"Lightening in the Sky."
by Ryan Bringel
Although this short story occurs in the "Thief: The Dark Project" world, I consider it to be in a far off land. Think of it as being on the other side of the continent or even world. For those of you familiar with the Thief world I hope this gives some insight into the differences you will find in this story and its characters.
Hope you enjoy!
Pain. Blinding pain and the smell of burnt flesh. The blackness of oblivion approached in his mind. Images began to flash and memories flooded into him.....
My mind reeled from the hit. Borkov always hit me when he was drunk. Such was the life of a slave boy serving his master. I couldnt move or speak being so terrified. Borkov had reached into the fireplace and grabbed a burning log to hit me with. All I could do was lay there dazed as he called for more servants to clean up the wine I had spilled and pick up the fallen ash and log from the floor. I could smell the singed skin and hair but I was still numb. He left me there for a long while. Seeming to brood on what to do with me. I soon began to squirm from the pain of my wound, luckily I wasn't bleeding enough to drip on the floor! A faint noise from Borkov's position made me glance in his direction. He was asleep! I couldn't believe my fortune! Slowly as not to wake him with too much noise, I eased my cramped muscles to move myself into a standing position so as to tiptoe away.
My luck with getting away from Borkov didn't extend to my wound as I found out later. He had hit me behind my head on the neck. The bleeding was minimal due to the fire singing the wound closed as a sharp edge in the log had deeply cut into me, almost to the spine. The wound made it difficult for me to move my head and with the limited treatment slaves received for wounds I knew it would be infected and be the death of me. My fear then of running into the unknown, away from my 'comfortable' existence, away from my lords manor was no longer an issue. I might as well die free, instead of in the bottom cellar of Burkov's Manor. Being very late at night and the lights out or low there were many shadows, it was those that I began using to move about the manor to retrieve things to help keep me alive on the road. At heart I knew I was stealing from burkov, but that didn't matter to me anymore after the constant abuse I had taken from him. Why leave the house with just food and clothing I asked myself. I knew about Burkov's prized dagger, it would catch a nice price somewhere I was sure. Sneaking over to Burkov's study I noticed the door was slightly ajar. Strange really since that door was always locked, tho I knew where the key was hidden. I couldn't hear anything inside, so slowly slipped in. I looked everywhere and saw no sign of life, the one thing that saved my life since there was a dark crouched figure in the deepest shadows. Going over to the desk I quickly reached under the desk and flipped a latch that dropped down a hidden drawer with the dagger. Burkov had shown me it in one of his drunken nights. Quickly putting it in my newly acquired pack I made my way through the manor. Not knowing in the shadows I was being followed. I slipped outside and had only made it a few steps when a dagger blade flashed from behind me and was at my throat!
"So, where did you come from young one?" came a whisper.
"Sir, please I only try to get away from a bad master." I whispered back.
"Your only a slave?!" came a startled whisper.
The blade withdrew only a moment before I felt the hilt hit my head.
This time the blackness overcame me....
Someone was talking and walking back and forth.
"Well now what do I do?!"
"You brought him here, He is your responsibility"
"He is only a slave!"
"That matters not. You yourself said you didn't hear him come up till it was almost too late for you to hide."
"Fine! So I'll put my life on hold for a year while I train him huh?"
"Yes, then you will bring him to me...."
"Boy! Look at me, I know you are awake!"
Opening my eyes I saw I was in a dark hut. Searching the darkness I found a small man standing there. Nobody else seemed to be in the hut with us.
"How old are you boy ?"
"I know not, but I've been told I am 13 seasons"
"Hmmmm. And your name?"
"When anyone desires to use it, it is Michail"
"Well from this moment on you are no slave. You also will have a new name. You will now be known as Myk. Your wound will heal with us and you are fortunate. The wound has destroyed the slaver mark on your neck."
I thought my fortunes had changed. I was wrong.
"From this day on you will train with me. You will obey my every word. Disobedience is met with death."
It was 6 months later that Robert told me I had learned all I could from him. Already most of the Thief's guild looked at me with fear or hatred. Many of them had "tested" me. They had all failed. I was the fastest man there; nobody wanted to end up with my knife at his or her throat. I had already had to end one mans life because of his repeated attempts to end mine. In the main hall of our building there were many exits. All stood open but one. One door that was always closed. I was suprised to find this day that the door was open. Not only was it open but there was a woman standing there watching me. There were others in the hall but they had a respectful distance to the sides. She pointed at me and drew her knife, exasperated I slowly drew mine. A small flash from her direction alerted me to movement and then I noticed her dagger sticking in the floor in front of me! It was impossible! She couldn't move that fast! Looking up at her, she had a strange grin on her face and a glow about her. She came at me then, almost a streak of light! My instincts alone saved me. Diving to the side but swinging a foot out to catch her I pivoted on one hand holding my dagger in the other at ready. A quick flash above me was my only warning that my attempt to trip her as she went past was futile. Up went my dagger in a defensive move and saved myself a grievous wound on the arm. Finishing my pivot I went into a crouch backing myself into a wall. She had come down 10 feet away. Turning to me her eyes found mine and she had a smirk on her face. The glow about her had intensified; I had never seen anything like it before. She drew her short sword as I drew mine and we squared off. Launching herself at me she started into an offensive pattern throwing me into a completely defensive scheme. I was very lucky to have learned everything from Robert whom most thought the best swordsman in the thief guild, barring of course anyone in the high council. Her attacks came incredibly fast, trails of lights following the paths of her arms in attack. I was beginning to tire but her attacks came on and on, still tho I looked for my opening knowing it would come. Finally she entered into a routine I knew I could counter, biding my time till the right instant I twisted my wrist to catch her blade at the right angle. A hard clang and a shower of sparks made me back off quickly realizing that my counter had been countered. Quickly looking up to get a grip on the situation I found her eyes again. Glowing brightly with a bluish white they were narrowed as if in anger. She didn't hold a sword anymore, as I did not. Faint trails of smoke or steam was rising from her arms. My God! What on earth was I fighting?!? With a flash of her arms she was on the move again, a quick yelp of suprise caught my attention as I was looking for a weapon. Turning I saw 2 of the bystanders were on the floor, their weapons in her hands. Small crackles or bluish white energy crackled all over her body. Backing up I felt the hilts of 2 weapons pressed at my sides, I grabbed them as I heard her yell. The strange energy danced up her blades and she came on and once again I was on the defensive. Showers of sparks flew all over as the sounds of our blades rang out. I could feel the energy radiating out from her. A nick and a shock was my only indication that I narrowly escaped a slash on my leg. I was beginning to get desperate now. My Strength was flagging and I couldn't go much longer. I began to fear, and it was fear that powered my offensive. Slowly I turned the tables and began an offensive of my own. The frustration from her was audible in her now loud grunts and breathing. On a gamble I centered the best offensive I knew against one sword ignoring the other in hope that I could score a good hit and recover. A scream and blood sprayed red from a large wound on her right arm, I jumped back hoping this conflict was at an end. She stood there, her eyes wide in disbelief. Turning from her and moving towards an exit I barely turned back to look before I heard loud crackle and felt a powerful electrical charge surge through my body.
Pain. Blinding pain and the smell of burnt flesh. I felt the blackness of oblivion closing over me.......
My senses returned and I wish they hadn't. By god that was the second time I had been hit by her tho this time I know it wasn't meant. I had taken her electrical charge right in my face. I couldn't see!
I began to stir, slowly moving my body, willing myself to stand up. All I could muster was a load groan.
"Hey! We got a live one over here!"
Awww hell I thought, who is here? "Hello?" I asked.
"Sit there man. You're pretty beat up. You're in good hands now son."
It sounded like a priest. I wasn't sure at the moment but didn't struggle when they picked me up and put me on a stretcher and began carting me away.
"I have coin, I can buy a healing potion if you have one" I asked.
"Well now, if you have the coin to purchase one then by all means. I'll take 2 gold for healing balm for your eyes and 5 gold for one potion."
May the gods strike down this priest I thought. That cost was unbelievable! Ah well tho if I was to get going to find what happened to Camile I was going to have to pay it.
Digging out 2 gold pieces I held them out in my hand. They were removed slowly and a few moments later a tingling balm was rubbed on each of my eyelids. Light returned a few minutes later, stinging and glaring at first. Bursts of color assaulted my senses as I forced open my now working eyelids. The colors began to sharpen as my vision cleared. It took maybe 5 minutes and I knew the 2 gold I paid was well worth it!
"Son, I thought you was dead. Good thing you moved, we was about to leave."
With my cleared vision I saw that it was a band of gypsies that had taken me in. No wonder they had charged so much for the healing balm. Only their strange sense of honor had kept them from robbing me since I was a 'cripple' without the use of my eyes. Now that my sight was restored I should keep a good eye on things. What a funny thought really.
The 'priest' was standing over me. You're typical gypsy altho a bit old, with many brightly colored scarves and other assorted clothings. Dangling from one hand was a small vial with a yellowish liquid in it. Reluctantly I dug out the rest of the coin. It was nearly all I had! Handing over the 5 gold, he tipped my head back and helped me drink the liquid. Moment's later pain exploded in my left arm as the feeling came back and my face began a constant itching. Reaching up with my good arm, I must have broke my left arm in the fight, I itched my face. Watching scabs falling off as the healing potion healed my badly burnt face. My strength returning I sat up and tested my left arm slowly. It would take another 10 minutes or so but I knew I'd have the full use of it back! I was damn lucky that the gypsy's had any of this. It was very hard to come by, but usually only half as expensive as what I paid for it. Lastly I felt the numerous cuts and slices healing over from the fight. It had all happened so fast.........
We had been traveling together for the better part of 10 years now. I had grown to love Camile before we started travelling together. We both would have been content to live out our lives in the city of Joktam but word had leaked out that she was an elemental. A human with the ability to manipulate certain elements in nature. It wasn't magic, tho people feared magic because of the unknown they feared Elementals even more for their raw destructive power. When someone showed the outward signs of being an elemental it would cause an uproar and the general populous there would lynch the unfortunate teenager before they grew any more powerful. An elementals power began to manifest just before puberty started. Once an elemental reached their twenties they could control awesome forces indeed. With the city of Joktam learning about Camile she had to flee, and of course I couldn't let her leave by herself. So began our travels together. Always keeping secret her abilities. The unfortunate thing about elementals was the fact that if they did not use their abilities the energy build up in their bodies and would begin to cause pain. They must release that energy just as they cannot release too much or it would cause a blackout until they 'recharged'.
We happened to be camping about a mile away from a large village. Unfortunately we didn't know that this village had scouts, probably due to raiders or somesuch. It was growing close to dusk when Camile realized she needed to release some energy. Sitting down in a clearing for our campsite she smiled at me. My heart always skipped a beat when she did that. A soft bluish white glow began to form about her and she reached to the ground. Sparks of energy began to pulse into the ground. It was then that I noticed dusk had fallen very quickly into night and Camile was beginning to light this area quite brightly. Ten minutes later the sparks stopped and she looked up again with a smile on her face. It wasn't often that she had that look in her eyes. We retired to the tent to indulge ourselves of each other. This night we lost ourselves in each other and it proved to be disastrous. Our attention only on each other we didn't notice the crowd gathering in the shadows of the forest. We had finished and my only warning was the sound of many feet running at our tent.
Jumping out with my sword drawn I was met by at least 5 men who instantly attacked. I went into a flurry of action. My sword flashing in the moonlight was a deadly arc of death and 2 of them men had fallen back missing various parts from fingers to hands and arms. Their screams brought more men. How many I know not. They threw themselves at me, abandoning any attempt at swordplay. With so many men and so much weight I was bore to the ground and held fast. Seeing that familiar glow of blue-white I knew that she was fighting them also.
"Enough! I say halt or he dies!"
Craning my neck I saw her standing before a group of 10 men. Lightening played across the sky and danced from her fingers. Her naked body glistened in the lightening light from the perspiration of her body. It enraged me that these men and their lust could look upon my lover.
"Release him or you all shall perish!!" she growled.
The man holding me from behind began to slowly draw his blade across my neck, drawing a small red line.
Camile gave a helpless look at me not knowing what to do. The energy began to seep from her and the tension in her corded muscles relaxed.
Seeing their chance they rushed her, one man ahead of them all raised his deadly sword and the lightening in the sky gllinted off the blade in its deadly arc.
"NOoooooooooooooo!!!!!" I screamed!
Heaving upwards I tried to remove the men on top of me. I felt the knife bite into my exposed neck and one man had my arm behind my back. I heard the loud audible crack of my left arm snapping and my skin tearing as the bone ripped through. My scream of pain ripped through the night, blood spraying everywhere. I began to lose focus from the pain but heard the sharp crackle of lightening bolts and the screams of other men. Bolts of energy were dancing from Camile's fingers in all directions. It looked as if she had gone beserk! Before my vision faded I saw a man tackle her. Her arms going wide as she released another bolt the shot straight at me. Energy coursed through my body and the smell of burnt skin and singed hair was my last sensation before I fell into oblivion.
I asked the old gypsy how long had they been here. Did they have any idea where those men had gone and if there was a woman in the dead bodies?
"Well young feller. There was no female in among the bodies. There must have been at least 3 score dead men tho. All burnt up like yew was. Quite grisly actually. Id say you were lucky to get away from that elemental!"
"I see, well I thank you for your help and generosity."
"You know, for another 2 gold I'll part with some provisions to keep you on your way and a well made sword."
Accepting the deal left me with only a silver but food and a weapon would be invaluable. Besides, I had ways of getting more money.
I thanked him and began the hike back the mile we had gone with the caravan. I had no hope of finding her alive. Because of their danger, Elementals were killed quickly.
Finding the grove was easy enough. There was a massive amount of charred areas where she had obviously expended a major attack. Like the Gypsy said there was nearly 3 score men dead here. 29 to be exact, that meant that there were still somewhere near 20 men who were going to die by my hands. I only needed one informant to rat out the rest. A small smile played across my lips thinking about the revenge I would have.
Finding their trail also wasn't hard. They were dragging something I could only assume was Camile's dead body. Damn those basterds!
I began my trek onward, coming after about an hour to a rather large village. You could even almost say it was a small town. I looked around till I found the largest pub and entered. Being late afternoon, business was picking up and I made my way to a table near the center. Sitting down I ordered dinner and an ale.
An hour late the pub was full. Sitting there I listened for the information I knew would leak out somewhere.
"It 'twas er strange weather last night wernt it ?!"
"Good sir if you would like to come to the back room..."
"E'r jes who do yew think yew are!"
"Barkeep! More ale over here!"
"Clean up is here ol mess!"
My attention caught on that last sentence I heard. Straining to hear more I moved to a closer table.
"Damn one woman did that?"
"Yea, someone let the little bitch get old enough to control it"
"My god, insane people to let her get that old!"
"Heh, Robert's to teach her a lesson before she dies, his guards have her at his place..."
Instantly I perked up. Could she be alive!? Robert? Are they talking about her father ?
"I don't suppose I could have a look at her? You owe me a favor ya know."
"Hrm, Well if this is the only way to pull that favor off then fine. Should be okie."
"I don't see why not tonight."
My heart started racing. I couldn't ask for anything better then this!
"Well then, lets be off. This ought to be quite a sight for your young eye's lad."
I followed at a discreet distance. One of my talents, gleaned from a few years of slavery was the ability to move rather quietly. You never wanted to wake the master when you were up and about. As for my talent in speed I was whipped for sport when I was younger. I learned to time my movements and began catching the whip in my hands. It was so much easier to take the pain in my hands then anywhere else. The master gave up once I could catch the whip pretty regularly. AHH! Here I am dwelling on the past and I'm supposed to be trailing them! Luckily I hadn't lost sight of them. They were walking rather slowly, taking their time and chattering away.
I followed them for maybe 1/2 hour through the city till they came to a large place. I looked like a small castle. It was huge! They walked around the side to a guardhouse and conversed. After a few moments one of the 2 guards there went inside with them. Hmmm. Only one guard I thought. A smile widened on my lips. Remembering a small slight sign I saw a few streets back, I backtracked till I found it. Just a marking on a wall to most, but to me it was exactly what I needed. A quick search of the alleyway by someone who knows what they are looking for showed me a small bundle well hidden. Extracting it, inside was a blackjack. Damn! Is this it ? I cursed my luck and the poor thief's here. Back in my hometown there would have been at least a flashbomb or 2 and 4 or so arrows of different makes. These emergency stashes came in handy, but it seemed here in this city they were poorly maintained. Cursing my luck I returned to find the other guard back at his post. There was no way I could take them both with only a blackjack. I needed to get in quietly also. I could take them both in a direct sword fight but it would be messy and loud. I knew that tonight I might not manage to get inside. Damn! Double cursed luck!
Angrily I walked off. It wasn't late yet and a few people still walked the streets. Well, I'll need money if I'm going to get the supplies I need to get in there. I began looking around for a well off Tavern, finding one about a half hour later. Now came the waiting part. I hated waiting. Inside the fold of my cloak the blackjack felt rough in my hands. For whatever reason I had trouble using them. I hated them. I had a lot of trouble hitting my victims in the right spot to knock them out. But it was the only real option I had. Sighing I made a mental laugh. What a master thief I am. Ha Ha.
The night was full upon the city when a portly fellow emerged from the tavern. It was quite obvious he was drunk. From the look of his clothing he was very well off. I imagined that he couldn't have drunk away all his money. Here was my chance! I followed him for really only a short while before he turn down a small alley. The fool! I heard a familiar dropping water sound and quickly moved in for a strike. His back was facing me. All too easy! I moved quickly raising my blackjack, but just as I swung he turned as he finished his little job. The look of surprise on his face as my backjack connected with his nose was almost funny. He grunted loudly as he fell and I hit him again. This time over the head. He shouldn't get up from that. Once again I botched a blackjack job. Damn that infernal tool! Searching his body tho rewarded me with nearly 40 gold! What in the world was this man doing with that much gold?!? Not really caring about the awnser to that I scuttled off to look for the fence in this area. A Fence is usually very hard to find but in this piss poor town he didn't hide himself that well and I soon found his hovel. Knocking on the door in the particular way of thieves I waited a few moments before it was opened slightly.
"May I help you young man?" came a wheezing voice.
"I wish to buy a few items from you."
"If that is so, let me see the color of your money first."
I flipped my one silver piece inside the door. A moment later it was opened just enough for me to squeeze in. Inside were many shelves and a number of crossbows mounted and pointing in my direction. The old fence was sitting behind a desk. His hand playing with a string that attached to the crossbows. I counted four of them.
"An interesting way to greet customers old man."
"Well I cant just invite anyone in I don't know young feller. Now what can I do for you?"
I noticed he never let go of the strings and any movement away from the area I was standing would be difficult considering space was limited near the door with the shelves on both sides. The shelves have a grating over them allowing me to see inside but unable to grab anything.
"I am in need of some of the items you have for sale."
"Well then. Lets make a Deal."
Reaching behind him he flipped a latch that lowered a table between him and me. I was now effectively boxed in and began to get a little nervous.
"For you young newcomers this is how I do business. The door behind you is unlocked if you wish to leave. Once the grates are open the door will lock. Don't forget the crossbows youngster."
"Fine. Let's get on with it then."
Reaching behind him for another latch, he released it and the grates on both sides of me opened so that I could get inside of the Shelves.
"I know exactly what's on them shelves boy. Put what you want on the table in front of you. Tell me when you have what you want."
Glancing left and right I noticed everything I could want was here. Wonderful! I removed the single bow and laid it down. Next came 2 score broad arrows and a score of water arrows. I began to reach for the flashbombs.
"Okie boy. That's quite a stash already! Put 20 gold at the head of the table, laid out individually."
My anger rose a bit. 20 gold!? This should be closer to 15. Well I needed these items. Sighing I fished out 20 gold from many different pockets. I saw a small smile of satisfaction from the old man.
"Impressive boy. I see you have some experience. You may continue."
I then reached for the flashbombs and put 4 of them on the table. 5 Moss arrows, 10 water arrows, 5 rope arrows and one fire arrow came next.
"Well sonny. This is quite a job you have going isn't it ??"
"You could say something like that."
"Can I ask what mansion you are hitting up?"
"You can ask, but you may not get an answer."
"Ha ha, I like your spirit youngster. Whatever ya get I'll fence it for you."
I gave him an irritated look and reached for the healing potion there. Setting it all on the table I waited.
"Well sonny, since ya might bring back a few good things from ol Robert's mansion I will give ye a discount on the fact that ya might bring me some o what ye git there."
"How much old man ?"
"Business as usual. Ha! Well put another 10 gold down."
I laid it out as before. 30 glittering gold pieces lay on the table. Another flick of a latch behind him and the grates came down.
Put away your equipment and don't worry about the speed potion. I'll call it a gift. You have more courage then most do when 4 crossbows are pointed at you."
Slightly amazed he had seen me swipe it. I grinned putting the items away in my pockets and slinging the bow over my shoulder.
"A good evening to you old man."
I opened the door and was almost outside when I heard him speak again.
"They say she will be killed tomorrow when the priest arrives. You shouldn't hold yourself down with baggage sonny."
The door closed and an audible click was heard. With the old mans precautions I could understand he didn't need to hide. Blindly jumping into Robert's mansion wouldn't be a good idea. Dawn was really only a few hours away. The old man had mentioned a priest coming. It didn't surprise me. They viewed an elemental as having a demon inside them and wanted to have them exorcised. What really surprised me was the fact that he knew exactly what I was after.
I cased the mansion for the rest of the night. Found a number of ways in and watched the patrols. Towards dawn I hiked outside of town about 2 miles and climbed a tree. Hiding my gear save for the short sword, bow and 2 arrows. I took a catnap and waited.
The sound of horse and a carriage awoke me and looking up the road I saw the priest procession coming down the road. Four guards, 2 in front and 2 in back, were guiding the carriage. Unfortunately it was a covered carriage. The horse for the carriage was being led by one of the guard's horse. Well this was going to be difficult. But I knew I could do it. I knocked an arrow and waited. Slowly the carriage came closer and I could see the priest in the window. Watching also the tree across the road there was many birds in it. I let go of the bow for a moment to grab a broken branch near me and hurled it into the air towards the other tree. I quickly grabbed the bowstring and pulled to its limit. Another second and the branch hit the other tree. The birds took off in an angry squall and much noise. It was this noise that made it impossible to hear the sharp twang of the bow as it released and the sickening thud of the arrow as it hit the priest, entering the side of his neck. The priest slumped down and looked as if he may be lying down asleep. The guards had looked nervously at the opposite tree for a moment, but were off again at their slow pace. My heart raced and I relaxed the 2nd arrow I had knocked in case the guards came near my tree. So much for the exorcism!
That afternoon found me at the tavern again. I listened to the conversations around me. Everyone seemed a bit subdued.
"Aye, business is a little slower today."
"Demons I tell ye. It had to be demons."
"It's a bad omen. Guards bringing a dead priest!"
"The church will have the guards heads!"
"The Hammers are coming!"
"The last thing we need is those damn hammers here and their high handed ways."
"This time a hammer priest will take care of that witch."
A hush came over the crowd and I looked toward the entrance. With a sudden start I realized the portly nobleman was standing in the doorway. He had a nasty bruise on his nose and it was obviously broken.
"I say ruffians. I am searching for the man that did this to my beautiful face. He attacked me last night and after much battle I did lose and he whacked me not only on my face but on top of my head."
At this I had to grin. Yea, it was such a large battle. Ha Hah!
"I can only imagine that the evil man was a thief! I'll reward any man that brings me the thief with 20 gold!"
Hrm. Well that throws a kink into things depending on how much that fence talked to anyone else. I was probably the only thief to purchase that much equipment that evening. The nobleman was talking again. Damn I missed some of it.
"...so that if it is the same person that killed the priest, the church will reward the man that captures him also. Lastly Sir Robert will be here on the marrow and doesn't want a rogue thief near his house. I as his emissary am taking offers for more guards. Please come to the Clive mansion to further talk about open positions."
Damn I thought! That fat basterd was in the pay of Robert? I should have killed him! I slowly let the anger drain out of me as I sat there. Intent on finding out more I waited and listened.
"E'll e'll e'll. Ol fat man Erik er has a bit o probl'm doernt he ?"
"Aye! But if there is a few more gold to make I'll sign up!"
"They couldn't pay me enough to guard that bitch."
"Dem A'mmers will take care O da she-bitch!!"
Well. His name was Erik. At least I knew the name of the next man I intended to kill.
"Aye, well maybe after this his kind will stay away."
"True. If he hadn't come in promising gold to capture a woman. Our town wouldn be in such a mess."
Well well well. A little patience came through. So my friend Erik here also was responsible for Camile's capture. I definentally am going to find this man. Vengence will be mine!
After thinking about it for a short while I decided that Erik had given me the perfect opportunity to get into the mansion with minimal risk. I could sign up as a guard. At first I was going to have to blackjack about 3 guards and remove them from the outer walls to give me enough time to lockpick one of the sidedoors. Knowing my own distaste for blackjacking tho, this should be much easier.
I gathered my gear and headed for the Clive mansion. It still reeled my mind that Camile's own father was behind all this. Nearing the mansion I stuffed all my gear and overcloak into a black bag. The bow stuck out some but there was no help for it. Hiding in a shadow across the street I judged my jump over the surrounding wall to the mansion. I waited a short bit, timing the guard to make sure they hadn't changed.
At the right moment I ran silently and vaulted myself in 2 steps up the side of the wall. I had made a minimal amount of noise and now was atop the wall where a small path led along it. Quickly sliding down the other side of the wall into the small shadow near a bush close to the wall I waited the 5 more seconds it would take for a guard to be in sight of my area. 10 seconds was all I really had to play with between them. I counted another 10 seconds and knew it was time. I dashed the 2 score feet to the side of the house and the side door. Near it was a small bush and I quickly hid the bundle as well as I could behind it. I had lost count of the seconds, a dreadfull mistake, and I ran back to my previous hiding spot. In my haste I made a bit more noise then I had wanted.
"Who goes there?"
"I say, come out and show thyself!"
"Hmmm. Must have been the wind."
"Damn this cold and wind."
I heard him walk off. Their usuall pattern only slightly disrupted. My heart was pounding tho and it took me another 5 minutes before I felt I could move. I began timing their movements again at at the right time I dashed halfway back, turned and ran at the wall. Once again 2 steps up the wall and my momentum had me safely on the top. A quick slide down the other side and I was off into the shadows again.
A half hour later I was walking straight at the front gate to the mansion. Guards stood to either side and the telltale slits for archers were present in the gatehouse.
"Who goes there ?",br>
"Hail good Sir's. I've come to accept Erik's gratious offer to hire more guards.",br>
"Well you're a bit late. We have added all the footguards we need."
"Well, I see that you have Archers. May I assist you in that area?"
"Aye, you are good with a bow and crossbow ?"
"Indeed I am good Sir's",br>
"Well then. Go on inside and knock at the main door. As for Rick and tell em that you are the last archer."
"I'll do just that Sir."
Walking on through the main gate. By the hells I never thought I'd be doing something like that at a place I was going to break in. Quite ironic really. I walked up to the door and was greeted by a servant who promptly took me to see Rick. After a short display of my accuracy with the bow and crossbow, Rick outfitted me with a guard uniform and told me I would be in the 3 level lookout. A place reserved for the most accurate man.
"Well, I thought we had bled this town dry of the best archers but here you come along."
"Aye good sir. I am new to this area and wish to make a place to live."
"Here here! Well you have joined up with the best. You will do good here!"
Heh. If he only knew.
Rick took me up to the 3rd floor and after a brief meeting with the man there I climbed up to the lookout balcony. I was pretty obvious that the man who was there wasn't happy he was being moved. Ah well! Heh. I settled down and began watching the routines of the archers on the second level. Near me I had a longbow with 10 Arrows and a Crossbow that was loaded and had an additional 5 bolts. It seemed that the archers hardly moved. They stayed in their spots and most in fact were asleep. My only problem it seemed was the man that was up here before was constantly watching me from below. I had to bide my time even tho I knew I didn't have much this evening. Waiting for him to do something else, he finally left his post. Presumably to relive a call of nature. I knew the crossbow would be to loud so I knocked an arrow into the long bow. The mans position was really only 30 feet away. I pulled back as far as I could on the bow and aimed. It seemed like forever and my arm was screaming in pain but he showed up. A soft FOOM was his only warning and it wasn't enough. The arrow entered the back of his neck, severing the spinal cord and protruding from the front of his neck. He instantly and silently crumpled to the floor.
My face had turned into a grin of satisfaction a minute or so later when I knew that 4 other sentry archers were also in the same condition. With them out of the way I could move around much more freely.
The night was halfway through and I needed to make haste. I knew not how long it would take for someone to realize that the archers were dead. I made my way down to the first floor and mentally noted the few guards I saw at their posts. Apon coming to the side door where my equipment was located I saw a guard in the hall near the door. I figured I better say something.
"Hail and well met good sir."
"Aye, the night sure is long."
"You look like you could take a moments respite. Would you like me to spell you a moment?"
"Aye! I can hear the call of nature now!"
I watched him walk off. Maybe lady luck actually was on my side. I opened the door and took a quick look out. The exterior guards weren't near so I grabbed my bag and bow. Closing the door and lightly running off to a dark corner I deposited my things there. I strolled over to the guard's post in time to see him round the corner looking much relived.
"Aye, much better now. I thank thee!"
"Anytime my friend. I must be off back to my own post now."
"Fare the well, I owe ye a drink next time I see ye at the tavern!"
"A good night to ye."
Hopefully he would never see me again. I knew that an archer in the below halls would be a difficult story to explain so I knew it was time to don the tools of my trade. Hidden in the shadows I removed the overtunic of the guards and put my familiar cloak on. I readied all my equipment and hung the bag with the overtunic of the back of my belt. Who knows? Might need it later.
I began the slow process of learning this floor to resolve where the entrance was to the lower level or levels. I didn't expect it to be much lower then two levels deep. After a half-hour or so I found the stairway leading down. Guarded by two guards. Damn I had forgotten to buy a noisemaker arrow. It had been way to long since I did this sort of thing. I readied the hated blackjack and fished out a flashbomb. Tossing it to the ground in front of them I averted my eyes.
"Er, woot is dis ?"
It never failed. They always looked right at it. The familiar soft POOM and I was jumping at them with blackjack raised. A few moments later and they both lay on the ground. I almost stood there dumbfounded. Not one but two clean blackjacks! Coming out of my revelry I went to the far corner and doused the torches in the area. I quickly dragged the prone bodies to the black corner and began my descent. Down below the torches were less frequent and the going was much easier. I heard movement from one corridor and I moved into another dark corridor and crouched in the blackness waiting for the approaching guard.
I almost yelped in terror when I realized a guard walked behind me in the blackness down the corridor.
Damn! My mind is slipping. I didn't even know he was there. No help for it now tho. He didn't see me. I began an earnest search then of this level. An hour later I was running out of water arrows, I only had 3 left. The good thing for me at least was that much of the lower level was shrouded in darkness. Along the way I had checked many of the rooms and found most of them full or pottery, food and one was full of some crates. I didn't have time to check them. I finally found a door that was locked. It seemed they thought most of the building was safe since most everything was unlocked. This hopefully was either the way down or the actual room she was in. I watched for about 5 minutes and found a 2-man patrol that walked along this hallway. I bided my time and waited the correct amount if time, knocked an arrow and let fly. A soft thud told me that one of the guards was down. The other would soon be coming so I dragged him into the shadows with me. I quickly searched him and found a small ring of keys. Damn! The blood on the floor!
I looked around and saw the guard coming, it would only be a moment. I knocked back a water arrow and let fly. I hit its mark and spread out the blood and began soaking into the cracks. My heart raced as the guard walked on and over the area. He didn't notice! As he walked past the door I began counting. Forty-five seconds until he walked past it again. I raced down to the door and put my ear to it. I faintly heard the sound of running water but nothing else. Taking the biggest chance of the night I unlocked the door and went inside not knowing if anyone else was in there. Inside was smoky and dimly lit. No guards were here and there was a figure chained in an alcove. I closed the door and made my way in that direction. In the middle of the room was a drain the water was noisily running into. My heart leaped when I saw the figure in the alcove up close. It was Camile! Water was running over her in a steady stream. She was covered in rags that didn't hide the abuse she had taken. Many cuts and bruises were evident on her cold blue skin. I shut the tap off from above her and tried to wake her. A soft moan and her eyelids fluttered open. The spark of her life was there and dim but it flickered a bit brighter when she saw it was me. A slight smile played across her lips. I helped her out of the alcove and removed the rags she was in. Pulling out the guard's overtunic and bag I began rubbing her dry with the bag. Color returned to her blue skin and steam was rising from the still wet areas. She began shivering violently as her body began to fight for warmth. I was so lost in caring for her that I had no sense of time. I heard the latch of the door give as it opened and swung around with my sword at the ready.
"By the gods! What's going on here!"
I charged him with my blade flashing deadly arcs of reflected light. The sharp clang of metal ground in my ears as parried in desperation.
"To mine aid fellow guards!!!" he shouted.
Damn him! My anger flowed into my arms and I attacked with a fury born of anger. A few more sharp clangs and his sword flew from numb fingers. His death cry was a gurgle as blood spewed forth from the new openings in his chest and throat. I knew we were done for. There was no way I could fight them all. Their numbers were to many, but I would not go down without a fight. Going back to Camile I helped her stand. Her strength was returning and she leaned on me as we left the dungeon room.
I heard 2 shouts behind me and I tossed a flashbomb in that direction. Hearing it go off I leaned Camile against the wall and turned in one fluid motion getting my bow ready with a knocked arrow and let fly. One of the stunned guards fell to the floor with an arrow through his neck. The other guard soon joined his fellow with an arrow through his heart. His death scream was unnerving. I only had 4 more broadhead arrows left. We continued onward down another corridor and heard pursuit again. Once again I tossed a flashbomb behind me. I heard one guard yell "Turn!" Thinking to myself I am I am! I grinned. I saw 3 guards this time. One was behind the front two and my bow twanged twice as the two front guards fell with an arrow in them. The third guard came charging towards me. He must have been the one to yell turn as he could see my just fine. His only problem was that he didn't make it halfway to me before an arrow was sticking out of his chest. He stumbled and fell. Never to rise again.
We continued on, not knowing what else to do. I only had one arrow left. IT had only been maybe 5 minutes now since my detection but it seemed like hours. Camile hardly needed my support much now what was good and I kept my bow out at the ready. Above us I could now hear the alarms going off. At least I would die next to Camile! We rounded a corner and saw another guard at the same time he saw us.
"YOU! You vile betrayer!" screamed the guard!
"Hmmmm. Guess that means the drink is off huh?"
I let my last arrow fly as he charged. He turned a bit and it hit him in the shoulder. On he continued with a look of hatred in his eyes. My sword flashed out and made quick work of the poor man.
"How could you..[cough] You seemed like a decent man..."
I watched him die. I took no relish in the thought of him dying. It didn't please me, but he had been one of the guards.
It seemed that the basement was much larger then the house. We wandered around a bit more. It was nearly 15 minutes now since we had been discovered and we heard shouts all over. We rounded another corner and saw a group of men. About 6 of them, they were looking in one of the storage rooms. Behind us I heard a shout and knew we were trapped. A soft whisper from Camile caught my attention.
"Let me handle this. At least I'll be out when they kill me."
I stayed low and saw the telltale glow of Camile building herself up. The men near the storage room shouted in surprise and dove behind those crates I found earlier. I heard the crackle of Camile's energy as she let loose in their direction. Her aim wasn't good with her being as tired as she was. Lightening bolts flared all around and one of them blew open a crate.
I thought the world had come to an end. A thunderous explosion quaked the ground underneath me and I was thrown down from a shockwave. My lungs burned as I inhaled smoke and dirt. I began to black out but fought it. I fought it for what seemed like forever. My head stopped ringing and my senses came back to me. I coughed and wheezed the smoke and dirt out of my lungs. My vision returned and I felt pain erupt in my leg. I wiped the grime away from my eyes and saw a large stone block had landed on my leg. Knowing it was going to hurt like hell I used the leg as leverage and slowly lifted the block up. I felt the bone in my leg, already broken, began to splinter and my nerves shrieked from the pain. Finally the block fell away freeing my leg. Tears streamed down my face from the intense pain. I dug out the healing potion and drank half of it. I reached down and set my leg as close to straight as possible. The liquid began its work on me and a few minutes later I felt I could walk, but it was still tender. I couldn't drink the rest tho. I had to find Camile. It was pitch black with a small stream of light coming from the direction of the storage room. Feeling around on the ground I found a still warm torch. I tossed it away from me a short distance and fished out a fire arrow. I broke it in half and threw it where the torch was. The small explosion blinded me for a moment but the torch was lit now, lying on the ground. I retrieved it and took a look around. Behind me the roof had caved in and in front of me much of the roof had also caved in. There was a small pathway left to get to the storage room. I guessed that some sort of explosive had been in the crates. Taking a quick inspection of the area I found Camile. She had been blown into an opening that led into another destroyed hallway. Checking to see if she was alive reassured me that she was but barely. I removed the debris that was on top of her and poured the rest of the healing potion down her throat. A cough and a sputter and her pulse was a bit stronger. I could breath a short sigh of relief.
It seemed that the only way to continue on was towards that storage room. I slowly made my way into it and found the small source of light was the moonlight shining through a small opening in the blasted room. Through the opening I could hear shouts and screams and the sound of a raging fire. About three-quarters of the room had caved in and it wasn't hard to make my way towards the opening in what was left of the roof. I made the opening big enough for me to crawl though. Going back down I noticed a blackened guards helmet and picking it up I put it on Camile's head. Dragging her up to the hold I shouted out.
"Aye, anyone up there to help us?!"
A moment later a guard's face showed up and seeing someone in a guards helmet and overtunic he quickly pulled Camile's limp form up and out the hole. When he returned to help the 'other' guard he found a sword had suddenly appeared in his chest. The unfortunate guard slumped down and I climbed over him and retrieved my sword.
We were outside! I looked around quickly. Much of the mansion was in flames above ground and there was a large crowd gathered watching it burn. I slung Camile over my shoulder and quietly slipped into the crowd looking like a burnt guard just trying to get away with his dead friend.
It was a few days later. I had only managed to get a few miles away from the town but was in a well-hidden glade. Camile was resting still. Sleeping a lot but she was healing. I had a lot of time to contemplate all that had happened. My senses were on overdrive listening for the town pursuit but there had been none. Maybe the fire raged out of control. I thanked the gods I was alive and with Camile. Dusk was growing and I was fixing a cold meal of yesterdays rabbit kill that I had already cooked. My heart almost stopped, I thought death himself had finally come for me. I was surrounded by 10 men in black cloaks. I hadn't heard their approach and there was no way for me to retrieve my sword from the bedroll.
"You good sir, I believe are Myk."
"I could be. Then again I might not be."
"I intend to make this brief Myk. We are of the order of keepers. We have an offer for you."
Keepers ? It was a myth that the high council hinted at. Until now I didn't believe in them. But that was just like the Hammers. I didn't believe in them either till they showed up. Seemed that they were from a far off land. Maybe it is a land where we wouldn't be persecuted.
"Aye, I am listening."
"We have seen your talents at work. Raw tho they may be they are quite formidable."
Raw?! Damn! I had training, who did they think they were?
"We know about your trip into the Clive mansion. We can use a man of your talents."
"Oh? And what's the catch?"
"A man of your talents is capable of much. Maybe even close to Garrett. We would require you to get information in hard to reach places about the Hammers and the Trickster and his minions."
More Myths ?! The trickster?! He is another myth! And who is this Garrett ?
"And if I refuse?"
"Ahhh. They always ask that question. If you refuse you will awake never to see us again. But also would you not see your female companion. She would make an excellent study."
Why? Why was my world falling apart around me?!
"I see I have no choice. When do we leave ?"
"You will begin your journey tomorrow. Never doubt that we will be watching. And we will be in contact with you."
They all turned as one and disappeared into the forest. It was a few hours later but I fell into an uneasy and troubled sleep, wondering what the future held for me.
Thanks for reading my short story. This is my first attempt at a short story and my no means is this the end of it. If you liked it please email me at my below address and let me know what ya though or just flame me for a lame story, I'll take any critisism I can get to improve!
I'll continue on with Myk's travels towards the more traditional world of Thief soon.