Warren City seemed at first glance to be a city of complete twilight. There was always a haze dwelling somewhere over the city like a cursed fog that the wind refused to carry away. It was for this reason, as the enchanting light of the moon became trapped in this eternal mist, that it was sometimes called the Blue City. Of course, Doctor Fiona O’Donnell, having been raised there, and having worked in the lower ring, sometimes liked to call it the City of Thieves.
She had nothing wrong with this title – as most people might have been offended to have hailed from such a place – but the doctor was quite an avid reader of romantic crime novels, you see, and she believed that all thieves in heart had a mind for romance. To Elsie this gesture simply appeared to be impractical, however she was compelled to let the doctor have her fun, after all, she was a little older than Elsie was, and knew a great deal more of the world.
The city hugged the coast of the opposing landmass to Edith Post and Victoria City, and was therefore located on the far side of the central islands of Pearl Isle. From afar, a watcher on the water could see thousands of lights flickering low like fireflies. Much of the lower ring was built over the water on stilts, so as the buildings crept back from the sea they were only small and often made of wood and stone. Bridges ran across from rooftop to rooftop, and many homes were connected by low balconies and stairways. For the common civilian such a place appeared cramped and unruly, but for the locals of the lower ring, it was a thief’s playground.
For the common civilian, it was as though a plague had struck this place. Trust was a small commodity among the brutes and scoundrels that dwelled around fires in the middle of the streets. More often than not a passer-by would notice windows boarded up with nails and planks, so as to prevent unwanted visitors. The saying goes that there is no honour among thieves, especially of this kind. Women and children did their best not to disturb strangers. They often climbed up to the roof to hang their clothes that needed drying, and the children travelled in packs playing ball or other games within the back alleys, or in secret hiding places.
One evening a passer-by came across a store that sold trinkets and other salvaged goods. He was attracted by a warm orange glow that beamed from the front windows of the store, for within he saw a figure that most intrigued him. It was a wooden man, standing idle upon the window seal, dressed in motley of all colours. It was posed so as to be hopping on one foot, and its wooden lips smiled from ear to ear upon a face painted with red and white. Upon its head was a droopy blue and orange hat, split down the middle with bells on either end. The eyes were an eerie white.
The passer-by observed this display with much interest, and scratching his beard he said, “That would do most perfectly for the Christmas party!” He began to count the silver and gold coins in his hand as he entered the shop, but before he could the orange window exploded like a dangerous sunrise and shards of glass flew everywhere, lacerating as they went. The man dived to the ground and his money went with the glass, and suddenly there was a man in a masquerade mask above him. In one wild movement he took the man’s purse and the rest of the money that was dropped, and then he disappeared into the dark blue haze of the night – a thief within a city of thieves.ns 126.96.36.199da2