Pickpockets like Rasaad and his brother. Gamaz never called what they did "stealing." Instead, he said they were "fishing" for copper, silver, or gold fish.
Gamaz was two years taller, two years stronger, and two years wiser than Rasaad. He had even learned how to bluff his way past the khanduq guards to fish the inner market, where the customers' purses overflowed with gold and platinum coins more brilliant than the scales of the syl-pasha's famous carp. Rasaad had yet to learn his brother's trick. No matter how he practiced, he could not tell a convincing lie.
While he was clumsy with words, Rasaad was quick with his hands. More often than not, the boys bought their meager suppers with the copper and silver he fished from the purses in the outer bazaar.
Pretending to inspect a table of fresh dates, Rasaad sidled up to the dark-robed woman. He turned as if to walk away from the table. Instead, he kept turning and stepped closer to the woman. Gleaming topazes surrounded a large onyx on her purse clasp. Rasaad cupped the pouch in his left hand and raised the tiny blade between the fingers of his right hand. Before his blade touched the string, a hand grasped his wrist.
Rasaad crouched, ready to hurl himself beneath the date-seller's table and scramble away, but he recognized the hand upon his arm by its bruises. He looked up to see Gamaz shaking his head. His eyes, still blackened from a fight with rival "fishers," opened wide in fear as he put a finger to his lips.
Rasaad followed as Gamaz led him away from the woman. The boys did not stop until they came to the mud-brick wall that marked the border of the drudach.
"Did you not see?" said Gamaz. "That was the symbol of Shar upon her purse. She comes from the Temple of Old Night."
Cold sweat seeped out of Rasaad's pores and instantly evaporated in the morning heat. How close had he come to destruction?
Among Calimport's dark temples, none was more feared than that of the Mistress of the Night. Everyone had heard stories of the torments practiced in the House of Nine Blessings or of the fire-purification at the Imperious Flame, yet no one whispered a word of what occurred in the enigmatic Temple of Old Night. The mystery made the temple of Shar that much more terrifying.