A/N (Aroihkin's Notes) 07.23.05:

This is the third in a series of one-shots. Or, actually, this is the sequel to those other two one-shots that I wrote in 2002. SNAFU is going to multiple-chapter.

The first in what I've come to call "The Akara Files" was "Just BeClause She Can". The second was "Book By Its Cover". They're still up, and I've for some reason kept from... you know... -fixing- them, but they're there. Just check my profile.

SNAFU takes place, in-story, five years after the first story and three years after the second.

And my prologue's are generally shorter than the following chapters... just know that it might be a while between updates. I'm now up to -four- long-term fanfiction projects, all going at once. Also, the waltz exists on Krynn... because I said so.

05.02.2010: All scene-dividers have been eaten, again, on all of my stories. I give up. Please just go read this story on arowrites dot net where it hasn't been made incoherent; I am unable to keep up with this site's stupidity.

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entry one, situation normal...

A flicker of shadow crossed the stone rooftops of proud, wealthy Palanthas. A twist, a leap, a graceful flip backwards... and the silence was caught by a thin rope gone taught, snagged by the ankle in mid-plummet.

Three airborne heartbeats, and a pair of gloved hands broke the quiet against the side of the structure. Seven more upside-down heartbeats, and the lithe figure had hand-walked to the side. Four more and the simple lock on the high window was easily picked.

Twenty in all since the flip, and Akara had wide open access.

Of course, she reasoned, her heartbeats weren't all that fast just now anyway. She braced her hands against the window-sill and twisted her ankle just -so-. The loop around it came free as she lunged forward, bending at the waist to fit through in a single motion.

Coming up from her roll through the window, the masked thief rose to her feet and turned briefly to close the shutters, but did not latch them. The window itself was left open, and the tip of her rope was left dangling outside, swaying just slightly in a faint breeze.

/ Too easy. /

She crept forward through the darkened room to a door with light streaming from beneath it. Right on time, the light increased and then wavered as it was carried past this door to the bedchamber next to it. A door opened and closed, the light vanished.

The thief pulled a small pouch from her belt and opened it, producing an even smaller glass vial. She pulled one of her gloves off, holding it beneath her arm, and stuck a finger in the opening of the container. A glob of cooking grease came out, and she busied herself for a few moments with the exposed hinges of the door.

Akara pushed her ear to the door and waited until she heard loud snores from the room over. She then waited further, until the footsteps of the upper-level's single night guard had passed twice. No change, same exact routine this house had held to for the last three nights she'd watched it.

/ Way too easy. /

She re-corked the vial, re-attached its leather pouch to her belt, and pulled her glove back on. The door eased open without a sound, turning on freshly-greased hinges.

/ Rather dull, actually. /

Thin-soled boots made no noise on the expensive stone floor as she crept out into the hall, turning right to follow the path of the guard. She caught up to him as he came to the end of his path, turned with him as though dancing on his shadow, so close she could have bit the back of his neck.

He marched forward, and Akara went down a side passage.

/ He's lucky I'm not a vampire, or... something! /

This hall was narrow and had no windows, accessible only through the way she'd just come. Clever, really, and enough to stop some thieves... but by settling into a routine they had defeated the building's defenses easier than anything Akara herself could have done. She idly wished she had a quill and some paper, just so she could stick a 'TAG! You're IT!' sign on the guard on the way out.

That almost made her snicker, but she held it down. Leaving signs on her hapless victims had become one of her calling-cards, though the only one she ever prepared a note for in advance was...

Her target door was at the end of the hall, locked. She knelt in front of it with her picks, working on the mechanism with an unhurried air. Never mind that if the guard came full-circuit again he was likely to notice her in the torchlight, right here in plain view.

It had been a while since she'd had a good chase. It was almost tempting to start dancing around in the hall and bang on the walls, maybe sing really off-key and loud, just to liven the gig up a bit. Unlike the Kender race her skills were often compared to, Akara knew she was stealing, did it quite intentionally. She also knew what would happen to her if she was ever actually caught, and most importantly... she -feared- those consequences.

But at the same time, she lived off the drug the danger produced, perhaps even thrived on it.

And Adrenalin, like any drug, was something you grew a resistance to. A lot of things didn't scare her now that had terrified her most deliciously only a few years ago. Five years now, she'd lived in this city and lived off its wealthy, stupid upper-class. Five years, and that thrill was harder and harder to find.

Except in one place...

The lock clicked faintly, and the door swung inwards.

/ Why did they even bother to lock the thing? Someone really ought to tell them that their locks are all crap in this place. /

Akara entered the room, silently closing the door behind her before pausing to let herself adjust to the complete darkness. Once it stopped feeling like someone had slipped a blindfold over her head, the thief felt her way forward.

Well away from the door, she blindly pulled a small torch from the side of her boot, and lit it with two small pieces of flint from another pouch. Mages had their spell components, she had the tools of her trade.

She crossed the chamber to a simple chest, wondering just how -dumb- the owner could possibly be. Akara pulled it open and sighed, out loud, in disappointment. There, glittering in the light of her little torch, was the wealth of the politician she was robbing.

/ I swear they get dumber every day. What's this, he couldn't even hide it under some spare socks? Oh, noooo, gotta have it handy for showing off... /

The thief unrolled a dark, thick canvas bag that had been stuck through her belt, pulling it open before beginning to scoop bits of jewelry and smaller pouches of gold into it. She picked through the lot as she went, taking things that could be easily pounded into unrecognizable bits and sold for their metal. This was better than things that held more value as an artistic (and distinctive) shape.

One item she picked up deliberately, a pendant, -was- in a rather distinctive shape. She smirked, though, and added it to the bag.

Loot collected, she closed the chest and blew out her torch, waiting for it to cool before she strapped it back to her boot. The bag had pull-strings, and she tied the top before tying it firmly across her back like a sword scabbard.

Down the side-hall again, to where the guard made his way back and forth. Akara tried to resist, she really did, but she failed in the end. Timing it just so that she would appear as the guard turned to come back her way, the thief waltzed around the corner into view, as though dancing with an invisible partner.

The guard gaped, then shouted the alarm as he drew his sword and charged at her from the far end of the hall. Akara, also yelling the alarm (for she was the helpful sort, she always said), -also- charged down the hall toward the guard. The bedroom door opened and its occupant poked his head out just as she arrived, but she shoved him back into his room in passing.

She grabbed the wall between the two doors and hurtled herself to the side into the dark room she'd come in through, sprinting across the room just as the guard burst into it. Akara dived through the flimsy shutters and grabbed her rope, swinging out and to the side.

By the time the guard reached the window, she'd pulled herself and her rope up to the rooftop like an adrenalin-fueled spider, and was choking down her laughter. Sitting back on the roof for a moment to catch her breath, the thief rummaged in her bag and withdrew the pendant that had caught her eye, holding it up to inspect it in the dual moonlight.

A stylized golden "R". Akara smirked, knowing whose birthing day it was in two days, and where she'd be delivering this.

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Dragonlance © someone else.
All here that is not found in the books... is mine.
Never steal if you value your spleen.