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Library: Thief's Tale, a beginning

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Author: sumendar
Date:Jun 29 2009

as recorded by Sumendar One-eye, bard
with special thanks to Yggdrasil Algiz for inspiration and setting

My name is Emris. I'm a thief, and I'm not ashamed to admit it. After all, if
I wasn't, I'd still be sitting in that dusty old workshop, called "stupid boy"
by master Orold every time he was aggravated by something, usually his wife.
He could have at least given a bit better share to this enslaved apprentice
instead of repeating his worn "education is the best pay you can get". Well,
learn I did. Enough to tell apart a piece of glass from a diamond and a burnt
quartz from a citrine. Better, in fact, than master Orold with his old eyes
could.

If only he hadn't been thrown out of the local tavern that night when I was
busy replacing choice gems in jewelry by my own fakes (such a nasty word, it's
not like the average fool, I mean customer, knows enough to care), I'd be rich
now. Well, richer at least. At least I wouldn't have been beaten up and thrown
out twice, first by master Orold and then by my father. He also said I'm a
disgrace to the family. Hah, as if being related to that beer-soaked swine had
any grace attached to begin with. He always kept going on about his
great-grandfather who had been some kind of a noble. More like the royal
stableboy I bet, shoveling royal muck from royal horses day in, day out.
That's at least what he did as a stable hand, until a horse kicked him and
broke his leg. That's when he decided I should earn my own living, and as his
old drinking buddy Orold's eyes weren't quite what they used to be, I became
apprenticed to that old drunkard of a jeweller.

A month went by on the street, and one night, as I was getting worried about
the coming winter, I was approached by a group of shady fellows, who said they
had noticed my talent, and now was time to put it into better use than
stealing bread from stalls and conning bypassers with a two-faced coin. First
I was baffled, but when they mentioned the thieves guild I realized I had
found my golden opportunity, both for a warm place to sleep and for my future.
Well, it was back to being an apprentice, but this time I wasn't getting
yelled at all the time, and sleeping by the chimney sure beat the cold floor
of the workshop. During the next half a year or so, I was introduced to the
many trades of the thieves guild, from backstabbing to pickpocketing, from
lockpicking to climbing. While working with the fences was easy, I soon
realized I was not cut out for a day in, day out of the same. I was more
enthralled by the tales of daring masterthieves, who could snatch the gold
teeth from the mouth of a warlord between bites, then disappear as if they'd
never even been there.

And so I waited for my big chance to prove myself worthy to the guild, until
one day, as I was idly tossing the dice with Arpok at the guildhall, we were
noticed by one of the more experienced thieves, a woman. Arpok's face tensed
up, as he started to go through the myriad of reasons he might be in trouble
for. Quickly, he relaxed in relief, but was still caught off guard and could
only stutter unintelligibly when she approached our table and asked for our
names. Now I might not be the fastest horse in the stable, but I do remember
my manners.
"Emris, m'lady", I answered, "apprentice of the guild".
"Pleased to meet you boys.", she continued, "I am Alinda Shaderoamer, I have a
job to offer you".
"What kind of a job?", I cautiously asked.
"I need someone to deliver a message to the city of White Moon", she answered.
"White Moon?!", shrieked Arpok, his face visibly pale, "Count me out of this".
"White Moon? Isn't that just a legend?", I wondered.
"Oh no, good heavens, no", she laughed, "It's very much real, just in ruins."
"And the pay?", I asked, not going to to risk my neck for nothing.
"This purse full of gold, interested?", she said, producing a pouch bigger
than my fist and loosening the cords, revealing a mass of glittering yellow.
"All right, I am in, now for the details", I grinned.
"You shall have them, but let's go to my quarters, we can chat in private
there", she said and turned away from the table. I followed her to the third
floor of the guild, normally off limits to us apprentices.

The room was adorned by hunting trophies of all sorts, including one that
especially caught my eye.
"Why does that bull have a wig on its head?", I asked, perplexed.
"Oh, that's not a bull, that's a minotaur of the northlands I slew
singlehandedly, with this sword", she chuckled, grabbing a jewel-encrusted
blade which had been hanging in its scabbard from the minotaur's neck.
"Speaking of swords, have you heard about the Rosethorn?"
I shook my head, still glaring at the blade in silent adoration.
"The Rosethorn is a magical blade, given by the king to one of his advisors
for good and faithful service. While the advisor himself preferred the power
of the pen, he passed the sword on to his son, who became a famous adventurer.
The adventurer fell in the city of White Moon some months ago, and just before
we were able to recover the sword, the local bandit leader Ragmar the Boar and
his men showed up and snatched it."
"Now, with the Rosethorn in his hands, he has gained a sizeable following and
the guild has to grudgingly acknowledge his existence. This is where you come
into the picture. I need someone to deliver a message to Ragmar that the guild
suggests a truce with him, as well as the possibility of having a branch in
the city of White Moon."
"And will he believe I'm an official envoy?", I asked.
"You will naturally have the message as a letter with you, complete with the
guild seal.", she replied and put the sword away, searched her desk for a
while and finally reached out for a candle to seal the letter on her desk. "He
will recognize the seal, or at least some of his underlings should".
"There are riverboats going to a logging camp near the ruins, maybe you should
catch one of those, and have someone with you, just in case."
"Riverboats aren't free, and if there's someone with me I can't just hide in
the cargo as usual.", I mused, "So, is it possible to have some of the pay in
advance?"
"Naturally", she nodded, and handed me a small pile of coins from the purse.
"Now you know what to do. Ragmar himself shouldn't be hard to find in the
city. In fact, he might even find you first. Good luck."
I excused myself, and left. Now I just had to find myself some fools, I mean
help for the trip...


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