Tad stayed low to the ground as he peeked around the corner. He had been tailing the sorcerer for nearly two hours now, and it wouldn’t do at all if he were to get caught just when he was finally about to achieve his goal. Fortunately, the short winter’s day was already at an end. The lamplighter was already going about his nightly task, and the shadows between buildings were plenty deep enough to hide Tad’s small and grubby face.
The sorcerer was fumbling with the key to the door. Hardly surprising, given the quantity of hot wine Tad had watched him consume at the market in between his pathetic little fire displays. Some all-powerful magician, doing party tricks for spare coins. Tad wished he could call the crooked old bastard a fraud, but he knew all too well how legitimate his powers were.
The door was open at last, and the sorcerer was stumbling into his house. He slammed his shoulder hard against the door frame on the way in. Good, thought Tad. That’s what you get for turning my big brother into a newt. And just because he couldn’t handle a little harmless snowball throwing! He gets hit in the face one time and suddenly Westley is a lizard freezing to death on the snowy street. The sorcerer thought it was terribly funny until Westley scurried off into a warm basement somewhere, probably never to be found again. Then the coward hurried off down the street before anyone could do anything about it.
He thinks he got away with it, thought Tad. I’ll show him. He stayed frozen in his hiding place and watched the sorcerer’s front door slowly swung shut. He pulled his thin winter coat tighter around him as the wind picked up, then raised an eyebrow when that same chilly wind gently pushed the sorcerer’s front door open an inch or so. The drunken bastard hadn’t latched it properly.
After waiting another minute to be sure he wasn’t coming back out, he crept towards the house. I know where you live now, you rotten son of a bitch! He grinned as he saw his goal inching ever closer. Boy, will I show you…
Not that he had an actual plan, of course. Surely, he’d think of something, though. Maybe he’d kill the magician in his sleep, or set his whole house on fire. His head filled with grand ideas, plans and strategies. But when he finally reached the door and peered inside, he found his hands shaking and his heart pounding in his chest. He thought he could hear rumbling, roaring sounds coming from inside. Probably just the old man snoring, and yet… this was a sorcerer’s house, after all.
His nervous thoughts were interrupted by a cracking noise and a brief flash of light. Panicking, he reached out and grabbed the first thing he saw, then took off running back through the village. When he was finally sure that no one was following him, he crouched down in a doorway and looked over his prize.
It was a hat. Just a hat.
Tad cursed himself for being such a coward. Surely, he could have at least grabbed his magic staff, or some jewels… anything but the hat.
Still, he couldn’t quite bring himself to go back for more, so he satisfied himself with the realization that the hat was very fine, made of real silk, and probably worth a lot of money. At the very least, he could sell it, and maybe pay for a place to sleep indoors for a few nights.