A Chapter by Isemay

It was a good start. Syreilla was trying not to get too proud of herself as she secured her room at The Hollow Jester Inn when she opened the purse. The sight of the two faintly glowing white gems felt like a punch to her stomach. She wasn’t ready yet. Syr took it immediately to her room and stared into the partly open bag. The note with them wasn’t in a script she could read.

Under her breath she murmured, “Oh, Hevtos. Vezar, I need you. Hevtos, I need him.” All she could do was hope that she was heard and Hevtos would send Vezar quickly.

After what felt like an age, Vezar slipped into her room. Syreilla came to her feet immediately, pulling the purse off of the bed and tying it closed. Pressing it into his hands she tried to keep her worry under control. “I don’t know why he gave this to me, but I have the feeling I really don’t want to be caught with it.”

He nodded studying her face, “I’ll take care of it.” Hesitating a moment, he asked, “Do you think you can get his approval to return home?”

She understood what he was asking, was she in over her head? With a smile she answered him the same careful way, “I’ll only try if he’ll let me come and go as I please.” Giving him a kiss she hurried him out, “Go, and don’t you get caught with it either.”

Even after the purse was given over and gone Syr couldn’t make her nervousness ease. Pulling on her cloak and making certain she had all of her tools and a hefty purse, she slipped out. The evening air was cool and she knew what she still needed to find to complete her kit. She went to fetch the Magpie first. He wasn’t waiting where she’d left him. With a shrug she assumed he’d catch up at some point.

Storm Cauldron was still doing its quiet business in the evening hours. It wasn’t likely she would be particularly welcome. The Golden Rook was someone that mages tried to protect against, at least the ones who aspired to become lich. She waited until it looked as though the shop had emptied before entering.

“We don’t serve thieves.” The scowling mage came from behind the counter as soon as she stepped inside.

“Will you serve the Golden Rook? Or do I need to bring Vezar and come back in a more official capacity to get service?” Syreilla smiled sweetly.

“That isn’t a title to throw around lightly.” He narrowed his eyes and she could feel the ward above the door starting to activate.

Muttering the dispelling chant she’d learned while dragging back a stubborn lich, one who’d cleared away her own wards with ease, she watched the man step back. The ward above her sputtered and faded and the floor in front of her quivered for a moment. “I can throw down a few new ones if you’d like. I’ve picked up several really exciting ones since I’ve been working for my uncle.”

“That won’t be necessary, Divinity.” The mage bowed low.

“Don’t. I don’t like that. I was born mortal.” She lifted a hand and he flinched. “I’m the Golden Rook, no more no less. Understand?”

“Of course.” He lifted his eyes nervously. “How may I serve you?”

“I need some supplies. Contrary to the rumors I so enjoy hearing, I don’t actually breathe dragon’s fire, I mix it.” Syr glanced around at the shelves.

“Many of us suspected as much, though I would be interested to hear about the things you’ve learned in the course of your… duties.” He began to assemble ingredients. “May I ask what brings you out unofficially?”

Shrugging her shoulders and making a face before she answered, “Oddly enough, my uncle doesn’t like thieves either. We’re useful.”

“Only as long as they aren’t stealing from you.” The mage looked at her as if expecting her to be amused, she gave him her brightest smile.

“What’s a little light theft among family?”

He stopped what he was doing. “You stole from the god of death?”

“He got most of it back.” She put some defensiveness into her voice.

“What does he have to steal?” The fascination on his face made her glance around and lean in before she started to speak very quietly.

“You’re aware that the gods all have at least one stone or jewel to pour power into for their priests to use? Uncle doesn’t have any priests, he does have a lot of chambers to maintain and they are vast.”

“You stole… How many did you keep?” He was almost breathless as he leaned uncomfortably close.

“None, he wouldn’t have turned me loose on the land of the living if I had kept one. I did, however, misplace one of the shards. They’re such small things after all.”

“Where?” His eyes were like saucers.

“Somewhere difficult to get to. From me that’s saying something.”

“Do you have any idea the value…”

“Do I look like an idiot to you?” Syr lifted her eyebrows with a grim smile. “Uncle isn’t very happy with me at the moment. You think I’d risk that for something I could pick up in a field?”

“No Di-My Lady.” The avarice in his eyes was everything she could have hoped for, but then he narrowed his eyes, “The threat to bring Vezar was hollow.”

“No. I can call him if I need him.” She offered wryly, “As long as I don’t do it too often. Vezar is a quick one, he can get around Uncle better than I can. I’m required to go when Vezar calls me though. He can handle most things, but I tend to make the job easier.”

“I imagine you do, Lady. Are you planning to… do anything interesting during your stay in Withia?”

“I want to have dragon’s fire on hand before I start making firm decisions.” Syr gave him a broad grin and he swallowed before nodding and fetching more vials and pouches to lay on the counter, there were far more than what she needed.

“I know the theory of dragon’s fire, but I’ve never seen it made. Some say different powders…”

She began looking through his offerings. “In a dwarf mine you can find almost everything you need but this was always the best place to get the last few ingredients.” Picking through the powders, she also set aside two of the thick viscous liquids. “If you have a ceramic bowl to mix it in, and you don’t mind clearing the rest away, I’d like to test your ingredients. Zylius always said never to leave your dragon’s fire until you need it. Make sure your ingredients all work as they should and your skills don’t atrophy.”

“Zylius, that’s a name I haven’t heard for some time.” 

“I imagine not. Is Agust No-legs still alive?”

“Ha!” The mage eyed her with amusement. “No, Lady. But he trained a few competent mages despite his… affliction.” He took away the excess ingredients and fetched a wide, flat bottomed ceramic bowl. “I believe all of my ingredients should meet your standards, but I will not pass up the opportunity to-”

The door of the shop opened as she began to mix the powders carefully. 

“It’s a rare thing for priests of Imos to-”

“We are the White Hands, you will be silent, mage. Servant of Evil, you will return what you’ve stolen.” 

The feeling of profoundly unfriendly eyes on her back didn’t make her hurry in her task. “I haven’t stolen anything from Uncle Imos in a very long time. I expected you to be here to escort me to the nearest temple to pay my respects. I did promise to visit last time I saw him.”

“You will turn and face me when you speak, Servant of Evil.” The sound of a weapon being unsheathed and the tingle of magic made her give the nervous mage in front of her a smile.

Syreilla picked up the bowl carefully, turning and holding it in front of her almost as an offering. “Firstly, Hevtos isn’t evil, a little wicked now and then maybe, but that’s almost a family trait.” The two men glowering in front of her were dressed in fine white cloth, aside from their weapons they could be easily mistaken for priests. “Secondly, if you put away your weapon, I’ll put away mine. There’s no reason for this to-”

The one with his shining sword drawn stepped forward to strike the bowl and she stopped speaking to blow across it, waking the dragon’s fire as she launched it at him. As he screamed, she murmured the words to the old siphoning spell and drew the power from his weapon, unleashing nearly all of it as a concussive force through her hand as the second one charged her. The blow wouldn’t have done much without the power behind it, with the power his chest crumpled as he struck the wall by the door, knocking it open.

“Well… Uncle Imos is definitely not going to be happy to see me. Whatever it is he thinks I did, this is probably worse.” Turning back to the mage, he dropped to his knees behind the counter.


“Get up, please. If you have some sturdy pouches for the supplies I just used I’ll take what you have of them. And I’ll take a few of those bowls, or smaller ones like it, if you don’t mind.” She lifted out the purse, “How much?”

“Anything you require, Lady, take it, please! I won’t trouble a goddess for something so trivial as gold!”

“I’m not-” Syr stopped herself and tried not to sigh, “I am the Golden Rook. If you don’t want my money, I’ll give you whatever I can find off of the priests here. I was going to look over their corpses while you gathered my goods.”

“The-the fire, Lady!” 

“Ah! Sorry, I’m so used to using it in places I can just let it burn.” Drawing on the diminished power from the sword she quashed the flames with a muttered spell. The ash of the man’s head and torso, surrounded by his mostly intact limbs and sword, billowed. The thick black smoke inside the shop was being drawn out through the still partly open door, she used the same spell to give the suffocating mix of smoke and ash a push, slamming the door open and helping the room clear. “Better?”

“Yes, thank you, Lady.” He was gathering pouches and larger vials and packaging them carefully in a large satchel with a half dozen ceramic bowls of various sizes. 

“This shop used to serve thieves, you know. Aizem was very good about that.”

“That ended when they came in to steal the book he’d been writing on ingredients and their uses. He was extremely knowledgeable…” The mage looked at her speculatively. “If you wanted to find the book and return it I would be willing to open the doors again. I doubt they’d take it twice if you were the one to return it.”

“It was probably a job done for a mage. Aizem was liked.” She looked at him thoughtfully, “Did he die in the theft?”

“Yes, Lady.”

“Then it was either an idiot novice trying to make a name for himself or someone moonlighting. Assassins have been known to dabble now and then if the price is right, and if a mage asks for a book and the writer to be killed, he gets referred to an assassin. Clean jobs are what we take pride in. Odos sticks his hand in now and then to keep it that way.” Syr frowned, taking a deep breath of the still slightly smoky air. “Was there anyone particularly interested in the book?”

“A mage by the name of Messus commissioned it, he demanded the advance he paid back when it was stolen.” He offered her the satchel.

“I’ll look into it.” Glancing at the corpses she added, “If more of these come looking for me, I won't be offended if you tell them whatever they need to know, as far as what I bought is concerned. If you send them to find Messus first that would be annoying. I hate it when people are waiting for me to come out after I do a job. You might send them to Tirnel Acharnion’s instead. Let the elf wonder and worry.”

The mage began to laugh. “Yes, Lady. When you return, perhaps you would consider allowing me to record some of your spells. I would love to have my name spoken as fondly as you speak Zylius’ and Aizem’s.” He bowed low.

“You’ll have to tell me what it is first.” She shouldered her new bag.

“Riman, Lady Rook.” He bowed again.

“Take care of yourself, Riman. I always liked this shop.” She gave him a grin and pulled up her hood, “You won’t object if I leave through the old door will you?”

“The old…” Riman fell silent as she stepped behind the counter and into the back.

The old corner of recipes had been allowed to get dusty but the hidden door still worked. Syr pulled it open and moved into the darkness beyond it, “There was a reason this was supposed to be kept well dusted, Riman. Certain customers don’t like leaving through the front door.”

“I will see to it, Lady.” The amazement in his voice suggested the old door had been forgotten. Hopefully, it still had an exit.

The door closed and, as she carefully made her way down the ladder in the dark, she wished she’d had the foresight to hunt down another gem like the one she used to have. A small light flared into life in front of her as she turned at the bottom.

“Little rook, you should be more careful in speaking names.” Master Odos was looking at her almost sternly.

“How many eyes are on us right now?” She came closer to ask quietly.

“We’re concealed for the moment,” the corners of his lips began to curve upward.

“I’m aware that speaking names gets attention, when they have a mind to give it. I’m also aware that when you mix lies and truth liberally, no one can tell them apart. When I speak a name it’s deliberate Master Odos.”

“You’re playing a dangerous game. How can you do what you were sent to do…” Odos began to grin. “My little rook. If you succeed you might just impress a few of them more than you upset them.”

She gave him a mocking bow.

“Your uncle is pretending to be angry with you. If you’re caught, you may be delivered back to him for punishment.” Odos leaned against the wall in the narrow passage. “He’s fond of you isn’t he.” It was an observation not a question.

“I made him laugh. It took me a hundred years, but!” Syreilla rubbed her neck and gave him a sly smile. “He’s really not bad. Just… so dour. He needs to loosen up.”

Odos laughed and passed a hand over his face. “You’re going to have your very own followers soon. They’ll be praying to you to intercede on their behalf, once the thieves let the word slip it’ll be more than just a few. If you don’t have the statue available for them…” His hazy eyes glittered in the light. “How are you going to get Imos to open the Garden again? It requires one of his priests to break his seal.”

As soon as he said the name she knew he was signalling his brother. “I have some ideas. Unless something has changed, there are some of his priests that would murder their own mothers for the right price. I just have to find the right one. It would go a long way to squaring me with Uncle Hevtos.” 

He nodded and pulled out a gold chain with a fat red gem on one end and a metal ring on the other. “This might be helpful to you.”

Taking it and holding the gem in her hand, she realized the light was now wretchedly bright. “I was just missing my old one. This looks almost like one of the gems from-”

“Vezar’s crown. Syreilla Hammersworn gave it to me. I spent time with her when I could. Her son, Oduil, put it on the chain for me.”

Syr looked at it carefully, “His work is as good as his father’s. But why did he choose a chain like this? Why not something more easily wearable?”

“Vision isn’t all that it gives, little rook.” 

For some reason looking at it made her profoundly sad, and a little angry, “Have you given him enough time to find me or should I stay to chat longer, Master Odos?”

“She used to call me ‘Father’.” He studied her face.

Fighting the urge to throw it back to him she stuck the chain and gem in the same front pocket she’d put his purse. “Let me know when you decide to act like one. It might be nice.”

© 2021 Isemay

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Added on January 29, 2021
Last Updated on January 29, 2021
Tags: thief, dwarf, elf, dragon, gods

Golden Rook


By Isemay


By Isemay


By Isemay


By Isemay




Spent some time away from here but I've come back to peek in and post again! Review my writing and I will gladly return the favor! I love reading other people's stories, and I try to review hone.. more..

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A Chapter by Isemay

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A Chapter by Isemay