Warnings: Twas not beta'd. If any errors are found, please contact me.
Chapter Two: The art of Stealing
Beyond the walls of the grand Fortinbras mansion, the mayor of the city paced nervously in the depths of his personal office, illuminated only by the dancing flames of his fireplace. His normally passive dark blue eyes were wide with concern, as his veins were ignited with such a burning anxiety that the heat threatened to scorch his very soul. This horrid feeling that nipped at his aging skin relentlessly was unlike anything he had ever felt before.
It was defeat.
He had heard of it before in the tales ragged entertainers would sing, or in elaborate plays of tragedy and woe. But never before had he been subject to such a bitter feeling. If it weren't for the cold sense of dread that sat idly in the pit of his stomach, the mayor would have scoffed at himself.
How preposterous was it that he, Claudius Thatcher, born to the noble house of Thatcher, was beaten so easily by a petty thief in search of gold?
Mayor Thatcher had not known what had transpired in his home until it was too late. He had been asleep at the time, dreaming only of black, until a loud bang ripped him from peaceful slumber. It had been a regular guard, sent by the city's Elite to usher the mayor into the basement safe house. Now, try as he might, the mayor could not fathom why he was being forced underground in his daze-like state.
"What's going on?" He had asked the guard countless of times. However, each time he asked, he was given the same useless reply of "I don't know." If the mayor could cut off this young man's tongue for being so incompetent and not get misery for it, he would have done so in a heartbeat.
The mayor of Fortinbras, the second heir to the Noble house of Thatcher, did not deserve such wretched and useless guardsmen. He loathed the fact that it took nearly two hours for an ELITE to finally inform him of the truly unfortunate event that took place within his manor. The ELITE, a youthful man with golden hair, told him that a thief—a filthy mongrel from the streets—ransacked his home and managed to get away. Perhaps more unfortunate, the identity of the thief was not known.
Now normally, the Good Mayor of Fortinbras was a patient man-a kind man. He ran his city with a generosity not seen within many of his family, save for his brother. So, he compelled himself to believe that it was natural to feel such a strong sense of betrayal from his people. He worked hard to make this city a shining jewel befitting of a king's crown! How dare these fools make a mockery of him!
In his eyes, this petty act of thievery was not the doings of a single man—but the desire of an entire city to ruin his name—Thatcher's name.
Storming out of his office, the mayor knew exactly how he would handle this little problem. He would enlist the help of his most trusted guardsmen— an elite of the ELITE— to find the fool who dared steal from him. And then once this nuisance was found, he would show the city of Fortinbras how thieves were to be dealt with while he was in control.
"Fetch me Van Grants", he barked at the men scurrying in the mansion's halls. "Do it! Now!"
"Yes sir!" The response was automatic and submissive; the men scattering in various directions to find the mayor's favorite hunting dog. Just as soon as they left, a smile soon found itself a place on the mayor's face.
Oh yes, he would make this thief regret his actions dearly.
Yuri knew that he was dreaming the moment he opened his eyes. Honestly, there was no other explanation for the little electric balls of light that pranced around in his face, inadvertently mesmerizing him as they sparked and swayed. They were quite small in size, vivid in color, and constantly dancing with each other to a song Yuri only wished he could hear. He watched as they would meld into each other, the colors mixing with one another for a while, until they separated as if they were never a single entity.
He tried touching one once, just to know what they felt like. He imagined his finger would run straight through the little thing, as sometimes they looked so unreal and extraordinary. But, when the tip of his finger made contact with an orb straying too near, his finger was nipped and he had pulled his hand back quickly as if it were burned.
"Feisty", Yuri chuckled as the orb sizzled.
The dancing orbs were mostly striking hues of green and red, and it would seem as if each color had its own personality. Unsurprisingly, the orbs that were green swayed a bit peacefully, as if a mellow song sang by nature played throughout the white space Yuri was confined in. And the Raven thief thought it befitting that the red orbs danced in a lively frenzy, quickly and without a care.
He liked it best when these two colors melded. When they were one, the orb would practically sing, and Yuri swore he could hear a faint voice coming from it. He heard this voice before; he was sure of it. But for the life of him, he just couldn't remember where.
However, this was but a dream. A dream he could not decipher the meaning of, but yet still found the tranquility it brought greatly appreciated. As he watched the colors stir and sway, Yuri decided that he quite liked the colors green and red.
They were…nice, comforting, and…awfully familiar.
The first thing he noticed when he woke up was the delightfully horrid throbbing of his head. It was a truly dreadful pain; as if two strong men were beating the inside of his skull violently with metal clubs, taking turns in making Yuri wince in pain. The throbs corresponded with each beat of his heart, and for the briefest of moments Yuri willed his heart to stop. The pulsing of his veins, or perhaps the mere awareness of discomfort, seemed to add a slight edge to the already sickening throbbing sensation.
However, this acknowledgement of agony was given only a moment's worth of attention. As soon as he realized that he did not know where he was, his entire mind was instantly on alert. Eyes opening wide, he willed his body to move. And damn, he was not ready for the consequences. A raw ache claimed his entire body, eliciting a hiss of pain from his mouth. Not only did his head throb violently, possibly threatening to burst at any moment, his arms, legs, and back felt incredibly sore.
What the hell had happened to him? And more importantly, where the hell was he?
Slowly, bits and pieces of the night prior flooded his mind. It had been a mission—one dubbed suicidal by his guild members—and he had barely managed to get away from the unexpected amount of guardsmen. There had been artillery guns, Flynn and his holier-than-thou righteousness, an evil…silver…monster…
And then there had been green. But details were sparse, and he found his memory was filled with gaps and incomprehensible blurs.
"Doesn't fucking help…", he muttered to himself.
With great effort he sat up and pressed his back against a nearby wall, letting his eyes quickly scan the area for potential danger. The room he was in, with its dusty wooden floor boards and blue walls, was quite empty. There was but only a small wooden table, a chair, and a very small chest Yuri doubted held anything of value. Jewels perhaps? But, at a closer glance he decided the chest itself was probably worth a nice amount of money, the detailed designs swirling and arching with promise.
Yes, he would come back for this chest later.
The only light in the room was the soft sunlight streaming in from the window and instead of feeling on edge about his predicament, Yuri decided that the atmosphere of the room somewhat calmed him down. There were no guards, no immediate signs of danger, and no indication that he was wounded—besides the God awful headache he had. Nevertheless, he would need to find out where he was, where the hell his bag was, and who brought him here. And the first step to his answers was to get up.
Okay, simple enough, he thought.
Bracing his hands on the floor beneath him, the thief groaned as his arms lifted his body off of the ground. Lithe muscles protested and bones ached, but he continued until he was fully standing, leaning slightly on the wall for support. Yuri stretched, wincing as his joints popped, before taking a step towards the wooden door.
It was odd, to say the least, that he'd end up anywhere else but the city's prison. He was a master thief, a killer, a monster—or so said the city's Guard. By what miracle of the heavens was Yuri allowed to escape certain death yet again? Nevertheless, the Raven thief was certainly not going to question fate.
In his line of work, you took what you could get.
Slowly opening the door, trained fingers tightened around a weapon that wasn't there, and Yuri helplessly wished that the room had at least something he could arm himself with. He didn't quite fancy fighting anyone in hand-to-hand combat—especially an enemy that was potentially much larger than he was. The pull and push of that battle would certainly be enough to ware him thin, for as skilled as Yuri was, his current condition was quite the annoying handicap
The throbbing of his head was truly a work of art. An annoying, ugly, and spiteful little masterpiece of pain and despair that Yuri loved to despise at this moment.
A single eye peaked into the bare hallway, taking notice of the single picture frame that adorned the walls. There was nothing more, and in all honesty, Yuri found this to be relatively good news. Normally, had he been trapped within the throes of danger, the walls would be littered with nonsensical portraits of men clad in gold, and women in silken silver. Maybe even a posh dog or two.
So this was all going good. He might actually survive this horrible ordeal should he find the exit. (Oh, but the doubts would still linger and sink ever deeper into his mind!)
Quietly, ever cautiously, the thief proceeded to make his way down the hallway, gliding over the wooden floor like a shadow. The hall was fairly short in length, and within fifteen light steps or so, the raven thief soon found himself face-to-face with yet another door.
And of course it would be at this moment Lady Luck decided that Yuri wasn't quite worthy of anything resembling good luck at the moment. Which was absurd, really. He worked quite hard for his annual earnings.
But alas, hard work aside, the thief heard mumbling on the other side of the door. Voices. He heard voices on the other side of this door, a traitorous development in the grand scheme of escape and survival. Truly an event worthy of the curses brewing in the thief's mind.
Quietly, he placed his ear on the door and listened to a conversation not meant for his ears to hear.
"I'm just saying Luke. Sooner or later they're going to find you. No sense in staying here any longer...so come back home! We could leave as early as tomorrow morning!"
"I just...I can't. I really like it here, Guy. The shop is doing well and a lot of kids really enjoy the items I sell. I just...I can't. You know that already."
The thief's eyebrow rose just a fraction short of outrageous surprise. He was in a shop? One that catered to children? Precious.
"I know you like it here Luke. But, let's look at the realistic flow of things. Okay? Just for a second. I'm your friend, your caretaker, and I know you enjoy what you're doing. But your father doesn't, and he wants you back by the end of the week."
"No, Luke", the other man cuts him off. "Either you're home by the end of the week, or he'll send them after you. And I can't fight those guys off for you Luke. I'd die. And you? You'd get hurt."
A long sigh drags out, shaky and hopeless. "I know. But I can't leave. I'll...I'll figure something out, okay? Just give me some time..."
"Alright, Luke", sighed Guy in defeat. "I'll be back tomorrow for your answer. That's...that's all I can give you pal."
"All right. Thank you."
Yuri held his breath as a pair of feet, heavy and slow, walked towards the opposite direction, a door opening and closing as the other man finally left the vicinity.
The threat had been knocked down from two men to one, and the odds were now overly in his favor, something the thief took great confidence in. So now was the best time to take his chances and slightly open the door...and...take a small...little...peak...
The door decided to sing the song of it's people for all the world to hear, and before Yuri can even make a mad dash for the other room there's a light chuckle coming from the other side.
"You don't have to hide, stranger. It's safe here, I promise."
The man's got a voice like honey, and sure, it's alluring in all of it's sweet melodic chime-but Yuri's no fool. Innocence is one of life's biggest illusions. Just as it's equally one of life's greatest weapons-one that begs to be exploited and handled like a delicate little miracle.
"I don't know what you're talking about!" Yuri replied teasingly. "I just got here." Nevertheless, he pushes the door until it is fully opened, stepping into the shop fully, and marvels at what he sees.
He's in a candy shop.
He's literally in a candy shop, complete with jars upon jars of sweet pieces of candy, brightly checkered marble floors, and all other sorts of colorfully crafted mindless stuff. Stools, lights, pictures, and more jars. There's even barrels of boxed candy lining the walls!
And as mind-boggling as it all is, for he thought to be somewhere...more hostile, his sights soon stumble upon something even more marvelous.
A man with eyes of emeralds and hair of fire-and he's just stunning.
His hair burns brightly on his head like a tamed fire, and it frames his face so nicely that it deserved to be in a how-to text book. His eyes, deep green and just simply beautiful, manages to steal a little of his breath away. He's smaller than Yuri, but the thief picks up on sleek muscle in the man's bare arms, and he vaguely wonders what the muscles on his legs look like.
What his torso looks like.
"I'm sorry I wasn't there to, uhm, explain anything as you woke up. You were out cold for a long time", Luke explains. "How's your head?" The red-head's gaze is surprisingly unsettling, and he finds it a bit difficult to tear his eyes away from that green.
Never to be deterred however, Yuri chuckles, "It feels fine! Thank you ever so kindly for asking."
Never reveal weakness to a stranger.
"That's good", he hums and then smiles, and holy is it beautiful, "You took a pretty nasty fall last night all over the trash bins outside. You were kind of wrecked", Luke finishes bashfully.
There's a small blush creeping over Luke's cheeks, and though it's no where near as bright as his hair, it's just as stunning. Marvelous.
"Did I now?", Yuri asks, because he honestly doesn't necessarily remember that part. "I hope I didn't cause too much of a disturbance!" He leans a little to get into the man's personal space, content with the light scent of peppermint wafting from the red-head's clothes. It suits the red and white stripes on his pants and shirt, and Yuri vaguely wonders if the smell is on his skin as well.
But that thought is banished from his mind rather quickly, though not without some effort.
"Oh no! You weren't a disturbance at all, and I'm sorry I couldn't really help you that much. I'm not much of a healer", the red-head admits, ducking his head a little.
"Oh, that's quite alright. I've nothing but a bump on my head. Truly nothing at all", the thief explains, thoroughly enjoying the man's flush.
There's a soft tick tock coming from a goofy little clock on the wall, and Yuri notices that it's a little past three, and wow he was supposed to be home by now, bag and all.
"Well, you looked a little more hurt than that...so I was a little worried. You hit your head on the trash bins hard." Luke shuffles from foot-to-foot, and it shouldn't be that adorable, but it is.
Yuri wants to stay a little longer-really he does- but he reminds himself of other priorities. One, in particular, that holds a fortune within it's clothed confines. He doesn't want to be entirely tactless about this though. There's always a chance that this man can turn on him at any chance he gets.
But likewise, there's always a chance that he won't, a tiny voice sings. Yuri's gut says he wants more than just that little reassurance though. But hell if he knew what he wanted other than a couple bags of food on the table for his Guild.
And there's something the candy man said that embarrasses him beyond belief. Trash bins? Was that honestly what had taken down the Raven Thief? A pair of metal bins used to store this man's trash?
Oh, how the mighty have fallen.
"Well, I'm all better now!" Yuri lies, flashing a faux-smile. "Really! Good as new...", he trails off, asking for the man's name with his eyes. Though he's pretty sure from that conversation that this is Luke.
Marvelous and stunning Luke.
"Luke," the red-head answers, smile still in place. "We actually exchanged names last night. Unless...Yuri isn't your real name", he chuckles.
It's meant to be a joke, really, but the alarm bells instantly go off in Yuri's head. They all blare loudly in his head, repeating mantras over and over again like it's going out of style, and the inklings of a monster spread and nearly infect all rational thinking.
The first alarm says that this stranger knew his name; something he protected with his life. Hell, not even a fraction of his own guild knew his real name. Now this complete stranger, someone who could be working with the police for all he knew, knew his face and could put his name to it.
His real name.
The second alarm, much louder than the first, tells him to get out of there quickly. As in now. Get out and never ever come back to the little candy shop with the green-eyed man. Leave it all behind-maybe even burn it to the ground.
The third alarm wants to know what else this stranger knew. It wonders what other delicate things loose lips and damaged minds let slip when he wasn't there in control. The worry is like lead in his stomach; anxiety like acid in his veins.
Collectively, the three alarms lead to the fourth alarm...the loudest. The alarm that rings in his ears like a blood-curdling scream, yelling one thing over and over in his mind without hesitation, without pause. Kill him. Kill him. Kill him.
And he almost listens; almost gives into what the voice is demanding him to do. He almost snaps Luke's pretty little neck like he's done to other's countless times before.
But he doesn't. His fingers itch, his body tenses, and all the murderer in him wants to do is hear bone cracking and to know that he's safe from discovery this time...
But he doesn't make the kill; doesn't even move.
"What else did I say?" He asks instead, reigning in the beast calling for blood. His eyes bore into that green, hoping to God Luke won't tell him what he doesn't want to hear.
And it's strange that he even cares. Strange that Yuri has given this man such a luxury. He should kill him. He just snap his neck and leave. There's nothing special about this man. Right?
"Nothing really. You sort of passed out after that", Luke answers, withering a little under the man's intensity. "And you've been asleep since then in the back room. I couldn't carry you anywhere else..." Green eyes spoke the truth in all of it's simplicity, and the trained thief tunes in on to it like a hawk. Maybe even relished in it.
"I see", is all Yuri mumbles back, a flood of relief filtering through his body. Luke didn't know anything else; he didn't need to kill the man.
A sweet innocent man who ran a candy shop.
Moments go by and neither of them utter a single word. It's weird because the silence carries a tension unfamiliar to Yuri. Dare he say it...but this silence carried an awkward bout of air to it. As in, they both weren't even looking at each other anymore, opting instead to let eyes roam around a candy shop for some form of sanctuary.
Were candy shops supposed to be so colorful anyway?
"Well, I'd hate to impose on you any further, Luke. I must be going now", Yuri finally says lamely. "If you'd kindly give me my bag, I'll be on my merry way."
Staying any longer was a bad idea. Every second wasted here prevented him from cashing in his heist and getting back home. The guild was still waiting for him and that money, and he would be damned if he couldn't give it to them. That bag was food, medicine, and water all wrapped up in one little package. In fact, he'd have to personally thank the Mayor one day for graciously offering such a magnificent present.
Luke silently nodded, reaching into his pocket to take out a small set of bronze keys. "Are you sure you're okay? You more than likely have a concussion and I don't think that you shou-"
"I'm fine, Luke," Yuri chuckled. "Really. But I really do have to go now. I'm...late for something. Really late actually, and I need that bag."
The Raven thief watched Luke bite his lower lip before relenting. "Alright. But you should probably get checked out by a healer."
"Of course!" The throbbing that still persisted in his head promised a world full of merciless hurt should he do otherwise. It would probably be a good idea to consult him as soon as he got home. There goes his afternoon...
With one last look of reluctance, Luke finally walked towards another door adjacent to them and unlocked it. A rather large silver safe, thick and sturdy, sat heavily on the floor. "Your bag looked kind of important since you were clutching it and everything... I didn't look in it, but I thought I should probably lock it up until you woke up. Hope that wasn't a problem", Luke calls over, turning the knobs on the safe in an untold pattern.
"Not at all! I should be thanking you actually", Yuri happily replied, crossing the room swiftly once Luke unlocks the safe. "This bag is very important. It belonged to my great great great grandmother's aunt's husband's uncle."
This was a lie lie lie. The bag was filthy, and it belonged to a little demon of a girl who probably wasn't missing it anyway. But precious Luke didn't need to know that. He especially didn't need to know what was in the bag. Diamonds, rubies, and pearls-oh my.
Cue Yuri quickly picking up the heavy bag and plastering a cheesy smile on his face, ignoring the look of doubt on the other man's face. "Thank you very much for your help, Luke. You really saved me." And it really wasn't a lie. If anyone else had found Yuri...
Well, it probably wouldn't have been as pretty as Luke.
Smiling, said pretty red-head extended his hand. "Any time. And hey, if you ever want to come by,and uhm, buy some candy...You can." Luke stuttered, which was cute, but Yuri could tell there was another set of word behind those that were spoken.
He just couldn't tell which.
"Sure thing. I'll swing by sometime, so keep the shop open, okay? I do have a bit of a sweet tooth." Yeah, the thief could work double meanings too, though he really hoped Luke wouldn't understand Yuri's hopeless flirting. He shook Luke's hand, hanging on to it for a bit longer than necessary.
Luke's hand was smooth and warm, and his fingers were long and poised. For a worker's hand it was a bit odd, to say the least. Normally there'd be some callouses along the fingers or palm. But he supposed that working in a candy shop wouldn't require too much physical labor. Maybe lifting up boxes every now and then-nothing too strenuous. Hell, Luke might even have other people to do that stuff for him.
Or so he'd rather believe anyway.
As Yuri made his way towards the exit, bypassing a couple of eager looking kids yelling for candy, Luke called out to him one last time. "Hey Yuri? Be careful. Don't get into too much trouble out there."
There was a slight falter in his step, guilt seeping into his skin without invitation. This man just harbored one of the most-if not the most-wanted criminal in all of Fortinbras, and here he was telling the multi-talented criminal to be careful. If it truly wasn't ignorance that kept Luke from turning Yuri in, then he had no other clue as to why.
Though he wasn't complaining at all by any means.
The Raven Thief, in all of his magnificently refined prowess, simply turned around and smiled. "Of course!"
Another lie, and from the look on Luke's face, he knew it was a lie as well. But the green eyed man said nothing, just simply offered him a smile worth cherishing in memory.
Yuri had a funny feeling that this wouldn't be the last time he'd lay his eyes on Luke. He had an even funnier feeling when he thought about never seeing him again at all. It was a cold kind of feeling, something he'd much rather live without. So he promised himself, right then and there as he moved swiftly through the channels of streets, that he would most definitely swagger his way back to that candy shop for whatever reason he could muster up.
Perhaps for that chest, perhaps for a little candy, or perhaps for a little green.
Whatever the reason, he would be back.
But for now, he was heading home to his guild.
Okay, so, I haven't updated this story in a very long time. I apologize profusely!
In truth I had lost interest in the Tales of fandom, and honestly, I'm still not really in the fandom anymore. I've just lost interest.
However, I haven't lost interest in this story. I rather like the plot and twist I have planned out, and so I want to finish this story so you amazing people can maybe like it too xD
Also, I want to specifically thank Gears Dipped in Red Ink for pushing me into finishing this chapter. Without her, I would have dumped this story completely. And I'm really grateful for her patience with me, as I know I've been putting this off for quite some time.
I've decided on doing monthly updates, so the next update will be on August 2nd. This gives me plenty of time to write the chapter and edit without it interfering too bad with my other responsibilities (such as my job).
Additionally, I would like it to be known that I can be found on tumblr, and that progress reports on chapters, along with more author notes, and other stories can be found on my blog. Please refer to my profile page for the url.
Please note, this chapter is subject to further editing even after publishing.