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Max_Writer

Dungeons & Dragons 3.5 - Luxit Sol Campaign Session Two - Thieves in the Big City

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Monday, October 26, 2015

(After playing Kit Howard’s D&D 3.5 game Friday, October 23, from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. with James Dixon, Ethan Gordon, and Katelyn Hogan.)

From the recollections of Rory Buttertongue - Halfling

On our week-long wagon ride to the city of Denrith, I looked at the magic items I’d found, especially the spectacles and the three rings. I tried on the glasses and the rings, all to no avail. They didn’t seem to do anything. The spectacles didn’t even magnify my vision in the least. I wondered if there was some magic about the items. They felt like they belonged together. I put them away for future study.

We finally arrived at the city. It was immense and stretched as far as I could see along the coast. The wall was 50 feet high and completely made of stone, appearing very solid, almost as if it was made of a single, giant rock. There were guards on the stations and the ramparts as well as patrolling. The main gates were some 30 feet wide by 30 feet high. A portcullis was up in front of them. The wooden doors each had a great sun sigil. A small shack stood next to the gate where a few old, crippled men wearing the red tunics embossed with the sun symbol stood.

As we approached, a small, squat man with a bald spot on his head and spectacles hobbled to the cart.

“Newly graduated recruits, I see!” he said. “Okay guys, come here. We’ll make this quick for you.”

He opened up a tiny book, only perhaps a few inches by a few inches. It was also flat with almost no pages.

“All right, who is first?” he said. “Who is first?”

“I guess Cap’n’s first,” Dack Fel said. “Cap’n? Is that what we call him?”

I walked up and the man opened up the book.

“Please put your hand here,” he said.

“Where?” I said.

“Just right here,” he said, indicating the blank page to the left.

I put my hand on the left page and my name appeared on the right page, where I was coming from, and that I was just getting out of basic training. On the bottom there was some weird scribbled script.

“What’s that weird scribbled script?” I asked.

“I don’t know,” he replied. “I never know. I can only read that.”

He pointed to the words.

“Anything else?” I asked.

“Next!” he said.

I stepped aside and he flipped the page, going to John Wayne and then Dack Fel, who was cautious about putting his hand in. He then had Arya, Stephen, and the driver, who I’d learned was named Jory, do it as well. I asked the man if there were any unusual laws of the city we might need to know about. He said there were not. I asked if we were allowed to carry weapons and he said we were. He noted that murder and theft would send a man to jail.

“If you’d like to go see Ishaak inside, he’ll give you a tour of the city,” the man said. “Please, please move on.”

We entered Denrith and quickly found Ishaak. He was a lean man with an angular face, very dark features, and rugged clothing: a reddish top and white pants.

“Welcome! Hello!” he said. “My name is Ishaak and I’m going to give you your tour today! I can give you a rundown of the areas and what to expect. It’ll also take up to about an hour. Or you can just about your own way, it’s up to you. Really. What would you like to do?”

We decided to take the tour.

“Sirs, sirs,” he said. “First, first, let me show you something. We have amazing maps of the city, especially since you’re new. Let me show you.”

He took out a map of the city and showed it to us. I asked where we were and he pointed at part of the map marked “Gate.” There was a small dot there. The city also was marked with several sections: the market, the slums, nobles, the docks, and the military district. He pointed at the dot.

“As you move along in the city, this will show you,” he said.

“We get to keep that?” I asked.

“No, you have to buy this,” he said.

“Oh, how much?” I said.

“This is from the government,” he said. “But we also have the deluxe edition. It’s 50 silver for the map, but it is imbued with magic, remember? It will show you where you are in the quarters.”

“Will it show anybody else where we are?” Dack Fel asked.

“I’ll take it!” I said.

“You take …?” Ishaak said. “You sure you don’t want the deluxe edition? It’ll show you each individual section. Except part of the slums.”

“How much is the deluxe edition?” I asked.

“That one’s a little bit steeper, especially because you have to go with each individual one and it comes out to two gold,” he said. “But it will show you where all the inns are and some more important things.”

“Well, let’s see it,” I said. “The deluxe edition: let’s see it. Have you got one?”

He took out a scroll of paper and showed me the deluxe edition. When he tapped on the different sections of the city, it magically zoomed in on each. I told him I’d buy it. Dack Fel suggested everyone chip in but I told him I’d cover it. I paid the two gold and got the magical map from the man. I tucked it away.

Ishaak ushered us into a cart and he mounted the front of it. He told us there were 18,000 people in the city though many were moving away. Most of the people in the city were under government pay. In 15 years, the new capital city would be completed and most people would move there. He told us there were four different docks, one for those coming into the country who were not citizens, the regular docks, the military docks, and the noblemen’s docks, connected to the noble’s district.

The cart path we traveled down was pleasant and the city laid out in a very casual and spread out fashion. He showed us the market district and then the military district. He pointed out the mage quarters, part of which lay in the military quarter. He told us they could cast magical spells to identify magical items. There were four large mage’s towers there.

There was a single inn in the noble’s quarters. It was called the Sleeping Beauty. Guards patrolled the noble’s quarter and there were a few guards at the gate, though they didn’t seem to be stopping people passing through. I asked Ishaak if they closed the gate at night and he said they didn’t, but they increased patrols in the district. We passed the slum quarter as well, Ishaak noting he didn’t go in there. He pointed out part of the slums was unmarked on any map. We passed and it looked dark within. A large tarp hang over the wall.

“The tarp pretty much covers the slums,” Ishaak said. “It’s almost eternal dusk to night.”

“Why?” I asked. “Why’s there a tarp?”

“Because they like to do things in the dark and it’s always dark there, so they get to do whatever they want,” he said.

“No questions asked?” Dack Fel said.

“Um …” Ishaak said.

“That’s so strange,” I said. “Where’d they get the tarp from?”

“I don’t know,” he said.

“So they just put up a tarp so nobody can see what’s going on?” I asked.

“Pretty much,” he said.

“There’s some strange people living in there,” I said.

“So, I guess they take care of their own laws in there, outside of the city’s laws or something?” Dack Fel said.

“No, they do have a patrol that go in there,” Ishaak said. “Which, those guys are actually quite scary, as well. It’s a patrol of six or more.”

“Okay,” Dack Fel said.

“They go and they go ready to kill,” Ishaak said.

“Oh!” Dack Fel said.

“The thieves’ guild is in there,” Ishaak went on. “There are two inns in there.”

“We can afford those inns!” Dack Fel said.

When Ishaak noted people were moving to the new metropolis, I asked about it. He said the government had reinforced Denrith after the Dwarf Wars. Then the king had gotten the idea to construct a new capital, “the ultimate defense,” and started an 85-year building plan to get the city ready. It was almost done. The Luxit Sol people knew how to hold a grudge. It had been three generations of men since the war and they still hated the dwarves.

The central part of the city had a thick wall some 20 feet tall with metal spikes atop it. A castle stood in the middle of the area, visible from where we were. At least the battlements and towers were visible.

Most of the houses in the market had shops in the bottom with a second floor, ostensibly for living. In other parts of the city, the houses were a little taller and probably held smaller apartments. The noble district, of course, had great houses of magnificent craftsmanship. When Dack Fel asked about purchasing a house in town, Ishaak told us there was a housing authority in the market. Dack Fel wanted a base of operations.

“We could … we could just be squatters,” I said. Then I had even a better thought. “Let’s find a church and establish our own religion! We’ll make plenty of money that way.”

There were a few temples but they all had a sun emblem and we learned from Ishaak they were all dedicated to the sun god, Aesur, which was the state religion of Luxit Sol. When I asked if other religions were forbidden, he noted in major cities and especially the capital, everyone worshipped the god of the king. Dack Fel announced he worshipped Kord. Ishaak told us temples or churches to other gods were outside of the city. The capital was completely off limits to other temples, however.

We learned there were three inns in the market: Scented Seasons Inn, Inn of Four Feathers, and the Sleepy Lamb Inn. I asked what he recommended and he said they were all good and relatively cheap. It depended on what we liked.

“Is the Scented Seasons a brothel?” Dack Fel asked.

“No,” Ishaak said.

“Is there a brothel?” Dack Fel asked.

“Yes,” Ishaak said.

“Okay.”

“It’s in the slums.”

“Oh. Ew. Go figure.”

“I mean there’s also one in the noble’s quarters but it’s been forbidden in the market because of the type of trade that goes on in the market.”

“I understand. I don’t want to go there, I was just wondering where they were because I want to steer clear of the ladies around those areas.”

“There’s probably some guild-affiliated whores around somewhere,” I said.

“That’s okay,” Dack Fel said. “I can make friends.”

Ishaak noted the Thieves’ Guild was in the slums and the head of it was a man by the name of Klein. He said there was also a beggar’s guild there. The two inns in the slums were called the Dark Passenger and the Sleepy Drunk.

He also showed us where the mages lived.

“Are there any bards in this town?” I asked.

“Yes,” he said.

“They sing songs?” I asked.

“Yes.”

“And they know histories?”

“Yes.”

“That’s who we ask about … certain things.”

He also told us there were two notice boards up across the street from the Scented Seasons: the help board and the job board. The difference between them was the help board had notices put up by civilians while the job board had notices put up by companies. The job notices would have information on jobs available in the city, including who to talk to and how dangerous the job was.

“Maybe we should stay there,” I said of the Scented Seasons. “It sounds perfect for you … Dack.”

“I want to find a trainer,” Arya said.

“What was it?” Dack Fel said. “I was asleep.”

“The Scented Seasons,” I said.

“What about it?” he said.

“It’s where the job board is,” John Wayne said.

“It’s an inn,” I said. “The job board is across the street.”

“Oh,” Dack Fel said. “Sorry. I kind of fell asleep back in the mage’s quarter.”

“Oh,” Arya said.

“Shall I slap you hard next time you do?” I asked. “Help keep you awake? I could. I’d be glad to help. I’ll even warm my hands first. Just like this.”

I rubbed my hands together.

“It’s been a long day,” he said. “My leg still hurts.”

“Is there a job board in the slums?” Dack Fel asked.

“Uh … I don’t know,” Ishaak said.

“Why would you ask him that?” I asked. “You think he’s a thief or something? Why would you want a job from the slums? Are you a thief!?!”

Ishaak only had the tour information and never went in the slums, he told us. He noted he couldn’t protect us in there. Dack Fel said it was fine.

“Are there archery grounds?” Arya asked.

“You’ll have to talk to the military about that,” Ishaak said.

“Okay,” she replied.

“For most of your trainers−” he said.

“Just go in the slums and find a target,” I said.

I remembered talking to the wizards when they gave us a physical at the beginning of my training, some months before. They had us fill out a piece of paper and then used magic to inscribe the information into each of us as our personal data. That was how they tracked our citizenship. I guessed that was the information in the book at the main gate. Ishaak told us the information that involved the military were all filled out with that information.

I asked Ishaak if the military could seize magic items and the like if they wanted but he said they couldn’t. The law stated the military could not rightfully seize any of our possessions. However, they might come talk to us if we had an item that proved dangerous, and possibly ask us to leave the city.

Dack Fel was talking about having a crest for our group, which didn’t make any sense to me. He noted if we were going to have our group, we needed our own symbol.

We left the cart and I tipped Ishaak 20 silver pieces for the tour. Dack Fel suggested we split up and talk to whomever we needed to talk to. I suggested we get rooms at the inn first. Arya was ready to find someone to train her. John Wayne suggested the Scented Seasons so we headed there. We saw the job boards across the street.

I headed into the inn with the others close behind me. Dack Fel went to look at the board.

I could smell incense even outside of the inn and it was almost overpowering when we entered. The common room was brightly lit and had an attached kitchen. The smell of delicious food filled the air. A dark-skinned man walked around the taproom, his hands clasped.

“Yes, good evening, good evening,” he said to us.

His eyes moved around constantly.

“Would you like a room?” he asked. “Are you new to the city? I’ve never seen you before.”

“Can we get four rooms, I guess?” I asked. “How much are a room?”

“Four rooms?” Dack Fel said. “How about one room?”

“Yes,” the old man said. “Rooms will be three silver pieces a night.”

“Three?” I asked.

“Yes, three,” he said.

“That’s a bargain!” I said.

“And if you’d like, for two silver pieces, your meals will be included,” the old man said. “We have a lock, we have two different types. One’s kind of small, one’s kind of large. That’s about it. Five copper for a small one and one silver for a large one.”

He showed us the locks. The larger was iron and probably fit the door. The smaller was copper and was smaller but could be used on a chest. I told the man I’d take a room with meals, and a large lock and small lock. The total came to six silver coins and five copper coins. The old man wore a butcher’s frock covered with blood. His fingernails were long and dirty.

“We could eat at the restaurant across the street,” Dack Fel whispered to me.

“No no,” the old man said. “I kill the food. My wives cook.”

“Oh, okay,” Dack Fel said. “I was a little worried.”

“Don’t be insulting!” I said to him.

“Yeah, it is okay,” the old man said. “It is very okay.”

“I believe you,” Dack Fel said.

Arya paid for her room and a lock. The others paid as well.

He took us upstairs and showed us four rooms next to each other down the hallway. Outside of each was a small box with a slot in the top. Each room had a small bed, a small chest at the foot of it, a small table with a low stool, and a single oil lamp. The window of the room had shutters and it looked out over the market in front of the building. I peeked under the bed. There was no chamber pot. The old man mentioned the box by the outside of the door was where we were to pay for our rooms. If we didn’t do so before dinner of the night we wanted to stay, they would move our things out into the taproom.

“Looks nice,” I said.

The whole place stank of incense. I opened the windows and wondered what smell they were using it to cover.

“Where do we poop?” Dack Fel asked.

“If you would like a chamber pot, my wives can bring one to you,” the old man said.

“Just wanted to check,” Dack Fel said. “Because I’ve got to go soon.”

“Oh, okay,” the old man said. “You have to go right now?”

“No, I can wait,” Dack Fel said.

“Okay,” the old man said. “If there’s anything else you need, I’ll be right in the kitchen.”

“I hope he doesn’t cook the food …” I said.

“He kills the food,” Arya said.

“He kills the food,” Dack Fel said.

I was doubtful.

Dack Fel said he had a quest for us even as I locked my chest with the copper lock.

“‘Cripple looking to move to new metropolis,’” Dack Fel read. “‘Need help loading carts. Will pay and provide food for service.’ I figure we could just … his name’s Dale.”

“Dale?” John Wayne said.

“His name’s Dale,” Dack Fel said again. “It seems like a pretty good, simple task, helping a cripple.”

I looked at the job posting.

“Why would loading a cart have combat written on the sheet?” I asked.

“Just in case we’re attacked by rats?” he said. “I don’t know. He’s a cripple. I don’t know about you, Rory, but I think we three could do it.”

I examined the box outside of the door and found it only had a slot. There didn’t appear to be any way to open it. I suspected magic.

“So, you guys want to go talk to this cripple guy?” Dack Fel asked.

We discussed it but I suggested we do it the next day. Everyone wanted to look for someone to train them. When Dack Fel asked what I wanted to do, I told him I wanted to explore the unexplored areas of the map.

“So, you want to get killed by a purse snatcher/cutthroat?” he said sarcastically. “That sounds smart.”

“I’ll be fine,” I said.

“Are you going by yourself or are you taking someone with you?” he asked.

“I was going to go by myself,” I said.

“Don’t bring any money with you, all right?”

“Oh, that’s a good idea.”

I locked up most of my money in the chest in my room. I held onto 20-30 silver coins.

“Do you want me to go with you?” he asked. “We could team up, if you want.”

“If you want,” I said. “I might be dealing with some shady fellas.”

“That’s all right,” he said. “I’m used to shady fellows.”

“I’ve also got this,” I whispered.

I pulled out the magic wand I’d taken from the kobold magician.

“But you don’t know how to use it!” Dack Fel said.

“You point it, they appear,” I said. “I’m sure I’ll figure it out.”

“Hey, Rory, look what I figured out how to do,” he said. “What’s your favorite color?”

“I’m partial to blue,” I said.

His cloak suddenly turned blue and he told me he’d figured that out the other day. I suggested he might not want to make it quite so royal a blue if we were going to head into a place with thieves. The cloak turned dirt brown and ratty immediately.

We all went our separate ways, Dack Fel and I heading for the slums together. As we walked, I learned that Dack Fel was not his real name.

“What is your real name?” I asked him.

“My real name isn’t important,” he said.

“It could be very important,” I said.

“It’s not,” he said. “It’s not. Yeah, it’s very important, but−”

“I don’t know if I should trust you if you’re not going to tell me your real name.”

“The more people that know my real name−”

“I’m the only one!”

“−the more chance that they can use it against me.”

“Pft!”

“It’s like, yeah, I could go around telling people my real name, but … uh … I feel like an alias is much safer considering what we’re all here to do. Is your real name Rory Buttertongue?”

“Yes!”

“Is anybody out to kill you though?”

“Well, there was this farmer named Gobo. He didn’t like me ‘cause his girl liked me better than she liked him.”

“Oh, and you liked the girl I imagine too?”

“For a little while.”

“I can understand that. But … is he in charge of an entire country that you were part of the military of?”

“No, just a farm. He had several cows though.”

“Several cows.”

“We’ve known each other for a decent while now.”

“You and me? Six months.”

“Yeah. But … uh … I just feel that what you call me now is perfectly fine.”

“Fine.”

“Maybe I’ll tell everybody sometime later.”

“Everybody? Oh, I see. I thought we were buds.”

“We’re the two sneaky guys. We are buds.”

“Hm.”

“We got each other’s back, I feel like.”

“Hm.”

We reached the slums and entered the gates to the place. There were a few people there and it looked like a back alley. A sign nearby pointed in the direction of the Thieves’ Guild, apparently. I, at first thought it was a trap, until I realized like everything else in the city, it was government-controlled. We followed the signs through the maze of the slums. It wasn’t as bad as I thought it might be, though it was still filled with ruffians and bottom feeders. It took us about 10 minutes to find the guild hall. The building had a sign out front that marked it as the Thieves’ Guild.

“This is NOT what I expected,” I said.

“No,” Dack Fel said. “Yeah, I agree.”

We went into the small building. A single man sat in the main room of the building. He looked up. He wore a long brown coat and heavy boots. He flung a knife at the ceiling and it would get stuck, then fall a few moments later. He would catch it and throw it back to the ceiling. I walked in, whistling.

“Can I help you?” the man asked.

“We’re here from the military,” Dack Fel said.

“Okay,” the man said. “And …?”

“We’re here to join the Thieves’ Guild,” Dack Fel said.

“We’re registering,” I said. “We don’t want to get our hands cut off.”

“That’s wise,” he said. “That’s a very wise thing.”

“I’m not very wise,” I said. “But thank you!”

“All right,” he said. “Here’s the deal.”

Two stools popped up from the floor behind us. Dack Fel and I took our seats at his behest, Dack Fel looking over the stool and I checking to make sure it wasn’t sticky.

“All right, so, interested in the Thieves’ Guild,” the man said. “You have to do us a favor.”

“Sure,” Dack Fel said.

“There’s a man named Rooster,” the man said.

“Rooster?” Dack Fel and I both said.

“You must break his legs,” the man said.

“Okay,” Dack Fel said. “Why? What’d he do? If you don’t mind me asking.”

“He didn’t pay,” the man said.

“Oh,” Dack Fel said.

“So, legs. Broken,” the man said. “First one to do it wins. You get in. The other one, we’ll figure out what to do with you.”

“Okay,” Dack Fel said.

“Good luck,” the man said.

“Where is he?” I asked.

“Somewhere on the docks,” the man said. “Good luck.”

“You’re not going to make me break his legs if I win, right?” Dack Fel said, gesturing at me. “Because I don’t want to lug him around.”

“So, you’d break someone else’s legs to get in the guild …?” the man said.

“I travel with this guy,” Dack Fell said.

“… but if you were in the guild and I asked you to break someone else’s legs, you’d question it?” the man said.

“He’s with me,” Dack Fel said. “I don’t want him to slow me down.”

“And neither of you are with us,” the man said.

“Hopefully yet,” Dack Fel said.

The man glared at him.

“I’ll break Rooster’s legs!” Dack Fel said. “I don’t care!”

The man fidgeted with the knife. He did not look happy.

I stood up and left. Behind me, Dack Fel was still talking.

“So, you said the docks?” he said.

“Good bye,” the man said.

Dack Fel hurried after me.

“This is more your thing,” I told him. “I think you’re gonna win, so you can go ahead and do this one.”

“I think that guy wants us to actually break the guy’s legs,” Dack Fel said. “Is this a test, maybe?”

Dack Fel suddenly turned pale and looked very ill. I stepped off, putting a little room between us as I didn’t want sick on me. I looked around but didn’t see anything out of the ordinary. We followed the signs back out to the entrance of the slums and headed to the docks from there.

“Rory,” Dack Fel said.

“What?” I asked.

“I don’t really want to break this guy’s legs,” he said.

“All right, I’ll do it,” I said. “I’ll have to buy a mace or something, I guess.”

“But … what if we make it look like his legs are broken?”

“Go ahead. You can just go ahead and do this one and I’ll take whatever they have for me next. How about that?”

“Do you think it’s a good idea?”

“No. I do not. I think walking back to that man after faking breaking that man’s legs …”

“Because tomorrow we agreed to help a cripple, and we’re about to make somebody a cripple. That seems kind of counter-productive to me.”

“Well, you can always pay to have his legs healed back up. If you feel that badly.”

“I’ve got a better idea. I’ll break his legs.”

“We need masks.”

“We could just take him somewhere else.”

“Why do you keep saying ‘we?’ Only one of us is doing this.”

“I mean, if you help me with mine, I’ll help you with yours. And vice versa.”

“That doesn’t seem like a good idea either. I’ll help you find this guy and then you break his legs and then we’ll go back and we’ll get mine. Look, we pulled some stuff in the army, right, under the table. We do it with these guys, they will murder us!”

“Yeah, I know.”

“Like that!”

“He didn’t say you couldn’t help me.”

“These are big-city thieves! These are real thieves!”

“He didn’t say ‘Hey, you go break his legs. You stay here while he goes and does it.’ He said ‘Go break his legs. Whoever does it first …’”

“But he said it was a test, a contest. Hey! Are you Rooster?”

I had picked a random man walking by on the street.

“Uh … no … what?” he asked.

“All right, thanks!” I said.

I kept walking.

Dack Fel walked up to a random man.

“Hey, do you know a guy named Rooster?” he asked.

He didn’t. We continued to ask random people about Rooster without luck. The docks were literally miles long so it would take forever to find anyone on them. There were nothing but warehouses and docks. I suggested looking for a boat named Rooster.

“How are we supposed to break a boat’s legs, Rory?” Dack Fel asked.

“No,” I said. “He’ll be a guy who said ‘I’m Rooster and my boat’s name is Rooster.’”

“Is that Halfling humor?” he asked.

“No, it’s not,” I said.

I looked down the length of the docks. It was miles.

“This could take a few days,” I muttered.

“Nobody’s heard of Rooster,” Dack Fel muttered.

“We’ve talked to, like, eight people,” I said.

“But nobody’s heard of Rooster,” he said.

Dack Fel went over to a guard. When I saw that, I wandered away. He spoke to the man for a few moments as I loitered just out of sight of the guard. He walked back over to me very obviously. As he approached, I turned and walked away.

“Rory!” I heard him yell.

I kept walking. A few people looked back towards him and I did too, acting like I didn’t know him. He eventually ran up to me.

“Human stuff, Rory,” he said insultingly as he walked beside me. “Human stuff.”

“What did you find out?” I asked.

“He just said to ask the beggars,” he said. “If you want to find somebody.”

I snapped my fingers.

“They have a guild!” I said. “Of course, they’re organized. That’s probably the best information network in the city.”

I looked around for beggars.

“I wonder if Rooster is a beggar,” I said. “We’d be doing him a favor, breaking his legs.”

“That will make me feel better about it,” he said.

We spotted two beggars and Dack Fel walked over to them. Again, I was not with him, falling back. One of the beggars played a tempo on tin cans and sang old sailor shanties. His partner shook his hat to the same beat. I got close enough to overhear the conversation. Dack Fel tossed a couple silver coins into the hat.

“Thank you, sir!” one of them said.

“Actually, I have a question for you guys, if you don’t mind,” he said.

“What’s that?” the beggar said.

“Have you heard of a guy named Rooster?” Dack Fel said.

“Nope! Don’t know what you’re talking about!”

“Would another silver say you know what I’m talking about?”

“Make it two and I got something for you!”

Dack Fel tossed the man two silver coins. The other man with the hat pointed down the docks towards the military docks.

“All right,” Dack Fel said. “Can you tell me what color his hair is?”

The man kept playing.

“Not in the military district though, right?” Dack Fel said to the beggar.

The man ignored him and went back to his singing.

“Right, what’d you find out?” I asked as we walked away.

He told me they had motioned to the military district so we headed on down the docks to it. A wall stood there with a tall gate, dividing it from the rest of the docks. Guards were posted in front of the gate. I walked in as if I owned the place. One of the guards stopped me.

“I’m sorry,” I said.

“You can’t go in,” he said.

“What if we want to go to the noble docks?” I asked.

“You have to go through the noble quarters,” he said.

“Oh, I didn’t know that,” I said. “Thank you. Thank you.”

I walked away. Dack asked what I learned and I told him we couldn’t go through but would have to go through the noble quarters.

“What if he’s not in there?” Dack Fel asked. “What if he’s out here?”

“Go ask,” I said to him. “Go ask for Rooster at the gate. You’ve already made your presence quite well known here on the docks, friend.”

“Yeah, five miles back that way!” he said.

“Just go ask,” I said. “I can still see the beggars. Go on, go ask. Go on.”

“No. You go ask for Rooster.”

“No no, you’ve already announced our presence quite loudly. Go. Go go go; this is your quest. Good luck!”

“What if I want it to be your quest now?”

“It’ll be fine! It’ll be fine! Just go. Go go. You’re good. It’s all good.”

“I don’t wanna ask. Let’s put it this way, I ask a guard or a military person ‘Hey, have you seen Rooster,’ and he just gets his legs broken.”

“You already asked one!”

“I didn’t ask the guard where Rooster was.”

“Yes you did!”

“I asked him where I could find somebody know knows people.”

“Oh.”

“I’m not going to ask a guard where Rooster is. Think how suspicious that would be?”

“I’m not a fan of this quest.”

“I’m not a fan of this quest either. I don’t want to hurt anybody for no reason. You know, if we go through with this, I’m going to give him money, because I’m going to feel bad!”

“Then you should do it! Because I’m poorer than you, because you’ve got more money from the army.”

“We got the same amount of money!”

“No, you got more.”

“I got a little bit more.”

“I saw the coin. In your pockets. At night, while you were sleeping. Go ask. Just go ask. It’ll be fine! It’ll be fine!”

“No, it won’t be fine! We’ll have to hightail it out of this place forever.”

“It’ll be fine! You’ll be fine!”

“I didn’t escape my country just to never go to another country again!”

“You’re already in another country. You failed on that. Go on! Just go! It’ll be fine!”

“No. You do it.”

“All right, fine. Let’s go.”

We walked back, away from the military docks. Then we spotted another lone beggar on the side of the road.

“You want to ask him?” Dack Fel said.

“Are you going to or should I?” I asked.

“You … you’re probably better at this,” he said.

I walked over to the stinking beggar.

“Friend, what’s wrong with you?” I said to the man. “Why aren’t you working?”

“I have a bad back,” he said.

“Aw,” I said. “That’s a terrible shame.”

He pulled up his shirt and showed a large scar going up his back.

“What caused that?” I asked, dropping a silver coin in his hat. “Tell me a story.”

He told an epic tale of how he fought a boar that gored him but he survived. It was actually a very good story.

“That’s worth another coin, friend,” I said, dropping another coin. “I’m looking for somebody in town. Have you ever heard of a fella, I owe him some money, his name is Rooster?”

“You owe him money, you say?” the beggar said.

He seemed very skeptical.

“Yeah,” I said. “Not much, but I do owe him money.”

“For what?” the beggar demanded.

“He made me this loan, you see,” I said. “I was trying to buy something, but I couldn’t afford it. And Rooster had a couple coins in his pocket, and he said … well, I had to beg ‘im. He was kind of …” I sighed. “… okay, I had to do some things I didn’t wanna do. I don’t wanna talk about it too much. It was - it was a little humiliatin.’ There was a dance involved.”

The beggar laughed.

“The king of the beggars−” he said before he clapped his hands over his mouth.

“Oh, is that who Rooster is?” I said.

“I don’t know anything,” he said.

“So you don’t know him,” I said, acting as best I could that I believed his lie. “You don’t know him at all?”

“Nope.”

“All right. Damn.”

“Not at all. Not at all.”

“All right. Well, if you ever hear of a man named Rooster, tell him I got the gold that I owe him.”

“Okay.”

I walked away.

King of the Beggars, eh? I thought.

We kept moving and I pulled out my map. I found the beggar’s guildhall in the slums, as well as the thieves’ guildhall.

“Rory!” Dack Fel said as I looked at the map. “Rory!”

“What?” I said.

“Our initiation … is to break the King of the Beggars’ Guild’s legs,” he whispered. “This is kind of …”

“You should say it louder because all the beggars didn’t hear you,” I said. “Yes, I know what our initiation is. Your initiation, we already decided that.”

“But if they figure this out for me, what do you think they’re going to do with you?”

“Iunno. Maybe I’ll get to break some army man’s legs. ‘Cause I don’t like the army very much, I tell you.”

“You were in the army!”

“I know. I hated it. Let’s go look for the beggar’s guild. We’ve got to find Rooster.”

Then I raised my voice when we passed some beggars.

“Twenty gold is not a tiny sum of money that I owe the King of the Beggars,” I said loudly to Dack Fel.

We headed towards the slums, ignoring them.

“I thought it was going to be just a random guy,” Dack Fel said as we walked. “I could sneak up behind him and just go pft! You know.”

“He’s gotta live somewhere,” I said. “Just follow him home.”

“We don’t even know what he looks like!” Dack Fel said.

“We’ll find out,” I said. “That’s what we’re on our way to do!”

I found a merchant and bought a scarf I wrapped around my neck. I positioned it so I could pull it up to cover part of my face. I also bought a small, cheap bottle of perfume as well, just in case the Beggars’ Guild stank as much as those beggars before.

“Rory, I think you’re overdoing it here,” Dack Fel said.

“How will the ladies find me attractive?” I asked.

“I already find you attractive,” he said.

“Well, you are a lady,” I said. “I’ve always suspected.”

Then we headed into the slums. We followed the signs for the Beggars’ Guild and I realized we had not seen any beggars in the slums. Everyone we saw looked like they wanted to kill me. I stared back as if I wanted to kill them too. It got darker and darker.

The Beggar’s Guild was in a darker part of the slums and I looked at the map. We were not in the unknown zone, nor had we seen any way into the unknown zone. It was a little bit bigger than the Thieves’ Guild and the entrance room held a desk with three beggars sitting behind it.

“Rory, you handled that last one so well,” Dack Fel said. “Go ahead.”

I walked up but they didn’t notice me.

“Hello?” I said.

“Hello, wee-one,” one of them said.

“Hello, too-tall,” I said. “How do you apply to be a beggar?”

“Do you have money?” he asked.

“Little bit. Does it cost money to be a beggar?”

“No.”

“I thought when you didn’t have any money was when you were a beggar.”

“Exactly! Do you have a place to stay?”

“Um … I do presently but I don’t see that lasting long.”

“Well, then, you can’t be a beggar. Once you’re done and you don’t have one, you can be a beggar. And we’ll know. We always know.”

“Interesting. Where’s Rooster, I need to talk to him.”

“Who?”

“Rooster!”

“Who’s that?”

“Rooster. You know Rooster.”

“No.”

“The King of the Beggars.”

“Who is that?”

“Rooster.”

“King … what the heck is a King of the Beggars?”

“Rooster is!”

“Are you talking about an animal or a person?”

“A person.”

“A person named Rooster?”

“I think so, yes.”

“Why, that’s the stupidest name I’ve ever heard,” he said to the man next to him.

“What kind of beggar king would you have, if you had a king of the beggars?” I asked.

“We don’t have a king,” he said. “You see Brandon over there?”

I looked. A moronic looking imbecile sat by the desk.

“He’s the closest to a king of the beggars,” he said.

“Brandon?” I said.

“Hello!” Brandon said stupidly.

“He’s the one that runs all of the paperwork over to the mage’s quarter to keep this place going,” the first man said. “We really don’t do much. They pretty much feed us and … we sleep here. This is my bed.”

“This desk?” I asked.

“Yes,” he said.

“It looks very comfortable,” I admitted.

“It is very comfortable. You see that. That’s a roof. That means I don’t’ get rained on. I have a lock on the door.”

“Well, if you have a place to sleep, how can you be a beggar? Have you got money?”

“I’m not a beggar.”

“I thought this was the Beggars’ Guild?”

“It is. We just run it.”

“So, you’re a clerk?”

“Yes, I am a clerk for the Beggars’ Guild.”

“I’m very, very confused. Who gets all the money the beggars make?”

That’s when he looked confused.

“The beggars!” Dack Fel said.

“I’m sorry, sir, do I know you?” I said to him. Then to the beggar clerk: “I think you have another customer.”

“Brandon,” the man said. “Who gets the money?”

“I don’t know!” Brandon said idiotically.

“Well, don’t they bring you a cut?” I asked. “The whole point of being a beggar and having a guild is that they have to give you some of the money they make during the day.”

“No,” the clerk said.

“What’s the point of the Beggars’ Guild then?” I asked.

“Information,” he said smugly. “Information.”

“Then why isn’t it called the Information Guild?”

“Because we’re not information-ers! We’re beggars!”

“Well, I’m looking for Rooster because I owe him money. But you don’t know him? I thought you had information.”

“We do.”

“Okay, then where is he?”

“Who?”

“Rooster.”

“Is that an animal or a person?”

“Person.”

“Here, fill out this form.”

He handed me a dirty piece of paper with word “Name” on it twice, each one next to a long line.

“Have you got a quill?” I asked.

He gave me a quill and I wrote “Rooster” on each of the lines.

“That’ll be one silver!” he said.

“For what?” I said. “Writin’ down a name on a piece o’ paper?”

“You want information or not?” he said.

I took out the silver piece and held it between my fingers.

“And oi’d like the information now,” I said.

“Okay,” he said.

He took the coin.

“Go tell Rooster where Rooster is!” the clerk said.

The simple-minded Brandon ran out. I ran after him, Dack Fel behind him. We chased the foolish beggar through the slums and then through another gate directly to the docks, further from the military docks then we had walked. He went to a red-headed beggar who’s hair was only on top of his head, almost like the comb of a rooster. He sat on the ground with a poncho over him. I couldn’t see his legs. Brandon said something to the man. Three other beggars were around him after Brandon left. We hid in the area nearby. They didn’t see us.

“The Beggar King,” I said to Dack Fel. “Guess who’s got no legs under there?”

Dack Fel squinted as he looked at the man.

“Go break his legs,” I said to Dack Fel.

“How do you think we should go about this?” he asked.

“How much money you got?” I asked.

“With me?” he asked.

“How much money have you got with you?”

“Two silver now.”

“Well, go get some gold and then go offer it to him if he lets you break his legs. He’s a beggar! They do terrible things for money.”

“Well, it’s not about the money. It’s about sending a message from the Thieves’ Guild.”

“Then shoot him with an arrow. I don’t know.”

“What do you do if they ask you ‘How did you break his legs?’ ‘Oh, I gave him gold for it.’ What if we make it look like an accident?”

“What’s this ‘we?’ This is your job!”

“So, I don’t know how to go about this. If it happens out in the open, other people around us, they’re going to notice …”

“Just go run up and beat him.”

“I just really don’t wanna.”

The beggars got up and walked away, Rooster standing up and walking with them. I followed at a distance.

“He has legs,” Dack Fel said. “We can do it!”

We followed them a little while.

“This sucks,” Dack Fel said. “This sucks.”

I looked around but saw several heavy things that could be used as clubs.

“There ya go,” I said. “Just grab a club. Run by, bust his legs, and run away.”

“I can kick really hard,” he said.

“Okay … if you think that’ll do it,” I said.

“It might take more than one kick,” he said.

“Then yell ‘Greetings from the Thieves’ Guild’ and run away.”

“Yeah, probably. Maybe we should talk to him. Maybe I should talk to him first. Get to know him.”

“Okay, go talk to him. ‘Cause there’s nothing better than breakin’ yer friend’s legs. Go ahead.”

He walked forward and I fell behind a little further. He went to Rooster and tapped on his shoulder. Rooster turned towards him.

“Whatta you want!?!” the beggar said.

“Hi,” Dack Fel said. “Are you a man named Rooster, maybe?”

“No!” Rooster said.

“Okay,” Dack Fel said. “Are you sure?”

“Yeah, I’m pretty sure I know my own name!”

“What is your name?”

“Leon!”

“Leon. I tell you what ‘Leon,’ I wanted to discuss some things with you. You see, I have this friend that apparently owes you money.”

“Nobody owes me money. Have a nice day.”

“Apparently a friend owes you money!”

Dack Fel got into the man’s face. I lost myself in the crowd so that Dack Fel wouldn’t somehow draw me into the thing. The man looked taken aback.

“If you wanna give me money, sure,” he said. “But nobody owes me money. I’m a beggar. I just ask people for money. You good? I have things to do.”

He turned and the beggars walked away. I headed after them as Dack Fel stood there, unsure what to do. I closed with the four beggars passing them, getting ahead of them, and then heading back for them. I sprinted down the dock, directly at Rooster as quickly as I could. I rushed at them and when I got close, I lowered my head and ran right at his legs.

“Get out of the way, filthy beggars!” I yelled just before impact.

I slammed into his legs with my shoulder and there was a splintering sound and a resounding snap from the man’s legs as I struck them. He fell over as I ran away. I kept on running as quickly as I could down the docks. I never looked back and ran all the way back to the slums and the Thieves’ Guild. I found the place locked up so I went back to the inn.

* * *

I later learned the man who had been in the Thieves’ Guild with the knife leapt over a log after it happened and laughed his ass off.

“That has to be the funniest thing I have seen in weeks,” he said.

He went to Rooster and told him he had some better legs for him. He took out a new pair of prosthetic legs for the beggar. Then he told Dack Fel it had been enough entertainment and we should come back to the guild the next day.

* * *

Dack Fel got back and told me what had happened.

“I’m just relieved I didn’t have to break this guy’s legs,” he said.

“You didn’t break his legs,” I said. “I broke his legs.”

“Well, we didn’t have to break his legs,” he said.

We had dinner around 7 p.m. It was roast rabbits with carrots, peas, and potatoes on the side. Very delicious. They served us clean water with it.

“So now you can pickpocket people and not worry about getting your hands cut off, Rory,” Dack Fel said. “Isn’t that great.”

“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” I said.

Then I lowered my voice.

“There’s ears everywhere, you idiot!” I hissed. “Shut up!”

“Rory, you owe the king of beggars money,” he quipped. “What a silly excuse.”

“I figured he’d agree and take the money,” I merely said.

We were just finishing up when Arya and John Wayne returned. They looked confused.

“What’s up with you guys?” Dack Fel asked.

“I … don’t really know,” John Wayne said.

“All I know is we left, and we were outside of this house,” Arya said.

“We went to go solve a puzzle, but …” John Wayne said.

“Puzzle?” Dack Fel asked.

“This person bewitch you?” I asked.

“I dunno,” Arya said.

“No idea,” John Wayne said. “Probably.”

“I don’t remember anything,” she said. “It’s all right.”

“It was a puzzle?” I asked. “Can you go back and do it again?”

“I … don’t know,” John Wayne said.

“What?” I said.

“Well, after not remembering, I don’t think I want to go back there,” Arya said.

“How did you find out about this?” I asked.

“Shoot, we’re done eating, Rory,” Dack Fel said. “Want to go try out that puzzle box? I saw it on the board earlier.”

“I don’t know if I want my memories mixed up,” I admitted. “I’ll come with you if you want to try.”

“Yeah, I’ll try,” he said. He turned to the other two. “You’re probably going to stay here, aren’t you.”

“Uh-huh,” Arya said. “I’m going to eat.”

“We’ll be back shortly,” I said.

“All right,” Arya said.

We left the inn and went to the noble district. The address was a large, gothic house that seemed to be old and new at the same time. It stank of witchcraft. I went to the door with Dack Fel, having no intention of going into the cursed place. The butler was a large man who was goofy-looking.

“Would you like to try?” he said to us.

He looked at me.

“No!” I said. “No no!”

I started to walk away.

“Would you like some food, like tea and crackers with nutmeg?” he said.

“Tea and crackers does sound nice,” I muttered to myself.

“You can make a lot of money doing this,” Dack Fel said to me.

“No, I’m not doing it,” I said. “I’m sorry, I’m not doing it. Good luck. Win it for us. I’m having tea and crumpets or whatever this old man wants to give me.”

“Please then, come in sirs,” the butler said.

“I’ll have tea,” I said.

“That’s perfectly fine, sir,” he said.

“I won’t steal anything,” I said to him.

“That’s good sir,” he said.

We walked into the living room and I sat down. The man suddenly had a tray of tea and cookies in his hand.

“Where did you get that?” I asked as he poured the tea.

“The pebbles sir,” he said, showing me a pebble.

“Rory, see if she wants that wand?” Dack Fel said. “You should probably try to see if you can sell−”

A woman entered the room. She was old and wore dark clothing. She had her hair pulled into a tight bun.

“If you are here for the puzzle, please follow me, otherwise you can stay here,” she said. “But, the rules are as such: You get to play the game. It takes five minutes. If you fail, you forget everything about the game. If you win, you remember everything. That is it. Then you will be on your way.” She looked at me. “Please enjoy our hospitality.”

“Thank you, ma’am,” I said.

“I can’t believe you,” Dack Fel muttered to me.

“Enjoy coming out with half your brains,” I said back.

“I will,” Dack Fel said. “She seems nice.”

“Well, she does seem nice,” I admitted.

“You should probably try to see if she can teach you how to use the wand,” he whispered to me before following the woman into the next room.

I’ll figure it out myself, I thought.

Five minutes later, Dack Fel exited the door and then looked around, confused.

“Did you win?” I asked him.

“Did I win what?” he said.

“Iunno,” I said. “The box thing.”

He was confused.

“I guess not,” he said. “I was close. But wait … was I? I guess I’ll never know.”

“Thank you for the tea,” I said to the butler.

“You’re welcome,” he said.

I’d eaten all of the cookies.

“We’re open any time you’d like to try,” the old woman said to me.

“Thank you,” I said carefully and headed out the front door.

“Did you ask her about the wand?” Dack Fel asked once we were in the street.

“No!” I said.

“Why?” he asked.

“Because I’ll figure it out,” I said. “It’s not that hard.”

“Yeah, but it’s been months,” he said. “Days.”

“It’s been a week!” I said.

“You were scared to do the box, but at least I didn’t eat anything in the demon house,” Dack Fel said.

“Meh,” I said.

We returned to the inn about an hour after we’d left. We found Arya and John Wayne finishing their meal.

“So, how did you guys do?” John Wayne asked.

“He didn’t do very well,” I said.

“I was close, I think,” Dack Fel said.

“I had cookies,” I said. “They were buttery … and some had chocolate on them and there were these other ones that had large pieces of sugar. And the tea was all right.”

“The first thing I want to do tomorrow is get a pet,” Dack Fel said.

“A pet?” I asked.

“A pet,” he said.

“Like a rat?” I asked.

“No.”

“Cat?”

“Do I look like a rat person?”

“Kind of.”

“Dog?”

“Dogs are fine but I don’t want to worry about a dog.”

“Frog?”

“Frog, no.”

“I’m going to look for a bard, because I bet a bard would know something about these specs.”

I took out the spectacles I’d found.

“Sir sir sir,” the innkeeper said to Dack Fel. “No animals on the property. When you leave.”

“That’s fine,” Dack Fel said.

“Thank you,” the innkeeper said.

“I’ll look for a place,” Dack Fel said.

“Thank you,” the innkeeper said. “Thank you. I’m sorry, we don’t have animals upstairs. I’m sorry.”

“That’s fine,” Dack Fel said.

“How did he hear?” John Wayne asked.

“This place is nicer than I would have thought if they don’t allow animals,” I said.

“I imagine the incense wouldn’t be good for animals,” Dack Fel said.

I gave him a look.

“Yeah,” he said. “Incense can kill birds.”

“They turn away druids and rangers and wizards with familiars?” I said.

“I don’t think you have to worry about a familiar pooping on the carpet,” he said.

“Well, if I had a dog, I wouldn’t worry about it either,” I said. “Oh, dogs that Halflings ride, sometimes, I hear. Not in Cheshire. We ride small horses.”

We talked about else to do that next day. Dack Fel suggested we help the man who was moving.

“I’m not very strong,” I groaned. “I can’t lift things.”

“Maybe we can go kill some rats,” he said.

“I’d like to go kill some rats,” John Wayne said.

“We should’ve killed the rats instead,” Arya said.

“I will supervise,” I said. “As you move the furniture.”

“Fine!” Dack Fel said. “Then be the motivator. I’ll get you a little megaphone.”

“A megaphone? Yes!” I said, suddenly excited. “Would you, really?”

He nodded.

“Yes yes yes!” I said.

“I’ll get it enchanted for you,” he said. “Make you louder.”

“You don’t have get it enchanted,” I said. “I’m very loud already.”

“Yeah, I know,” he said.

“So, we’ll go in the morning, after breakfast?” I said. “Go and do the thing?”

“Do the thing,” Dack Fel said. “After that we can go kill some rats.”

“Kill some rats?” I said. “What are you talking about?”

“There’s another quest that says we can go kill rats for a guy,” he said.

“They probably have all kinds of terrible diseases,” I said.

“Well, yeah,” he replied. “Wear boots.”

“I’ll have to buy some boots,” I said. “Some hip waders.”

“You don’t have boots?” he said.

“I have shoes,” I said, pointing them out.

My little boots only came up to my ankles.

I headed up the stairs for bed. I put my money in for the next day into my little box. I noticed it didn’t even clank. Then I went into my room, locked the door behind me, latched the shutters, and went quickly to sleep.

* * *

I slept in the next morning, the soft bed being so comfortable. The sun was well over the horizon before I got up, cleaned up a little, and headed down to the taproom. They had porridge with berries in it for the meal. There was honey and brown sugar and fresh milk as well. I got a big bowl and sat down with the others, who had already eaten, and dug in.

John Wayne left immediately but the other two sat with me while I ate my breakfast.

Dack Fel told me we were to report to the Thieves’ Guild that day. He noted the man didn’t give us a time so I figured I could eat first. We decided to meet later for lunch. Then Dack Fel and I went to the guild.

I found out breaking Rooster’s legs was a bit of a running gag by the Thieves’ Guild. It happened every few weeks. I also found out the beggars were the information for the Thieves’ Guild and they were run by the Thieves’ Guild. Klein, who was the man who had been in the place when we’d first come there, also told us about the guild.

“Thanks for that thing yesterday,” he told us. “I was really, really bored. Everybody is allowed into the Thieves’ Guild if you are a citizen.”

He took out a little book like the man at the main gate had.

“If you put your hand in this, it registers you with us,” he said. “We take 35 percent commission of anything you do in the slums. It is your area to practice train and hopefully not get killed. It’s a big playground for thieves. Do not kill anybody here or we will turn you in. You can settle your stuff otherwise almost as violently as you want. No maiming. No killing.”

“What about self-defense?” I asked.

“Self-defense is fine,” he said. “No problems with that. Most people just laugh at the other people anyway.”

“So, we’re only allowed to thieve in the slums?” I asked.

“In this city, yes,” he said.

“You’re not really allowed to thieve most places, Rory,” Dack Fel said to me.

“By the guild, I mean,” I said. “I don’t care about the government.”

“Yes,” Klein said.

“The guild says we can only, say, pick pockets in the slums,” I said.

“We condone it in the slums,” he said. “If you pick-pocket anything else, you still owe us. We don’t ask you where you get it from.”

“Okay,” I said. “You don’t care, though.”

“Nope,” he said.

“That’s all I need,” I said.

“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” he said. “You need to pick-pocket in the slums.”

He winked at me.

“Right right,” I said. “Only in the slums.”

I winked back.

Dack Fel asked if he went to another town, would there be another representative he could talk to and the man said as long as he registered there, it was good, so long as they were under the Luxit Sol authority. He noted the government had its hands in a lot of things and they liked to make sure their people were prepared. As long as people had a safe outlet to do it in, it was fine.

I put my hand in the book and screamed, trying to trick Dack Fel, who didn’t respond.

“What the **** are you doing?” Klein asked.

“Well, my friend there, I was trying to trick him,” I said.

“Oh,” Klein said.

“A joke,” I went on. “It didn’t work.”

“Apparently,” he said.

“These are the Halfling jokes he’s been talking about,” Dack Fel said.

I felt rather foolish.

When Dack Fel did it, I noticed his information now noted he was part of the Thieves’ Guild.

“So, what you’re telling me know is wherever we go, they’re going to know we’re in the thieves’ guild,” Dack Fel said. “And keep an eye on us.”

“That only comes up for us and actual military documentation,” Klein said.

“That’s a relief,” Dack Fel said.

“Like if they needed to pull you up because you did something wrong, they would know you’re with us,” Klein said. “And they would come asking us.”

“And which you would say …?” Dack Fel said. “You would reprimand us, right?”

“Oh yeah, you would be found, depending on what you did,” Klein said.

“Shouldn’t get caught,” I said.

“I don’t plan on doing anything really bad, so …” Dack Fel said.

“I don’t plan on getting caught,” I said.

“We should go practice and see how much we can steal today,” Dack Fel said.

“Well, it’s almost lunchtime,” I replied. “We should go back and meet the others.”

Klein told us more about the guild and when I asked if we were to bring the 35 percent to the guild hall, he told us there was another way.

“Whatever you take, you cut, you take, you pebble,” he said. “You give to the beggars and you’ll get it back.”

“Wait,” I said. “What?”

“Whatever you cut and take you pebble and drop to the beggars and get out,” he said again.

“Pebble?” I said. “What do you mean ‘pebble?’”

“You give it to−” Dack Fel started to say.

“You touch the pebble to whatever you have,” Klein said. “And give it to the beggars.”

“Oh, the pebble to the beggar?” I asked.

“Give … you’ll see,” he said.

“All right,” I said.

“You’ll see,” he said.

“All right,” I said. “We give the guild everything and they give us back or do we just give you your cut.”

“Everything,” he said.

“Give everything and you’ll give us our cut?” I said.

“Pebble it and drop it to the beggar,” he said.

There was that word again. Pebble. I had no idea what he meant by that.

“Okay,” I said, very confused.

“And if you don’t, they’ll know,” Dack Fel told me like he knew what the man was talking about.

“Pebble it,” Klein said.

“Rory,” Dack Fel said.

“I don’t know what the hell pebbling it is!” I said.

“I’ll show you,” Dack Fel said.

“Touch the pebble to the bag you stole,” Klein said.

“All right,” I said. “I touch the pebble to the bag I stole?”

“Yeah,” Klein said.

“And then give the pebble to the beggars?” I said.

“Touch the pebble to the bag and then give it to the beggars,” Klein said again.

“Give the pebble to the beggars,” Dack Fel said.

“Give the pebble to the beggars?” I said.

“No,” Klein said.

“Give the bag to the beggars?” I said.

“Yes,” he said.

“Oh,” Dack Fel said. “I was kind of lost too.”

“And then, see!” I said, pointing to Dack Fel. “See. It’s not just me.”

“Pebble the bag and then give it to the beggars,” Klein said again.

“Oh, the pebble registers what’s in the bag?” Dack Fel said.

“Yeah!” Klein said.

“Oh!” Dack Fel said. “Okay.”

“Pebble the bag and give it to the beggars,” Klein said again.

“And then what happens?” I asked.

“You’ll get your cut,” he said. “It’ll show up. Trust us.”

“Okay,” I said. “I just didn’t understand. I’m sorry.”

“I trust you,” Dack Fel said.

“Gods, we’re thieves, we know everything!” Klein said. “What do you think?”

“You’re asking us to trust thieves,” Dack Fel said. “That’s funny.”

We all had a good laugh about that. Then he gave us each a magical pebble. How bizarre.

Dack Fel and I headed back to the inn, Dack Fel going off on his own and meeting me there a few minutes later. Arya and John Wayne were also there and we all had lunch.

“They sent me 65 percent of a rat,” Dack Fel whispered to us.

“What are you talking about?” I asked.

“I pebbled a rat,” he said. “It turned into cheese.”

“It turned into cheese?” I said.

“They kept 35 percent of that rat.”

“Oh. It’s magic. I didn’t get that. That’s very … that’s an interesting system.”

“I didn’t think they would take the rat. What are they going to do?”

“I don’t know. I guess it depends on how good of a sense of humor Klein has.”

“I think we can only get away with that once, though.”

“I think I’ll get away with it not at all. What happens if you do that to a person?”

“I don’t …”

“Go out on the street and see what happens!”

“What would it turn ‘em into?”

He suggested it wouldn’t work on people.

“Babies?” I said.

“Babies?” Dack Fel said. “I think they’re still considered people.”

“I don’t know,” I said. “I guess we’ll find out if we’re ever in prison. Touch ourselves and see what happens.”

“That’s the perfect way to get out of jail,” he said.

“I heard you ran into somebody’s legs,” Arya said to me. “Who does that?”

“Well, I was getting fed up with that stupid quest,” I told her.

“So you decided to take somebody’s leg out?” she said.

“Yes!” I replied.

“With your head?”

“Well, he wasn’t doin’ anything,” I pointed at Dack Fel. “So I said ‘Screw it. He can have the next one.’”

“I was having a moral dilemma about breaking some guy’s legs,” Dack Fel said.

“Well I didn’t figure if they were real legs …” I said. “All right. If they were real legs, they wouldn’t have broke like that.”

“You didn’t know they were real legs!” Dack Fel said.

“You would have broken them!” Arya said.

“No, just would have knocked him down,” I said. “He would have been fine.”

“Get away from me,” she said.

“It’s because I’m lonely,” I said. “I need some companionship.”

“Well, you’re not going to find it here,” she said.

“Oh,” I said.

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