Invisible Paint Brushes rock Circulation: 187,055,852 Issue: 514 | 30th day of Gathering, Y13
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The Thief of Time, Sirocco!


by mecha_fang

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As Kreludor rose over Happy Valley, there seemed to be an eerie stillness in the air. The people of Terror Mountain had now retreated to their beds and cots for the night after a long, cold day in the frozen north of Neopia. However, as in all corners of Neopia, there are those who prefer the night life. If one looked closely at the rooftops of the quiet little hamlet, one could see a lean, agile silhouette deftly jumping from rooftop to rooftop. The mysterious shadow dashed across clotheslines, yet never lost his footing. He alighted on top of the spire of a clock tower, and crouched down to look at the city. He was a tall, roguish Skunk Zafara, lean in build. His attire was fairly typical for his profession; a hooded leather vest, long, dark pants, slightly worn boots and numerous pouches on his clothing to hold his ill-gotten gains. He, you see, was a thief, and a darn good one. He clutched a dagger in his hand, and gave it a flourish.

     “This is going to be the score of my life,” he thought to himself, a devilish smirk across his face. He leapt down into an alleyway, and crouched down on all fours after strapping his dagger to his belt.

     “Alright, according to what Kanrik said, there’s a bunch of bandits camping out near the Ice Caves tonight.” He put his back to the wall, and looked for any sign of movement. It wasn’t long before he spotted someone – a Blue Mynci in tattered clothing, wearing a domino mask over his devious red eyes.

     “Heeheeheeheehee...” The Mynci glanced around, his yellow teeth glinting in the moonlight as he searched for the rendezvous point. However, a certain Zafara wasn’t going to let someone else take what he wanted. The Mynci ran off through the streets, unaware that Neopia’s stealthiest vagabond, the phantom thief Sirocco, was hot on his tail!

     Sirocco had to run faster than usual to keep up with the blue rogue racing through the icy alleyways.

     “I guess they don’t call him Valin the Quick for nothing!” Sirocco muttered under his breath as he leapt back up to the rooftops in case the infamous Mynci robber spotted him.

     “Ever since Galem was defeated, the Thieves’ Guild’s never been the same. I’m pretty sure Valin isn’t the type to stick with a ‘goody two-shoes’ like Kanrik.” Sirocco chuckled. Kanrik was far from a “goody two-shoes,” but he was certainly too honorable for a treacherous little thug like Valin. Sirocco continued to tail him, and stopped when Valin began knocking on a stone wall.

     A brick in the wall slid to the right, and a pair of red eyes glared at Valin.

     “What’s the codeword?”

     The Mynci pondered for a moment, before smirking.

     “Golden Maractite, just like it’s always been.” The Mynci rubbed his palms together as the door slowly opened. While this may have looked like an abandoned mineshaft, this was the entrance to the Terror Mountain branch of the Thieves Guild.

     “Alright... Time to make my entrance.” Shortly after the door closed, Sirocco leapt down from the rooftop and knocked three times.

     “Codeword?”

     “Golden Maractite.” Sirocco crossed his arms impatiently, as the door began to open.

     “Took you long enough,” Sirocco cracked, as he dashed in the entrance.

***

     “So the Time Crystal is located in this chest? You’re positive, right?” A Green Acara stood in an ornate chair, obviously pilfered from the Royal Treasury of Meridell. Her name was Masila, but many knew her as the Mistress of the Double Cross. She was one of the most formidable thieves in all of Neopia, and also one of its most brilliant minds. She was always outwitting her foes, and was effortlessly skilled at manipulating others.

     A wizened Korbat with tattered wings nodded.

     “Of course I’m sure! It’s not for nothing I’m the oldest thief in the guild!”

     Masila rolled her yellow eyes. Desmond knew a lot about ancient treasures; it was his knowledge that sent them on that fabled hunt for the Heart of the Mountain that ended with the defeat of Galem and the splintering of the Thieves Guild. However, he was a bit batty, so to speak.

     “With the Time Crystal, it will be all too easy to carry out any heist. We only need to use its power to stop time itself for a brief period, and no one will be able to catch us.” Masila stood up, and smiled a wicked smile.

     “Of course, I get first dibs on this artefact. I AM the Guildmistress, after all.”

     Unbeknownst to most of the crooks in this wretched hive of scum and villainy, Sirocco moved silently among them. He was, after all, a member of Kanrik’s Guild; to be noticed here would mean certain doom.

     “Just a little more...” Sirocco had just reached the chest that contained the Hands, but suddenly, a knife whizzed right past his head!

     “Uh-oh.”

     Masila walked slowly, almost nonchalantly towards Sirocco.

     “Ah, Sirocco. It’s been a while since I’ve seen your face.” She scowled at the rival thief, before drawing her knife.

     “I’m not about to let you ruin one of my plans again, so I’m afraid that you aren’t going anywhere.”

     The Guildmistress stepped out of the way as a huge Green Skeith charged towards Sirocco, carrying a massive club!

     “Oh, just great...” Sirocco jumped up to the rafters and began to duck and weave his way out, occasionally using the lamps hung from the ceiling as stepping stones. He was dodging daggers and knives of all shapes and sizes being thrown at him, but he moved far too quickly for anyone... Except Valin, that is.

     “Zafara gonna go boom!” Valin swung his tail at Sirocco, almost knocking him down from the rafters!

     “You in big trouble now, Zafara! Eeeheehee!”

     Sirocco clung on to the underside of the rafters with his free hand, shuffling his way out before jumping down and making his way towards the exit.

     “GOLDEN MARACTITE!” Sirocco screamed frantically as he dodged arrows and knives from all directions.

     The Tonu guard at the entrance opened the door, not realizing that Sirocco was a liability to Masila’s plans.

     “You IDIOT!” Masila glared at the much taller Tonu, who shuddered at the sound of her voice.

     “You let him escape! If Sirocco opens that chest, all of my plans will be for nothing!” Masila pushed the Tonu aside, and ran out into the cold, her cloak wrapped around her.

     “What are you fools waiting for? Follow me!” Masila ran off after Sirocco, and climbed up a nearby house to try and catch the Zafara. The rest of the guild followed behind her, and Valin began to leap along the rooftops in pursuit of Sirocco.

***

     Sirocco ducked into the window of the clock tower, and laughed to himself as he caught his breath. “All right, let’s see what’s in here...” Sirocco dug his dagger under the lid of the chest, and began to pry it open.

     “C’mon, open...” SNAP! The chest flew open, sending his dagger flying into the air! Sirocco ducked down, and the dagger embedded itself in the wall.

     “Well, that figures.” Sirocco looked into the chest and pulled out an ancient, cracked hourglass-shaped gem, which was hundreds, maybe even thousands of years old.

     “So this is the Time Crystal, eh? It’s kind of worn down...” He held the gem up to the moonlight and smirked, but ducked down when he heard the approaching sound of Valin’s giggling.

     “Siroccooooooo! Come out and play with meeeeee! Mweeheeheeheee!” Valin jumped through the window and looked around, tossing a bomb in one of his hands.

     Surprised, Sirocco dropped the crystal. As it landed, the Time Crystal glowed as it shot out an icy blue beam that froze Valin in place!

     “Well, that was serendipitous.” Sirocco deftly plucked his dagger from the wall as he picked up the crystal before leaping out the window to land on the snow below.

     Sirocco continued running into the night, trying to dodge around members of the Guild who were prowling around Happy Valley.

     “If I could find some way to turn it into a working weapon instead of just a gem...” Sirocco hid behind a rather large Snowskeith, desperately hoping it wasn’t a Skeith painted Snow.

     “Maybe Donny could forge it into my dagger? Of course, that’d require getting up to the Top of the Mountain in one piece!” Sirocco shuffled the crystal around in the palm of his hand. It glowed with an eerie light, even in the shadow of Terror Mountain. He glanced around before sneaking away from the Snowskeith, and ducked into an alley as he heard some of Masila’s goons pass by. After they passed, he snuck towards the Ice Caves, hoping no one saw him. Unfortunately, the fresh snow was very easy to leave footsteps in...

     The Ice Caves were particularly cold that night. A chill wind blew through the caverns, chilling Sirocco to the bone!

     “I REALLY should have worn a coat!” Sirocco gritted his teeth and dug his dagger into an ice wall to climb up to a higher level of the caves. He hadn’t been in these caves since the time Galem tried to steal the Heart of the Mountain, and because the giant Snow Wurms never stopped their constant tunneling, the layout of the caves had changed considerably since then.

     “Let’s just hope I don’t meet one of those Wurms, or worse, mistake one of their mouths for another cave.” Sirocco shuddered at the thought. Legend has it that if you’re eaten by a Snow Wurm, you’re digested alive for a thousand years. He didn’t want any part of that! He continued to climb through the Ice Caves until he met a roadblock – Masila and her minions had managed to beat him to the Top of the Mountain!

     “Going somewhere, Sirocco?” Masila cackled as she drew her knife, grinning wickedly as the moon set behind her.

     “Yeah.” Sirocco scowled as the Guildmistress slowly walked towards the exhausted Zafara.

     “I’m thinking that if I get out of this, I’m going to hit Mystery Island for some R and R.” Sirocco slowly got up and clutched his dagger in his hand, ready for a fight!

     “You realize you’re outnumbered, Sirocco. There’s no way for even you to escape from me this time!” Masila thrust her knife at Sirocco, who parried with his dagger! After a few exchanges of steel, Sirocco ducked out of the way and rolled underneath a Skeith thug, trying to make a break for Donny’s forge.

     “Stop standing there, you idiots! Get him!” Masila’s minions charged after him, their weapons raised to take him down.

     Sirocco glanced behind him before ducking into the old abandoned Ski Lodge at the top of the mountain, in the hopes that even his fellow thieves wouldn’t be crazy enough to follow him in there! He caught his breath in the foyer as he hid beneath the stairs.

     “Even if this place is haunted, it’d be better than dealing with Masila.” Sirocco stayed silent as he heard Masila and her goons begin to search the place, their voices echoing throughout the decrepit building. When their voices faded away, Sirocco looked out from his hiding place, and snuck back out, climbing up the outer walls of the ski lodge to the roof, where the sun rose behind him. When he heard the voices of his enemies, he hid behind one of the turrets of the lodge until he could clearly see they had returned to the Ice Caves. Sirocco smirked and jumped down, walked towards Donny’s shop.

     The Red Bori was fast asleep, a few broken toys lying around his work desk. He woke up with a start after he heard three knocks on his door.

     “The store is nae open until ten in th’ mornin’, ye blasted kids!” Donny walked up to his door, ready to shout his old lungs out at some unlucky prankster, when he saw a thief.

     “Ah! Don’t ye try t’ steal me Neopoints, ye cur! This old Bori dunnae go down without a fight!” Donny raised his fists in a fighting stance, despite his old age.

     Sirocco rolled his eyes. “Relax, Donny. I’m here to ask you if you can maybe forge this gem into my dagger.” Sirocco handed the old Bori his dagger and the crystal, only to be met with an angry stare.

     “Ya bloomin’ idjit!” Donny shook his fist at Sirocco as he ranted on. “Dang it boy, I’m a toy fixer, not a blacksmith! Well, not anymore. Back in me day, I was the finest blacksmith on Terror Mountain! I made swords, hammers, axes, spears, all o’ that! But now I’m old, and there’s no way I could do that –“

     “I’m sure twenty thousand Neopoints could get the job done.” Sirocco placed the bag of coins on his desk. “How long will it take?”

     Donny gazed at the Neopoints in shock. “For all o’ these Neopoints? Only an hour or so!” Donny tied an apron around his body, put on his gloves and mask, and got to work. Using his tools, he ground the crystal into a fine powder and spread it across the heated blade, making sure to spread the dust evenly across Sirocco’s dagger. In about two hours, it was done. “Here ye go, boy. One brand new dagger for ye! I kept th’ old shape, but it looks a li’l different, aye?”

     Sirocco twirled his dagger around, looking at the blue crystalline metal that composed the blade. “You did a good job! It’s stylish and...” Sirocco pointed it at a cuckoo clock on Donny’s wall, sending a beam of time energy at the clock as it sprang open. It froze in place with the little wooden Weewoo still out of its door.

     Donny fumed. “Now look what ye’ve done! After th’ clock thaws out, ye’ll-”

     “Relax.” Sirocco pointed the dagger at the clock again, unfreezing it. “And thanks.” Sirocco paid Donny with the twenty thousand Neopoints and left the workshop with a smirk on his face. Now he would be renowned throughout history as the legendary Thief of Time!

The End

 
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