The Thief of the Rose - Cover

The Thief of the Rose

Copyright© 2012 by R22CoolGuy

Chapter 14

Aaron waited by the wall for the sky to darken sufficiently enough to be invisible and then climbed over the wall, dropping silently to the ground on the other side.

Pulling the hood of his cloak over his head he made his way to the Central Quarter and the 'Dragon's Horn' Inn, searching for Remo.

He found Remo in the same back corner table and after pleasantries got down to business. Remo had followed Master Darius as Aaron asked. Master Darius did in fact use a blind drop, the same location Lord Beadle visited a few hours later. Darius made several trips to the drop as did Lord Beadle. Remo was never able to actually investigate the content of the drop so he didn't know what was passed.

Aaron thanked him and settled up, asking one final question.

"I am curious, what God do you pray to?" Aaron asked.

"What God, milord?" Remo asked a little nervously. "The God Thief is my patron, why?"

"Just curious, Remo, nothing more," Aaron replied slowly pulling Red Rose from it's scabbard from under the table. Looking around for backup and after noticing a man several tables over watching, he leaned in close to Remo.

"Remo, you and I have worked together for a long time," Aaron said, slipping Red Rose in under his ribcage and into his heart. "It is a shame it had to end this way. Darius would never have been in league with Beadle. I know who Darius' patron is and it is not Malachi."

Pulling Red Rose out and wiping it on Remo's pant leg, he guided Remo's upper body against the wall. Pulling a black rose from his sack he placed it in Remo's lap. Sheathing the sword he stood up and slowly made his way out of the taproom, checking behind him for a tail.

As he left the taproom, Aaron noted the tail. It was the same man paying his table way too much attention earlier. Aaron turned left at the first alleyway, moving far into the alley before fading into the shadows.

The man from the taproom slowly made his way down the alley sword at the ready, when Aaron struck out with Red Rose blocking the sword up and away while attacking with Black Rose stabbing the man, center of his chest piercing his heart. Aaron withdrew Black Rose and wiped it clean on the man's cloak. An investigation revealed nothing of value except a guild token for the Thieves' Guild, which Aaron kept. Aaron sheathed his swords and left the alleyway.

"Well, now I am going to need to find a new informant," Aaron thought as he made his way out of the Central Quarter.

"Who to visit first?" Aaron mused. "I need to talk to Darius, first the contract and now this Beadle thing. Someone wants me to think he is against me. Someone wants Darius dead."

"Yes, Darius first," Aaron decided, "and then a long talk with Master Reynaldo."

Aaron left the Central Quarter and made his way to the Merchant Quarter and the home of Darius Greystone, Master Assassin and head of the Assassins' Guild.

Arriving at the Darius' home, Aaron stopped to weigh his options. Knocking on the door or trying to gain entrance by other methods, seemed to be the only options, although neither were particularly attractive. It's normally not a smart idea to show up on a Master Assassin's doorstep without making prior arrangements. Aaron needed to get Darius' attention without getting killed.

"Well, either he answers the door, or he kills me," Aaron thought as he knocked on the door.

The door was answered by an elderly gentleman, "Yes? Ah, Master Blackmoon, good evening, Master Darius is in the study. Shall I announce you?"

"Yes, please," Aaron replied. "Thank you."

Aaron watched the old man walk down the hall, stop at a set of double doors, knock and enter. A few moments later the door reopened and the butler walked back toward Aaron.

"Right this way, milord," He gestured. "Master Darius is waiting."

Aaron followed him down the hall and entered the double doors into a lavish room, filled with books, a large desk and a sitting area by a fireplace. The fire was lit and Darius was sitting in a large chair holding a glass of amber liquid in his left hand, his right hand down in his lap. The chair was angled more toward the double doors than to the fireplace.

Darius Greystone was of similar build to Aaron's, with blue eyes and blonde shoulder length hair. Inconspicuously dressed to blend in to his surroundings, a man you wouldn't look twice at. Even tempered and a friendly smile masked a dangerous man, someone not to be taken lightly.

"Aaron, what a surprise! Is this social or business?" Darius asked.

"A little of both I am afraid," Aaron replied, standing in the doorway. "I know this is a bit unusual, but I needed to talk with you tonight and I am not officially in the city. There is a plot afoot that includes trying to put us at odds and I would like to discuss it, if I may?"

"At odds?" Darius asked. "I am not sure what that means."

"Look, Darius, can I sit down and talk?" Aaron asked. "I am feeling pretty vulnerable standing in this doorway."

"All right, come in and sit down," Darius replied. "In that chair right there," pointing to a chair across from him.

"Thank you," Aaron smiled sitting down. "I do not suppose you have any more of that Gnomish single malt you are drinking?"

"Business first, pleasure later," Darius smiled, keeping Aaron in full view. "Now, you said that there was this plot?"

"Yes, I did," Aaron nodded. "There is a contract out on me, supposedly sanctioned by the Guild. It is a bounty contract for 10,000 gold. Do you not approve every contact?"

"Well, every one of high value," Darius replied. "But you should know that we would never sanction a contract on a master within our guild."

"Never?" Aaron asked.

"All right, it has happened in the past," Darius conceded. "But it would have to come from the palace and it would have to be authorized by the council."

"Aaron, I know of no such contract," Darius continued, "nor would I approve of one. Just like you would not if the circumstances were reversed."

"I know, too many repercussions if it went bad," Aaron nodded. "But the word is out; the Assassins' Guild has certified a bounty on my head. There is something else as well. But hear me out before you get upset."

"Go on," Darius replied.

"I am still investigating the contract on Wheatstone," Aaron explained. "I needed to know who initiated the contract, so I may have had you followed to determine the drop site and who visited it."

"You had me followed!" Darius nearly screamed. "Maybe I should have authorized a contract on you. Aaron, that is almost unforgivable, you had me followed?"

"Darius look at from my side," Aaron tried to explain. "I needed to know who put out the contract on the assistant to the Merchant Guildmaster. What I've uncovered since then, has made that information even more important. Look, if it makes you feel better, the person that followed you is dead."

"Why is he dead?" Darius asked.

"He gave me false or at least misleading information," Aaron replied. "Trying to convince me that you were in league with a plot to overthrow the King."

"And how do you know I am not?" Darius asked.

"For the same reason you wouldn't approve a contract on me," Aaron explained. "I would take any attempt on the King as a personal attack and retaliate. And we dear brother-in-arms, always play for keeps."

"True enough," Darius nodded. "Now as to following me, I will forgive you," Darius smiled. "I am concerned about this plot. Who wants the King dead and us at odds?"

"Darius, I was not asking for forgiveness," Aaron smiled back. "Just understanding."

"Fine, it amounts to the same," Darius conceded. He put down his drink, reached over with his left hand and poured Aaron a drink, "Here, now who is heading this plot?"

"Thank you," Aaron tilted his glass toward Darius and took a sip of the whisky. "Excellent whisky, the Gnomes do make the best. Anyway, His Grace, Lord Colin Beadle, is trying to usurp the throne. His plan is to do away with all of the heirs; I think he is trying to replace key Guildmasters as well. Along those lines, Briard is missing, do you know anything?"

"No, I have not heard anything," Darius replied. "So, based on what you just said, I guess you suspect foul play."

"Well, since the man in his place is part of this insurrection," Aaron spread his hands, "Yes, yes I do. I have a thought; do we even need a separate guild for thieves anymore? What if we just folded them into the Assassins' Guild and had one guild responsible for both, there is a lot of cross over."

"While the idea does have merit," Darius replied, thinking about it. "No, they should be separate, I know a lot of thieves are assassins too, but keeping them separate ensures our autonomy. Most assassins would not want the publicity that the thieves get."

"True," Aaron acknowledged. "It's just... , I'm going to have to remove the acting head of the Thieves' Guild and figured folding them in to this guild would be easier. I do have a person in mind to run it, contingent on the council's approval. I guess that is my option."

"Darius, thank you for your time and whisky," Aaron grinned, setting the glass down and getting up. "Sorry about the nature of our meeting, it could not be helped and I did not have time to contact through the hall."

"Well, I guess I will forgive you for that too," Darius stood and smiled, placing the small crossbow he was holding in his right hand on the table. "The information you have, offsets the lack of manners. I will look into the contract tonight."

"All right," Aaron replied. "I will probably be at the palace tomorrow, arrested or something, not real sure yet. But let me know as soon as you have something."

"I will," Darius said, walking him to the front door. "Be careful out there, bad men prowl the streets at night."

Aaron laughed, "Yes, I have heard that. Good night."

As Aaron moved down the street, a darkened shape moved away from the shadows across the street from Darius' home, discreetly following Aaron at a distance.

Using the information gleaned from Drexil, Aaron made his way to Master Reynaldo's home. Upon arriving he checked the place out, as well as determined the number and location of guards. He hid in the shadows awaiting the return of Reynaldo.

Reynaldo returned home and after checking with his guards retired for the evening. Aaron quietly slipped into the house and garroted the guard stationed near the front door. Silently making his way through the home he found and garroted three other guards, ending up outside of the door to the bed chambers.

After listening intently at the door for any noise, Aaron slowly opened it slipped inside, closing it again. Aaron stayed still against the wall searching for anything out of the ordinary. He made his way over to the bed and covered Reynaldo's mouth with a cloth soaked with a knockout potion.

When Reynaldo regained consciousness he found himself naked and bound to a wooden chair; arms, wrists and hands bound to the arm rests. Looking up he saw Aaron picking his nails with a dagger.

"Did you have a pleasant rest Reynaldo?" Aaron asked. "I am going to ask you several questions; your willingness to answer those questions will determine how long you stay in that chair and how uncomfortable the stay will be."

"I have nothing to say," Reynaldo smirked.

"Wrong answer and I have not even asked anything," Aaron smiled moving over to the chair.

He stuffed a strip of cloth in Reynaldo's mouth and then pressed down on his left hand and held the fingers apart and pushed the point of his dagger under the nail of the pinky finger. Reynaldo's muffled scream could be heard throughout the house as Aaron pushed the point in and pried up, popping the nail off.

"Now, shall we start again?" Aaron asked, removing the gag after Reynaldo calmed down. "Where is Master Briard?

"I do not know!" Reynaldo screamed, starting to hyperventilate.

Aaron stuffed the gag back in and then pushed the dagger point under the ring finger nail and slowly pushed in and pried up, popping that nail off.

"Two down, eight to go," Aaron said, again waiting for Reynaldo to calm down before removing the gag.

"Master Briard is dead!" Reynaldo screamed. "I killed him."

"Reynaldo, I do believe he is dead," Aaron smiled. "But let us be honest here, you are just not skilled enough to do it by yourself. You seem to forget that he and I joined the guild together. I know his skill level and you are just not good enough. So... , who killed my dear friend, Master Briard?"

"No, I did, but I had help," Reynaldo replied. "I lured him into a trap, and then with the help of others, I killed him."

"I'm going to need those names, Reynaldo," Aaron said flatly. "It will be easier on you if you just give them to me; you know eventually you will."

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