Thursday, February 22, 2018
Flash Fiction #291: Honor Among Thieves/4
Finding Darkin proved impossible, especially since I couldn't go looking for him. Yeti carefully made inquiries, mostly using magical beings. The guild didn't deal with them.
Darklin had been seen two days after Kimlin took over the guild and then disappeared. I tried not to believe that was a bad sign about his survival. Darklin was smart. He'd get out of sight.
The problem was that he didn't know I was still alive. He might leave the city and try his luck elsewhere. Or he might decide to take out Kimlin, and without knowing the things Lady Yeti and I had lately learned. Kimlin did have someone more important backing and directing him.
And that person was not human.
"Shadow demons are hard to track," Yeti said as she put a bowl of stew in front of me. My mouth watered, but I waited for her to sit down before I began to eat. "Most of them are not all that bright, but a few have been around for hundreds of years and picked up information."
She settled in the chair across from me, bowed her head for a moment, and then spread her hands over the food in a blessing. I didn't know what deity she served, but I respected her beliefs, especially since they'd had more than a little power to keep me alive.
My hand still trembled when I held the spoon, but not so much as it had the day before. I was growing stronger, and I did my best to fight back the surliness that had started to take hold as I found myself not quite ready to go out to face the world, but too well to sit placidly in the sunlight from a window and contemplate the dust motes.
Yeti did keep me informed of what was going on, though. That not only helped keep me entertained but also gave me all the information I needed to consider before I made any move.
After hearing some of the things she had to say about what Kimlin had been doing, I thought maybe the dust motes weren't so bad after all. Today, I could tell, was going to be one of those days.
"You're sure of what he's dealing with?" I asked after a couple bites of the stew.
"I've had it confirmed by two other shadow demons," she admitted and smiled when I gave her a sharp look. "They're not happy about what is going on. Kimlin's Shadow has plans for more than the thieves guild -- more than just humanity, in fact."
"I don't like the sound of that," I said, as though it would change anything."
"No one -- No THING that has caught any hint of what's going on is not happy," she said. She took three quick bites and then looked up at me. "Many of the others are looking to you and me to do something."
"They know I'm here," I said and felt dread I had not totally expected.
"Some do. You know there is magic here, and that means certain powers and beings have free access to my place. Word was bound to spread, but it has not to the human population. That's a true sign of how worried everyone is, Sinton. They are not selling the information for any sort of gift that would give them more power in this world."
"Can we count them as allies, then?" I asked. I needed to know what might help, especially since there was still no sign of Darkin."
"Some," she said. "Many, even. The problem is that if we go that way, then we are bound to have trouble with many of the humans who might work with us."
"True." I ate more of the food in silence, and so did she. We had no easy answers. The sunset was on the horizon, and I had to go somewhere that my shadow would not show in a window. I disliked having my movement limited, but I would not risk Yeti's safety any more than I already did just by being here. We were already seventeen days into my death. I stayed out of the way while she took care of her business. The rest of the time she seemed to not mind having company, especially after I started recovering and she didn't need to hover over me all the time.
"We don't have a lot of choices in this," I said as I helped clean up after the meal. "We could go to the authorities or to the temple, but neither you nor I have the kind of standing with those two groups that would win us their favor."
"True," she admitted. I sat by the wall and kept my voice to a near whisper while she sorted herbs on the table. "And by the time we convinced them of the truth, all hope of surprise would be gone."
I grimly agreed. I also had to make a decision. If we moved forward with her odd allies, then there was no way I could go back to running the guild. They would never trust that I was acting on my own again, especially if we unveiled what Kimlin had been doing.
I could not get to enough humans to take on Kimlin, either. I didn't even know who I could trust in the guild except for Darkin -- and where was he? Dead? I didn't like to think so.
"We'll have to go with your people," I said and committed myself to a totally unknown future. "It's either that or walk away. I don't like to think about how things would go if no one else steps up to take Kimlin on."
"Yes," Yeti agreed. While this would affect her somewhat, it would not change her life, though. Everyone already knew she dealt in magic.
"I suggest you stay out of this as much as possible," I said.
She smiled brightly, and I knew those words were wasted.