Challenge: Legal Theft: The Assignment (515 words)


The door thudded with heavy security, but the boy on the other side of the bars still shivered as he faced me. I stood, a guard behind me, in a small antechamber of sorts, before a room divider with a door that locked from the inside, the boy on the other side.

I was surprised by the room divider’s inelegant design. The vertical boards hardly matched the refinement of the rest of the mansion that I’d seen, a strong tell that they’d been quickly—and probably poorly—constructed. The boards were spaced too far apart. They might deflect an arrow shot hastily or from a distance, and I allowed that the boy would have time to run or hide if the assassin came with only a sword or knife or blunt instrument, but an assassin with time could easily push an arrow’s tip between the bars before releasing.

Lying amidst brocade and velvet cushions as the boy was, and wrapped in a heavy velvet robe himself, the neckline fur-lined without his—I was sure—having hunted and skinned the fox, it was hard to pity him, though I’d heard what had rattled him—and it was enough to rattle any but the toughest-skinned.

“Do you know why you’re here?” He tired to inject his voice with steel but it was brittle as a dry twig.

“Aye, boy,” I said. “I suspect. Rumor travels fast.”

“Can you do it? Can you find it? And kill it?”

I wasn’t sure how much of me he could see, but I still fingered the wooden beads around my wrist for show as I said, “I suspect so. But not easily.” If the boy suspected devilry and magic then it was best to make a show of being pious.

“You’ll have whatever you need.”

Nobles are always saying that. It’s what makes the job profitable. The fun is in coming up with outlandish and expensive necessities and plausible uses for them when all I really need are my wits, a knife, two good ears, and stealth. With those accoutrements alone, I can usually find and end any threat. But I thought for a moment. “I’ll need a ruby, one about the size of your palm, a stylus strong enough to etch the gem, six sheets of clean vellum, ink and a pen, and a few of your hairs—to track the beast down, young master.”

“I’ll tell Styles. You’ll have them. All of them. The ruby might take time, and the stylus….”

“The sooner the better. I might be able to track the beast without but I’ll have no container for it.”

“Will only a ruby do? There’s a sapphire in my mother’s—in my collection that’s about that size.”

I ignored the stumble. “Hmmm,” I said, while trying to suppress a smile, “a ruby and a sapphire are about as hard as one another. I think it’ll do.”

“I’ll—I’ll give it to you then. For this.”

“And the other things? When can I expect them?”

“Give Styles your address as you leave. He’ll see that you have them.”

I’m abysmally late.  Apologies have been made to all the appropriate parties but you, dear readers.  This week’s theft was from Kid at The Gate in the Wood.  She wrote “Tonic and Poison” but we saw only her first line before we wrote our own stories.  I wasn’t the only thief.  Here are our other thieves’ works:

Kate at More Than 1/2 Mad wrote “Breaking Containment.”

Gwen at Apprentice, Never Master wrote “Through Walls” (563 words).

Bek at Building A Door wrote “Behind Bars.”

I suspect I may have to continue this story at a later date….


About Kathryn

My love of books has been carefully cultivated by the adults who raised me and also by the friends who love to share. My life has led me down long library shelves, to online forums, fanfiction sites, the front of a lecture hall, and into the desks of college classrooms. With an English degree and a couple master’s classes in Children’s Literature, I am now a bookseller for Barnes & Noble. I have been an editor for Wizarding Life Networks (the people who brought you Wizarding Life, Panem October, and MyHogwarts now HogwartsIsHere).

2 responses »

  1. I enjoyed reading that! I definitely hope you continue it at some point. I love the notion of trying to cheat rich nobles out of things that aren’t really needed for the job. Not that I have any plans of cheating nobles, mind you…with *this* innocent face? 😛

  2. Pingback: August 29 2014 – The door thudded with heavy security, but the boy on the other side of the bars still shivered as he faced me. – Legal Theft Project

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