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WHERE ARE THE THIEVES?

par Epic Armoury Unlimited

PROLOGUE

The tales are true. All of them! It has been said that I am a savage, a renegade sorcerer, and a noble knight who has seen all sides of the battle. These stories are real, for the most part, but know this - if the rumors are true, who lived to tell tales?

WHERE ARE THE THIEVES?

A month has gone by since I last saw the light of day, living in the dark amongst villainous scum who prefer the use of a backstabbing, throat-slitting dagger over the honor of a sword. My master chose to carry me on his back with no intention of using me. Might have well let me rust on the forest floor than suffer this indignity. I know his name is Francis, but I am unfamiliar with the tongue he and the others speak. It must be some sort of code. But he seems agitated lately as if something is bothering him.

Resting on his back, propped up on a makeshift mattress made from patched linen and stuffed with horsehair and hay. My master and I sit in waiting for our next mission, him sipping some sort of tea poured into a dirty clay cup. With me, propped up silently against the wall behind him. The small damp room is quiet and unkempt except for the area where my master keeps his belongings. 

The walls seem smooth and naturally formed with some indications of tooling. The cavern has a portion of the ruins of an ancient city that now lies below an existing city. There are only a handful of buildings remaining and most of the ruins that are now occupied by the thieves guild living there. The walls are lit by moss and mushrooms growing in the damp air. Parts of the floor of this cavern are covered in planks, neatly stacked against one another. Footsteps can be heard approaching, and my master takes no chances and hides his dagger beneath his mattress. 

A man enters the room. He speaks in thieves cant "Bar, O Ataman buino dil shr" translated - "Brother, the chieftain is proud of you" said the tall thin man. He is dirty and pale, dressed only on loose fitted breaches using a thin rope as a belt with an ill-kept dagger tucked in at the waist. "e baxdallo beng"- Translation "you lucky bastard."

"Hamishagos o Khantino vakandoka" Translated - "why are you bothering me, you smelly weasel" Francis replies disparagingly. 

"Armaya o is being" Translated - "Curse you devil," he answers while flipping his hand under his chin. "Mora kumpania o lashav lav" translated - "we are family, why do you curse at me like that". 

"I know Dyjan." he says in thieves cant "I mean you no disrespect. I am just eager for my next mission" he says while grabbing his longbow while slowly standing to his feet. "All this wait just makes me mad".

"The boss is getting you back in action soon. That's why I came!" he exclaimed with wide eyes and open arms "we are heading back to the surface, and he wants you to lead." 

Francis grins while slightly nodding his head. "Shall I need my armor?"

"Yes" said Dyjan. "And this time. a sword"

That is a word I can understand in any language. By the smile on my master's face, we will see adventure soon enough. 

The day passes quickly as Francis begins to prepare for his mission. Neatly packing his clothing equipment, seemingly for a few days travel. He puts on his leather armor and wolf fur collar, slings his prepared quiver and bow over his right shoulder and heads off through the narrow passageways.

Entering a larger chamber, he notices three warriors waiting for him. Among these men stood Jarrin, and old garrison commander wearing his old leather armor too small for his frame. Ropin, a fantastic weapons master, wore his distinctive scale armor, his head topped by an eagle-faced helmet with a crest of dangling feathers. And finally, there was Jazanha. She was the clever one with the attitude of a witch queen. She wore a red doublet and chainmail shirt and carried a small spear and an axe. 

"If you are all here, then this is an important one" said Francis while rubbing his brow. "I guess that you, Jazanha, have the documents to our mission?" 

"Aye - do, and you are not going to like it, Francis" Stepping forward to hand him the parchment. He couldn't help but take a deep sniff of her jasmine-scented perfume. A welcome odor in this cave. "He is sending us to Cartseon. Apparently, somebody will pay a handsome ransom for a certain Rinko. A porc trader who seems to owe a lot of coin to the wrong person."

"We should take the south gate then" said Jarrin" The king's guards are still about, but they tend to stay away from the marshes at dusk".

"Good point Jarrin, shouldn't set us back more than a few hours at best" agrees Jazanha while tightening her waist belt. 

Francis nodded, "Ropin, you lead the way".

Ropin immediately spins around on his heels and starts to lead this small band of thieves on their way. It takes them about 2 hours to reach the opening of the south gate glancing both ways before exiting, Ropin emerges, taking a deep breath of the fresh forest air. These are conquered territories, and there is a mix of farmers, mercenaries, and well-paid guards that patrol the area. They must remain unseen, or they will draw suspicion. 

Jarrin knows all about the military and the guard's routines; he left them on bad terms. And this is the safest route they can take. "Another 2 hours before sundown. It would be best to get past the marshes by then" stated Jarren. 

"We are making good time." replied Francis. "There is no need to rush as long as we remain unseen". 

"I don't think he is as worried about being seen by the living as much as the dead Francis" muttered Jazanha as she slowly picked up the pace and passed Francis. "I'm with him".

They all pick up the pace, traveled by foot, four rogues with Ropin leading the way southeast with fault-block mountains with high peaks on one side and a seemingly endless marshland on the other. As the sun begins to set, the shadows caused by the peaks create an uneasy feeling.



Author, 

Patrick Penning



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