Saturday came along swiftly, and the newly formed band of thieves arrived promptly to the Parlow Villa – looking as dashing as ever. The villa was like a castle in the guise of a holiday home. They entered first through a large iron gate with the cursive letters P.V. in the centre, and found themselves traversing a red bricked path surrounded on both sides by a freshly grazed sea of grass. The villa was surrounded by a wonderful garden made up of hedges, colourful flower beds, exotic plants, and trees that had been clipped and shaped to resemble all manner of things.
The villa itself was so huge that it blocked out the falling sun, casting a shadow upon the mass of guests that were gathering below, drinking wine or champagne and exchanging formalities. A balcony stooped over the massive front door, and was supported by two stone pillars on both sides that seemed to ascend from the ground. As the group neared the villa they passed a fountain that shot crystal-clear water into the sky, high enough to touch the falling orange sunlight and glow like whisky raining down upon them. From what Elsie could see from below, the upper level of the house was one open room, and she caught of feint glimpse of people shuffling about behind two bright red curtains that were only half tied up.
Mr. Oliver Tanner smiled and was overjoyed to see all of it. “What a beautiful place!” he remarked. “I am certain in all my years I have never seen another place like it. Now, when we are inside make sure you do exactly as I say. This should be an easy heist however the smallest mistake could mean the difference between success and failure.”
Elsie observed Jack’s eyes darting from one spot to another. “There are an awful lot of guards here, Mr. Tanner. Are you sure you’ve accounted for them?”
A chuckle passed his lips. “Of course. Sylvia was able to sneak a look at their patrol roster. At present there are seventeen guards in the building. Observe the three standing by the main door,” he pointed towards the bulky men in blue uniforms, “and there standing post upon the balcony. Inside, there are four guards in the main hall – not including the two who are manning the staircase – and five in the room for esteemed guests upstairs. Finally, and most importantly, Mr. Parlow has just one guard set upon his private vault in the back of the building.”
“And the Conningham Ring is in the vault?” said Elsie.
“Oh, not at all. The Conningham’s are too proud to lock away their family heirloom in a dark and forgotten vault. They have it sitting in a glass box in the centre of the upstairs room, where all of the most prestigious eyes in Warren City are constantly fixed on it; not to mention the extra guard who is stationed to protect the ring from sticky fingers like mine.” He briefly observed his hands.
Both Jack and Elsie were by now just a little confused by Mr. Oliver Tanner’s methods. “Are you sure you picked the best night to do this? It doesn’t seem that there are a lot of opportunities for us to actually get the ring.”
Tanner’s smile was devious and cunning. “Never underestimate a thief in love, my friend. Besides, this is the only time available when the ring isn’t under complete lockdown. I won’t have another opportunity like this.”
“Okay, so how do you plan on getting it while it’s up there?” they asked.
“I’m not. They are going to bring the ring to me. In a very few moments a good friend of mine is going to tip off Mr. Parlow that the Blue Bandit intends to seize his ring tonight.”
Both Heartwings were extremely alarmed. “Are you mad? What good will that do us?”
“Just wait and see. No one here knows who we are.” Tanner swiftly checked his pocket watch. “But time is short. Shall we go inside? I’m sure our hosts are eagerly awaiting our arrival.” He laughed, and as the evening fell upon them they treaded carefully into the light ballroom of the villa.ns188.8.131.52da2