[Plot] [Oc] Week 260: The Thief, The Statues and the Emperor

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MoonlitRain014

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Buildings in the Lupanar district always seemed to be in a state of steady decay, pieces sloughing off like flesh from a rotting corpse. The one I was stood in front of was no exception. The place seemed like it was held together by dust and the sheer, stubborn desire to stand. I only hoped that it would stay stubborn long enough for me to conclude my business inside of it. In my line of work, unsavoury locales are one of the hazards we deal with. I’ll make the sacrifice, if only because sometimes the payoff is worth it.

My specialty is high risk jobs. I do the jobs other acquisitions experts won’t touch with an extendable bargepole. I’m a guy who skews high on the risk to reward scale. The best rewards usually come with the biggest risks attached. That’s why I found myself about to step into this death trap of a building to meet an unknown employer offering me a job about which I hadn’t any real idea, but one with a serious payoff offered.

Let me step back a bit. We need to start with a discussion of the Societas. Yeah, yeah that Societas. The legendary, magical organization of chancers and hired light-fingers that is more myth and rumor in Terminus than a concrete reality. I’m one of them and I assure you, most of what you’ve heard is as true as whatever the Prophet’s latest pronouncement happens to be.

Another one of the criteria for membership in the Societas is that no one is aware of said membership. We are all involved in other areas and lines of work, beyond that which we undertake as a part of the Societas. Aside from being a skilled thief, I’m a blade master of some renown. It’s in that capacity that I’d joined the crew of the Geamhess at the request of the velen emperor. I’d had some time to kill before the mission and took a job with scant details that had been posted for a Societas member.

Anyhow, let’s jump forward again.

As I stepped into the rotting carcass of a building, I loosened my rapier in its scabbard. Traps are an ever present possibility and while I tend to prefer to escape situations without drawing steel, it isn’t always what happens. The dingy hallway smelled of boiled cabbage and other even less savoury things. Why is it that every tenement hallway smells of boiled cabbage, even in places where people don’t eat cabbage?

I made my way down the corridor, seeing eyes watching me from behind barely cracked doors. People in these places are constantly suspicious, so my hand floated near the hilt of my sword, ready to clear it at the first hint of trouble.

Reaching the door where I was supposed to meet my employer, I carefully started to push it open with my foot, standing off to one side in case someone was about to blow my head off with a pistol. From inside, an impossibly low voice spoke.

“Do not fear, little thief. If I had wanted you to die, you would already be quite dead.”

I stepped cautiously into the room, rapier still very much at the ready. The same low voice spoke again. “Sheath your blade, you foolish child.”

As the voice uttered this command, I felt my arm starting to move of its own accord. I tried to stop it but it completed the motion of sheathing my blade without any input from me. At first, as I gazed into the half-light of the room, I couldn’t see anything but in the centre of the room, a dark mass became visible. It was vaguely human shaped and it was darker than the darkness.

What do I mean? Imagine the blackest night you can and then imagine it darker than that. The figure seemed to be made out of the void. It laughed again and spoke. “I told you that you would be dead if I wished it so.”

No snappy retort came to my lips, so instead I tried to keep my voice steady. “I take it you’re my client?”

The figure appeared to nod. “Yes. Although in truth, you serve at my pleasure. Always remember that. I can snuff your life with no more effort than blowing out a candle.”

“Yeah, yeah, I get it. You’re big and scary. Now why don’t you tell me what the job’s gonna be?”

The mass of darkness seemed to shift and an image appeared, floating in the air in front of me. The image showed three large stone statues in a room that I didn’t recognize and couldn’t place. “These are what you are required to procure. They can be found in the velen Emperor’s palace. Detailed schematics will be provided to you to aid in your mission. It is imperative that you delay as little as possible in achieving your objective.Your reward will be commensurate with your efficiency.”

I felt a laugh rise in my throat, suppressed it and said, “Did you read my mind or something? How the hell did you know I’d joined the Geamhess’ crew?”

The creature’s voice was dead and deep. “It is our business to know. Now do not waste my time, little thief.”

I nodded. “Gotcha. Now any chance of getting some info on the specifics of how I waltz in there and grab the loot? You mentioned schematics?"

There was an incredible, searing agony driving into my head again and before my eyes an image appeared. I was seeing a full floorplan of the Vis damned palace as it was etched into my head by this bloody monster in front of me.

It took me a few moments to get my voice back to a speaking state again after the painful onslaught. “Well...that’s one way of giving me the schematics..,Now, one more question, although I am wondering about the wisdom of asking it…”

“Ask!” The voice was sepulchral.

“What do you get out of this? I doubt those things are worth much dough.”

Pain rammed itself into my chest now, my heart feeling like it was being squeezed and crushed. I whimpered, in spite of myself. “Do not ask me why I want these objects. It is not your place.”

After the agony had ceased, I managed to stammer something more pertinent. “H-how do I get the Vis-damned things out of the palace?”

Once again, the shadow thing laughed in a croaking voice. “Do you think we would be remiss in providing you with a solution to that problem?”

From the stuff of the thing’s darkness, something materialized on the floor at my feet.. It was a large velvet bag marked with arcane symbols. Although the shadow being didn’t actually move, I had the strongest impression of a gesture being made toward the bag. “When this bag is brought in contact with the statues, it will expand to enfold them and return to the size you see now.”

I stepped forward with more caution than a braver man would have used, snatched the bag and hooked it to my belt. I gave as level a stare as I could to the dark creature. “Very well. I’ll take the job, but I want half of my payment up front. I don’t work if that doesn’t happen.”

Something hit me square in the forehead. It was an aurit. A moment later, a cascade of them showered down on top of me. A moment after that and they’d been enclosed in a leather bag, “There, thief. There is half your payment. Now get out of my sight before I tire of you. The second payment will be made upon completion of your task.”

I’d had quite enough of being in this place and dealing with whatever this thing happened to be. I snatched up the leather bag. “Right. I’m sure I’ll be seeing you when this is all over.”

With that, I turned on my heel and got the hell out of there. Looking back, I am not sure I should have taken that job but that, as they say, is a story for another day.
 

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