Raider of the Sky: Part One
There are the common peasants who take the common jobs. Then there are those who take jobs only they would want-assassins, spies, traitors, betrayers, gypsies… and thieves. Some thieves are born and raised that way, but most come around looking from relief from a former life they wish to forget. Some seven years ago, a young Eyrie lived in the kingdom of Kurn. He had been marked as different; strange. His fur was a dark green, not the usual green for Eyries. All in all, he didn’t fit in. So he left. He met another young runaway, a green Eyrie female, a thief. He became one himself.
I’m not your usual fairytale, huh? No way, the Eyries Weatree (that’s me) and Croshar are thieves, legends, wanted through all the lands, have been for almost seven years now. Being known as a “thieving rouge”’ has become my life, and I don’t know where I’d be without it…
Garanel forests, on the road to the kingdom of Kurn.
I woke to a weight on my chest and a blade at my throat. I saw one reddish-colored paw, holding me down, and another holding a short sword. “Don’t move, Eyrie,” muttered the Aisha who stood over me, and began binding my paws. Well, this is…strange, I thought, usually I get arrested during the day. I stayed still, stopped joking myself, and glanced over to where my partner, a green Eyrie called Croshar, slept. Her golden-green eyes met mine, and she gave me a barely perceptible nod in the darkness. She had a plan. So did I, as usual.
Quickly, I looked away. “Um, mind if I ask what is going on here?” I chanced the question, reaching for the broadsword that lay beside me.
“You’re under arrest,” said the Aisha. “Hey! If you touch that sword…”
He never got to finish, for I kicked him hard with my hind feet, sending him flying straight into Croshar, who raised her dagger high, catching the moonlight…
Releasing myself, I trotted over to Croshar.
“Well, that was to be expected, Weatree,” she said to me, “I’ve been ‘under arrest’ for as long as I can remember,” and with this she grinned. “I’m glad that was an Aisha, though, otherwise I would think our hearing was getting bad.”
I couldn’t help grin at this. “I guess you’re right. Since we’re up, do you want to continue to Kurn?”
Croshar shrugged. “Sure.”
“Walking or flying?”
“Let’s walk for now.”
We packed up, although all we really had to pack was our sleeping mats, and set off through the sleeping forest.
I had time to think as we walked.
We were on a job, although it would probably be better called an expedition. We had been hired by someone near the Garanel forests to go to Kurn, retrieve some Cloud Amulet, and then continue to the Lakelands, on trails only thieves knew, and find the treasure of Lake Everrest. The only problem was, neither I nor Croshar knew in what part of lake Everrest the treasure was, or how deep in, or even if it was in the lake. And there were ‘creatures’ that guarded Lake Everrest, and the rest of the Lakelands, as well, but we were being offered 30,000 NP, and a portion of the treasure of Lake Everrest…
“We can fly now, if you like,” Croshar said, interrupting my thoughts. I nodded. “Sounds better than walking.” And with a downward flap of our wings, we lifted off toward Kurn.
About a half-hour later (it would have been quicker, but the wind was against us), Croshar and I landed in the borders of the forest near Kurn. We weren’t exactly welcome in the city, or anywhere for that matter, so we couldn’t be seen. Croshar turned toward me.
“Do you want to go get the Cloud Amulet, or should I?” she asked. I exhaled slowly.
“Wait here. I’m going out to that stand of trees on the plains,” I pointed across the river, which separated us from the sprawling castle, “And I’ll try and get in. If I don’t come out-don’t come looking for me.”
Croshar shook her head. “You know I’m not leaving you.”
“You could get hurt!”
“And you will not, I suppose?”
She shrugged. “Fine, I’ll wait here for three hours, but no more. Then I’m coming in. Agreed?”
My dark green fur blended in well with the tall, brown grass of the Strielenough Plains. I stayed low, not daring to fly. A passageway led under the moat on the far side of Kurn’s castle, but I was on the wrong side to get to it.
The Branshlowne River stretched away before me, meandering between the grasslands and the forests. The people of Kurn had re-routed a section of it to form their moat, and I would have to cross both sections somewhere. Unless I just used the bridge.
I removed my broadsword and hid it within a thicket, then dropped down and rolled in the tall brown grass until I was satisfied I was covered in it. This way I looked like a common peasant or farmer who had been working all day.
The bridge crossed the junction of where the river and the tributary that fed the moat met, then there was another bridge crossing the moat to the castle grounds. I walked with the crowd over the bridge, and the guards paid me no heed. I would have smiled, but I was trying to look weary and work-worn.
Before I knew it, the castle walls loomed ahead. I melted into the shadows and slipped within.
I shook myself heartily, and most of the grass strand fell out of my fur and feathers. I started for the castle keep.
I had been to Kurn before, quite a few times actually, so I was pretty sure where they kept most of their valuable things. This amulet in particular seem particularly valuable, as I was being paid a lot to find it.
As I rounded a corner trotting silently, so did someone else. He called out behind me, “Hey you! What are you doing up here?”
I had to think fast. “I, um, I’m new here, and I got lost. Where is the kitchen?”
The pet behind me, some red Nimmo, nodded. “Hmmm. Well, go up this hallway and turn into the second hallway on your right, then down the stairs and to the left. Go, now.” He told me. I left quickly before he saw who I was. But even that was too late.
“Say, I don’t remember you signing on.” I stopped in my tracks. “In fact you didn’t sign on at all! You are that thief!”
Then I just ran. Down where he suggested, but I turned to the right instead and came to a courtyard, dashed across, ran up the nearest staircase, and down a hallway near the ramparts on the castle walls. But this time as I rounded a corner, I ran head first into an armored Uni. The Uni landed on top of me, throwing her rider, and trapping me underneath. When we finally untangled ourselves, I found myself surround by pets, mostly Techos, carrying the orange-and-green ribboned spears of Kurn. And the red Nimmo, pointing a sword at me. “Gotcha now, thief. Wait until the King sees this!”
I was, of course, taken straight to the King, silver shackles locked to my front feet, my lock picks and daggers taken. I stood in front of him now. He was a green Techo, called Pallion, wearing all sorts of rare jewels and silk robes, and looking at me in a contemptuous way. I wanted to throttle him.
“Ah, I see you finally caught the thief. Excellent. Well, I suppose we are required to read him his rights before execution. Hmph. Well, hurry it up!” Pallion commanded. I saw I was to be given no mercy. So be it, you fools, I thought.
A purplish Draik stepped forward, and handed a scroll to the Nimmo, who I now recognized as one of my enemies, Breanor. He cleared his throat.
“The Eyrie Weatree is charged with proven accounts of the following. Breaking the law, thievery, murder…”
I already knew these accounts, having been charged with them numerous times, and let Breanor drone on to his black heart’s content.
I then noticed that he had stopped, and pushed the scroll in front of my face. I was all too happy to seize it between my beak and rip it in half, which was of course illegal. “I like breaking the law,” I stated, and became aware of the glint in my eyes. The court gasped, and one of the guards slapped me down my side with the flat of his sword. I growled, then thought better of it. I lowered my head, and let my legs tremble momentarily, giving myself a beaten look. This also gave me a wonderful look at my shackles. It was a good thing I had my head lowered, for I couldn’t avoid smirking. These were brand new! I could get out of them in no time…
“Throw the rogue in the dungeon!” King Pallion shouted. A new group of guards came in, and dragged me away.
On the way down to the dungeons, I noticed one of the guards, a fire Gelert, looking at me in a strange way. I scowled at him, and he moved away. I thought no more of it.
Five minutes after the guards had left I went into action. I wasn’t kidding when I said I could get out of my shackles. I flicked my ear out, then back and in, and my specially made lock pick fell to the floor. The guards had not been able to find it. I carefully picked the lock pick up in one paw and released myself, then used my other paw to release my other foot. I sighed, rubbed my paws, and went to work trying to spring the door.
Deep within the dungeons of the sprawling castle of Kurn, a black shadow detached itself from the darkness around. It crept almost curiosly toward the rows of cells, but most certainly it aimed at one certain cell, with its unsuspecting occupant inside…
To be continued…