The Red Flux & the Wunderkind Thief (Chapter One – 1)

8 min read

   Secrat Copé could feel the decadent blood drip down his arm and off his elbow. Things hadn’t gone according to plan and the bastard wife of a merchant came at him with a knife. She managed to slash him a good one too, right after a punch to the jaw for good measure. This all, of course, happened before Copé had a chance to muffle her screams and slit her throat.
   Father Toucan Veras wouldn’t be happy about that. Subtracting from the world was looked down on in the Red Flux, but he’d have to understand the situation. Even still, Copé anticipated an inevitable shouting match approaching his way. That meant he’d have to savor his heist and make it all worth it.
   And so, he took time admiring his handiwork and appreciating his quick reaction time. If he would have been one second slower, the broad would have squealed like a piggy and blown the whole heist. At a wince of pain, Copé looked to his bleeding arm and supposed he might not have been quick enough. His lock-picking wasn’t nearly as stealthy as it could have been either, but he handled his mistake well, and it was only his first time pillaging on his own.
   These mistakes were to be expected.
   Grabbed one leg and the other before he began dragging the broad’s dead-body into the corner of the house that the moon’s glistening didn’t bring to light. Copé looked around but could only see what the glassless windows let the moon in the sky expose, and that wasn’t much. That didn’t bother him though, as he put one foot in-front of the other, he already knew there wasn’t anything that would surprise him too much. A keen-eye was mandatory for the task at-hand, and he was proud to say that he didn’t have to wait for that to develop over time. He was already skilled. Very much so.
He felt around the pouch in his leggings for a match. A match was such an amusing contraption, far ahead of its time, white phosphorous on a pine stick that caused flame with friction. They were very rare in most of Maharris, except in the Thieves’ Network out in the Whispey Deserts, as well as some other black markets.
   Some also used white phosphorous to poison or cause severe liver damage but that was neither here nor there.
   The light brought a lot more to view, for example, Secrat thought the floor had felt like something other than dirt but hadn’t known that his feet were below an Italinian rug. If I wanted to rob pompous jackasses, I’d have gone to Italina, not Acera, thought Secrat to himself, but knew better than to say anything aloud. The rugs were expensive, anywhere between one-hundred coins to a thousand, depending on potency, purity, or vibrancy of fabric, as well as the artistic value in the design. He bid it adieu and paid it little mind as there was no possible way for him to steal it. Much too heavy to move by himself. A wooden desk was to his left, a quill and inkwell atop it along with a piece of parchment, scrawled upon it were various names, presumably individuals the merchant had done deals with over the years.
   Secrat’s eyes skimmed through the names, a couple, here and there he might have recognized, but nothing noteworthy, it was hard for him to tell the Happick’s from the Carlit’s when it came to families he robbed. The sound of ruffling leaves almost caused for Secrat to scamper about; a strong wind was picking up outside. A dead body here and there, Secrat could NOT afford to be caught, Acera’s civilians wouldn’t sentence him to death, but their prisons were a dump.
Copé continued walking through the house, noticing some of the abnormalities while doing so, such as the little trinkets of useless junk lining the walls. Bizarre looking masks, crude illustrations, and other useless items that merchants tended to deem as absolute delicacies. Maybe they knew something Secrat didn’t, but Copé had no interest in such items. He was only looking for one thing and only had the faintest idea of where to find it.
   All he knew was that individuals found themselves to be cleverer than they truly were. In-general, that is. They tried to go with eccentric and sporadic hiding places for their wealth and fortune, but oftentimes ended up choosing the same places as several other citizens of the town would have. They had the same culture, similar life-styles and influence, so it was understandable. For larger cities, like Italina, Hardan and Jalint, it was easy to judge simply by using the popular consensus as a rule of thumb, but Acera was smaller, and therefore more individualized in-terms of trivial things like where wealth was hidden. Secrat noticed one of the houses in Acera had an especially magnificent garden, which made him guess if he kept ripping at flowers, he’d eventually discover a small fortune.
   Before long, he hid his hand over the match, shielding the light from potential onlookers, and carried on his way through a small walkway, leaving the Italinian rug and welcoming cold, hard dirt-floor. The walls were dull and abstract of color, made excellently out of sand, water, and clay, but there were several pieces of décor. Secrat didn’t see anything worth taking, rather, it was all artsy and glorified junk. He eventually went onto find a more robust piece; at last, an illustration that looked to depict the Aeonian’s on top of Jalint’s mountain. Veras would be pleased, Secrat joked in his mind, knowing full-well there was nothing Father hated more than the theorizing folk did about those magical beings. Father Toucan Veras found it to all be a little too hokey for his taste, whereas Secrat approached it with apathy more than much else.
   He didn’t deny the existence of The Aeonians, but he really didn’t care either which way.
   The Thief clutched one of his wrists with his hand, keeping himself from the temptation of stealing the painting, knowing its quality wasn’t worth his debauchery. No, Secrat was looking to rob this bastard merchant blind, and that meant tackling his whole wealth. Pockets and pockets full, big pockets too, a big characteristic in most clothes worn by The Red Flux, and even both hands for good measure, whatever coins Copé would have chance to leave with, he would. There was a doorway to his right, he moved his hand away from his match and shined it over the door.
   This wasn’t your standard every-day wooden door with hollow insides. Something was very strange about it; elegant and kempt for an abode that was other-wise neither those things. The door looked to be made out of copper and appeared durable and resistant. Where would this room lead? Would it lead to the master bedroom, or was it his riches being hidden in plain sight? He looked to the door-handle, for durability and strength meant nothing if the lock-mechanism could be rendered useless, but what was this?
   This was like nothing he had ever seen before. There was no door-handle for him to behold, and no hole on the door to try at picking the lock. Instead, there was a small, circular device where the handle belonged, and it was every bit as small and feeble as a keyhole. Secrat brought his eyes closer to the contraption, inspecting it in disbelief and curiosity. There were three rows of numbers, each counting in-order from one to ten, and capable of being easily rotated.
   It didn’t take very long for Secrat Copé to figure out what he was dealing with, he needed a three-digit code that would provide him with the means to divulge the room’s contents. The hand not toting the flame descended down his side and felt the hilt of one of his knifes, resting sheathed in one of the many leather scabbards that made up his attire. There was one strapped to the side of his left leg, and two on each side of his waist. His training made him very accustom to knives. No doubt, he’d be able to get the merchant to blurt out the code, given the right “persuasion,” but afterward, he’d have to kill him.
   Toucan might understand the lady as self-defense. If he would have let her live, there’s a chance she could have identified him and put himself and Red Flux in-danger, the members lived in the unprotected wilderness outside Acera and other major cities, but a lot of them still wandered within them for reasons. They read the local-papers, kept up with the current gossip, and screwed the occasional lady or gent that tickled their fancy, among other things.
   With that knowledge, there was only one foreseeable alternative to help him unravel the means of entry and that was finding the numbers written down somewhere through the house.
   He didn’t even know for certain the merchant wrote down the grouping of numbers, but it was probable; a confessed insecurity against ones’ ability to remember things, but Copé didn’t have the haziest idea where to look. His own intuition told him that the combination was probably written somewhere on a piece of parchment in the merchant’s master bedroom, but that was something he didn’t want to accept.
   If this were the case, then, there was no-chance whatsoever he could finish the heist without killing a second special someone.
   And so, with a strong stubbornness, he backtracked to the Italinian rug and lifted it up. Beneath it, he found nothing, at the underside of the rug, shining his match down to see if he might have wrote it down there, he found nothing.
   There was the writing desk! Secrat went to it and began riffling through the pages and pages of scroll. Names and lots of information, but nothing that seemed relevant to Copé at the time.
Worse off, Secrat found his finger cut by one of the papers, a stinging sensation more aggravating than having a sword thrust into ones’ chest!
   He brought himself back into the hallway of the merchant’s house and began plucking one precious item after another from his wall, quietly tossing them onto the rug. Could have been one mask or item with some kind of sentimental value to the merchant where he’d stash the numbers.
It was a slow and quiet investigation, only one hand free, with the other carrying the aflame pine stick, but it didn’t lead to any better results.
   Secrat brought his knife out again and drove the blade into the Aeonian illustration, hoping to find something hidden within its confines. There was nothing…

Page Two

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