Disclaimer: Belongs solely to Jim Butcher, not me. I am just not that awesome.


It was truly far too easy to slip past the defenses on the Aleran shops and take anything. There was no absolutely no challenge to it at all. They thought themselves so clever with their furies but did not even imagine someone sneaking in without them.

With a well-soaked cloak coated with salt, she could go anywhere using the roofs as a road.

Well...not truly anywhere. She had yet to see more than a few glances of the Aleran boy since arriving as he was hard to catch outside but there were others to Watch and learn from. Like the jeweler on the first night in the city who had shown her exactly where he hid his keys though he had not known it. The ebony combs she had taken were of no use but the cloak pin had become so a few nights later after raiding a clothier's shop.

And there were all of the varying types of Aleran mating rituals that she had seen so far. Highly confusing and convoluted...and many of them did not even keep to them though they pretended they did.

Kitai heard a noise from behind her on the rooftops and broke her gaze away from her observance of one of the many mating rituals going on below her. She rose and crept up the slight incline to peer over, pulling the hood of her cloak low to cover her hair from the moonlight.

One roof over, a shadow was moving.

It was an Aleran, of course; moving quietly for one of them but still incredibly noisy to her. At least seeing this one proved they could quiet themselves. She had been starting to wonder if they were all deaf to their own noise.

Slipping over the incline of the roof, Kitai began to track the shadow. She followed it, always keeping it in sight while staying a good distance away. When the Aleran finally stopped it was near the street that was familiar to her: the jeweler she had taken the combs from was no more than a stone's throw away.

Moving closer, she watched as the Aleran drew several pieces of curved metal from a pouch and began fitting them together. As they drew out a rope and wrapped it around one end of the sectioned together pieces before affixing the hook to a section of the roof, Kitai leaned forward with interest. The thief tossed the other end of the rope off the edge of the building then began making their way downward.

She watched the rope as it slid back and forth slightly, waiting for the right moment. There was the muffled crunch of breaking glass from below and then the length of rope went slack – the thief was inside.

Darting out of her hiding space, Kitai flung herself across the space of the alley between the buildings and landed lightly. She quickly pulled the hook from where its clawed ends clung to the corner of the stonework. As she drew the other end upward, there was a startled cry from below and she felt a brief tug on the end. The thief had just barely missed grabbing it.

Ignoring the scraping below that was obviously the Aleran trying to figure out an escape, she considered the newly acquired hook briefly. There were three metal hooks linked together by tabs and grooves but held securely by the rope that was tied tightly around them. Well that was certainly useless.

Alerans made terrible rope.

Untying it, Kitai dropped it to the roof and fiddled with the hooks until they slid apart. Experimentally she pushed them back together then apart again before tucking them away into her pouch and taking off across the rooftops again.

She came across another Aleran mating ritual – a boy uselessly starting at a girl sitting in a window – as she slipped across the roofs but ignored it. There was nothing new to learn from those at the moment. Upon passing another clothier, however, she paused in consideration then darted towards where an aqueduct ran across the rooftops.

Soaking her cloak liberally, she pulled a sack full of salt from her pouch and spread it over the now wet cloth. Drawing it back on, Kitai headed back towards the shop, reading her own method of entering. The oil and cloth, with the help of a convenient ledge and a dagger filched from a blacksmith, easily gained her entrance through a window noiselessly. With the guardian furies ignoring her thanks to the cloak, she slid inside without fear and began to browse through the clothes.

None of the things the Alerans made their woman wear were particularly pleasing but the first glance at the male ones turned up something. A tunic of dark, soft cloth emblazoned with some sort of flowers was proudly displayed and she ran her fingers over its surface. The feel of it against her skin brought a slight smile to her face.

Slipping the tunic from where it hung, Kitai folded it away into her pouch and paid the shop one last look over. Seeing nothing else of interest, she went out the way she had come and was back to the rooftops again.

Laying the sodden cloak to dry over the raised edge of a building, she changed into the new tunic before a rich, delicious smell wafted past her and set her stomach growling. Following the scent, she found herself on the roof of a building next to the back of a dining house. And sitting tantalizingly in an open window were several loaves of sweetbread.

Dropping to the street level, she easily slipped one of the loaves from the tray then glanced into the small, back section of the kitchen. Seeing no one but the snoring form of a cook, she entered and exited moments later bearing a clay pot of some stew, another loaf of bread, a flask of some type of drink, and a large section of roast wrapped in cloth.

Kitai made her way back up to the roof where her cloak lay drying and sat down to eat, enjoying the flavor of the food. As she leaned against the raised stone section of wall, she considered what to do next.

Continue taking from the Alerans in the city and Watching both them and the boy?

She could not reveal herself...that was not the point of Watching.

Nodding to herself, Kitai decided. She would continue until he found her. That would at least prove her Aleran was worth something.

A sigh exited her lips as that decision rattled through her mind, bringing a spark of irritation with it. Alerans were so much trouble.

Why couldn't she have gotten a horse?