Anything You Can Do: Part One
She swore to herself she’d never come back here, but even the most successful of adventurers need to rejuvenate their funds every once in a while. Unwilling to part with her hard earned treasure, Hannah found herself back working the oh-so-delightfully dusty floors of the Golden Dubloon. It was just as boring and underpaid as she remembered, but the thought of her next daring escapade in search of priceless gems kept her going as she washed the dishes and subdued the unruly customers.
Every so often, a customer that Hannah recognised walked through the tavern doors and broke the boredom. Mostly it was the same layabouts who had nothing better to do than chug their beverage of choice and harass other patrons, only leaving their seats when they were forcibly ejected at closing time. Following that, it was her most loyal fans, wanting to know of her most recent daring exploit in search of unfathomable treasures.
But now and again, usually once every few months, a certain friend walked in; hood down to disguise his face as he meandered up to the bar to order a drink. Of course, the hood didn’t help disguise him much when he had a pair of whip-like ears sticking out the top. Hannah’s ears easily picked up the sound of someone sitting on an old, creaky stool, and- without bothering to turn around as she cleaned cups- she sucked in a breath to start her usual spiel.
“Welcome to the Golden Dubloon, what can I getcha?”
Hannah momentarily froze, putting down the glass she was drying off and moving onto a plate. She knew this voice.
“...On the rocks?”
“How did you know?” the voice answered quietly, sounding as if he was humouring her.
The Usul allowed herself a wide grin as she bent down to take a bottle of milk from a fridge beneath the worktop. She came back up with the desired drink, along with a small tray of ice cubes, and poured both into the glass she had been drying. Finally, she spun around to talk to her customer properly.
“Here y’are, Kanrik.”
The hood was pulled back and a Gelert’s face materialised from the shadows beneath it, a small smile tugging at his lips. He reached into a pouch on his belt, rooting around for coins.
“I hope the price for this hasn’t shot up again. Honestly, considering what this place is charging for drinks, you’re due for a pay rise.”
Hannah smiled warmly, happy that someone else besides her agreed that her pay is lousy. “This one is on the house. Call it a present for brightening up my day a substantial amount.”
It was Kanrik’s turn to smile, now; she said that every time he came in. Still, it never stopped him from slipping a tip in her pocket when she wasn’t paying attention. “Well then,” he chuckled, raising his glass of milk to her. “Cheers!”
Hannah watched as Kanrik downed the milk in one go, obviously grateful for how cold it was. “...Your hair’s gotten longer. Guess it’s been a while since you last came by. I don’t even remember the last time...”
“Five months, I think,” Kanrik idly replied as he wiped a milk moustache off his lips with the back of his hand, and then gave Hannah an apologetic grin. “Not much I can do to help it, though. I go where the most profits can be made. And at the moment, it’s Faerieland, with occasional excursions to Brightvale.”
Hannah couldn’t help but snigger at the mental image of a tall, dark, hooded Kanrik wandering around the obnoxiously bright and happy buildings of the new Faerieland, standing out like a sore thumb. “So how is the life of the Leader of the Thieves’ Guild, anyway?”
Kanrik’s expression instantly soured. “Somewhat turbulent. Some little Ixi upstart is threatening my authority as leader. ‘Master Thief’, honestly...” he growled, bitterness dripping off his words.
Hannah frowned, not knowing who he spoke of or how to console him, but understanding that being leader of the thieves was probably the most important thing to Kanrik. “Can’t you just... I don’t know, assert your leadership more to show everyone who is boss? Steal some more stuff, or something? That’s what you guys do, right?”
Kanrik looked up from his staring contest with the bar to give Hannah a disparaging look. “It’s a little bit more complex than that.”
Hannah couldn’t stop the snort that escaped her. “Really.”
Kanrik was taken aback by Hannah’s reluctance to believe him, and he frowned. “Yes. Really.”
The Usul just smiled, not intending to take her teasing much farther. “Because I was always under the impression that you just had to practice pick pocketing a bit... Maybe learn some fighting, how to intimidate someone properly without looking like a fool. Easy stuff like that!”
Kanrik saw the smile and, now knowing she was only winding him up, allowed himself a smile of his own. “Well, I could say the same for you and your treasure hunting. What’s so amazing about it, anyway? Jumping over a few spike pits and dodging arrow traps to reach a treasure chest seems like easy pickings to me.”
“Easy pick-- You cheeky so-and-so!! You saw me dodge traps like a pro back in the Ice Caves! You know it’s harder than it looks!” Hannah huffed, not taking being teased all that well. It wasn’t something she was used to.
“Oh, I know,” Kanrik replied, tracing a fingertip around the rim of his glass. “But it’s still not impossible. I could’ve done it myself, easily... I just wanted you to do get it out of the way for me.” He punctuated his statement with a light shrug, and it was amplified by his spaulders. He looked up after a few moments of silence, expecting to see Hannah brushing it off with a wave and some tale of another, more dangerous trap in some other ancient cave, but he didn’t find that. He found a haughty, defiant and competitive looking Hannah, arms crossed and brows furrowed in thought.
“Well then, seeing as we both think we could do each other’s jobs just as good... Why don’t we make a deal?”
Kanrik raised an eyebrow. He had an inkling of where this was going, but decided to hear Hannah out. “Go on.”
“Why don’t we each give each other’s jobs a try? See if they really are as easy as we say?”
Another smile spread across Kanrik’s face. He guessed correctly. “You’re really going to go around stealing from innocent people? That’s not like you, Hannah.”
“Oh, I know. Which is why I’m not going to steal from people...” Hannah sing-songed, crossing her arms again. Kanrik noticed that one of her hands was placed over the spot on her arm where he knew the mark of the curse was, and that she was gripping it tightly. In this moment, Kanrik realised her plans- he knew her too well, he figured.
“...You want to go back to the Ice Caves. You want me to look for gems, and you’re going to pick pocket the monsters in the cave,” Kanrik said, somewhat incredulous.
“Almost! My half of the challenge is to pick pocket you at some point. How would I be able to pick pocket the monsters in the cave, Kanrik? They don’t even have pockets,” Hannah said, pushing Kanrik’s nose in with a fingertip. The Gelert snorted and pulled away, wrinkling his nose. He was pushed back from the bar by Hannah, who suddenly took up most of it by sitting on the wooden worktop.
“And if one of us manages to best the other at their own game, they have to concede defeat in front of the entire Dubloon at its busiest. So, ” she said confidently, twirling a lock of hair around her finger. “Do we have a deal?”
She had no choice but to wait for Kanrik’s reply as he started another staring contest with his glass. Eventually, he looked up, and mirrored her smirk with his own. He took off the glove of his right hand, holding it out for Hannah to shake. She stared at it in slight surprise and took Kanrik’s hand in both of hers, turning it over in fascination. “Huh. You do have a hand under there. I don’t think I’ve ever seen you take those gloves off...”
“Just shake it, Hannah.”
The Usul shrugged and took the offered hand properly, shaking it enthusiastically, and Kanrik feared that were Hannah any more animated his shoulder might pop clean out of its socket. He took the hand back before that could happen and quickly slid it back into the glove. Hannah huffed confidently and slid off the bar, leaning her elbows upon it instead as she leant over to eye Kanrik competitively. The Gelert looked unfazed, but met her challenging gaze with one of his own.
“I’ll meet you here tomorrow morning, Hannah. You’ll pack your warmest clothes, won’t you?”
To be continued...