hit counter code Jack of All Trades
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Jack of All Trades 2



He lovingly traced his fingertips over the shoes and sighed in contentment, lost in the moment. Then he selected a pair of sturdy, brown ankle-high boots which were scarred and worn, placing them on the floor. A commoner's shoes.

A few minutes later he was dressed; gray hose with holes at the knees and baggy at the ankles, a brown wool, thigh-length shirt with a drawstring neck and patched elbows which hung on him like a sack. From a drawer he removed a pair of daggers, which he strapped to his forearms, letting the sleeves slide down to hide them. A folded leather pouch of picks was tucked neatly into one boot, and a sturdy, utility pick went into a seam of the shirt at the back of his neck. He went to the front room and opened the pine armoire, which was half filled with more pairs of shoes, and half with an assortment of hat boxes, some plain, others decorated with velvet and ribbons. From one of these boxes he produced a ratty, wide-brimmed cloth hat which had once been forest green but was now faded to gray, covered in grease stains. He carefully put the empty box back in the armoire. Back to the bedroom, where he seemed to conjure a heavy brass key out of thin air. One moment it wasn't there, the next it was in his fingers, and he opened one of the big, brass-bound chests. More folded clothes (heavy, winter gear), a tunic of comfortable leather armor, a pair of short swords, several more daggers, a light crossbow and quiver of bolts (he'd been meaning to learn how to use it, but had yet to find the time), a pack and some traveling gear, a book on lock design. All was ignored as he opened a hidden panel in the chest lid, revealing a heavy oak box, locked and bound with steel (formerly a box for fine cutlery) strapped to the curve of the lid. In the compartment next to it were four leather pouches of different sizes. He selected one (a jingle of coins) and closed the compartment before closing and locking the chest. The key vanished to wherever it had come from. Mouse tied the pouch to a loop inside the baggy tunic, where it would hang safely under his armpit.

He checked the mirror again, adjusting the floppy hat, satisfied with the look, then went to the room's only other window, one which, if open, would look out into a 3' wide alley and a brick wall. There was no glass in this window, only a hinged iron grill, and beyond that a sturdy oak door filling the window frame. He checked the locks and tripwire, flicked his finger against the guillotine blade hanging overhead and making a musical TING, which made him smile, then headed out the front door, locking it securely behind him.


Mouse trotted down the two flights of stairs in the building, the halls filled with doors to other apartments, and pushed out the front and into the piazza. He stood for a moment and breathed in the smells of the small market setting up around the fountain. Certainly nothing as large or permanent as the main bazaar at the north end of the city, this little market sprouted every morning (except the Sabbath) and turned a small profit for its vendors for a few hours before breaking down, letting the piazza return to normal. By noon the stalls and tents and rugs and carts would all be gone.
Morning, Michelo," called a man passing by, leading a burro loaded with a heavy pack.
Morning," called Mouse, touching the brim of his hat and smiling. Sunshine today, Nunzio?"
The man waved a hand in the air as he passed. My wife says a rain is coming," he called over his shoulder, but what does she know?"
Mouse nodded. He smelled bread, and it was time to start the day. Next door was another building of flats with a first floor bakery, and he spied the old woman settling into her customary spot in a rocking chair beside a table of fresh rolls in front of the shop. Mouse let his eyes droop, started breathing through his mouth and shuffled across the cobbles towards her, clutching his hat to his chest. As he neared her, he mumbled, M-m-mornin' to you, Senoora P-p-potseeā€¦"
The old woman leaned forward and squinted, her cataract-clouded eyes seeing only a blurry mass. Clive, is that you?"
Bon journo, Clive," she said, the palsy apparent in her quivering hands. She smiled, showing a trio of yellowed teeth. How is your mama today, boy?"
Mouse kept his eyes drooping and his mouth open. It made it easier to stay in character. She still got th-th-the coughin'-coughin,' Senoora. Still sayin' Hak, Hak Hak!"
Signora Potsi clucked and shook her head. Mind you don't get it too, boy. Got to keep up your strength. Go on and pick out a nice roll."
Don't got a c-c-copper, Senoora."
You never do, Clive, I know. Take one anyway."
Thaaank youuuu," he said, and took two.