IS, V1, Chapter 4: The Thief

I’ve always been a thief and a coward, but I was never ashamed of myself until that day. I saw over a hundred-thousand people die in a few moments, then that monster forced everyone who was left to entertain him.

My name is Ethir Gurgaranor; I had just become ten years old, which meant that I was technically an adult. On that day I refused to fight, not because it was wrong to kill for his amusement, but because I was afraid to die.

No one ever saw me, they never did, even before that day… but I saw them. Watched as they died, saw the dragon smiling and laughing at their screams. The children and many of the various nobles and royalty were able to evacuate, while the rest of us were left to our fate.

I was jumping from roof to roof throughout the city, while sticking to the shadows when I first saw him. A pale skinned boy who appeared to be human, yet had a cat’s tail. It was my first time seeing a child who was so tall, but I had heard stories that described much larger races.

He was perched on top of the highest point in the city, the tip of the gateway pyramid. After a few minutes he jumped and began falling at an incredible speed towards the ground. Half way down, he stretched out his arms and legs, making as much drag as possible. Then he just stopped falling and began gliding through the air while searching for something.

The boy went to the Rat district first, then the Dwarven district, and finally he stopped directly above the dragon. It was difficult to keep up with him while running from roof to roof, but somehow I managed.

Using such complicated wind magic so effortlessly meant he had to be at least part elf, or maybe just a prodigy. It made me wonder where he came from and how he got there, but what I saw next was even stranger.

He flew like an arrow, face first into the side of the dragons head and disappeared. Then the dragon began roaring and yelling while shaking its head violently. I noticed the large opening which was probably an ear of some sort, but had no idea what that could accomplish.

Obviously, even a dragon’s ear would be sensitive and relatively weak, but still. After hearing what the dragon just said, most of the people who were fighting stopped and simply broke down in tears. Huge crowds of people were struggling to get through the gateway as fast as possible, but there were just too many and the portal within the pyramid was still recharging to open a new one.

Meanwhile I was standing only 300 meters away from the massive dragon, hiding on a rooftop, watching and waiting. We Red Goblins usually aren’t religious but we are always superstitious, I knew there was something special about that boy the moment I saw him.

My golden eyes were the reason my clan abandoned me, but they did give me power. Besides excellent night vision and being able to see farther than anyone I ever met, I could also see mana.

It was everywhere and unless I really focused on it I didn’t even notice anymore. That dragon radiated a thick, dark brown aura, which made sense since it was a powerful and cruel earth dragon. However, the boy had none… it was completely clear.

Even a person with almost no mana would still have a light aura, which gave hints to their personality, experiences, magical affinity and emotional state. He was an aberration and even without being able to directly see it, I could see the waves of mana in the air around him. Sometimes they would darken to the purest black, then quickly become brighter than the sun and finally returning to normal.

After a few threats, the dragon suddenly stopped and its eyes completely lost focus. It was in a daze, or a trance of some sort and continued to roar periodically. After an hour its entire body became limp and fell to the ground, closed its eyes and exhaled for the last time.

By that time the portal had opened again and the remainder of the citizens had evacuated, it was just me. I waited three hours before I had enough courage to examine the situation up close.

The dragon was definitely dead, but climbing up its giant head and crawling into its ear hole was still terrifying. Inside of that extremely dark room, there was a boy who had terrible burns all over his body. The veins in his arms, face, and chest had turned black and there were dark bruises outlining all of his ribs.

It smelled like burning hair and I noticed that his previously fluffy black tail was completely bald and charred to the bone. What did he do to cause such horrible injuries? Even though he looked dead, he was still able to take shallow breaths.

I wanted to help him but didn’t know how, so I did nothing. Just sat in that rather spacious ear canal with my back against the wall and started at his body silently from across the room.

An hour later I was shocked to hear a woman’s voice yelling “Michael! Are you in there?!” loudly from outside. That’s when she appeared in the entrance completely naked, the most beautiful woman I had ever seen.

Her rather large eyes were bright red and glowed in the darkness, illuminating her pure white hair with a crimson hue. High cheek bones, a small and straight nose, extremely long and pointed elven ears, small lips that seemed to be dyed red and the palest skin imaginable. She had a very thin waist, but she didn’t look like she was starving.

She screamed “Oh no! No! You can’t die! Michael!” in a high pitch voice that resounded violently within the tiny room. The boy instantly woke up from the sound and began staring up at her, but she was far too upset to notice.

I tried to speak, I wanted to reassure her that he was alive and even conscious. However, I was too afraid of her reaction… in such a situation I was just watching them like a voyeur. While her son was in such terrible shape, I could do nothing to comfort her.

She finally noticed that he was awake and stopped crying long enough to yell “Michael! Oh no! What do I do?! Please don’t die! Don’t worry I’m going to make you all better!” in a slightly relieved but extremely upset voice. After that she placed her hand on his left shoulder, it seemed like she was trying to cast a healing spell of some sort, but it failed.

Then they stared into each other’s eyes for a few seconds and I could see a pulse of mana surging from the center of his forehead to hers. She suddenly looked completely calm as he lost consciousness and her face made a determined expression.

She easily lifted his body, which was at least the same size and weight as her own and quickly carried him out of the room. She was so focused on searching for something that she didn’t even notice me following them.

They went deep into the Goblin district’s slums and entered a house that was abandoned even before the dragon attacked. From the rooftop across the alleyway I was able to see them through a small circular window.

She placed his body gently onto a bed on the far side of the room, and just sat there next to him. I could only see the back of her head and it wasn’t loud enough for me to hear from where I was, but I knew she was crying again.

I was a thief in a city that was completely empty, I should have been stealing as much gold as possible. Yet I was just crouching there, on a rooftop in the slums, watching her cry and wishing there was something I could do to help.

Amazingly the boy named Michael was able to wake up and even speak by that night. It seemed like he couldn’t lift his head, but his mouth was moving and it felt like he was telling her to do something. She was shaking her head and probably saying she wouldn’t or didn’t want to.

Eventually she gave in and bent her head down towards his right thigh, which was closest to her. I was pretty sure they were mother and son, plus he seemed a bit young to be doing such things. It wasn’t like I was jealous or anything… just concerned that he was coercing her into doing something she didn’t want to.

After stealthily crossing over to their roof and peeking through a rather large hole in the ceiling, I saw and heard something strange. She was biting down into his thigh and making loud slurping sounds as a decent amount of blood was escaping from her mouth.

He said “You have to be careful. The veins and arteries in legs are much larger than the ones in arms. As soon as you finish, use fire magic and burn the wound shut. Next time use my calf or I might die.” in a serious voice, then started laughing.

She was a vampire, a cursed race that typically need humanoid blood to survive. Usually they go insane, but the ones who don’t are cold, calculating monsters that enjoy torture, rape and murder. I didn’t understand how her aura could be so warm and kind, but it made me even more interested in her… them.

After burning the bite marks closed she said “I’m so sorry Michael… I should have been able to stop myself sooner than that. Wait, you never answered my question!” in a worried voice.

He sighed and said “Because the dragon broke my first law… I was also kinda hungry. Speaking of which, since I can eat now… pick one of those jars of disgusting garbage and feed it to me.” in an irritated voice. Somehow I imagined him having a deeper voice, but I guess he was still a child after all.

She said “I was asking HOW not why…” in a dejected voice while standing up and walking over to the cabinet, unfortunately outside my view.

Michael closed his eyes and said “Even if I explained it, you probably wouldn’t even understand the terminology and it would take forever. Basically, I used lightning magic on his brain while trapping his mind in an illusion. Shutting his vital organs down took way more time than I thought it would and that’s why I ended up accidentally frying my own body in the process.” in a bored voice, like that was something mundane.

She returned to his side, with a jar of pickled pigs feet in her hand. After opening it and plucking one out using her fingers, while wearing a fairly disgusted face she said “Ummm…. do people really eat these things? What are they anyway? They smell terrible…” while gagging. After sitting him up, she slowly fed it to him while looking away. Then she said “Well I’m proud to have such a smart and powerful son… but please don’t do something like that again, Ok? I thought I had lost you… do you have any idea how painful that is?” in a sad voice while frowning.

After swallowing the last bit of the pig foot, he smiled and said “I’m sorry for worrying you Rae… I love you and you should know by now that anytime you’re in pain, I feel it as well. So please don’t cry over me, it hurts far worse than any physical injury could. Well, technically I’m still mostly paralyzed so I can’t actually feel any pain… but you get the point.” in a surprisingly gentle voice.

Seeing how much they cared about each other made me incredibly envious, but I was a coward. For five days I practically lived on their rooftop, watching them, listening to their conversations, only leaving for a few hours every day to steal some food or use someone’s toilet in the neighborhood.

Shortly after sending a few scouts to discern the situation, the residents of Black Mithril quickly returned in large waves. Before the dragon came there were about 100,000 of each race, afterwards there were only roughly 50,000 dark dwarves, 30,000 rat tribe, and 20,000 red goblins.

By the sixth day, they had already removed and cremated most of the bodies and the dragon was completely dismantled. The three matriarchs gave a slew of speeches, talking about the old legends, even though most people had already heard them in one form or another.

My version was from an old history book I stole a few years ago, I sold it for a few copper coins. For a homeless thief like myself, personal possessions are pointless. Anyway, here’s a summary of the book.

————————————————————————————————————–

Long ago when the Dark Dwarves were the only inhabitants of the city, the giant gates were always opened wide. Supposedly, it led to a rich black mithril mine that they would use to create the greatest swords and armor in the whole continent.

The final mining expedition managed to dig deeper into the earth than ever before. It was a story about moderation and the dangers of greed. What they found was a dragon named Culdrell, a truly massive creature that was so large that it couldn’t even fit through the gigantic tunnels they had dug to get there.

The dragon was living inside of a massive empty caldera filled with more gold and precious gems than any of the dwarves had ever seen before. However, they were miners and craftsmen, not warriors or mages.

No one knows how or when the pyramid in the center of the city was built, but inside was the gateway to the city which was named, Black Mithril. It led directly to the great forest on the surface, a riverside wood elf village which quickly became a nexus for trading all over the continent.

The wood elves were excellent archers and had an affinity to nature magic, but they had no concept of material wealth. Outside of the forest, to the west were plains for hundreds of miles where my ancestors used to live.

They were nomads and mercenaries that human kingdoms would hire to fight in their petty wars. However, they were often betrayed or cheated and wanted to settle down somewhere peaceful. Killing a dragon certainly wouldn’t be an easy task, but there were hundreds of thousands of powerful warriors and mages within their ranks.

When the dwarves asked, they gladly accepted their offer, knowing that most of them would die in the process. The rat tribe were a little more complicated, since their real interest was a cut of the gold rather than a place to live.

Since they already lived underground in various cave systems, the rats were experts in subterranean combat. Without their deadly poisons and stealthy tactics, the two armies would have never been able to slay the dragon.

However, during the battle Culdrell was stomping, roaring, running, slamming into the walls, and by the time it finally succumbed to millions of small wounds, the damage was done. The earth began to quake and spouts of lava shot up all over the huge room.

Only 25,000 of each race survived, and very little gold was actually retrieved before the room was flooded. The gates were sealed shut because they worried that the lava would pour into the city after filling up the caldera and tunnels.

The dark dwarves kept their word about providing a place to live, even though the outcome of the battle was disappointing. At first the three races lived together, but eventually they decided to split it three ways and each stay in their own corner.

Strangely enough, each race had similar political structures with matriarchs. Supposedly men were too easily corrupted by power, so they weren’t allowed to interfere in politics or become officers in the military.

———————————————————————————————————————

Now that the gates were destroyed, they started making plans to restart their mining industry. It sounded completely irresponsible to me, but they seemed to take the dragon’s mysterious death as a divine message or omen.

My interpretation was a bit different, but still very similar. Rather than continue stalking Rae and Michael, I wanted to be a part of their lives. Unfortunately, they never left the house… so I basically had to break in just to meet them.

After stealing some glowshrooms from a mushroom vendor, I finally made my move. As soon as I entered through the window they were both staring at me. For the first time in over 6 years people were actually looking at me, it was horrifying.

Michael was looking at me with curious eyes, but Rae was actually afraid of me. How could anyone be afraid of me? My presence was nearly nonexistent and even with his crippled body, her son could probably have still killed me with little effort.

After cautiously approaching her, I reached out to hand her the bag. Michael sighed and said “It’s OK Rae, just take it. Thank you for the food.” in an exhausted voice.

She yelled “Michael, you shouldn’t trust people so easily! He looks like a thief… it’s really suspicious! Maybe he’s an assassin, trying to poison us?” in a worried voice, but I quickly fled before hearing the rest of her lecture.

I passed out as soon as I made it to their roof, it felt like my heart was going to explode. It was just too much, being that close to people… he even spoke to me. However, I was determined to reach my goal, even if it meant having to speak!

From listening to their conversations, I discovered that Michael’s favorite food was raw fish. It did seem a bit strange to eat something raw, but his mother was a vampire and he did seem like he could be part cat tribe.

The fish vendor was an easy target, but the next part was much more difficult. After steeling myself, I entered through the window again. With the rather large salmon in my hands, I approached the beautiful Rae. This time she gratefully accepted it and actually smiled at me while saying “Thank you.” in such a sweet voice that I couldn’t breathe.

I turned around to quickly make my escape, but then I heard Michael say “Thanks for the fish but can you tell us your name? Otherwise I won’t know what to call you next time.” in a sincere voice.

My name literally means spy, which is why I was tempted to make one up that didn’t sound so sketchy. It took a few seconds but I finally decided to say it “Ethir.” in a quiet voice and then flee out the window.

It took me seven days, but I finally spoke to them… it was actually the first time I had spoken to anyone in close to seven years. When fencing stolen goods it was actually safer to remain unseen and unheard, so I never really had a reason to interact with other people verbally before.

I was surprised that I even managed to say my name without stuttering or biting my tongue. Well, after that day I continued to keep bringing various types of food for three weeks. Each time I would stay for a few seconds longer, but never managed to speak.

Michael had introduced himself and Raelin, but I already knew their names from my… surveillance. Each day, Rae would use incredible healing magic of at least advanced rank on his body. Healers and mages tend to classify their spells into different ranks… I stole a couple magical tomes.

Someone like me who has a very small mana pool would have trouble performing even the basic rankless spells. For example, exhaling would have more of an effect than an unranked wind spell.

There are many different colleges, schools, temples, shrines and academies for magical research or practice all across the world. At least that’s what one of the books said, personally I had never even left Black Mithril before, but books are usually right.

The first rank of magic is considered neophyte, beginner or novice depending on where you go to learn it. That is essentially just moving water, air, earth, or fire around… it isn’t usable in actual combat or anything really. Mainly just a foothold to increase your mana capacity through practice and training.

The next step after that usually requires a teacher, so they call it apprentice or student class magic. That usually gets to the point where you can start to use actual spells that can hurt or heal, but only just slightly. Creating a small flame, curing a small insect bite, blowing some sand into someones eyes… it’s a lot harder than it sounds.

Adept spells include fireballs, waterbolts, wind blades, throwing stones… without touching them, and regeneration. Very few magic users make it past that point, but the ones that do are considered the most powerful people in the world.

To become a matriarch, a female mage or healer must prove their skill in Expert class magic. Usually, people can’t raise their affinities high enough to use more than one type of magic at that point.

The dark dwarven matriarch was an earth mage, she could lift and throw a block of stone that weighed over a thousand pounds. It was also possible for her to bend and shape most metals without touching them, pretty easily.

The rat tribe’s matriarch was a water mage that specialized in healing. She could cure deadly illnesses and use recovery spells, but it took a lot of effort and ran out of mana very quickly.

Our matriarch could use expert fire magic, which was basically just really powerful fireballs and flame throwers. She could melt steel, but it did take a little while and a lot of mana.

Advanced doesn’t really sound like it would be above expert, but it makes more sense if you think of expert being the starting point. To be completely honest, I didn’t actually know about anything past expert because the books simply gave the class names and their order. I knew that Rae was using healing magic above expert, but not anything more specific than that.

After that it was master, grandmaster, and legendary with divine as the absolute highest class of magic possible. The two of them were far beyond the comprehension of normal people, and would probably be considered monsters. Although technically blood elves were already considered monsters.

A month of advanced healing magic was enough for him to be able to move around by himself, but his body was still extremely scarred. He actually had an aura, but it was only pain… just looking at it made my head hurt. According to him, the pain meant that his body was recovering properly.

I’m pretty sure the reason he was taking so long to heal was because Rae would drink a decent amount of his blood every day. However, he was definitely recovering and it wouldn’t be much longer before he was completely healthy again.

I wanted to become one of them, but it’s difficult to become closer to someone without actually saying anything. They would speak to me though, one time I even stayed in the room for a whole hour before running away.

It was a gamble, but I decided to steal some clothes for them. I enjoyed seeing Raelin’s beautiful, naked body every day but since my eye level was at her breasts… I didn’t want her to think I was just some horny goblin pervert. Luckily, they weren’t actually nudists, just really lazy and never cared enough to make or find something to wear.

There were a decent amount of wood elf clothing shops near the pyramid for tourists, so I was able to pick out a few dresses for Rae. Michael seemed to prefer wearing nothing but trunks, so shopping for him was very quick and easy. They were very happy with my gifts and wore them whenever I was visiting.

The dwarven calendar had 12 months, each of which was roughly 30 days long, but some cultures didn’t even have a concept for weeks. There was a lot of things about the world that Michael wanted to know, but even if I had the courage to speak… I really didn’t understand his questions most of the time.

On the 37th day since the dragon attacked, I was in the room with them for much longer than usual. Michael was cooking something he called ‘Bacon’ using a large frying pan, fire magic and thin slabs of salted raw pork that I brought him. When he said “Ethir, in case you haven’t already noticed, my mother doesn’t really eat food like we do. So why don’t you stay and enjoy this meal with me? I’ve been curious for a while now what your face looks like under that mask.” in a casual tone, while sitting at the small table in the center of the room.

His hands that were previously charred beyond repair, were almost completely healed. I noticed that his fingernails grew long and sharp like a cat tribe as well, but it was strange that he didn’t have the ears.

He let the pan sit on the table, then while casting a light flamethrower spell from his right hand, he used water magic to move the grease around with his left. Every few seconds he would use a weak wind spell to flip the pieces over. No matter how many times I had seen him cook using magic, it was always entertaining.

I was far too nervous to speak, but I nodded yes and then took off my mask and hood for the first time in front of them. Unlike our relatives, green goblins, we don’t have the symbolically large nose, or the perturbing tusks from our mouths from our ancient orc ancestors.

For the most part we have similar features to elves. Basically just large eyes, long pointed ears, a small and straight nose, lean muscles, and thin lips. Red skin and thin fang like teeth made us hated and feared by most races, and for a long time we were actually considered demons.

My teeth were slightly thicker and stronger than the average red goblin, which was another reason my parents abandoned me. Supposedly my imp blood was too thick, so I was an embarrassment… I was still a little bitter.

Somehow I just knew that they either wouldn’t notice or care, so I grinned unconsciously. After looking at my face Raelin said “Oh wow! You’re a lot younger than I expected you to be! How old are you?” in a surprised voice.

After struggling for a few seconds I finally managed to say “Ten… adult.” in a quiet voice while looking down at the table. Then I saw a plate of crispy and shriveled pig meat slide into view.

Michael said “It tastes a hell of a lot better than it looks, probably. I actually have no idea what red goblins like to eat, or what your personal preferences are, but it’s probably fine. Mpfh, I *coughing* think theres a bit too much *cough* salt.” in an excited voice while chewing loudly on a strip of crunchy pork.

I was so nervous, but there was no way I could refuse his offer and it did smell really good. There was something special about it, besides simply tasting delicious there was a distinctive but intangible flavor I couldn’t discern. After eating the other three pieces, I started to feel a strange burning sensation near my heart and spreading across my chest.

It felt like small beetles were crawling around underneath my skin, down my arms to my fingertips, and up my neck to my face. When I looked up at them, Rae was shocked but Michael was smirking. I took off my worn out black cloth gloves and looked at my hands which were tingling.

There were black spiral tattoos swirling around my fingers and wrist, forming into a circle on the backs of my hands. Within each of them was the number seven and then bright golden symbols appeared within the black lines, but I had no idea what they meant.

Rae yelled “Michael! What did you do?! Isn’t that a binding spell!?” in a loud and angry voice while glaring at him.

He started laughing and said “Calm down Rae, it’s just a simple blood pact… well you were pretty out of it when this part happened with you. Don’t worry Ethir, it’s nothing malicious… just a small gift. I’ve seen the envy in your eyes every time I used magic, this little trick won’t turn you into a mage or anything. But… it basically lets you bypass that shitty mana pool growth limiter you have.” while smiling and pointing at my chest.

I had always suspected as much, but apparently my mother really did place a curse on me as a baby. He must have dripped some of his own blood onto the food before giving it to me, but I never even noticed. After a few seconds the symbols on my skin disappeared and after that the black markings began to fade as well.

To be completely honest, I was a little disappointed that they didn’t stay visible… I thought they looked interesting. Rae breathed a sigh of relief and said “Oh good! I was worried that you would ruin his cute face with all those scary tattoos. Wait, that happened to me too?! When?” in a concerned voice.

Michael told the story of their first meeting and the first time he fed her his blood. It just made me want to ask even more questions, but I never did. Suddenly I was feeling extremely tired, I tried to quickly get up and make it to the roof, but before I could stand… my face fell to the table and I lost consciousness.

It was my first time waking up in a bed in over 3 years, but it was surprisingly comfortable. The first thing I noticed were two beautiful voices that I had never heard before. They were definitely singing, but in a language I didn’t recognize and sounded so serene that I could barely open my eyes.

There was a strange warm breeze blowing past my face that felt surprisingly soothing. When I looked over to the center of the room, Michael and Raelin were sitting cross-legged… while floating in the air.

Their eyes were wide open and they were singing a harmony with each other, it was something I had never seen them do before. Actually, I had never seen anyone do something like that before. The song was like a mantra for the wind spell they were using to levitate, and they were staring intensely into each other’s eyes.

I could see pulses of mana traveling back and forth between their foreheads. That went on for nearly an hour until Rae seemed to run out of mana and fell to the ground abruptly. Michael stopped singing and started laughing while she stood up and pouted.

Rae yelled “It’s impossible! How am I supposed to play such a complicated game with you while trying to remember lyrics in a language I don’t know and controlling my mana usage at the same time?!” in an angry voice while glaring at him.

Michael was grinning as he stopped laughing and gently lowered his body to the ground. After he stood up, he walked over and hugged her tightly, while saying “I’m sorry for pushing you so hard. I wasn’t trying to tease you… and if you didn’t like those songs, you should have mentioned it earlier. The language doesn’t matter, it’s just a simple exercise to expand your mana pool while increasing your affinity to air magic. The game was just to fight boredom, I’m surprised you’ve never played a board game before though.” in a sincere voice.

As they separated, they looked over at me and noticed that I was awake. Rae quickly apologized for being so loud and then Michael asked me a strange question. He said “I know you don’t like to talk, so I didn’t want to say anything but… how much do you know about this world? What I mean is, the geography, races, countries, empires, history… unfortunately I’ve been living my whole life in a cave and Raelin never left her village. I need to plan for my future, but I have no idea what I want to do… you don’t have to tell me of you don’t want to.” in a curious voice while staring into my eyes from only a meter away.

I knew exactly what to do, what he needed from me, and how to become a part of their family. After quickly getting out of the bed and standing up, I said “OK, I will.” in a serious voice as I calmly walked over to their window and climbed outside.

Obviously I was so excited to help that I couldn’t explain to them what I was going to do, because that would have taken too many words. After eating someones food, then using their toilet, it was time to do what I trained my entire life for. Something incredibly dangerous that I would always dream about, but never had the courage to attempt.

In the northwestern-most corner of the dark dwarven district was the most well guarded building in the entire city. Shaped like a diamond, was a magnificent palace with huge statues of each matriarch along its southern and eastern sides. There was a huge door on the southeastern tip, but only nobles, royalty and guards could enter and exit that way.

My target was on the third floor of the northern corner, the royal library. A treasury of books, containing forgotten histories to current events, maps and even tomes of forbidden magic. I wanted to just get in, grab a book or two and get out… but it’s never quite that simple.

The earthquake caused one of the statues to collapse onto the library, which gave me easy access directly into the exact room. It also meant that no one was in there because the ceiling could collapse at any moment. The book was literally called “The World” and it was huge, filled with everything I needed… I was an idiot.

When I used all of my strength to shimmy the giant, extremely heavy book out from between the others on the shelf, I ignored my instincts. All of my experiences until now told me to get the hell out of there, but it was right before my eyes… the key to unlock the only treasure I ever really wanted.

The book finally came loose and then fell onto my chest, slamming my back into the floor. There was a loud *Creak* and the shelf collapsed under the weight of the ceiling, I used my feet to push myself away as fast as I could. Unfortunately it didn’t really make much of a difference, since huge blocks of stone were falling from the ceiling straight through the floor.

While gripping the book tightly against my chest, although it covered my entire abdomen, I was sliding down the inclined floor to the one below. Luckily, I managed land safely on top of the pile of rubble and not underneath it.

There are a few places a thief must never enter under any circumstances, one of them was the royal guard’s barracks. No one died, but they were still pretty angry… they took turns convincing me to go to sleep with their fists and boots.

Then I woke for the second day in a row in a bed, except this one came with chains and shackles. It was the torture chamber inside the palace dungeon, where an old dark dwarf with a long white beard and a bald head asked me some questions.

If I had trouble speaking under normal circumstances, how was I supposed to do anything while some scary old man was tearing out my fingernails? I had a very low tolerance for pain, one nail and I was unconscious. Then he started using a different tactic.

I was hanging upside down and completely naked. Then he would use a pulley to slowly dunk my whole body into freezing cold water. After a few seconds he would lift me out, and when I didn’t say anything… well, you get the point.

Eventually he gave up because I wasn’t even screaming, despite how obviously distressed I was. Maybe he thought I was a mute? After putting me in a cage and returning my mostly ruined clothes, he said “Welp, not my problem anymore. Even if you don’t talk, you’re still charged with treason and sentenced to public execution. They’ll probably make a big deal out of it and cut your head off right where that damn dragon died. The Red Matriarch is going to be pissed, but it’s not like she could do anything to help… even if you are her estranged son.” in a tired voice, then yawned loudly while stretching and walked away.

My right index finger hurt really bad, but aside from that I kind of expected torture to be more… creative. Well, all that was left for me to do was sit there and wait while quietly attempting to sing a song I heard Rae and Michael performing. Not that I understood the language, but for some reason it sounded much more depressing in my voice.

“I see my life, passing before my eyes
my weakest moments have seemed to, disappear
every night I’m waiting, just to realize
I see the end, and yet there is no fear…”

I could only remember the first verse…

 

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