(Okay here it is. I admit the main character is a little inspired by Jimmy the Hand from the Fiest Novels - but he can't be the first young thief ever to appear in a fantasy story can he?
And he is different, especially as the story develops in segments I haven't shown yet)
Short story Â© November 2007, O.D.K.
The crescent moon was engulfed in dark clouds. A perfect overcast for business. Eldrik thanked the Gods whom had for so long rewarded him despite his constant straying from their teachings. Whatever they had planned for him, it made no pious sense, but their game had so far had made him wealthier than any gutter-born could ever hope for. He scooped up his leather pouch of lockpicks and his dagger, drawing the hood of his black woolen cloak over his head before he stepped out into the streets.
The hours of later night approached.
Eldrik's first victim lived near the docks, a moderately wealthy merchant whom tried to make himself appear more so by decorating his rented house with stain-glass windows and bronze-handled doors. He had been robbed before. The doors had been secured with heavy, expensive locks. But the merchant was otherwise a fool with his money and he had succumbed to his desires in the stead of servants who could keep watch at night. The loud, forced yet convincing feminine screams from his bedroom concealed Eldrik's clangor as he made short work of the locks and crept into the house. Three silver necklaces, a pouch of fourteen crowns and four gold rings found their way into the folds of his shirt.
The abode of Eldrik's second victim was a long-abandoned tavern in a dim-lit, cavernous street that bordered the craftsman's quarter and poor quarter. He was a dealer in goods from both sides. Two giant bodyguards flanked his door, huddled in their heavy cloaks, helmed heads down to shield their faces from the chill wind that whistled through the streets. Eldrik could see the hilts of broadswords at their belts and their large hands not far from them. But he knew they would do the lackeys no good.
The paper pouch landed dead before the bodyguards, splitting on the cobblestones. The red fumes that seeped from it carried a strong scent, visible even in the darkness. It was a potent compound, almost instantly effective, the product of a prized alchemist and well worth the price that almost tipped the scales between Eldrik's means and profit. The two lackeys slowly slid to the ground, losing themselves in a deep sleep.
Another bodyguard inside had already saved Eldrik the trouble of his disposal, face down on a table, snoring into spilled wine. Eldrik slowly crept past him, but did not fear much waking the man. He had little chance of making any noise louder than the thumping of a bed in use from upstairs. The locks on the store-room door fell to his feet.
The early hours of the morning.
Eldrik's final victim lived in an intentionally humble house on the other side of the craftsman's quarter. Eldrik had been saving this one till last, in the hope that his last heists would have emboldened him. The owner of this house was a magician. Eldrik would have left him alone, be it not for am enticing commission.
The door to the house was unguarded and unlocked, which filled Eldrik with no relief. He chose the window to make his entrance. The walls of upstairs quarters were lined with bookshelves, dog-eared tomes and unfurled scrolls cluttering the tables. Eldrik could hear low snoring from the bedroom beyond, a lighter murmuring proving that even a wizard sought company on cold, lonely nights.
The item Eldrik had been commissioned to retrieve was not difficult to find, the description given to him of it detailed and the it's security lax evidently in the magician' s hope his reputation would be enough.
But Eldrik was wrong.
The scream was loud, louder than he had ever heard before. It tore through his ears, causing him to fall to the floor cradling them. For minutes that seemed like hours, he writhed, struggling to free himself from the otherworldly din.
Finally, silence reigned. Eldrik looked up to see the wizard, naked, brows that carried the only hair on his body furrowed. The wizard closed his eyes and muttered in a strange language.
Gripped with fear, Eldrik crawled backward. He struggled for the dagger at his belt, even though he knew it was useless now. The magician's incantation grew louder, almost vibrating the room. Eldrik closed his eyes, waiting for the inevitable hand of death...
Eldrik opened his eyes. He was alive. The wizard stared at the ceiling, cataracts glistening, mouth open wide as blood slowly trickled from his lips. He slumped forward to his knees, then fell flat on the floor with a heavy thump. Where he stood, a young woman, also naked, clasped her hand over her mouth in fear, dropping a bloodied dagger.
Eldrik clambered to his feet. The young woman let out a cry as he gripped her arm and pulled her into the bedroom, collecting her clothes from where they had been tossed on the floor.
â€œEldrik, I - â€
â€œPolena! Get dressed!â€ Eldrik's tone left no room for argument.
The woman called Polena hurriedly dressed herself, sobbing. Eldrik raced into the rooms where the magician lay dead, retrieving the item. Out the window, he could see several lanterns had been lit in the neighboring houses. The watch could not be far behind.
â€œI didn't mean to kill him.â€ Polena wept loudly, â€œI only meant to threaten him, keep him still so you could knock the lights out of him. But I...I just lost it. He made me so angry, Eldrik, so scared. He was worse than that merchant, worse than that disgusting man in the old tavern who let his friends join in. The things he made me say, wanted me to do...â€
â€œDon't worry about it.â€ Eldrik grunted.
â€œBut I killed him, Eldrik.â€ Polena wailed as Eldrik dragged her out of the room, â€œI killed him!â€
â€œDamn good you did too.â€ Eldrik said, â€œMaybe now you'll understand why my end of this work is so difficult.â€
The torches of the watch illuminated the streets and alleys around the house. By the time they broke down the door and found the wizard's body, Eldrik and Polena were long gone.