Thursday, March 01, 2018

Flash Fiction # 292: Honor Among Thieves/5

Knowing what we faced was not only unstable Kimlin but also a Shadow Demon with plans for humanity made this trouble a bit more than my revenge.

The truth was that I didn't care if I took over the Thieves Guild again.  I'd done it the first time so that the others didn't kill me.  If someone else wanted to take over, I don't think I would have fought hard, as long as it wasn't Kimlin and his dark companion.

Or someone just as bad.

Yeti taught me about the demons we would face and the allies that they might have brought along.  She also introduced me to some of our partners.  I'd never thought to find myself so so caught up in magic.  This was not the path I'd taken in life.

Then, unexpectedly, Yeti came into the room on a late afternoon and told me we would be making our move that night.

"Tonight," I repeated as though I didn't quite understand the word.

"Kimlin's shadow demon has left the realm," she reported and was already grabbing a few things from the wall. She threw me a jacket.  "We won't have a better chance -- unless you want to give up this quest?"

She stopped and looked at me as she said those words.  I could see no judgment either way in her face.

"We go," I said and stood.  I pulled on the jacket.

Yeti grinned brightly.  I'd made the right choice.  Besides, I was curious to see if some of the things Yeti had been teaching me would work.  Not magic -- well, not much -- but work with potions and powders.  I thought Kimlin would be surprised.

Providing we could get to him.  Just because he didn't have his Shadow Demon with him didn't mean he was without protection.  I counted fifteen guards around the mansion and on the roof, and from the shadows that moved against the windows, I suspected at least that many inside as well.

The streets were uncommonly quiet tonight, and the guards out in large numbers, though none around the mansion.  I didn't like the feel of it, and Yeti looked much the same.

More guards took up positions outside the building.

"Paranoid, isn't he?" Yeti asked.  We stood a block away, invisible at the moment.  That was handy -- but I did not ask her to teach me.  Besides, she'd already pointed out that my reserve of magic was not very much.  I wasn't meant to use magic.  I didn't mind.  Magic has uses, but there are so many traps set for it that a thief is better off just doing the work the old-fashioned way.

"So, you don't think he found the exit out of the room?" I said softly.  "I would have thought Kimlin would have torn the room apart looking for it."

"From what I heard, he sealed the room off and moved into a more secure part of the house," she said.  "One where he can escape more easily."

"Bottom floor," I said and began looking the building over a little more carefully.  "That makes sense.  He also doesn't realize that the hidden staircase has doors at other places."

"Dangerous going that way," she said, but already began backing away, a hand on my arm.  "But less so than trying to get in through the guards, I think.  At the very least, we can find the opening that leads from the stream to the building and see if we think it has been used."

It had been in use, but whatever animal had spread those gnarled bones about gave a low rumble of a growl when they neared.

"This could be a problem," I said and took a step back --

"Sinton!" a voice shouted from inside the cave, echoing too loudly. 

Damn!  For all the care we'd taken, we had set off some trap after all.  I half turned to Yeti to warn her away --

And a body collided with mine.  We both went down.

"I thought you were dead!"

I was on my back, winded, and staring into a shadowed face -- but one I knew too well.

"Darkin," I said and shoved him off.  "You scared the hell out of me!"

We both stood and embraced like brothers.  Yeti looked pleased.  So was I.

"I camped out here hoping you would show up," Darkin said.  He kicked aside some bones and led us inside.  "When you didn't, I couldn't find a good reason to move on, especially since King Kimlin has had everyone out looking for me.  I thought about trying your place, Lady Yeti, but I didn't want to draw anyone to you."

"I wish you had sent word somehow," I said.  "I tried to believe that you were not dead, but...."

"The same with me," I said.

We went into the cave.  Darkin had created a remarkably nice little room back from the opening.  Yeti filled him in on everything that had happened while I sat down and rested for a bit.  No, I was not fully recovered yet, and Darkin obviously knew it from the frown he gave me.

"Tonight then," he said when she finished.  "I'm not happy with the idea of Shadow Demons on either side, but I'm willing to go along with it.  This does explain about Kimlin.  You might have missed it, but a few hours ago he killed the mayor."

"What?" we chorused.

"Yes.  Went to the speech the man was giving and walked up and shoved a knife into his heart.  The guards began fighting each other, and he just walked away."

"And then his Shadow Demon left to go home so that he could recover strength," Yeti said with a nod.  "Well, this is going to play hell with the city.  The sooner we get Kimlin out of the way, the faster we can repair the mess he created."

"Then let's go," Darkin said. 

Off to save the world....

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