Asphodel Prologue

 

Copyright © Matthew Olney

Silently he moved in the shadows, sliding deeper into the darkness.  Pausing as a guardsman walked past, the light cast by his lantern failing to reveal the intruders location. The thief sighed in relief as the guard walked out of sight. The King’s spire was thought to be impregnable, but for the right coin anything could be breached by the Fleetfoots. The thief sneaked forward until he reached the base of the Hall of Treasures. The vast vault held the item his paymaster sought.

Carefully he took the rope hanging from around his shoulders and affixed a grapple hook to one end, the other he loaded into the crossbow which he slid from his back. He took aim and pulled the trigger. The snap of the crossbow’s string sounded deafening in the stillness of the night. With a satisfying clink the grapple hook bit into the stonework of the Hall. The vaults heavy iron doors were said to be unbreakable, but no one said anything about the stained glass windows placed high on the Hall’s walls. The thief pulled the rope and grunted in satisfaction that it had anchored itself successfully. With agility that comes with constant practise the thief nimbly clambered up the rope. At the top he paused, listening for any sign of the guards. There was only the sound of the wind.

The thief reached into his leather tunic and pulled out a small knife. He ran a gloved finger along its edge and smiled as the diamond encrusted blade glinted in the moonlight. With deft movements he cut a hole in the base of the large glass window. Once done he gently pushed the glass causing it to come away cleanly. He carefully placed the glass onto the tiled roof under his feet before crouching down and squeezing through the hole he had made.

He now found himself in the rafters of the Hall. Below him was a large open space. The floor was made from the finest marble, and gold leaf covered the walls and ceiling. It was an impressive place, but that was not why the thief had come. He turned and pulled the rope inside. A dozen pedestals stood in the Hall, each displaying something valuable. Precious stones and gold jewellery glinted in the moonlight.  Licking his lips the thief anchored the hook once again before tossing the rope down to the floor. With casual grace he slid down the rope to the ground. One by one he checked the pedestals. Each had ancient books or precious jewels covered by glass cases on them, all of them, except one. The thief felt his heart quicken as he spotted his prize. In the centre of the Hall was a pedestal with a red velvet cushion on top. Upon that sat a stone. It looked like a piece of slate, of no importance whatsoever and yet the thief’s contractor had offered him a fortune for stealing it. He cut open the glass case and removed the stone, tucking it into the pouch hidden inside his tunic. Smiling, he hurried back to the rope and climb back onto the roof. Again he pulled up the rope from inside and threw it down into the courtyard below. With catlike grace he slid back down to earth, careful to not make any noise. If he had timed things right, then the guardsman was still making his rounds on the other side of the spire. Quickly he gathered up the rope, slung it back over his shoulder and sneaked back the way he had come. With a little luck no one would notice his incursion until the dawn.

*

A tall, black cloaked figure was waiting at the crossroads just outside the city. It had taken the thief an hour to get out of the capital without drawing any unwanted attention. Whistling merrily to himself the thief strode down the road, a lantern lighting his way. Upon seeing the cloaked figure he hesitated.

“Do you have it?” the figure asked his voice quiet and menacing.

The thief nodded pulling the stone from his tunic.

“I do indeed friend. It was surprisingly easy if I do say so myself. For all the talk, the Hall of Treasures was not that hard to crack,” the thief bragged smugly.

The cloaked figure took the stone from the thief’s grip. It stared at the stone and chuckled. No kindness was in the sound, just wicked malevolence.

“Er…so where’s my pay?” the thief said, a knot of fear slowly worming its way into his guts. The figure was scaring him.

The chuckling stopped.

“Here is your pay,” the figure replied. It snapped its fingers.

Out of the shadows stepped other cloaked figures, theirs the colour of crimson. The thief tried to scream as they pulled out knives and plunged them into his flesh.

As the thief was being murdered the cloaked figure smiled.

“You have doomed all the world thief and its fall shall be glorious to behold.”

 

***

Are you excited for book two in the Sundered Crown Saga? Let me know in the comments. 🙂thief_by_idriu95-d4iwt1u

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