The Lost Desert Dagger: Part Three
"The Wadjet Circle?"
The question came from Ruka. The Desert Kyrii
had on a look of utter confusion, first at my flustered expression then at Master
Seth's strange comment.
"You don't know who …" I started, my voice trailing
away. It wouldn't have mattered. Seth picked up where I left off, glancing calmly
at Ruka as if it were just a simple matter.
"The Wadjet Circle, a once prominent thieves
guild that flourished until a decade ago in this very city." The red Kyrii saw
the flicker of recollection and continued, an ominous tinge to his voice. "It
was led by the Erisim Mask, a Kyrii whose name once commanded much respect but
no more. He was forced to abandon Kievmed when a rival guild, led by an Usul
called the Desert Fang," (I caught a knowing glance from Ruka), "took
over the guild by force, forcing the remnants of the Wadjet Circle to scatter
into the desert."
Ruka smiled loftily and I could hear her voice
echoing in my head: there're two things I hate: liars and thieves. No
doubt the thought of thieves going at each other's throats, distasteful as it
was, amused her.
"The Erisim Mask was known by other names. The
one he used for those he most trusted was Kaseem Odesias." The red Kyrii paused
to allow this to sink in, his head turning slowly from left to right to encompass
me, and then Lady Ruka, whose smile had vanished at the mention of the name.
The Desert Kyrii opened her mouth in shock, the
truth of her devotion weighing heavily upon her. "The Erisim Mask … your …"
The words failed to form. "I …"
"Yes Lady Ruka, he was my father and I apologize
for withholding the truth for so long," Seth remarked. I noticed this was the
first time I heard him use the term 'Lady' to call the Desert Kyrii; it sounded
both formal and impersonal coming from a little Kyrii.
But this Kyrii was far from 'little'. I looked
into Seth's eyes and saw in them sparks of intelligence that went beyond his
years. A memory surfaced; those eyes, Seth's eyes, Kaseem had those very same
eyes; cunning, ominously calm. I remembered now: every member of the Odesias
family inherited those deep blue eyes. How had I missed it? I should have suspected
Seth's lineage from the start.
Then I looked at Seth, still smiling calmly as
he walked slowly down the steps, and knew the answer. How could I ever suspect
him; a simple, young red Kyrii? The Odesias family were masterful swindlers,
a trait passed on from generation to generation, and Seth was as great a manipulator
as his father, perhaps even more so.
Seth went up to Ruka, who stood frozen with disbelief.
"I'm sorry, Lady Ruka, but I promise to discuss this later," he said in a low
voice. The shocked Desert Kyrii couldn't even muster a reply.
He turned to look at me. "What do you want with
me?" I began somewhat weakly. Then in a firmer voice I spat out the thought
that had been stabbing at my mind. "Why did you seek me out?"
Seth chuckled. "Very perceptive Maladgar, I'm
pleased with you," the red Kyrii remarked light-heartedly. "For, in truth, finding
you was my main objective, contrary to what I told Miss Ruka. She thought I
was simply going to collect some valuable artefacts I had chartered not too
long ago, which was indeed important but not considerably so when compared with
seeking you out, Maladgar."
I stared hard at him. "Why?"
The shadow of a grin crept into one corner of
the red Kyrii's thin mouth, slicing through the tense atmosphere like a knife
through papyrus, and in a familiar light voice Seth replied, "I'm sure it can
wait till supper."
I had spent the remainder of the afternoon in
the garden, sitting on a small bench under a tall shade tree, gazing listlessly
into a nearby shrub.
Many thoughts crossed my mind in those few hours;
Seth's intended plans being the priority. Was it vengeance? If so then were
there going to be assassins waiting for me inside Seth's halls? Doubtful. Then
was it greed? Did he want me to use my skills for his own gain?
The memory of the last fateful meeting with the
Erisim Mask surfaced clearly among the turmoil of thoughts. I remembered the
night well; the rooftop field on neutral ground surrounded equally on all sides
by thieves from both guilds, the ringing of steel on steel as Kaseem and I battled
under the watchful gaze of the full moon, and, the most vivid among all, the
sharp, burning bite of the poisoned dagger that one of Kaseem's associates had
My head reeled with confusion. A day ago my only
concern was staying alive and now it was seemed more like how to live my life,
a concept that was foreign to me given the circumstances of the past week.
My stomach suddenly rumbled. I shook away the
thoughts and proceeded to return to the main building, a voice inside my head
reminding me that I hadn't eaten since breakfast.
Strange for someone who lived on worse than one
square meal a day.
The main house was alit with lights, the flickering
glows filtering through almost every curtained window onto the dusty grounds.
I slowly approached the door and rested my paw against the ornate knob with
trepidation, images of various sinister assassins awaiting my arrival floating
briefly through my mind. Shaking the ridiculous thoughts from my head I turned
the knob and walked right in.
I had barely moved a few steps past the doorway
when a voice called out to me.
"Maladgar, you're back!" came Seth's familiar
voice. I spun to the right to see the red Kyrii decked out in what passed as
eveningwear - a clean white robe with matching brown vest - walking out to greet
me. "I thought you'd never show up. Let us move to the dining hall. Hurry up,
I'm hungry," he added, accentuating his point by tugging at the hem of my flowing
sleeve. I could not help but get caught up with Seth's enthusiasm and followed
him obediently past a sizeable ornate door into a large, finely decorated dining
A long narrow table stretched across the length
of the room, draped in a fine silk tablecloth with a quarter of a dozen candleholders
of foreign design sitting at even intervals along its flat spine. At the moment
only three plush chairs - one at the head of the table and two facing each other
adjacent it - stood at the table but I could very well imagine over a dozen
or so such chairs ringing the fine piece of woodwork. My eyes, long accustomed
to riches, estimated that a small fortune must have went into the table alone,
the various other pieces of furniture not accounted for.
The red Kyrii pushed me slightly towards a chair
and beckoned for me to take a seat. Fascinated by the fine furnishings, I didn't
bother to rebuff Seth's rude prodding, instead seating myself stiffly into the
soft-cushioned seat and feeling more like an intruder than a guest in this civilized
setting with my filthy rags. Seth presently plopped himself down into the shorter
chair at the head of the table, smiling knowingly at me.
"A fresh replacement of clothes await you in
your chambers should you choose to spend the night," he commented idly, as if
sensing my awkward thoughts.
I had not thought about where to spend the night
at all - and if I had a choice the last thing in my mind was a room in Seth's
home. "I do not wish to impose upon -"
"It's no trouble at all," Seth chuckled. "We
have more than enough guest rooms to cater for any guests." He paused to clear
his throat. "And I'm pretty sure you're going to be staying the night."
I barely had time to think about the last statement
when a side door opened and a line of servants filed in, trays held in their
hands. Last to emerge was Lady Ruka, much cleaner and more sullen than last
I saw her. I remembered her shock at Seth's revelation and stared at her face
intently as she stood respectfully beside Seth, her light brown robes complementing
Seth's own white ones.
Ruka seemed her old self again, not a lingering
trace of anger or shock sullying her impassive features. I couldn't see her
eyes, for they were downcast in deference to her master, and thus I couldn't
tell for sure what she was feeling. Something must have passed between the two
- Ruka and Seth - during the course of the afternoon, some understanding and
assurance of facts that was acceptable to the Desert Kyrii. Nevertheless she
still seemed to have reservations towards me, seeing as she flashed a sour look
at me when Seth's gaze was turned away. Some things she could never accept I
"Ah, what a great dinner you've prepared for
us, Miss Ruka!" Seth complimented loudly, beaming at the Desert Kyrii. Lady
Ruka nodded stiffly, her eyes moving to where I had seated myself. I couldn't
help but flinch from her withering stare. Seth continued. "Come join us; there's
more than enough for the three of us."
A baleful glint appeared in her eyes and I immediately
knew what she was thinking; eating at the same table with thieves was far from
pleasant for her. "I must decline, Master Seth, but I have other duties to attend
"Nonsense, I know for a fact that you've dispensed
with your duties for the day," Seth admonished, waving to the chair directly
opposite me. "Come, sit and dine with us. I'd be pleased if you would, and so
too, I should think, would our guest." I caught a glance from Ruka and tried
my best to appear noncommittal.
The Desert Kyrii thought for a moment before
sighing, "As you request Master Seth," and taking a seat at the vacant chair.
The rest of the servants retreated the same way they entered, leaving us to
our own devices. As soon as the doors closed Seth picked up a silver fork and
beckoned towards the assembled platters.
"Come now, eat up. This food's not for show,
you know," the Kyrii said gleefully, reaching forward to spear a fried Grackle
Bug on the fork.
Five years of living on close to nothing had
diminished my desire to eat, having been accustomed to meagre meals and simple
fare. The delicacies - or so my hungry brain told me - before me now made my
mouth water; stacks of Pyramibread, a bowl of Scarab Cookies, Tut Trout, Corn
Pyramids. I remember when, as the Desert Fang, I used to dine on rich food such
as this, my fortune buying me treats and a refined taste. Having treated myself
to a piece of fresh bread I raised my cup to down some fresh, clean water, savouring
the crisp taste.
If Ruka or Seth seemed at all amazed with the
food they did not show it.
Then, amid the mentally voiced compliments for
the delightful dinner, I remembered something important. "You were going to
discuss a matter with me, Seth?" I asked tentatively. Ruka paused as she was
bringing a piece of Tut Trout to her mouth but Seth continued smiling and showed
me a speared Pyramibread.
"I do hope you're enjoying your food, Maladgar,"
he said merrily, waving the baked, Gebmid-shaped bread. "You should taste these
Pyramibreads, they're simply -"
"I feel an explanation is due, Seth," I pressed
wryly. Seth's smile faded a notch and he put down the fork.
"Not to be distracted from the subject at hand,
huh?" the red Kyrii sighed, again surprising me with his mature use of words
and intonation. "Okay then, I'll get right to the point.
"As you know I am the son of Kaseem Odesias -
you know him as the Erisim Mask - though I have never knew it until only recently.
As I've told you before I was raised by Miss Ruka - for which I am forever grateful
- and have lived among the Charter long enough to know my trade; my trade being
the trading of rare and exotic goods directly between Kievmed and Sakhmet, not
the larcenous kind you have in mind."
Somehow I couldn't quite believe that Seth was
telling me the entire truth - the Odesias family being among the desert's most
talented manipulators. Seth seemed to notice my dubious thoughts and continued.
"The Charter was set up using Circle funds but
none of the Circle's activities have a place in the Charter, a measure my father
instated with Miss Ruka a long time ago." Seth shrugged. "Apparently my father
wanted to make the Charter sustainable enough to ensure the Circle would no
longer be necessary in the future. Does any of that make any sense to you, Maladgar?"
I inclined my head and gave a slight nod. I've
heard of many lesser guilds going along the same line of thinking; fund legitimate
business using quick, illegal means and cut off the illicit part of the organization
when it was no longer necessary. Unfortunately, most guilds got themselves in
too deep into the dark underbelly to retreat without repercussions from their
"As I was saying, Miss Ruka raised me in the
way she deemed fit; ethical and business savvy enough to help her in the running
of the Charter duties, just as she thought my father would have wanted me. Indeed
her guess was right, as I found out last month."
"And you have done very well so far, Master Seth,"
Ruka added with a fond smile.
"Thank you, Miss Ruka."
Something was bothering me from the start and
only then did I realize what it was - voicing it after Seth's bright remark.
"A month ago? What happened last month that brought you to find me?"
Seth's smile deepened and he turned towards Lady
Ruka. "Tell me, Ruka, do you remember one of my father's associates visiting
me a few weeks ago?"
The Desert Kyrii's brow furrowed and she stiffened
involuntarily even as I leaned forward; a Wadjet Circle lieutenant? Impossible!
Judging from Lady Ruka's expression, Seth hadn't told her either. The red Kyrii
held up both his paws in a quelling gesture.
"Calm down, let me explain." Seth took a deep
breath and ploughed forward. "As Miss Ruka can attest I have a certain soft
spot for rare and valuable trinkets, both large and small. Artefacts, particularly
those of the jewelled or gold variety, in particular strike my fancy, as you
undoubtedly saw in the entrance hall."
Indeed, I did notice the half dozen shiny gold
figurines scattered about the foyer. Seth was starting to sound a lot like his
father. Next he might be saying he liked sharp, pointy objects.
"My interests also extend to all manner of antique
blades which I regularly purchase from Remnok the Nomad to add to my collection.
For some reason the feel of the aged metal is quite soothing."
There was no doubt in my mind of Seth's ancestry.
"And being the proprietor of the Charter I can
obviously afford such extravagant items, though Miss Ruka does not particularly
approve," Seth continued, eyeing the Desert Kyrii slyly. She did well to hold
her tongue. "But I do hold back when it comes the more pricey articles,
in due respect to Miss Ruka of course. After all, I wouldn't have anything at
all if it weren't for her hard work.
"But enough about me, I'll get straight to the
point." He took a deep breath before continuing. "A month ago I got word of
a rare dagger that once belonged to a famous thief in Kievmed. Intrigued I sent
out an offer for the weapon, thinking to add it to my sizable collection. I'm
sure you knew about that Miss Ruka; I did send you to deliver the letter after
Ruka gave a nod of understanding.
"About a day after the letter was delivered a
Mynci came to visit me in my office bearing a sealed scroll."
"A Mynci? I don't recall anyone like that entering
the Charter offices. I'm in the reception hall all day and I never noticed a
Mynci entering through the front door," Ruka argued.
Seth chuckled. "Of course you wouldn't," he said
simply. "The Mynci came through the window." The simple statement revealed more
than it said; a thief, a Wadjet Circle lieutenant. I saw Seth looking at me
and he nodded, as if affirming my thoughts, before continuing. "The Mynci was
the real owner of the blade, not the go-between Miss Ruka had dealt with. He
went by the name Khalid." The red Kyrii seemed to pause to see if the name rang
any bells in my head - It didn't. "And he told me quite persuasively that he
had something important to discuss about, in particular my father's past."
"And so Khalid told you all about your father
and what he did," I concluded, settling back into my chair and gazing perceptively
at the Kyrii. "Why? Why did he come to tell you of all people, considering your
father's actions before he left the Wadjet Circle?" Then my eyes narrowed
as a thought crossed my mind. "And how did he know where to find you? Kaseem
went through a lot of trouble to keep you away from the Circle but this Khalid
seemed to know a lot about you, including where you lived."
"Indeed the thought crossed my mind," Seth conceded.
"I for one did not want to believe his tall tale at first but he proved himself
eventually that he was my father's second hand lieutenant and I came to realize
that he was telling the truth: that my father had never ordered any of his men
to throw that envenomed dagger at you."
"And how would you know that?" I snapped, my
tolerance waning at the Kyrii's naivety. My anger drained away when Seth withdrew
a small dagger carefully from the folds of his robes. My eyes widened considerably
when I realized what it was. "That pattern - where did you get that?" I demanded,
eyeing the dart in surprise.
Seth placed the small, greenish blade upon the
table, leaving it to shimmer in the flickering candlelight. "Khalid never had
the dagger of a famous thief - at least not technically though the rogue's actions
was well-known despite his anonymity." He paused for effect. "That dagger is
not the Erisim Mask's dagger. It's the exact, same dagger that was used to poison
I stared at the deadly blade, its slick surface
betraying its potency despite the many years. I still remembered that one's
bite, the burning sensation that spread when it sank its 'teeth' into me. "Why
are you showing this to me? Why would Khalid show this to you? This only enforces
the known fact that your father hired someone to throw that dagger; only the
Wadjet Circle knows the production of such green daggers."
Seth only shook his head slowly. "It is said
that history is written by the victors; such is the case here. You triumphed
in that battle, Maladgar, and spread the word of my father's apparent treachery
in the battle. Your word - that of the victor and the conqueror - was the closest
to the truth that anyone knew and thus it became fact; even you cannot deny
I wanted to snap off a retort, for I knew when
someone was questioning my integrity, but the remark died in my throat. It was
true, I had not known for a fact that my mysterious assailant was a Wadjet Circle
assassin, I had only assumed it because of the dagger's build and the
assailant's proclamation. Guilt bore down upon me heavily; could I have disgraced
an innocent person?
"And this dagger was not Khalid's weapon, no,"
the red Kyrii shook his head. "Far from it. According to Khalid it was one of
the many he recovered two months ago." He paused to take a deep breath.
"He recovered it from a spy bearing the sigil of the Desert Daggers."
I started to say something but my voice refused
to stay even, Seth's revelation bringing a knot to my throat. "How … how can
he prove this? That spy could have been anyone, how would Khalid know it was
a Desert Dagger agent?"
With that Seth reached around his neck and removed
a long amulet strung upon a silvery chain, pushing it gently towards me. "A
day after he handed me the dagger I was to go to another location to discuss
further matters. I found the little inn outside Kievmed easily enough; it had
been broken into and pillaged thoroughly, a cloud of smoke hanging heavily over
it. I retrieved this from Khlaid's cold hands before the Pasha's guard came
about to investigate."
I took one look at the small amulet and gasped
audibly, a curse escaping my lips before I could stop myself. An embedded copper
disc, marked with twin daggers crossed over a Gebmid, stared at me from the
table and the memories of my fear and revulsion towards the symbol in Khelset
returned, more strongly than ever. Even Ruka, who'd probably been briefed beforehand,
started at the sight of the symbol. A glance into her eyes told me she realized
the implications there too.
"That means -"
"Yes, Maladgar, I came searching for you - first
in Sahkmet, then in Khelset. That symbol can only mean two things: that the
remnants of the Desert Daggers are here to finish what they started or that
impostors pretending to be Desert Daggers have come to wipe away all traces
of their activity." The young Kyrii picked up the dagger by its hilt, keeping
it edge-down towards the table, and held it up for all to observe. "I'm inclined
to believe the latter. They - whoever they are - are after this dagger, Maladgar,
Miss Ruka, for what reasons I can only guess, but I have a feeling it has to
do with the business with the Desert Daggers years ago."
He fixed me with a hard gaze. "I need your help,
Maladgar. It's not only this evidence I want to protect but also everyone else,
including Miss Ruka. I could have relied on my own personal guards but no one
else knows about the Desert Daggers or their tactics more than you. You cannot
wallow forever in your grief, Maladgar. You need to find a purpose, to use your
skills for something beneficial. These impostors are good and that's why I need
only the best and that's you, Maladgar. Will you help me, please?"
I stared at the Kyrii, thinking back on all the
things Seth had done for me; allowing Ruka to treat me, giving me a ride to
Kievmed, providing me with shelter, food and water at his expense, showing me
forgiveness and treating me with the same compassion as he showed Ruka.
There was no hesitation in my part. I agreed.
I stood at the foot of my bed, staring at the
soft, thick mounds of sheets and an assortment of pillows. I ran a paw over
the fine, polished wooden posts and shook my head. I doubt I would be getting
any sleep tonight, what with Seth's parting words.
"Be on your guard, Maladgar," the little Kyrii
had said seriously. "They might even come this very night."
Very assuring words. I moved my paws over the
polished wood again and my dusty sleeve caught my attention. I was suddenly
aware of how dirty and travel worn I looked and the weight of my filth suddenly
seemed heavier in my clean quarters. My eyes wandered over to a small basin
on a bedside counter then to a sizeable cupboard occupying the wall beside it.
A moment later, having washed up as much as possible,
I threw aside my worn travel-wear in favour of a set - one of the many in the
cabinet - of clean clothes; a long-sleeved tunic with a matching pair of loose
ebony trousers fastened at the waist by a leather belt, a rarity in the desert.
A bolero, as dark a brown to seem almost black, rested atop my head, perfectly
complementing the loose desert robes of matching colour. Returning again to
the washbasin, I wet my paws in the slightly used water and ran them through
my hair from back to front in an attempt to tame the unruly locks. Satisfied,
I turned and stepped back to admire myself in a floor length standing mirror
opposite the wardrobe.
Who was that staring back at me? Despite the
dimly-lit room - the only light being the luminous rays of moonlight streaming
in from the window - I could clearly see who stood there, not believing what
I saw. Surely it couldn't be me. The handsome, if rather scruffy, brown haired
Usul that looked back at me could have been anyone: a court attendant, a noble
or even a powerful guildmaster. The last one in particular brought forth a sigh.
I had not worn such fine clothes for a long, long time and I reminisced that
there was a time when I was Maladgar the Desert Fang, most powerful thief in
the Lost Desert.
And yet I did not like it; at least I wasn't
supposed to. "Why can't I forget about my past?" I said quietly to myself, sitting
on the edge of my bed and staring unconsciously towards the crescent moon hanging
lazily in the sky. "Why won't anybody let me forget?" I got up and crossed over
to the window, leaning against the sill and gazing over the vast cityscape before
me, my gaze lingering on a lone sentry patrolling the outer walls of the Odesias
estate. But should I forget? That was the burning question, for to forget the
past would mean forgetting the mistakes that I made.
I would not go back to who I was! I would no
longer involve myself in anything close to thievery. I had resolved that much
a long time ago. But now, looking down at myself, a mirror of my former self,
I wasn't so sure. This favour to Seth would force me to use my skills
and wits of old, something which I wanted to discard desperately but at the
same time actually felt attached to, comforted by their presence as if they
were very much a part of me. They are, and will forever be, I admitted
resignedly to myself.
Stray strands of dark brown hair danced over
my lined face, dancing in the sudden breeze. I allowed myself to bask in the
chilly wind before turning away from the window.
Then I saw a shimmer of light.
I hurriedly backed against the wall beside the
window, spreading myself flat to better meld into the darkness, and peeped around
the window's frame. I could feel my heart beating faster as my keen eyes swept
meticulously over the moonlit garden. There! Beside the lone desert palm! The
glint of metal appeared again - then another. The shadows shifted - yes, only
one. A lone thief. My heart raced. What was I going to do now?
There was only one thing to do. If the intruder
entered the manor then Seth and Ruka or anyone else in their proximity could
be in mortal danger. I bared my teeth; I would not allow that to happen! I cautiously
and soundlessly moved across my room to the foot of my bed, my right paw reaching
out to grab my staff. Then I stared resolutely towards the open window - and
ran right for it, launching myself from the sill to the palm ten feet away.
The cold air rushed past me and my heart screamed
in exhilaration, threatening to burst from my chest. It was exactly like the
time in Khelset but much more intense, sending my thoughts reeling back in time,
to when I was a young, daredevil Usul always at the edge of peril. I actually
grinned as I landed atop the tree, swaying precariously for a fraction of a
second before dropping straight down at the intruder.
My aim was true, meant solely on pinning the
offender to the ground, but at the last moment the thief looked up - surprise
registering in those green eyes - and leapt aside in a flash. That was fast!
I quickly curled myself into a ball as I hit the dirt, rolling away just as
twin flashes of steel slashed at the spot I had landed at only a moment before.
I jumped to my feet and brought my staff to bear
horizontally, just in time to meet the backwards swing of one blade, and quickly
spun the staff clockwise to deflect the thrust of another. The intruder skipped
back a couple of feet and began circling me, caution now dictating every movement.
I mirrored the thief's movements now, fixing the cloaked figure with a respectful
and calculating glare.
This Kougra was impressive, a night-black mass
of oiled leather armour and cloak; the very image of a Desert Dagger assassin.
A thick muffler and hood concealed much of the rogue's features except the eyes;
narrow, cunning jade-like orbs that stared at me balefully. The thief's black
tail switched back and forth, a clear sign of agitation.
Something in those eyes seemed awfully familiar
but I wasn't left to my thoughts for long.
In a lightning fast movement the rogue switch
the daggers from one gloved paw to another - a common distracting move - and
struck like an adder, blades closing in like a crab's claws. But I had anticipated
the move even before it happened and raised my trusty staff just so to meet
the advance. The steel bit into the shaft of my weapon with a dull 'thunk',
each blade sinking an inch into the hardwood. I smiled smugly and wrenched the
staff free, its leading end coming up swiftly to force the assailant to jump
back … unarmed.
I saw it then, a flash of desperation and fear
in the thief's eyes, and knew that the Kougra was finished. I had expected the
Kougra to be dejected about the odds against me but I was sorely mistaken. The
thief's eyes narrowed and I saw the gloved paws reach into the folds of his
cloak, following them just in time to see the dull metal there and jumping immediately
And not a moment too soon. A hailstorm of throwing
darts swished through the air, whistling eerily as they shot towards me. I swung
my staff laterally with one paw, deflecting three of the missiles, felt two
more rip through the folds of my loose robes and a flash of pain in my left
arm indicated a hit. I curled into a ball to make myself a smaller target, my
injured arm stinging, but no more daggers came flying my way. Instead the thief
had used the opening to clamber atop the nearest tree and jump to the nearest
The curse died on my lips as I leapt after the
rogue. Fighting on the roofs, even the flat ones of the Odesias manor, didn't
particularly appeal to me but if I allowed the thief to escape then more would
follow. But there was something else; as I leapt lightly onto the lower roof,
I saw that there was something very peculiar about the way the rogue moved;
the fluid loping gait reminding me of something.
The thief suddenly spun around just as I leaped
onto the same stretch of roof and settled into a defensive pose, curved daggers
glinting in either paws. It was then that I realized what I saw and a cocky
smile crept onto my face.
The assassin rushed forward in a crouch, weapons
flashing dangerously close behind. I didn't raise my staff to parry - exactly
what the thief intended. Instead, with every bit of strength left in my protesting
muscles, I bent low just as the assassin reached me, ducking under the scything
slash of one dagger and immediately pivoting around to avoid the stab of the
second dagger, stepped deftly behind the Kougra and swept my staff low in a
scything movement to trip the unwary opponent. The Kougra gave a yelp and released
the daggers to instinctively bring both weapon paws forward to break the fall.
In that split second I grabbed the Kougra by the hem of the black silk cloak,
pulled back hard and spun the rogue around, pinning the dazed thief into a nearby
wall, firmly holding my staff lengthwise against the thief's throat to prevent
The rogue's green eyes widened in fear. "How
did you," the Kougra croaked, both paws hanging limply to the side, fingers
stretched outwards in defeat. I shook my head slightly, careful to keep my gaze
on the thief's eyes.
"Never use the same trick against your teacher,
The thief's eyes, if possible, grew even wider
and the Kougra managed to murmur, "Maladgar?" before collapsing in a faint against
me. I gently placed the Kougra down and calmly knocked on a window further along
the wall, thinking of how I was going to explain this unexpected guest.
To be continued…
Author's note: Who is Delliana? And how does Maladgar know this mysterious
thief? You'll have to be patient for the next and final part to find out.