Tag Archives: fantasy

The Adventures Of Dau Part One

The warm spring wind whistled through the hollow reeds growing along the river while the sun turned the bathing pools into comfortable places to relax. Most of the town was playing in the pools and river enjoying the refreshing water as it flowed through our small community tucked away deep in the forest. Young children skipped stones as far as they could across the fairly wide river while the older kids sat upriver casting lines in hopes of catching the biggest fish and contributing to tonight’s mid spring feast. Elder lils sat in groups carving away at various bits of wood while others prepared roots and other plants for the feast lending a hand to the cooks.
I struck out away from the clearing where we built the towns center and our homes which spread out into the encircling trees that provided protection against major storms and big animals. When you’re only three to four feet tall you can often be some big cats dinner without warning and all lils are taught from a very young age to keep both eyes on their surroundings. Luckily for me I had been taught by Qua the towns best tracker and hunter who saw my skills with a bow and sling and took me on as an apprentice. She was called away by a friend of hers, she was now traveling across the realm and left me in her position.
The forest sung to me as I quietly stepped along the trail made by what appeared to be the paw prints of a long ear and bits of fur twisted up in a thicket confirmed the tracks. Soon enough I spotted the creature nibbling away at a thick cluster of mushrooms near a bush of sweet suckle. I stealthily pulled my sling from my belt and loaded a stone in its pouch. I held the sling in my left hand and drew back the pouch attached to two cords made from an elastic silk. I let go of the pouch and the stone buzzed through the air staying on target even as the wind tried to blow it off course. A loud thwack let me know the stone struck the long ears in the back of the head and I watched as the animal jerked several times before lying still. I quickly approached the dead animal and picked it up by its ears with a swift and firm motion of my flint knife I slit the long ears throat to insure it was truly dead. As I worked I sung a song of thankfulness to the animals spirit I made quick work of field dressing the corpse and preparing it for my backpack.
Over the next hour or so I killed two more long ears causing my pack to become heavier but I still needed to locate some herbs and spices for my mom who was making her famous meat pies for the feast. Several of the items needed were silver gilded mushrooms which grew in cool dark places and I knew of a cave that would be a perfect spot. My path wandered in and out of the warm beams of sunlight throwing shifting shadows turning the trees into animated figures, it wasn’t hard to imagine the trees as lords and ladies watching over the forest sending out their bird messengers to do their bidding.
The entrance to the cave slowly came into view as I approached a tall hill rising up from the forest floor covered in small shrub bushes and several cherry trees covered in ripe fruit. Carefully I examined the area looking for prints belonging to the big cats and other big predators that might call a cave home. the entrance looked safe and clear of any signs of dangerous hunters but still I kept my bow in hand with arrows ready to fire. With a muttered word my vision changed to dark sight giving me the ability to walk through the dark as if it was daylight.
the stone walls were roughly carved by small rivulets of water winding their way down to the damp floor where moss and fungi flourished. Along the steep walls small ledges and alcoves held roosting wide wing bats and beneath them on piles of bat guano grew silver gilded mushrooms some as big as both of my hands together. The ceiling was arched with fang like crystal formations refracting what little light entered the area giving the cave the feeling of a vault of treasure read about in old adventurers tales.
Moving into the main cavern I pulled a padded mesh bag from my pack and carefully started tucking cap after cap away into the medium sized bag. Mom would need a lot of these caps which was fine with me because the cave had a bunch of them and several other types of caps that could fetch a good deal at market. Once the bag was full I tied it to the outside of my pack and began to fill a smaller bag with a rare mushroom that was used by healers and poison brewers alike. the cap was small in size with a boxy shaped top with stripes of black and gold running down the stem and it gave off a rotting smell but I kept collecting. Tadris was a hard one to find and now that I knew the cave produced a good amount I’d return to collect more as needed. As I worked the bats remained calm and only one or two woke up to watch me forage about the cave I wasn’t worried about them but I made sure to leave enough caps for them to enjoy.
The back of the cave held a small pool with a thick bed of glow moss growing right up to the water’s edge. We often used the glow moss in lanterns built to keep the moss alive. I carefully cut two hand sized patches from the carpet and placed them in my canteen where the moss would be safe until it could be transplanted into several lanterns. The moss reproduced rapidly if it was given enough food and moisture which the lanterns offered. the moss was rare and most lil communities would trade fragments to add to their tanks which strengthened the next generation of growth.
A feeling in my stomach told me it was time to turn back, mom calls them gut intuitions and you should always listen to them. I gave the bats a friendly wave as I crawled out of a narrow tunnel exiting the cave on the top of the hill. I paused for a moment before I struck out towards home. My eyes swept the ground and trees searching for anything we could use for the town. At first I thought my eyes were playing tricks on me but as I stood still and focused I could see a slight hazy outline far off in the northwest. I needed to get a better look at what this might be so I scouted around for a low branch to use as a stepping stone.
the branches surrounded me as I adjusted my climbing rope attaching another anchor which magically secured itself to the tree causing no harm. In fact the anchor wrapped an energy band around the whole trunk instead of focusing all the pressure on a smaller area. Got to love tinkerers they make some really neat gear. I swung up onto another huge branch which I could stand on with room to spare and pulled my pack up after me on a separate safety rope. the skies were more visible but I still needed to go higher.
in no time I was way up in the branches climbing like a tree cat moving with a rhythmic pattern. Birds took flight as I approached their nests leaving behind eggs. I stopped and changed my direction so I wouldn’t go near the nests, I didn’t want to make them leave forever and abandoned the eggs. The thick needles of the branches poked and prodded leaving behind small welts stinging with sap but I couldn’t stop I had to see if this was smoke. If a fire was sweeping through the forest we’d need to prepare the clearing and strengthen our wards.
During times of disaster animals would often come to the clearing because they knew it was safe and we set out wards spreading the safe zone so that even more animals could be protected. It was important to keep the forests animals alive so we can survive from cycle to cycle.
I finally reached the crown of the tree and let out a cheer of amazement, no matter how many times I saw it always hit me hard. the forest was vast and spread out all around me like a giant rolling green, brown, tan and even blue carpet of color. Birds flitted about while others perched on branches protecting their homes and younglings. Insects buzzed around landing on flowers and leaves alike, way up here big spikey shelled fruit grew everywhere and I took an KRa from a nearby branch and took a bite. the sweet juice from the KRa dripped down my chin as I gazed out into the skies confirming indeed that it was smoke dancing on the wind to the northwest.
My descent down the tree was much quicker than my climb and I left my anchors in place for future scouts who would use this tree to see the smoke for themselves and they would watch it all day and all night raising the alarm if the time came. I set off at a decent jog but with short legs long sprints just weren’t my thing. I dodged between trees and ducked under bushes and brambles making my path shorter but still it took longer than I liked before the clearing came into sight.
My mom’s house smelled of warm cooking things as I entered and gave out a cry of greeting. My mother entered from the kitchen and gave me a bright smile.
“Back are ya so soon?”
“Yes mom, my trip went fine, I’m fine thanks for asking.” I gave her a bear hug, “I brought back enough silver gilds for you to store away for summer. We have trouble brewing though, I spotted smoke to the northwest and it’s moving fast.”
She looked sad, “The wolf riders are up in that region I wonder if they can stop the flames? I can’t think of all them acres turned to ash and soot. May the Great Mother bring down a rain storm to drowned the flames.”
“Go through my pack and everything is there that you requested I found some stuff for market and even located some glow moss. My canteen holds two patches of the stuff and one of them stays with us and the other can go to market or if the farmers want to trade for it. I must go tell the council about the fire and ask the warders to start making the protection zones.
I stopped by my house and set about storing the items from todays forage before they had a chance to go bad. It only took a few moments and I was back outside moving across the clearing searching for the council members.
I located four of the seven members sitting on a meditation bridge built across the river quietly talking amongst themselves. they all looked up at my approaching shadow and Helia stood up to greet me.
“Hello tracker Dau what’s wrong, you look worried.”
I shook my head and glanced down at the glimmering river, “There is a fire raging to the northwest and it’s moving very chaotically. The smoke is thick and very dark in color which tells me a lot of hard wood is burning. The wolf riders territory is a blaze and it could easily sweep through here if the winds shift and within hours we could have a fire storm encircling us.”
Councilman ted let out a groan, “i’ll get the wards in shape and have runners set the protection zones for the animals. I’ll see if we can get energy donations to power the wards.”
“I’ll be heading out to track the fire and sending back word using scribers. It’ll take me a day or so to reach the riders territory and if I do I’m sending wounded this way so my mother can heal them.”
“Of course as always community helps community you might also tell them if needed we can help them rebuild. Our mills can produce timber which we can float upriver.” Councilwomen Madi pulled a pipe from her lips, “I’ll get crews working on marking the trails but I’d suggest having any wounded coming down by river.”
“We’ll gather the full council and make more preparations, before you leave please come visit us.” Hilia patted me on the shoulder, “We’ll write up some papers for you and give you a signet so you can show you have our authority. I’m assuming you’ll be going by foot or would you like to use a hound?”
“I’ll be on foot, the hound would only slow me down and be at risk if the fire should suddenly shift. I would like to request to take several water runes from the stores for my protection and in case I need to save someone else.”
“No problem, tell the storekeep where you’re going. She’ll provide you with several protective runes and wards.”
Thank you I’ll be back in a while after I put together a pack and set some affairs in order.”
they all nodded and waved as I walked off the bridge and headed towards my house.
My home was crafted from milled wood and placed up into the branches of several trees and a couple of sellers were dug to hold and chill meat. The house was where I butchered and cured meat brought in from my hunts. A drying hut cure pelts which would be turned into clothes and other gear for the town. A lot of the meat I brought in was sold and traded at Qua’s butchery where she kept the town well stocked on meat. Qua was my hunting and tracking teacher and she was good at what she did.
I walked through my house with an empty trail pack in hand as I gathered together the gear I’d need to stay ahead of this fire. Once I collected it all I laid it out on my dining table and began folding, rolling, wrapping, water proofing, checking and double checking my inventory. I had my cookout kit, healers bag and rolled all together into one bundle my blankets, hammock and rain cover which secured nicely to the top of my pack. I changed into my trackers clothes which broke my form up and blended in with the greens and browns of the forest.
I entered my bedroom and slid open a concealed panel revealing a deep alcove where I stored my weapons and other dangerous gear that wouldn’t be good if children stumbled across them. I pulled out my folded bow and tucked it into its case and slung it over my shoulder.
Once I packed everything needed from my personal stores I went to the towns trade and supplies to meet with Vay the inventory master. The storehouse always had a large amount of interesting and amazing items brought together from all over the realm via trade convoys, roavers and couriers. The building was tall with three levels and another four levels burrowed down beneath the roots of a giant wand wood tree.
“Hello Dau, what can I help you with?”
“I’m heading out to track a large fire to the northwest and I’m here to get a few protective runes and wards.”
“Sure thing, I have some good stuff that’ll help you out. Water runes that will surround you with a wall of water or you can use another rune to throw a wave in front of or behind you. I have fire shielding wards and air filters. I’ll make sure you have a nice supply of gear. Come back in about an arc or so and it’ll be ready.”
I gave her a wave and strolled out heading towards my mom’s earthen home. The clearing was a bit busier now as warders moved from location to location refreshing the wards and taking energy donations from adults. Younger children were put to work racing around filling buckets and barrels with water from the river and placing them near houses and community buildings. the older kids were given scythes and put to work clearing brush and all grasses making fire breaks. Ditches were swiftly being dug as earthers walked in straight lines using their powers to lift and remove the dirt. Two of the earthers were working on a system to flood the ditches allowing the flowing water from the river. We’d harness the currents to push water through the series of ditches and back out into the river downstream creating onsite water sources all around the community. This would make a stronger last stand and water would be closer at hand instead of running back and forth to the river. We could have more hands throwing instead of long supply chains. The water flowing through the ditches would also act as a way to move flaming debris or ash and hot embers away from fuel sources.
my mom’s house was created from earthen walls with lush plants and flowers growing from within the walls themselves creating really cool and intricate designs. Herbs grew along the windows also growing from out of the walls giving the house an array of warm and bright colors along the windows and doorways. The roof was a living tree with its roots supporting the roof and burrowing down into the walls and growing deeper into the ground building a vast support structure making the home and itself sturdier. The trees branches were already extending out over the roof and providing protection from the bright sun beams and hard rains.
A garden covered most of moms piece of land blending natural and imported plants together to create a living supply of components needed by healers. She would spend hours tending to her plants touching each one giving it a little boost of her own power which would cause it to grow stronger and healthier producing incredible tinctures and poultices. Taking a moment I paused in the garden and carefully gathered a pouch full of fresh Tukka which could be used to sooth and help heal burns, I’d no doubt need the powerful plant while out on my scouting adventure. I continued up to the back door and slipped my boots off and stepped inside.
“Hey Mom, you around?”
“Upstairs Dau!”
I followed her voice through the house until I reached a spiral staircase leading up to moms living area where she spent her personal time when she wasn’t working. The downstairs was built so she could distill and create her tinctures. In emergencies she could treat someone in house but the community built a house of healing which was large enough to hold half the town if there was ever a need. It was usually full of children during winter fighting off bone deep coughs and wet lungs.
Mom was standing in front of a window watching the work going on down in the clearing as she finished packing a small bag with healing salves and tinctures. She was dressed in her working outside clothes which were already covered in small spots of dirt and green stains from the Molyl leaves. Her favorite hound was curled up beside her snoozing away the day until he could enjoy the children’s giving nature during the big feast. As I approached the window he blinked up at me and gave a small yawn.
“Life never gets any easier does it old man.”
Mom laughed as she saw who I was talking too. the hound which we just called old man tilted his head for a moment and went back to sleep.
“You’d think he was up all night tracking down pesky tree cats.” mom tapped Old Man on the nose and grinned, “He’s a good pup.”
“I have two more stops to make and then I’m off to go track this fire. I have two scribers on me one for the council house and one for you. I left your scriber downstairs on the mantle, I’ll check in at least once a day. I’ve got plenty of basic food supplies and will gather anything else on the trail and I have a water purification crystal in my canteens.”
“I saw you picking some Tukka and made up this bag for you. Inside is enough medicine to treat slight to severe burns, materials to stitch up wounds and several small crystals containing the touch of the great mother for life or death situations. You’ll also find supplies for poultices and salves.
the council gathered to discuss what needed to be done, I gave my consent and left so you and I could talk before you left. I want you to be careful out there and don’t take any unneeded risks especially when it comes to raging fires.”
I gave mom a hug and sighed, “I know you worry about me and I am a bit scared about heading up into the wolf rider territory. I haven’t spent much time up there and with the fire moving so chaotically I will need to make sure I’m not trapped. I asked Vae for some water runes and she offered air filters as well.”
Old Man lifted his head and let out two quick barks and pointed his nose towards the front door which was his usual signal for someone approaching. Mom let out a small chuckle and gestured for me to look outside.
A tall man the size of a small bear strolled up moms front walkway wearing hunters garb and carrying a backpack slung across his shoulders. His upright ears gave him away as a houndsman along with his muzzle like jaw and nose. Timius was a bit of a mystery for most of the people but mom and I consider him our closest friend. He didn’t say much but after he saved a young girl from a tree cat attack Timius was the clearing hero.
“Looks like I have a partner for this adventure.”
“I suspect he wants to get a closer look at the fire as well.”
“Well lets go say hello and see if he has any suggestions.”
I led the way downstairs and crossed over to the front door and swung it wide as Timius walked up the steps onto the doorstone. He placed his pack next to the door and gave us a nod of the head.
“Hello Timius, are you going with Dau?”
“Yes, I asked the council to make sure I wasn’t needed here and they thought it would be a good idea for me to tag along.”
“I’m glad you’re joining me on this one, it will be good to have an extra set of eyes especially with big game feeling anxious with the fire ripping apart their homes.”
Timius could change into about five different forms of dogs and would often give the children rides and wrestle with them tiring them out before bedtime. He also spent time teaching the normal dogs to be good guardians of the little ones. His past was unknown to us for the most part but he never did anything to cause alarm or show signs of uncontrollable anger. He bought a plot of land and had an earthen home built which he uses to store his tools and only stays there when he’s not roaming around the forest in dog form. He works alongside me and Qua in the butchery.
One of the things Timius brought with him was the skill of making really good jerky and smoked cheeses, Qua invited him to sell it in her shop. in no time everyone was purchasing or trading goods for well-seasoned jerky and they’d pair it with smoked fish from Qua’s smoke house in their pack rations.
“I’ve been up in the area you’re heading to and can show you several shortcuts.” Timius adjusted his coat causing it to clink and jingle, “the riders aren’t always the friendliest bunch of people.”
“I hope this fire isn’t taking apart their homes and if need be I have authority to offer help to rebuild.”
Mom nodded, “The council should have the orders ready to go by now. You two might want to head out before it gets too dark. I asked the cooks to prepare a meal for both of you so you won’t miss out on the feast.”
“You knew I was going with Dau?”
“I had a suspicion.”
“She has the gift of sight that comes into play randomly but when it does it’s useful.” I smiled, “She always knew when I was doing something I wasn’t supposed to.”
I gave mom a quick hug and handed her a small bulb I found during my earlier scouting.
“I picked this up for you, I know you’re running low on Molla.”
“Thanks son, you two be safe and stay in touch!”
Mom gave Timius a small bag of medicines and a quick hug as well. He returned the hug and tucked the bag away in a side pocket of his pack. He stepped outside giving mom and I a chance to speak in private.
“Dau, I want you to write to me before the council. The council is working together at the moment but three of us aren’t happy with Helia’s ideas on protecting our range and it might cause a problem. If the riders aren’t going to be nice we need to know it before we start treating any wounded, back through the records it’s been said that riders will capture territory for their own.”
“You think the fire might give them the motivation to take our clearing?”
She sighed before looking me straight in the eyes, “Riders that have visited in the past were abrasive and rude, they thought we would let them take from us without a fair trade. Several of us had to convince them that stealing from us wasn’t going to happen without bloodshed.”
“I’ll have my bow, two slings and my Earther abilities. if need be I can insulate myself in a coat of mud.”
“you better go, the council will need to tend to the feast.”
She wrapped me in a hug and ruffled my hair, “Keep swift feet under you and keep Timius with you.”
“I’ll see you when I return!”
I moved out the door and quickly made my way towards the clearing which was still bustling with activity as preparations were still underway. Long thick tables were being carried into place and barrels of ale and fermented fruit juice known as sweet juice were being tapped as water mages surrounded them in ice. Dogs kept watch over the children as messengers road in and out of the clearing on their own hounds.
We trained the massive lil hounds as mounts much like humans ride horses and they offered us the ability to run long distances. I would of taken one towards the fire but I didn’t want to have the responsibility of keeping the hound safe as well.
I stepped inside the trade and supply where Vae was sorting through a crate of apples freshly picked from the western orchards. She glanced over at me and pointed towards a wax paper wrapped packet sitting on the sales counter.
“I gave you ten air filters, five single use wave runes, five water shields and five summon rain runes. is there anything else you need?”
“No thank you that’s plenty enough.”
“the council would like to see you before you leave.”
“They’re my next stop.”
She chucked an apple at me with an underhanded toss and went back to sorting through the crate. I caught the apple left handed and tucked both the packet of runes and the apple into my inner coat pocket. the door swung shut behind me as I stpped out into the evening air.
Most of the council was gathered outside the community hall seated around a round gaming table. The table had a variety of shapes marked out in different colored borders, game pieces could only move at certain times to certain colored sections. the council members were playing a pretty good sized game moving two or three pieces at a time. Even as I approached they kept playing with rolls of di and spins of metal wheels marked with colors.
Hilia gave me a wave and gestured for me to take a seat, “Hello Tracker Dau, why don’t you sit down and watch me take my fellow friends bets.”
She flipped two pieces across the board causing them to land perfectly on the chosen squares that would give her a strong position for the next few moves. Ted was up next and he had a strong offensive force but a weak defensive foundation but no one was able to get close to his home base without being removed from the board.
“I’m getting ready to head out with Timius my hope is that we can make good time through the night. Vae was kind enough to give me enough runes to be a big help and I’m in good shape and can use my abilities to stay energized for the next few days.”
Hilia handed over a medallion on a leather thong, “We the council grant you the authority on behalf of the community. You may offer any wounded or homeless lils affected by the fire sanctuary. You should know though that we have concerns about the wolf riders and their attitudes towards outsiders. the ones you send to us should be given a code word so we know they’re truly sent by you.”
“That’s a good plan, the word is bear hound.”
“Alright that is a good code phrase and we’ll make sure we don’t get tricked and ambushed. Go with our blessings and may the forest watch over you and Timius.”
They all stood up and patted me on the right shoulder and tapped me on the forehead before resuming their seats. I grinned at all of them and saluted with a traditional signal of the tracker.
I walked away from the table and into the outer edge of the clearing where the trees created thick pockets of shadows and the sense of growing trees, plants and animals. As the noise of the community melded away into the background bird calls echoed around me as they alerted every one of my arrival in their domain. Fresh droppings told me a long ears was somewhere tucked away in a burrow no doubt watching me as I passed through. A sharp scent caught my attention as I passed a thicket covering up the recent kill of a tree cat which meant they were too close to the clearing for our comfort.
I pulled out my scriber and wrote a quick message to mom informing her of the kill on the western edge of the clearing. hounds would be ran through the area to chase the cats out and away from the clearing. the forest grew darker as the thick branches grew in together over head creating a vast canopy providing the perfect hunting grounds for the big cats. Casually I pulled my bow from its case and slipped the spider silk string into place with one hand and smiled as I spread the limbs into place tightening the string. A final twist and the bow locked into place turning into a part of my body as I drew and arrow and set it to the string. Everything worked perfectly with the string pulling back smoothly and the bow staying in one piece.
The trail head leading to the northwest was marked by a patch of sunlight which fell through a good sized jagged hole burned through the canopy by a bolt of lightning. Timius wasn’t anywhere to be seen but that gave me time to pull out my stone pipe and have a quick smoke of kemir root until he arrived.

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.