Scarlet Shadow - A Thief's Uprising: Part Four
Lord Riqon looked about at the dunes of sand. The orange Zafara was quite lost and was starting to worry. He turned to the blue Gelert beside him. The young thief’s jet black hair and coal black eyes were hidden beneath his hood. A scar ran on his right cheek, a mark of the encounter in an alley. “What do you think, Kanrik?” the guild master questioned.
“We have no idea where we are, and the wind’s getting pretty strong,” the Gelert replied.
“We need to find shelter soon then,” Riqon stated gravely. “If the wind picks up, there’s sure to be a sandstorm.” Kanrik nodded and pushed his checkered Uni, Sable, into full gallop with Echo, Riqon’s Uni, right beside him.
They traveled on for about half an hour, the wind getting stronger every minute. As the sands began to blur their vision, the two riders began to lose hope of ever finding the city. A cloaked figure on Uniback was beside them suddenly. Neither knew how long the rider had been there. Riqon and Kanrik could barely hear the rider shout, “Follow me!”
Their progress was slow and soon they couldn’t see their hands in front of their faces. The rider passed over some rope to the two thieves, continuing to leading them. Soon, the large walls of the city loomed over them. As they entered, Riqon felt the other end of the rope slacken, leaving him and Kanrik to find their own way. Both decided to wait out the storm...
“Where have you been?” Cenoal questioned as Scarlet came to a screeching halt.
“Out,” she replied shortly. Hers and Shade’s little ‘rescue’ wasn’t something she wanted to talk about.
“None of your business.”
Cenoal shrugged. “Not planning to tell?”
“Nope!” Scarlet allowed a smile at Cenoal’s annoyed expression. “Are we going to train or what?”
The two arrived at the training grounds and immediately, Scarlet’s foot came in contact with Cenoal’s chest. He stumbled back. “Well, NOW look who’s doing the surprise attacks!”
Scarlet unsheathed her swords. “After being trained by you for a whole year, you expect less?”
She charged. Cenoal grabbed his saber and held it up just in time. “She’s improved alright,” he thought silently. From the honor-bound young noble he had once seen, the Lupess was now one of the most respected in the guild. She had even fought Azers and won. The Lupess was now known as Scarlet Shadow, a very worthy title. Still, she had her moments. “Watch your form!” he exclaimed, tripping her.
From the ground, Scarlet pushed herself back up. She aimed a couple well-thrown punches at the Aisha, but there was no one as fast as Cenoal.
“Try a jab, princess!” Shade had arrived. Whenever he was bored, the Uni often attended Scarlet’s lessons and put in a few comments.
Scarlet obeyed, finally landing her first blow on Cenoal’s shoulder. “Hey!” Cenoal protested. “No coaching!”
“Please, you don’t have a problem with it when she’s against someone else!” Shade retorted.
“What can you expect from the Aisha?” Scarlet said, throwing another punch. Cenoal caught her fist and threw her back. Scarlet stumbled and fell.
As they argued about Shade’s assistance, a thief came running toward them. Huffing and puffing, it took some time for him to speak. “Kreio wants the two of you at his throne room immediately.”
“Why?” Scarlet asked.
“You honestly think he knows?” Cenoal responded for the messenger. “We’d best hurry...”
After racing to the Throne Room, the two stopped at the entrance. The doors were thrown open and two guild masters stood there speaking with each other. Another figure stood at the corner, unnoticed by all. “Thank you for having us here, Kreio,” Riqon stated. “Especially during this war.”
“It is no trouble, brother.” There was just the slightest hint of anger in the Wocky’s voice. “Although, I am interested to know how you found your way in this storm.”
“We had a guide.”
“I see.” Kreio knew only someone extremely used to the desert could go about in a sandstorm without getting lost, and only his thieves knew of Riqon’s arrival. The probability of Riqon running into a desert nomad was also incredibly low. Kreio had given specific orders not to assist his brother in any way and the fact that the only credible explanation was that one of his thieves had done the deed made him seethe inwardly.
“You summoned us, Milord?” Kreio was snapped out of his thoughts. He saw Scarlet and Cenoal standing before him.
“Yes, I did,” he replied. “Riqon, this is Scarlet and Cenoal.” He gave a prideful smirk. “Both have proved worthy to be Captain, so they share the duty.”
“That is excellent, Kreio,” Riqon stated, studying the two Captains. Both wore long Captain’s cloaks, the only difference being a beautiful scarab brooch on the Lupess’. The Aisha carried a saber strapped to his waist while Riqon noticed the hilt of a sword poking out above the Lupess’ shoulder.
“They shall help you get settled in,” Kreio continued. He glanced at Kanrik as though just noticing him. “Cenoal, make sure my brother gets what he needs. Scarlet, you take care of this young thief.”
Both Captains bowed. “Yes, Milord,” Cenoal said, speaking for both of them.
Scarlet was leading her charge up to the surface to grab a bite to eat. She still hadn’t received a name, but somehow, she recognized his voice...
“Have you been here long?” he questioned, interrupting her thoughts.
“Huh? Oh, um, yes,” Scarlet replied. “I’ve been here for a year. Not quite sure if that’s considered long.”
“I had a feeling you weren’t from around here,” the thief continued.
“Why?” Scarlet questioned as she pushed open the door of one of the exit houses. There were numerous different houses used by the guild, required so as to keep suspicion away from any particular entrance or exit. The thieves shared the same passageways so each had to know which was an exit and which was an entrance.
“Your accent,” the thief replied. “You’re obviously not from Sakhmet.”
“I’m more from your neck of the woods,” Scarlet responded as they weaved their way through the crowds.
“Meridell, you mean?” he asked.
“Born and raised,” Scarlet replied, stopping at a food stall and buying a couple small loaves of bread. She handed one to the Gelert and continued walking.
“Why’d you move here?”
“Trouble at home...”
Scarlet turned to the Gelert. “I never got your name.”
The thief dropped his hood. Scarlet recognized him instantly. Had it not been for Cenoal’s incessant training, she could never have held her temper. As it was, she was having a difficult time. This thief was the one who pushed one of her closest friends to the brink of death, the one who had stolen her mother’s bracelet, and the one she felt an ever-growing hatred toward. “I am Kanrik,” he stated.
Scarlet merely nodded. “Why did you leave Meridell?” Immediately after she asked, Scarlet felt silly. The second war, duh!
“There was another war that broke out,” Kanrik replied. “Apparently, some General decided to take over the Citadel.”
“I see,” Crystal responded. The next topic she chose seemed worse than the first. “I’ve heard that you once came face-to-face with Meridell’s Champion?”
“I almost had him, too,” Kanrik said spitefully. “It was only when that prissy princess got in my way...”
“Prissy princess?” Scarlet questioned calmly, keeping her voice from shaking.
Kanrik stared at the Lupess. Was it his imagination, or were her eyes growing darker? “Yeah,” he finally replied. “Princess Crystal Turstone. She’s the heir to the throne. Doesn’t deserve the kingdom, though. Huh, she even ran away when the first war came!”
Scarlet looked down into her hands. Her loaf was completely crushed. “She ran?” she asked. Her voice didn’t betray the anger she was holding.
“Yeah,” Kanrik replied. “They found her ripped cloak and a Purrow’s amulet close by. If you ask me, she fled just when her people needed her the most.”
“I suppose that’s true...”
Sensing that his guide was, for some reason or other, getting uncomfortable with the topic, Kanrik switched quickly. “I heard that the more important thieves in this district have some sort of special training ground?”
Scarlet calmed down significantly. “Indeed, I train there myself. I could show you, if you want...”
“Wow...” Kanrik stated as he gazed upon the strange sight. The Elite Training Grounds were beyond his expectations.
A white Aisha greeted them. “Well, I see you’ve brought company, Scarlet,” he said.
Scarlet nodded. “You two met earlier,” she stated simply. “Kanrik, Cenoal. Cenoal, Kanrik.”
The two shook each other’s hands in vice-like grips. “A pleasure,” Cenoal stated with mock hospitality.
“Likewise,” Kanrik concurred.
Scarlet rolled her eyes as she stepped into one of the rings. Of those in the area, a well-built green Lupe eyed her, hate burning in his eyes. Azers held quite a grudge against the Lupess. She had, after all, stolen his title of Shadow. He jumped down from his seat and landed right in front of the Lupess. “What do you want, Azers?” she questioned, her voice cold enough to make everyone who heard stop what they were doing. They all turned their attention to the two.
“A rematch,” came the reply.
“You’ve had your match, why do you want another one?” Scarlet snarled.
“Are you declining?” Azers questioned mockingly. “Is the great Scarlet Shadow scared?”
Scarlet glared at him. The coldness in her eyes far surpassed that of her voice. Even Azers shifted his gaze. “If you want me to fight, be ready for the consequences.”
“First to scar the other in the face wins,” Azers replied, ignoring the warning.
“You’re a fool,” Scarlet stated as she removed her cloak. She reached behind and grabbed her two butterfly swords from their sheath.
“I fear nothing!” Azers bellowed as he spun his mace high in the air.
“That is why you are a fool,” Scarlet whispered, waiting for her opponent to make his move. Finally, he did. Azers attacked with fury building up inside...
“She’ll never win,” Kanrik stated, watching the young Lupess dodge another hefty blow from the more muscular Lupe.
“Please, I trained the Lupess myself,” Cenoal responded. “There’s a reason she’s called the Shadow.”
“What do you mean by that?”
Cenoal kept his gaze on the two thieves. “You can chase your shadow as much as you want, but you’ll never catch it. If you try to hit it...” Cenoal faded off to watch. Scarlet had fallen on the ground. Azers brought his mace down hard, but instead of hitting his opponent, the weapon hit the ground. Scarlet had dodged just in time. Before he could make a move, the Lupess’ foot was planted on the chain that held the handle to the ball. In one swift motion, her blade was pointed at the Lupe’s face. She shook her head and removed her foot from the chain. The Lupess replaced her swords in their scabbard and turned away, leaving the Lupe untouched. His pride, on the other hand, was scarred beyond repair. Cenoal looked back at the amazed Kanrik and continued, “you’ll end up hurting yourself instead...”
Scarlet was beside them in a moment. “What are you two chatting about?” she asked.
“How you got your name,” Kanrik replied. “It’s quite an interesting bit of fact.”
“What did you tell him?” Scarlet questioned, turning to Cenoal.
“I told him how much hurt you can bring about,” Cenoal replied.
“That isn’t funny, Cen,” Scarlet said. Cenoal was surprised. Scarlet’s dislike of the thief was greater than he had ever seen in her.
From high up on one of the large columns, a red Zafara sat watching the trio. Lord Riqon had watched from afar the small scuffle between the two arguing thieves. The Lupess was far better than Kreio had made her out to be. Her talent was unmatched by any other thief he had seen in a long time. Indeed, she would be a welcome edition to his guild...
To be continued...