Greatclaw: Part Four
Part Four: Thieves
Dredian’s eyes flew wide. “What?” he said in dismay.
Tom nodded slowly. “You are going to be hunted down by knights now.”
Dredian shook his head. It was almost like a nightmare springing forth into reality. “This can’t be happening.”
“It is happening,” replied Tom calmly. When Dredian looked at Tom again, the Techo’s eyes were glowing with sorrow. “I may be able to provide a way for you to feel more at ease with this situation, though.”
Dredian took a deep breath. “What is it?”
“You could join the group of thieves that resides in Meridell.”
Thieves? Dredian thought in dismay. Every fiber of his being rebelled against the thought. “But I don’t want to be a thief,” he whispered harshly. “I want to become a knight!”
Tom snorted. “I don’t think you’ll be achieving that dream anytime soon,” he muttered in reply. His eyes suddenly grew warier, and all his muscles tensed. “Daylight is coming far too swiftly. If we don’t get someplace in the shadows, we’ll be caught.” Tom turned and fled down a dark alley.
Dredian remained still and stared forlornly at the ground. His brain didn’t seem to register the new information. With a shuddering sigh, he turned and ran to catch up with Tom. “Wait!” he called when Tom was in hearing distance.
Tom stopped and turned to look at Dredian. “Yeah?”
Dredian paused for a brief moment before continuing. “I don’t like the idea of becoming a thief, but if I’m going to be hunted by the knights anyways, I’d like to have allies.” Dredian heaved a troubled sigh. “I’d like to join this group of thieves.”
Tom nodded. “Then follow me.” Tom turned around and headed down the deep alleyway. Dredian followed after only a moment’s hesitation.
The red Techo led the way through the alleys behind Meridell. Dredian tried his best to memorize the paths, but he still couldn’t remember which way was which by the time Tom stopped. “This is it,” he said quietly. Dredian peeked around Tom’s back and saw a door barring their path. It looked like a normal, wooden door, except for the various locks and the metal plating around the edges.
Dredian looked around at his surroundings and tried to memorize them so he could find his way there again in the future. Tom waited until Dredian was ready before rapping his fist on the door. A small block of wood slid aside near the top of the door. A pair of eyes peered out from the rectangular hole that had been created. The eyes narrowed suspiciously. “Tom?” he asked.
“Aye,” replied Tom, looking up at the hole.
“I heard you were caught.” The eyes glanced behind Tom and noticed Dredian. “Whose that behind you?”
“This is Dredian,” Tom replied, stepping away and allowing the Faerie Draik to step forward. “He helped me to escape from prison.”
“So what’s he doing here? I don’t think the boss will want to give him any favors for helping you.”
“The favor is simple, really. He wants to join us.”
The eyes flew wide, and Dredian felt suddenly cold inside. Was he really sure he wanted to do this? Even if he did, this could end badly. Dredian put on his most pitiful expression and said, “Please? I’m desperate to join.” He figured mentioning why he was so desperate wasn’t exactly a good idea.
“I am in his debt. This is what he asked for. Just ask the boss if he’ll let him join.”
The eyes narrowed again. There was a pause in which Dredian could acutely hear the rapid beating of his heart. “Alright,” the voice belonging to the eyes said finally. The block of wood slid back over the hole, and Dredian could hear the sound of locks being undone from behind the door. It suddenly swung inward to reveal a scruffy-looking blue Scorchio. “Come in, you two. I’ll ask the boss if he’ll be allowed in.” He jerked his thumb at Dredian, who felt frustration simmer at being talked about as though he weren’t there.
Tom tugged Dredian’s sleeve. “Come on. It’s best not to get Jorde angry.” Dredian snorted and followed the thief into the small room.
Jorde, the blue Scorchio, walked over to a black curtain covering another doorway and disappeared behind it. Dredian narrowed his blue eyes. “What’s behind that curtain?”
“That’s the boss’s room,” Tom replied. “No one’s allowed to enter except for his second command, Jorde. We rarely even get to see the boss. He issues orders through Jorde.”
“Oh, wonderful,” grumbled Dredian irritably. He looked around the small room in frustration. A few other neopets were there, sitting around idly on ragged sofas or simply on the floor. They harbored pieces of food close to their bodies as they sat and mumbled to themselves. Another doorway led to an unknown room. Despite his prejudice against thieves, he couldn’t help but feel a rush of pity for these tattered souls.
He was startled out of his ponderings when Jorde reappeared from behind the black curtain. All the neopets in the room turned to look at the Scorchio quickly. Dredian swallowed nervously. This answer would determine his fate. Jorde scanned the room slowly before raising his arms and crying, “We have a new member!” Dredian felt relief and fear wash over him in the same instant.
The rest of the thieves seemed surprised by this revelation. “Who is it?” asked a tired looking yellow Zafara.
“That Faerie Draik over there,” Jorde said, jerking his thumb in Dredian’s direction. “His name is Dredian.”
“Why didn’t we hear anything about this?” a blue Kyrii asked harshly.
“And why does he get to join?” added a shadow Aisha. There were murmurs of agreement.
“He rescued Tom from prison,” replied Jorde. “And the boss agreed that we didn’t need to get more into debt. This is our repayment.” Slowly, an acknowledgment came from the on looking neopets.
“You, Draik, lock the door,” Jorde growled. Dredian snorted with frustration, but turned and shut the door. He looked at the various locks and was glad to see that, though there were many, they were simple. He quickly placed the locks back into their correct places and turned around to face the band of thieves again.
“Tom,” growled Jorde. The Techo looked in Jorde’s direction. “You will be his mentor. Teach him how to be a proper thief.”
“Of course,” Tom agreed quietly. He turned to face Dredian. “Come. It’s time to teach you our ways.” Tom walked over to a corner and Dredian followed willingly. Brilliant, he thought icily. I’ve just got myself into the biggest mess ever.
Tom turned to look at him once he was in a corner. “What is your weapon of choice?” he asked.
“Do you have any swords? I’m not too bad with one of them.”
“We only have short swords in the weapon room. All other swords are too cumbersome for thieves.” Tom turned and headed towards the door that was not veiled. “Come.” Dredian followed quickly behind.
The door way led down a small hall. Another hallway led from the hall, but Tom ignored that and opened the door before them. He walked inside, and Dredian followed suit. When he entered, his eyes widened in surprise. Various weapons lined the walls of the room; daggers, knives, short swords, axes, crossbows, maces, spears. Along with the weapons were the various means to sheathe them. Tom grinned broadly. “Weren’t expecting that, were you?” Dredian could only shake his head with his mouth agape. “Well, go on. Choose a weapon.”
Dredian blinked rapidly a few times before he went to the area of the walls with short swords on it. He picked one up and tested its weight in his hand before setting it back on the shelf it had been on. He moved over towards another sword and lifted it up. It felt more comfortable in his hands. He swung it a few times to test it before he held it in front of his face. “Not bad,” he murmured before going to choose a sheath. He quickly found one that the short sword fit neatly in and buckled it to his waist, the short sword placed inside. He turned back to Tom. “Ok, so now what?”
Tom flashed him a crooked smile. “Now we get to work teaching you.”
Ac’real walked slowly down the dark path, the hood pulled far down over his face. The Kougra stopped before another hooded figure. He bowed and said, “Greetings.”
“And to you, Ac’real,” replied the figure.
Ac’real stood up straight again and said, “Why did you send for me?”
“The knight Greatclaw is still alive.”
“What?” screeched Ac’real in dismay. “But... didn’t you kill him all those years ago?”
“No.” The figure seemed almost regretful, but not quite. “There were witnesses there. If I had, things would have gone terribly wrong for our plans.”
“So why are you telling me just now? And why didn’t you kill him earlier?”
“Greatclaw was out of commission for a long time, or had you forgotten?”
Ac’real remained silent for a moment. “Yes, I remember.”
“Now, as for your second question, one reason I didn’t kill him is because I lost track of him before. Another is because my power has been weakening ever since that day when you and he fought. I need more energy to dispose of him.”
“Forgive me, but I believe I could probably take care of him myself.” Ac’real’s lips formed into a snarl. “I almost had him in that battle. Why didn’t you let me kill him then?”
“I still have use for him. He still has strength, and you still could be killed. I need you for this to be fulfilled.” The figure was quiet for a moment before continuing. “Greatclaw’s sword is legendary. It is said to hold untold power within it, but there is only one who can activate this power. He never figured it out before, and I doubt he has figured it out now.
“The sword lies in the castle treasury, which is heavily guarded. I want you to retrieve the sword for me.”
“But how?” Ac’real whispered softly.
“You are the dark bandit; you should know.” The figure was hunched over in a threatening manor. “Do not fail me.”
The Kougra bowed his head. “Understood.”
To be continued...