Gen feels mostly alright as he crouches down behind a few crates in a narrow alley and watches shouting guards run stupidly past his shadowy hiding place. If he's out of breath then that's just because he has eaten something not too long ago and food and exercise like running through half the town don't mix very well; he's just hiding because that's what thieves do and not because he's tired and the guards may have more stamina than him - that would be a ridiculous assumption.
Keeping an eye and an ear on the commotion but also grinning, he pulls a pair of earrings and a necklace from his pocket. They're made of silver with finely crafted sapphire pendants dangling on them and even in the shadows of the buildings around him they give off a faint glittering. The jewelry is beautiful and maybe Gen will leave the necklace on his favorite cousin's desk -- if he can find it in himself to talk to her again by the time he gets back.
Finally, the sound of people shouting themselves silly slowly subsides. The guards must have deduced that he has left this place already. Idiots, he thinks, not even checking in the nearest alley. His cousins - those who always hunt but never catch him (maybe sometimes they do, however they have to cheat to succeed) - would never be so sloppy. But then the guard's master, one of those fancy aristocrats, probably isn't even aware of having something stolen from his purse and only thinks that Gen was a rude child that should be punished for his disrespect. He snickers to himself as he pockets his loot again and steps out of his hiding place.
He doesn't expect anyone to tower over him and say, "Got you brat now." The man, a huge, very huge man grabs Gen by the collar and lifts him off his feet. It goes by mostly ignored by the few people on the street. Small criminals being caught was not such an uncommon sight in Sounis' capital after all.
"Let go of me!" Gen shouts at the giant of a man, but of course he is ignored. He briefly contemplates telling them about his cousin, which would make them drop him like a hot potato, but discards the thought. They might not believe him and isn't she the reason he is here in the first place? As he starts kicking out, the guard starts laughing, holding him away at arm-length.
Gen grumbles the filthiest words he's ever heard his cousins say, not caring what the man will make of it.
The guard seems only mildly impressed by his colorful language. "Watch what you're saying, boy. You don't want to kiss your mother with that mouth."
"Shut up!" Gen snaps breathlessly. It has been little more than a month ago that she had fallen and thinking of her left him feel raw and hurting. As he increases his flailing the guard gives him a critical once over and while he doesn't let go of Gen's collar, he does set him down before it can rip and press against his windpipe and keep the air from his lungs. Gen is still glaring though and the guards sighs.
"Stop making a fuss and come with me, kid. The duke is going to dump some of the washwater on your head and that will be it."
"I don't see how you think that'd make me want to go with you," Gen retorts as his feet are being dragged over the ground, a small dust cloud trailing in their wake. He could try to run, but so far the guard has proven himself more capable than a lot of his brothers are as soldiers, and even though the three sharp and expensively decorated daggers were now resting on Gen, there was still the matter of the man's a little too impressive sword, the fact that he was ever so slightly tired, and that he could use this as a chance to steal some more jewelry from the Duke as long as he was able to avoid the washwater.
Before long they reach the Duke's pompous white marble villa, where the other guards stand about with their master, who has apparently found the time to change clothes. He's still a way off when he spots them and his strides towards them are small, slow, and possibly meant to be aggravating.
While nobody seems to hold a wash tub ready to pour dirty water on his head, there's a small crowd about and Gen brings a hand to his face, smearing the grime that comes with living on the streets for longer than a week.
"Scared?" one of the nearest guards asks causing him to scowl.
"No," he says defiantly. "Just not very eager to get punished."
"Shouldn't have thrown those apples at him then," Catcher Guard says, a vague note of amusement tinting his voice.
Gen snorts. "He's smelling like foul fruit. I thought everybody was supposed to have a go at it." Those in the immediate vicinity laugh.
The duke, who has come into hearing range, has an expression twisted with anger on his face. He speaks calmly, however the underlying fury is undeniable.
"I could," he says, eyes hard, "have you hanged for your slander. Do you not know who I am?"
"The king's brother?" Gen says wryly. Of course he knows. Only idiots don't know and he's not an idiot.
"Then why, for the gods' sake, did you throw a foul apple at the Duke?" some guard, probably the captain, standing next to his master asks.
Gen also knows that telling them that it was a distraction from his other crime would be the most stupid thing ever and so he keeps his mouth shut, which is really not easy. It's time to go, he decides. Creating a chaos for him to get away between this many guards and onlookers is not really hard.
He just winks slyly at the duke, takes one of the filched daggers, and cuts through the collar by which he is held in place. Ducking under a few arms that try to grab him, he throws a smoke ball he has taken off of one of the guards.
Weaving through a confused crowd of people that blocks the guards' way, he turns around the corner of the villa's wall and swiftly climbs it. A look down before and behind him assures himself that nobody has caught up yet except for the yelling and that nobody has thought he might flee into the duke's garden. Gen jumps and grinning he lands on the other side of the wall on both feet without making a sound. It isn't difficult; there is soft grass underneath and the wall is only about two meters high.
It's quite pretty. There is a row of peach trees aligned next to the house (like somebody had planted them with him or at least a thief in mind), and the grass is trimmed, and the roses are carefully cut. Gen bets nobody ever really appreciates it until he sees a little boy, probably a few years younger than him, sitting in the shades of one of the peach trees. The book on his lap is opened, but the commotion seems to have startled him out of reading and now he is staring at Gen, bewildered.
Pressing a finger to his lips and smiling a real smile for the first time in half a month, he jumps into one of the trees. Then he jumps through one of the open windows, hoping and knowing the boy wouldn't tell - he's in that age where people pat him on the head and praise him for his active imagination.
Gen shrugs and shrugs it off. To hell with guards and the king's brothers and little boys in rich men's gardens, he has a full treasury just waiting for him to steal from.