The Scriosian’s Guide to Survival

“Aye, that was a good tale friend, My turn ey? Well, how about the Tale of Scrios.”

“Oh, so you haven’t ‘eard of the tale of Scrios ave ye? Well now, that’s a story worth tellin’. Take some seat at the bar, buy some drink and get a’listinin’.”

“Now before we start, you should know a little bit about the lands in the story; The first kingdom of Scrios, That is Aminour, was the smaller of the two kingdoms on the continent of Scrios. Ruins occasionally dotted their landscape and not many cities were inside its lands. It’s people opted more for farming communities and small towns. A pity really. However, it was a good place to stay if you wanted a soft bed and a good ale. Even so, always were the guards of Aminour watching the Woods of Syrphin. For dangerous creatures walked about between those trees: Large horned wolves, Trolls, Man eating bugs, and giant spiders. Aye, Giant spiders lived in those woods. But as I was saying earlier, No one dared enter that wood, for those that did, never made it back.”

“Now, the other kingdom of Scrios was called E’ldear. It also lived on the verge of Syrphin. However their arm of the forest was much smaller than those of Aminour had. The Kingdom of E’ldaer was a great powerhouse of Scrios. Its armies were outmatched by none. However, they had very little food production. So, with Aminour’s need for protection, and E’ldear’s need for food. They made a pact. From what I heard however, the nameless leader of E’ldear never liked it. But he never liked anything, nor did anybody know who he was. He could have been a she, and nobody would of known. He (or she) Was hidden, all of his commands were given by his advisors. I wish I knew what life was like before that leader took over. But now, where was I? ah yes, the Leader of E’ldear wanted to break the trust I do think”

“However, The Capital city of Aminour, Tethoris was right in between two arms of Syrphin. It was safe from assault from all sides but one. Only to be in danger of attack from the forest. Belrynna was much more safe from attack, but getting into Aminour was a problem. If they went through the cities, Aminour would most definitely call for help, repelling the assault. and no living man in Belrynna would dare go through Syrphin.”

“Now, E’ldear shared boarders with the Lenkar Sea, not very many people knew what was on the sea, for few who went ever returned, some say the edge of the world, some say sea dragons, but no matter how hard they searched, No sea dragons were ever found in Lenkar. I think it was the end of the world.”

“Another border of E’ldear was shared with the Vortigern Mountains. Little was known about those peaks except one thing: they bred dragons. The Dragons ravaged Scrios back before the kingdoms, but when they formed, the Vortigern dragons fell away, some say they went extinct, but some knew otherwise.”

“On the other side of The Vortigern Mountains lay the great frozen plains of Furlarg. Nobody I spoke to ever knew how it was always stayed frozen, only that it did. Another wood survived here however, but it’s name had passed out of all memory by the time this tale was founded.”

“On the other side of the woods and the frozen lake… Did i mention the frozen lake? It was told that it once connected with Telrasou, and sea dragons were free to roam there before it froze. some may even say that a sea dragon can still be seen in the ice, the king of sea dragons froze there when the lake did. But that’s nothing more than a children’s story. Never did see it myself.”

“Where was I? Oh yes, on the other side of the lake. So, on the other side of the lake, lay the hidden city of Elysium. An underground city it was, hidden in the far north mountains. It was truly advanced that city was. Fully underground, they were able to invent and grow without outside interference, they grew their own culture. I saw it with my own eyes, i did. They had machines that fired large rocks with the flip of a switch. And, i even heard, they’d tamed the dragons.”

On the other side of Telrasou, the dragon sea, was the great Dessert of Massand’e. Nobody is sure how a frozen plane and a dessert wasteland can exist on opposite sides of a small sea, but that it did. Massand’e was a great dessert, sharing a border with Aminour. No water was found inside the desert, but for a sea, and as such, that area remained almost completely unexplored."

Something that not much will believe however, is that a group of outcasts made a life out there in the dessert, surviving only by the sea dragon infested Telrasou sea that rested nearby. Water from the sea, and food from the sea dragons themselves. Where they lived was a city named Marginat. Many outcasts fled from Aminour, and E’ldear, and ended up at that city."

“There you 'ave it, the tale of Scrios.”

"Why, what do you mean I havn’t told you the tal- ah, yes, the tale of Scrios, I remember now. Order a few more drinks, and lets begin.

“It all started long before the time now, E’ldear was preparing for war with Aminour, but they knew they couldn’t have a war unless their own streets were good an’ clean first, so that began the purging.”

“The purging of what you ask? Why, the purging of crime, all criminals were being executed, now, quiet down and listen to the story!”

“They were purging their cities, E’ldear and the sourounding lands that is, not many were able to escape their grasp, but a few did, and those; those few are what this story is about.”

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Malicion. The town southwest-ish from Belrynna was teeming with people. Impoverished people. That was no fun. Poor people had nothing of value to steal.

My eyes were set on the lord of this town. It was said (from shady people in random inns) that he was hording a small treasury – gold and jewels – in the mansion. If you could call it a mansion. It was more like a sad house. Unfortunately, the key for this chest holding the gold and jewels was somewhere else. That location the shady men didn’t happen to know until I paid them. Somehow, the money activated their memory and they told me that the key was in Belrynna. Where in Belrynna he did not know.

It would have been easy to complete this theft had there not been guards protecting the lord’s mansion. I would have to find a way to get them away from the door… or perhaps not…

I had a dirty robe over my regular attire which made me look more like one of the peasants that lived here. It helped me traverse the crowds without sticking out like a… a well dressed person in a crowd of peasants. I moved through the filthy lot and made it to the back of the mansion. About thirty yards above was an open window: my destination. I ditched the robe and moved to the back of the structure. It was solid stone, so it would prove difficult to climb. Lucky for me, there were vines grown all over it. The perfect unconventional ladder.

I made sure all my equipment was fastened then I put my left hand on the vines. I pulled down on it as a test and deemed it to be stable enough to hold a body. I then placed my right hand on the vines and moved my left hand up. I brought my feet to places that I thought were good, sturdy spots for support, then I climbed.

It was only four or five minutes before I made it to the window. The vines broke at times but other than that I made it up without consequence. I slowly rose my head to scan the room. Empty. Perfect. I scrambled up a few more inches then rolled into the small mansion, landing on a carpet silently. I was in. Now, to find that treasury. Those shady characters in the inn said that there was a secret door in one of the storage rooms. Should be easy. I reached to my side to grab my map of the castle that the men had… given to me… but my hand grasped empty air. Oh no. I looked back out the window and there it sat. At the bottom where I started.

I sighed and turned to the door of the room I was in. “There ain’t no way I’m going back for that. Looks like I’m on my own.” And then I walked out the door.

Two guards several feet away did a double take in my direction. “You there! Stop!”

I closed my eyes. Busted. “Hey, look guys,” I turned to face the guards but they were already running towards me. I gasped and ran as fast as I could away from them. My head scanned for some way of escape. There were lots of doors to both my left and right, but any of them could be to more guards or dead ends. Still, straight ahead I knew there were more guards, because they were charging in my direction as well. I had no choice but to turn left.

Dead end. “Just my luck,” I murmured as I turned around and shut the door to the room. The door did have a lock which I made good use of. The guards banged on the door and ordered me to “open up”. I snorted. Like I would do that. Still, I had nowhere to go. My hands reached down to where I held two of my daggers, but then I slowly stopped, my eyes wandering to a single chest in the room. All thought of escape slipped my mind at that moment. “Hello, beautiful.”

I skipped to the chest and opened it, as it hadn’t been locked. Curious, but I soon found out why.

It was filled with socks. Smelly ones.

“Oh, that’s original,” I commented to myself. I dug around in the socks for some hope of treasure hidden beneath, but there were no gold coins. No amethyst jewels. I was about to give up on it but then my hand bumped across something at the bottom. Frowning, I looked closer and saw a small knob. Even more curious. I pulled it, and the room I was in shook only slightly. I looked up and saw the wall ahead slowly spinning.

I couldn’t believe it. I found the secret door and I wasn’t even trying. My luck was awesome!

Without wasting any time I hugged the turning wall and let it spin me to the other side. As soon as it stopped I heard the door to the other room slam open. Oh man, how confused the guards would be!

I turned and my eyes locked with the most beautiful sight I’d ever seen. My eyes watered at the single most smallest chest one could have ever imagined sitting in front of me. I ran to it and tried to pry the lid open but it wouldn’t budge. I saw a keyhole and sagged. Great.

My head whipped around as I heard the wall behind me turning. I picked up the chest with a great effort and immediately ran away from the wall. I did not look where I was going, however, and soon found myself falling. Well, more like sliding. I slid for around a minute (in complete confusion, I might add) before I could make out a small opening ahead. I soon slid out of it and found myself actually falling towards a pool of water below. I was lucky it wasn’t too deep, for the chest I held sunk fairly quickly. I was able to haul it and myself to shore.

I wasted no time in pulling out one of my knives and sticking it into the keyhole, twisted it a few times to no effect, then I proceeded to stick it in the seam and attempted to pry it open. The knife snapped in half and I had to dodge the incoming blade shard.

“Well,” I said in a rather depressed voice. “Looks like I’m just going to have to find the key. Belrynna, here I come.”

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I could’ve avoided this mess if I left this behind, but I need this necklace more than the visiting countess would understand.

Everything was going well: The guards didn’t care who was watching the procession. The litter baring the lady drew closer to the monument. I squinted down below, counted to three, and shoved off the head of the statue.

Just as planned, the procession panicked, the guards swarmed the monument, and I slipped away.

The countess, flustered, stormed out of the litter to shout at the guards who surrounded her. All the onlookers rushed away to avoid potential conflicts, all accept a blind girl. Her grey hood drawn over her eyes, she hobbled aimlessly into the circle of metal-clad men.

“Halt.” One of them commanded, thrusting out his hand to prevent her movement.

The blind girl, strangely unstartled, felt his meaty hand curiously.

“That young woman is… blind,” stated the countess, “Alone, in the middle of Belrynna. Have you no caretakers, girl?”

The girl in question nodded her head.

“Well, where are they?” the countess asked sternly, drawing nearer to the hooded figure.

The blind girl slowly lifted her hand to point at the wealthy woman.

“Oh you miserable creature, have you no thought of what you are supposing?” the countess shook her head, “Why no one disposed of you at birth is beyond me.”

Suddenly, the blind girl stumbled forward towards the speaker. As she staggered to regain her footing, she swiped at the countess’s neck, breaking the chain of her diamond necklace.

The countess shrieked as the “blind girl” flung herself between the guards and was well on her way. They chased her through the streets of this crumbling city, and have been chasing me for several hours since.

After several hundred twists and turns, the guards were lost in the slums of Belrynna. A slum dweller watched from decaying rooftop, fingering the necklace they so long for.

Little do they know, I need this too. More importantly, she does. Even if she can’t see it, somehow she knows its valuable. Which is fitting, because my sister is valuable too.

Over one rooftop, then another, then I slide along a third to meet the ground. But before I could move on, I saw something new on the ground. Something is growing through the broken tiled path. I gazed at the slender green stem in wonder. In a city as dead as Belrynna, a growing thing is nearly magic.

I stood up from the ground, waved goodbye, and sprinted across the forlorn rocks to scale the walls of a broken tavern. The wooden sign of The Jolly Dragon swung back and forth in the wind, welcoming me home to the unknown attic.

As soon as I thumped a foot on the floor, I heard a shuffling figure approaching from a corner. Emmie may be deaf and blind, but I promise you, my sister feels everything.

The little girl smiles, her unseeing eyes staring nowhere. Her hair, the same color as mine, is pulled back loosely. She rushes up to grab my arm and spell into my hand.

“You came back!”

“I found something.” I spelled into her hand.

“What?”

I reached into my cloak, pulled out the necklace, and laid it in her hands. I beamed as Emmie fingered every part of it. One she knew the surface, she pulled me back to where she keeps the others. The box of priceless jewelry shimmered in the dim light of our single lantern.

Grabbing my hand, she spelled, “Treasure!”

“Treasure!” I spelled back, “They are beautiful.”

“I know.”

Emmie tugged my arm to bring me to a different corner of our attic. Here, she made shapes with a wad of clay. Where she found the clay, I really don’t know, but she plays with it for hours.

“I made a flower.”

I stepped away to grab the lantern. Unlike Emmie, I need some light to see. I don’t remember the last time I saw a flower, but Emmie still knows what they feel like. I ran my finger along the detailed grooves that formed the five petals.

“You are amazing.” I spelled into her hand.

“Does it look pretty?” she asked me.

“The prettiest flower in the world.”

Emmie beamed, running her fingers once again over her latest creation. I moved the lantern back to its hook on the highest beam of the ceiling. It’s just the two of us in this splintering, dimly-lit attic, but this is best place for us to call home.

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Malena Laegeth walked into Belrynna. Hopefully she’d be able to make enough money with this load of furs and skins to buy food for herself and her daughter. Prices were going up, ever since the purging started. Most likely to root out those who would chose to steal. But even so, when the price is too high, even the rich will steal… The rich steal now.

She stepped into the line of people buying food and other supplies from Bard. When her turn came, she placed the furs on the table in front of him.

“This all ya got?”

“I’m afraid so, the hunting grounds are running dry this season.”

“Well, I’ll give you what it’s worth.”

Bard placed some coin in Malena’s hand and she thanked him. Malena didn’t like this ‘purging’. The king arrested the poor, and those not rich enough to buy food, but not those who are even worse, but just happen to have more money. That’s why Malena didn’t live here, she wanted to stay as far away from the city as possible.

She quickly stopped by a vender and bought a few salted foods, the more imperishable, the better. She saw above her a young girl running upon the rooftops. Most likely escaping the king’s guard.

“Good, run,” Malena mumbled under her breath.

A trio of well armored men-most likely guards- ran into Malena, knocking all four of them to the ground. She stood first and scowled at them. They stood after her and then continued on running.

Malena realized something there. They’d taken her coin. Even the guards that were supposed to be ending the corruption were corrupt. She needed the coin for the food, she needed the food for her daughter.

Malena pulled out her bow and knocked an arrow. However, the street was simply to crowded, she couldn’t get a good shot. She’d have to go after them herself. But no, her skill was by tree and root, not street and crowd.

Malena looked up at the rooftops where she’d seen the girl… Yes, she’d hire her, maybe then she’d be able to buy food for herself and Astra.

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I opened my eyes to the dim darkness of the attic. Emmie was sound asleep on the pile of clothes beside me. Rising from the clothing heap, I shook out my cloak and pulled it around my shoulders.

I slipped through the trap door and onto the roof. From there, I let myself down by the overgrown ivy.

From the outside, anyone would think The Jolly Dragon was long out of business. It may not be much anymore, but there’s always one bartender and one probably under-age being of depression inside. Sometimes, I forget they exist, unless one of them sobs more loudly than usual.

However, I had more important things to do besides watch the wildlife. Today I have one objective: Find something to eat.

The pickpocket emerged from the maze of alleyways to be today a thief of fruit, and possibly a potato.

I pulled the hood low over my face and lost myself within the crowd. Soon enough, a fruit basket came into view. While the vender was distracted, I slipped a few apples into my cloak and quietly slipped away. So it went for the next fruit vender, and the next. They never suspect a thing.

Until I laid my hands on a potato.

“That’ll be three copper coins.” the lady barked.

This lady, who was missing an eye and was twice my size, seemed determined make someone pay for that potato.

But potatoes are Emmie’s favorite, meaning that someone’s not going to be me.

The potato lady roared furiously as the petty thief rushed away with the prized vegetable. To the thief’s surprise, that vender began a chase…

Into the alleyways, onto the rooftops, through the remains of the supposedly-haunted ancient palace ruins.
Needless to say, I don’t have a potato for Emmie, or two un-swollen eyes.

The defeated petty thief stumbled back through the ruins with her newly-bruised apples. As I trudged along, I saw a patch of moss growing on the wall. Tired, I staggered over to the spot and sat across from it, admiring the green.

Until a long shadow fell over me.

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Malena strode over to where she last saw the thief before she disappeared, she had to return eventually. And that she did, she ran into Malena’s view and into the city streets in an instant. Malena followed her into a market square where the thief stole food, more then a single person would need, unless she was stocking up.

Malena pushed herself through the crowd of shoppers, barely able to keep the thief in sight, sometimes losing her entirely, only to find her again minutes later. Soon after Malena lost the thief for the fourth time, a large woman started pushing through the crowd, calling “Thief” and “Give back that potato!”

Malena could guess who she was chasing and so followed in the lady’s wake to the best of her ability. Inevitably, the lady got hold of the thief and returned the potato to her own possession. Malena would have bought it from her had she any money, but no, she did not.

As Malena walked past the lady, the woman stopped and turned towards her.

“I don’t know what reason you have to go down this way, but steer clear of that one over there, she’ll steal your coin. I won’t help you get it back.”

Malena thanked her, however, her only intent was to talk to the thief. The lady stepped back toward her stall (Which in this time was probably completely void of potatoes) and left Malena alone in the alley. She walked up to the girl, rousing her with her shadow, for the sun was low. Astra was expecting her back midday tomorrow, that meant she had to get her money and get home before then.

“Hello thief.”

The girl looked up at Malena, roused by the voice, However, she didn’t respond. She appeared to be a young girl, not yet adult. Her eyes were a pale green, and her face was freckled. Under her grey hood lay some dirty blond hair.

“I want to hire you.”

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“I want to hire you.” said the strange, scar-faced bowwoman.

I rose to my feet and squinted at the curious speaker. Too late to pretend to be blind, I suppose.

“There is something important I need you to do.” she continued, “You are just the person I need to do it.”

I watched her in silence, breaking eye contact once to brush the dirt off my pants. She waited for a reply. What happens when the thief doesn’t respond?

“Four guards from the palace stole the coins I earned after selling my furs.” she told me, her face stony, “I would go after them myself, but I’m a stranger to this city. I would lose them in minutes if I tried. You, on the other hand, run pretty well over the rooftops.”

I grimaced, uncomfortable with the thought of this brooding huntress watching me from the ground.

“You don’t have to fight them.” she went on, stepping closer, “All you have to do is pick their pockets and return my money. I’ll give you something in return.”

I pressed myself against the crumbling wall of the ruin, careful not to crush the patch of moss.

“The choice is yours. Find me again if you want to know more.”

The scar-faced woman nodded to the trembling thief before striding out of the ruin. I stepped away from the wall, wondering why a lady that intense would want a scrawny urchin pick-pocket to reclaim her stolen coins.

As I mulled it over, I slipped away from the ruins and returned to the streets. As I walked, I pulled an apple out of my cloak to cringe at its fresh bruises.

“I’ll give you something in return.”

The worthless fruit thief crept back through the alleyways, leaped over rooftops, and crossed the broken tiled pavement to the place she had to call home.

“The choice is yours. Find me again if you want to know more.”

She never told me what that something was, but at least it could be something.

I wrenched open the attic trap door, greeted Emmie, and we shared the bruised apples. I watched my sister woefully as she felt every inch of our apples. This was our breakfast, possibly lunch.
A bunch of worthless apples.

I grabbed Emmie’s hand and signed, “I have to go. I will come home again with something new.”

“What something?”

“It is a surprise.”

I hugged her goodbye and crossed the tiny room to let myself out.
Until someone else did it for me.
I drew in my breath as a bright-eyed, messy-haired brunette peered inside the attic.

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I took my first step on the cobble streets of Belrynna, trying one last time to pry open the chest. It didn’t work, and my arms were getting quite tired from carrying it. I couldn’t keep it with me just in case the population of this town decided to inspect the chest. And by inspect, I mean take it for themselves! I wouldn’t part with the gold inside. Not. One. Piece of it. The only problem was where I should hide it. It would obviously have to be somewhere that no one would look. Perhaps I could purchase a room in an inn, because those were totally not robbed every half-hour. I could start from there and possibly find somewhere better while I was at it.

So I walked through the busy streets with stands of apples, potatoes, and other foodstuffs on either side of me. I watched with a barely noticeable smirk as several children worked together to steal a few apples. One distracted the shop owner by means of guilting him while the other two robbed him blind. I shook my head with slight disapproval as I continued on. How petty youngsters could be, stealing apples.

I bumped into a man who had just left the apple cart. He gave me a sour frown, straightened his shirt then moved away again. I apologized, though he likely hadn’t heard it, then I continued on, throwing the apple I just stole from him up into the air then catching it again, taking a large chunk out of the juicy fruit.

That was around the time I came upon what I was looking for all along. An inn. The Jolly Dragon Inn, to be precise. It looked to be in – for lack of a more extreme word – disrepair. I had a few coins on me. Perhaps I could afford a room.

I walked in and set the large chest on the counter, my arms thanking me for the rest. This brought several gazes to me. Probably not the smartest move to bring my loot inside, but I couldn’t just leave it for any street rat to take what I had rightfully stolen for myself! They didn’t risk their lives in a castle with trap doors only to find socks, only after that to actually find the chest, only after that to not have a key, only after-

I stopped myself. I was rambling on in my head again.

“How much for a room,” I asked the barkeep. He was a burly man with a thick beard. He smelled of some unsavory drink.

The barkeep eyed me, then my chest, then me again. “Fifty coins,” he said, raising a large glass of before-mentioned unsavory drink. I nodded to him. I think I had fifty coins somewhere on me- “per night.” the man finished.

I gasped. Per night?! Was he crazy? Who spent that kind of money at a broken down place like this?! “Uh, sorry,” I said, sliding the treasure chest off the counter. “I’ll find somewhere else.”

The barkeep nodded and watched me go. I sighed. I had been hoping that he’d lower the price if I threatened to leave. Any sane person would have. I guess I would just have to find somewhere else, though I kind of doubted I would find a place cheaper than this.

Just before I walked off towards the streets again, my eye caught something. Vines were growing on one of the side of the Jolly Dragon’s stone wall, not much different from the mansion in Malicion. If I scaled the wall, perhaps I could get a better view of Belrynna. Maybe find a place to hide my treasure while I was at it.

It only took me a few tries to climb up the vines with the chest (if you have ever done that before, you should know what I am talking about), but climb them I did. I swung the box to the top of the building. Before I got to looking around, however, I spotted something most peculiar. Some kind of trap door? Possibly leading to an attic or other manner of secret room. Perfect! It was like it existed in this world just for me. I approached it and looked for a way to open the door. Sure enough, there it was. I pulled and the door opened, then I moved to lug the chest inside.

But someone already was. Two messy-looking girls were standing there.

Great! The last thing I needed was an already taken hiding place. Why did everyone besides me get the good places?!

“I, uh…” I searched for a way to explain what I was doing in their space. “You don’t happen to know where another one of these hidden rooms are, do you?”

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“You don’t happen to know where another one of these hidden rooms are, do you?” asked the messy-haired intruder.

This was the first time anyone had ever found my attic. How was I supposed to respond to this…

Therefore, I stared at the intruder with a horrified expression. He grimaced in return, glancing away before something in the room caught his eye.
Emmie’s box of jewelry shimmered in the low light of the attic. His eyes bulged, then shrank to a pinpoint after my apple core narrowly missed him.
I snatched Emmie’s core off the floor and hurled it in his direction just moments before he slammed the attic door to escape.

The apple core hit the floor without a sound. Emmie was messing with the clay in the corner, unaware of what just happened. I slipped out the trap door to glance around. The intruder was gone… but was it safe to leave?

Emmie and I need something for dinner.
If I find that huntress again, I’ll get the reward.
But what will I do if he comes back and takes everything?

I ran my hand along the top of the trap door. Either option would cost us something; either food for the night or priceless treasure… but only if he comes back…


I skidded to a halt on the sloping rooftop. The four guards matching the huntress’s description were marching in a box-formation below. I watched them for a minute more before slipping away.

As the guards made their way back to the castle, their path was blocked by a large, newly-turned barrel of apples. The seller, appalled by the situation, began gathering the fallen fruit while begging for mercy. The guards, annoyed, waited until the sea of apples was cleared. After a while, a passerby began helping the seller gather the apples back into the barrel.

Sadly for fruit vender, however, not every apple made it back to the barrel. Several may have been pocketed by the passerby, as well as the coin from one of the guards.

As soon as I could, I returned to the rooftops and sprinted home. Over one roof, then another, then through the alley maze. Pretty soon, The Jolly Dragon was in sight… as well as something else.

New rage boiled within me as I watched the messy-haired intruder shut the door of my attic, the entire box of jewelry in his filthy hands.

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One of the girls appeared to be completely oblivious of me while the second stared dumbly in my direction, slowly inching away from that expression into plain fear. I didn’t look that bad, did I? I had to sacrifice some things – including my good looks – in order to escape the law some of the time. It wasn’t my fault that I looked (and probably smelled) like a sewer!

I sighed. It was probably the only abandoned attic in town. Who was I to think that I would have been the first to discover it? This was probably one of the most populated cities in Scrios, of course it was taken by two orphans.

I turned to leave but then I saw something that made the embarrassment of intrusion all but disintegrate. Jewelry! A whole box of it, and it looked at me as if to say, “Take me away from this place.”

The older girl obviously didn’t appreciate me eying her plunder and threw an apple core at me. I dodged the what-was-once-fruit and saw a horrifying sight. She was going for a second one!!

I shut the door just in time. Letting out a long sigh, I retreated from the attic. As soon as I found a place to hide my treasure, I would be back for theirs. I needed it more than them, anyways. What were a couple of urchin girls going to do with a chest of priceless jewels, anyways?!

My mind was racing as I descended from the top of the tavern. Two trunks full of goodies. I could hardly believe my luck! Once I was down, I ran into an alley; it was probably filled with countless more urchins, but there were none in sight. I walked for maybe five minutes before taking the chest in both hands and gently setting it down on the torn cobble right beside a building. I glanced behind me just to be sure I was alone. I couldn’t have anyone stealing what I stole, now, could I?

The best part about this hiding spot was that there were boxes, crates, barrels, etc. It was the perfect choice of placement because it fit right in. Everyone who came across it might think it to be empty just like the rest. Buuuut… just in case, I piled a few of the crates around and on top of the chest. Couldn’t take any chances.

Now, back to those beautiful jewels!

I walked out of the alley the way I came in then scaled the Jolly Dragon from the same vines I did before. Now at the trap door, I hesitated.

Are they gone? I asked myself.

Probably. It’s been, what, fifteen-ish minutes? Of course they’re gone.

Aye, you’re probably right. This will be a clean getaway.

Like all your other ones?

And then I opened the door.

A smile broke across my lips as I entered. There was no one here- Oh no. There was someone here! But… it wasn’t the apple core intensified urchin, but rather the one that hadn’t noticed me before. And she still didn’t notice me. I placed my feet on the ground as quietly as I could. Had she been deaf or just really unaware of her surroundings, I didn’t know.

I slowly walked towards the jewelry box and placed my first hand on it, my head never leaving the urchin besides one or two times to see where I was going. She still hadn’t noticed me so I placed my second hand on the other side of the box and lifted up. It was a lot heavier than I expected, but I didn’t know what I expected. It was a box of treasure, after all.

As I made my way back to the attic door I stopped myself. I had been stealing for… a while, now. All my life ever since… Never mind “ever since”. This was the first time I really did so from, well, a child. It felt heartless of me. But as I stated in my thoughts before, I needed it more than she did. I had a living to make.

I silently slipped out of the attic and shut the door, still not believing that I had made the burglary so stealthily. Why the girl inside hadn’t seen me was beyond me. All that really mattered, however, was that I did it. Combining this and my other already substantial amount of treasure, I was going to be the richest man in all of Scrios.

And then I saw something that chilled me to the bone. The second urchin was running towards the Jolly Dragon, and, if I might add, closing the distance between us very quickly. I gasped then ran across the roof of the inn in the opposite direction. I would be the richest man if I got away with this.

As I ran, I noticed that the urchin followed. This box of jewelry must have been worth it, because where I was running to was the town square, and she was blocking the only other way to go. We would draw the attention of the entire city’s authorities. But I couldn’t turn back and just… give it back! That would not only be a blemish on my pride, but then I wouldn’t have the treasure in my possession anymore!

So I barreled forward into the busy streets, dodging carts of apples, peasants, and running past guards who definitely took notice of the two messy urchins’ chase.

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It’s strange, I’ve never been on the other end of mad dash through the city before. I guess this is what it’s like to be stolen from…

The messy-haired intruder jolted aimlessly through the allies, turning on a dime when he came to a dead end, forcing his way through a decaying wood fence.
His pursuer was no where to be seen.

It was getting dark. The thief staggered through the now-abandoned market, set the box on an empty barrel, and grinned.
Until someone landed on his shoulders.

After a brief struggle on the ground, he came out the victor. Before he could reach the box, however, I grabbed his ankle and yanked him to the ground. Before I could grab the box, he did the same… and then me, then him, then me.

“Look, I don’t want to hurt you. Okay?” the thief said, right after pulling me to the ground.

“You… you don’t know what I did for those!” I stammered, grabbing his ankle for the eighteenth time.

“Yeah? Well you don’t know what I’ll do for them either.” he replied.

With that, he got the best of our endless scramble and rushed to claim the jewelry.
Until he was interrupted.

“Stop right there, both of you!” shouted a guard, “Unhand the countess’s jewels!”

Of the nineteen countesses I’ve robbed, I wonder which…
Thankfully, I didn’t need to find out.

The thief darted into the nearest alleyway with the box, the guard close behind him. The two of them scampered through the narrow passage, squeezing through broken gates and leaping over piles of rotting food.
But there was only so far he could run.

Finally, the guard had him cornered in a dead end. A nearby roof was sagging down, almost close enough to for him to escape… if he left the box behind.

“Surrender, thief!” the guard commanded, holding him at spear point, “Unhand the jewels!”

Then, the thief looked to the roof and saw a familiar face. Maintaining eye contact, he gave the guard a witty comeback and leaped through the air to the roof. The familiar face held him steady, the box between them.

Until I kicked out his knees.
I kept the box steady as he fell to the alleyway floor. The guard bound his wrists and triumphantly hauled him away.

If he ever looked back to the roof, I don’t know. By then, the familiar face was returning to the ruins to find the huntress.

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