Sorry about the bad ending. This was done for LMS and I just wrote until I had barely enough words and cut it off, unfortunately in the middle of a conversation. This will be remedied.
They called themselves the Pride, though the rest of the world knew them as the Thieves’ Guild or simply just ‘the Guild.’ Their leader was the Wildcat who’d been the one who initially recruited me. The rules of the Guild were simple: give them a share of your pickings, and they gave you food and board. Don’t cause trouble, don’t steal from other members of the Pride or the poor, pay your share. The one thing you never, ever did was leave the cat waiting for his pay.
“Pay the ‘Cat, simple as t’at,” Ari said to me the first time we met. “Tis what we say t’ remind t’ newbloods ‘bout t’e rules.” He was of the friendly sort, with messy sandy hair and dark brown eyes. His skin was deep tan from long days spent in the sun in the plains and his smile was warm. Lynx had brought be to him and told Ari he was to teach me Common and show me the ropes.
“But outside of them rules, remember t’is, because it very well may save yer life ‘un day. It the most important ’n often t’e ‘ardest fer t’e kits t’e learn: never trust no one, not friends, not family- just yerself. Others, t’ey’ll backstab y’, ’n steal from y’, ’n betray y’. Yer t’e only ‘un who won’t. Y’ t’ink y’ can learn t’at?”
My voice was cold and my eyes hard as I answered. “I already did.”
“Did y’ now?”
“I’m hunted by me own pack,” I snarled. “I know ‘bout betrayal.”
“Perhaps. I suppose we’ll be seein’, eh, newblood?”
And so we would.
I picked up Common pretty quickly, and was able to get by within a few months. By the end of the year I was all but fluent in the thieves’ cant. I was a natural at sneaking and stealing and all went well. I worked my way through the ranks with relative ease and learned from my mistakes rather promptly- those that didn’t were caught by the Guard or Hunters one too many times and didn’t come back.
The one thing I had a difficult time with was getting along with the other Guild members. Being a wolf-child, I’d learned to follow my instinct, for it had kept me alive. Here, too, it aided me, but I was to fast to fight. Since the first time my power had manifested —when I’d blacked out back in the Pack’s lands— it had a tendency to come out more. I suppose it was like going down a one-way road: once I’d begun, I couldn’t go back.
As a result, when I got into fights as I had a tendency to do, it ended badly. One moment I’d simply be pinning my opponent to show them who was alpha, the next someone would be pulling me off of them, my fists scarlet with their blood.
One of the lessons I remember most clearly is when I was out one night. It was after curfew and dumping rain in sheets down onto the cobblestones. Generally you tried to steal during the day if you were a pickpocket like me, and then get back at night so you wouldn’t get in trouble for being out late.
Unfortunately, it’d taken longer than expected to get back because of the downpour. Thus, I was out after nightfall, a none too pleasing prospect. I was taking the back alleyways and roofs back to the Lair when I slipped on a slick stone. Wincing, I stood and glanced around to see a flickering lamp nearing me. Knowing it was too late to get away from the watchman, I pulled the stolen ring from my belt pouch and slipped it behind a loose brick so I couldn’t be charged with stealing on top of being out after curfew.
“Hey! You!” The man yelled at me.
“Yea sir?” I stopped my nonchalant stroll.
“What are y’ doin’ out so late?” he demanded. “Without a light, no less. Stealin’, perhaps? Maybe sneakin’ in somewhere when y’ ‘ad t’e shadows t’ hid behind?”
“No, sir,” I said rather hurriedly, feigning shock and offense at his accusation. “I earn me money through a good, honest livin’. I ain’t got nothin’ t’ do with them rats!”
“I’m sure,” he said, not really buying it. “Mind if y’ tell me what yer doin’ out?”
“Goin’ home ‘fter a late night,” I answered. “See, I was goin’ t’ go n’ talk t’ t’e blacksmith ‘bout some scrap metal ‘e could spare, and the rain slowed me goin’ ‘ome. I pushed it, ’n now I’m stuck out ‘ere now.”
“What is it y’ do, exactly, needin’ scrap metal?”
“Why, I’m a locksmith,” I said.
“Really? I ain’t heard o’ y’.”
“Well, apprentice, really,” I answered, scuffing my foot to make it seem as though I was a bit abashed at my boldness.
That was one thing I could answer without making something up on the spot. “Ari,” I answered.
“He never mentioned havin’ a ‘pprentice.”
“New,” I said. “Just barely convinced ‘im ‘bout takin’ me today. Been needlin’ ‘im for a while, so now ‘e’s got me runnin’ errands fer a bit.”
He didn’t seem entirely convinced, but I thought it was enough to escape a night in the cages.
I was wrong.
It was a bit of a struggle to get me there, but eventually he managed it. I was thrown into a small cell already packed with dirty scoundrels. Flies were abundant, probably because of the dead body in the corner, blood from a shiv in his back. Poor schmuck probably didn’t even see it coming.
I might have even managed to leave without getting in a fight if it weren’t for those thugs. There were three of them, all big and husky just like good thugs were.
“Lookie ‘ere what t’e kitty dragged in,” the lead one said, sidling up to me.
“Go away,” I growled. “I ain’t interested.”
He caressed my face, brushing a stray orange lock from my cheek. “Are you sure?”
In response I slammed my knee between his legs. Good riddance.
When I returned to the Lair, I had a black eye, three broken ribs, a sprained wrist, and a broken nose.
“Well, ain’t you a sight,” Felicia noted as I stumbled in the next morning.
“I got nagged by Nightwatch,” I grumbled.
“Mhm. And then y’ got yerself in a fight like y’ always are.” She was amused. Amused. That just put me in an even worse mood. Growling something about curfew and Nightwatch under my breath, I made my way past Felicia and to someone who could actually patch me up.
Nothing was like the day the Wildcat summoned me, however. There were only two reasons you got summoned: either you’d done something very, very wrong or you’d been doing exceedingly well. The latter was extremely rare, but I hoped for it. I didn’t want to get on the bad side of the ‘Cat.
After what seemed like an eternity of weaving through damp passageways, I finally reached a wooden door. It was plain, nothing significant about it. Except for the knocker, that was- in the shape of a lynx. Swallowing nervously, I pounded the door.
The Wildcat was the first one I’d met when I first stumbled in on the Guild. That aura of authority about him still remained, and his blue eyes had become no less piercing.
“You summoned me.” I bowed my head in respect.
“Yes. I have a mission for you and Ari to aid me on. Felicia will be helping supply disguises, of course.”
Of course? What kind of mission was this?