A beginning

New Orleans is a wonderful place to be in the summer, when the heat is pressing down on you and the city is alive with tourists. A quick look at     is all that's needed to see the appeal of the city. The "locals", however, regard these visitors with one of two things: disdain, or cunning. Those who look at them with disdain simply avoid the tourist traps of the city as much as they can, but those with cunning in their eyes embrace the travelers and their money with welcoming arms.

If you were to ask Jon Desant to describe himself he would tell you, proudly, that there was only word that was appropriate. He prided himself on quick hands, a nimble body, and an even quicker and more nimble mind. Rogue, vagabond, knave, desperado, thief, all were terms that could describe Descant, but the word that he choose for himself, the only word that ever seemed appropriate when he reflected on his life, was "magician." He was many things: trumpet player, courtesan, wine connoisseur, but above it all he was a jewel thief, a magician whose specialization was making expensive things disappear.  His ever-growing collection of newspaper clippings attested to the same: "Jewelry missing from shop, police baffled," "Unseen thief takes necklace right from neck of confused woman," and his personal favorite "Most recent string of robberies seems like magic, say police."  From that last article also came what Desant believed to be the finest line ever written: "Chief Detective Robert Maclauren stated in a press conference today that the recent string of jewelry heists reminded police of tricks performed by Houdini or David Copperfield." Oddly enough, it was Copperfield who began Jon's love of magic and magicians. The clearest and most enthralling day of his life was a summer day in the early 1980's, sitting in front of a makeshift stage at the edge of the Grand Canyon, eating a package of Oreo cookies, and watching the great magician make things disappear.

Now, Desant was preparing for the most imaginative heist of his career. A medieval broad sword, encrusted with jewels, was on display in a French Quarter antique shop. The weapon was finely crafted, perfectly preserved, but the most exciting thing for Jon was that it was said to be imbued with incredible magical powers.  Fortunately, the night security for the shop was a short fat man whom Jon had decided was an interesting cross between Fat Bastard and Eric Cartman, two of his favorite characters but not exactly the two most intimidating figures he think of.

This was going to be a piece of cake.