"Eyes of The Shadow"
by Darren aka [CYA]WoLf

This story is dedicated to Looking Glass who may be no more but have given us a wonderful world and colourful Characters. So in my opinion it's a long time coming. If you like it, email me and I'll end up continuing it. Thanks.

"And the Builder poured forth the flames of his knowledge into the forge of the world and made for us our hands and eyes, so that we might see the heretics for what they are."

- From the Books of the Great Forge

Just another stinking night on the tiles, what the hell did I do to deserve this, cast out from the place I called my home, by an unfeeling landlord. If I wasn't considering retirement I might have paid them a visit, or perhaps turned to assassination as a way to line my pockets. I shrugged to myself, talking to the shadows again; I was getting too old for this. Many things had changed in my hometown; many good people I had known had been cast out too. If I could have done anything, I would.

Now here I was, in the pouring rain, cloak wrapped tight against the howling wind and the driving water. Skulking from within the shadows keeping myself to myself. I really thought about going back to picking pockets again, but I have certain standards. I try not to think about the Mechanists and the death of Victoria too much, the whole thing is still too fresh in my head to let go. But you have to; otherwise you end up dead, or mad.

Another damn gable and another jump, still I used to relish the thought of doing this night after night. All I want is a drink, to get it; well I have to be creative. I'm too well known down in the dirt. Still there are a few places someone like me can go and be among the shadows. I shimmy down another pipe and sigh as my feet touch the ground in a puddle of water. The light here isn't too bad, good for skulking. And that's just what I intend to do.

I have to pause for a moment and there's a nasty wait as a guard and some dolled up floozy make their way drunkenly down the alley. He stops to try and kiss her.

"Ere luv, not in the street, there's a time and a place for everythin..."

They laugh; I watch as they drunkenly stagger off into the dark, they'll be lucky if they make it out of this cesspool alive. Come morning, both their bodies will be found with their throats cut, thanks to some of my unscrupulous colleagues. I don't have time to mourn the almost dead, instead I flicker off into the dark, let her hold me for a while. She's the best damn mistress I could have ever had. Always there for me, always ready to hold me to her bosom.

The moon rides the sky high, over the clouds and the stars, I glance at her for a moment, and as if she's listening. She moves into the dark embrace of one of the scudding shapes. I give her a smile and a nod and I'm on my way, finally at the door of a local 'Thieves' Tavern.

Inside's as much the same as out, dark and gloomy, just the way we like it. Easy enough to gain entry, the new guy on the door knows who I am from the eye. He backs off and I slide in, depositing the usual fee in his hand. He looks at it as though it's a coiled rattler ready to strike.

The bar is my first port of call; shouldering some drunken sot out of the way with a light nudge I finally make it to the tavern keeper. He spots me in a flash and his wide beaming smile sets me on edge. He nods and looks to the back room. I catch his drift and make my way to that door. Pausing only for a moment at the handle.

Opening the door seems to take a heartbeat, a flickering second later and I'm inside the dusty confines of the back room, a place for clandestine meetings of all sorts. The black-cloaked figure standing by the fire makes me angry, almost, if I wasn't too wet and cold to care.

"Figures." I hear my sarcasm drift into my tone. "A Keeper." I slide wearily into the chair and sigh. "So who's let you out of your gilded Library of Knowledge?"

The Keeper doesn't turn; his cold flat voice regards me with something akin to derision. "You are the one who left us, Garrett. I would prefer we have no contact with you, but..." He trails off and I can't help thinking here comes the Pitch!

"The others say you are the Hero of two encounters, you slew the Trickster and you dealt with Victoria before we had to move against her and those Pagans. And as for the Mechanists." I head him snort as he kept his back to me. Not a good thing to do, I didn't really like the Keeper's much anymore, and Victoria hit a soft spot.

If I even had one.

I tapped him on the shoulder and hit him hard in the spine with my knee; he fell forwards and almost toppled into the fire. I held onto his hood at the back, just enough so he could flail wildly. Hissing into his ear.

"Don't mention Victoria to me again, do you understand?"

He managed a nod and I managed to restrain from killing him there and then, instead I threw him into a chair and made him face me, his mouth drawn and breath in ragged gasps. He coughed and shot me a look.

"Victoria died so that I could destroy the Mechanists and save this pox ridden world you Keepers are so fond of babbling about in your scrolls and tomes." I was angry and this was a long time coming. "She did more good than you ever did, you spineless manipulating son of..." I cut myself short. "She was a business partner for a time, and I hate seeing someone die cause of me."

Damn I hate these guys and their scrolls and right and wrongs

"Very well." He coughed. "You have made your feelings on this matter quite clear Garrett." A pause. "Perhaps we shall now speak of business?"

I guess that was good enough of an apology for me, for now. "Sure." I heard myself saying. Why can't I ever just walk away from these fools?

"What's the Job?"

The Keeper regarded me for a moment and I saw the first hint of emotion from his sullen eyes. "One of our own has been captured. We sent a young Keeper into the Hammerite Temple, he was not an experienced one." He coughed again and cleared his throat. "I was against this..." He added.

A slow thin smile came to my lips. "So you want me to break into there and pull your fledgling out?" The irony of this struck me as really amusing

The Keeper nodded his assent of my question.

"And if I refuse?"

"The boy will most likely rot in a Hammerite cell for as long as he remains alive." The Keeper sighed softly. "Garrett, he is my son."

Oh boy, this keeps on getting better and better

"You Keepers never learn do you. Should have come to me in the first place. If you want something stealing." I laughed a little. "There's no guarantee I would want to work for you, but if you have the cash, I have the inclination."

What was I saying?

Looks like I had no choice with the money from the Keepers I could keep myself afloat and do something legit for a change. I was really starting to develop a hero complex and it was something I wasn't quite sure I liked. But once the deal was struck there would be no backing out. And Hammerites were none too friendly to thieves. Even if I did save their assess in the time of the Trickster.

"I'll get your son." I heard my voice, full of sincere tones and thought for a moment Idiot

The Keeper was relieved almost, his bluster gone, his bravado shot to hell. He nodded and passed me a scroll.

"What's this?"

"Floor plans to the Temple, just in case you might need them." He rose and excused himself, leaving me to stare into the fire, looking at the flames for an answer.

Had the Keepers Foreseen this too?

To Be Continued - maybe :)

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