The Thief653Please respect copyright.ＰＥＮＡＮＡ79YVlKvBJ9
Brows narrowed, Christel Saan fumbled with his lock pick and tension wrench as one by one the pins fell into place. The building guards were still etched into the back of his mind – he had been watching them patrol the gardens for hours. If he was right, and he often was in these particular circumstances, the next patrol was to come around within the next forty seconds. He had to hurry.
The lock gave way, with a little click, and Christel hurriedly entered the house as the prowling guards stalked past. He looked around, half struck by awe, and half struck by anger. Mrs Lynn is indeed a wealthy woman. A big house, a golden chandelier, private security, antiquities such as ancient weapons and other royal treasures, they were all hers. Mrs Lyn’s greed was disgusting, and Christel shadowed his anger with the pleasure that would come of having her riches stripped away from her. But that would have to happen later.
Despite the treasures that surrounded him, Christel had his mind set on one object alone; the benezian diamond necklace that was hidden away upstairs. Fortunately, Mrs Lynn was still away on business in Torren, and she would not be returning to Eden for at least a few more days, giving Christel all the time he needed to disappear.
On light practised feet, he danced up the shining stairway to the top floor. All of the guards waited outside, but still cautious, Christel strode through a series of decorated rooms until he found the place he was looking for. A massive set of double doors lay before him – the edges lined with shining gold. An exhilarating hit of excitement pulsed through his veins. Christel pushed through the dark-red polished doors, which were the only thing that stood between him and the treasure, but as the giant master bedroom opened up, Christel was taken by surprise. On the other side of those double doors stood a woman, and cupped in her petite hands was his benezian diamond necklace.
Out of swift reflex Christel drew his sword and aimed it at the woman’s neck; his arm fully extended, the end of his silver blade caressed her fine skin. For a moment he held the power. Though, before he could move, he felt the cold sting of metal pressed against his own flesh. She too held a sword against him. They were trapped, locked at each other’s mercy.
The woman stared at him with wide hazel-blue eyes – she lifted her brows and Christel realised she was just as surprised as he was. Her face was round, partly hidden away as her brown hair brushed against her cheeks and came to a stop over her breast. The woman was thin, but her sword arm was strong, and yet she had a wide mouth that – in different circumstances – would offer a bolstering smile, although she pursed her lips as she glared at Christel. She wore a fair blood-red blouse and tight black pants, but no jewellery. Christel had no doubt that she was indeed a thief, here to steal from him his prize. But my god she’s beautiful!
“Who are you and why are you here?” Christel asked, cautious not to be distracted by her looks, and already knowing the answer that he was after.
“I’d ask you the same thing,” the woman reputed, her voice was strong but sweet. The necklace was held tightly in her left hand.
Christel had never been in a situation like this before, a rival thief, it was awkward. They stared at each other. Neither thief lowered their blade. “It appears we both want the same thing,” he pointed out.
“Well I was here first,” the woman claimed, and raised her sword a little closer to Christel’s throat. How did she get in here without being noticed?
“You have no idea how valuable that necklace is.” Christel explained. She didn’t, and Christel couldn’t let her ruin his plan, not now. Not after all he had lost. Slowly, he ran the edge of his blade against hers. “You would cross blades with me?” he challenged, trying to hold back a smile. He might enjoy this. This girl was pretty. However he really needed to stay focused. “Give me the necklace,” he demanded, “no one needs to get hurt.”
The woman stared at him with innocent yet fierce eyes. She hesitated. “If you want the necklace you’ll have to take it from me.”
Christel had already anticipated that she would thrust for his shoulder, and when she did he hurriedly brushed her blade aside. But she was quick, and before he could counter she had spun around, her brown hair sailing through the air, and she struck again. Christel deflected her blade, grinding it to the side with a metal swish, and then countered, coming from below for a clean cut along her abdomen. The woman jumped back on two feet and avoided the blow before trying a series of hits on Christel, all the while conspicuously stepping around him.
Christel noted her footwork, it was intentional and precise – she had done this before. Every carefully placed step she made Christel followed, and sword in hand they danced together like that until it felt like hours had passed. It was the dance of death. Christel had fought many duels in his short life but never anything like this. No, this fight he felt something he couldn’t describe – something different, new. His opponent had proven herself well with a sword, her soft hair bounced around as she danced. She was good, but if it were anyone else he would have, or should have, defeated them by now, and yet he fought on.
Their struggle took them back and forth across the room – neither could, or in Christel’s case, would, touch the other. They fought with such finesse that it might have been staged, and Christel found himself lost in the moment. He was reawakened when he finally lost his guard, and the woman took his wrist and placed a hand on his shoulder before hurling him backwards into the desk by the window. He hadn’t seen that coming. In the same instance she aimed a booted foot at his abdomen. Christel was fast enough to get away but his actions uplifted a bigger problem. The desk gave way to the woman’s kick and was sent crashing through the stain-glass window.
Both of them stopped and lowered their blades, and no one breathed as they realised the severity of their actions. The woman’s eyes quickly filled with worry and Christel’s blood turned into ice. Together they looked down through the shattered hole in the window. The desk had crashed into pieces on the concrete floor and the guards who were investigating looked up. They shouted as Christel dashed behind cover.
“Up there!” one of them cried. “Thief!”
The woman’s eyes whizzed around the room and she started to stutter and pace back and forth as the guards hurried towards them. There would not be much time. She groaned in fury and panic and, though Christel would never let it show, he felt the same way. Time was fast slipping away from them and Christel scanned the room – he needed to escape. His first sense was to buy time. He ignored the woman as he rushed across the room and slammed a bookshelf in front of the door. These guards were big men, and that blockage would not last long.
In the midst of his escape Christel looked at the girl, she did not appear like a woman when she was afraid, but instead she looked like a little girl… She’s a thief, Christel, she’s playing you – it’s just an act. Her face was red and with wide-eyes she held her hands together over her chest. He could keep her as a hostage, or even better, make her take the fall for the robbery after he obtained the necklace from her. It would make things much, much easier for him. But he knew he couldn’t do that, if he were smarter he would, but it was cruel.
He needed the necklace regardless, and she’d never give it up to him. He could hear the guards storming up the stairs like a raging stampede of elephants. He glanced at the blocked door and made his decision. Christel faced the girl who had a moment ago been his enemy.
“These men are more than serious,” he stated, seriously. He stepped forward slowly, trying to be the good guy, to be sincere. It was now as if their fight had never happened. “I don’t know what you’re playing at, but give me the necklace and I can help you get away from them.”
The girl couldn’t tear her eyes away from the door. “You’ll help me get away,” she said, looking at him. “You promise.”
Christel nodded, “I promise, just give me the necklace and we’ll work together.”
She hesitated at first, understandably, but then she extended to him her hand with the necklace. It glowed in her fingers as if it were its own source of light, but as he reached to take it she smiled, a deceitful smile, and pulled a pair of handcuffs from behind her. Before he knew it the woman snapped them around his wrist and Christel was chained to the bolted-in bed frame, trapped like an animal at the mercy of his captor and Mrs Lynn’s brutal security.
Christel tore at the chains with all his might but it was no use. “You deceitful little… thief!” In his anger he couldn’t think of a better word. He was angrier with himself for being so foolish than he was at her for fooling him. “Handcuffs? Really? What thief brings handcuffs?”
The woman smiled. She had started to rip the sheets from the massive bed and was shaping them into a crafty white rope, “a well prepared one,” she said smugly as the guards banged against the door. Gently, she lowered her sheet rope down from the hole they had made with the desk. She ignored Christel, and her actions became rather casual. She was mocking him, he realised. The woman had changed now, and she once again had the grave look of his enemy.
“Wait, you’re just going to leave me here!” Christel cried. “To them!”
The woman glanced over to him, “that’s the plan.”
He wanted to strangle her, but he needed to stay calm and review his options. He could tug at the chains until his wrist broke; he could try for the lock pick in his back pocket, but there wasn’t enough time; or, and worst of all, he could try and bargain with his enemy. Christel could feel the door giving way under the weight of the guards. Dammit! “Hold on just a moment.” He stopped her. “I can help you make a lot of money. That diamond necklace you are holding, it’s a key!”
The hinges on the door were starting to splinter. The woman rolled her eyes. “Yeah right.”
Christel tore his eyes away from the sound of the guards and again tugged at his chains. “No-no-no, hear me out! There is treasure to be found – riches to be stolen! You know, the good stuff that we – the more professional – thieves ought to go for. A good solid heist, and an easy one too, but I, I mean, we, need that key!”
The woman was ready to leave but she stopped. “How much treasure?”
Christel smiled with desperate relief, “more gold than you could ever imagine. An entire vault. If you let me go I’ll let you help, and we can split the take.”
She cautiously tilted her head. “By how much?”
Damn this woman! “Seventy-thirty.” He offered. “You need me for this!”
In an instant the woman’s intrigued expression faded, and she started to climb down. Christel’s eyes widened with panic, “sixty-forty!”
“How much do you want this?” The woman teased him by dangling the necklace before his eyes. It was so beautiful – laced with benezian amethysts with a single, large jewel in the centre. He stared and listened to the banging on the door. The punishment for thievery in Eden was the removal of the right hand – the gruesome image of it flashed before his eyes. He rather liked his right hand. The penalty for crossing someone like Maryanne Lynn, well, Christel didn’t quite know, and he didn’t care to find out.
“Alright! Fifty-fifty, an equal partnership. That’s still enough to last you two lifetimes, now let me go!”
The woman finally came forward hastily with a little silver key but then she stopped, crouching in front of him. “How do I really know this treasure exists?”
“How do you know it doesn’t?” Christel replied.
At last the woman nodded and unlocked the cuff that was strapped to the bed, there was no time for the other before the massive wooden door came crashing down and the small force of guards stormed in, swords at the ready.
Christel followed close behind his new partner as she pounced for the window and slid swiftly down the white sheet-rope. The fabric was so smooth and silky under his hands as he took hold – he was afraid he would fall.
Expecting freedom, Christel cried out triumphantly “ha-ha!” as his feet touched the garden ground, but the sight before him quickly demolished his lingering spirit. A dozen more guards approached and quickly encircled the thief and his new partner. Unaccounted for, they were most certainly not part of the plan. Why does Mrs Lynn have so many?
The woman stood firm against Christel’s back, and he could feel her soft hair on his neck as she flicked a curly brown strand behind her ear. She drew her sword and aimed it at one guard at a time, as if she was deciding which one to take on first. She and Christel spun slowly around in their cage. “We follow my escape plan,” she murmured through her teeth.
Christel’s eyes shot to the faces of each guard. “I know how to find the treasure,” he argued softly, “we follow my plan.”
The woman tilted her head towards him. “Fine. There’s no time to argue. This better be a really good plan.”
Christel listened until he heard the distant whistle of a passing train on the far horizon. “Don’t worry,” he smirked and placed a hand in his pocket. “I come prepared. And if there’s one thing you should know about me, I have excellent timing. Now shut your eyes.”
He gave her only a split second to react before pelting a little rounded smoke bomb at his feet. It exploded like a flash of lightning and then devoured the garden courtyard in a thick grey sheet. Christel took his partners hand and yanked it forcefully towards the ground – together they fell just in time to avoid the initial thrust of the guard’s swords. Amazingly, the two in front managed to drive their blades into the two behind before even realising it. Now Christel drew his own blade and knocked the others aside as he and his partner crawled out of the smoke and made for the maze. Another band of guards tried to intercept them as they ran. “Stop them!” one shouted. “They are heading into the maze!”
The maze itself was an alluring place, with little tiles covering the ground and massive walls of luscious green. Christel still held the woman’s hand tightly as he navigated through – it was sweaty due to all the commotion. They had lost the guards – as planned – but Christel never slowed his pace as he dashed left and right, this way and that, sharp turn after sharp turn in what appeared to be a seamless direction. However, Christel’s partner could hear him muttering directions, a path, under his breath as he ran, “left, left, straight, right, left…”
The uproar of angry guards receded behind them, and the gentle thunder of the train drew ever closer. It seemed like they would never reach the end. Christel stopped – he and his partner short of breath – at a discrete hole that had been knocked into the east wall that surrounded Mrs Lynn’s property. The woman would have acknowledged his skill in planning but she could barely breathe, and they still had a train to catch.
As a gentleman would, Christel let his partner go first and together they slipped out, free of pursuit, and ran with all their remaining strength towards the oncoming train. The terrain was clear desert sand, and they ran downhill from Mrs Lynn’s home. Christel’s lungs burned, his heart pounded, his eyes began to water and yet he pushed on. Short of physical death, he sighted his target, an open carriage – as was arranged – and he continued to fight the burn. Just a little more!
With the speeding carriage only meters away Christel placed his hand around his partner’s thin waist and hurled her onto the train. He made his jump, and thudded hard against the steel floor of the carriage. Had this woman not caught his hand and pulled him in, he might not have made it. Now that they were safe Christel just laid there, next to her, his face as red as the sun, and he battled himself to control his frantic breathing.ns 126.96.36.199da2