Thursday, February 08, 2018

Flash Fiction # 289 -- Honor Among Thieves/2

I was looking back over some older flash fictions and found one -- Honor Among Thieves (#164) that I had clearly had trouble with because it took an odd twist and had an ending that made no sense.  So here is more of the story.  I am going to try and work out something reasonable for the story.

"You think you've done better than Old Salem, boy?"

I had not expected to find someone in the hall of the mansion.  The only person I trusted, Darkin, was out on a job and wouldn't be back until dawn.  I'd only meant to step out of my suite to grab a late night bite to eat while I went over the ledgers.  Being the head of the city's Thieve's Guild was a lot more paperwork and a lot less glamor than most people would think.

I didn't let any surprise show, though.  In fact, I had expected to see Kimlin anyway -- just not right here and now.

Kimlin had set me up to be killed by Old Salem, the former leader of the Thieve's Guild.  However, Old Salem had been hanged, and I survived.  I had, eventually, convinced the rest of the membership that when Old Salem shouted my name before he died, he'd been naming me as his heir, not as the person who betrayed him.

Which, in fact, I had not.

Kimlin, a scraggly man who looked twice his age, was my prime suspect for that job.  Kimlin had been trying to get me killed for a while, though I hadn't put it together.  I wasn't sure if Old Salem had been caught in the net instead or if he'd been another target.

Looking at Kimlin, I had the feeling maybe we'd all been targets.  Madness raged in in his gray eyes.  His hand that held the knife shifted back and forth as though battered by a wind.  He stank of cheap wine.

I took him seriously.  I'd seen people make that kind of stupid mistake before.  Besides, I knew he hated wine.

So I played the game, too.  I 'incautiously' backed away, half slipping on the rug.  Kimlin grinned like a maniac and lunged at me, but I'd been ready for that move.  A flick of my wrist and I had a blade in hand and neatly sliced deep into his arm.

He howled and backed up, blood splattering everything, including me.  His howl was a mistake, though.  I did have guards in the building.  I even mostly trusted them, but I would rather not have put that to the test in this situation. 

I heard the guards rushing up the stairs and just from the way Kimlin grinned, I knew I had to do something drastic.  I moved as though I intended to back up again, but this time I turned it into a move forward, my right foot aiming at his knee and my knife --

His knife connected first with a slash straight down my right shoulder.  Then he did something odd.  He backed up and grinned again.

"My work here is done."


Kimlin darted down the hall.  I turned and went back to my private rooms, slamming the door closed even before the guards arrived.

I didn't try to stop the bleeding.  That might help flush out the poison.  I had to get somewhere.  Fast.

I had found the secret way out of the room long before Old Salem died.  I hadn't used it until now.  The stairs seemed too steep, but I rushed down them, trying not to bang into a wall and draw attention.  Down and down -- I wasn't entirely certain where it came out.

I heard a couple shouts behind the walls, but I couldn't make out the words.  My head pounded, probably from the blood loss.  I paused long enough to take off my vest and shove it against the wound, doing my best to ignore the pain.

The stairs went below the building.  A magical sphere lit a corridor.  I grabbed it -- a fortune in magic, I thought -- and headed out under the street and for some distance on.  Maybe my curiosity kept me going.  I wanted to know where I would come out.

A few steps up -- I went down on my knees half way and then pressed on again.  Up.  The door was worked stone.  I had to put all my weight on it, and then I tumbled out into the mud, and the door snapped shut.

Water flowed over my legs.

Burn's Creek?  Could I be that lucky?

I stayed where I was for a while, fighting against unconsciousness.  The cut was not so deep that I was going to bleed to death anytime soon, but it hurt, and I feared I felt some of the effects of the poison, too.  I needed calm now to get the rest of the way.

But I also needed to move before morning.  By nature, I had always been a night person, and that had helped me with my career as a thief.  I called on those skills that I hadn't used much since I took over as leader of the Thieve's Guild.  In some ways, the thrill of it helped drive me on.  I got up the creek's bank, found a pond to clean some of the mud off, and then made my way into Low Town, an area where I would not look out of place with my dirty clothes and my drunken gait.

Not far to my destination.

I hadn't thought much about Kimlin since the attack, but I was wary as usual, and that saved me.  Kimlin had gotten out of the house (another reason not to trust the guards -- besides, how had he gotten in?), and despite his own wound, he'd made it here ahead of me.  Of course, he'd guessed where I was going.

I hunkered down in an alley three blocks away and watched as Kimlin paced outside Lady Yeti's door.  He had a confrontation with one person while I watched, and it was plain he had no intention of letting anyone inside.

I was starting to have trouble breathing.  I didn't have time to waste.

Lucky for me, I knew Lady Yeti better than Kimlin.  I knew the back door.  I only had to get there.
(To Be Continued)

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