This isn’t going well.
You might wonder why I’m saying that, when in fact, nothing has gone wrong. They call me suspicious. They call me superstitious. But I don’t trust a job where nothing goes wrong.
I breathe out a near-silent sigh. The house is quiet, the way is clear. It’s time.
Moving with the silence only halflings can manage; I make my way back to the room where Lyra waits. I was surprised at how quietly she can move; she tells me it’s the result of being small. I laughed in her face the first time she said that, but I have to admit for a human – she is pretty short.
The first thing I see upon entering the room are Lyra’s eyes. The barest hint of moonlight coming through the curtained window is reflecting off Lyra’s dark blue eyes. As my eyes adjust, I can see that she is grinning at me. Her thieves tools are dangling from her fingers.
“Garret! I think we’ve hit the jackpot with this one. The boss will be pleased.” She bowed low and gestured grandly, sweeping her hands out to encompass the whole room. I cast my own eyes around the room, taking it all in. By Yondalla! The girl is right! This is a find. It would appear that the new neighbours are rather well off.
The entire room is barely big enough for the two of us, but it’s full of – well – the sort of things that make people like us start to drool. This couple have only been in [City] for a short time, but the wife has been walking around with some very expensive jewellery. The sort of gems that encourage people like us to pay them an unscheduled visit.
And so here we are, Lyra and I. Standing in a veritable treasure trove of precious metals and gems. Lyra is still grinning like an idiot, as I find my eyes caught by an ornately carved wooden box.
“Shall I?” I ask, tugging my own tools out of the pouch at my waist. Carefully I lean over and study the box, it is really very pretty. I wonder how much it’s worth? A couple of minutes of examination and I can tell it’s not trapped, but it is locked.
“Garret, hurry up” Lyra has come up and is now peering over my shoulder. She’s stuffing a ruby necklace into her belt pouch and she looks nervous. It’s never a good sign when Lyra gets nervous. I knew this was going too well. I stopped what I was doing – if there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s don’t ignore Lyra’s instincts.
“What is it?” My voice was a little tense, I’ll admit, but this is a delicate procedure.
“I don’t know” she said, going towards the door. “I just get the feeling...” Her voice trailed off. “I think there’s someone out there.”
“Where?” I stop in the middle of lock-picking.
“Somewhere out...” Her voice trailed off and she seemed to be staring right through the walls. It made me nervous, I’ve seen Lyra like this before – makes me nervous.
“Hang on, I’ll go check” she grinned at me. “I have a few tricks up my sleeve.”
I lunged and grabbed the bottom of her tunic before she could leave.
“Lyra – are you okay?” She turns around to look at me and I can see her eyes have dilated.
“I’ve got this” she assures me. Lyra and I have worked together for years; she knows what I’m really saying. I trust her.
“Good. Be careful.” An answering grin and she’s gone – out the door and left down the hallway. I promptly turn my attention back to the elegantly engraved wooden box.
The box is gorgeous, I think I’ll ask Ronal if I can keep it. Lock’s not very good though. Not that that bothers me much. Not under the present circumstances at least. I realise I’m grinning – probably like an idiot – as the lock gives way with a soft click and I can lift the lid.
Oh my. Well now.
This is a surprise. A diamond – not very large, but flawlessly cut.
Well now indeed.
I reach into the box and lift out the diamond, a soft cloth ready in my other hand to wrap it. As soon as I touch the gem –
Pure shock has me falling from my perch to land unceremoniously on the floor. Instinct means I keep my hold on the diamond, but the box has gone flying. I watch helplessly as it spins through the air and smashes into the small window.
What the hell? Oh great. Some fancy-pants wizard goes and sets up an alarm spell. And what do they use to sound the alarm? The sound of dogs barking. Just peachy.
But I have bigger problems. That scream is still ringing in my ears, and I know exactly where it came from. Lyra.
Shoving the diamond hastily into my belt pouch, I hightail it out of the room and into the corridor. Quick and cautious, I head in the same direction Lyra took, and before long – I find her.
Sure enough, she’s on the floor – out cold. Silly little idiot. I knew this was too easy. The damn girl’s gone and overextended herself and now she’s unconscious. It’d be funny if it hadn’t happened so often. I wish she’d let me kidnap her a cleric.
Ah well, no use crying over tripped alarm spells now. No robbery is complete until you’ve got away; and we can’t get away until I can get sense back into Lyra.
I drop down next to her and fumble for a few seconds in her belt pouch until I find what I’m looking for. Good girl. She replaced the last vial we had to use. She might be prone to – whatever it is she’s prone to – but she takes care of herself. We discovered quite by accident that magical healing will bring her back, and ever since that night, she’s made sure she has some handy.
Hastily I pull the stopper and pour the potion down her throat, pinching her nose to make her swallow. A few seconds later and she’s coughing and groaning. I clap a hand over her mouth. They know we’re here, but there’s no point making it easy for them.
“Lyra! Lyra it’s me. It’s Garret!” I hiss into her ear, waiting until I see recognition in her eyes. They’re still massively dilated and definitely not focused. She’s staring at the ceiling, and last time I checked, I wasn’t that tall.
“Lyra. Lyra c’m on! We’ve been made. We gotta go.” Ah the magic words “we’ve been made”. I could raise the dead with those words. As long as the dead was a thief.
And sure enough, she responds. She struggles to get her hands and feet coordinated, and her eyes still won’t focus, but she’s up. Or at least, partly up.
“Yeah girl, I’m right here. Let’s go. Gotta get out of here.” I grab her arm and start tugging. She’s not a heavy girl, but the difference in our heights makes things awkward. Eventually I get her on her feet and start us both moving towards the exit. In this case, the same window we broke in by.
I can’t hear anything – yet. But I don’t want to be around that long. Lyra is struggling to keep up with me. She’s trying, bless her little human heart, but she’s not doing so well. I need to get her back to the guildhouse before she passes out on me again. She’s not normally this bad.
She staggers and falls, dragging me down with her before I can catch our balance. Damn it! I should never have let her go off. I knew she wasn’t right.
“Garret?” I turn my head sharply. She’s looking right at me, her eyes are (thankfully!) more focused than they were.
“What?” I am rather more abrupt than I mean to be. She’s frowning, and I can tell she’s hurting. Nausea and headaches always accompany these little episodes. She flinches at my response.
“’m sorry…” she’s mumbling, another bad sign. I heave a sigh. I cannot stay angry with her. Not that I was really angry to begin with. Another sigh, and I get up and start tugging again.
‘”It’s not your fault” I tell her. Ah, there is the doorway, and just through that is the window. Excellent. I stumble and stagger us both towards the window. Lyra has a hand trailing on the wall, trying to help keep herself upright. I can hear her breathing harsh just above my head. I hope she doesn’t throw up on me…
We’ve made it. I forcibly shove Lyra out the window, then scramble out after her. I can guide us both down. Nothing I haven’t done before. We reach the street at the same time voices start yelling above our heads. Gods they don’t pay much attention do they. Still I should be grateful. Lyra has collapsed in a heap at my feet, clutching her head.
I grab the cloak she abandoned outside before we broke in and shove it over her shoulders and take her hand in mine. Now we’re just a mother and child hurrying home.
“Come on,” I tell her, “let’s get out of here.”
We hurry down the street, Lyra is weaving on her feet, but she stays upright. I keep a close eye out, just in case. And as we leave the shouts and screams behind us, I mutter
“Next time, I’m kidnapping a cleric…”