Brazen Fox :: The Desert Of Desolation
Everything went perfectly.
He didn’t want to say it, he knew it always jinxed it if he said it out loud. But it had. There was no denying it. Everything really HAD gone perfectly this time.
The magical alarms were bypassed easily enough. The guards on duty were dosed with a mild poison that ensured that they all were too busy fighting over the outhouses to worry about who was making rounds.
He had free-climbed the wall, so nothing to worry about there. The locks on the display cases were trifles — surely the management of the museum considered them a mere formality after the magical wards and hired swords.
There had been a close call when he was exiting the sewer, but that old woman couldn’t have known what she was seeing.
Now he was in the cart, nearly back to the room at the Inn. He would bring the loot upstairs, repackage it for transport, bring it to Carwyn, get paid, and have enough time to get some sleep before dawn.
“Everything really did go perfectly.”
As the words left his lips, arrows seemed to grow out of the throats of the horses pulling the cart. Hot blood spilled onto the cobblestone streets as the beasts collapsed, sending Alrik reeling.
He suddenly felt very vulnerable.
No. No no no no no no. Shit.
Alrik rolled backwards into the cart and dug into the sack of loot stolen from the museum and pulled out the leather armor that once belonged to the great dragonslayer Unxezah zur-Partha. He could hear shouting from outside the cart.
Alrik wriggled into the armor.
Come on… come on…
Shouting from outside the cart got louder.
Slipping his arms through the armor, he felt safe, even though he knew his old friends were coming to kill him.
“Alrik! Get out here! There’s nowhere you can go in this city that we won’t find you.”
Alrik put his cloak back on, grabbed the sack of stolen loot and stepped out of the cart.
Murk, a Minotaur with an anger problem sat atop the cart that blocked his way forward.
A pair of young humans in brown cloaks flanked him, bows drawn and aimed at Alrik’s heart.
“Hi, Murk. I was just coming to see you,” Alrik lied. “You didn’t have to kill my horses. Now it’s just going to take me longer to get to your place.”
“I saved you a trip,” Murk countered. “You’re welcome, Alrik.” The Minotaur slid his nine-foot frame off the cart and approached Alrik, hooves clicking across the cobbles.
Glancing left and right, Alrik saw a dozen or so more archers perched on rooftops, leaning out of windows, and waiting in the street.
“Now, it looks like you took it upon yourself to visit the museum tonight.”
“Jeez, Murk, is that what this is about? I didn’t take you with me because I figured you were too stupid to appreciate it. If I’d have known—”
“Shut your mouth, human. You’ve turned me down every other time I’ve asked. But I appreciate your skills. So I’ll ask one. More. Time. You pay me half of everything you take, and you become one of us. …Of course, you’ve been freelancing a long time, thief. There’s the issue of back-taxes, as well…” Murk paused, enjoying twisting the knife.
“Come on, Murk. You know I work best alone. I’d be wasted on a team. How about you let your archers take a little break, and you and I can go discuss this over a drink?”
The Minotaur raised a hand, and the archers all lowered their arrows. Alrik breathed a sigh of relief.
“You see, Murk, I knew you weren’t so bad—”
A throwing axe appeared in the Minotaur’s grip, and he hurled it with brutal force. Time slowed down. Carrying the heavy sack of stolen artifacts, Alrik couldn’t leap out of the way. It was for sure going to hit him, and it was for sure going to hurt and there was nothing he could do. Then at the very last instant, the axe simply turned itself away from his body and buried into the wood of the cart behind him.
Confused, Alrik didn’t move. But Murk was furious that he missed. He grabbed the bow from his lackey, nocked an arrow and fired straight at Alrik’s belly. Again, somehow, the arrow got to within an inch of piercing him, and got turned away.
“Huh,” said Alrik.
And with that, he shouldered the sack and beat a hasty retreat through the back alleys. Arrow after arrow stuck into the sack, hit the walls of the alley, clattered uselessly off the street, but somehow, not one single arrow found its way into his flesh.
Before long, he had lost his pursuers, but he knew that it was only a matter of time before he crossed paths with Murk again if he stayed. Skipping the inn, Alrik went directly to his meeting with Carwyn and sold the take from the museum—except the lucky armor, of course. If he had learned one thing from Carwyn over the past nine years it was this “if someone or something saves your life or your freedom, keep it around.”
His purse fat with coin, Alrik paused at The Dragon’s Breath for a pint so he could plan his next move. There, stuck to the wall was a Notice.
WANT TO GET OUT OF TOWN?
Do you crave EXCITEMENT? THRILLS? GOLD? GLORY?
Do you want YOUR NAME TO LIVE ON IN SONG FOR CENTURIES?
Become an ADVENTURER!
Please apply aboard The Blue Wyvern, dock AA23.
Alrik finished his ale and went down to the docks, where a stout, lightly-armored Dwarf with a peg-leg sized him up, nodded, and welcomed him aboard. Then, they set sail… into ADVENTURE!
Somehow, Alrik eventually met up with all these other guys and ended up in the Desert… We’ll figure that out, I guess.