Street urchin, that's the only word for her. When Ghost Archer as Fletch Walker found the girl she was nearly dead from exposure. Walking the alley ways of Carse, seeking information on the Iron Fist, the bowman literally tripped over the Krysten's body as she lay under a pile of garbage. At first he thought he had found just that, a body, but the girl's soft moan had him carrying her to his inn. The grubby creature he had found proven to be a young girl of about twelve, recently badly beaten and left for dead. It was the haunted and hunted look in her eyes that touched him and had him paying for a second room. For days he sat by her side and nursed her slowly back to health, talking to her gently, hoping for a response. It came . . . "Don't you ever shut up?"
Krysten was hard for Archer to tame, being more of a wild thing then a person, but he was patient. First thing he did when she was well enough was The Bath, a bath that is still legend in Carse. For hours it seemed, Archer tried to persuade, bribe, coax and when all else failed, body slamming her into a horse trough. She was like a cat in water, all claws and fists, and for a twelve year old girl, she was pretty strong. Nearly a entire bar of soap later, something clean and fresh leaped like a wildcat from the trough.
"I am gonna kill you!" Krysten screamed as Archer backed away, throwing her a towel.
It was the clothes and food that finally did it. As she wrapped the towel around her skinny frame she found herself being dragged back into the inn. Up in the room where Archer had been tending her, she found brand new clothes and a huge meal. Of course she was wary, what wild creature wouldn't be? But Archer's calm and the smell of the food had her sitting on the bed, shoving meat into her mouth as fast as she could.
"You want to do me, right?" She said, eyeing Archer speculatively.
"I don't 'do' little girls, little girl."
Archer raised the girl for the next five years and even now returns to check up on her regularly. She learned the wonders of being clean, of having money and living well, but she has never learned to give up her old ways as a con artist/thief. Recently Archer returned to Carse with Thistle and once again saved Krysten's life. Krysten is eighteen and very beautiful. She teases Archer now, about 'repaying' him for all his kindness. Archer is amused and sees this as nothing more then Krysten's being playful, but how does Krysten see it?
| Excerpt from "Pilgrimage" Chapter 12
"Hello, Fletch," a sultry voice brought me around slowly.
She had grown up quite nicely. I looked her up and down slowly. Still short, about 5'3", with the body of a girl in her early teen. The only thing to give her age away was her well developed breasts which she was currently displaying to great advantage. The impish grin was still there but her face had matured into a very beautiful woman. Of course I would have known her from any angle by virtue of the flame red hair. With a leisurely turn she pirouetted.
"Am I old enough now?" she said.
"Krysten," I said but she covered my mouth with two fingers.
Mischief played in her cornflower blue eyes. She hooked my elbow and all but dragged me outside.
"What's the scam, little girl?" I asked her when we cleared the building.
She gave me a butter-wouldn't-melt-in-her-mouth look and led me toward Jason's.
"Buy me a meal," she said.
I had tripped over Krysten Joral when she was twelve and laying in an alley freezing to death. Over the years I had tried to expel the larceny from her but, like my other failure, Icicle, I had never had any luck. Even at twelve she had been a shameless flirt and now at eighteen she really knew how to turn it on. As we walked she clung to my arm and kept bumping my hip.
In the block we traveled to Jason's she told me of three successful cons and two burglaries. Of course I trusted nothing she said, she was a pathological liar, but I listened intently. At Jason's we took a table for two and I watched her devour her own meal and then half of mine. I realized some things never changed, Krysten was just as talkative as ever. I was only listening with one ear, however, preoccupied with this dark mage. Galileo may want to discuss their handling with Cheeto. Krysten's bare foot slid up my leg and I blocked it with a hand. A miracle, she shut up and looked at me with one eyebrow raised. Carefully she placed her chin on her palm and smiled at me. She tried again with the foot.
"No, Krysten," I said.
"Why not?" she purred.
"Thistle Grey," I replied.
"Is she your lover?"
"Yes," I said.
"Then I am jealous," she said petulantly and pouted. "Say, is she that Sharwen I heard about?"
My attention was riveted on her.
"Ooo . . . interested, huh?" A sly grin appeared. "How interested?"
Damn her mercenary little heart. I extracted a platinum from my pocket and slid it across the table to her. The eye brow went back up and her foot was pulled from my grip.
"That interested, huh?"
"Tell me, Krysten," I said. "And I have my bullshit detector on."
She slumped a little knowing when I said that she could not lie to me and get away with it. Krysten leaned toward me and I caught the scent of her. It was a fresh, clean smell of good soap. At least one lesson had stuck with her.
"I have many . . . er . . . acquaintances," she said in a whisper. "Late last night I was having dinner at the Boar's Head with Young Hereward, you remember Young. He's so sweet and just the best second story man in town, well we were talking about this job we are working on and you know Gunnar is always there, but this time he wasn't hot for me, I guess he had other things on his mind cause Marsten an' Crusher came in and sat at his table. Well after a minute they started laughing and I heard Marsten say "Sharwen bitch" so my ears pricked up and I tuned in. Then he said "redbacks". Now you know I hate spiders so I listen even harder. Gunnar gave them a sack of money at least fifty coin, I can tell by the bulge. What are you a hundred coin bulge or so? But he told them the mage earned it and told Crusher to go to the Dog and pay the guy. Well Crusher did and Marsten and Gunnar talked about this blue staff and how to destroy it when they got it. Young wanted to leave but I didn't so he orders another round when Gunnar spots me. Well he hardens right up and comes over to make his move but we beat him to the door. He's a slimy bastard, I feel sorry for the girls at Malaga's having to bed him, I prefer my men tall, like you, and with nice green eyes, like yours and you know nice big . . ."
"Krysten," I passed the second platinum to her and she shut up. "Thanks, little girl, I owe you."
"Yeah, I know how you can repay me," she smiled a sexy little smile and leered.
"Dessert's on me," I said, standing.
I kissed her on the cheek and she looked mildly disappointed but when I looked back from the door she was devouring a cream puff and had whipping cream all over her lips. She was incorrigible but I loved her anyway. Maybe if I took her to a different world . . . nah, she'd rob the place.