The Golden Coin Chronicles

The Golden Coin Chronicles
Zack Hurtz
Chapter One
I stepped off the roof into midair trying not to let my stomach trick me into tossing my dinner. The sound of the rope sliding through my rig helped me measure the distance to the ground, Clamping my hand down on the brake built in to my harness I came to a stop suspended outside a barred window. Snapping the brakes lock into place I secured my gear and pulled out a few tools of the trade.
The bars across the window had tiny markings imprinted into the metal, these were expensive wards crafted by a powerful warder. Along the window frame more runes served as alarms and traps for any brave thief trying to break in to steal a wizards riches. Using a wooden rod I placed a small crystal against one of the bars and waited.
The crystal exploded throwing tiny razor sharp fragments everywhere, luckily for me I wore tightly woven clothing and a hood with a mesh face guard just in case this might happen.
Pulling a glass vial from an inside pocket of my rig I smashed it sharply against the window frame. The mix of water and dragons blood splattered over quite a bit of the runes and destroyed the wall. I couldn’t believe it, one second the mixture was spreading and then a bright green light swept across the wall and the wall simply crumbled to dust.
Unfortunately the support posts in the wall also turned to dust and the two floors above lost there always supportive friends. With a loud crack the top portion of the house tilted towards the street. A loud scraping sound alerted me to the deadly rain of items heading my way.
As the house had shifted it caused my rope to throw me into a wild swing so that I was bouncing off the wall and swinging out away from it at the same time. I was trying to unlock the brake so I could swiftly drop to safety but with various household items slamming into me made it difficult.
To my shock the sound of what sounded like a piano being smashed to bits by an angry dwarf in G what a Sharp Miner started getting louder.
“Oh damn, not this again! Silly wizards with their love of heavy musical instruments.”
Finally the lock popped free and I plummeted towards the gardens below, right before I hit the ground I applied the brake and jerked to a painful stop. I drew one of my sharpest daggers and cut the rope and sheathed the blade all in one move. The sound of the piano tumbling across the floor was right above me now and I broke into a run.
Dodging around a huge stone statue I peered around it’s shoulder to watch the piano come flying out of the top floor smashing through the wall and heading towards earth. The piano was being struck with smaller items which made the piano ring out so even as it fell it played its own death march.
Huh, I guess pianos can’t fight gravity either despite their uplifting melodies!”
The ground shaking thud blew the battered instrument to thousands of little metal and wooden pieces all over the garden. The strings snapped sending deadly splinters of wood spinning through the air trailing jagged wire strings along behind them. A good sized crystal ball fell from high up and glimmered from the sun all the way down until it shattered turning the surrounding grass into a shimmering patch of glowing green.
My exit should probably be swift and quiet I’d just had to modify my plans on the run. I darted down through the gardens heading towards the back wall of the property, I knew the wall would let me out into a stretch of woods open for hunting which meant dogs would have multiple trails to follow.
The wall came into view standing about twelve feet high with sharpened spikes at the top and no hand holds to use for easy climbing. I was a thief, one of the best thief’s of my generation, some say I was as good as Radan one of the most honored thieves in the guilds history. So surely I must have some sort of quick way out of this closing trap, already I could hear the dogs closing in on my position.
Palming a vial from my rig I popped the corked end into my mouth and pulled out the stopper. I downed the contents in one swallow and replaced the vial back in my rig. Waste not want not as my mentor always said. The potion was already starting to take affect so I sprinted straight for the wall.
Reaching the solid brick wall I threw my arms out wide and ran right through it quietly laughing. Coming out on the other side I veered west and struck out for the blue pearl bridge which would lead me back into the heart of the great city of Salda. As if to let me know the gods favoured my actions I could hear the hounds wining in confusion, it brought a smile to my face. I’d be home in just a few minutes provided nothing went wrong.
Approaching the warehouse that served as the guilds headquarters by roof top I gave a carrying whistle to alert the lookouts it was a fellow skulking about. A responding whistle came at me from different sides as each lookout only contributed one note of the phrase. All was well on guild grounds and I was safe to enter.
Accessing a concealed hatch in the roof I slipped down a rope onto a wooden catwalk above the main floor. I gave the rope a sharp tug and the hatch slid back in place, it should of closed with the pressure of my weight but one of the young ones hadn’t oiled the door in some time. I would bring it up with Loedvic the current guild master in our meeting.
I made my way down through the warehouse walking the maze of boxes and crates set up on purpose to confuse city watch and any raiding gangs. Reaching the door to the tunnels below I knocked with a certain rhythm and the door was unlocked. I pulled the door open and quickly stepped through closing it behind me.
I was in a stairway cut from the solid bedrock of the ground, no one was in sight but they didn’t need to be to unlock the door. Guild guards had spy holes and ways of monitoring the guild from all angles and they did a great job of it.
Descending the stairs which zigzagged randomly to help bottle neck attackers I finally reached the guilds true side. I just had to get through one more door and this door was the toughest one yet. I stepped forward and placed my hand on the doors surface, the door turned green and turned into mist.
Passing through the mist I received a free bath and laundry service, all just part of guild dues. I was in an open room full of people sitting at tables talking or studying. Fellow thieves traded items back and forth and waiters and waitresses served food. The hope was if anyone unwelcome reached this part they’d assume it was a private bar and it kept hungry mouths fed.
The two guards standing beside the door gave me a nod of greeting and the one on the right wrote something down in the log. I made my way across the room greeting various people as I went, shaking hands with masters and patting the shoulders of young novices all of them different shapes and sizes but with the love of adventure and mischief clear in their eyes.
Reaching the other side of the room I pressed down on a small carving of a frog on the wall and the panel beside it swung open. The way the lighting was set up in the room the walls were always in shadow, so no one could ever see passage ways being accessed but any good thief could find the secret ways with enough exploring.
The passage was two foot wide and six foot tall and had no light at all, I pulled a glow stick from my pocket and twisted the small silver cap at one end. Along the length of the stick began to glow, giving the cap one more twist I increased the light by half. Once I could see five feet in front of me I headed off to meet with Loedvic.
Arriving at Loedvic’s open door I rapped my knuckles sharply against the frame making sure he knew I was there so I didn’t get a knife in the throat.
“Stop skulking around Demus and tell me what happen, I already know you didn’t succeed.”
“I see the babbling mouths have spread news of the collapsing house of the traveling wizard?”
He gestured for me to sit down, “The story is vastly distorted, one version says a demon simply ripped the house open from the inside while another rambles on about a flying piano.”
With a single clap of his hands the door behind me swung shut and secured all of its locks on its own. Opening a drawer in his massive desk he placed a bottle of spirits on the desk in front of me.
“I believe you like Ceulaberry whiskey?
I smile as I settled into a comfortable chair in front of his desk. His office is a mix of work shop and jewelers, the back half has a long counter running along it covered in gems set out on soft silks. While many tools for cutting and shaping gems are neatly hung from racks along the back wall. Certain magic’s require flawlessly cut gems and very few jewelers are able to make them of that quality. Loedvic is one of the best in the local lands and makes a fair fortune.
“Well the flying piano is true and whoever gave us information about this place was wrong. None of my tools could break through the wards around the window or bars. I think you need to give this job to one of the shades they’ll have an easier time of it.”
I told him the whole story and by the time I was finished he was laughing so loud his bodyguard Nula checked in on him. He made me repeat the story for Nula who also broke out in loud laughter.
“I’ll send Sarai she’s probably the guild best shade sense Nauk.” He wrote down a note and placed the note in a box, “Alright I have another job for you, this one is more your style…”
I folded my arms across my chest and waited for him to tell me my risky assignment. I specialized in the hard jobs that held high risk.
“You’re going to break into the Castle of Rasvia and steal the crown.”
He said it with a straight face, his voice showed no hint of amusement. In fact I heard a bit of apprehension in his undertones.
“Well, that sounds easy enough, I’ve been breaking into the castle for years now and tickling the queen with a feather while she sleeps. I thought I had to face dragons or maybe even go down into the underground to find the lost city of Ralalcika.”
His right hand slammed down on the desk while his left hand threw a roll of parchment towards me. I caught the parchment and unrolled it keeping my eyes on Loedvic. He was usually a good mooded bastard with a sharp tongue. But something had him on edge
“Read it before you say anything!”
I lowered my gaze to the letter in my hand and started reading.
“Dear Loedvic,
By request of the king you are to send one thief to steal the crown from the castle. If your thief is caught they will be punished. However if they succeed the guild can go on operating another year with no retribution from the city guards. Your chosen has ten days to make his or her move and they are not to know who hired them.”
I glanced up after reading the last sentence and saw the look on Vic’s face, he looked pale and stressed.
“So why did you show this to me?”
“Because you’re the one going and you need to know the entire story. The king has done this for the last 3 years and so far we’ve been lucky. Before the guild was able to operate as long as we paid thirty percent to the royal coffers but now every year we have to send one thief.”
“Well thanks for picking me to be the sacrifice, I love hanging from ropes by my neck… I know why you picked me, if anyone has a chance of pulling this off it’s me. I’m going to need everything we have about the castle and the crown. I’m also going to need several sets of clothing to get me into the place.”
Whatever you need I’ll make sure you have, I’ve been putting together a file on the castle for the last three years and it’s constantly being updated. When this all started I recruited some inside help so the info is never out dated. I even have detailed floor maps of every level accessible by castle staff.”
I shook my head, “They’ll be helpful but I’m going to have to walk the halls myself part of my skills work better if I make my own maps. I’ll spend the next 5 days scouting and planning and I’ll make the attempt on the sixth day. That will leave 4 days just in case I need extra time.”
“Sounds like a plan, I’ll gather the info on the castle and crown I have and get it to you by tonight. Go and get what you need from the shop, Marcy will be expecting you. She knows you’ll need good gear but she doesn’t know for what. Let’s keep it that way, this stays between you and me. If you need help from the others give them enough info to get the help but that’s it.”
I handed him back the parchment and stood up. We shook hands and I left his office through a different door then the one I had entered his office by.

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