He capered across the wall and those rising to start their tasks looked away from him. Some mornings he was more of a spectacle than others, yet everyone pretended not to notice. When he came to the corner of the wall, the man in a harlequin mask ceased his capering and draped himself into the crenelation. A thin knife flicked around his knuckles as he idled and watched the goings on in the square.
Time passed, and a merchant got into an altercation with a buyer. Voices raised, faces red, and blows imminent, until the harlequin dropped lazily from the wall and strolled by them. Knife sheathed, he tapped his fingers against the hilt. Silence followed him. He paused and tilted his head back at the arguers. The conversation resumed, much subdued.
So went the morning, the man wandered, and in his wake, people banded together. A woman and her daughter were tending their vegetable garden and they froze when he passed them by. The hand on his knife stopped tapping and he gave them a clumsy bow. The woman put an arm in front of her daughter, and shook her head at the man. He made a negative sign with his hand and stumbled back a few paces. He bowed more deeply and more sincerely, before turning and striding briskly away.
His steps brought him to the keep where a bearded man in fine clothes was talking with merchants. The harlequin man stayed within view, but at a distance, and leaned against the wall. Flipping his knife. Swish, flick, flash. Swish, flick, flash. The business was soon concluded and the bearded man nodded to him. The harlequin man fell in at his shoulder, a pace of so behind, and shadowed him through his walks and meetings. Close to dusk, the bearded man gave a quiet order. The man in the harlequin mask saluted him and jogged off into the dusk. For once, his knife was silent.
Some literary thieves have run off with this first line. See what they did with their capering gentlemen here.