"This time things will be different", Linden told herself as she took a deep breath. She mentally prepared herself to face one of the most powerful men in Marsember. Stately Burnyon, the guild master of the only theives guild in the port city of the Kingdom of Cormyr, was not an easy man to disappoint. She lifted her shoulders high and brought her most powerful weapon to bare, her smile.
"Come in Linden.", a deep joyous voice boomed from the other side of the door. She nodded and entered her father's office. As always, he sat behind his marble table looking at today's items of notice. He like to personally assess the value of his theives' greatest prizes before shipping them out to distant allies. He was a good appraiser, a great theif, and an amazing man of business. However, he was lacking when it came to being even a substandard father.
She gave him credit for his attempts at guidance in her early years. He took great lengths to protect her from harm and taught her way to survive on the streets. Once his career started to prosper he even took steps to protect her from himself. He had to make sure that his enemies could not relate her directly to him. This led to her pledge to the order of preistesses to the goddess of beauty, love, and passion, Sune Firehair. They taught her to follow her heart. Which always led her back to this office. Stately crossed the room as she closed the door behind her. He clasped her by the shoulders and kissed her proudly on both cheeks. He was not always as free with his emotions for her. This simple gesture was one of five years in the making. She had been teaching him about her world, just as he had taught her of his in her youth. She longed for the day he actually said the words she heard daily in Sune's temple, "I love you." "I am leaving Marsember, father.",she said using his usuall bluntness against him. The card was played. Now she only had to wait for the the ice to reform on his brow. He did not let his grasp on her shoulders slip as he pushed her to arms length. With a stern imposing glare he looked into her. She always hated this part. He was able, as if by some magical power, to know her exact motivations.
He let his arms fall to his side. A smile crept back on his face, and he turned to resume his position behind his table. He acted as if she had not said a word, as if she was still the little girl of twelve watching daddy work. Linden waited as the moments passed. She wondered if the old man had actually heard her. This was the Stately Burnyon she despised. The man who could watch a king's ransom pass in front of him without any noticable emotion.
At last he looked up from the table and asked bluntly, "Will you be needing traveling money?"
Linden exploded into a rage. She couldn't keep it in any longer. In a fit of emotion she cryed, "Don't you want to know where I am going? Whether or not I will be safe from danger? Who I will be traveling with?" She had said too much.
"Herom. Herom Greteve. That is who you are traveling with. Right? As to where you are going.... Suzail. So he can become a Knight of the Purple Dragons and you, his faithful wife. Will you be safe.....? My dear you are safe in anywhere in Cormyr. I see to that everyday. Anything else, my dear?", Stately had a way of putting these words that fueled Linden's disgust for her father. "No father, you are wrong.", she called him father. To Stately the word was a curse. It showed his vulnerability too keenly. "I told him. I told Herom of who I am and who you are. We are setting sail together. He no longer feels the desire to serve a kingdom that lets such crimnals run rampant. He doesn't want the shadow of the Burnyon guild following him everywhere.."looking out".. for him. Niether do I! Why can't you let me go.", she could stop herself at this point. "If you can't be a father then be a friend.", she finished with the passion only known by true followers of Sune and walked out. She stood outside the office again. She had been wrong. This time was no different.
Stately was torn with conflict. How could she? He was used to her free spirited ways. He was accustomed to the wild fantasies that she tried to lead. However, this was taking it too far. She risked her life and her simple farmhand boyfriend's. If the dullard speaks one word of this secret, Stately would loose his single most precious gem. He would loose his only family. The only thing he think of to protect her was the one thing he knew would drive her away forever. Stately decided it would be best to look into things himself. He could not trust this to any of his subordinates.
The guild master gathered the items arranged on his table. He crossed the room and walked through an illusionary wall into his vault. He returned from the vault carrying a blue traveling cloak and miniature crossbow. With a cautious glance toward the wall he made several small gestures with his left hand. The wall shimmered with a purple glow. The glow faded and he nodded satisfactorily. He tied the crossbow to his belt and donned the cloak. As the cloak fell over him, he became transparent, then completely invisible. The door to his office opened and closed without a sound and he was gone.
From a corner of the office, a slight weasing could be heard. The weasing turned to a chuckle and then to laugher. Black scales formed in the air near the wall. The scales started to take shape as they moved away from the wall. They took the shape of a man sized snake with powerful arms and the head of a cobra. The snake man swayed from side to side weasing with laughter.
"Sssso Ssstatley, you ssseem to have a weaknesss after all.", Staist said through the whistle of his laughter. Staist was the guild master's second in charge. The yaunti had been given many liberties by his guild master, one of which was permission to use the magical potion surplus in times of need. This allowed Staist to slither his way into the office unnoticed during the delivery of today's items of notice prior to Stately's meeting with Linden. Staist had made a practice of spying on his master during this part of the day when possible.
Staist realized that he could see himself in the mirror hanging against the guild master's far wall. His excitement must have sped up the effects of the magic potion in his system. He would have to rely on his natural skills to escape without notice. He slithered prone the door with his head on the floor. He flicked his tongue beneath the door. Raised to an upright position and opened the door quickly. He slid into the hall way silently and closed the door.
Her father had frustrated her so much. How could he be that way?! Not even caring where she went or even bother to ask why. Not that he hadn’t always been like that. It wasn’t that he didn’t care, she was sure of that. He was her father, after all, having trusted guild members follow her around “watching out for her”. But she had just wanted something from him, some ounce of feeling. Something that showed he cared. She would have argued with him over it all and it would have left her feeling better than his seeming disregard had. He was just so infuriating. How could he possibly pretend that he didn’t care like that? She knew that deep down somewhere he did care, and maybe he just wasn’t able to show it or really accept it himself. Not that he had ever been able to really show her any kind of affection or proof that he cared. She just had to accept that he couldn’t and know that he did care, no matter what he might say. But it was still infuriating because the priestesses had always told her to listen to her heart. She became very frustrated with people when they couldn’t follow or even see what was in their hearts.
Somehow, when she thought about him not being able to open his heart, she became sad for him. She hadn’t thought about him in that light, and it made her heart ache for him. But she was also resolved to go back and meet Herom. She couldn’t wait to fall into his arms and sob her frustrations away. His hugs could always make her feel better and she hoped that this time would be no different.
* * *
Stately walked through the crowded streets of Marsember. He headed straight for one of his most trusted thieves home, Samel Travan (note to Corey … you probably had a different name in mind, maybe, feel free to change this whole section if you want). Samel was the best one to follow Linden and her companion with him. Stately knocked on his door, heard shuffling around inside and then the door slowly opened. Samel’s dark green eyes looked out of the crack in the door. He looked Stately up and down, recognizing the blue cloak, but not being able to see Stately’s face because the hood made a shadow over his face in the fading light of day. Stately nodded to him, and this seemed to satisfy Samel because he opened the door enough for Stately to slip inside, and the door was shut quickly behind him.
“You seem to be a bit cautious these days.”
“Never can be too careful,” was Samel’s curt reply. His dark brown hair was almost black and reached just past his nose. He kept pushing it back behind his ears, but it kept falling back in front of his eyes. He was about six feet tall, and well built. He had the same no nonsense attitude as Stately, which was probably why Stately liked and trusted him so much. “What do you need of me?”
“I have a mission for you. I have no need to stress to you how important this is to me, and it is of the highest secrecy.” He proceeded to explain to Samel about his daughter. He had never told him before because he had always sent someone else. Unfortunately that someone else was dead now. Samel didn’t seem shocked or surprised, he just nodded. “I need for you to follow Linden and Herom. Linden has never met you, and you will therefore be able to blend in on the boat. I will be following behind you, and you will be able to leave messages for me to be able to catch up with you.” Samel nodded again, a slight smile twitching at the corners of his mouth. A mission might be just the thing he needed to get out of this rut he had recently found himself in. He gathered his brown traveling cloak and strapped his small sword to his belt, and put his many knives in place up his sleeves and in his boots. He tied his money pouch to his belt and grabbed his small traveling pack. They slipped out the door and disappeared into the crowded streets.
Only one person had noticed that they had gone. He was a burly man, with short cut hair and no neck. He held his arms crossed in front of him. He was hiding in the shadows of an alleyway caddy corner to the door the two men had just emerged from. He grunted to himself. “Knew he was in there. Told meself he was. Shoulda got him meself. Gonna hafta get him now. Gonna hafta get reinforcements. Boss’ll wanna know where he thinks he’s goin’. Can’t escape boss. No sir. Not no one ever been able to. He won’t be the first.” With that said under his breath, the thick man turned down the same street and followed them, careful not to be noticed as more than a passerby.