<<<Chapter 12 The Abstract Chapter 14>>>
The storeroom of the Triplets had been a rat infested hole where the old toothy owners stored their wine, food, and the occasional difficult slave. There were no windows to allow light in, but if there was any light sources there wasn’t anything interesting for people outside to see.
A few empty crates, some barrels of old wine, and some rotten food that the local vermin had been consisting on for generations.
Once, this storeroom would have been overflowing with goods from a dozen other exotic cities. Fish, olives, fruits, and sacks of grain, but the Thebes was a harsh city to stay in at the best of times and in the yes of the old the past is so much brighter.
Factors both inside and outside of Thebes were changing the city. Enseen with it hungry eyes on the world, the nobility seeking to refill their coffers, religion, slaves, and a thousand other excuses were causing the Triplets to become a shadow of its former self.
The door to the room opened and four men in a dark hoods ventured down the stairs. The only sounds they made were the creaks of straining wood as their feet pressed down on the floorboards.
They had been told that the Orain and the Northerner had departed recently on a cart driven by an ass, the two fools had left, mistakenly thinking that their master’s object would be safe due to its mundane appearance. They would learn the hard way that leaving anything behind, even garbage and shit did not mean that it would still be there if you turned your back on it.
Krindge, the leader of the group had paid the bouncer a good amount of coin to enter the room without a fuss. Opening the door he immediately found what he was looking for.
Just as the man had been told the object stood vertically. A slab of wood, connected to wooden frame, a brass knob acting as the handle. Printed onto the door was a black cat with a broom.
Krindge didn’t see what the bother was about, he had seen better doors in his travels. It wasn’t as if it were made out of gold or had jewels decorating it. The only thing that looked valuable was the bit of brass.
He was about to order his men to take the object when one of them pointed at the floor, “What are they doing?” The leader of the thieves looked down at the floor and immediately jumped back.
Sitting in five neat little rows, staring up at the door in adoration one associated with cults, were twenty-eight rats. The vermin were currently ignoring the five large humans who had intruded upon their home, but they also appeared to be dismissive about the hundreds of cockroaches that were orbiting around the door in a perfect circle.
“By my father’s ghost,” Krindge gasped.
“Do you. Do you think that we might not want to touch that thing?” one of his men asked.
“You want to get paid dont’cha?” Krindge said thinking that it might be good to grab a good drink after this. “Just grab the door and take it to the cart. They’re just rats.”
The men weren’t so sure about the just part, but they did as they were told. Navigating their way through the score of rats and ring of insects, the two most expendable members of Krindge’s crew placed their hands on the wooden frame.
As one, the rats and cockroaches stopped what they were doing and turned to glare at the two dumb bastards who were attempting to steal their object of worship.
There was an uncomfortable lack of noise in the room that caused the humans to stop what they were doing and stare back at the annoyed rodents and army of creepy crawlies. Then, one of the rats let out a sharp squeak and the illusion of calm was broken.
The rats and cockroaches descended upon the two arseholes like a biblical plague.
“Ahhhhh.” The two humans screamed as they ran around the storeroom, kicking and smacking the vermin off them.
Knowing an opportunity when he saw it, Krindge gave an order, “Grab the door.”
Stealth and cunning went right out of the plan as the thieves carried the door back up to the tavern, that was where Roumpíni was waiting for them with two burly men with clubs.
“You have had your look, so how about you, Ahhhhhhhh!” whatever advice that Roumpíni was going to give the pricks, who were in the process of stealing her client’s belongings, was interrupted as a horde of cockroaches and a light calvary of pissed off rats raided the bar.
His latest obstacle distracted, Krindge pointed his finger at the Triplets’ exit. “Keep going.” Before leaving with his men he looked back at all the chaos and mayhem that he had caused.
The vermin, not being able to tell humans from one another, attacked clients and staff indiscriminately. The half naked girls who worked at the brothel were screaming while stamping their feet, the customers were being completely useless, and the old bitch who ran the place was cursing her ancient lungs out as she punted one huge rat like it was a ball.
After loading the hunk of wood onto the cart, Krindge took a second to look down the street to see two of his men running away from the brothel, both of whom were covered in insects. He snickered when he noticed that one of the imbeciles had a rat on his back, the pest holding onto his toga with claws.
Fortunately, he had the brains to leave one of his men guarding the cart and another man inside the inn as backup. Now back up to four, Krindge nodded to his driver.
There was a snap and a whinny from the house before the wooden cart accelerated.
“What was that back there?” the driver called back.
“Nothing,” Krindge said, all he wanted to do was deliver this door and get paid.
Minutes latter as they were passing by a residential area there was the sound of thumping and clicking coming from the back. Eyes turned back and downwards at the hunk of wood that they were escorting.
“Must have hit a bump.” Krindge said.
They men jumped as the brass door handle twisted violently. Their attention locked onto the possessed door, Krindge and his crew were unprepared as a man ran out from a house and grabbed the reigns of their horse.
“What are you…” the driver’s angry shout was abruptly cut off as an arrow embedded itself into his neck.
Krindge had enough time to turn his head before a hand reached out and pulled him off the cart. He felt the cold bite of sharp bronze land on his skin before a feminine voice whisper into his ear, “Do you want to buy me a drink now?”
The contracted theif was momentarily confused before he remembered where he heard that voice before. His face twisted in self-disgust. “I would find that hard to do as you stole my purse last night.” He winced as he heard the sound of metal piercing meat and the muffled cries of his men.
Keeping his voice levelled Krindge lied, “I am worth more alive.”
A pair of meaty hands lifted him up and dragged him away to a dark alleyway. Behind him, he heard the crack of leather as the cart and its new owners continued on its path, abet with a different destination.
Within the shadow of two buildings, Krindge got reacquainted with the bitch who had stole his coin and his possible life. Sadly, she and her crew were smart enough to wear festival masks, which shielded everything but their eyes and mouths.
He glanced to the left and saw the thieves drag his men into the garbage, where he expected to be dumped.
“Who hired you?” the woman asked.
Krindge thought about his answer. One that resulted in him not dying would be beneficial. “A noble.” He would try to buy time, feed them bits and pieces until he saw an chance to escape.
“What a coincidence, so were we.” The woman said happily.
A sharp pain exploded from his abdomen and Krindge gawked down at the protruding dagger that was shoved into his side. The foul temptress had stuck him in the kidney. He opened his mouth to scream but a suffocating hand closed around his mouth. His eyes widened as a knife ran across his throat.
Krindge’s last words were a gargling plea.
The bandits stepped away from the alleyway. “Go tell our employer that we are bringing the door to him.” The woman said.
The man with the goat mask nodded and ran towards the direction of their employer.
As they exited the shadows, the group discarded their masks and moved towards the pick up spot. Krindge hadn’t known it but while he had been semi-professional about his employer, his men had not. A few drinks and a smile and the bandits had know exactly where to strike.
Walking down the street, barely a few houses away from their dark deed, and the cry of a horse could be heard.
Doubling their pace, the group found the cause of the disturbance.
Bleeding out on the ground, the cart’s horse was laying down on the shit stained ground. Arrows stuck out from its body from multiple directions, telling thieves that they had just escaped an ambush. The group’s driver fared little better, an arrow to the back of the head told everyone his cause of death.
The woman cursed. Already the cart was earning an audience. “Let’s go.” She said.
“What about the door?” her companion asked.
“Not worth it. That thing attracts trouble.”