The Sorcerer looked at the most recent message with a pause, the information in it was a bit odd.
The Final Match will be in Prusnia.
0 of 8 Contestants have arrived.
Countdown to Begin: 259023 seconds.
Prusnia was an empty city and none other knew it better than the Shadow Conclave, the organization whose creation had emerged from the city’s legendary destruction.
Decades ago, a mist had raised and a race of dark creatures had laid siege to the city. They caused the death of all occupants in the hour it took for the three founders of Shadow Conclave, Shadow, Sorcerer and Dark Runner, to steal a vital part to their transportation vessel, which caused it and the creatures to go back from whence they came.
It was still, to this day, very much uninhabited. She rolled up the scroll and took out another one. She checked back the House of Magni, to make sure the information was accurate, and upon confirmation, began to cast a teleportation spell. Because of the distance, it would take a few jumps, but she would not immediately go to Prusnia. Instead, she would stop at Bolkevich, a neighboring city that was smaller, not the place of event… but it had people. And restaurants.
They had been given three days to reach Prusnia, which made sense for the others, but the Sorcerer had the best mobility of all thieves when it came to long distance. Her teleportation spells were her trademark, and she would use them to have two days of relaxation.
While she cast her spell, she thought about nothing but the location she was teleporting to. She held her staff, her hands were wrapped around its top, and slowly, smoke began to be generated from its bottom. It spiraled, purple in nature and growing in volume until she was surrounded. Again, slowly, it subsided and was sucked back into her staff, revealing a new alley, a new city, the city of Bolkevich.
She undressed the robe and hood she was wearing, of a darker purple that matched her spells, and put it away in her own personal magical pouch. She pulled her hair back from her chest, allowing its blonde to fall down across her back, feeling it brushing her behind while it settled. Finally, she whispered a few words and waved her hand around her face, removing the magical glow off her blue eyes and pink lips, which made them look purple.
She looked at herself, pleased with her refined and intellectual figure, a striped buttoned shirt and light pants, both complimenting her clear skin and hair. She added spectacles, just for show, and she was ready to interact with the city as a normal woman, named Morgana.
She was short and slender, not to say thin, and had a straight, lean face that did not look friendly or inviting. Despite it all, she behaved herself with the grace of royalty, and thus, eyes were upon her the moment she entered the establishment. She was used to it, almost as much as she was to ignoring it.
She asked for a meal, a heavy meat dish that seemed to come as a surprise for the bartender, accompanied by a strong alcoholic drink she couldn’t pronounce. She ate and drank with dignity and, most importantly, in silence. She thought best during a good meal so she used the time to consider the competition.
Disqualifications were The Bronze Alchemist, Thieving Magpie, the Schoolboy, the Illustrious Illusionist, the Magnificent Magician, my word all these complicated names…it matters not, who do I know is in the competition that hasn’t been disqualified? She took a tamed sniff at her drink like it was wine, rocking it slightly as if preparing it to be sipped and tasted even though she had drunk two glasses of it already. The Shadow, of course. The Circus Freak, the ghastly man I met, and hope never again encounter… The Hunter, who caused my arrested, I really must return the favor… the Don, a silly sort of thief, I’m surprised he is still in the competition. So that leaves three that I am unaware of… She finally drank the glass, in one shot, counting her blessings that the Illusionist had lost already.
She had witnessed him getting the Circus Freak into jail by making him see a window where there was none; confident she had made enough money to survive the round, she followed him until the raid started, and then hit him with a flare spell at the right time. It disoriented him long enough for some guards to catch him.
Being in jail by the time the round ended cost a lot of points. The Illusionist was a rather troublesome foe to contend with so she was relieved he was out of the competition, even if he was also competing on behalf of the House of Magni. She didn’t much care for the others, except for maybe the Zookeeper, which was also blissfully out of the competition as well.
I see no reason to change my modus operandi, she nodded at herself, mouth full, still, very disappointing that the Dark Runner is out of the competition.
After her meal, she headed to the bathroom and teleported out. She went to a hotel, asked for what rooms it had so she knew which was empty.
“I see. I’m terribly sorry to admit I made a mistake, I cannot afford that price. Thank you for your time.”
“Not a problem, mam. We have cheaper accommodations, however?”
“No, that will not be necessary. I merely wanted to avoid having to ask a friend, but I suppose we should just be grownups about these things. I shall stay with her after all.”
“I think that’s a good thing, friends are important, especially when we can count on them,” the nice manager told her.
“Certainly so. Good day,” she left the hotel, turned and headed to a spot where she wouldn’t be seen, and then teleported into the empty room. She wouldn’t be able to have room service, but after the meal she had enjoyed, she wouldn’t need it.
She undressed down to her underwear and smiled gladly from beneath the silky smooth covers of her bed. She was ahead of all the thieves and about to enjoy some well-deserved rest. A good bed, a good meal, and with the Shadow on her first run and the Dark Runner already out of the game, the competition was all hers to claim.
Life was good.
Countdown to Begin: 3 seconds.
“At long last,” she exasperated, tired of waiting. She had been waiting for three hours.
The Competition in Prusnia has now begun.
She stood up, shaking a bit as if to wake her muscles. She brushed the dust off her cloak and looked around to decide where to go first. The hood was back on, the eyes and lips once again glowed to match her cloak and her yellow hair once again flowed into the cloak at her front like a scarf she had not rolled around her neck.
She quickly decided to just go.
She took the time to pick the lock the normal way and, going in, she was soon to discover the house was empty. While it looked ready to accommodate a family, it was obviously uninhabited. Prusnia was, as she thought, still a ghost town.
Yet, there is bound to be some sort of challenge, she considered, emptying a cabinet of valuables into the dimensional void that was her pouch, the conclave would not have chosen this city were it completely devoid of difficulty.
By the time she left the house, the surroundings now offered less visibility than before. Looking around, she observed that a fog was settling in at a very fast rate, enveloping all around her in its natural cloak of obfuscation.
“Hm.” She focused casting a spell to help her sense when abnormally large physical exertions were taking place, she used it catch notice of any thief operating near her. “Might as well be doubly careful…” She concentrated, holding out her hands together, cupping her staff.
It all glowed purple, from her hands into the staff and then up to its upper tip, atop which a sphere of fluorescent purple pulsed into existence, wide each second.
“Eveuka…refse,” she quietly whispered. The sphere blinked and became a two-dimensional circle facing up, a small sphere having split from it. The circle was now projecting a three-dimensional image of all that surrounded the sphere.
“Good,” she nodded content. The floating sphere reacted to the nod by moving up the street. “Pity that I can handle only one of these.”
She felt certain the conclave had prepared something special for that last round so she decided to do her initial rounds the old-fashioned way, which is to say, the powerless way. She wanted to be sure she would not expend her energies teleporting about unnecessarily. Additionally, she would eventually cross paths with competitors.
She went inside a three-floor building, stealing her away across all floors, leaving her probe at the door. Returning, she moved the probe up and down the street a little and, satisfied, left to jog to the next building.
She was at it for a couple of hours, until the time arrived to face a competitor. As she was leaving a building, she saw through her probe that there was a boy at her door. Giving it a closer inspection, it became apparent she was dealing with a young street urchin that was eyeing her sphere, leaning in perplexed.
Well, this is…odd. What is a child doing here? Or is this some trick? She thought about it but, with the illusionist out of the fight, there was no one else who could conjure up the image of a child to entrap someone, but maybe one of the thieves she didn’t know were responsible. She thought about avoiding it but she saw as the kid called out for someone, he looked very scared. She decided to go meet him.
She opened the door, very much startling the boy. She looked from inside her hood at the boy who looked back at her wide-eyed and terrified. She took her hood off and smiled at him. Immediately, he softening his gaze into one of relief.
“Well then, and who might you be, youngling?”
“Name’s Jaimey, suh,” the child timidly replied, hands behind his back, “I’m afraid I’m sortah lost.”
“Lost?” That was incredibly suspicious. Unless the boy had gotten lost way outside Bolkevich and taken the wrong road, something a street boy would never do, there was something off there. She paced back.
“Okay, what is this?” Her mind ran trying to find reasons. “This city stands absolutely deserted, there is no way you just got lost.”
“No really, mum! Some mean person brought me here, as bait, they said,” and then it finally occurred to her, at the same time as the willingness to believe the boy, and the compassion to help him. But she fought that thanks to the realization of who that might be, due to the particularity of the title that came to mind…the Street Rat. She put her hood back on and closed the door in the child’s face. She walked away, looking at the projection of the circle to see the child’s face contorted into an amusing grin.
Street Rat was a title that had only been held by four individuals, despite the fact the first Street Rat was contemporary to the first Shadow and the second Sorcerer. For that reason, the title was as infamous as it could get, but so seldom in use that it was hard to remember it.
I am not aware of what the Street Rat is capable of but I do remember they are supposed to be young street urchins. I better just leave and avoid the confrontation.
She made the sphere lift up, catching a glimpse of the child opening the door to follow her inside. She skipped up the stairs and used the sphere to see the surrounding roofs, she would be teleporting to one of them.
“Miss please,” the child called out, sounding scared, “I’m scared.”
She really wanted to help, whatever part of her cared for other people wanted to give the child what assistance she could. But she could not lower her guard that easily, she would not.
“You must believe I am the sort of idiot to fall for your ruse,” she yelled down the stairs, all the while concentrating on her staff, preparing her dislocation spell, “but I assure you I am not.”
She whispered the words and vanished away, leaving behind nothing but a smoke-like residue of the magic expended to cast the spell. Once outside, taking a moment to look around, and gain some situational awareness, she noticed how much thicker the mist had become in the hours that had gone by.
“Eerie,” she commented, then focusing on gaining more distance with one more teleportation spell.
She said the words and away she went.
“WHA!” The yelp startled her, surging as soon as she appeared. Gasping, she looked to see a disheveled young man wearing an eye patch, looking back at her all startled.
“Gotcha!” He leaped at her. She tried to step back and out of the way but he was fast and swift and she was completely caught off guard. He tackled her to the ground. “You’re under arrest in the name of the law!”
“What?!” Her mind raced as she struggled against his hold, “what law?? Unhand me!”
“The law of money of course!” She felt a blade on her neck, which presented enough motivation to stop her struggling. “I’m being paid good commission dough for every one o’ you I take to a jail cell. So let’s get going!”
Paid? To arrest us? What? She could try to teleport, she was still grabbing onto the staff, but the man would be going with her if she did so while they were physically connected. “Who are you?”
“Name’s Dazin, prime time thief from the northwestern lands, but then, you wouldn’t know about me would you, miss world greatest?”
She opened her eyes in realization.
The Shadow Conclave had hired reject thieves to hunt their contestants down. Thieves knew how they thought and operated, and had their senses doubly trained to boot. They’d be quicker on their feet, too. She hated to admit it but luck had wronged her far too much in that momentary instance, she had completely chosen the wrong rooftop to teleport to.
“Just let us maintain calm, Dazin. You have caught me, congratulations.”
“You’re damn right. Haha.”
She was taken to jail, and while escape would be simple, the time she lost walking there was bad enough of a loss to contend with.
She couldn’t help but grow very cross. Indirectly and through no real attempt, the Street Rat had bested her.