It took her half an hour to get through the building. A long time to be sure, but none of it wasted. Looking out the last balcony, she saw nothing that would alert her. She sat down in its cover and again focused her senses, prodding her instincts for a hint at which direction to take. Oddly enough, only one direction felt feasible, which meant all others held no prey.
Is a competitor in the vicinity? Either that or every neighboring house to that building had nothing of value, which was unlikely, there were many of them.
She peaked out again, straining her eyes in distrust, but still, she did not see anything suspicious. Her instinct was alert however.
I should take to the floor…
With that thought, she lightly dropped onto the floor, landing in a silent crouch. After giving another look around, she stood up, slightly, and began to move.
Crossing by the door though, she felt a trap under her foot. Luckily, her reflexes were so keen as far as traps were concerned that she aborted the step before it applied any serious pressure. She looked down to see what was hiding in the dust. She turned out of the way and leaned down, blowing it off to find a small and circular gizmo.
What is that? It had wires, it was made from different metals and irons, it was definitely not a normal trap. I did not expect traps in the middle of a city. Why is it here? Again she looked around and again she neither saw nor heard anything that would worry her. But the trap was there, right in front of her, right by the door of the building she had just finished working on. Maybe the ground was not the best of ideas, she reconsidered, stepping towards the nearest house with a low roof.
When she was heading there however, a large noise surged up from around the street. It was loud and alarming, and continuous, much alike a siren. Curiosity flared in her but she pushed it aside and moved away from the noise, heading towards where she had felt the presence of valuables. Militia would be coming, drawn by the noise, and residents would awake. She stayed ground-level so that the buildings would provide cover.
Fast-stepping, she trailed across the first wall, looked up and down the street and then crossed it. She did it a couple more times until she found a house she figured was worth the stop. She deftly opened a window and went inside, crawled past the floor-bed the couple was using, futons they were called, and into the living room. She was especially cautious since the siren could still be heard so she was unsure whether or not the couple was really asleep because of it.
She made out with little more than a gold watch and a few ear rings, but at least she found their wallets pretty quickly. The siren had gone silent by the time she left the house; she turned a corner but was then forced to stop as another source of audio pollution popped up.
It was different from the previous one since it did not simply switch on, it gradually grew into notice. And then louder and closer until it became evident it was coming in her direction.
She hid behind the wall of a house and was thinking about her options when she realized the noise was laughter.
Maniacal, over-enjoyed cackling was speeding in her direction.
What…not only was she a bit dumbfounded but the man was faster than she had anticipated.
He crossed by her in a red and black blur, the ground dusting off in his wake. His head had a hat, dangling along with his movement, reminding Zaniya of a jester.
He had long gone from her sight when more steps came to her attention. She opened her eyes wide as three guards stopped in the middle of the street. One of them, the more armored guard using even a helmet, bent over his knees. The others, more impeccably uniformed and with no helmets, looked up at the sky, all of them breathing heavily tired.
“Huff…huff…damn that thief…he’s too fast.”
She was already in their peripheral vision, albeit a bit hidden by the shadows. The dangling gaslight balloon was on the other end of her street, and could show her at any moment, if it just moved a few inches. Her fate was hanging on the whims of the wind.
“That scoundrel will yet spend the night behind bars!”
She breathed in, silently, steeling her nerves and lying in wait. She couldn’t move a single inch, less they notice her.
“We are getting reports of a number of felonies being committed all over the city,” another commented, “this is unheard of, there are too many of these criminals about.”
“Well, let’s not dally, we might still catc–”
She felt the light shine upon her face for but a second but that was enough for the impeccably uniformed man.
She turned and ran.
Ordinarily, she could have engaged them and feigned ignorance, but knowing she looked like a foreigner, and with so many of her competitors failing to be stealthy, she could not afford being stopped and jailed for questioning, it would waste too much of her time. Additionally, the guards were already tired so the odds were good that she could escape.
She turned a corner with them all on her tail.
“Hut hut hut…”
“Stop already! I’m tired!”
She kept looking for a quick enough way to climb up to a roof, but luck really had abandoned her, meeting two story buildings after two story buildings, or taller. Then she turned a corner and saw a man climbing out of a house’s ground floor window.
A black man wearing a dark blue vest and harem pants with a turban atop his head looked at her with almost comical surprise. He leapt out and ran ahead of her, joining her in an attempt to escape.
They were approaching the end of the street, a cross section leading left and right, so he glanced back yelling, “go right,” but quickly showed his comical surprise when he saw she had her blowgun on her mouth.
To his credit, he hopped and impressively flipped his body around, but it was all wildly since he couldn’t see where she had shot the dart. By the time his feet landed, the poison was already working on numbing his muscles. The effect lasted only a few seconds, that would be more than enough. She turned and ran while her opponent seemed to trip over himself, tumbling against a wall.
Surprisingly, that did not help that much.
“Uff, I’ll uh…take care of this guy.”
“You do that!”
“We shall pursue on!”
She sighed, her breathing gaining a hint of strain.
“You will not escape!”
“Surrender yourself to the judgment of the law!”
That was definitely not the plan.
She thought of yelling back but she did not find any words worth yelling. She felt sweat streaming past her forehead and began to consider she might not escape her pursuers.
A balloon of gaslight flashed across her face and that gave her an idea. She loaded a clean dart into her blowgun and aimed and shot, bursting one of them. Unfortunately, all that happened was that the balloon burst and withered in a small puff of flame.
“What was that for?”
“Who knows how a criminal mind functions!”
She had assumed it would at least flare up and flash brightly, if not explode. But none of that happened and by the time she looked back to her path she realized she had walked into an alley. The building on the left was not as tall as all that, she could perhaps climb it rapidly if she had time.
“Do not even consider it, girl!” The sound of swords leaving their scabbards filled the dark and she turned to face them. They stepped closer and she stepped back, gauging distances, thinking about speed and timing and whether or not she could get high enough fast enough not to get cut.
“Why are you nearly naked?”
“Woman looks like she walked out of the swamps.”
“I did nothing,” she tried.
“You ran,” the blonde commented.
“That is one thing too many, tonight at least…you will at least follows us back to–”
He was interrupted by a flash of smoke. Zaniya had closed her eyes in time, having seen the odd object falling in-between them and possessing the reflexes to react quickly enough.
They did no such thing.
Zaniya quickly turned and accelerated in a few steps, following up the back wall, then she hopped against the wall, walked across it and jumped off with a dive for the left roof. She grabbed onto the ledge, kicked against the wall when her body’s momentum pushed her legs against it, and pulled herself up.
She quickly grabbed and vaulted over the tallest part of the triangular roof so she would be in cover from her opponent. There, she quickly turned and peeked to try and find whoever had tried to get her caught. All the while, the guards recovered.
“She has vanished!”
“More than likely took to the roofs, one of these residents is bound to have some stairs.”
She heard them stepping towards the tallest building but her eyes were squinting, focused on finding him. She found the mark sooner than later.
She did not think many would be able to see it, a humanoid silhouette half outside a shadow on the wall. She focused and concentrated, and amplified, making out the womanly features of her competitor.
The Shadow. They had warned her about the Shadow, as well as the Sorcerer; the two greatest lines of titled thieves and most likely to be her greatest challenges.
She pulled out her blowgun but by the time she put it to her mouth, the silhouette was gone.
Sweating and feeling nervous, she heard the guards carrying a ladder out of the big building. It was not a good time for a confrontation. She turned and leapt to the next roof.
Is the Shadow responsible for the trap I found earlier? She was still focusing on gaining some distance from the patrolling officers of the law, and that bomb, that bomb was to render me incapable to escape…
She dove again over the height of a triangular roof onto a side not illuminated and there, she lied down, finally able to catch her breath.
She again looked around, and in doing so, felt frustrated. I am allowing my senses to be perturbed. I am allowing myself to be prey.
She peered out in the opposite direction, forcing confidence to be surge within her. She thought back to her life and the predators and tombs she had faced and more accurately leveled the threat these thieves posed. They couldn’t even hurt her.
I will perform the task and prove myself the better thief. And if she or anyone else wishes a confrontation, then they will find out I am the very best.
Daring, she put the blowgun away and stood up, looking around with a challenging and mean face.
They will know why I am called The Hunter.