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Thread: Tick, Tock (A Thief fanfiction)

  1. #1
    New Member
    Registered: Apr 2011

    Tick, Tock (A Thief fanfiction)

    Hello everyone,

    I'm here to share with you the story I've been working on the last two years. I figured it was about time to expose it to the world. Right now it sits at about 17,000 words, not finished. I'll be posting it in chapters. It started out as a serious story but...well...the ridiculousness sort of sept through the words and as you will see, things become quite absurd in Garrett's world. I hope you enjoy it. I have edited it a couple times but it is possible there will be errors, so read at your own peril! Let me know what you think. Thank you,


    “Tick, Tock”

    Jan something, 1345

    He woke up as usual: the day half-past, the tower unbearably warm.

    Garrett shuffled to the window. Checked the lock. All was well.

    The City, His City, below, had already endured the heat of a rainless summer. Garrett had not. It was late enough that most of that had passed. Still- he had woken up sweating.

    Garrett unfolded the rag on the floor.

    Bread tumbled out.

    Only two mold spores- fresh.

    His meal for the “day” passed quick. His stomach complained. Garrett ran his hands over his ribs. He was the same as everyone else. Starving. Alive in a place where survival was day to day.

    Splintered between the axis of canals, laughed at between the balustrades of silk, the mismatched stones continued on. There wasn’t a question to what life meant- life meant being dropped through the slats of this place and being glad you had partway moldy bread to eat each day.

    Garrett studied the crumbs in the rag. Cassandra- or whatever the noble’s name had been- in her room, beside the birdcage, swarming in the lyres and violas, he’d read a page of a tattered book in which she had said she felt trapped as the finch. He had laughed. And he had wanted to toss it in the flames. But, you know- stealth and all.

    Garrett guessed he was closer to freedom than most of the people here. But this noble- Cassandra, or Cathryn- whatever- all she had to do was whistle and the horses would come, ribless horses stocked in fat, ready to run her to the countryside or Audale or whatever the hell it was she cared to go. Garrett could go far, but not that far.

    The thief tossed the rag into a pile of old hoods. The ground beneath him shook. The hour was passing.

    The clocktower spat it out: Three ‘o clock.

    Garrett hardly noticed the sound anymore. The screaming gearteeth were just background. This was his home.

    For now.

    Unlatching the bolt, he clambered down the hatch. A second passed down there, noticed only by the clockface. Garrett was silhouetted in the chrysanthemum haze of the glass. Ladders, and more ladders. Ladders down the ticking steps, down to where he couldn’t hear time pass.

    No one had known that the old man had died.

    Garrett had.

    He hadn’t wanted to. He could smell death from the streets, and it wasn’t a direction he’d planned to go in. But the clocktower window was wide open. What sort of thief walks away from that?

    In through the window, in through the clocktower. Just an old man’s bed. A clock changer who had died curled up in the sphere his clock made in the lunar light. No one to ever know. Who cared about time changers?

    To be fair, Garrett hadn’t just made an express delivery down the canals. He’d buried the old man, didn’t even toss him in the waters. A nice little grave in some hammerite ruins, with poppies to the left and rusting hammers to the right. Not like any thief wanted to inherit a haunted clocktower. What a pain.

    Anyways- the place was mostly spiral stairs and old boxes. Dust. Now that Garrett was a new tenant, there had been a significant uptick in unsellable candlesticks (seriously? Just because the gold is scuffed? Do you even know where I had to carry that thing to get it out of there? Nevermind. You don’t want to know). Candlesticks and unusable purple vases.

    It had only been a month but it was home. A home to crawl back to just before dawn pummeled the ever-craved night.

    Garrett thumbed the hood on the door hook.

    It was market time. Food time.

    He kicked the loose floorboard. The floor tunnel opened. The old man hadn’t been safe, not with that splintered door that had, swear to builder, something like bear teeth marks puncturing the inner frame. Garret had since done some…renovations.

    Down the tunnel he traveled, abandoned by light, guided by memory lone.

    Whale fat, wax- those were luxuries. If he went around snagging all the candles in the City, well, then they’d know they were dealing with a poor thief, wouldn’t they? Better to keep up the illusion that he was classless. Some mysterious thief that could blend into any echelon.

    After the switch, past the grate, and Garrett was home free.

    His City. Garrett’s teeth gnashed.

    He’d always had a casual distaste for daylight, but that had since blossomed into an all-out phobia. Out Here made his empty stomach dig its nails in. Even with the hood on, Garrett couldn’t shake the sense he was always being watched. Maybe because he had always been the watcher. Maybe because he was keeper bait these days, the little gutter rats popping in and out like relatives in a revolving door.

    We want you for this, Garrett. We want you for That.

    Garrett shook his head. He watched the blacksmith stroll by. The dog pack followed. Next was the baker woman.

    Any one of them potential annoying keepers in disguise.

    Garrett shouldered into the crowd. The dogs nipped at his heels. He swiveled his boots away. Next up were the feral children. Even worse. They took one look at Garrett, and shrugged. Rubbed the coal from their eyes. Scurried off to pull at some other pockets.

    Garrett weaved through the cobbles. Dodged the brown rain discharged from the windows above. Tried to weather his clenched heart. The more he feared the streets, the more his focus waned and the likelier he was to get caught. Some vicious cycle.

    The half-arch separated the streets ahead. Garrett wandered into the left of the crux. The gas-powered lamps faded to the taste of parchment and ash. Sweet, unchanging Old Town. Garrett’s eyes lit with its quarried rock. The stone was local, so local that some cornerstone somewhere was meant to have a crayman’s claw buried in it. Garrett would’ve entertained the idea, had it been profitable in some way.

    He itched his wrist. There was another thing to worry about.

    Plague hadn’t hit anywhere near a hundred miles of the west yet, but news traveled, even to the City. Dead people meant abandoned goods, but dead people also meant less food and a damn good chance of Garret being a dead person himself.

    All he wanted was one month. Just one month without disaster, without some world-ending, Garrett-needing event. A month where he could grab out the chateau wine, laugh his way drunkenly up the temple walls and fall asleep in the bishop’s spider-silk, embroidered bed. Maybe even steal the dolly collection behind the headboard. Just for fun.

    Garrett flinched. He tugged his foot out of the mud, having the feeling that things weren’t about to slow down anytime soon.

    Around St. Lyam’s, past the cobbler, and there it was. Marketplace.

    Ah, the smells.

    The smells.

    Mostly of something vaguely fecal and/or dying, but sequestered within those other smells, something that could be edible if cooked above 350.

    That was another thing Garret needed. A good stove. Maybe he could frob that on his nightly rounds, haul it back with him.

    The thief’s stomach beckoned him forward. He rolled his shoulders back. Garrett walked into the marketplace like a dust mote amidst some cathedral window. In the open but not.

    The rows stretched on, precariously close to the canal on the west side. Bored guards milled around the outskirts, put there overzealously by the Captain. They would rather be doing things that weren’t guarding the day’s last stalls. That made them, Garrett thought, very helpful.

    He scanned the bruised apples and withered parsley. Onions that had exceeded the shade of yellow and were proceeding to brown.

    But where were the burrick stakes?

    Juicy little dinosaurs. No longer rare around these parts, not with their crazy king. Burrick races, Burrick Stakes, Royal Burrick Affaris, Burrick ONLY events- the man poured more into his burrick stock than he did into the treasury. Which probably explained why all the fruits were bruised. It was a good thing, though. Meant that a slab was a half dollar per pound.

    A crowd had gathered at the slope in the street. Must have been something important for all those people to be standing around a drain. Garrett picked up a purple carrot. He set it down. He used his periphery to spy on them. They weren’t a crowd. They were a mob.

    “We want food!” they shouted. “We must eat!”

    Seemed rational enough.

    “Burrick or bust!”


    Garrett frowned away from the carrots. He followed a woman to the edge of the crowd. His hands were beginning to shake. He needed his burrick fix, just like everyone else. Garrett’s arms folded.

    “You have your food,” a guard said. Some scruffy looking fellow.

    “I see all sorts of food here. Go eat if you’re hungry.”

    “But what about the burrick?! We need protein! We need burrick!”

    “In accordance with the king, Burrick is no longer allowed as a food option. The Noble Burrick is now a protected species under law. Only selected hunting parties dictated by the king will be allowed to poach the animal, and I’m guessing that none of us here are going to be called by the king to one of his private gettogethers. Now: put down the pitchforks.”

    Garrett’s arms unfolded. Absurd. His life had become totally absurd.

    No burrick, no peace, and sunlight everywhere.

    Garrett didn’t have to check his clocktower to know it was revolt ‘o clock. Enough of this king business. A kingdom dead of starvation was no kingdom at all.
    But who would ever listen to a thief?

    Garrett skulked away from the crowd, who were tossing blue vases at the guard’s head. He picked up a bag of potatoes that made him gag, leaving 20 cents at the counter.

    “Crazy times, aren’t they?” the potato farmer asked.

    “Couldn’t agree more,” Garrett said.


    Garrett dropped his potatoes. He flourished his blackjack, and pushed it against the potato farmer’s collarbone.

    “Keeper,” he hissed.

    “What?!” the farmer cried.

    “You’re a keeper, aren’t you? Hiding behind your starchy façade?”

    “I swear, sir, I’m just a potato farmer…”

    Garrett’s eyes narrowed.

    He studied the man’s hands. Calloused, from hard labor. His skin, semi-tan. Lacking that keeper “sun deprived corpse” glow. Probably not a keeper.

    Garrett cleared his throat. He tucked his blackjack away. Picked up the potatoes.

    “I was never here.”

    Slouching out of the marketplace, Garrett hit his forehead. What the hell was he doing? Talking to strangers? Abusing the potato man? He felt tension gather in his lower back, find a knot there and settle in.

    Stupid keepers. Making him uptight.

    Stupid King. Making burricks a protected species.

    Keeper or not, the potato man was right:

    These were some crazy times.

  2. #2
    Desperately Dodgy Moderator
    Registered: Nov 2001
    Location: Fields of bluegrass
    I thoroughly enjoyed this! Looking forward to the next chapter.

  3. #3
    Registered: Apr 2003
    Location: Wales
    I lack time for reading at the moment but found myself drawn in to this. I'm very glad the posting problems were sorted out and also look forward to the next part.

  4. #4
    New Member
    Registered: Apr 2011
    Thank you both very much! Here are the next two chapters, since they are both short:

    Jan something else, 1345

    Garrett groaned.

    He groaned some more.

    Not caring if the Royals bust in, he groaned again.

    Hindsight was starting to look pretty damn clear, and it was telling him:


    Stupid plan, stupid, stupid plan.

    But the King had burricks in here. Burricks. Real ones. Imagine that.

    Garrett had spent a week in this Burrick-less hell, a week of potato fever and overflowing chamberpots. He had dragged himself all the way to the city’s outskirts, to the brand-spankin’ new castle, and spent most of his energy on the 12 foot moat swim. He had disabled the power, run the carpets, and shimmied to the kitchen.

    The empty kitchen.

    Turns out there was a big feast going on, big enough that all the courses in an actual meal were steaming in the dining room that had just seen its electric lights return. Somebody must have flipped the power in the basement back on.

    Garrett groaned.

    The hungry thief sulked out of the kitchen. Someplace, somewhere in this castle, there had to be food. Good food.

    Up the servant stairs, through the fifth floor, beyond the knights-


    The king’s room. There was probably wine in there. Old wine. Garrett aimed his noisemaker. The knights turned. Young fellows. Sharp but dumb. They followed the noisemaker, their heads to and fro. Garrett shook his head. It was almost said how they still fell for it.

    The thief’s feet fell into the bearskin rug, and out again. Garrett slunk underneath the electric lights, knowing well their dead zones and shadow trappers. The black oak doors were unlocked. Garrett made a king’s entrance.

    Past the king’s parlor-

    Past the valet’s room-

    To the study.

    The desk was surprisingly uncluttered, littered only with dead wax. Garrett amusedly lifted the documents with his sword. Bills. Correspondences. The things rich men had to say to each other.


    A wax seal in the form of a…dinosaur?

    “King of the burricks,” Garrett muttered. “And not much else, soon.”

    A letter from his mistress. Marked in red ink. Frayed around the edges.

    A notarized statement declaring the burrick to be a species protected under law.

    Well, well, well…

    Garrett smiled. Realizing how weird it felt, he stopped.


    Garrett’s sword tapped the parchment. It fell off the desk. With a little nudge of his foot, it found its way to the king’s still burning fire.


    Garrett took a moment to soak in his craftiness. He took off his gloves, and warmed his hands. He sighed. The fire made him think of Karras. They always did. Garrett breathed in the kindling and pine, and exhaled. The flames wavered.

    “Cold, are we, thief?”

    Garrett swiveled around. His drooping eyelids focused. His king was framed in the doorway, looking more intrigued than alarmed. Garrett sighed again. Damn.

    He swept his glove across the flame, then threw it at the king.

    His majesty recoiled. Garrett took the moment to haul butt to the study window. He was wincing all the way. It had been a good glove…

    “Tell me why you’re here! What do you want?!”

    Garrett threw open the shutters. He clambered in the window frame.

    I just got, Garrett grunted in his mind, what I want. Burricks are no longer a protected species. And that means…

    The thief plunged back into the moat.

    Hunting time.


    February, 1345

    “Would you keep quiet?”

    Abandoning the clocktower via the sewer tunnel wasn’t going to work at all if Eris kept up her hissing.

    Garrett set down the stealth spider. He waved his blackjack at it.

    “Remember your lessons. Sound is the enemy…right, Eris?”

    She blinked all eight eyes. She crouched down. Eris bounced up and down gleefully.

    Garrett sighed.

    He had tried to kill Eris, at first. Who liked spiders? He had put the broad head in the quiver. Garrett’s breathing had slowed, he aimed, and…

    What was she doing? Bouncing? Endlessly?

    Garrett had lowered his bow. The spider started running. Garrett raised the bow again, but she couldn’t have cared more about his presence. She just wanted to run. On the ceilings, on the walls. And then, Eris wanted to bounce.

    Garrett had to come up with a reason to let her live. It wasn’t like she was adorable or anything, or like Garrett actually had a heart or cared about her, no, that definitely had nothing to do with the decision. He decided training a stealth spider would make things easier for him. She could be a good distraction, scare the guards, while he got the loot. And if she got hurt while they were out, well…that would be her fault. Not his.

    Garrett scowled at her.

    Eris reached out a hairy leg and poked his head from the ceiling.

    “This is not funny. We need to go. Now.”

    “That would be wise.”

    Garrett brandished his sword. He heard a sound, just bare, in the shadows.

    Behind his adrenaline, he wondered why the hell they always had to interrupt his sentences.

    A figure slinked out of the shadow, draped in velvet green and impatience.


    Garrett didn’t lower his sword. Eris scuffled toward the keeper.

    “Eris…” Garrett warned.

    “What is that?” The Keeper asked.

    “She’s…nevermind. Get out. This is a keeper free zone.”

    The keeper raised one, steely eyebrow. He lowered it.

    “You’ve made quite a large amount of trouble for yourself.”

    “That’s my business.”

    “Breaking into the castle during a gala, throwing fire at the new king…” the Keeper shook his head.

    “It worked, didn’t it?” Garrett asked. “Burricks are back. Guess he decided it was too much of a pain to pen a new law."

    “Do you really think that this city will always bend to your will?”

    “Seems to be going pretty well so far. Now get out. I’m going house hunting.”

    The keeper’s arms folded. His unchanged eyes settled on Garrett.

    “I am not here to bother you-”

    “Little late for that.”

    “-just to let you know. Plague has been spotted five miles from the west wall. When you leave the clock tower, you should leave the City. It will no longer be safe soon. There is only one place that will remain a sanctuary, and that is our compound.”

    Garrett snorted. Eris bounced excitedly on the keeper’s foot.

    “Die from plague, or be forced to live with keepers.”

    “Die from plague, or…”

    “It’s your decision,” the keeper said. He wiggled his foot. Eris dug into the boot.

    “We thought you should be warned. Wait a week, Garrett, and the City will be in flames. Leave now and you will leave alive.”

    The keeper turned to leave. Eris hissed.


    The spider happily bounced off the keeper's foot and crawled to Garrett’s shoulder.

    Garrett watched him slide into darkness. There was the familiar glyph drone, light, and then nothing.

    Garrett bit down on his tongue. He listened to the clock tick for the last time.

    This was the City. Plague was plague. It would come, and it would go.

    Things would still be the same.

    If that was the case, then why…

    “Oh, stop.”

    Eris was nibbling on his ear. Garrett swatted at her. She hissed and buried herself deeper into his shoulder.

    “We’re staying in the City, Eris,” Garrett said. He put his sword back in its hilt and kicked up the hatch. Garrett looked around at the dust and ladders, and headed for the tunnel.

    “Now, Eris,” his voice echoed. “The first rule of stealth is…oww! Bad spider!”

  5. #5
    New Member
    Registered: Apr 2011
    Here's the next two chapters. Hope I'm not posting too much. I just have a lot of material to share!

    February, 1345

    This was the part of plague that Garrett liked.

    Where paranoia, not any actual disease, meant that everyone was shuttered in and bunkered down.

    The streets were open and quiet. No need to sneak about.

    Garrett dropped the burrick meat into his cloak. Two mandibles appeared briefly. Eris’s drool soaked the whole left side of the fabric.

    “That’s another thing,” he whispered.

    “A good thief knows how to eat entire meals on the go. You pop an apple, hell, a whole deer leg into your mouth, and it vanishes down the wet cavern of your jaw, like a master of stealth into the shade…”

    Eris’s head popped up from his cloak. Garrett elbowed her back down.

    “Consumption of food larger than one’s face: now that was one keeper class I enjoyed.”

    Garrett bundled up the burrick steak. The blood seeped through his loot bag. Between that and Eris’s drool, the thief was starting to smell a little odd. Garrett threw himself against the city wall. Guards. Less civilians, but more guards.

    The torchlight passed and left. The guard scratched his head.

    “I shoulda never left home…not with those sweet buns in the oven every morning, and the crickets at night…”

    The guard passed. Garrett listened to his footsteps dwindle until they were gone.

    “So, Eris, we have three choices: Lord Trifflebum’s attic, The hole in the east wall, or the
    abandoned greenhouse down by the sewerlake. As soon as we’ve surveyed them, all we need to do is go back home, grab the stuff, and bunker down in the new place until all of this passes. That’s our mission.”

    He shifted the loot bag from shoulder to shoulder. A candle in the third window up past the curtains breathed out.

    “Don’t say it. Don’t you dare say it. I never even thought of it as an option.”

    A feral dog sniffed the air in his direction. Its paw scuffed the ground.

    “I mean it. I would rather bleed out here than go back there.”

    Snaps echoed down all the streets: gaslamps at sunset.

    Garrett pulled out the map, shook off the burrick blood that stained the old quarter.

    “So, since we’re not going to even think about that…”

    The City, twenty minutes later: Lord Trifflebum’s Attic

    “Well, it’s uh…it’s doable.”

    It had been a really sad day for some really rich people when the Statue Museum had closed. Understandably, it hadn’t brought in as much income as was expected. Now, Lord Trifflebum, being the eccentric, charitable man that he was, bought off all the statues held there.

    And put them here.

    The attic was warm. Insulated. Even had steel mechanist scrap on the ceiling to keep the temperature stable, to protect the statues. Gather up all the shipping foam, sew it together in those potato bags, and he would have a not half-bad mattress. He would sleep well, in this warm place, flanked on all sides by the unblinking gaze of disturbingly lifelike stone edifices.

    “Okay, it’s a little creepy.”

    Eris sucked on a statue’s nose, mandibles clattering on the marble.

    “But look around. All we need to do is push some of these back and we’ll have an unbreakable wall. There’s a hole through the scrap that gives for easy entry. If Trifflebum does comes up, we just dart in the statues. I’m sure there are lots of juicy bugs up here, too.”

    Garrett sighed. Row after row of pupil-less eyes gazed unknowably ahead, green in the flare-light.

    “I suppose it wouldn’t hurt to check the other options…”

    The City, Thirty Minutes Later: The Hole in the East Wall.

    “I. Hate. Everything.”

    The one thing Garrett was sure of was that he was not sure what held his hatred the most here.

    Was it the hauntingly blithering pagans endlessly circling him, staring him dead in the eye while screaming what’s found me?

    Was it the way the inside of the wall dipped at spots so that bat hovels were inches away from the encampments?

    Or maybe it was the fact that everyone else in the City who had no place to go ended up in The Hole, stinking it up, turning the entire festoon into a micro-sewer existence of stove fires and endless echoing chatter?

    A pagan girl giggled past him, running across the planks barefoot.

    He shuddered.

    “No. Just no. I will never be this desperate, Eris. Never. Besides, if plague does hit the City…”

    Her feet hit the stone and off again, until the sound was gone.

    “Let’s move on.”

    The City, fifteen minutes later: The Abandonded Greenhouse by the Sewerlake

    “At least it has lots of hooks. For the cloaks.”

    Eris was halfway underground, furiously digging up the dirt floor. Garrett dropped a sinewy bite of the steak into the hole. The digging stopped.

    The greenhouse was big. It was more space than he needed. He shifted his shoulders uncomfortably. The glass wasn’t going to hold if someone really wanted to get in.

    And it was so low, down there on the ground, where all those weird ground-people lived. Not high up in the sky where he could survey every quivering inch of the comings and goings.

    But the cloak hooks were nice.

    He sat down on a crate. The glass kept out the smell of Sewerlake, at least.

    “Housing prospects in the City have never been so dismal,” he rubbed his face.

    “Before, I could even manage to rent an apartment. Imagine that. A room, that I lived in. In a building that had maintenance.”

    Eris burst out of the hole. Her front legs probed the air suspiciously.

    “Oh, well. It’s time for us to make a choice. What do you think? What do you like the most?”

    Eris wandered over to the tool pile and picked up the gardening shears in her jaws.

    “Good girl. That’s right. You follow my decisions, not the other way around. Spiders don’t get a choice.”

    She clacked the shears together, pleased with the sound. Garrett scooted a notable distance away from her on the crate.

    “Time for me to choose, then. Soon we’ll have our home sweet home.”
    February 1345

    Garrett jolted out of bed. Something had woken him. Something sinister…


    He jolted again, greeted by the grin of an alabaster trickster.

    “Lord…tifflebum…”he growled, heart burning out of his chest, somewhat regretting his decision to make camp in the eccentric Lord’s attic.



    He was alone. She had been gone for days now, her feet ticking around here and there, making him wake up and think he was still in the clocktower.

    Speaking of which: why had he woken up? Was it an existential crisis, prompted by the unending nightmares that had haunted him every night here?

    Or was it something else?

    He lurched out of the market stall cover he’d made into a blanket. The scrap hole was open, bringing in the pale dawn light and the scent of something familiar; undesired. His fingers clasped the scrap metal, easily bending it back. He poked his half-naked body into the chill.
    Under the pinkish glow the sky was still ocean-blue, or what he imagined the hues of oceans to be. Summer stars still split the two colors, darkness transmuted only by the acrid glow of riot-flame. Heated, pregnant air, carrying adrift the scent of known mortality. Carrying it in gales of heavy smoke, burdening, shoving it down further into the streets.

    Red fire. Alchemist’s wars. Trying to put a stop to the spread. If the alchemists were here, then…

    Garrett slammed the scrap shut. He breathed the dust in hard, trying to clear out every last bit of breath the outside had forced in him.

    Plague was here, alright, in the dawn, and before that.

    He shut his eyes and saw red flame.

    They were here. But the fire wouldn’t save them, and neither would holy water.

    And neither would insulated scrap statue attics.

    “Eris,” he whispered.

    “Eris, we have to go. Now.”

  6. #6
    New Member
    Registered: Apr 2011
    The next two chapters have arrived!

    Lower City

    Ten Minutes Later

    “I told you to hush.”

    Eris leapt from the cathedral wall to his shoulder, chattering nervously. Garrett’s stomach lurched.

    Hammer churches were always the best place to start to gauge the severity of any given happening. Right now, the Hammers were tearing out the driftwood from the canals and shuddering their windows. They had already abandoned shelter to the needy and a safe home for the sick. The roof guards had out their plague hammers, steel encased righteous fury ready to crack skulls indiscriminately.
    Not good.

    Beyond that, in the courtyard.

    Captain’s guard were wearing woven masks, the Alchemist’s kind with herbs and Blueflower from over the sea. A shame, that. They would more than like survive to continue being a thorn in his side.

    There was no denying it: magic was here.

    Mixed in heavy with some snake oil. What sort of wizard doesn’t pander to the desperation of a dying people? No wizard Garrett had ever met.

    “Stay put.”

    He knelt down along the canal, treading the broken stone, cautious of the mud. The blood smell didn’t carry this far.

    Blueflower. If it was in your lungs, then plague wouldn’t be. Things was, even the Alchemists had only so much of what only grew in one place dried and ready to use. Most of that went immediately to the highest bidders: the City, for one, to its foot and pocket soldiers. Keep the fat ones fat and living. The rest, a small portion, went to the Hammerites, who divided the rest amongst themselves and gave an even smaller portion of that to the poor and needy.

    Most of the city would never see it.

    They never whipped out the red flame unless things were bad. He had only seen it once before.

    His back throbbed thinking about it, in that one place that always hurt when he knew he hadn’t lifted enough goods to survive the night.
    He wasn’t going to think about that time if he had to. Just knowing that it was here made him want to crawl out of his skin. This was the City. And the City always made it, no matter what.

    “Stupid Alchemists,” he muttered. “Stupid flame.”

    “Stupid plague.”

    “You know what we’re going to do, Eris?”

    She was wiping her beak clean in the canal water. Garrett cringed. She gave him a suspicious glare.

    “We are going to go there”, he pointed, over the rooftops, to where he knew well what he had seen, “we are going to find those caravans, and…”

    “…steal some blueflower for ourselves before getting the hell out.”

    Eris put her beak back into the water, ignoring him.

    “Fine. Stay there. I, for one, am going to go save myself. Me. Myself. No one else. I will show no mercy to any one or any thing. In fact- you know what, Eris? You can just stay here and drink that plague water. I’m not going to save you. There will be no heroics today. No one watching me from afar with some desperate mission that only I can complete, no waterworks from some…orphan child telling me how awful the situation is and how he just needs me, no creepy freaking plant women or whatever else for me to deal with. One Blueflower, for me. The rest of the City can go to hell.”

    Garrett stormed off, periphery noting the fire trails reflecting in the water. He kicked away debris piles, unapologetically stepping on the blankets of pagans he could only be half-sure were still alive. He walked past the courtyard, smashing feces signs painted in the word repent, and looked over his shoulder every other minute.

    He slowed down once the fires turned white and red.

    It was cold, then, starving. Nearly afternoon, though the stormcover made it hard to tell.

    He had walked for miles, zigzagged through the cornerstone maze. The West Wall couldn’t be far.

    Over the hill, past the shuttered apartment blocs and disemboweled Angel-statue metal stakes and gaslight wire barricades. Past the city gang banners half the bloc high that drove the remaining order, and all the fear they had created. Gang country tended to come out of their hovels when things in the City got dire and seize control.

    Somewhere beyond the Red-level brightness light of the captain’s guard and the plague hammers, the Alchemists bid their time in their caravans.

    A woman ran her way across the street, barefoot. Dropping a sliver of bread.

    “Eris,” he called instinctively.

    He looked back. The bridge was empty. Garrett sighed.

    “It’s time to settle in,” he said, imagining the tug of the wind against his cloak was the spider’s underbelly resting against his shoulder. His eyes scanned the apartment blocs. The boards had been ripped from the siding. They would not hold. Slipping in would be easy.

    “It’s no statue attic,” he muttered. “But from there, I can take the roofs past the barricade and the captain’s guard, all the way to the West Wall.”

    Plague City


    Nothing in the city was awake but the endless cycle of guards, the undead, and Garrett.

    The pre-morning chill wreathed him. He tried not to breathe it in. The clay roofing was wet under his palm. Great. Rained on roofs. Just what he needed.

    He was still in Gang Country, still blocks before the barricade.

    The wet couldn’t hope to disperse the loom of dread, and it did nothing to quell red flame. It just made things so much worse than they had been before.

    Miserable and focused, his feet danced along the tiles. Someone broke into a store window below. The glass broke the night. Looters. Those were also out here. Lazy, stupid looters who didn’t really even know the first thing about what real thievery was like. No threat to him.

    Lightning pounded the City’s skies like a particularly venomous headache.

    Something moaned. Garrett’s stomach prickled. Long as he was up here, those dead idiots couldn’t touch him. Long as he- just- didn’t slip…on the…uh…


    Burrick’s ballsack.

    Garrett smashed down into the streets, cascading off of the bricks and falling really dumbly into a strangely convenient pile of rotting melons.

    Melons. Who in the City even eats melons?

    He had bigger problems! Like, zombie problems!

    Garrett tossed the melon at the zombie’s head. He flinched, drooled, and almost seemed to smile.




    He burst out of the melons, scattering fruits here and there. He ran past the campfires, well in the open and bright. A fallen over gaslight pointed like a finger away from the streets, reminding him somehow of a mocking keeper who would inevitably show up at some point and let him know all of this could have been prevented. It shot out sparks, making the air taste metallic.

    Checkpoint. Bloody checkpoint.

    Dead ahead, gang guards nestled behind their carefully woven barricades. Made of crap scrap and giant stolen cathedral bricks. Adorned with flame. They spotted him. His trained ears heard a bow, somewhere, quiver. Of course they were on his rooftops. Standing there, under balconies- smart enough not to slip.

    “You want passage,” a voice said, “it’ll cost ya.”

    He turned around. Zombies! Shuffling! Towards him.

    He looked forward.

    Impassible barricades! Thousands of arrows! Angry townspeople who wanted nothing more than to shoot up some undeads in the hopes of resolving their own unexplored issues and fears in life!

    “I’m good with a bow,” he shouted back. Dammit, I can’t believe I’m doing this. “I’ll take up guard.”

    Now what? I end up stuck with these loons?

    “Prove it.”

    Movement, from the balcony. Light. A fire arrow, falling from the sky.

    He caught it in his hands. He faced the zombie, kneeling. Breathing in its pungent waft.

    He fit the arrow carefully in his bow. It sizzled and reflected in the wet pavement.

    “Alright, buddy,” he said. “Hold still.”

    His arm raised, feeling the cool comfort of nothing but His focus on the target. Gray skin, and disturbingly human-like eyes. Another moan, distinctly un-human.

    Explosion. Body parts, everywhere.

    He stood up, feeling distinctly proud of himself, even if the whole deal had been a piece of cake.

    “Alright,” he said. “Now let me pass.”

    He turned around, smirking.


    A sunburst device fell from the sky. He dropped his bow to the ground to catch it.

    A map glittered down after it, hitting him in the face.

    “Set this at the point on the map, due west a block and a half. The deads broke through the west wall and we ‘bandoned it, but now we’ve got a breach on our hands, so we’re gonna blow the mother. You set that up and we’ll see about passage.”

    Garrett shook his head carefully, so the map fell on the sunburst device and not the wet ground.

    “Why can’t one of you do this?” he asked.

    “Well, none of us are dumb enough to go. But you seem like you are.”

    IF he could just get back up to the rooftops, then he could avoid all this and have an extra sunburst device to boot.

    “Oh, and don’t hit the rooftops- we covered them in mines! Isn’t that just so cool? Freaking mines! Haha!”


    That’s great.

    “If I do this…” he grumbled.

    “Then you’ll have passage! Probably! If you don’t die. If you do, well, we’ll kill you. Again.”

    “I’ll do it. I guess.”

    “Did you hear that, guys? Some idiot is going to set the bomb up! Haha!”

    “HAHAAAA! Yeah! Awesome!”

    “Blueflower,” Garrett mumbled to himself, shaking. Already hearing the zombies due west.


  7. #7
    New Member
    Registered: Apr 2011
    Fresh chapter has arrived!

    Plague City, due west


    It would have been nice, Garrett figured, if someone had mentioned power was out from the checkpoint all the way down.

    He was already halfway through the street when he realized he had no light to read the map by. A bloodsoaked moon would’ve helped, or maybe even a flare, but when had he ever carried anything he ever needed to? He was going to have to pull this impromptu, in true Master Thief style.

    “Okay, Garrett,” he muttered. “We’ll just have to remember Pull An Impromptu. I can’t believe I somehow remember the names of every single keeper class I took. Maybe I should’ve paid more attention in Congratulations, You Somehow Remembered To Take Everything You needed, Perfectly Calculating The Number of Moss and Water Arrows Even though It’s Impossible To Know How Many You Will Need Before Starting Unless You have Gone On The Mission Before. Man, those keepers really could’ve used some abbreviations."

    “First things first: If I just follow the zombie moans, that should lead me to this west wall. I toss the device in, blow that…mother…up, run and go back to claim my passage. If they don’t let me through then, well, Keeper Impromptu Lesson One: You Can Always Bludgeon Them To Death. Wait, no. That’s, uh…probably not a keeper lesson.”

    His ears scanned the horizon. Fire crackle, and disturbing quiet. A moan half concealed in the drizzle.

    “Never thought I would literally be following a trail of moans, but here we are.”

    He ducked down Saint Grizzledum’s avenue. The courtyard fountain was still running cheerily, recycling blood spilt by the body floating in its bowl. Creepy. An abandoned mechanist factory teetered in its failing existence to the left, and straight ahead was a bakery. The moans emanated beyond the buildings.

    He crept onward. Rusting gears shrieked and groaned in the half-wind. Thoughts of Karras returned.

    Not now. I have to focus.

    And sudden- the scent of bacterium on flesh. Wait, this is the quazi-middle ages, we can’t write that-

    The, uh- rotting flesh smell. Caused by the demon humors. Garrett breathed it in.

    “Getting close.”

    Red fire comet-streaked through the sky, little trailings having traveled quite a distance from their source. Garrett’s neck itched.

    The Alchemist’s were still at it.

    He cantered through the shuttered streets. The gearteeth bit down. Karras vanished into the fire.

    He took a second to catch his breath. It had all been so long ago, but even now, the littlest of things set him off. Made his lungs burn and his head spin. Disbalanced his stable footing.

    Victoria…no, I can’t do this again…

    So proud, so certain of her own demise. Her fearlessness so vast and jarring compared to the way he grasped to what little he had. It wasn’t even the death that bothered him, not now. It was the way she had what he never would: belief in something greater than herself.

    Of course, he would never admit it.

    “Plague MELONS! Get your Plague MELONS!”

    What in the builder’s…?

    “Ripe and juicy, perfectly safe MELONS! HaAHA! Don’t let the word PLAGUE bother you! I only used the word PLAGUE to indicate the SICK savings that we are having here at Perry’s Plague…uh…fruitery? Pruitery? Haha, yes, that will rhyme! COME TO THE PRUITERY, YE WEAK AND WEARY SOULS! FOR PERRY’S PRUITS!”

    You know, I almost admire his business ethic. Almost.

    If he talked to Perry, he would probably be able to figure out where the west wall was. But that would involve speaking with another human being…

    “Nope. Not gonna do it. Not gonna waste my time in some…pruitery.”

    Garrett continued on.

    The moans grew louder. The streets here were crisscrossed with battle marks: the scorched trails of mines, shattered glass, something that vaguely looked like a hand but could have been a torso.

    Bodies, moving in the dark.

    He shifted the device from shoulder to shoulder. He crouched down, creeping forward. The zombies were momentarily abated, gorging on the flesh of those who he guessed had tried to hold the west wall. He entered his focus. They wouldn’t smell a dirty thief like him, and ghosting a zombie was so easy it probably didn’t even require a keeper lesson.

    He sauntered down the pebbles. One lone gaslight remained just above the shattered wall, green and eerie white, placing it in the red zone. The debris pile had been plowed through, metal stakes stained with unknown blood.

    He skirted to the right, remaining in shadow cover. The pack was twenty feet ahead. Garrett reached his shoulders, undoing the straps that held the device in place. With both hands, he gently set it in a very conveniently placed pothole. The zombies shuffled. He smiled.

    “I have got to stop doing that,” he said to himself.

    He backtracked carefully. More than once, he had misjudged the correct distance for one to be when one sets off a sunburst. It was a precise, mathematical calculation, sometimes seeming that no distance was safe, that he lived due to sheer luck and the glitchy nature of the universe. Thankfully, before they had died, the wall guards had left large piles of scrap lying about for him to take cover behind.

    He carefully lifted the scrap, making sure not to drag it across the ground. He retreated back to the fountain, arranging the scrap pieces against it to make a little fort. Leaving a hole straight ahead to aim the arrow through.

    Garrett crawled into the fort, squinting to see the half-hidden device. He smoothed the fire arrow between his fingers. A shame, that. It had taken away the chill.

    He entered it into his quiver. Using the viewpoint to spy through, raising his trained arm…


    Melons, soaring down the street, exploding into flame and pruit chunks.

    Garrett ducked just before-




    With one hand, he grabbed the quiver and poked the scrap open. Breathing in the smoke even from in here. Still crouching, he craned his neck forward to see if the world was still there.

    It kind of was, but kind of wasn’t.

    The world he once knew was gone, both symbolically and somewhat literally, because had just entered Pruitville, population unknown. The entire street was slathered in a fine mush of explosive powder and visceral pruit aftermath. Streaks of yellow and ripe orange hung like streamers down the girders of once-buildings. The moans had ended. The only sounds now were of pruit…squelching…and hissing fire.

    Too confused to even care if it was safe, he tossed the scrap away.

    The wooden buildings were kindling. The metal ones were quivering, flesh-like pruit coverings. There was no more wall, and there were no zombies.


    “Oh. Hello.”

    His stomach surged. His fingers drew a flashbomb from the thigh holster.

    A lone figure, half-burnt but smiling like only a taffer could stood in the rubble.

    “My name is Perry,” he said. On his back was a giant, strangely shaped tarp filled with what Garrett could only assume were hundreds of melons.

    Perry laughed. With glee.

    “I thought I was the only one left,” he said. “So I put my thinker on. I knew that Drew was dead, so I broke into his armory and got the mines from the secret stash. Put ‘em in the pruits, put the pruits out there…but man, I had no idea things would get like that. You know? Big boom! Must be something in the pruits.”


    Garrett hadn't put away the flashbomb because there was no reason why someone like Perry was still alive and he figured he could leave him in a conspicuous spot for the next round of undead, plus he was a little pissed about almost dying due to airborne melonage, but maybe the taffer was onto something.

    “How many of these…melon devices did you make?”

    “Ohh, I lost count,” Perry rubbed his ashy face. “Maybe 40. Maybe 50! Hell, who knows. You want some? They’re discount. Aw Hell, I’ll give them to you free! Why not? There are only so many melons one man can have!”

    18 Pruits later, Garrett turned his back on the west wall.

    He had eaten two of the melons, after digging the mines out, of course, as a nice breakfast. Starvation had turned them, in Perry’s words, scrumptious. Now the sun was starting to pester its way through the stormclouds. Almost made things in Hell seem decent.
    He passed the mechanist gears. They caused a small quake, minutes later, as they fell. The City seemed bizarrely safe, captured in a temporary lull of despair. It would not last. But he was enjoying the time to himself while it lasted.

    He strolled back into camp, just visible in the plague dawn. Awesome guitar music followed him down the street, as it occasionally did. He had sort of just grown used to it, really. He wore his Garrett smirk, hauling the Pruits past all the stupid shocked faces of everyone at the checkpoint, strutting that master thief strut that was so advanced it just had to be learned.

    “I believe you owe me something,” he said. “And I don’t think you’ll like what’ll happen if I don’t get it.”

    A peasant appeared at the gate, just as dubious to see him as everyone else. He was wearing crayman armor, real black market stuff.

    “Holy balls,” the peasant said. “You did it. You actually did it. We saw the fire, but thought you’d be dead in that way that happens when you do anything ever with a sunburst device, because really, all there is left for you if you mess around with one is death. But you’re alive, and you’re not one of them. Come through. You’ve more than proved your worth.”

    The makeshift gates creaked open. He squeezed, pruits and all, through them.

    Ahead was an actual refugee camp, as he had expected to see. The dirty and poor gathered around rainslicked wood and dead ash.
    Looking through him with undisguised hunger. He breathed in stiffly. If they caught wind of his melons…

    He waded calmly through the human sea. A little orphan boy crawled out from an alleyway, hands outstretched. Eyes wide and pleading, imploring Garrett for food, or at the very least, pity.

    If he spared even at least half of his melons, that would well feed the camp for days or weeks on rations, and the mines would prevent another wall breach. The people would live on, to multiply, to live in the slick and the filth, but to be alive nonetheless. They would thank him for their continued existence. He alone would have provided them the means for survival, the firepower that would prevent them from having their one last true weapon, their minds, being seized by a willless force that sought only hunger…

    The orphan boy raised his hands higher. His lip trembled…

    “Touch my sack and I throw you out there,” Garrett said.

    He smiled his way out of the rest of camp, whistling as he passed the last checkpoint, feeling almost just as good as he had since the clocktower days.

  8. #8
    New Member
    Registered: Apr 2011
    Things are heating up...

    Gang Country, past sunset

    February, probably, really Garrett isn’t keeping track, he has a lot of other stuff on his mind

    Garrett carefully lined his inventory on the abandoned windowsill.

    It was time to take stock, before he went out there again. There were 14 pruits left. He had wagered the rest off in camp for some of the last deer legs, 5 water arrows, 2 more fire arrows and one of those multicolored sixpacks. If he didn’t drink it, he could use it for fuel. But he was probably going to drink it.
    He had taken an abandoned building just beyond the checkpoint, in zombie territory but not deep enough in that there was any real danger. The door was barricaded, and the mattress was surprisingly plushy. After a long nap and a dream that Eris came back and ate the faces off all of the zombies so they stumbled even more stumbly than usual, he had started preparations.

    He wrapped the arrows back into their bundle and smashed the top of the first bottle against the windowsill. The top shattered on the foggy street below.
    Deer leg in one half of the mouth, rum in the other, dinner/breakfast completed.

    “Now, let’s hope the City guards are real bumbly today and make this all nice and smooth for me.”

    Back somewhat lighter thanks to the vanishing pruits, he stuffed everything else into his thigh and cloak pockets. Fully stocked, belly included, his palms grabbed the cold windowsill wood. A careful leap onto the crates below, and a deft stalk through the pipes.

    He walked himself through it:

    Barricade, two blocks ahead. Pregnant with electric light, repurposed mechanist cannons, constant guard and likely even more traps than what he could see from here. Red zone the entire block through. But beyond that? The rich part of the City, where the 1% probably were still strolling around the streets and eating spiced burrick steaks and laughing to themselves, rejoicing about how they wouldn’t have to run into the poor once they all turned to zombies.

    Food, water, heat.

    Alchemists, and blueflower.

    He shot a rope arrow into the eaves above. He slithered his way up, tugging it out of the wood to keep for later. His ears perked. He could hear the murmur of guards from here, far more dangerous than any undead.

    Before he made the run, there were a few…specialized items he needed to scavenge for.

    He carefully trapesed over the rotting shingles, eyeing candlesticks through the holes in the ceilings as he passed them. No room for goods.

    He smashed his way down to a greenhouse. He carefully stepped through the broken glass.

    Moss, miniatures palms, and bright yellow carnivorous pitcher plants.

    He grinned.


    Garrett fished an empty flashbomb shell out of his pocket. With his other hand, he walked over to the palms. He scooped some of the wet soil into the shell. He carefully patted it down until it was firm.

    “Play nice, now.”

    He dug under two of the smaller pitcher plants until they were in his hands. Just like Keeper Dong had, he stuffed the pitchers into the bomb shells. He searched the rest of the room for the final ingredient- Carnivore Fertilizer drops. He found them: underneath the broken pots.

    He took the bottle and gently slid it in the bomb shell between the two plants.

    He shut the bomb clamp and stuffed the pitcher bomb in his pocket.

    Three + items to collect still, and a block and half to do it.


    Garrett cracked open another empty bomb shell.

    Just having it open in here was enough. More- than-enough. He clamped it closed. Garrett dry heaved. Nobleman Terry had fled a week ago to his country house but his stench of fame and repute remained.

    He ran out of the bathroom faster than he knew he could, stuffing the stink bomb into his thigh holster.

    + 1 stink bomb


    Feet planted firmly on the ledge, he tried not to think about the fall sixty feet down.

    Garrett had the fire arrow aimed just where he needed it: at the lightning rod.

    He let it fly, and up here, in the wilting clouds, it hit. With an explosion and unexplainable purple flame, the rod fell heavy. He listened to it clatter and sputter as it landed.

    He breathed in and out. It was a long hike down, and he was getting tired already.

    He broke another bottle on the side of the metal tower. He drank it just as the rain came down.

    + 1 lightning rod



    Garret wrapped the dead sweel around his neck.

    The commonfolk didn’t know they were still around, as most people had guessed, they had gone extinct hundreds of years ago. The Keepers knew better. The sweel had almost been wiped out thanks to the short-lived Sewer Burricks, but now that those really were extinct, they were making a comeback.

    He didn’t think much of most Keeper “cures” and “protections”, but this was one he had seen for himself. It had this crazy thing about protecting people from harm when they were critically injured.

    Hopefully, things wouldn’t get to that point.

    + 1 protective amulet


    He had figured the stash would be helpful someday. It was just under a grate, nothing particularly special. He had been going for close to three hours. It was cool and dark, restful here.

    He was so close now. He could feel the heat coming off of the spotlights above. He could hear the pounding of iron hammers against steel as the Hammerite Guards rallied and shouted orders.

    It was making his heart pound the hell out of his chest.


    He smashed three bottles against the wall. His knuckles bled.

    He drank all three at once, soaked now in alcohol, reeking of the fear-booze.

    Somewhat satiated, he picked up another extra-large, space contorting keeper rucksack that could fit literally an entire room’s worth of items.

    “Okay, final supplies…”










    (6) six rats…GAH! RATS! RATS IN THE BAG! GET THEM OUT!

    “Oh god. The cake frosting just got everywhere in the bag. Keeper Lesson #2: Separate Thy Cakes from Thy Other Supplies. Just gotta Garrett It, I guess.”

    Garrett’s back groaned under the weight. He took one last look around, checking to make sure there wasn’t anything else.

    He peered up the slats on the grate.

    “Eris…” he muttered. Stupid spider.

    “I guess you would’ve been okay if you were here. Not that I miss you, or anything, you know. You’re a dirty little arachnid, and you always screwed things up. But you wouldn’t have been the worst out here, with me. So, I guess, I hope you’re finding corpses to nibble on. Anyways. Wish me luck, or whatever. I’m probably going to die here. But you’ll live, probably. So just…clack your mandibles for me. Eris, I have to go now. I’m feeling these weird things inside like some type of emotion. It’s really creeping me out.”

    Garrett cleared his throat. He shook his head. He reached up. His fingers hooked through the grate.

    The iron-on-steel cacophony shuddered through his bones above.

    It was time.

  9. #9
    New Member
    Registered: Apr 2011
    Is anyone still reading this?

    The Plague Barricade, Abandoned Guardpost
    Two or Three AM

    The stormclouds rumbled ominously overhead, like the bowels of the sky.

    Garrett was safely nestled inside an abandoned outlook, several stories above the guards circling below. He was crouched, head peeking over the wood, watching them. His head was starting to tick with a plan.

    He had scampered over the wet stones, all the way up here. It wasn’t raining, not yet, but it would again.

    So, the plan. Well…it had gotten a little complicated.

    From where he could see, this was the guard inventory:


    Garrett’s heart lurched. Blueflower. Blue-freaking-flower. So small, barely visible outside of the gatehouse 16 floors down.

    He smiled, and it felt really weird, but he didn’t care.

    He broke the last bottle against the wood, carefully, so it wouldn’t make a sound.

    He took a gulp and set it on the ledge.

    “Garrett, you idiot!” he slapped himself. “You drunk idiot! Oh god, there’s no keeper lesson for getting a buzz right before you go on a mission of this proportion!”


    Garrett belched into the night. He sighed. He ate a little cake.

    “Okay. I can do this. I can think…think things through.”

    He thumbed out a haunted artifact. Sand fell out along with it. It wailed loudly.


    The Artifact shut up.

    “Alright, artifact, here’s the plan. Do you know why I’m using you? Because you’re a supernatural force. Things won’t seem too off if you come flying out of nowhere, because there are so many other weird things going on. That’ll be a good distraction for a while, until I can figure out where the spotlights are drawing power from. You have to last me that long, you hear?”

    The Artifact nodded.

    “Super. Now, I’m gonna throw you across the catwalks. Once you hit the bottom, then you can wail. Got it? Good.”

    The stormclouds rumbled.

    Garrett put all of his focus into his hands. He shook the sand off and tossed that motha like it was a Frisbee.

    It clanked its way down the four twisting catwalk levels until it came to a rest.

    Garrett ran.

    He leapt down from discordant beam to discordant beam. It was beams, all the way down to a cannon that he was going to hit. A terrible wailing clouded the air, almost as shrill as Karras’s voice. He shivered. You know, I almost feel bad for them.

    He stuffed his face with some cake. He almost choked. It was a bad idea.

    He jumped down on top of the cannon. It clanged loudly.

    None of the guards seemed to have heard. They were all running around the catwalk layers and the thousands of staircases leading to the gatehouse beneath, fire arrows in hand. The hammerites beat their hammers against their chests rhythmically. A nobleman tut-tutted far in the distance.

    He slid off of the cannon, sneaking a peek back. Thankfully, it was manually operated. A good number of the mechanist cameras had been re-purposed, and he had no doubt he would find them somewhere else in here, but the cannons weren’t wired up.



    A guard rattled the catwalk, running away from him, furiously plugging straw in his ears.

    “This is the stupidest artifact ever!” he shouted. “where the hell did it even come from?!”


    “This is going surprisingly well,” Garrett muttered to himself. “If not painfully.”

    He ran off to the left. There were four guard posts on this level, and unfortunately, they were still manned. They had enough of a force to leave some guards in the posts while the others investigated. The spotlights were all just outside of the posts and nowhere else; only on the first two levels and the very last one, seventeen flights of stairs down.

    Garrett’s eyes traced the golden cords on the spotlights. They ran up: the fuse box was somewhere past the northern guard post, in a roofed area with supplies. At least five spotlights were sitting on the roof.

    “HMMM. Time for something else.”

    He set down his bag and thumbed through it. If he used explosives, he’d blow the whole catwalks down and then there would be one hell of a problem. He already had on the cloak, but it wouldn’t help him in red-level brightness.

    “Got it.”

    He took out the crusty spell. It was so dark he couldn’t even read it. How annoying.

    He blew the gritty-dark spell into the wind. It carried, and for a moment nothing changed.

    The moon blustered its way through the clouds and illuminated the spell.

    The whole place transformed, completely. The textures everywhere turned dark, and gritty.

    “Oh God,” he said. “Oh, god. It’s so…dark. My god. It’s like no one can see anything at all.”

    Garrett stumbled his way ahead. The spotlights hadn’t gone out, but it wasn’t like anyone else could see either.

    He listened to footsteps around him. He glanced over the edge, and squinted.

    The guards were coming back up. A braver, deafer guard was carrying the artifact away, towards the Hammerite priests standing around.

    Not good.

    He needed to go faster.

    Garrett inhaled and ran. A group of three guards was flickering in and out of the darkness, coming straight towards him. They were all…shining? Like even their flesh was somehow gritty?

    He slid under the roof. The guards tensed.

    “What’s that smell?” one asked. She smelled the air and frowned. “Like booze, frosting and…filth?”

    “It smells simultaneously like a sewer, and the breakroom.”

    “So: just like the breakroom, then.”

    “Whatever. The Hammerites are doing something to the artifact, heard the priest say. Can’t wait until that bloody thing shuts up. And it’s so dark, everywhere. God, I hate this place.”

    “Yeah, then we just have to listen to Lennie all night.”

    “Wow. Really almost makes you miss the screams.”

    They passed, shrugging and bickering their way into the early morning.

    Garrett stressed choked down a bit of cucumber. He had thought it was cake.

    The Gritty-dark spell began to wear off, returning clarity of sight to the world. He shook his head and looked around. The fuse box was straight ahead. He eagerly tore open the lid, and was greeted by row after row of fuses:


    “Well, well,” Garrett chuckled. “I can’t just choose one.”

    His drunk, fumbling hands yanked the fuses out, one by one. He stuffed them into his bag, taking a hard stare outside the roof. No time to grab supplies. He had to bolt, and hope like hell that he could make his way without to either the staircase to the west or the one to the northwest.

    He ran out of the supply room. There was darkness, and shouts. The innumerable torches from levels 3-16 provided the only light, that, and red smoke congealing in the clouds from nearby alchemist’s flame.

    Metal footsteps rang like surreal, irritating bells Guards, every last one carrying a lantern. They reached the supply room- and those that didn’t have lanterns now retrieved some from the spare supplies.

    “DAMN,” he murmured. “Should’ve tossed those off the wall.”


    Garrett slid behind a cannon, feeling the wind from guards that ran past him. He waited until the northwest staircase was quiet. The guards were looking around the supply room, and some were taking the west staircase back down.

    They would know he- or someone- was here now.

    “Lennie, let’s hope they keep you as their scapegoat. Really works for me.”

    He bolted. They were starting their search, and he didn’t doubt they would stop until they found him. They were too riled up.

    He reached into his thigh holster and pulled out the stinkbomb.

    Terry, your stench is about to save me. I should be grateful.

    He tossed it over the ledge. Both levels were distracted now.

    He hit the northwestern staircase. There were at least three guards on patrol down there from what he could see, and no way not to intercept.

    Garrett re-fastened his thigh holster, clanking his way down the stairs.

    One level down, sixteen to go.

  10. #10
    Registered: Sep 2002
    Location: Texas
    I have been checking the thread every day and reading every chapter posted. Its a good story so far. You really should put it all together in a pdf or something like that.

    Now hurry up and post the next chapter. I gotta find out how Garrett gets out of this hammer area.

  11. #11
    Registered: Apr 2003
    Location: Wales
    I'm still reading when I can. I guess people are less responsive these days.

  12. #12
    Registered: May 2008
    Location: Southern,California
    my only issue with the story is ,i know this is fiction,but in thief 2 we found out the burricks were pretty close to being extincted ,and by thief 3 only one nod to them,i feel instead of the burrick meat being against the law,it would be better to say "there just not here anymore"-kinda like "the bears at the bear fence" they once had under slung meat hook/etc but its just not the same =taken from thief 1 conversation first mission the 3 guards talking,game ofcourse had you feel pity about it

    ohh how it would have been epic if tamed burricks would have been possible/mount/gassing enemys/saddle shop

    otherwise cool story

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