Chapter 1: the Decision
The mechanical head whirred and clanked as it tried to focus on the crouched Garrett, master thief. Damn, he thought, These metal heads are everywhere. Thieving had been made difficult ever since those metal cameras had been fashioned by the Mechanists, the local religious cult. If the heads saw you, they wouldn't think twice to set off alarms, traps, and turrets.
Fortunately, the one in Garrett's way right now decided it had lost its target, and began its regular movements. Garrett sighed, glad that it had passed him over. Passing on, he made his way towards the study, stopping to snatch a vase that might get a fair amount on the market.
His unknowing host, Lord Carnatin, had been the target of one of Garrett's commissions. Ever since his fence had been discovered and arrested, Garrett had been working independently. Most of the shadier residents of Dayport knew him, and now approached him as if he was one of the few remaining fences. In fact, that was how he had gotten himself here, looking for an incriminating bill of sale that would, at the very least, get Carnatin locked up for 25 years for running an illegal brothel and gambling parlor. Why Garrett's commissioner wanted Carnatin locked up was unknown to Garrett, but he had learned not to ask questions, just do.
Garrett unfolded a rather detailed floor plan that his commissioner had somehow managed to get his hands on. According to his map, he had just past through the library on the second floor. If he went through this door, he would end up in the back hall. From there, he could go up the stairwell that would be to his left, and then up to Carnatin's study area. Folding up the parchment, he made his way over to the door. He leaned against it, listening for noise, and open the door…
Only to find another mechanical head staring straight at him. Remembering that the heads' blind spot was directly under them, he dove under it. Unfortunately, one glimpse was enough for the camera. It immediately sent out an ear-splitting shriek, which would be enough to wake up anyone in the entire mansion. Cursing openly (but not able to hear himself over the din that those damn alarms were creating) he tried to find a place to hide. Spotting an open window, he climbed out and discovered a ledge that he could stand on. Not much, but it would have to do. Shutting the window, he started inching his way towards another, trying not to look down at the ground, which was about 30 feet straight down. As he crept along, he listened to the poundings of many guards' feet as they ran towards the source of the alarm. Garrett edged along, while he heard a wonderful quiet as the alarm that had blown his cover was shut off.
"Where'd he go?" Garrett heard one guard say with obvious frustration in his voice.
"He couldn't have gone far," he heard a female guard reply. She then began issuing commands. "Alright. Williams, Jeffrey, and Dunningham, check all the rooms on the first floor. Crimshaw and Roderick, go search upstairs in the lord's chambers. Jennings, Delfri and I will search the second floor." "Don't forget to check the passage behind the tapestry. The taffer might have found refuge there."
Garrett's ears pricked up. A passage! This would definitely save him some effort. Now he'd just have to wait for the party to clear.
About 30 minutes later, the guards returned. From what Garrett picked up, none of the guards had found him, which was a good thing. Finally, the commander woman reluctantly proclaimed, "Alright, we lost him. Return to your posts."
Garrett listened for the sounds of the guards leaving the area. He waited a good 5 minutes, then began to move towards the window. He had just reached the window and was ready to open it when the ledge he was on made a loud crack! and tumbled to the ground below. The sudden absence of footing caused Garrett to slip. Horrified, he began to tumble over the ledge…
But caught himself just in time. Feet dangling over a three-story drop, he tried to hoist himself up. But just as he began to lift himself, he heard a thickly accented voice say, "Huh? What the hell was that?"
Great, the master thief thought to himself. Here I am, barely hanging on to a ledge on a rich lord's manor, and now some fool has to come and check on the noise he heard. Wonderful, just wonderful. With a final boost of energy, he clambered up onto the ledge. Quickly, he moved over under the window, and waited for the guard to stick his head out and see what had happened. About 15 seconds past-the footsteps getting louder each time-and Garrett heard the window open above him. Looking up, he saw the guard stick his head out and look around.
This was his chance. Taking out his blackjack, he swung the weapon up into the guard's face. The guard barely had time to yell out a cry of pain as the thief grabbed the guard by the throat and threw him out of the window. The guard screamed all the way down to his rather messy demise. He had also managed to fall right in front of the entrance, and would probably create an adequate distraction for Garrett, who had finally gotten himself back through the window and into the hallway. Now to find that tapestry.
Avoiding the security watcher this time, Garrett looked under three different tapestries before finding the right one. As he lifted the tapestry and saw the cramped, dark hallway, he heard a guard running, his feet clapping against the cold stone floor. Quickly, Garrett ducked behind the tapestry and held it tight. Much to his relief, the guard passed at the same pace and did not stop. Garrett, safely behind the tapestry, began to proceed down the corridor.
About two minutes later, Garrett found himself under a trapdoor. Pushing slowly, he lifted the trapdoor slightly and peeked out. It appeared that the passage had brought him directly to the study, and no more than a yard away from the desk. Garrett crawled out quietly, making his way to the desk. He sifted through all of the papers in the drawers and on the desk, and took the ones that looked like invoices. He had just begun onto the third drawer when he heard a whirring noise behind him. Spinning around, he found himself staring down yet another damn watcher! He barely had time to curse when the sound of an arrow made him spin around yet again. What he had thought to be a regular vase was actually a turret shooting arrows. Garrett, realizing that he couldn't duck anywhere and take cover, ran towards the door-
Only to find that it was locked. He didn't have time to pick it, as the next arrow nicked his arm and took out a chunk of it. Yelling a cry of pain, he saw his only option lay in getting out through the window. Taking a deep breath, he smashed a chair into the window. Not thinking twice he stepped out onto the ledge.
But he soon realized that unlike the window on the second floor, this one had no ledge. He struggled to regain his balance, but an arrow got him squarely in the leg, tumbling him over. Seeing the ground 40 feet below rush up to meet him, Garrett tried a desperate move. He grabbed a rope arrow out of his quiver, and saw the ground only 35 feet away. He notched the arrow in his bow.
30 feet. Garrett pulled the string back.
25 feet. He let fly at wooden flying buttress, holding the rope end of the arrow in his hand.
20 feet. The arrow zoomed towards the buttress, trailing the rope behind it.
15 feet. An audible thunk could be heard as the missile hit the buttress and held fast.
10 feet. The rope in Garrett's hand finally pulled taut. Garrett held his breath and closed his eyes, waiting for the arrow to snap and him to fall down to the ground like the guard had…
It never happened. Garrett opened his eyes and saw he was but 5 feet above the ground, swinging like crazy. Looking up, he saw that the entire arrow except for the feathered end was completely embedded in the buttress. Shaking uncontrollably, he dropped down to the grass below, gasping in pain as the wound in his leg flared up. Rummaging in his cloak, he found a healing potion and drank the whole thing in one second. After a little while he felt the holes in his leg and the gash in his arm start to close up. Still shaking about his close call with the ground, he made his way to the hole in Carnatin's wrought-iron fence. Looking around, he saw no guards around and made his way to the not-so-effective barrier.
Garrett got back to his apartment with the temper of a tortured burrick. This wasn't the first time that something like this had happened, and sometimes he had barely missed getting caught and thrown in Cragscleft prison for the rest of his life. This city was becoming too damn mechanized. He'd have to find a new place to be anywhere near successful…
Garrett smiled. Of course! There was nothing binding him to this city. He'd move out, beyond the city walls, into a different one, where the Mechanists didn't have nearly as much influence. He pondered this idea for a little longer. He still had some business to finish up tomorrow, then he'd make preparations. But which city? Garrett pulled out a map from his secret closet, activated by turning a loose coat hook. Pulling it out, he stretched it over the table. Hmm, now where to go, he thought to himself. There was a large city, Flirence, to the north of the City, but the woods lay between them, and the woods were the home of the pagans, apemen, and other beasts that remained to be discovered. Looking to the west, all he saw was the wide ocean, and the closest city to the south was over 550 miles away on treacherous ground.
Now he looked to the east. There was a settlement called Grethenril only 70 miles away, which could be covered in about 2 days, but it would be too small to become successful. Besides, a small town meant that there wasn't many places to be secretive, and that would prove to be Garrett's eventual downfall. However, to the southeast of Grethenril there was another city. Garrett grinned broadly. His map marked it to be even bigger than Dayport, and was a total of 150 miles away on level territory. Garrett circled it with his quill. Just before he folded up his map, he took a glance at the name. Letheritzia, the map proclaimed: The City of Life. The City of Life, Garrett thought. What a fitting name. He went to sleep with a lighter heart and a smile on his face.
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