Hours later, the sun had begun to sink into the hills. Daniel and I were ready; he had even traded in his leather armor for a cloth outfit that was loose around the legs and sleeves. Instead of his regular mask he threw on a long scarf that wrapped around his head only revealing his green eyes. His reasoning for such attire was, “it makes things more interesting, and the fact that these pants are comfy is a plus!”
Fortunately, he did not leave behind his weapons. Challenge or not Daniel was not one to go anywhere unarmed.
We started across the streets of Divinity’s Reach, mindful of the noise we were making, for this was normally a time where people would settle down for bed.
We had received a letter from a Raven earlier in the day, right after Daniel and I had finished eating to be exact. It carried a message from Serenity, telling us to meet her in the high road that overlooked Rurikton.
As we reached the destination we could notice a short slender woman in thin black clothing. It seemed that Serenity had realized her armor would be too loud for this kind of job. We finally reached her and we all acknowledged each other with a slight bow of our heads.
“Good evening boys,” she said under a hooded face. “I trust you two are well prepared?”
“You bet!” said Daniel eagerly. “Can’t wait to see what we find in a Seraph’s house!”
“I thought this was about those notes,” I said.
Serenity looked at me and rolled her eyes. “He’s new to this isn’t he?”
“Yup,” said Daniel with a chuckle. “Can you believe he’s never stolen anything for the fun of it?”
“I am standing right here,” I said with a deadpan expression.
Serenity and Daniel both looked at me with mischief in their eyes. Now I knew that they were both planning something, whether I would like it or not was yet to be revealed.
“Don’t worry big guy,” said Daniel reassuringly. “We’ll teach you the basics.”
“Get ready, Anavari.” Serenity was practically beaming. “We’re going to teach you how to be a thief.”
Just then we could hear the rushing footsteps of several feet headed towards our way. We instinctively drew our weapons and prepared for a battle.
Two distant figures seemed to emerge from the distance. One seemed to have towered over the other that much was certain. It did not take us long to realize who it was before we even had a chance to reach us, the pig running alongside him gave him away after all.
Argus seemed to have thrown on a large black cloak that covered his entire body; even Simon was clad in an assortment of darkly colored rags. I would not be surprised if the pig had come up with the idea himself.
“You’ve got to be kidding me,” said Serenity with absolute contempt. The aura of malice that came from her glare was nearly palpable by the time Argus reached our position.
“Okay,” said the Norn as he struggled to catch his breath. “After thinking about it, I decided to take you up on your offer and join you guys in the raid.” The norn simply placed his fists on his hips and gave us his widest smile.
Daniel and I exchanged a look of puzzlement.
“What are you talking about?” Serenity seemed as confused as we were. “We didn’t ask for any help on this.”
“I’ll take that as a yes!” it seemed that Argus was once again trying to weasel his way into a profit. Serenity had caught on to this as well. She looked furious.
“Oh no, definitely not!” she began. “You’re not joining us on this so don’t even try to chat your way into it.”
Argus immediately changed his expression into one of complete melancholy. His bottom lip began to quiver, and Serenity looked at him with disbelief as well as with an open mouth.
“You wouldn’t…” she began, and then the norn began his outburst.
“OH WOE IS ME, WHO IS NOT LOVED BY ANYONE IN THIS FORSAKEN WORLD!” he shouted melodramatically.
“Argus shut up!” all three of us said in unison. If he continued he would most likely wake up every individual in the vicinity, of course, that was his plan all along.
“FOR EVEN MY VERY OWN FRIENDS REFUSE TO SHARE A RECREATIONAL ACTIVITY WITH ME, SHALL ANYONE COME TO MY AID AND ANSWER MY CALL OF DESPAIR?!”
“Alright!” said Serenity in defeat, “you can tag along!”
“Really?” the norn returned to his hushed tone, he added a bit of innocence in it to boot. Daniel and I sighed in relief, it did not seem like anyone was disturbed from their slumber. However we had to give credit to the conniving bastard, none of us would have thought about using such a technique to force our way into another Secro’s job. I was certain that I might find use of it in the future, especially if it involved slithering my way into one of Argus’ profitable jobs.
“Just shut your mouth okay?!” out of all of us Serenity seemed to be the most irritated. “Ay ma’am!” replied the Norn with glee.
So we ventured off of the highroad and descended back into the depths of the city.
Arriving at the Seraphs house was something that came as quite a surprise to Daniel and me. From our knowledge the Seraph are the protectors of Kryta, a force that regulated law and order (or at least they tried to). From what I heard as well was that there were few who specialized in the underground areas of crime. Of course, they had no idea as to what exactly the underground consisted of. They believed it was simply organized crime in its finest, how very wrong they were.
I had heard stories from fellow Secros, close calls with the Seraph, how they somehow seemed to stumble upon someone on the job. They were considered an annoyance and could never be given the opportunity to see the truth, to see the world that was hidden in the shadow. In code they were called The Blind.
And yet here was another one trying to dig his nose into that which he will never be allowed to see.
“By the gods,” said Daniel as he gazed at the house that stood before us. “I am using that right am I? There’s more than one human god?”
“Six to be exact,” confirmed Serenity as she too examined the house with caution. “And yes you’re using it right.”
“Is it normal for a seraph to have such a big house?” I asked, and I was not exaggerating either. The house was a solid Ivory color, the darkness of night made it a bit difficult for us to see but we could tell that there were fine silk curtain on the edges of the windows. Daniel could immediately tell that the door knob was made of solid gold as well. We began to grow curious, increasingly curious.
“To tell you the truth I don’t know how much they a pay a Seraph, Anavari.” Serenity took a quick look around the streets to see if there were any wandering individuals. “Well, no point in just standing around, how do you guys want to approach this?”
Daniel began to walk over to the front door. His hands reached for his sleeves and he drew out a set of lock picks. Lowering himself to the lock on the door he inserted the two metallic prongs into the keyhole. The other three of us moved closer to the door and stood by Daniel’s side. He faced his ear towards the lock as he fumbled about with his instruments, after a series of clicks one of the locks twisted all the way into the left. Daniel’s eye reflected a sense of success as he gave us an eager nod.
He reached for the door and slowly turned the golden knob. As the entrance swung open we quickly made our way in as we gave one last look to see if anyone happened to be watching. Luckily no one was. With that we slowly closed the door and snuck in to the first hallway of the massive house. Simon immediately began to press his snout against the floor.
“Did you find anything Simon?” whispered Argus. The pig nodded and began to make his way further into the hallway. Even in the dark we could tell that the area was luxurious. The floor was a flawless wooden mahogany with a fine smooth carpet draped over it. There were several doors around the corridor we were currently traversing, however Simon ignored all of them and reached the very end of the hallway that lead into a central room. We decided to follow the pig, as odd as it sounds, Simon is well known for his treasure hunting abilities. Upon entering the room our all our jaws dropped.
“This guy is loaded,” said Daniel in awe. The main room consisted of finely crafted tapestries hanging on the walls, little statuettes of centaurs covered in gold and precious stones were standing at the base of a massive staircase that lead the upper levels of the house. Several circular tables were adorned with polished candlesticks that shined even in the darkness of night. And the main center of attraction was the gleaming crystal chandelier suspended from the roof.
Daniel and Argus were ecstatic. The human walked over to one of the figurines and began to test their weight; Argus drew out a small dagger and began to dig the many precious stones out of the golden centaur.
“It looks like those two will be busy for a while,” I whispered to Serenity. She bumped my shoulder and pointed to the top of the stairs.
“I bet we can find something of value upstairs.”
I motioned Simon to follow and the three of us walked up the finely crafted stairs, I allowed my hand to explore the handcrafted railing as we ascended. Once we reached the top we were met with even more hallways. With no real layout of the area we decided to pick a random direction. So left it was.
“Now I am definitely curious as to how a Seraph obtains so much money,” I whispered making sure I would not hit any squeaky floorboards.
“Definitely not from his job I can tell you that,” replied Serenity, “something tells me that our noble protector of Kryta isn’t as noble as we thought.”
We began to test several doors in the area; the grand majority were locked so Serenity was forced to use the lock picks she had on her person. She noted that it was a skill that I should take the time to learn, and I made a mental note to ask Daniel to teach me at some point in the future.
After entering several rooms only to find nothing of interest we decided to return back to the main room and try the other hallway. Upon returning we noticed that Daniel was hanging from the chandelier removing several colored gems from it and tossing a few to Argus and stowing away several for himself. I could see Simon shaking his head in disapproval.
Daniel took note of my presence and waved toward my direction. He reached into his pocket and quickly jerked his arm into a throwing motion. I saw a small glimmer of blue headed towards my direction, I outstretched my arm and reached for the small blue object. I could feel a smooth stone land on my palm, after examining it I discovered that it was a light blue gemstone. I waved as my way of saying thank you and Daniel replied with raising his thumb. I stashed the gem and made sure Daniel could see me pointing at the hallway Serenity and I had not explored. He nodded and with that we moved on.
“I am beginning to see why Daniel was so excited for this,” I said in realization.
“I always knew he had that unquenchable urge to take anything that looked valuable,” said Serenity. “Is it something you normally dealt with when you two first met.”
“Oh every day.”
To our surprise several of the rooms that we found in this side of the house were locked as well. However like most of the others they had nothing of value as well. It seemed like the purpose of these locks were only there to hinder our progress. The three of us were beginning to get frustrated.
After searching what seemed to be a library we walked back into the hallway. “What about that one?” I offered as I glanced towards the end of the hall. A solid metal door was all that stood there, the large padlock attached to it was giving us all the right signals. We did not need to exchange words; we simply made our way to the sealed door and carefully examined the lock.
Without further delay Serenity reached for her lock pick and slid the metal prong into the keyhole. She fumbled about the lock for a few seconds, but then we heard a snap. Half of the lock pick flew out of Serenity’s hand and the other half that remained in the key hole shot out and landed on the floor.
“Damn!” Serenity nearly raised her voice enough for it to echo across the hall. She clapped her hands around her mouth and took a deep breath before speaking again. “The lock’s enchanted, we can’t pick it.”
“Did somebody say a lock that can’t be picked?” Daniel appeared almost as if we were calling out for him. Argus came in trotting behind him with a series of earrings and medallions around his body. “We found where this Seraph keeps his jewelry stashed!” whispered the norn with excitement.
“That’s nice and all,” said Serenity as she shot a glare at Argus. “But we need to find out how to get through this door.”
Daniel walked over to the door. “It’s enchanted isn’t it?” he asked while maintaining a steady gaze at the lock.
“Yeah, anything we put in gets broken and rejected. We’ll have to find the key, looks like it’ll take a-”
Serenity and I rounded back to the door and allowed our jaws to drop as soon as we saw that Daniel had not only unlocked the door, but dismantled the lock into tiny pieces as well. Daniel simply looked at us for confirmation on our next approach; it was almost as if the lock itself was child’s play for him. And now that I thought about it, it most likely was.
“Well are we just going to stand here?” asked Daniel as he pushed open the door. What was even more surprising was what waited for us behind the door. It was stacks after stacks of different assortments of paper and parchment. Shelves were filled to the edges and several tables had piles that nearly reached the ceiling. Upon entering we realized that there was very little room to move.
“A study perhaps?” I offered. Daniel peered over one of the stacks and flipped through several pages. “Well if those notes are anywhere they would be here,” said Serenity, “we better get looking and find them before sunrise.”
So our search inside the endless forest of papers began. Fortunately they were ‘somewhat’ organized. However it was obvious that we were not making much progress.
“By the gods!” said Serenity as she stared at a series of pages in shock, “it can’t be!”
“Did you find the notes?” I asked rushing towards her direction. “No,” said Serenity. “But the head of a competing company is committing adultery! This is fantastic!”
“I… don’t think I quite understand…”
“Don’t you see? This seraph blackmails people of power! That’s how he’s been getting so much money, and now I can use this to my own advantage!”
Serenity held the sheets of paper like a girl held on to her favorite doll. It seemed that she had now found her guilty pleasure in this room, and just like that it seemed that we would not get any more help from her at this point. I moved my attention towards Argus who was buried under a mountain of paper and Simon did his best to dig him out. And Daniel sat on top of a stack puzzled.
“Something on your mind?” I asked as I approached.
“It’s this room,” said Daniel thoughtfully, “if investigating the assassins is a current assignment I wouldn’t store them in here where they could get easily lost. I think they might be somewhere else.”
“Where?” I asked. Daniel simply looked at me with a raised eyebrow and an expectant smile. “The bedroom,” I concluded. “Of course.”
Daniel and I left the other three in the room and ventured back into the mazelike hallways of the house. It did not take us long to find the right room, it was the one with the most elegant door; and by elegant I mean the only one encrusted with pearls.
“Even I wouldn’t be so hasty to show off my fortune,” mused Daniel.
This door like all the others was locked, of course Daniel was able to get through it with ease. This time we crept through the door as slowly as we could, and there we saw the Seraph guard, sleeping in his bed. And to add to it the area was set up like a throne room. The poster bed was massive and seemed to be elevated by a platform in the center of the room. Around were several dressers as well as closets for several items and such. And right next to the bed was a nightstand with a large gap underneath it, inside that gap was a gilded safe. Daniel and I exchanged looks and nodded in silence before venturing forth.
I decided to drop down on all fours while Daniel snuck towards the safe; I followed closely being mindful of how much noise I made. Every second seemed like an eternity, and every silent tap my padded paws would make sounded like a hammer striking steel. We were so dangerously close from detection, and the sense of danger that bore with it was exhilarating. Daniel reached the safe and began to work his magic as I kept a close look at the human and stood ready should we need to escape at a moment’s notice.
The seraph seemed quite thin and frail to my surprise, perhaps he was a magic user. He rested peacefully as strands of curly blond hair were draped over his eyes. Just then I heard a click, I immediately faced Daniel and found that the safe was open. We both peered in, what was inside was a thin packet of paper with several notes hastily scribbled around it. I immediately took it and stashed the notes into my pack. And just as quickly Daniel and I backed away from the safe and rounded towards the door. However I barely noticed that something had gone terribly wrong, out of the corner of my eye I could see that the Seraph had opened his eyes.
Daniel seemed to have noticed as well, but the Seraph was now opening his mouth and a small flicker of fire began to climb out.
He was indeed a magic user.
I pulled Daniel towards me and Dived towards the exit. A torrent of flame escaped his mouth, the searing heat had nearly enveloped us but fortunately we escaped it unscathed. We rose from the floor and immediately left the room before the Seraph could throw another fire based attack at us. Judging from the shards of ice that were grazing past us, it seemed like he changed tactics. Daniel and I began to make our way towards the main room, Serenity and the others had heard the spectacle and were already there waiting for us. We made our way down the stairs and towards the door, all the more conscious that we were being perused.
The exit came into view and Serenity took a quick look towards the back, I noticed that her eyes widened. She moved to the back of the group as traces of blue magic began to escape her hands. She waved her arm across the hallway and a wall of blue magic appeared before her. She had erected it In time for it to block a ball of flame that had been sent towards us.
With that we all made our way out and slammed the door behind us.
“Face me cowards!” said the Seraph from behind the door. We made a run for it into the city streets before he could leave his house.
“Did you get the notes?” asked Serenity.
“Yes,” I immediately replied.
“Alright, we split up from here and meet in my place within the hour. Sound good?”
I could hear the armored footsteps of several more guards that had begun to follow us.
“Excellent,” I replied, “see you soon.”
With that Daniel and I ran our own way and Serenity, Simon and Argus took the opposite road.
We bounded across the streets running as far as we could from the Seraph guard. The entire district was on alert; it seemed that whoever’s house we raided had quite an influence with his equals.
“Up there!” said Daniel as he pointed towards a cluttered alleyway. However I could see what attracted his attention; an assortment of boxes had been placed in a way that would allow us to reach the rooftop. I saw the path Daniel had given me and we both took it. Running towards the boxes Daniel was the one to act first, he leaped on the first crate and launched himself towards the ledge. He kicked the wall and flipped over the ledge and landed soundlessly.
I placed my foot on the crate and leaped towards a closer one, I did not have the agility Daniel possessed but I was not going to let that stop me. I dug my claws into the wall and pulled myself to a nearby pipe sticking out of the masonry. With one more pull I drove my other hand towards the ledge and pulled myself half way up. Daniel immediately came to my aid and pulled the rest of my body over the ledge. We both collapsed onto the floor as we tried to recover from the rush. I rolled over to faced the starlit sky, and sighed.
“That was fun,” said Daniel between breaths.
“That I will not doubt,” I replied. I placed my hands in front of my face and noticed that they were shaking. “Huh, adrenaline rush… I can never get quite used to this sensation…”
“I hear ya,” said Daniel with a chuckle, “we almost got burned to a crisp too.”
I sat up and peered over the edge of the roof. I noticed several Seraph guards in shining plate armor running down the road. One guard in particular was clad in solid white robe, his eyes looked furious as he strode with his comrades.
“I believe we have angered an ill-tempered elementalist,” I said. Daniel joined me and sat by my side.
“Well that’s what hoods and masks are for,” he said. “Don’t worry, he’ll never find out it was us. Did you get the stone I stole for you by the way?”
“Yes,” I said extracting the smooth blue stone from my pack and displaying it to the human, it did not surprise me that he did not ask about the notes first. “Thank you by the way.”
“Glad you like it!” said Daniel, “it matches your eyes. Maybe we can find a jeweler to make it into an amulet or something.”
“Oh there is no need,” I said. “If I can get the materials for it I can make it into an amulet myself.”
“I didn’t know you knew about that kind of stuff,” said Daniel.
“It is a hobby,” I said, “I have quite a few of them.”
“Well that’s good to know,” Daniel rose back to his feet and examined the streets one more time. “Well I think we lost them. Wanna head back to Serenity’s place?”
“Yes,” I replied. “The sooner we’re under a roof the better.”