Waiting near the exit was a young gray mouse who appeared misplaced by the hustle and bustle of such a large city. It was his third visit to Copperwood but each time felt like the very first. While letting his eyes roam the streets, he eventually spotted Deckard, heading in his direction. Lifting his paw to wave, he jogged over to greet him. ‘Sir Deckard! There you are. What news from Makham? Will we be able to take the southern road?’ He asked eagerly.
1 hour prior...
‘Here you are Darcy.’ Said Everett, a blonde colored mouse about the same age as Darcy. Everett was the owner of “Everett’s Variety Shope” The shop, if you could even call it that, was really just a cart full of various goods. While not as fancy as some of the other shops in Copperwood, this small vendor always seemed to meet Darcy’s needs. ‘These herbs are hard to come by, I’m not sure why I bother putting in so much work for you.’ Everett added with a small laugh. Darcy smiled while making the transaction. ‘Quite sorry to trouble you Everett but these herbs could potentially save lives while on a long journey...and I’m afraid I’m not ready to roll over and die just yet.’ Everett grinned. ‘In that case, I expect to see you here again soon.’ A statement that caused Darcy to nod and smile. ‘Of course, your company is the highlight of my visit.’ He responded playfully. ‘Give my regards to Ressa.’ Everett managed before assisting another customer. ‘I will! Until next time!’ Was Darcy’s reply but his voice was lost over the sounds of the city.
No sooner had Darcy walked away, did he feel a small pouch lifted from his belt. Looking up, he saw a young brown mouse fleeing in the opposite direction and Darcy took off after him. ‘Stop!’ ‘Thief!’ He cried. While his accusation caused a few heads to turn, no one intervened. The young thief however, made a sharp right, scurrying down a narrow alley. Darcy reached the alley just in time to see the thief disappear around its left corner. ‘Come back here!’ He shouted. It was probably too late to catch up to him now but after quickly absorbing his surroundings, Darcy used a few crates beside him to climb up to a sloping ledge. Sliding down the ledge, he lowered himself into the adjacent alley just as the thief came speeding through. The two collided, knocking both mice off their feet. Darcy was the first to rise and approached the young boy, scooping up the pouch the young thief had dropped after his fall. ‘I’m sure you realize that stealing from the guard is a very serious crime.’ Darcy chided.
The frustrated young mouse of about 12, stood and frowned. ‘You’re not a Guardmouse, where’s your cloak?’ He said sharply. Darcy cleared his throat. ‘Ahem, well...I may not be a Guardmouse just yet but I’ve apprenticed under Ressa the Phantom and currently with Deckard, Hero of...wait, why am I explaining myself to you!?’ He said coldly, suddenly remembering his anger. ‘Come lad...your name and those of your parents, they shall hear about your thievery and you’ll be taken to the proper authorities.’ The boy looked away and spoke in the same brusque tone. ‘My name is Pan and my parents are dead. I only stole that from you because I was hungry...you don’t have to turn me in.’ He said with his eyes cast down and off to the side. Darcy sighed. ‘I...I’m sorry about your parents. I lost my mother when I was about your age...I can only imagine how it feels to lose both...but...why are you not in the orphanage?’ The youth shrugged, still not making eye contact. ‘I don’t know, boys my age get turned out in the street if no one wants us. Not able to feed all of us… making room for the babies and all that I suppose...’ Darcy frowned and shook his head. He couldn’t believe the orphanage worked in such a way, it was something he would need to look into but at present there was still the thief to deal with. ‘That’s still no excuse to become a criminal...now come with me...’ He said while grabbing the boy by the paw.
Dragging the boy through the streets, Darcy eventually returned to Everett’s shop. ‘Back already?’ Everett smirked. ‘Everett, I need a tremendous favor.’ Darcy replied while keeping a tight grip on the squirming child. Everett glanced at the boy then gave Darcy a dismissive look. ‘Not really in the business of granting favors...’ Taking a moment to ponder, Darcy spoke up. ‘What if I spread word of your business to the Guardmice of Lockhaven and the cities along my travels. We have a good relationship with several important merchants. Surely such word of mouth would increase your business… 10 fold.’ ‘I’m listening...’ Everett said while leaning his head to the side, his left ear twitching. Darcy continued. ‘This young mouse is Pan and he needs work. Make him your apprentice and you won’t regret it. He can help attract more business, keep an eye on your wares, you can even have him run errands for you, he is quite fast.’ Everett looked down at Pan who kept his head turned the entire time. ‘Hmph...doesn’t look like much.’ Everett continued. ‘…but I suppose we could give it a try. I don’t promise anything mind you...’ Darcy smiled and released his grip on Pan. ‘All I ask is that you give him a chance.’
Kneeling to the young mouse, Darcy gave him the bit of gabcroon as well as a few coins. ‘Now is the chance to prove yourself Pan...you’re at the age where the choices you make determine the path your life will take. I expect to see you here with Everett when I next return.’ Pan still refused to make eye contact. ‘And I expect to see you wearing a Guardmouse’s cloak.’ He said cuttingly, which caused Everett to laugh. ‘I like him already.’ He said while crossing his arms. Standing now Darcy smirked. ‘Remember what I said…both of you…’ This time his words held a hint of authority as he walked away.
He had been waiting near the exit for a several minutes now. He couldn’t stop his eyes from darting back and forth, observing as much of the city as he could. So many faces passing him by, so many stories to be told and he felt like he wanted to learn them all. He didn't yet realize that his story had become part of the city as well.