The streets of London were always chaotic. Whether the sun was high or low, the great cities streets were constantly bustling with activity, especially during the lunch time rush when every worker in London came out on their breaks to eat and savour their brief thirty minutes of freedom.
During this hour the streets were almost dangerous as people stormed through them, not stopping for anything, not beggars, preachers or charity workers. Stopping for anything short of a hurricane would be considered a horrid waste of their precious free time.
Which was why Tobias Grimm knew to stay clear of stressed office workers and bankers and instead focus on entertaining those that had time to spare, such as the groups of university students that loitered around Trafalgar square.
'Watch.' Tobias spoke to the group of girls he had managed to stop on their way to grab a coffee. He stood before them with his hand outstretched and a small gold ring balanced on the palm of his hand.
The gold ring was a gift that he had borrowed from one of them, a lovely girl called Abigail who had been given the ring by her grandma. She had not looked thrilled by his request to hold onto her ring, but she had accepted once her friend had encouraged her. Which was a relief for Tobias, he still had yet to perfect the skill of charming his audience. His gimmick was to be quiet and mysterious as he worked, talk in his opinion, was for the Las Vegas magicians.
"Watch closely," Tobias spoke as he held the ring before the girls. It sat on a palm, covered by a fingerless woollen glove and shined brightly in the midday light. "If you blink you will miss it," Tobias warned and prayed that the girls wouldn't kill him over what came next.
As the girls leaned in, their faces filled with wonder, the ring burst into flames and turn a molten red colour.
Abigail shrieked in terror and clamped her hands over her mouth in despair. Her skin paling as she watched the ring melt away to nothing. "What have you done!" she wailed.
"Relax," Tobias muttered as he brushed what remained of the ring off his hands. "I've given it back." He said before giving a curt nod to the hands that covered her mouth.
Slowly, Abigail glanced down at her fingers and let out a new shriek, this time of amazement. Her ring was back on her finger, gleaming as brightly as always, untouched and undamaged.
"Ta-Da," Tobias said and smiled modestly as his audience burst into applause. His job had been completed and judging by the smiles on their faces it had been a huge success.
It would have been a perfect triumph if they had tipped a little better.
As they walked away with smiles on their faces Tobias counted the one pound fifty they had given him with a frown. He should have learned by now that students had time in abundance, but not money.
He sighed and adjusted the sleeves on his tattered duffel coat before running a hand through his black messy hair. He would need a moment to prepare for his next trick and select an appropriate target.
He wondered how had it come to this. How had years of hard work landed him with a life of scouring streets for people willing to give him pocket change.
A few years ago he had been on the stage, performing in front of hundreds. People heard of the Grimm family magicians and immediately demanded a ticket for the show. Now things were different. Now, no stage or agency would dare take a gamble on a Grimm. Not since the dark rumours had surfaced about their ever so brilliant father.
Tobias ignored the bitter anger that surged through him. It would do him no good to be angry. An angry look would scare off his audience and any chance he had at making a couple of pounds would go right down the drain.
So, after taking a deep breath to calm his nerves, he scanned the crowd of faces for a willing volunteer.
He had no idea that the next face his emerald eyes landed on, would be the one that would changed everything.
And would cause him so much trouble.