His movements took him towards the docks, where it occurred to him a less distinct class of wrap might be found hanging from a balcony or inside a loose door. It was, he reminded himself, his expensive tastes that made his last acquisition so easy to pick out on his back. As he rounded a corner of a narrow alley, he was knocked to the ground as the weighty mass of a drunk and overdressed merchant was hurled onto him.
The well to do merchant was pounced on be three thugs, crushing the wind from the boy under him. The ample man pleaded with the tuffs to take his purse and jewelry, and leave him be, but that only invoked a menacing cackle from the men as they dragged him up off the boy and pinned him to the wall. Hysterical pleadings went on deaf ears as the men stripped purse and finery off the swilled man, chiding him for his foolishness all the while.
As he lay stunned, the boy planned to stay still and act dazed, hoping for nothing more than a once over for coin, but the pain of air back in his lungs belied him, and he coughed and gasped as he regained his breath. The startled thugs spun, having almost not noticed the child in their eagerness to deal with the merchant.
“Wat are we gonna do wit’im?” one of the grimy men questioned in alarm.
“Grab ’im up, we’ll take ‘im back with us,” replied one.
“Wat! Are you mad? We're gettin’ paid to kill this guy, I don’ wanna be takin’ off with no squeal!” the third barked.
The merchant started to struggle in earnest at the careless announcement, causing the last speaker to draw out a small knife and slit the overdressed man’s throat as he stuffed a dirty rag violently into his mouth.
The boy was grabbed up fiercely by another of the tuffs and spun around just as the sound of a cracking skull resonated in the narrow alley. A thug’s shout of surprise was cut short by the shattering of his teeth and bone as the boy was dropped back to the ground, only to be followed down by the man who had snatched him up in the first place, as the headless haft of an ax crushed the vertebrae of the man’s neck.
The boy, unharmed but shaken, looked up in mixed terror and hope at a young man holding a bloody and unfinished tool, who was extending his hand in friendship, offering to help him to his feet.