It was around midnight by the time the three associates that Grenorl specifically choose joined them in the situation room, locking the door behind them.
From the fireplace Fairris curiously watched them enter the room, first came a human male with dark hair and mismatched eyes of brown and blue. After him a lithe female Valenthōr skipped in, her mousy brown hair dancing around her shoulders in tight curls. Last strode a male Mōrgul cat with black hair with silver highlights and deep green eyes.
As they stood around the table, Grenorl motioned for Fairris to join them.
“Come, meet my most trusted, and skilled associates,” Grenorl bade, “The Mōrgul is Belfur, the Wood Elf is Lillien, and mismatch here is Garren.”
“It is a pleasure,” Belfur smiled, his sharp canine teeth flashing in the fire light and showing one made of gold.
Lillien smiled widely at her, and Garren only gave a slight nod, his strange blue eye regarding her closely.
“Why all this secrecy, Grenorl?” Belfur asked curiously.
Curiously to Fairris this Mōrgul cat did not speak like most of his kin. Most of the Mōrgul always spoke in third person with odd punctuation, which was accompanied by very subtle micro-expressions. Which Fairris had only begun to realise when she was in the company of another Mōrgul cat, Marin’cul, during the battle on the Morrow Plains.
“As I said, you three are my most trusted associates,” Grenorl replied seriously, “And this task that has come to us requires a great deal of trust, and a great deal of skill. Not to mention luck.”
“Who is giving us this task?” Lillien asked as she lent on the round table.
“My employer,” Fairris spoke up, “Who will remain unnamed for everyone’s benefit.”
Belfur and Lillien looked at each other curiously, and Garren remained quiet and devoid of expression.
“What are we stealing?” Belfur asked, as his eye narrowed.
“Firstly, you are either in or out, right now,” Grenorl said, “If you leave now you must never speak of being here. And if you stay, and we succeed, you must never speak of it either.”
Again Belfur and Lillien looked at each other curiously, and again Garren’s expression was unchanged.
“Curiosity killed the cat,” Belfur eventually said, “Or so you humans say. I hope they are wrong. I am in.”
“So am I,” Lillien agreed.
Garren did not say anything, but he gave a nodded to Grenorl who then produced several rolls of parchment which he laid out on the table. Fairris lean over the table to see what was drawn on the pages, as did Belfur and Lillien.
“The Merchant Bank?” Lillien said with surprise and she looked wide eyed at Grenorl and Fairris.
“None have attempted to steal from the Merchant Bank, and with good reason,” Belfur remarked, “If I am reading these drawings of the floor plans correctly, and I like to think I am, it is the most inaccessible place in all Essinendeür.”
“How did you even get these drawings, Grenorl?” Lillien asked in astonishment.
“Fairris’s employer provided them,” Grenorl smiled slyly, “Do you each understand now? We will break into these vaults and we will be the first in history to steal from the Merchant Bank.”
Fairris watched as an excited glimmer came to the eyes all three thieves as they realised that they might actually accomplish this theft.
“What is our approach?” Garren spoke up for the first time.
Grenorl smiled, “There are two ways we can do this. First will be a night time approach, we will need to go in through the employee entrance, disarming the alarms. But we will have to contend with the security door, locked behind which are the vaults.
“The second approach would be a daylight heist. I know that is not favourable, but at least then we will not have to break the security door. Although we will need a foolproof exit plan, so as not to be caught.
“Thoughts?” Grenorl finished and looked to each his associates.
The Thieves Guild leader’s question was met with silence, the only sound was the crackling of the fire.
“What would be involved with breaking the security door?” Belfur asked, breaking the silence.
“Either the Rune Key, or a Counter Rune,” Grenorl replied, “Which we will not be able to fake.”
“Who holds the Rune Key?” Lillien asked and Grenorl shook his head.
“It changes hands daily,” Grenorl explained, “We would have to pay off a few officials to get the roster. Which would expose our plans and likely bring officials down on us.”
“But how do we do a daylight heist?” Lillian asked with a shake of her head, “The last daylight robbery was fifty years ago and failed spectacularly. The guards were onto them seconds after it had begun, and ended with their heads rolling from the executioners block. I know, I saw it myself.”
“Times have changed, Lillien,” Grenorl calmed the elf, “We would pose as out of town merchants looking to invest or deposit in the bank, that would get us into the vaults where we would crack the two vaults and leave as quickly as we can.”
“Wait,” Belfur cut in, “Two vaults? Which two?”
“Cardonian and Varrintine,” Fairris replied, and looks of shock came to Belfur and Lillien’s faces, but Garren’s was unchanged.
“How much from each?” Lillilen asked.
“All of it,” Fairris replied evenly, and the Valenthōr and Mōrgul’s eyes went even wider.
“So if we do a daylight approach how are we supposed to get out clean with all that gold?” Lillien balked, looking questioningly at Grenorl.
“This is why we are here,” Grenorl explained, “We will find solutions to these problems, and it will go down in history as the greatest of all heists.”
Again silence filled the room as each of the occupants set about trying to find a solution to this problem.
“Is there a time frame for this heist?” Belfur looked to Fairris curiously.
“Within the next ten days,” Fairris replied and the Mōrgul scoffed and shook his head.
“At least we have time to think about it,” Lillien remark dryly.
More silence fell around the room and remained for many minutes as they each stood there thinking and considering how that were accomplish this task.
“Either way you look at it we are going to need outside help,” Garren spoke up, “Be it for an exit strategy for the daylight heist, or someone to craft an excellent quality Counter Rune.”
The rest of the group were nodding their heads in agreement, and Grenorl looked to Fairris.
“Perhaps your client will help with either of those,” the Thieves Guild leader remarked.
“In truth my client had hoped that you would find another way,” Fairris replied, “But in case you did not he gave me this for us to use.”
From her extra-dimensional pouch tied to her belt Fairris produced a plate sized Ebonite stone slab with dozens of Runes cut into its surface on both sides.
A wide smile came to everyone’s face, and even Garren smiled slightly, as Fairris slid the smooth black stone onto the table.
“We have our Counter Rune,” Grenorl laughed.
“We could do it tonight,” Lillien cheered excitedly.
“Not tonight,” Fairris cut in, “We must wait until tomorrow night at the earliest.”
“Why?” Belfur asked suspiciously.
“No, she is right,” Grenorl said, “There is still much to plan, but at least now we have solved the most pressing issue. All we have left is how to get into the bank and the vaults, and how to transport the gold out.”
The night grew long as the thieves went about plotting and drawing up strategies, but now their excitement had grown for it seemed that they were to soon execute the greatest theft in recent history.
By the time they reached the warehouses on the docks the snow had started to fall heavier and their footfalls were making holes in the white powder. But the heavy fall also provided greater cover for them to move about unseen in the night.
Jar’nesh stopped at the end of the street with Ty’far beside her as she looked upon the walled warehouse complex. Three of the large buildings stood inside a high brick wall and backed onto the shipping yard.
From her position Jar’nesh could see the large wrought iron gate that led into the complex, and which was locked tight with two guards standing in front of it. But these were not the average city guardsmen, these guards, and the others inside the brick walls, were specifically employed by Lord Cardonian. They were likely all mercenaries, wanted bandits, cut throats, wanders, nomads, vagabonds, call them what you will but most likely they were all hiding from the law, and all of them skilled at killing. So, in Jar’nesh and Ty’far’s mind, there would be no guilt if they were forced to kill them.
Under the cover of the falling snow Jar’nesh moved quickly from the alleyway to the base of the high wall. There she turned and cupped her hands for Ty’far to step on so she could launch her friend up the wall. Ty’far was atop the wall in seconds and leant down to aid Jar’nesh up the wall as she slid down the other side. Jar’nesh landed in the snow beside Ty’far and in the shadow of the wall they surveyed the area.
The paths between the large warehouses were wide and well lit, and they could see the path the guards had been taking on their patrols about the compound. Joining the warehouses together were high catwalks made from tensioned rope and wooden planks, and there were a few built walkways coming out of the second floor and joining the building next to it.
Before the next patrol could to come by their position Jar’nesh moved quickly from the wall and to the metal stairs that zigzagged up the side of the wall and to the cat walks that ran about the roof.
By now the snow was falling even heavier and in the dark of the night it was hard to make out the path ahead of them. But Jar’nesh was confident enough, for Lord Varrintine had instructed them to head to the southwest warehouse and that was the directions she was heading in.
Jar’nesh was caught by surprise when a guardsman suddenly appeared out of the darkness in front of her. The archer was as surprised as she was, and fumbled with his bow, but Jar’nesh acted quicker. Her foot shot out and slammed the archer in the groin, doubling him over in agony. Jar’nesh continued with a vicious punch to the side of his head which sent him over the side of the catwalk.
“De’im,” Jar’nesh muttered, for she knew that the body would likely be discovered as the next patrol passed by.
Jar’nesh quickened her pace despite the snowstorm and soon she and Ty’far were moving along the catwalk that joined to the southwest building and heading in the side door on the second floor.
Inside the warehouse was quiet and dimly lit, many crates and other boxes were stacked in rows below them as they stood on the narrow walkways that ran about the second floor and crossed to the other side. To their left was a large loft with wide windows which looked out across the floor and was where Rhold Darlton had his office.
The door to the office was locked, so Jar’nesh kicked it in and moved to the desk where she began looking through the papers and files in the draws.
“There is a safe over here,” Ty’far said and Jar’nesh joined her. “Varrintine said the manifests were likely to be in it. Where is that thing he gave you?”
From a pouch tied to her belt Jar’nesh pulled forth a small black stone of Ebonite which had many Runes carved into the surface. Carefully she pushed the face of the stone that had the Runes flush against the front of the vault, just right of the centre at the top.
“Varrintine said it had to exact,” Ty’far said and Jar’nesh glared at her.
“It is exact,” replied Jar’nesh.
“I am just repeating what he said,” Ty’far shrugged, “No need to snap.”
Jar’nesh let out a deep breath and slowly began to slide the black stone down the front of the safe.
“You are going too fast,” Ty’far remarked.
“No I am not,” Jar’nesh was quick to reply, and continue moving the stone at the same pace.
When Jar’nesh had finished running the stone down she turned the handle to open the safe door, but it would not open.
“No, I did it right,” Jar’nesh huffed and pulled at the door.
“You went too fast,” Ty’far said, “I told you to go slower.”
“You do it then,” Jar’nesh snapped and roughly handed her companion the black stone.
Ty’far smiled and placed the stone on the safe right where Jar’nesh had and began to slide it down the face of the safe door, but much more slowly.
“Varrintine said that if you go too slow you will break the safe and we won’t be able to get into it,” Jar’nesh said, but Ty’far hushed her and listened close to the door.
Jar’nesh sighed as she heard the click of moving bolts as Ty’far continued to move the stone slowly down the safe.
Just as she was nearing the bottom the crystal lights of the warehouse unexpectedly came on, grabbing Jar’nesh’s attention.
“They must have found the archer’s body,” Jar’nesh said, “Don’t stop Ty’far, keep going. Not too fast.”
“Calm down, I’ve got this,” Ty’far replied and continued at her slow pace and more bolts unlocked.
Finally Ty’far ran the stone to the bottom of the safe door and swung it open to reveal many bound files and a few pouches of gold and gems. The sound of guards moving into the warehouse forced Jar’nesh from taking her time to look for the right document, so she and Ty’far just grabbed everything and shoved it into a satchel, which Ty’far swung over her shoulder as they moved for the door.
But then the guards had found them and two moved into the office with their swords drawn. Jar’nesh had her weapon in hand in a flash, the large guard stabbed ahead with his sword but she tapped it aside and slashed back the other way opening the guard’s throat. Blood splattered the walls and Jar’nesh moved past the dead body and through the door, Ty’far right beside her.
Half a dozen guards came running up the stairs to cut them off, thinking quickly Jar’nesh and Ty’far jumped over the railing of the walkways and dropped onto the top of the stacked crates.
“Time to burn this place to the ground,” Jar’nesh called to Ty’far and pulled forth another small item from her pouch which Lord Varrintine gave her.
She brought the coin sized Ebonite stone to her mouth and whispered the words Lord Varrintine had instructed. The Runes on the flat of the rock suddenly burned with fire and she threw the pebble into a stack of boxes.
As she dropped to the wooden floor boards the rock explode in a ball of fire and instantly caused the boxes to catch alight with a fierce blaze. Another explosion of fire erupted as Ty’far threw a similar stone and together they sprinted for the doors that led outside.
Four more guards intercepted them, but stood no chance. Jar’nesh did not slow her run as the first guard came at her, she faked left before darting to the right and into the next guard. This one was not expecting such a move and she drove her sword through his neck. Twisting back the other way Jar’nesh forced the first guard’s sword low as she darted past the female mercenary, taking her pretty head from her shoulders.
Ty’far was close behind her as she ran from the warehouse, tossing another of the explosive stones back through the door to block pursuit.
Jar’nesh turned from the door to see an axe swing for her head, instinctively she dropped to her knee and deflected the heavy blow. The axeman then fell away as Ty’far drove her sword through the man’s ribs.
Jar’nesh was back on her feet in a flash and together they ran through the lite snowfall, and towards the gates of the compound. Passing by one of the other warehouses both Jar’nesh and Ty’far threw more of the fire creating rocks through the glass windows where they too exploded in a large ball of flames.
A group of guards came for them and Jar’nesh and Ty’far quickly moved together, their backs touching. To the left they twisted as the first of the group attacked them. Jar’nesh blocked a blade that swung for her chest as she moved to the left, attacking the guard Ty’far had just engaged. Her sharp sword seared through the muscle and bone of the guard’s legs, severing it cleaning and causing the man to fall to the snow screaming. Jar’nesh continued her turn to see that Ty’far had similarly defeated the other guard. But more came at them.
Jar’nesh and Ty’far continued their deadly turning, opening flesh and splattering the white snow with blood. The last of the group of guards fell as Jar’nesh drove her sword deep into the woman’s stomach. The broad-shouldered woman growled away the pain and raised her short sword to strike Jar’nesh, but the guard’s head fell to the snow as Ty’far sword flashed across her neck.
Not even looking at the carnage they had just caused Jar’nesh and Ty’far sprinted off through the snow and towards the wall. But another group of guards came running from the last warehouse looking to intercept them.
“The fire rocks,” Jar’nesh said to her companion as she pulled the last few from the pouch and spoke the commanding words.
Ty’far copied her and the black stones flew into the oncoming guards before bursting in a ball of fire. Horrifying screams erupted into the night as every guard caught aflame. Some dived to the snow rolling to try to extinguish the biting flames, while others stupidly turned and fled back to the warehouse their mind’s confused from the blistering pain.
At the base of the brick wall Jar’nesh again turned and helped Ty’far up before jumping up herself where Ty’far pulled her over.
All three warehouses were ablaze and lighting up the dark and snowy night as Jar’nesh and Ty’far disappeared into the shadows of the streets.