Thief of 'Arts

A Xanth fanfic by Whisperstorm

Chapter 1

Glen slid deftly down the sneak-vine he had attached to the roof of the Library of Alex-Xanthria. Tonight was the night. He landed silently on the gallery floor and glanced about for any signs of protective spells or sleeping guardians. He knew they wouldn't be there. Glen considered himself an accomplished thief, as well as one of the most handsome goblins of his generation.

His mother had once told him as a little goblet that he was a "throwback" to an earlier time, when male goblins had been brave and handsome. Before the curse the dastardly harpies had placed on his race for some treachery long forgotten.

Goblin girls had been cursed to be attracted to only the ugliest and worst males of their kind, resulting in a degredation of the whole goblin race over the years. Only in the past few generations had this curse been lifted and once again had female goblins sought out the least terrible and only slightly ugly of their kind. Glen's father had been halfway-handsome – with humanlike proportions instead of oversized head, hands, and feet most goblins possessed.

Glen shuddered to think what he might have turned out to look like if his mother had made a less discriminating choice in male companionship.

As he shuddered he snapped out of his thoughts enough to see Mare Imbri's ghostly visage disappear rapidly from the scene.

"This is no time for daydreams, " he thought.

He had business to conduct tonight. Thiefly business.

Glen was a unique goblin in many ways. Not only was he excruciatingly handsome – even by human standards – he had something other goblins only dreamed of – a Talent. His talent was "The Pinch" as he called it. Not much by Magician standards, Glen could conjure to his hands anything in his line of sight – within reason.

As a boy he had tested the limits of his talent against a wandering Ogre – only wanting to Pinch the brute's monsterous club. Instead, in juvenile fashion, he had inadvertently conjured a very large, horrendously smelly, and furious Ogre into his grasp.

"Me make skid out of goblin kid!" the Ogre had intoned.

Only because of Glen's quick thinking, and even quicker legs (not weighed down as they were with otherwise clumsy goblin feet) had saved his life that day. Fortunately his parents had never discovered Glen's close encounter of the Ogre kind.

It was the combination of Glen's quick wit, body, and talent that had virtually assured that he'd become a thief. When times at his goblin tribe had turned rough, and even the pie trees had fallen ill to some blight, it had been the food and gold that Glen had Pinched from unsuspecting travelers that had saved his own family from the tribal soup pot.

Again Glen blinked. Another afterimage of a ghostly black horse crossed his peripheral vision.

"I really need to stop this daydreaming!" Glen chided himself. He was getting nowhere fast and the night wasn't getting any younger. He had Treasure to collect.

Quickly he yanked down the sneak-vine. It was magically spelled to respond to him alone and stick silently to most anything he willed it to. It had been a gift from his father on his 15th birthday – only a short year ago.

Glen's mind began to drift once again to thoughts of his birthday party – sweetly sad because it had marked the day he went out into the world - Greater Xanth – to seek his fortune…

However this time he snapped back to reality abruptly to see Mare Imbri once again, fleetingly.

He had been foolish. Of course! The day mare was doing double-duty as a night watchhorse here at the soon-to-be opened Library of Alex-Xanthria. Glen cursed his stupidity and raced down the hallway. Yesterday when he had scoped out the place he had seen no signs of protective magic at the Art Gallery wing of the Library. He had snuck in, as was his want before a job, to get the lay of the landscape. Or in this case the ArtScape.

The current King Dor had commissioned a new center for learning in Xanth – dubbing it the Library of Alex-Xanthria – after some Mundane approximation. Glen saw a picture in his mind of the outside of the Library – grand columns, many sweeping wings. It was going to hold donations of art, books, and magic from people all over Xanth.

Glen realized that the Mare was increasingly sending him into daydreams as a way to prevent him from accomplishing his task!

Pinching his own arm hard, he knew now that the authorities had been alerted, and he had perhaps another few moments or so before it would be too late.

Glen skidded on the glassy floor as he made the final turn. Here was the item he most desired – the one he knew was by far more valuable than any of the other trinkets in this collection: The Magic Tapestry.

He knew that he could get a good price for it on the Black Market – a marketplace some of the members of the Black Wave had set up to gain money and supplies. They tended to look the other way when it came to items of – questionable - origin. Glen knew he might also hold it for ransom. The King would surely greatly desire to have one of Xanth's greatest treasures back.

The room was dark, with shadows and silhouettes of all manner of statuary, paintings, and magical gewgaws. Gewgaws were sticky, rubbery fruit from the gawk tree. For some reason their magic impelled folk to want to wear them or put them up for public display – often to the chagrin of friends and family.

In his haste, Glen tripped over something small and hard on the floor and sprawled head first in front of the darkened square on the main wall.

"What on Xanth?" he muttered and jumped to his feet nimbly. It wasn't often Glen would stumble. He had trained hard in the skills of a thief. Clumsy thieves were caught ones.

There before him was the shadowy outline of the Tapestry. Success! He knew he had only moments before the pesky Mare managed to alert the folk guarding the Gallery. He pulled out his trusty knife and reached for the Tapestry.

Suddenly, the lights came on.

"Ooh, you are in such big trouble!" his knife said to him. Startled and partially blinded by the sudden light Glen turned to see King Dor, Mare Imbri, and a host of other people, some still with sleep-puffy eyes.

"Hey goblin-creep!" A little man broke from the crowd and pointed at Glen.

"Hand over the Tapestry!" the little man snapped.

Dumbfounded, Glen turned back toward the wall. There as a black glass case that outlined the wall and would frame the magic Tapestry. The glass was cracked and broken. The Tapestry was gone!