her hands. She carries an air of a young mother, her hair black and tied in a disheveled bun, an exasperated expression hangs on her olive face, and her plain white clothes stained, worn, and loose.  

‘That’s a sobering thought . . .’ he says as he checks himself. Fortunately, his skin was saved from the stomach down, his face and chest on the other hand . . . he could only hope this wouldn’t leave him disfigured. He could not thank that guard and Racheal enough, as he thought that he watched his caretaker hurriedly exit the room. Racheal too was a gutter rat. Her job, however, was to care for the other rats: bandaging their wounds, making their meals, as well as taking and handing out requests.

‘Get up and out here, I’ve got you lined up for another job!’ she shouts as her head pops back through the door. There is no rest for the wicked. Al didn’t even bother attempting to put his shirt back on, he heaved his body towards the hall, lagging behind Racheal who quickly rounded the corner to the foyer. Once around he found her behind her desk, facing the front door, several small stacks of requests and orders neatly piled around her. She shuffled through the paperwork for a moment, there seemed to be some form of personal labeling in the mix, before coming to a stop and slipping out a single sheet that she then thrust at Al. It read:

Request for retrieval of a certain gemstone

Last spotted in the North-West area of town, time is of the essence as the thief seems to be preparing to leave town today.

Included is a rough drawn picture of the stone - it’s a deep ruby the size of a throwing stone

It is thought to be worn by an upper class woman as a necklace

Reward: 10 Lael

Al reached for a spot on his ribs that looked stretched and patchy.

‘I don’t need to remind you that I suck pretty badly as a thief?’ Al questioned.

‘No, I sharply remember a certain someone hobbling in here with the knife still lodged in them. I’m afraid we don’t have much of a choice, this is a rush job and that means they’re paying a premium. Gear up and get moving, you can rest when you get back.’ Racheal stated coolly.

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