|A Thief's Tale
Author: Reda PM
Bred around thieves. Born with an urge to steal. As he became an adventurer in the land, his urge turned to stealing life. Now caught and doomed to die, a familiar stranger comes to write his tale. The tale of a thief of life. The tale...of a fallen hero.Rated: Fiction T - English - Fantasy/Adventure - Chapters: 4 - Words: 8,678 - Reviews: 14 - Favs: 3 - Follows: 2 - Updated: 03-17-09 - Published: 12-26-07 - id: 2455001
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Author's Notes: Sigh. I need to organize this better. I really do. Also, for those d&d buddies of mine who read this, uhm, seeing as I can't remember how everything transpired between our characters, I kind of, make-up quite a bit. I do my best at staying true to your characters, though. Promise. :) Oh yeah, I tried to keep your world and story arc intact DM, but seeing as we never really explored too much of either – things get a bit, ah, jumbled. (nor am I the greatest at remembering so many details after such a long time)
"So yeh hav' killed since an early age?" Draiken asks as he moves to dip his quill in his ink bottle.
Coming out of my memories for the moment, I look toward him, wondering when he'll leave me alone. Why is he doing this? Why do I have to re-live this? They were memories shoved into the very back of my mind for so long…shoved back for a reason.
"I…" I close my mouth and swallow as soon as my voice cracks. Why have I been reduced to this? I want to ask the gods, but I feel like even they wouldn't know. Surely such higher powers wouldn't care. "Yeah," I relent with a sigh. "I learned early."
"Do ya think it had an impact on yer later decisions?"
Blink. Silence. Blink again.
I open my mouth. My thoughts fly. I remember. The memories make me close my mouth and swallow. I killed my parents, indirectly or not. I killed strangers, slowly becoming separated from the guilt feelings with each act. I murdered a friend…
A tear falls. The water sliding down my cheek tickles, leaves an itch, but my hands are chained; I can't stop the path. It reaches my chin and mixes with the sweat, but the track on my face remains. And though the journey of that single tear will fade away in time, I will always remember the first time I cried for a friend.
"I guess it did. Maybe," I choke out.
The Draiken taps his quill against his scroll of paper, a gesture of impatience. "Explain."
I groan. He's killing me with these questions. I've never had to think about why I made decisions, I just jumped into action.
"I wasn't raised to be a killer…it just sort of happened. And like a habit, it was hard to change."
"Ah," Draiken says as his quill scribbles across his parchment.
The cell fills with silence, minus the scratches of the writer. But my mind bursts into noise as the memories and cries assault me.
Endrick – Memory 4
The town guards have been alerted by now. I'm hiding, but Dash talks with one now and assures him of ignorance. Dash. The resident, the "surface-dweller," who is a member of the Thieves Guild and yet isn't. He doesn't practice, and he has no rules or protocols to follow, but he does offer shelter if needed. He's also friends with my uncle, I assume.
I don't even think his real name is Dash. I think that's just what everyone calls him. He comes back into my little room, my little hiding spot, where the torchlight coming through the window makes eerie shadows on the floor, the table, the desk, me…and the piece of white cloth now in my hands.
My mother's. He said it was my mother's.
It's a white cloak. Nothing special. A small, faded, gold edge. But no markings. No symbols. Just white.
"Rumor said she got it from a nobleman in this very city. The hows and the whys, ah, you probably don't want to hear such things." I look up, see Dash sitting at the table, staring across the room at me, a pint of ale in his hand. "For whatever reason, though, she gave it to me when she got married. Said her new husband wouldn't like it. I think she meant it for you. I wonder if Elves can see the future…"
I shrug, looking away from the normal brown hair and brown eyes that annoy me about most humans. Even with Uncle Blank now caught by the law, I seem to have my thoughts distracted, more focused on memories I can't recall well. As I touch the smooth white cloth, I feel like I should be crying. I owe her a tear, at least. Something. I owe her something. I didn't mean to do it!
"I'd say, wear that whenever you're around town and nobody will suspect you of anything," Dash mutters.
I glance up, confused, unable to judge his expression because of the darkness, the moving torches have gone away now. The guards are elsewhere. Uncle Blank is now a prisoner. I am on my own. I'll have to start acting like it, soon, eventually.
"Are you serious?"
Dash laughs, quietly. "Yeah. Think about it. When you're doing normal pilfering, daylight thievery out in the open kind of thing, you could make a quick movement easily enough. It's not dark, but it's not as bright as what some of these noblemen wear. Besides, if anything big happens around you—your fault or not—who would suspect the strange boy with the white cape? What kind of thief wears white anyway? Not to mention, it would go rather well with that outlandish hair of yours."
It was my mother's…
A loud clang crashes me out of my memories; it doesn't seem to startle Mr. Draiken, who continues to scratch away. The newcomer comes into view, looking straight at me, a guard behind him as escort – not for protection though; Kintel doesn't need protection, not here, not from me.
I force a grin for my old dwarven friend. "Fancy seeing you here."
He doesn't smile back. He doesn't say anything. He just stands there and glares, his thick black hair and beard still; his brown eyes seeming to try to pierce through me.
I cough and look away, feeling suddenly awkward. Kintel is doing everything he typically doesn't do. As far as I can remember, he's always been the crazy, talkative, wanna-be hero who can pull out some of the most random ideas in even the oddest of situations. His silence is unsettling.
After a few moments of hearing nothing but my chains rattle and the scratch-scratch-scratch of the writer in the shadows, I sigh and face my old friend again. "I don't remember—"
"You don't remember?" The dwarf explodes. I jolt back against the wall. Startled. "I found this at the scene of the crime." He throws something in front of me, and I stare, continue to listen even as my eyes follow the object on its slow fall to the stone floor. "Hidden. Against an alley wall. Where you like to hide."
It was my mother's…
A white cape sits on the stone between me and Kintel, the dwarf fighter. A white cloak that we both know would belong to no one else. It couldn't belong to anyone else. Who else would wear such a silly thing? Granted, it made me less likely to be counted a thief. But. In this situation…
But I don't even remember what happened. Not really. I don't want to remember.
"Explain to me, Kelch, why your cape is found by the body of one of our friends. Explain it to me!" He's livid. Angry and holding himself back from attacking me. Maybe the guard was placed, not as an escort, but to keep me safe from the dwarf's rabid emotions.
I wince as I hang my head. "I told you. I don't remember."
"I won't listen to these lies," the dwarf says as he walks away, back the way he came. I lift my head and watch him, just in time to see him turn back to me. "I can't believe you would do something like this," he mutters before disappearing down the stretch of dungeon cells, toward the light, leaving me alone, in the dark.
"A white cape, eh?"
Not completely alone.
Done writing for the moment, Draiken is staring at me with his strange, yet familiar, eyes. When I don't elaborate, he starts to ask his questions. "Whatever would you wear white for? You just told me how you would hide your outlandish hair when you went on your little missions."
I shrug and look away. "It was my mother's."
Draiken chuckles. "Odd that someone who murdered their mother in cold blood, would then run around town wearing her memento."
I clench my teeth, feel a strange sting in my eyes. It was an accident… I never meant to… I…
"So. This Kintel fellow. Strange dwarf. Where did yeh meet him?"
A laugh escapes my throat at the memory. A half-hearted laugh. "Where else do you meet a dwarf?"
Endrick – Memory 5
So much had happened in so many years. By the time my Half-Elven body matured to young adulthood, looking like a 20-year-old to Humans, I had grown up quite a lot. Like most orphans, I had been forced to grow up. The world is a harsh place. And the city of Endrick was not light or easy in any way.
Of course, my life wasn't the only one with a hard-edged background. Plenty of travelers seemed to have the look about them. I started to notice things. Beyond the arrogant nobles and curious young explorers, there were those people with hard eyes. With straight backs and confidence, yet always wary about who to trust. They were the hardest to steal from. Their cloaks were pulled tight, almost melding into their very skin. Most had a weapon of some sort on their person, not to blatantly show off money, but to announce that they were not going to take well to being pushed around. While some of my comrades of the Thieves Guild attempted thievery on such travelers, I always made sure to step around them, to give them space, and to silently salute them in the dark.
The dwarf I met in one of Endrick's taverns…was not at all one of these rare people.
"Oy! Pour me another one of those! Not the greatest taste, but it shure doesh have a kick!"
The dwarf's loud proclamations are only getting louder as the day wears on. Sitting in the back, against a wall, my curious eyes notice everyone coming and going from the bar. Having become bored with the normal thievery acts in the streets, I am taking my place, hoping for something interesting to fall into my lap. So far, the drunken dwarf is the most interesting thing of the day.
When you think about it, not many dwarves get drunk. They're supposed to be pretty damn good at holding their liquor. But although it was interesting – and quite funny – it quickly became second-most-interesting-thing-of-the-day when the elf and mage came through the door.
Typically, elves are rare in the city of Endrick, save for the few merchants that travel between Dae'nala and Endrick and other cities. Especially female elves. Especially female elves wearing leather. And wielding weapons.
Though most eyes in the bar swerve to the elf, I am stunned by the mage in dark robes who finds me in my corner and walks over. I do spare the elf a glance, but Ka'na demands attention, especially because this is the first time I've seen her since…the incident.
Without invitation, she pulls up a chair, and sits at my table, giving me a most charming smile, though something about her posture – hell, her appearance here – has me irked. "It has been a long time, hasn't it, cousin?"
I stare at her light purple, lavender, hair. It must be an elf thing – the strange hair colors. Then again, she is a mage. Or is it sorceress? I always forget the difference between the two. I avoid glancing into her eyes. "Who do you want me to kill for you this time?" I seethe between clenched teeth, playing with the mug handle between my fingers.
She clicks her tongue between her own teeth, folding her hands together while her elbows rest comfortably on the table. Now I'm staring at the rings on her fingers, one of which changes colors, but seems to stay dark. Just don't look at her eyes. She becomes much harder to deny if you look at her eyes. "Such a sad thing. For your parents to die like that. I had no idea you would trap them in their own house as it burned around them, cousin. Such a pity."
I don't respond. Just glare. Into her eyes. No. She tricked you. Green eyes. Nothing strange about them. There's nothing strange about her, at all. She wouldn't use magic tricks on a family member.
"I see you found your mother's white cloak. I suppose it's only fitting for you to have it; you are the one with the white hair, after all. And such pretty blue eyes to match." She smiles.
I shrug but find myself unable to look away. "It was a gift. A friend in the city passed it on to me, told me it was hers."
"Ah. So sweet." One of her hands is resting on her cheek now. I can see it out of the corner of my eye as I fight and fail to escape her green gaze. I've lost track of what her other hand is doing. "Do you still have your Ildri, cousin Kelch?"
I nod and answer, "Yes."
Ka'na's smile seems to widen. "But of course. You worked so hard for it." She pauses, closes her eyes. I take the chance to shake my head and look for her other hand, but it's just resting on the table, drumming fingers against the wood. "And I can feel it cry in its sheath. Poor thing wants to be used again."
"No," I state, firmly, feeling victorious at the shocked look in her now open eyes.
"Why, Kelch, I didn't even ask anything of you, yet."
"Doesn't matter. It can't be good."
She shakes her head and glances at the table. "So sad. Still blaming someone else, are you? You do know they would still be alive, if it weren't for you."
I close my eyes and put a hand to my forehead. Will I never be free of this? This guilt? Will I ever be able to forgive myself?
"Oh, I see it now," Ka'na mutters. "What if I were to tell you how you could forgive yourself? What if I were to show you a way to speak them, so that they could forgive you?"
I sit up so fast, my hand knocks my mug over. As it falls and crashes and spills, a few seconds of complete-attention are shoved my way, until the tavern occupants realize there's nothing interesting here. When the only eyes on me are hers, I narrow my eyebrows and glare. "You lie. False promises. That's all you have. There's no way to do what you're suggesting."
With a finger, she taps her lip. "Mmm, you'd be surprised, cousin. After all, I am a sorceress – and more. I control forces you can hardly dream of. You have no idea what I am capable of."
For a moment, I run my hand through my white hair, scratch at the spikes. Then I let out my breath and make my decision. "What do you want me to do, then? I won't kill. Not again."
She brings her arms to her chest, crossing them, a satisfied smirk on her beautiful elven face. "Not yet, at least. No, no, I won't ask that of you now. Just follow that dwarf, there, the ridiculous drunk one. You see, he's about to go on the adventure of a lifetime, and you just have to tag along. Befriend him. Help him. I'll come to you again in a few years, to check up on your progress."
"What—?" I start to ask, but she's up and leaving me alone.
"Goodbye, cousin. Don't forget our agreement. Forgiveness is a rare thing, after all," she whispers, before leaving the tavern, right after the drunk dwarf gets thrown outside for causing a ruckus.
I sigh, and follow, tipping the barkeep but swiping a small pouch from an incapacitated customer in the same movement. Once outside, I walk to the dwarf, help the guy to his feet and then proceed with introductions.
"As entertaining as that was, I don't think anyone else appreciated your sense of humor," I say, faking a laugh, as if the drunk even needs it.
"'ey, not many are in the mood to laugh these days," he mutters. "I'm, err, Kintel!" He loudly remarks, attempting to offer a hand to shake, but falling over as soon as he tips the small balance he managed to hang on to.
I sigh, fake another laugh, and bring the inebriated dwarf to his feet yet again. "Kelch," I respond. "And I think I better help you get home."