Feast of Flowers
Toox deftly swung his leg over the sill of the window in the seedy tavern where he had stayed the night. He carefully watched his surroundings for early morning onlookers. Having donned a face so generic that no one would so much as glance at twice he wasn’t worried but it never hurt to be careful. Today was the day. This was the “big score.” He had spent the last of his coin on the room and bright colored clothes that peeked from beneath his cloak.
The cold steel of his kukri was strapped against his right arm in case there was any trouble. The same type of blade that his father had more frequently used to cut bread and cheese than to use as a weapon, but knew how to use all the same. Mr. and Mrs. Davies the jugglers and knife-throwers in the troupe had seen that Toox was properly trained to hit a flag out of their hands, or miss a volunteer tied to an over-sized target, as the situation required.
Toox had done this same job for the last ten years without trouble, but this year was different. About a month had passed since the night the guards had come for Lionel Walker (his name at the time) and disrupted his little shipping business. They said that he had been transporting criminals into and out of the city and that he had been planning to assassinate the mayor. While he maintained that he had no idea what he was shipping and offered to pay any penalty he owed the guards were mysteriously above his attempts to bribe them off. He assured them he had no plans to assassinate anyone, from the mayor to his esteemed loyal dog but they just sneered back as the drug him from his cabin. They smashed any and all of his goods while they beat up and killed any of his crew attempted to fight. It was not until they took out the torches and lit the mast that he realized they had no intention of arresting him. Fire wasn’t something that was played with in this city even so far from the city itself. Luckily the men standing guard did not know him from the rest of the sailors and while they eyed they growing blaze he broke free and leather armor wrapped around him from nowhere. In a matter of seconds each of the guards ended up with their own daggers sticking from their backs and Lionel Walker was gone never to be seen again.
In the coming weeks Toox discovered how deep the trouble he landed in actually was. He had attempted to assume numerous identities, each with their own property and enough of a reputation to work off of, but the unthinkable happened again and again as they continued to come for him. Usually it was city guards, but as the corpses piled up mercenaries and bounty hunters joined in the hunt. It was clear that it was Toox they were after, not Walker the sailor, or even just after him as a changeling. They were after him, and he would have to find out why. Only as a last resort one persona seemed to be safe. Toox had only recently begun to develop the human by the name of Aldo Raine. A small-time information source who was known to get his hands dirty for anyone with a bottle of rum.
Toox carefully climbed up the building pulling his mind away from his past. He was never one to dwell on the horrible things he’d seen, even when they cost him his family and the only world he ever wanted to live in. He carefully followed his own scratches and marks mapping out his own route across the city. He had a few hours and had to travel half way across the town and back just to make it straight up. He could hear the trumpets from down here. The sky would start raining rose petals for an hour by the time he made it up, it was the day the city smelled good.
The stage was set for “Trouillefou the Magnificent” every year on the same day. This day. Toox finally reached a high enough level to walk the streets. He pulled his hood further over his face, which now showed the deep angles and long black goatee of his stage persona. Another hour working through the crowd eventual led him to an empty stage. An enormous audience stood starring in anticipation at the only empty stage in the entire city, the roof of tavern with a wooden red rose above the door. The center of the city…at least for today. He ran to the neighboring rooftop and flipped of his cloak to the red and yellow silk stripes inside, uncovering his purple and gold motley. A quick flip onto the roof and the audience gave a huge cry. The horror that had become Toox’s month… his life… vanished. Because for one day he was not Toox… and it was going to be a good day.