Gender: Male Age: 54 Location: Las Vegas, Nv
|Introduction: Breaking a tax collector|
The late summer brought little relief from the heat. I didn’t mind but it had put Jasmine in a bad mood. I had smiled when Melody pulled her into a basin and she actually sat and then began to relax as the water deepened. More of the children seemed to come to the basins each day and many times it was whole families.
She spent a lot of time in the basin now. Ash’s new companion Amara seemed to keep her attention so we had fewer worries. Jasmine and Gloria had found a few other mage children and provided companions to them. The eggs for the phoenixes had hatched and the tiny birds were the favorite of the children.
Covered nests had just appeared one morning. They were part of the stone wall for the house and looked like they had been built with the house. I fed the phoenixes every day and they paid me back with beautiful songs that delighted the people who tossed coins into the basins or brought them fruit.
At least two and sometimes three days a week we went to the Grinning Cat for breakfast. Teresa was newly pregnant and glowed as she served us. Her new husband was still in the guard but spent all his time off helping her and learning about the tavern. The Grinning Cat was where I first heard about a new tax collector.
Instead of merchants and normal citizens he was going after thieves. I didn’t think anything of it since I was no longer active. I had even paid taxes on the treasure from the castle and the other places. Of course there were things you couldn’t tax like the companions. Silver had been strangely quiet the few times he had come over.
I was watching the crowds of children playing around and in the basins with the phoenixes singing. Mage creatures and animated stuffed animals played with the children and were everywhere. The gargoyle was once more pink and was playing close by with a small group of young girls.
I turned to look at a small man walking towards my door. I cleared my throat, “can I help you?”
He barely glanced at me, “no, I am here to post a tax seizure notice.”
I stood as those around me shifted away, “seizure for what?”
He looked at me, “being a thief you don’t pay taxes on what you steal. Those are past due and I am here to seize your property until it is.”
I smiled, “friend, you try to seize my home and you will have more trouble than you can handle.”
He snorted, “I am the king’s tax collector. If I need to I will have every guard in the city here to evict you.”
I stepped closer, “first I paid taxes. Second my home is protected by the king’s oath. Third you would have to prove I was a thief.”
I pulled a long dagger, “As for the city guard, they know better that try anything here. The king and emperor are in my debt. I would turn and walk away as fast as you can.”
He snorted and looked me up and down, “I will check your...”
I slashed and he gasped as the sharp blade of the dagger cut through his vest, “one.”
He opened his mouth and I sliced down and across to cut through his vest again, “two.”
He spun and began to run and I watched him before putting my dagger away. I glanced around, “Jasmine I have something I need to do.”
She stood in the water holding a struggling Melody and Ash and nodded. I started walking and Jewel flew to land on my shoulder with Dragon. Griffin and the drakes filled the air above and I looked back to see the gargoyle following. Somehow I knew the cats would be following and then I looked up at most of the phoenixes.
I grinned and then chuckled as I went to the alley with Calvin’s shop. The guards looked at me and then moved away when they saw all the creatures. I smiled as I opened the door and walked in. Calvin turned and frowned, “not again.”
I smiled, “I have always paid my debt and last time you got paid for a bit of talk.”
I stopped at the counter as all the creatures found someplace to sit. He sighed, “Yeah but now that damn tax collector is snooping around.”
I smiled, “speaking of the tax collector.”
His eyes narrowed, “you going to kill him?”
I pulled a gold coin, “how much does he take and keep?”
He grinned, “well his name is Depree and I heard a few of his... marks that said only half of what he took was filed with the tax clerk.”
I grinned, “and he has only been taxing thieves?”
He nodded and I glanced at his two men, “so where did he get the thieves names?”
He straightened, “I didn’t...”
He stopped talking before glaring, “I will find out.”
I tapped the coin on his counter, “where does he live?”
He grinned again, “the old merchant Milenbrot died and his estate was sold for back taxes.”
I shook my head, “Milenbrot was a scrooge but he always paid his taxes and what he owed.”
I tossed the coin, “I think I will have to pay the tax collector a visit.”
He laughed as we left and I headed towards the rich part of the city. I walked around the estate and the tax collector didn’t have guards or spells protecting it. The manor was small but the grounds were very large. I decided to wait until it was night and headed back to my house. The crowd around the house and basins was quiet.
There were several guards with the tax collector. He looked smug as he strutted towards me with the guards following, “I told you I would have the guards come.”
I looked at the guards and smiled, “go ahead and see what happens.”
They did not look happy as he turned and gestured, “post the notice and start bringing everything out.”
The guards looked at each other and a sergeant cleared his throat, “I don’t think we can do that.”
The tax collector’s eye narrowed, “you will do as I tell you.”
I laughed and crossed my arms, “did you even bother to check me out little man?”
He looked at me a snorted, “you’re a thief.”
I grinned, “who has paid his taxes every year. Now if you had checked you might have found out a few things. The guard is not going to do anything to violate the peace of my house. I would go look up what happened to duke Albert before you return.”
He glared before turning and pushing through the guards. I looked at them as they reddened and turned to follow him. I crossed to the basins and grinned at Jasmine, “I will be out most of the night.”
She let Ash and Melody go and turned to climb into a basin, “don’t get caught.”
I laughed as I turned to leave, “I wasn’t planing on it.”
This time I went to the king’s Keep and ignored the guards when they tried to stop me. They moved out of the way quickly when the phoenixes cried out and the gargoyle moved forward with a growl. I avoided the courts and throne room as I headed to the private quarters. I climbed the stairs and stopped to knock on a thick door.
Edmond’s wife opened the door and frowned, “yes?”
I glanced past her to see snow and smiled, “I need to speak with your husband.”
She turned, “Edmond?”
He peeked out another door before stepping out, “Sinclair?”
I grinned at the pink robe he was wearing, “cute.”
He looked down and then grinned, “what do you need?”
I glanced at the guards that had followed, “I need a few minutes with your brother.”
He grinned and turned to the door he had come out of, “you are wanted.”
A moment later the king looked out, “no business today.”
I looked at him, “you owe me.”
He sighed and stepped out, “what do you want?”
I smiled at the shorts he was wearing, “let me guess. You are all playing in the snow.”
He reddened and I laughed before shaking my head, “you have a tax collector named Depree. He wants to seize my house. You know I have paid your taxes. He won’t listen or even check.”
He sighed, “Depree is very good and has brought in a lot of...”
I growled, “he is a liar and a thief. He only turns in half of what he steals or extorts. Now you owe me.”
He nodded, “I will tell him to leave you alone.”
I shook my head, “sack him. He has stolen from you.”
He opened his mouth and I smiled, “tell you what. I will prove it and when I do I get his estate and all the money he stole.”
He frowned, “Sinclair...”
Edmond grinned, “and what are you going to do with the money and estate?”
I winked, “turn it into a public garden fair and pay the mage guild to enchant a few statues and large stuffed beasts to play with the children.”
The king grinned and then laughed before yelling, “one of you guards tell the chamberlain to fire Depree!”
He waved and I turned and left before my friends decided they liked snow. I changed my mind about breaking in at night and turned to head for the estate. When I reached it a small crowd was lingering around. I recognized a few thieves and grinned as I walked to them, “you want to get even?”
They looked at each other before moving closer to listen. When I was done they were grinning. I walked to the large front gate and climbed over before removing the locking bar. I started up the carriage drive and to the front door. I grinned as Dragon, Griffin, Jewel and all the drakes appeared and flew in a couple of open windows.
I picked the lock on the front door and pushed it open. I found his study which had four locks on the door. Inside were a half dozen iron bound chests with several locks on each. I picked and removed the locks before pulling the chests to the front door. I returned to the study and started searching the desk.
Like most clerks or bureaucrats he had kept an accurate record of everything, even what he had stolen. I took the ledger and went searching for his bedroom. Of course he had a chest of mens jewelry which I set aside. I walked through the house before carrying the chest down to the front door.
A wagon was coming through the open gates and the crowd of thieves followed it. I gestured to the open door and started putting the chests in the wagon. I grinned when I saw several off duty guards following everyone else into the house. I handed the ledger to the driver, “remember you make sure the king gets this.”
He nodded, “and the clerk counts what is in the chests.”
I grinned, “yes. What he doesn’t take goes to the mage guild.”
He grinned, “you are really going to make this a fair?”
I lifted the jewelry chest, “and hopefully get food vendors to come.”
He laughed as he got the horses moving. I made one stop on the way home and left without the chest. When I entered the street in front of my home a small army faced my wife and all the neighbors. I smiled as I walked towards the tax collector who pointed at me, “arrest him.”
I grinned at the nervous guards and looked at the guard commander, “sir I think if you were to send a runner to the king’s chamberlain you will find this man is no longer a tax collector. I think the duke in charge of his majesties taxes will be looking for him for stealing the king’s taxes.”
I looked at Depree as his eyes widened, “you were fired. The estate you stole has been confiscated and given to me. I believe I saw a large crowd of people going into the estate and carrying furniture out.”
He surged towards me with his hands out and suddenly he was screaming as the gargoyle snatched him off his feet. It was flapping its wings and dragging him across and through the crowd. When he was released it was to fall over and into a basin. I shook my head as he began to scream louder.
Phoenixes were hovering over the water and flames covered the surface which looked like it was boiling. When the phoenixes left he lunged for the side only to be attacked and bitten by the cats as they appeared from somewhere. Then Dragon, Jewel, Griffin and the drakes were scratching and biting.
He fell out of the basin and I noticed the feathers growing on his arms and hands. I grinned as he turned an ugly purple and what little hair vanished. Major was suddenly in front of him and turned to kick back into his groin with both feet. I winched as his scream went up to new heights and he fell.
That was the wrong place to be as the animals attacked again, only there were a lot more than I could count. I looked at the guards who were just staring and cleared my throat. The commander reddened, “we are not going in there.”
I grinned as Depree tried to crawl away only to have the crowd move. The gargoyle was back and snatched him off the ground and pulled him to another basin. He seemed to vanish under the shallow water before it spit him out. He was screaming as he flew through the air to land in another basin.
I shook my head as I headed for the door and called back to the guards, “after they are done take him to see the magister for stealing the king’s taxes.”
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