Stranger and the Thief.
The sun peeked over the horizon. Bringing light, warmth, and a new day to meet new people and make new choices.
“Shit...” muttered the man clad in black. His hazes eyes alighting from the sun’s rays. “I was supposed to be out of here before the sun came up.” The thief threw his hood over his head and raised his bandana over his mouth. He grabbed his crate filled with milk, and started to take off. Sticking to the shadows to hide from the gaze of those he was stealing from, with each step his score clanged and the thief limped. The shadows were disappearing, and he needed to follow suite. Luckily no one was around to see the less than amazing thief and he slipped of ranch property the same way he came in, but this time with goods in hand. The thief sprinted away as fast as he could, each step more difficult than the last. He bit his lip and closed his eyes each time is left foot touch the ground.
“Just need to get over the hill…” The thief looked toward the horizon, it could be no more than 50ft away. Running that was once child’s play and yet here he was struggling to get to it. Promising himself it would all be over soon. He cleared the hill and finally stopped running. He looked down at himself and he took everything in, and he shook his head.
“Look at me…What am I doing.” He asked himself between groans of pain. His eyes saw a set of trees further up another hill, he hated to admit it but he needed to sit down. He marched up the hill still berating himself.
“Running with stolen milk….and not even doing it well. I was supposed to be out of there before sun up but…..” He paused finally reaching the top of the hill with the trees. The thief placed the crates down, and opened them.
“Six bottles per crate, two crates. That’s 12 bottles. Ehhh.” He said sighing as he took of his mask and hood. Revealing his brown buzzed hair, high and tight and kept in a very uniform matter. His jaw strong and with a handful of scares strewn threw out his face.
“If I hadn’t been so slow I could has gotten more crates and….I…no…” He said as he looked down at his leg.
“Who am I kidding I couldn’t have carried another crate…. not like this.” His tone melancholy.
“Why am I no good at this!” he said raising his voice. He stood their staring down at the stolen good, the sound of wind blowing being the only thing filling his ears. He closed his eyes and enjoyed the silence as he attempted to calm himself. Only to have said silence broken a moment later by a new voice.
“Cause you’re not a thief.” Someone added. The thief’s eyes shot open. Without so much as a though his hand grabbed the hilt of his blade. “Who is there!” He demanded, as he removed the blade from its scabbard. The thief turn his back to the tree, and looked down the hill expecting one of the ranch hands to have followed him. But to his shock a thud came from behind him. He turned back around to see a main kneeing down no more than 6ft away. The grass kicked up around him, and his hand on the ground to brace his fall. The thief looked up the tree, looking for where this man had come from. And sure, enough on the lowest branch was some ropes and a bag.
“Were you in the tree!?” The thief asked pointed his blade to the stranger.
“Umm….” The stranger paused as he stood up brushing the dirt of his olive-green cape. This cape draped over his entire upper body. Finally done cleaning himself the stranger looked at the thief. His eyes golden and piercing, looked right through the thief. “Yes, I was.” The stranger said with a smile as he ran his right hand threw his own brown wild hair.
“WHY!?” Demanded the thief.
“That’s not important.” The stranger quickly dismissed. “But if I had to guesses your heist didn’t go so well because you not a thief. Are you?” The stranger asked.
“You…your one of those bomber people right!” He states stepping forward readying his blade for combat. “That justice society. You’re going to try to turn me in!” He shouted at the stranger.
“Well I…” The stranger only managed to get a word out before the thief stepped closer and barked and order at him.
“Quiet! You’re going to turn around and walk away! Or else.” The thief growled. His face as straight as stone. For a moment, the stranger said nothing a simply stared at the blade. The wind kicking up again, throwing grass, and petals into the air.
“I’m afraid I can’t.” The stranger replied finally looking back to the thief. The thief lowers his blade slightly as his face morphs to one of confusion. He couldn’t understand why this man was so insistent on staying. But to make matter worse the thief had just realized his face was exposed. He raised his hand to his face to confirm that his mask was no longer on.
“Then I’ll have to go through you. Probably better anyway you’ve seen my face. I can’t have you turning me in.” The thief looks at his feet for a moment. A look of uncertainty crosses his face. “No…I have to it. I’m sorry stranger but…..this is where your road ends.” The thief closes his eyes and lifts his blade, he goes to take a step forward to strike, he sword high above his head it’s the sun’s rays beaming off it.
“My name is Rohl.” The stranger speaks his smile persisting.
“What!?” The thief stutters and lowers his blade. Confused and annoyed at this man’s attitude. “I don’t care what your name is!”
“You should” Rohl says sternly his smile finally fading. “If you’re going to cut down an innocent man then you should be forced to know their name. Cause you must live with the guilt.”
“I’ve taken many live with this blade. Yours will be no different.” The thief says
“What’s your name?” Rohl asks that hopeful smile making its return.
“Your joking right! I’m not giving you my name. I won’t let you stop me from doing what I have to do, and if I give you my name then you’ll hand me over. And I can’t have that.”
“I am no threat to you. I am unarmed, the least you can do before you slay an unarmed man is let him know whom his killer is.” The thief’s eyes leave Rolh’s face and run up and down his body. He notices that Rohl is standing arms to his side, not the stance of a man about to fight anything. And as far as he can see it seems Rohl is telling the truth about not being armed. The thief pauses before lowering his blade completely and plunging the tip into the dirt.
“Ethan. Ethan Broch.” He says a bit reluctantly. Rohl smiles at him, and raises his right hand from underneath his cloak extending it to him.
“Nice to meet you Ethan. I’m new in Termina I hail from Hyrule. And you?” Ethan stares at Rohl,s hand and chose to ignore it.
“I was born here.” He says unable to make eye contact.
“I see” Rohl says lowering his hand. “Well I was in the tree and I saw you struggling. I was going to offer my help but I’ll be dead soon so I suppose I can’t do much good.” He says with a giggle. “But you never answered my question. You’re not a thief, right? That is why your attempt failed.”
“I…” Ethan pause as he was not sure how to reply. He could feel anger bubbling up inside him, as he was almost positive this Hylain was mocking him. “Is this a game to you? Cause I’m done playing!” He says as he grabs his hilt yet again.
“Something happened to you. You have a limp….a pretty bad one to be honest. You were” Rohl paused as he tilted his head to the side trying to figure this Terminan out. “No still are a man with morals. You were a farm hand. And one day something happened. Maybe you got hurt on the job, bales of hay fell on you, or kicked by a horse maybe. And messed your leg up. So now you steal to get by. Am I right?” Rohl asked untinting his head, and making eye contact with Ethan again. Ethan just stood there and stare at this man. His jaw slowly descending out of shock. His hand slowly releasing his weapon. But the anger in him did not subside. His face scrunched up as he barked back at Rohl.
“Am I a game to you?!”
“What no.” Rohl tried to reply.
“Cause your wrong! You can’t just look at a man and assume you know his life! What he has been threw! What he has seen! Or done!” Ethan’s fist was clenched as he yelled at Rohl, the idea of drawling attention to himself not even passing his mind. “You! You’re a! AHHHH!” He roared grabbing his sword and pointing it at Rohl. “You think you’re so smart. Well it’s my turn, you’re a scholar whom rarely leaves his library! Whom experiences life threw a book. Someone like you would never know the risk people like me took every day! And...”
“Wh…what.” Ethan paused, his eyes widening
“You were a guard.” Rohl replied.
“SHUT UP!” Ethan shouted stepping closer to Rohl, his blade now no more than a foot away.
“Your right Ethan I can’t look at you and know everything. Just like you can’t look at me and know everything. But you can tell a man by his actions. And you’re a man of high morals. And that’s why I know you..” Rohl took a deep breath. “You won’t kill me.”
“I’ll gut you! I’ve killed before and Ill.”
“You’ve killed monsters maybe but never an unarmed person.” Rohl said is face stone cold, and calm.
“ILL DO IT!” Ethan responded.
“You were a guard.”
“And you got hurt. And not you can’t feed yourself……no. You are morals are too important to break the laws for yourself.”
“YOU DON’T KNOW ME!” Ethan steps closer again bringing his blade to Rohl,s neck.
“A wife?” Ethan’s eyes widened as the man whom he had just lectured for knowing nothing was now spot on. “And how many kids Ethan?”
“Do you think it would be fair to them if you got caught. If you went to jail…or worse.” Rohl lectured him, hands still to his side not caring about the blade.
“Fair? FAIR!” Ethan’s hands reached out and struck Rohl. His fist colliding with Rohl’s nose, before drabbing onto his cape and pulling him closer. Moving the edge of the blade to the side of Rohl’s neck. “Life isn’t fair!” Ethan’s eyes begin to water unknown to himself. “LIFE IS CRUEL! One day your checking inventory in the barracks and then boom! The small cache of bombs goes off across the way! You’re not even close enough to the blast to feel the shock wave, but somehow! Some way! Four pieces of metal manage to hit you. Your smart Rohl! Tell me what are the odds of that. Four tiny pieces of metal that could have hit literally anything else, that could have gotten throw of course do to wind, that could have hit my armor, but no they hit my leg. What are the odds of that!?” Ethan shouted his hands shaking. Rohl looked away realizing he may had push the man to far. Now he was reliving something that hurt him.
“I’m sorry I shouldn’t have” Rohl started
“ODDS!” Ethan shouted over Rohl’s attempt to apologize
“Well.” Rohl sighed. “I would have to know all details to make a statement like” Rohl sentence cut off by another fist to the nose. “Ahhh!” Rohl shouted in pain as some blood dripped out onto his face. Rohl regained his composer and finally made eye contact with Ethan again. “Not very high.” He muttered.
“Exactly! And yet that day four pieces of metal went in and only 1 come out. The doctors had to dig deep to remove the other 3. And now I can’t run! I can barely walk! Other guards die saving people! Die fighting great beasts, or doing great things. Me I get taken out by three metal fragments no bigger than my finger nail! Now I can’t fight! I can’t run! I can’t march! What good is a guard that can’t march! Life isn’t fair! And now I have to resort to being a petty thief to feed my family!”
“No, you don’t.” Rohl interrupted. “You can still find work, you just need to give yourself time to heal. Sure, you may not be able to go back to being a guard but once you heal.”
“And what do I do till then!” Ethan interrupted. “Just let my little girl starve till then!”
“So, it’s a girl…. what’s her name?” Rohl asked once again smiling.
“Enough! I’m sorry but I have to kill you now.” Ethan takes a deep breath as he prepares himself.
“The kindness of others.” Rohl states.
“You’ll have to rely on other until you heal. You’d be surprised what the kindness of strangers can do…” Rohl said with a hopeful smile on his face. His eyes looking past Ethan as if he was remembering something.
“You don’t know what you’re talking about. I envy your child like view on the world but that’s not how it works. You don’t know how cruel people can be, how cruel the world can be. You’re a scholar! The one whom reads about it! A paper cut is probably the biggest pain you know! You don’t know what it’s like to one minute be helping people and the next minute your broken beyond repair!” As Ethan shouted he closed his eyes as tears started to cloud his vision. But suddenly he heard a noise.
The sound of metal touching something hard. He opened his eyes, and pull his sword expecting an attack. But he sword was stuck he couldn’t move it. Ethan’s eyes ran up the blade until he saw what it was stuck on. Rohl’s left hand had come out from under his cape and grabbed onto it.
“That’s impossible you should be bleeding but...” Ethan stopped his own sentenced as he looked in awe at the grey appendage that had grabbed his blade. With each movement of the blade there was a little cling. As Rohl stone hand gripped the blade tightly. “S..stone?” Ethan questioned. Rohl threw his caped off his left arm to reveal it. The stone prostatic run all the way up his arm connecting at the elbow. The new day’s sun illuminated it for Ethan to see. It looked smooth and refined, but still rough and cold. Were the stone met the flesh there were several scares still present.
“It’s a little more than a paper cut.” Rohl said as Ethan stood speechless. “I do know what it’s like to help people one minute, and then be broken the next.”
“What happened?” Ethan muttered
“It’s a story for another time. But I can’t tell you what happened after. I was useless. I moped around a tavern for months drinking myself to death. And when I ran out of money for food people I didn’t even know helped me, strangers gave me their bread cause the heard what happened. The wanted to help me. And before long I could return the favor. Even with no arm I could share my knowledge with people, help keep them safe. I gave them advise told them what to watch out for on their adventures, for I had walk that path before them. It became almost a full-time job, but I took no pay it was the least I could do for all they had given me. But…” Rohl looked at the ground as he spoke. “But those people were not done giving to me yet. They gave me this.” Rohl released the blade and held his stone hand in front of him. “They fixed me. They fixed this broken man whom they barely knew. You’re not wrong Ethan the world can be cruel, but it can also be kind.” Ethan lowered his weapon.
“I...” Ethan tried to speak.
“You have a choice to make Ethan. Two paths in front of you, a fork in the road if you will. Usually the future just kind of happens to us, it forces itself on us. It’s not often a man gets to choose his future. So, make sure not to take this choice lightly.” Rohl turn and walked to the tree. He pulling on a rope causing all his belongings fall to him. “Well I’m off.” Rohl stated while collecting his things. Ethan’s eyes widened with disbelief.
“What? I though you weren’t going to leave?”
“I said I couldn’t. I had to speak with you first.” Rohl smiled at him. “You looked confused and I am hoping that maybe our chat has opened your eyes. Life gets hard and when you’re in the middle of it you sometimes do thing without realizing what you’re doing. So, take some time to think about things.”
“But…I almost stabbed you. Was talking to me worth taking that risk?” He asked dumbfounded.
“I was in no danger. If you were a real thief you would have knocked me out and ran off, and if you were a murdered you would have stabbed me without a second though. But like I said you are a man with strong morals, so I was safe. And don’t worry I won’t rat you out.” Rohl said throwing a bag over his shoulder. “Good luck Ethan. I hope you make…”
“The right choice.” Ethan said cutting him off. Rohl paused and turned to him.
“No. I hope you make one you can live with. That’s all any one can ask of you.” Rohl smiled at him and then turned away. He walked away from this confrontation like it was nothing with a wave good bye and a smile. Leaving the would-be thief unsure of himself, and with a hard choice to make. Ethan turned to the sun that had now fully risen on this new day. A new day to meet new people, and to make new choices.
About a day or so later Rohl was wondering around the ranch sketching the horses. A young man wearing white and blue ran up to him.
“Hey! Your Rohl right?” Rohl raised his gaze from his book and smiled.
“That’s me.” The young man stepped forward and removed a letter from his pocket.
“We found some stolen goods at our door with this note, at first we though you wrote it and it was for us. But Its meant for you I think.” The young man handed Rohl the letter. “Any way here is the 30 rupees we promised for helping us. Keep up the good work.” The young man said as he ran off. Rohl smiled and opened the letter. Inside was written only two words.
Rohl placed the letter into his book and closed it. He then rose from the ground, the bag of rupees rattling in his hand. He smiled and giggled to himself as he had one more thing to do.
A few days later Ethan was cleaning up his front porch when the mail man approached him a letter and a package in hand. The letter had nothing on the outside of it, no return address or anything. He opened the letter to find that only one sentence was written.
“good luck stranger.”
Ethan didn’t need a return address he knew this was from the man he met on that hill. Ethan then turned his gaze to the bag that came with the letter. When he opened it, his eyes began to water a bit, for he had never had a stranger be some kind to him.
“30 rupees huh?” Ethan said with a sniffle. “Now you’re just trying to prove me wrong ha..” Ethan paused, bringing his hand to his face. He felt the wetness under his eyes and he smile. He was crying from being happy, something he had not done in a long time. “I’m crying hahaha. Look at me hahaha. Some tough guy I am hahaha.” Ethan stood up and went inside to see his wife and child. For the next week people came to Ethan’s home with gifts. Some brought bread and other baked goods, others blankets and cloths. Some even came offering Ethan a job, but they had the same answer when Ethan asked why. They all said a strange man had told them that an injured guard and his family were going through hard times. And they all felt like they needed to help. After receiving so many gifts Ethan’s daughter finally asked him something.
“Daddy why are all these people helping us?”
“Because they are kind sweet heart.” He said with a smile.
“So, kind people just give things out for free?”
“It’s not free. We are going to pay it back to all of them somehow. I’m keeping a list of every one whom has helped us.” Ethan said handing a piece of paper to his little girl. Her eyes pan over the list, but stop on one name she isn’t familiar with.
“Who is Rohl?” She asks.
“A wise man with a stone arm and a hopeful smile.” Ethan said with a hopeful smile of his own. “And the man whom save daddy.”
“He saved you!” His daughter asked her eyes wide. “How? Tell me!”
“Hahaha ok ok. It started on a new day. A new day to meet new people, and to make new choices”