Open Chronicles Rats and Crowns

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Kala

The Other Gutter Rat
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Oban - Warehouse District
Kekrizh

"This is a wonderful idea." Kala said as she tapped the map which had been laid out on the small crate. Her fingers ran over the drawing there, poking at one of the exits which had been masterfully depicted.

The map of course had been stolen from a local mason. She didn't know who had taken it, just that it was reliably accurate. Apparently plans of the Castle had been drawn up some years ago for small amounts of restoration work, and this mason had been the one to keep them afterwards. They were not entirely accurate, but close enough to be useful.

"We can get in through here." She pointed to the left side of the drawing. "The walls are low here, and climbing them should not be difficult."

Plus she had a trick or two. "From there we take care of a few guards, and take this path into the Keep itself."

Beautiful.

"Then, we take the crown." It would be the crime of the century. Stealing the Crown of the King of Oban? People would rave about them for years to come. Kala didn't even care how much the damned thing was worth, she wanted the glory, the fame of it. Everything else didn't matter. They had been planning this for months, and the gang they'd assembled was perfect for the job.

She couldn't imagine failing.
 
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Kekrizh

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Kekrizh liked cheese.

Unlike his fellow Rous who, more often than not, still ate from the bins and sewers in the Underdark, he enjoyed the finer things in life. Despite his appearance, Kekrizh took time to bathe at least once every fortnight, avoided eating from bins where possible and made sure he almost never had fleas.

He was presentable, and he took pride in that.

The scheme at hand had been concocted and planned between himself and Kala - although he had to admit she had a much better head for these heists than he did. Circling back to the cheese, however, Kekrizh had agreed to this mission because it gave him an excuse to come to Oban.

Oban had lovely cheeses and he was going to use his cut to import some of these finer delicacies back into the Underdark - some to sell, some to eat, some to simply admire, but they would be his and his alone.

His thoughts of the delectable dairy product almost caused him to ignore his comrade and friend, but a brief shake of the head brought him back to the world of the living.

"King don't trust mages either, something to do with women being better spell slingers and them hating women in power." He said nonchalantly, his eyes scouring the details of the schematics and committing it to memory.

"Pity for him, mundane traps just make it painfully easy really." He kissed his teeth as she mentioned taking care of a few guards. Kekrizh was the knife in the dark alley. He had more kills under his belt than any score of Rous put together. It was why he and Kala made an excellent duo, she provided the skills, the knowledge, the expertise and he provided the fist. Good team.

He glanced around at the rest of the group they'd assembled. Everyone had their role, everyone knew their place. Kekrizh wasn't sure of their capability, but they'd been recommended by various sources.

"Any of you toerags got anything to add?" He said, eyebrows raised towards the rest of the group. Despite his modest stature and calm tone, Kekrizh seemed to radiate violence and viciousness.
 
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Kala

The Other Gutter Rat
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Kala waited for a few seconds, and then when no one decided to speak the Thief simply clapped her hands and motioned for them to disperse. "It happens tonight, everyone be in their place."

She had always found it was important to keep people relaxed before a job. If things were too tense someone was liable to do something foolish.

Of course it helped that in this instance the twelve others she and Kek had hired to bring along on this job were all patsies. None of them would be making it out of the castle alive, and if one of them happened to...well, that would come later.

With a gentle nudge she motioned for Kek to follow her to the edge of the warehouse.

"I have the powder." Cala Powder was a stimulant used by trolls within the spine. It was said that it could keep someone awake for nearly three days. Of course, it also had the extreme side-effect of throwing them into violent rages.

They would be using it on the guards.

That part of the plan had been hidden from the others, and was meant to cause utter chaos when things began. "Things will move quickly this time, my friend."
 
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Kekrizh

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"Still amazed you managed to get it. Squeakers tried to get a batch a few years back, the trolls ate the entire negotiating party to a Rous." He'd only been a year as an enforcer back then, it had left Squeakers vulnerable and in the coming months, he'd lost most of his territory. Thankfully, for Kekrizh at least, he hadn't been serving the poor bastard.

"Can't say I don't believe you, I know you've been hatching a plan like this for a good while." He paused, glancing around carefully at their surrounding area, ensuring they were alone. They were. A sigh of relief escaped his lips.

"Can always tell how ambitious your plan is, by the amount of fall-guys you fire." He said, snickering through his sentence. When Kala set her mind to something, there wasn't a force on Arethil capable of stopping her from acquiring it. Usually, in his experience, at the cost of many thieves. Still, a thieves reputation was everything.

"I've had bent-nose and stub-tail undermine the foundation of the kitchen the past few weeks. So we're all set for the escape." He smiled, flashing his sharp fangs. It had been a joint idea to give the rest of the thieves a false escape route, while the two of them left the castle through a hastily-made tunnel hidden in the kitchen cellars.

"You been speaking to anyone about this mission Kal? Had knife-back offer me a tidy sum if we steal him a griffin egg." He licked his lips. Knife-back was a notorious information broker, inexplicably knew all the ins and outs of the Underdark. Likewise, his namesake had been earned. Very few people in the Underdark existed who hadn't been betrayed by him at some point.

The fact he knew of their mission was to be expected, but still no less concerning.
 
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Kala

The Other Gutter Rat
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Kala scowled. "That little..."

She looked down at Kek for a second and then decided to bite her tongue. Calling Knife-Back a rat might not really have been offensive, but the connotation at the very least would have been more than clear to her friend.

"Bastard." Had he found out somehow? Had one of the idiots she hired to fall spoken too loosely?

This was the problem with working with others. The Reesh Reckoners couldn't betray one another, not if they wanted to live without pain, but randoms? Randoms always turned out to be out for you. Her fingers danced for a moment, and then she sighed.

"No." She glanced towards the others. "I haven't said a word, but these fools?"

There was no telling. "It doesn't matter now, we keep going until we have that damn Crown."
 
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Kekrizh

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Kekrizh snickered. "It's okay you can say the R-word, you have me as your friend - it gives you a free pass."

Kekrizh had never much cared for the words 'rat' or 'rodent', but he always found it funny when non-rous tried to tiptoe around the subject. He'd been called far worse and in the end, they were just words after all.

"Knife-Back is a tiny prick, but doesn't mean he's sent another crew in or sold us out. Doesn't matter anyhow, it's done - these little snitches will be getting their comeuppance soon anyway." He smiled excitedly, wondering at how the guards would choose to maim and detain their fellow thieves.

"Might be worth sending one of these 12 to keep an eye on the griffin tower, we spot any suspicious activity we know Knife-Back's been meddling."

It mattered little to Kekrizh. The escape route Kala and he had chosen was only known by those two, if Knife-Back had sent in another crew they'd most likely try to piggyback the rigged one the duo had given their fall guys. He laughed a little at the thought of causing Knife-Back's crew's downfall.
 
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Kala

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Kala nodded her head. "Good idea."

The little bastard would surely send someone. She'd had a run on with him before, and if there was profit to be had he almost always interjected himself as best he could. An annoying habit, though she supposed one that she had herself.

Fingers tightened, and then she shook her head.

"Come on, let's go get a drink before all this starts." Kala motioned Kek to follow, and for the next few hours the two friends went to a nearby bar.

It was a short while after that when things began to kick of. Everyone had taken their time to relax, everyone had time to study their roles, and now everything was on. Night had fallen, and it was time to enact the plan that they had put into motion.

Kala and Kek stood in their designated spot, the former slowly shuffling her deck of cards with a single hand. "You ready?"

The Tiefling said as she stared at the city walls.
 

Kekrizh

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Kekrizh swaddled himself in his green cloak. The Tavern wasn't a particularly high-class establishment, but that didn't stop them from refusing service to Rous. In fact, it was particularly rare to find Rous-friendly establishments above the surface. That said, Kekrizh didn't think he'd allow Rous if he ran a tavern. For the most part, himself excluded, of course, they were filthy.

A couple of drinks went by and the duo discussed plans, memories, the unfortunate incident with Kala, Kekrizh, 3 bottles of moonshine and a bank safe and the two were finally ready to go.

As he approached the walls, Kekrizh snickered. He had a knack for climbing, almost magical, and he could climb even sheer vertical walls with barely a struggle. Thankfully, this time at least, the wall was pocked with holes and wasn't a particularly high one.

"Oh always." By the time he finished his sentence, Kekrizh had glued himself to the wall and was almost half-way up the structure. He held his breath as he climbed, listening out for any patrols on the wall, before calling down.

"It's all clear, we've got about a minute and a half before the next patrol."
 

Kala

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Kala briefly glanced towards the deck of cards in her hand, considering for a moment before slowly shaking her head.

Best to save that for the way out.

As she wat hex Kek climb a smile crossed her features. The rous was much better at climbing than she would ever be. She knew it was the claws, but there was an odd elegance to the way the Rat Fill moved. Most wouldn't want to admit that, but she didn't mind.

She'd worked with them for years after all.

With two quick strides Kala threw herself at the wall. Her fingers dug gently at the curves and crevaces of the wall, grasping and quickly pulling herself up. The climb was difficult, but a minute later she flung herself over the top of the wall. Just to the left she caught aight of Torchlight.

"Go." She said to Kek as she quickly darted forward.

They would have to make it through the maze like garden around the palace before breaking into the building proper. Giggling could be heard from up ahead, a feminine voice followed by the sound of a man.

Kala let out a quiet curse as she reached the first brush.
 

Kekrizh

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Kekrizh held his breath as he leapt onto the parapet of the wall. His ears were finely tuned and he had heard the laughing and footsteps long before he heard Kala's command.

Quickly and quietly, Kek chipped a chunk of the wall from the settlement and lazily threw the pebble backwards. Without delay, he launched himself forward and, looking more like a diminutive blur than a rat, he shot into the first hedge.

The stone landed a moment or two later and cut the merriment amongst the guards short as they turned their attention to the opposite side of the wall.

"Hear something?" The female guard muttered.

"Yeah, might be those foxes though, been getting pretty far into the city." His words prompted a long discussion about peasantry and pest control, giving the duo ample time in the hedge.

"Quick, while they're distracted." He whispered to Kala, before flinging himself into the maze.
 
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Kala

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Kala quickly followed after.

Her steps were muted, quick enough that she managed to skulk behind the Rous without much of a problem. As she stepped forward she spotted one of the guards that had been talking. Her armor was disheveled, leathers appearing as though they had already suffered through body.

The Tiefling's eyes narrowed, and then pressed into the maze alongside Kek. "If the King of Obann is so rich why do his guards look like shit?"

She asked in a whispered hiss.

There was something wrong. That Guard hadn't looked like a member of the Obann forces. Could it be that Mercenaries were stalking the grounds?

Kala thinned her lips, shaking her head as they continued through the maze and towards the main building.
 

Kekrizh

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He paused, ducking behind the wall as a guard surveyed the area beneath him. The area that he and Kala were currently navigating through.

A small spotlight travelled half-heartedly across the grounds, before fading away as the guard drew his attention away from their locale.

"Not sure, all humans look like trash to me. Maybe he's got a dignitary visiting and their guards are patrolling?" He shrugged. He didn't have the answer to Kala but he could sense the worry from her.

Carefully they made their way towards the main building and Kekrizh guided them to a small shadowed alcove behind two pillars that kept the pair sufficiently covered.

"If they've got foreign people guarding, as opposed to the royal guard, it'll work to our advantage. We use the powder to set the two contingents against each other - we cause a castle-wide skirmish. Maybe even a war." He snickered at the thought of war. A war meant lots of easy pickings for thieves. Items that, in peacetime would otherwise be impossible to secure, suddenly became much more stealable.
 
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Kala

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"Doesn't seem right." She said quietly.

Even if there was a visiting dignitary it wouldn't mean the RoyalGuard wouldn't be present, of anything it should have bolstered their numbers. A frown touched her lips, and unconsciously she fingered the collar of her vest for a moment.

After a few seconds her head shook, deciding they had already come too far to turn back now.

With a silent motion Kala stepped out from behind the pillar and quickly dashed over towards the other end of the small stone deck. There they found the high window which had been on the old plans. She placed herself on the ground and folded her hands together so that Kek could use it as a boost to get up and climb inside.

It was something they had practiced often, using one another for quick mobility. One of the many reasons they made such a good team.
 

Kekrizh

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"No it doesn't, might be the Obanese are finally considering what's beneath them... Reckon Knife Back tipped em off do ya?" He spat as he spoke. Kekrizh, for the most part, had been immune from Knife-Back's traitorous reputation. He was the best knowledge broker in the Underdark so, for the most part, he was a useful asset - despite his treachery.

Kekrizh flexed his claws thoughtfully. The Rous had a tell, a tell that only flashed when he was considering rendering someone. A tell that signalled someone's demise was at hand. Whether or not Knife-Back was in play here, Kekrizh had made a decision regarding his employment.

"We'll be extra careful, I'm sure between the two of us we can get out of any scrap." He smiled wryly, remembering the time they'd broken into an Amol-Kaliti treasury. Good times.

He nodded towards his partner. Usually, such a boost would require a run-up, but not for Kekrizh. His uncanny physique aided him. A simple boost from Kala and he kicked off - rocketing into the sky - before landing on the windowsill.

His two hands worked independently. The first expertly clawed at the lock - breaking it in a few simple seconds - while the second lowered down a rope for Kala to grab.

It was a practised manoeuvre, once the window was open - and she was firmly on the rope - he'd jump into the interior of the building and pull her up from the sheer momentum. Needless to say, it didn't really add much to the plan, it was just satisfying and fun to pull off.
 
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Kala

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As they had practiced time and time again Kala had grabbed the rope and found herself being yanked up the side of the wall.

It was quick, easy, and looked damned good.

She wasn't entirely sure why, but every thief she had ever met had a need to be as flashy as possible. Perhaps it was an innate ego, a need to appear as smooth as possible. Kala was no different.

The Tiefling landed on the inside of the Palace with a small flourish, immediately folding I to a crouch and glancing around. The room was mostly empty, as expected, just a single door leading out into the hallway. From the small satchel at her back Kala pulled out a card.

She placed it against the wall, and then motioned for Kek to follow.

The door was gently pushed open, the hallway beyond laying in serene quiet. They were in the servants quarters from now, a stairwell would be found at the end of the hall and from there they could enter the palace proper. Kala took a breath, then quickly slipped out into the hall and headed towards the stairs.
 
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Kekrizh

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Kekrizh smiled to himself. He'd never admit it, but he loved showing off some of the manoeuvres the two had developed. Kala and himself had formed an unlikely friendship many years ago. Several missions from nameless mob bosses had earned each others respect - a rare thing for their line of work - and that had formed the foundation for a strange friendship.

He slipped silently behind her, keeping his back almost pressed against her own. He'd picked it up watching some human guards scope a room - back to back, guarding each other - it had seemed dumb at the time, but the tactic had saved several backs from being stabbed.

Glancing periodically over his shoulder, past Kala, he slipped by into the palace with the Tiefling. His ears twitched, his nose too, and the Rous grabbed his comrade and pulled her into the shadow of one of the pillars lining the palace.

Carefully, he placed his finger to his lips.

Thirty seconds passed and two guards - polished and gilded armour walked hurriedly into the foyer.

"So we have to do double shifts and guard the keep because some rat seems to think several other rats are gonna attack us? I say just feed them all to the Griffins - make a spectacle of it!"

Kekrizh flinched, a sharp intake of breath. In seconds his katar was in his hand, but he paused. They had not been detected, he was not stupid enough to give them away.

He would kill them, just not right now.

"
Knife-Back will die." He didn't feel the need to say anything else.
 
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Kala

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Ah.

So it was as she had suspected. The extra guards had not been brought by some visiting dignitary or due to a party. Knife-Back had given them away, and likely received some sort of payout for doing so in the first place.

Her fingers tightened for a moment, and Kala let out a single long breath. "Yes."

She agreed.

In the back of her mind she thanked whatever deity watched over her that Knife-Back had not joined the Reesh Reckoners. She knew there had been a time when he'd almost been inducted by one of the fools, but such a thing had never come to pass.

That was the trouble with them. The Reesh weren't really a gang, more a loose connection of affiliates who sometimes despised one another.

"First the crown." She whispered as she made a motion and stepped into the hall. "Though this may get bloody."

Not that Kek would mind that.
 
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Kekrizh

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"I suggest we take a brief detour before we go after the crown."

He paused for a few moments, knowing that would not sit well with Kala. Before the Tiefling had a chance to interject, however, he continued.

"We'll use the Orc powder, spark a fight between the hired guards and the palace guards. We're the only ones that know about the powder, they won't suspect a thing." He sighed, it meant it would likely delay his hands getting bloody. Kekrizh wasn't a mindless killer, but he hated humans and the betrayal by Knife Back left him itching for a fight.

"Reckon we could spike the food? Wait for a guard change, think there's one due in the next half hour or so."

Kekrizh was not a thief, but he was cautious. Despite his rough and tough appearance, he was a calculating bastard and had reviewed the plans until he knew them by rote.
 
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Kala

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She considered for a brief moment. "Might be better to spike the water barrels."

There was no way they could get every guard with such methods, but that didn't really matter. If enough of them tried to start something, then it would make the others follow along shortly. She'd seen how humans behaved.

They were herd animals at best. Simple minds that just wanted to follow whomever appeared to be the leader at the time.

Kek's plan was a good one. Chaos in the castle meant more cover for them, and with Knife-Back's betrayal they could use more of that. With a simple sigh she motioned towards the left hallway.

"This way to the kitchens." She said, remembering the plans they'd stolen.
 

Kekrizh

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Kekrizh nodded, the route to the kitchens wasn't far, but it required walking through a couple of unavoidable hallways.

The first few minutes were easy enough, pillars, furniture, doorways, anything producing enough of a shadow rendered the two almost invisible between passing patrols and staff.

Eventually, they reached their first obstacle, a small dimly lit corridor - a servant's route - to the kitchen. Kekrizh gestured towards Kala to wait and quickly scurried up the walls.

He inhaled, then began to run on all 4s - upside down - on the ceiling of the hallway. It was a knack of his he particularly enjoyed exploiting. People were never smart enough to look up, nor did they expect a guillotine blade-wielding rat to fall on, and subsequently, behead them.

After a few moments, he did a peculiar acrobatic flip under the doorway and was in the kitchen. Kekrizh dropped to his feet, sneaking up behind the lone chef and quickly embraced her in a hold. He counted several seconds, before releasing her unconscious body.

He was a murderer, he was violent, but he never harmed those unarmed where he could help it.

With the coast clear, he signalled Kala.
 
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Kala

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Kala stepped into the kitchen with quiet footfalls, looking around for a moment before she peered down at the unconscious cook.

"Never gets any less impressive." She complement Kek with a smile as she quickly moved by him and reached into her satchel. There she pulled out a smaller bag, peering down at the cookpot before opening it and pouring in a fine powder.

"We'll have to hide her." Kala said as she quickly moved to the body. "Then see if we can't entice some of the guards to enjoy a quick meal."

She was not entirely sure how they were going to pull that one off, though suddenly she stopped.

"I can mimic her voice." Or at least the voice of a woman. She very much doubted that any of the guards would actually know the difference. Not here in Obann.
 
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Kekrizh

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Kekrizh did a poor job of hiding his smile. It was a rare occasion to exercise these facial muscles, but it was rarer still that thieves received compliments from their kin. Thankfully, the two of them had worked long enough together that he was almost used to it. Almost.

"We need to come back through here to get to the cellar and escape, I suggest dumping her down there in a barrel - she should be out an hour or so, we shouldn't need longer" He paused, glancing around the vicinity. He had initially considered keeping her in a cupboard, but they couldn't risk a bystander finding her before they'd escaped.

He paused. About to question Kala as she spiked the metal pot and not the water barrels as she had originally suggested - but he shrugged. Either would work he supposed.

"Good idea, maybe we could get a Guard to take it out to the boys on the battlements - a few of them go nuts and we're laughing" He snickered to himself as he grabbed the legs of the woman, slinging her onto his shoulder as he spoke.

With that, he stepped off towards the cellar.
 
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Kala

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Kala and Kek quickly dragged the poor woman down the cellar steps. It was not an easy process. Kek was strong for a Rous and Kala wasn't exactly weak, but their height difference made it awkward. Eventually though they managed to stuff the poor woman into a barrel.

The Tiefling wiped her brow and then shrugged her shoulders, motioning to Kek. "Stay here, I'll call the guard."

With quick leaping steps Kala made her way up the stairway. She moved quickly and lithely, stopping at the doorway for just a few seconds to get a good look around before continuing further into the Kitchen and out towards the far door.

Her eyes narrowed as she saw the shadows of passing guards.

How fortuitous.

"COME GET IT LADS!" Kala three her voice, clearly attempting to sound more feminine than she usually did. "I'll be in the cellar readyin' desert!"

"Finally! I'm fuckin' starving."

A voice called out from down the hall as Kala quickly dashed out of the kitchen and rushed into the cellar. "That was far too easy."

The Tiefling said with a frown.
 
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Kekrizh

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"What do you expect, Humans are idiots." He snickered, scurrying up after the Tiefling and poking his head to risk a glance through the doorways.

"How long until the powder kicks in?" He paused thoughtfully. Kekrizh didn't enjoy waiting about, but he understood the need for it. Better the two wait until they knew the distraction was working before they begin their heist.

"While we wait for the humans we hired to arrive... Fancy stealing a griffin egg to destroy in front of Knife Back" He grinned. He was going to kill Knife-Back, but it would make it all the more satisfying if they killed him in such a... poetic fashion.
 

Kala

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The idea did appeal to her, but..."How about we sell it instead?"

Kala was a thief through and through.

When she had something valuable, it was incredibly hard for her to destroy it. She wanted money, and more than that she wanted fame. That was really her driving force, that was why they were here trying to steal this damn crown.

She wanted her name to be out there.

"We can just kill Knife-back." Kala said simply.
 
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