"Knupp the Sneaker" (ca. 1572-1586) was actually merely a youth, who grew up in the Crayleway's Cradle orphanage and was made responsible for many crimes, which eventually led to his own early death. - During the 16th century a.S. a series of break-ins and thefts held the populace of the wealthy Skull's Landing Quarter at the Manthrian seaport of Ciosa in unease. Even the thorough investigations of the city guard after the murder of judge Nirdak Kirrild at first didn't shed any light on the matter, until an orphan youth called Knupp was caught in the act of stealing from a noble man's house. Knupp, a retarded young boy not older than sixteen cycles, found his death through the wrath of an agitated mob. He was pursued down to the docks, where a heavy item thrown at him hit him. He dropped into the water where he drowned without receiving any help from his pursuers. Whether Knupp had really been responsible for the murder of the judge, as with all of his thefts, still remains a mystery, as only little of the loot was found in his humble room at the orphanage, not to mention that his educator, Master Retthgar, had miraculously disappeared, never to return again...
|Image description. The thief and possible murderer Knupp the Sneaker as interpreted by a contemporary artist. Picture by Faugar.|
There are various sources telling us about Knupp's appearance and personality,
which more or less are identical - and among them we find descriptions from the
city guards and the administration of the orphanage. Thus we are lucky to
believe that these descriptions may provide a consistent picture.
We learn from these reports that Knupp had some physical deficiencies, for example that one of his legs was shorter than the other, that he was crookbacked, sweated easily and had bad teeth. He also had a difficulty when talking, especially when under pressure, so that he often more croaked than actually spoke - if he managed to get a word out at all, that is. Knupp had broad lips, a bulbous nose and penetrating eyes when angered or threatened (the latter probably was likely to intimidate people, who didn't know him very well). Perhaps his quick and spectacular death therefore was more related to the fact that people saw in him the town's idiot instead of looking at the gathered facts about the crimes he had committed.
Personality. Knupp grew up as an orphan and for this very reason he lacked a second name. But it seems that he also missed an identity therefore, which is likely to be the reason why he enjoyed obeying orders, whatever they were, even if he didn't understand their purpose himself. Knupp is described as being not very bright and was often ridiculed, especially during his younger years at the orphanage, but unlike others he was very indifferent to the laughter and gestures he was confronted with and was regularly seen sitting in a corner, withdrawn and reserved. Due to the fact that his mind was very simple he also wasn't resentful to others, who might have annoyed him only a short time ago. Knupp is said to have often forgotten what had happened a day or two before, and even was helpful to those who had offended him without remembering anything negative. Many other children at the orphanage found his short-term memory very funny and used this circumstance to harass him, knowing there wouldn't be any long-term consequences to expect. He was actually considered harmless. It is quite interesting though that no one described Knupp as a person tending towards violence, quite contrary to Master Retthgar, his educator (and in later years personal tutor) at the orphanage by the way.
Biography. The Foundling. Like many other orphans who found their way into the Crayleway's Cradle orphanage, Knupp was picked up somewhere on the city outskirts, neglected by his parents. The orphanage's records tell us that he was discovered by a group of Black Butterfly Rovers when he was heard crying in a forested area at a muddy street near the village of Altnamm to the north of Ciosa. It is possible that some of the young boy's permanent physical deficiencies were caused by the fact that he was thrown off from a carriage - intentionally or accidentally we'll never know. What is for sure is that Knupp ended in the Crayleway's Cradle, where he got his name and where he spend the rest of his life until his early death.
Life in the Cradle. A place founded under the guidance of the Landgraven of the Ciosa Fief in the year 1572 a.S., the Cradle since then offered a home for children, who have lost both parents or who were put away (unfortunately this institution was closed around 1640). In this merciful institution small children were raised up until they were able to earn their own living. The educators took care of the basic teachings trying to make the children a part of the Santharian society. Life at the Cradle wasn't easy - there were many different children growing up within these walls and the budget was very tight, but many an infant who lived there, was thankful that there were people who helped them to take their first steps in life - the Cradle was indeed an unprecedented institution so far in the United Kingdom.
Knupp was one of many, and he was different to others, as he was considered retarded and a simple-minded loner. And though he was often the target of other children's mockeries, it is interesting that many people who knew him referred to him as a very helpful person, who'd always lend a hand and do precisely as he was instructed. Even more interesting: Many youths of the age of 15 or 16 already leave the Cradle to earn their living and usually work in mines, but Knupp stayed in the orphanage, as over the years he had grown dear to Master Retthgar, his educator. Knupp, who surely wouldn't have been that well off alone and also didn't need much payment, was said to enjoy assisting his instructors with minor work at the orphanage, and so both, the orphanage and himself were satisfied with the deal. That was until the days when the thefts started and Knupp's dark side was finally revealed...
The Path of a Criminal. It needs to be made very clear that we still know very little on what really happened during the days when Knupp was around the age of 16, and especially to what kind of degree he was involved in the crimes which were related to him. What we know is the following:
In 272 a series of break-ins and thefts took place in weekly intervals in the wealthy Skull's Landing Quarter of Ciosa, only a few streets away from the orphanage. Famous paintings, rings, amulets and even magical items were robbed seemingly systematically from various houses of noblemen, obviously executed in a very professional way. Eventually the city guards at the quarter were doubled to catch the "Sneaker" as the criminal was soon called, but to no avail as it seemed - the house of judge Nirdak Kirrild, a good friend of Knupp's educator Master Retthgar by the way, was looted nevertheless, and the judge himself found stabbed. The "Sneaker" obviously had become a slicer.
The Final Theft. Knupp met his doom a few nights later when a guard discovered him in the process of exiting a building through a bedroom window, obviously trying to return home from his thief's tour. In an instant there were several guards pursuing the thief, and the commotion also brought many people out on the streets including a bunch of drunken sailors from a nearby tavern, obviously eager to collect the ransom for the notorious Sneaker.
The rest seals Knupp's personal tragedy: A crowd of pursuers followed him to the docks, where a heavy item that someone threw at him hit him. This caused Knupp to lose his balance and so he fell into the water where he drowned helplessly as he hadn't ever learned to swim. This incident not only ended his life but also the series of thefts in Ciosa. - But did it really solve the secret behind the "Sneaker"?
Aftermath. Well, there remain some unresolved issues in the whole story... For one the loot the city guards found in Knupp's humble room was... quite meager. It contained only a very small percentage of the expected loot, so where was the rest? And secondly: Master Retthgar, who had become a sort of personal mentor to Knupp, had left the town already a few days ago to visit relatives "in the south" as he had let others know. And... he never returned. - So what happened to him do you ask? We'll probably never learn the truth. Neither was his body found, nor was he seen in another town or did his name show up in any registration of the province. He simply seemed to have disappeared to nowhere... Strange, isn't it?
On the other hand it is reported that part of the Ciosan loot re-appeared up north in Marcogg a few years later when a notorious fence was arrested by the local city guards. We know that the organization only referred to as the Thieves Underground originally had its base in this large city, so this makes it very likely that there were some closer connections between the thefts in Ciosa and this dubious community of criminals. But well, unfortunately more has never been revealed.
Myth/Lore. Ciosans to this very day discuss the "Sneaker" issue. Some say Knupp killed his mentor as he had found out about his thieving and the murdering. Or Master Retthgar left the town on his own decision without telling anyone that he knew about Knupp, but wouldn't want to sell him out - perhaps because he saw Knupp's education as his own failure? Others however claim that Knupp only followed his master's instructions and that Master Retthgar was the main criminal, who had used his fosterling for his own purposes. This would explain a planned disappearance - but does it also explain Knupp's final theft? Or was it intended that Knupp would get caught, or that he even should die in this process? Were all the thefts the sole work of Retthgar himself, and was the last crime staged to make the much too loyal Knupp the culprit? - What about the judge? Was his death planned or did it happen only because he discovered a thief in his house? Or did the judge know perhaps about Master Retthgar's dark secret? He was a close friend of his, as we know, so maybe he threatened his friend to tell the city guards about Knupp and had to die therefore? Questions, questions, questions...
Aside from these many unanswered questions there are of course also many different tales people tell about the "Sneaker" of Ciosa. What is interesting to observe nevertheless is the fact that in the course of time Knupp somehow turned into some sort of local celebrity, or more precise: to a person people feel compassionate about, seeing the retarded youth more as a victim of his tutor than a ruthless murderer. Well, at least all these stories tell us one thing: to think twice before we make up our minds.
Importance. "Knupp the Sneaker" is the tale every Ciosan knows. And every Ciosan has his or her own theory about him. For some he's a ruthless mindless bastard who betrayed the people who wanted to help him and whose greed finally drove him to hide most of the loot he made so that it still hasn't been found till this very day. The others think of him as a poor lad, not capable of decisions on his own, but thankful in his own way, loyal and helpful to his master, who tragically had to pay the price for his ignorance... - Choose your interpretation!
At any rate Knupp has made it to some fame and ensured that everyone in Ciosa now knows where to find the famous Sneaker's Ave - right at the docks, where an orphan, whom nobody really knew, but everyone talks about, found an untimely death.
Information provided by Artimidor Federkiel