March 24th, 2002
Silence - By Gamileon
A new dent had formed in the wall. A sizeable one right above the baseboard in the computer room. Frustrated, tired and now weak - not from fatigue, but from heartache of substantial loss. I hadnít kicked the wall *that* hard. I dragged myself to in front of the television and dropped to the couch to review what happened.
It had been an ordinary day. Sneaking around from place to place, picking basic locks here and there, taking small pieces of luxury and silencing anyone who would raise unwanted attention. After years of practice, I had finally mastered the art of thievery and gotten some reliable picks and daggers. I carefully cleaned my favorite dagger - a Dagger of Fire in which I had invested my life savings - as I contemplated the journey that lay ahead... A venture into a place where few dared to enter. Was it really worth it? More than half who dared to enter didnít come out...
My thoughts reverted back to my childhood. I had run away as a child hoping to join a faction where I could learn the dark magics. Traveling weeks from city to city, I tried to squeeze information from those who might know where to find the guild. Near the point of starvation, I tried sneaking food from the wrong person, a frail but dark and mysterious man. He seemed friendly enough at first, feeding me hot stew from his kettle. I was surprised at how skinny he was when he had all the food he could possibly want. Unfortunately I did not know he would make me pay in blood - three years of his dirty work. During this time, I was taught by him the dark arts - not the magics, but the arts of thievery: the vital parts of the body and how to get a dagger to them, how to move without a sound; how to hide within the shadows, the art of taking what is inside someoneís pocket, and the art of picking locks. "You have learned well, Gamileon," he said right before my departure from him into the wilderness, "but you still havenít completely mastered the art of thievery. Time will take care of that. Go, and be at peace."
That fateful day was five years ago... My thoughts jerked back to the task that lay ahead as a trickle of sweat ran down my face and onto my lip. I took a look around to make sure I was alone. Two mountains on either side of me stretched to the sky above like a child reaching for his father. This place must have been evil. These mountains kept all light from coming in. They might have been beautiful and mighty once, but now they reeked of death and destruction as if it were a breeding pit for the dark lords. I shuddered at the thought of what lay beyond in the massive cave in the center of this horrifying mountain range - an unnatural division, the shape of which I could not discern because of thick tangles of vines and cobwebs which hung over the mouth of the cave. The tunnels and caves beyond were fabled to be full of hideous giants and other beasts. The place reeked of evil. A little light escaped now and then and made its way through the dangerous pass. I couldnít believe light ever dared to come here...
"Yes mom?" I glanced up from the monitor, reluctant to stop watching the game, but knowing that my mother demanded my attention.
"Did you finish weeding the garden?"
"Yes, I did."
"Now, donít spend too much time on these video games."
I quickly jerked back to the monitor in time to catch a rustling sound to the north. I hoped that they hadnít followed me. Silence. I shuddered at the thought of what could happen if I were to be found. I wouldnít get caught. I attempted to calm myself. I took a deep breath - the air chilled my throat all the way down to my lungs. I tightened my belt, feeling the pains of hunger and fatigue. If I could pull this off I would be fed for a year on the fattest portions of chicken and beef. The thought of food only taunted me more towards the acceptance of the task. I reviewed the mission the old fool had sent me on. Sneak in, get the head of a giant and return it to him. What kind of fool pays eight bars of gold for a worthless head? I chuckled inwardly as I silently tried to build my confidence.
The trickle of light passed, and now it was completely dark again. Parts of the mountain had a faint glow of light - light that gave no heat here in this forsaken range. I squinted at some movement off in the distance - a dragon dropped to the ground, hunting some poor, unfortunate soul. What was this? Gamileon having a thought of pity for someone else? The last time that happened I lost a full purse of gold. I thought about the time I had taken pity on the old man who had a large purse. I would have stabbed him in the back, but guilt took over me and I couldnít bring myself to do it. He caught me reaching into his purse and transformed from an old man to a demon. I barely escaped with my life, thanks to the careful teaching of my trainer and my innate sense of hearing. I had been told by my trainer that a good thief always knows what is going on around him.
I froze. Had that been a noise? Footsteps? No, it couldnít have been. I looked back at the ground and took a peek from my hiding place between the slopes of a mountain and a bush so deformed that it was astonishing that it even lived. I marvelled that anything could possibly grow in such a dark and reeking of evil place. It seemed almost a swamp - not wet, but dark everywhere. The shadows grew even longer. The sun must be setting. Almost time, just an hour or so. I gathered my cloak tightly around me. The snows would start soon. It was good that I was getting paid. Time raced my heart. It couldnít win. I would just bide my time.
The time had come - it was pitch black. I had chosen this night because of the absence of moonlight and wind. Darkness - a comfortable blanket in which I swathed myself. I crept towards the crack, careful not to make a single sound. Iíd had much practice and experience moving silently. For five years now I had been running and hiding from the law - no longer after this. After this I was going straight. I had meant to for a while now, but I just couldnít find any way to come up with enough money to start my life. Soon that would be fixed and I wouldnít have to ever steal again. Ha! I had just admitted it. I steal. Never before had I allowed myself to think that way about myself. It was a necessity and I didnít like it either. I had always been told as a child before I ran away that stealing was bad.
I had finally reached the entrance to the cave - the cave from which my fortune would soon be made. I cringed as the stench of death filled my nostrils. I Had to push on. Sweat trickled down my face like a newborn stream and ran from my armpits freely. I jumped in. What was I doing? A soft crunch sounded as I landed. I quickly ducked and dodged into the darkest of shadows. Time stood still as I let my eyes adjust to the darkness. I breathed softly as I took a look at my surroundings. I had entered an immense cavern with great stone walls that were jagged and harsh. The ceiling was lost in the shadows high above. The floor was an unforgiving collection of rocks and pebbles that lay unevenly on the ground. A tunnel stretched beyond my night vision to the east. I started the slow trek east and downward, keeping to the wall and holding my breath. There were two exits, east and west where I had come from. I thought momentarily - west would be admitting defeat but safety lay that way. I silently moved deeper into the caverns, listening for any movement.
Sounds came from where I was headed. I clutched my dagger tighter and put even more effort into being silent. I continued east. The darkness was now absolute. I could not see anything else. I continued on. Panic struck. I had become turned around and didnít know which way I was traveling... I prayed that I didnít get stuck there forever. I saw a light ahead. What was it? I continued in the direction I was going. There it was - a giant!! I quickly hid and hoped that I hadnít been too noisy... Good, it didnít seem to have seen me. I slipped in and noticed that the giant was unarmed. This was going to be easy. This was what I had come for.
I quickly dodged in and slipped my dagger into the most vulnerable looking part of the giant. A squeal that made my ears throb filled the room. The giant shuddered beneath my blow and suddenly fell still.
It had been easier than I had expected. I quickly removed its head and sprinted out. I neared the entrance at a mad rush. I was nearly ready to shout with joy.
I heard a rustling, but too late to save me. The old fool who had hired me jumped out of the dead undergrowth and started chanting in some arcane language. Relieved to see a friendly face, I pulled out the head. "Here, this is for you. Now where is my pay?" I demanded.
"You will receive your reward shortly," he replied. A force hit my chest. I couldn't breathe. What was he doing? The mage began to pry my beloved dagger of fire from my limp fingers. I gasped for air. I could not see any more - why? I heard one last cackle before silence fell.
I shut down my computer with a whine building in my chest. A tear formed in my eye as I switched the power button to off. I contemplated for several minutes what had happened. I mentally hit myself in the head as I sobbed and headed towards the stairs. Hours of work lost - argh. Someday - someday I will avenge my characterís death.
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