A Checkered History: Part 1

Chapter One: a Checkered Knight in Tajlynd

Drivena went through the man’s drawers quickly but quietly.  For a man of noble status, Higorin had very little of value in his drawers.

There were some gilded clothes, but few of those would really fit in her satchel, and it could be hard to fence off second hand clothes. What she was really looking for was jewelry, but all she had found so far was spare change. She closed shut the last ornately carved drawer and looked around the stone and wood room. It was almost entirely empty, save for a small nightstand and fancy bed. A large window dominated one wall, revealing the impending rain storm outside. Once again, the silken sheets were worth something, but most people who were buying such luxury goods wanted them new, not in the piss poor condition Higorin had left them in. Drivena knew. It had taken her a few years of trying to finally accept that.

From the staircase came loud clanking sounds, and Drivena quickly moved to take cover behind the window’s curtains. Her uncle Milvatedyn had warned her time and again to case a place before burglarizing it, but she never listened. Drivena pressed herself against the window, the cold seeping through her black sleeves almost immediately. She was happy beyond measure that Higorin preferred thick curtains, or else she would surely have been seen in her last minute hiding spot. The man, who was armored according to his heavy footsteps, lingered for a while. Drivena almost cursed as her skin began to sting, but at long last she heard a door open and close, and stumbled out from the curtains, rubbing her forearms. Now knowing that there was an armed guard, it was time to leave.

Drivena began to make her way to the first floor, staying on the soft green velvet going down the middle of the stairs to avoid the soft thudding of hollow wood. It was just a short walk from the staircase to the front door, but as Drivena reached the bottom she froze, a feeling in the pit of her stomach welling up. She had been there far too long to leave with nothing of value. Drivena swung around and began to walk along the wall. There was one room, in the back of the house, with the tell tale seclusion of a storage area. She hadn’t checked it yet, having decided to save it for last when she had first come in, like one might save the most savory part of a meal. Drivena was not good at prioritizing.

She opened the door, and sure enough this was where all the good stuff was. In one corner there was a vault, and leaning against one of the walls was a fairly nice oil painting. Drivena was not a peruser of the arts, but she could normally sell a stolen piece for at least decent coin. She dug her fingernails between the painting and its frame, and pulled down, horribly tearing it.

 

. . .

 

Drivena turned her attention to the vault in the corner, took from her bag her knife and a thin piece of metal, and got to work. After several minutes, she managed to force the lock open, and looked inside. There was only an amulet, and not even a very good one. It was dull in color, probably some sort of iron alloy, and was rather simple, oval shaped with a small pit in the middle being the only decoration. It was all she had now, though, so Drivena dropped it in her bag and turned to leave. Waiting in the doorway however was a servant, dressed in even simpler clothes than she wore. He hollered, and Drivena moved quickly, putting her hand over his mouth. It was too late, as already thudding footsteps were approaching the stairs. She shoved the servant away roughly and moved to the room’s window. Drivena pulled upwards on it with all her might, but eventually was forced to accept that this wasn’t the type of window that opened and ran back into the main hallway. The guard was there now, dressed in full plate.

“Stop thief! You are on Lord Higorin’s property, and are therefore in violation of the la.”

Drivena did not wait for him to finish his speech and sped past him.

“No, wait!” He shouted as he gave pursuit.

In the courtyard, Drivena quickly identified the low point of the wall she had jumped earlier, and did so again, although with significantly more difficulty now that the stone was drenched. The less athletic and more weighed down guard was forced to take the gate.

The streets were slicked with rain as Drivena ran through them, shoving her way past the crowds of freezing wet people. The moderately sized buildings, closely clumped together to make the best of the room available in a thick forest, left little room for when everyone DECIDED TO DO THEIR SHOPPING AT THE SAME TIME. Drivena muttered a curse at the circumstances.

For a moment she was stuck behind a very large man, but with enough prodding he finally moved out of the way. Simultaneously she elbowed in the direction of someone behind her who had gotten a little too close to her bag. She could hear obnoxiously shouted orders coming from behind, filled with a false aggression mustered in a poor attempt at intimidation. All it really did, though, was tell Drivena the distance of her pursuer. Unfortunately for him, this was not the first time she had found herself in a situation like this. Once the voice had become suitably faded, Drivena fetched from her bag a thick, hooded cloak, and placed it over herself. Resisting the still present urge to check behind her, she turned to her right into an alleyway.

This was far from the first time that Drivena had used this alleyway for escape. It was crooked, tight, and branching, and if you took the right way though you’d end up in a completely different part of the town. In fact, so many times had she traveled this path after a botched heist that it was certain that one day someone would take advantage of it and be waiting here for her. Drivena, however, did not really care. She was a creature of habit, and she would be damned if she was going to stop using the most convenient escape route she had ever found for some vague possibility of a threat.