In retrospect, I wouldn’t say it was my best idea. I just saw that silk, the gossamer veil and thought ‘easy target’.
How wrong was I?
The markets of Sharaz are filled with exotic wonders, sights to make the most jaded of travellers gasp and point. The heady scent of incense perfumes the air, drowning out the stench of the slave markets hidden deep within the city. The eye is overwhelmed by colour; hues of fabric and paint so vivid the mind can scarcely comprehend them. Some visitors are so overcome by the vast array of choices they leave empty-handed, unable to decide what shade of red to purchase.
Some leave empty-handed because they find, mysteriously, their coin bag is gone. I may or may not have something to do with this.
Rich women in Sharaz are usually accompanied by serving men or bodyguards, but poor women make do with poor robes and veils to ward off pickpockets. And truly, poor women aren’t bothered much. Their tan apparel camouflages them in this sandy place. Women dressed in colourful silks and smart-looking men yield far greater returns—at far greater peril.
I saw the slight figure dressed in a silken, hooded robe of intense turquoise and my interest was piqued. Slipping around the marketplace I noticed dark eyes above the night-blue veil. She gazed at the fine wares, stopping to speak with sellers in a low voice, but she bought nothing. I thought she was probably a stranger, for she was alone—that made her highly attractive to me.
I glanced around to see if anyone else had marked her. It seemed I was the first to stake my claim so I moved through the crowd with rapid confidence. She was preoccupied with a trinket stall when I brushed against her and found the heavy bag tied around her waist, hidden under the smooth folds of her robe. As I grabbed it a hand seized my wrist.
“Sithos Parrheni. I’ve been expecting you,” hissed a sibilant voice. The hand that gripped me was strong and my body tensed. I looked up into the dark eyes. The pupils were oval rather than round, and strange light flickered through the obsidian irises.
I knew what she was. And I cursed myself for a fool.
As I was driving home I decided I wanted to do something a little different from my usual magical realism or comedic horror. I got a flash of a marketplace in the Arabian nights theme, and thought about telling the story of a pickpocket. When I saw the Fiction Friday prompt I realised I could make that work quite easily within my vague ideas, so just started writing. I knew I wanted to make the ‘mark’ non-human, and my mind is already exploring the possibilities of continuing this on.