The Tale of a Mage (part 14)

The arduous journey continued. By day they trekked through the forest. In the evenings, they camped. They continued to feed themselves on whatever they could scavenge, hunting was not an option as with no fire they had no means to cook the meat. Nyx was not asked to keep watch again which suited her just fine. Now she had a plan to rectify her mistake her guilt had subsided and she enjoyed the extra sleep. Cassandra’s mood perked up considerably as the days following the theft passed. Nyx’s interactions with Livia, however, remained tense. Izzy continued Cassandra’s magic lessons, however, as far as Nyx could tell, they failed to produce improvement.

At last, as they set up camp on the third night after the theft, Izzy announced they had reached a town. Izzy, it seemed, mentioned this to warn that the group should be especially careful. More people meant a greater risk of trouble. It took little deliberation for Izzy and Livia to agree, the group would not be entering the town. The discussion on which route they should take to bypass it, however, was decidedly more heated. Nyx nodded along, not fully listening. Eventually, a decision was made but Nyx didn’t hear what it was. She was too busy plotting. She would wait until the others were asleep and then sneak into town.  Getting past whoever was on watch would pose a minor challenge but Nyx had faith in her stealth abilities. She could pull it off. By the time they realised what she was doing she would be back with more than enough gold to finance the rest of their journey, perhaps even enough to repay Livia.  Sure, she had never stolen quite that much in one go before, but stealing was stealing the mechanics would be the same.

They followed their usual evening routine, although to Nyx it felt like everything was taking exceptionally longer than usual. As they finished dinner Cassandra announced she would take the first watch of the night. Nyx smirked slightly at that, this was going to be much easier than sneaking past Izzy or Livia.

Nyx retired to her pile of furs feigning a yawn. As Izzy instructed Cassandra in the magical arts Nyx lay beneath her furs digging her nails into her palms to keep herself awake. When the magic lesson ended and Izzy finally went to bed Nyx waited an extra half hour just to be sure.

Confident Izzy and Livia would now be asleep Nyx took a deep breath and crawled out from beneath the furs. She cast a quick glance at Cassandra. Cassandra remained oblivious. Sitting with her back to Nyx she continued staring into the trees. Nyx plumped up the furs to give the appearance she was still beneath them before setting off in the direction of the town.

Nyx had covered about 50 meters when she felt a hand wrap around her arm. She spun around her eyes meeting Cassandra’s.

“Nyx?” Cassandra queried at a whisper “What are you doing?”

“Um… I…” Nyx stuttered. This was not going as planned.

“Are you going into town?” Cassandra’s grip on her arm loosened slightly.

“Well, I just thought that maybe if I could get us some gold…” Nyx’s voice trailed off.

“Can I come with you?” A hopeful look dawned on Cassandra’s face.

“Uh… sure.” Nyx was taken aback by Cassandra’s request. She wouldn’t have thought Cassandra would disregard Izzy’s instructions but she wasn’t about to pass up a chance to spend time with her sister.

“This will be so much fun!” Cassandra whispered excitedly. “Do you know how long it’s been since I got to go to a town.” Nyx nodded indulgently.

“Just remember we are going for business…” Nyx began. Cassandra’s face fell slightly. “That, of course, does not mean we can’t have a little fun while we’re there” Nyx added with a smirk. Cassandra beamed.

Nyx and Cassandra continued in the direction of the town. Soon buildings began to appear, at first sporadically and then clustered closer together. Cassandra squeezed Nyx’s arm in excitement. When they reached the town tavern Nyx gripped Cassandra’s hand and pulled her inside. Nyx surveyed the tavern, eyes falling on a group of particularly drunk patrons. Perfect, she thought making her way over.

“How are you this evening?” She enquired plunking herself down at their table, beaming at the man to her right.

“Much better now.” He leered. Cassandra stood back watching warily from a distance. Nyx continued smiling, nodding along with feigned attentiveness as he attempted to regale her with stories of his work in the mines. She trailed her fingers down his arm deftly reaching into his pocket with her other hand, snatching his coin purse and tucking it into her tunic. She then excused herself moving on to her next target. She repeated the action with several more patrons before pausing to check how she was doing. She and Cassandra huddled in a corner counting the coins she had stolen so far. Unfortunately, they were mostly coppers. Nyx sighed, she was going to have to aim much higher if she wanted to acquire enough money to actually be useful.

“There’s a lady over in the corner who’s wearing a very expensive looking necklace?” Cassandra suggested in a hushed tone “If I cast a sleeping spell on her you could take it.”

“Are you sure you can do that?” Nyx asked with uncertainty.

“Yes,” Cassandra nodded. “That’s one spell I can actually cast, I put a rat to sleep once. I’m sure I can do it! Please?”

“Okay,” Nyx agreed. Cassandra waved her hand in the direction of the aforementioned lady who collapsed, head falling to the table at which she was seated. Nyx weaved her way through the crowd. Reaching the woman, she gingerly reached for the clasp of the necklace. She took her time, slowly easing the jewellery from her neck.  Once she held it in her hands she took a thorough look at it. Cassandra was right it looked extremely expensive. It was gold, each side was set with seven rubies. Between the two sets of rubies was a diamond about half the size of Nyx’s fist. For a moment, Nyx was elated, then she heard a voice behind her.

“Just what do you think you’re doing?” Nyx spun around to see a member of the town guard standing before her, sword drawn. “We don’t take theft lightly around these parts.” The guard’s eyes flickered to Nyx’s unconscious mark. “Don’t take poisoning lightly either.”

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