It's been a long trip. I've gone from Andol to Glaris to Compa before finally ending up here, in Omersk, hot on the trail of a thief.
Most thieves aren't worth that kind of effort, but this one most definitely is. So, here I am, outside of Omersk, waiting in the woods for this guy.
You have to understand, it's not what he took. It was a few little bits of pretty that might be worth a grand total of a coin on the open market. He won't be getting that much for the illicit sale of the goods, not piled together, and it's not like it matters. I have them all back and sent to where they came from already. No, it's that he stole from someone he shouldn't have, and so, here I am.
It's not common that you'd see someone like me on a ship, and there's a good reason for that. It turns my skin an even darker shade of green, and you have to realize, seasick Illuthien jokes aren't funny, even if you're not on a boat. If you are, guess what? They're even less funny, but I know what my job is, and I do my job. Even if it does get me the ridicule of some Jenar along the way. I'm okay with that, I'm getting paid enough for it.
It's been a long trek. This snake, and yes, I do mean that as a derogatory Vrae term, has been on the run and using his abilities to screw with the minds of most people he meets. He's running around not because he knows I'm after him. His pattern of behavior is all wrong for that. He seems to be running because he thinks he can get a better deal elsewhere. And sometimes, that's because I put that rumor out there. He's lucked into a few situations where I couldn't move on him, and needed to get him moving. I've been at this a while, you see.
I can put my hand on something and see what's happened to it or around it. That's the second best trick I have in my bag, and he almost gave me the slip once. Once I read the past, as I call it, I heard what I needed and caught back up. You'd think an Illuthien would be easier to spot, especially if he's followed you back and forth across the Rune Sea, but I did say the pattern didn't fit, didn't I? See, my best trick is that I can divine on something I need to know, but I don't like to use that much. From experience, I've learned I get one shot every full moon to get a good reading, so I keep that ace up my sleeve.
Tonight, though, he's going to sell a prized sword off. It's runed and an heirloom, and the idiot can't even swing it, which means he took something that is literally of no use to him and not exactly hard to identify. I swear, thieves used to have standards, or at least brains. Not this one. But, the fact that it's an heirloom made this personal, so I have my orders.
I can see him coming up the path, walking along like he doesn't have a care in the world. The moonlight is reflecting off his scales, making him rather easy to see. He's not even trying to disguise what he's doing; see, he believes that since he can screw with someone's head, he has nothing to worry about. He's wrong.
I can't believe this. He actually has the sword strapped to his back, a giant advertisement to anyone who knows better: "There's something strange going on!" I'd have my hand over my face right now if I could. He's just strutting along, thinking he's going to be knee-deep in rings tonight, nevermind how much he's spent chasing down people that will supposedly pay more for something.
The meeting is in a clearing that's not far off the path in the woods, but extremely well-hidden. There's brush and vines that have climbed the trees and created this curtain around the clearing that would almost seem intentional. I mean, you can't start a fire in there unless you know some trick of how to make it not smoke, not if you're trying to hide, but it's a good spot. He's meeting a human named Tarl, a guy that wants a runed sword, but doesn't want to pay for the runing. That's the reason runed swords don't sell well: They're too easy to recognize. Then again, Tarl lives on a completely different landmass, so it'd just be the worst luck for someone to see him with it. But then, it's not like he's going to get the chance. I've spent too much time and money getting to this point.
Here he comes, this dumb Vrae, making his way down the path. I know he isn't looking down, because he's making too much noise rustling around, kicking brush that isn't on the path. Now, he reached the vines and instead of trying to slip through, he's kicking his way in. Stealth is obviously not a strong suit, but then, I've known that for weeks.
See, here's where the surprise comes in.
Tarl was supposed to meet him there. Tarl was supposed to already be here, and he was. Past tense. See, I had a little conversation with Tarl. Tarl wants nothing to do with what's going on, but the Vrae doesn't know that. So, the snake makes his way to the clearing and stands at the edge of the moonlight shining down from above. I would think that he's trying to remain somewhat hidden, but my low opinion of him leads me to believe he's wanting to make a dramatic entrance. I smile to myself and move closer, slipping right up behind him.
He looks around, confused. That's exactly what I want. He looks back and forth and scratches at his head. I learned something else about him while following him. While he loves his mind empathy, to a degree that would be unhealthy were it another person, it's all he has. No other paths, no magic and no fighting skills to speak of. You'd be amazed what you can learn from people, especially people with such a low opinion of you. Not having any of those skills means I am free to be direct.
I step from the tree behind him and my fingers lengthen and harden into sharp claws. With a long step, I thrust and I can feel my strike snake between his ribs, right into the lungs, so he can't scream. His head snaps back, his mouth widens and he tries, but he quite simply doesn't have the air to do it. I let my hands shrink back to their normal size and he collapses to his knees, still trying to scream. I pull a cloth from my sleeve and pluck the sword from his back and tuck it through my belt, careful not to get blood on it. The gesture causes him to turn, his eyes confused.
"Lord Naleesh Tremailshin sends his regards, thief. He sent me to get back everything you've stolen." I smile at him, feeling that content relaxation at the end of a long chase. "You really should have known better than to steal from Shandral nobility. They can be quite vicious."
"They... they..." he manages to whisper out. I'd be impressed if it were to make any difference. "I have friends... they'll know you did it."
"Unlikely, you pathetic worm," I said, my smile growing. "You see, if you had bothered to learn more about empathy, you'd know what a spirit empath could do." I reach down behind a log and pull out a bottle of clear liquid. "Besides, I was instructed to be thorough." With that, I give him a hard kick, knocking him into the ring of stones in the center of the clearing. Not everyone that uses this spot is trying to hide, and skipping the trouble of making a firepit was awfully convinient. His eyes look up at me, horrified and confused as his life blood leaks out his back. I let him watch as I pull the cork off the bottle and scatter the contents all over him. With a flick of my wrist, I pull one of those marvelous little sticks the Cyndral came up with and it sparks alive into flame. When I drop it, the liquid ignites immediately and rushes all over him.
That done, I turn to go. I don't know the trick to make a fire not smoke, but me being who I am, I don't have to leave the place to make sure that part gets done. As I fade back into the trees, I stop and look back over my shoulder at my former quarry.
"As I said, quite vicious."