Why is it that the Rogue is always controlled primarily by a King? I mean, there is a Queen, but she does next to nothing except stand around looking intimidating and pretty - mostly. I'll admit that some have pulled their weight, but they are never allowed so much control over their 'people' as the King, nor are they awarded with as much respect. Certain events occurred to push me to refuse to let this insidious example of sexism continue to exist within Tortall, especially now that lady knights are accepted within the higher levels of society. Only one hitch – how does a lass gain the throne? Well, it takes a really quick mind…and beyond that a hell of a lot of blind luck.
It was about 10 months ago now that I started writing this journal, mainly acos Jak told me not to. He said it was "dangerous for a shadow to keep something as stupid as a diary lying about," and that the Provost's guards could very well use it to catch me. I said that since I was smarter than any shadow no one would ever find it, and that I would write one. Gods we used to fight about the stupidest stuff.
Anyways, this is my diary and since I was gonna let no one read it, I haven't included much of the dates; I even doubt that everything is in the correct order. Really the only reason I bothered was cos Jak told me not to. He probably wanted to read it to find some blackmail against me or sommat, so I would do some stupid mission that I would normally refuse. Fortunately he's too crack knobbed to find this thing.
I guess a lot has changed since I started writing this diary, and not only my position in the Rogue. Anyway, now that I have responsibilities and knots to straighten out I have no time for this thing and will leave it where it is, for future people to read. Can't have an updated version falling into the hands of my enemies, for there are quite a few…it makes life interesting, you see… although I'd think they wouldn't be smart enough to find it either.
When I started this diary, I was perfectly comfortable with where I was in life, and would have laughed at or attempted to kill the person who even suggested that everything would end up this way, for more reasons than one. It started with a cold winter night…
Friday, December 23, 484HE
I gently swirled my glass of wine while scrutinising the dancers. Noble ladies in moderately cut gowns of all colours swayed to the music, clutching at the single men who had asked them to dance. Off the dance floor there were even more ladies who were either gossiping, flirting with men, or gazing scathingly at certain maidens that were dancing with the most desirable bachelors. I really need to be paid more for this was the predominant thought in my mind.
Luckily for me, I was no beauty, and thus did not attract much attention at all. I think if a pansy nobleman approached me, I would be more likely to tip this glass over his head, although this was contrary to my strict orders; and besides, I was enjoying the free wine. As far as looks go, I guess I'm not bad off, but compared to the other ladies at this ball I am plain, and thanking the Gods that this was so.
Sighing, I subtly tipped my drink into a pot plant, thinking I shouldn't overindulge lest I lose my wits. Catching a glimpse of my reflection in a piece of glass almost made me curse in a very un-lady-like way. My auburn hair had been released from its usual tie and was falling down my back in soft curls; light brown eyes were almost concealed under the customary avalanche of makeup and, to top it all off, I was wearing a scarlet coloured dress. This was worse than my idea of hell, but it was 'Necessary.' At least that's what His Majesty had told me when he commanded me to attend. Woop-de-doo.
The King stood up and fulfilled my favourite part of attending balls – telling everyone that it was over. With small, even steps, I exited the hall and followed the stream of nobles towards the entrance to the castle. Many carriages waited outside, but the one with the picture of a lock and key on the door drew my eyes. Still stepping daintily, I approached; feeling more relaxed with every step, as I was finally making my getaway.
Once I was out of the crowd, I made eye contact with Harrison, the driver of the carriage, and grimaced. He raised an eyebrow in amusement and opened the door for me. So it was that I managed to escape into the blissful darkness of the carriage interior. I listened carefully as Harrison nudged the horses into a trot. Once we had exited the gates, I started tearing off the dress with vehemence.
Harrison must have heard the rip of fabric, because he laughed quietly and said pointedly, "I think His Majesty wanted to reuse that."
I was in the process of securing my hair messily in a leather tie, but managed to say loftily, "Really? I had no idea."
I could almost imagine the disbelieving look on Harrison's face as he scoffed, "Oh sure, I believe you Calla. I thought you would have at least remembered how much that curst thing cost, and restrained yourself."
I observed the mess of ripped fabric that was unceremoniously strewn about the carriage and sighed in regret, "Oh Heck and Damn. I should have left it in one piece."
I stretched out luxuriously, resting my feet on the opposite seat. Harrison had turned around to scrutinise me through the small window, his eyebrows raised. He knew when I was being sincere, and my former statement had shocked him. Rolling my eyes, I grinned wickedly and explained, "Oh, I don't care about the cost; in fact just recently I was thinking to myself that I should have demanded to be payed more, so I think he should have to pay for that thing. No, I would have liked to see His Majesty in a dress. You did say he wanted to reuse it, did you not?"
Harrison treated me to a stern look, clearly unamused that I was imagining Majesty in a dress. Gods, some people are touché. Harrison was one of those people you never even thought about insulting the Rogue in front of, because it was more likely than not that you would turn up dead the next day for undermining his rule. Fortunately, I am not most people. Besides, we've been friends almost since I was found on the streets all those years ago, and he knew I was just joking around - mostly.
I stretched languidly and picked up a piece of fabric, wetting it and using it to wipe off the layers of makeup. I drew out a small mirror to examine my face, and managed to wipe away the last of the hideous stuff. I stared in disgust at the piece of fabric, which was now covered with the black and white ooze, and then threw it on the floor. It was just after my remonstrations that the carriage pulled up at a small side gate leading towards some stables. Harrison signalled the guard, who waved his hand to raise the gate. It was very handy having friends.
Some late night ostlers silently rode two horses up to the carriage just as I stepped out, and I shot a grin at the man who passed me a mount and swung into the saddle. Harrison mounted the other, and the ostlers jumped into the carriage and directed the horses down to the stables.
Harrison handed over a small bag of money and we rode out the gate, heading back into Corus. It was much easier commandeering a carriage rather than attempt to hide it at the Dancing Dove – it would disappear in a matter of minutes, not to mention we would be found out after a few seconds – for some reason nobles didn't like thieves... weird, no? Anyway, the only way we can get around the Whisperman is to make sure everything is authentic – at least to a degree – thus the carriage.
We spurred our mounts into a gallop and I snuggled further into my coat – Midwinter was cold.
In next to no time, we were stowing the horses in the stable around the back of the Dove and slipping in through the back.
The customary rowdiness and laughter of many people crashed into us as I opened the door. Lanterns provided sufficient light to navigate the backrooms, and I led the way through to the bar. At almost midnight, the celebrations were in full swing, and there were loud calls of greeting as the thieves noticed us. My eyes snapped straight to the fireplace, where in a large chair was seated the Rogue. I knew that he had noticed us the moment the door swung open, but at that moment he was seemingly absorbed in a conversation with Ward, a district chief.
This pretence didn't fool me a whit and I sauntered up to him. I'll admit it; Jak is handsome – his light brown hair always looking carefully like he had just walked out of bed with it that way, (although I knew he was vain and spent ages playing with it to get it 'perfect') along with startling green eyes, broad shoulders and hard muscles – but Mithros he is egocentric. That's why I decided to break it off with him a few years ago - I told him I couldn't be with a cove who spent more time in front of the mirror than I did. He was about 22, and my best guess is that I'm about three years younger than him, but it doesn't really matter. We had been friends for as long as I could remember, and the friendship didn't stop after our 'closer' relationship.
Suppressing the impulse to hit him upside the head for making me go to a noble's ball, I stood with my arms crossed, steadily glaring at him. He continued talking to a currently very nervous Ward, and after a few minutes turned his head and unconvincingly widened his eyes, feigning surprise at seeing me there, but failed miserably due to the boyish grin that was plastered across his face. I scowled, "You will never be a Player."
"So you've said. Repetitively. Did all go to plan?"
I raised an eyebrow, "I'm not dead now, am I?"
His eyebrows seemed to snap together and he slowly and thoughtfully looked me up and down, and said, "Well, since you are talking, it is my unofficial diagnosis that you may very well be alive, but I think we should call in a Healer just to make sure – ya never know." He shrugged, eyes dancing.
I knew very well that he was trying to distract me from being angry with him for springing this job on me – he hadn't said exactly what it would entail, but left that unpleasantness to Harrison. I could not undermine his authority as the Rogue in front of his Court, but he should know by now that he would encounter something extremely unpleasant in the near future… maybe the very near future. "Anyway, since when have you ever known me to get caught?" I raised a brow mockingly.
"That's why you're one of the best." He said with satisfaction, and jumped up. He put an arm around my shoulders and led me up the stairs, ushering me into his room. He closed the door firmly and activated the anti-eavesdropping spells with a word, then turned to me, a serious look on his face.
I rolled my eyes and drew out a piece of parchment. It was a blueprint of the dungeons – they were holding one of Jak's men who had been captured while poking around the castle. Unfortunately, he knew a lot about Jak and the plans for the future of the Rogue, so he would either be smuggled out or killed. Most likely the former, unless he had talked. The reason I had to get the blueprint was that servants were not allowed down there, so none but some jumped up nobles or the provost guards knew the lay out, both of which were sources that we would rather contrive to avoid.
Jak studied the map, and I yawned widely and settled down in a chair. I didn't mind just relaxing while he was going over the scrolls – at least it was quieter than downstairs. I allowed my eyes to drift shut, but almost as soon as they closed I felt uncomfortable. My eyes snapped open to Jak staring at me, giving me that searing gaze that I detested so. The blueprints were being neglected on the table, and I was going to point this out when he moved forward and captured my lips with his.
Even as I felt the heat searing into my veins I pushed him away forcefully. I could see his anguish at my rejection, and I almost missed his next words, "Calla, would you please listen to me? I love you…"
Fine, so I'll admit it. What we had was more than a fling, but he asked me to stay. For anyone who knows me, they know that I'll stay in a place for only as long as I want – if someone asks, or worse, tells me to stay – it's more likely than not that I'll be gone by next morning. I'd drutter not go into why this is, but suffice it to say that my past wasn't exactly pleasant. How else does one end up in the rogue?
In the blink of an eye I was out of the seat and at the door, saying quickly, "I've gotta go Jak." I yanked at the handle, but it was locked. Panicking, I pulled out some lock picks and started on the damn door that was blocking me from my escape route.
Jak watched me struggle ferociously with the lock and asked forlornly, "Why is it that whenever someone asks you to stay, you go?"
It was no use though, because he was talking to an open door.
With every step away from that door I got calmer and calmer. Arriving at the top of the stairs, I remembered that it was very loud in the Dove. I jumped straight to the floor lithely, almost landing on top of Harrison. He was bearing a mug of ale but seemed to be worried about something. I clapped him on the back and sat down easily.
He raised an eyebrow, "How's Jak?"
I got all fidgety at the mention of his name so close to my near escape that I jumped up straight away and started to move towards the door. Harrison caught my wrist in one of his massive hands and set his jaw. He wanted an answer. Which I have to say, was a smart thing, considering what I'd done to Jak in the past.
I grinned roguishly and said, "He'll live. All that's wounded this time's his pride." There was no fun in giving a straight answer, so usually I contrived to be as confusing as possible. It was one of my charms.
Harrison dropped my arm and looked concernedly towards the stairs, and I took this marvellous opportunity to make my second escape that night – third if you count the ball.
Just as I opened the door, I saw Jak swaggering down the stairs and thanked the gods that I wasn't still stuck in the Dove.
I guess now's the time to write about where I live. Well, there's really no set place. I take full run of Corus, spending nights at a time away from the Dove. Most often I return after my back gets sore from sleepin on roofs, but I always go away again. Sleeping on a roof is an awesome sight, but unfortunately very painful at times. Thankfully I've only experienced fallin' off but once, and that was the Provost Guard's fault. Some trumped up law 'enforcer' attempting to catch The Shadow. Meh. I laugh in the face of the law. Seriously. That's why I fell off the goddam roof.
I was casually walking around to the side of the Dove, heading for a particular loose board that housed my bedroll and a bag with a few clothes, when a few louts strutted out of the Dove and surrounded me.
I felt the familiar quickening of my heartbeat as I sized up the three, muscles bulging under their shirts. The idiots were drunk, a thing that I was extremely grateful for. My particular brand of fighting was extremely unconventional.
My gaze darted around the clearing as I removed my one and only dagger. I wasn't looking for an escape, I was looking for something to use to my advantage. I smiled slightly as I caught sight of a pothole and a loose board.
As the first man advanced, I could only be happy that these men had no grasp of tactics – it would have been easier to win had they all advanced on me at the same time. Oh well, I have learnt that it is better to bless an opponent's ignorance; it helps you to survive.
Ok, so this huge, muscled man is fast advancin on lil' old me. Did I mention he was huge?
I grabbed his wrists and pinched the skin in between his thumbs so he dropped the daggers, and used his own momentum to spin him round so he practically flew into one of his buddies.
The buddy in question stumbled back under the newly acquired weight which had semi-knocked him out, but managed to stay standing. Before they could untangle themselves, I ran in and shoved the second man back by jabbing him in the stomach with the hilt of my knife. This had the desired effect, by making him take a few steps back.
Now, a little jab from little ol' me by all the laws of gravity shouldn't have caused this mountain of a man to fall over. However, he did trip into an unfortunately placed pothole that sent both men crashing into the wall of the Dove. Opps… Not.
Now, while I was dealing with these men, I had by no means forgotten about the third one. He stood a little way away, now looking slightly less cocky and slightly more worried. I smiled at him and cocked an eyebrow, "Whatcha waitin' for buddy? An invitation?" As always, the rush of adrenalin had enhanced my street slang, but I was having too much fun for it to bother me.
He still stayed still, but he was shaking slightly, and to my surprise he asked a question. "Are you The Shadow? Calla Senka?"
I sighed and scratched my head thoughtfully, "Yup. What's it to ya?"
He gulped, and to my surprise started advancing on me. Usually when an opponent asked my name they 1) didn't know I was the Shadow, and 2) immediately ran away. Now here was a guy who needed to know my name to see if he had enough guts to attack me. This was an oddity. Oddities bothered me.
Ok. So the third mountain of a man was advancing slowly, which proved he had slightly more brainpower than his buddies, who had come rushing in, just begging to be knocked out. He moved closer to the wall – ah. There was his big mistake. I did only say he possessed slightly more brainpower than the others, not a lot more. I took a few steps back, forcing him to follow. All of a sudden he moved in quickly, bringing his leg up for a kick that could probably dismantle buildings. I threw my dagger into the foot that was still on the ground, and he dropped the leg harmlessly, retreating like an injured animal… right into the very loose piece of wood that was jutting out – a horrible hazard, such a menace, if you ask me.
His head hit the wood with a dull thunk and he dropped. "And the score is… louts: 0 me: 3! And the drunks go wild!!!"
I pushed some errant burgundy hair that had escaped the tie out of my eyes and collected my one and only dagger.
Ok. Here is where I explain why I fight like I do. Lacking any type of formal combat training forced me to be creative. When I was younger, I learnt to fight by defending myself from the other young thieves, and every loss was a hard lesson. Instead of learning a technique, I found my own. It was either that or get killed, so I hadn't much choice. Anyway, I used my own perceptiveness to use the environment to my advantage. Have you ever noticed that when people fight each other, the only thing they seem to have the brain capacity to focus on is the other person? Well, I use that to my advantage. By making use of the natural settings in which I fight, I can win against fairly skilled opponents, or at least put up a damn fun show. It was my unpredictability that made me a good fighter, not any actual training, although I do watch people fight and try to copy some of their moves.
I started whistling innocently as I walked away from the three unconscious man-mountains, stopping a few metres away to pull up yet another suspiciously loose board, although it was one no one would notice by just looking. Inside the wall it was hollow, and there was a bedroll and bag. I pulled out the bedroll but left the bag, and then dug up a corner of the dirt to expose some silver pieces, which I shoved into the specially made inside pocket of my breeches. I then replaced the board seamlessly and continued on my merry way.
A/N: Well, I have thought up a new story. Surprising, no? Please comment to tell me if this is good, bad or boring, it's not really that hard. :)
Ok, a note on the time period. If you've read my G2tL story, it's the year before Adalia becomes a knight, if not, it's about 17yrs after Trickster's Choice, and due to a certain meddling Goddess, most conservatives have become extinct. (Thus my "lady knights being accepted" stuff) so enjoy, that's really the only thing you may have had a problem with.
P.S: Please review? flutters eyelashes pleadingly