Gender: Male Age: 53 Location: Las Vegas, Nv
|Introduction: Imperial Ambassador’s threat|
I behaved myself over the next week. I did a little scouting though, mostly merchants. I had certain… standards about who I would steel from. Even though I had almost two thousand gold pieces it wasn’t about the gold. It was about punishing someone, taking their wealth as a lesson. The people of the city seemed to understand this even if the thieves guild didn’t.
The news of the robbery of the Imperial goods train went through the city like a fire out of control. It was worse, one of the men claimed to be the Shadow Thief during the fight. Several of the robbers had attacked the ambassador trying to kill him. The rumors going around were that he swore to find and kill me.
I would have ignored it except they had stolen the Imperial Seal. Over the next few nights I went into secret places and listened to gossip. The robbery had angered the thieves guild and that meant it wasn’t one of them. They weren’t looking for whoever it was and that told me they knew who the robbers were. I had an idea that Earl Garlan was involved because of the way they ignored him like he was untouchable, but with who else I didn’t know.
Day and nights the streets were filled with guards searching for me. Three days after the robbery I decided to act. In the middle of the night I slipped over the back wall. It took me longer to reach the Curtain then normal because I had to avoid searchers. Three minutes later I was standing on the other side watching a patrol walk by.
The Earl’s manor was as dark as the last time I was here but this time the window was closed. After a little checking I climbed to the study window. It took thirty seconds to slip a slim through and open the lock. I locked the window behind me and moved to the desk. I unshuttered my dark lantern and started searching the room. It took almost ten minutes to find the small hidden panel.
The white velvet pouch rested beside several other leather pouches. The Seal was in the pouch and I tucked it away. The other pouches were filled with large Imperial gold coins. I took the other pouches, putting them away in my pack. I closed the panel and moved to the door. I slipped into the hall and heard a few people in the hall.
I made my way to the servant stairs and quietly went up. The second floor was quiet but better lit then before. I made my way to the Earl’s room and quickly picked the lock. I opened the door and slipped in looking around. I moved to the bed and removed a soft rope from inside my pack. From the bed I was able to reach the overhead bean and tie off one end of the rope. The other end of the rope ended in a noose.
I moved a chair away from the wall and under the noose. I moved to the side of the door and squatted down to wait. It was almost an hour before I heard him coming. I could tell he was alone and stood, drawing a knife. I waited for him to close the door before moving. I yanked his head back and put the knife against his throat, “There is a price for telling people you are robbing that you are me.”
He jerked and held still as I pushed him against the wall and slammed the pummel of my knife into the back of his head. I pulled his sash off and bound his hands behind his back while he was stunned. I shoved and forced him onto the chair I had prepared. I put the noose over his head and tightened it around his neck. I moved around in front of him, “Who else was involved?”
When he didn’t say anything I reached for the chair. His eyes widened, “The Assassin’s guild!”
I waited and he licked his lips, “It was the assassin’s guild but they failed…”
I nodded, “Who paid?”
He swallowed, “Duke Sargonet.”
I watched his face, “Why?”
He looked away, “He wanted the Seal for some trade documents.”
I nodded and reached out to jerk the chair out from under him. There was a thump and his body kicked as the rope strangled him. I moved the chair back to where I had found it and went to the window. I used a piece of string on the latch before moving out the window. I closed it after me and pulled on one end of the string. When the end came out from under the window it was locked.
I climbed down and went to the wall. I lay on top of the wall for a few minutes until I was sure no one was watching. I moved through the shadows, going deeper into the Nobles retreat. I stared across at the twin keeps in the middle of a small wooded park. Getting close to the Imperial keep was easier then I thought. I slipped forward into the shadow of a nearby tree I started across the park.
When I finally reached the wall I almost touched it before bringing my hand back. I looked at the wall and held my hand a short distance from it. I could see the hairs on the back of my hand as they stood up. Magic! The keep was warded! I thought for a moment. I hesitantly reached into my belt pouch for a pinch of salt.
I rubbed it into my hands and on my climbing claws. I rubbed more on my knees and the toes of my shoes. I took a breath and reached out to touch the wall. When nothing happened, I started climbing. A minute later I was standing on top of the wall looking around. I could see only a couple of guards that looked like they were already asleep.
Getting into the main part of the keep was simple. The stairway down from the wall was next to a balcony. I unlocked the window and slipped inside. I moved through the empty suite and quietly opened the hall door, it hadn’t even been locked. The hall had several lanterns and at the far end I could see the massive double doors of the Emperor’s suit.
I started down the hall moving carefully and stopped at the double door next to the massive doors. I checked and then silently entered the quiet room. I could hear the breathing of the man and woman sleeping in the bed. I moved to the side of the bed beside the man and pulled a chair closer. I leaned over the man and covered his mouth. He woke with a start but I leaned down before he began struggling. “Quiet.”
I released my hand and he glared as I sat in the chair. I waited and he glanced at his wife before sitting up, “What do you want?”
He was quiet but angry. I smiled and pulled the white pouch out. His eyes widened and then snapped to my face, “I don’t like people using my name. The man who robbed you was Earl Garlan. They were supposed to kill you. The Duke of Sargonet wanted you dead and the Seal for some trade documents. I may be a thief at times, but I do not steal from his Majesty.”
I held the white pouch out and he hesitated before taking it. “Why should I believe you?”
I smiled, “I don’t really care if you believe me. I only came to return the Seal. Those that stole it will answer to me.”
I stood up, “Good night ambassador.”
I turned and walked out. I didn’t hesitate, I walked quickly down the hall and into the room I had entered through. I went straight out the window and over the balcony. On the wall I hesitated to rub salt on myself before climbing down. I slipped into the shadows of the trees and made my way across the park. The streets of the Nobles retreat were still patrolled heavily but I moved through them without being seen.
The wall of Duke Sargonet’s manor was almost twenty feet tall. It was a little harder going up the wall. The stones were smooth and put together closely. I used my claws and reached the top and lay along it watching the inner grounds. I saw two dark shapes drift through the shadows coming nearer. I recognized them when one moved into a patch on moonlight.
They were Dark Wolfhounds and I slowly put my hand back to the bottom of my pack. It took a moment to work the lacing loose and then I was pulling two of the six long thin leather pouches out. I opened the top on each and carefully worked the blood stick inside until it stuck out slightly. I waited and watched the two shadowy Wolfhounds and when they whined and moved closer to stand under me I tossed the sticks out.
As they went after the sticks I slipped off the wall and landed lightly. I moved quickly to the end of the manor and started climbing. I went all the way up to the vent into the attic. It took a few moments to open the vent and then I was inside.
I pulled the vent closed and pulled my dark lantern out. I opened the side a crack and slowly made my way to the narrow stairs down. I used a slim on the door and opened it slowly. The narrow hallway was both dark and quiet, the way all servant floors are. I went down the servant stairs quietly and carefully. Like most nobles I knew he would be keeping his money and other valuables on a lower floor.
The first floor was almost quiet but I heard soft murmurs of guards in the hall. The hallway was semi dark as I moved down it carefully. The large double doors into his study were across from a wide hallway into the entrance hall. At the other end of the entrance hall was a single guard. A second guard was out of sight and every once in a while they would talk.
I watched from the shadows and waited until the guard finally moved closer to the other guard to talk. I slipped out of the shadows and picked the lock on the doors quickly before slipping in and quietly closing the door. I used the dark lantern and started checking the study. It took almost fifteen minutes to find the secret panel.
The lock was strange, it required the Duke’s signet ring. I went to the desk and looked through the drawers. I found the sealed letter and only glanced across the room as I pulled the stick of wax closer. It took five minutes to copy the seal and then I was back at the lock blowing on the wax to cool it. It was another fifteen minutes before I was willing to try.
I carefully fitted the seal to the lock and used my palm to apply pressure while turning. There was a click and the whole panel moved back slightly. I slipped the seal into my pack and slowly pushed the panel open. There was a steep stairway and I used the dark lantern as I headed down. At the bottom of the stairs a large room opened up.
There was a chest and another desk. I opened a chest beside the desk and stared at the stacks of gold coins. I took my pack off and filled it with the coins before moving to the desk. It wasn’t until I found the note that told Earl Garlan to destroy the Seal that I stopped looking. I grunted when I put my pack on, it weighted almost eighty pounds.
I took the note and made my way back up the stairs. I closed and locked the panel before moving to the window. I sat my pack down and crossed to the door. It only took a moment to lock it and return to the window. I opened the window and looked the few feet down to see the two Wolfhounds. I bent and pulled two more blood sticks from the bottom of my pack and pulled them out of their pouches. I held them out to the hounds and they moved closer and took them gingerly.
I sat my pack on the window ledge and slipped my climbing claws on. The Dukes sleeping quarters were on the next floor above me. He had a recessed balcony that I easily slipped onto. A slim bar lifted the latch and I opened the doors. I stepped into the room to the slow heavy breathing of the man in the bed.
I carefully and quietly removed the soft rope on the bed canopy. I moved around the bed and lifted the slim dagger that was sticking out from under a pillow. I reached out and put the blade against the Duke’s throat. His breathing caught and his eyes snapped open. I kept my voice down, “Speak above a whisper and I kill you. Get out of bed and lay on your stomach.”
He glared, “No!”
I nodded and pulled the dagger back before pushing it in suddenly. It went in under the ear and up into the brain. The Duke stiffened and started convulsing as I removed the note and dropped it on his body. I moved back to the window and used string to drop the latch after I was out. I climbed back down to the study window and rested on the sill while the two hounds watched me.
I pulled the last two blood sticks out of my pack and gave them to the hounds before picking up the pack and putting it on. It was only a few feet to the ground but I had to hold onto the wall to close and lock the window. I dropped to the ground and the hounds barely looked at me as I walked to the outer wall. It was a long climb up and I lay along the top catching my breath and watching the street outside.
Moving down the wall was harder then going up and I had the feeling I was being watched. Back on the street, I moved into the shadows and slipped into a narrow alley. The pack went over my head and onto a low wall. I jumped and grabbed a beam and lifted myself up. In the blackness of the alley I waited. It was a minute before they stepped into the alley behind me.
These weren’t untrained killers for the thieves guild, these were assassins. They moved silently down the alley and as they passed under me they stopped. One of them looked around, “Make it easy, show yourself and we’ll make it quick.”
It was a whisper but I heard it loud and clear. The thin wire slipped out of the inner lining of my vest and dropped around the first man’s throat. Even as they reacted I dropped off the beam and yanked on the wire as I pulled a knife. The second man thrust at me and I shifted sideways, slicing down and then back. There was a grunt as his dagger dropped to the ground.
I shoved and pulled a second knife as he shifted away. I moved with him, staying close, swiping across his chest. There was a tearing sound and I shifted the other way blocking a little seen movement. My second knife stabbed down into his arm as my first knife cut across. There was a gurgling sound as he fell to the ground. I backed away and sheathed my knives.
I used my hands to find my pack and then I walked out of the alley. I stayed in the shadows and made my way back to the Curtain. I stayed in the deep shadows and finally moved to one side. There was a darker area by the door into one of the towers. I moved forward and opened the door as if I belonged there. It was silent and semi dark as I moved through the cots of guards.
I climbed the stairs like a ghost and moved quickly and silently behind the doorway as a guard walked through. He didn’t even pause as he walked heavily down the stairs. I quietly went around the door and out onto the wall. I only took a moment to pull my pack off and unwind the slim cord from around my waist. I tied it to the pack and started lowering it down the outer wall. A minute later I was on the wall with my climbing claws.
It took me almost an hour to reach the temple of healing. In a basket on their doorstep I poured most of the gold. I shouldered a much lighter pack and slammed a fist on the door. I was in the shadows watching when the old woman opened the door and looked around. She glanced down at the basket and froze. She slowly looked around and then knelt and ran her hands through the gold coins.
A minute later she was dragging the basket back through the door. I smiled and slipped into deeper shadows as I began my way back home.
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