Part 4: The Dashing Phantom Thief Hawk
"Sorry, I wasn't expecting the finger puppets."
"Pfft. Okay, whatever you say, Chobin Hood."
"Hey, if it weren't financially rewarding to rob the rich they'd be called the poor. Or maybe the middle class."
"At any rate, there I was sneaking into this old rich guy's house.."
"You should have seen him, he was even talking about money in his sleep. I couldn't have felt bad about robbing him if I tried."
"Something tells me that you didn't try very hard."
"Yeah, but it all fell apart when he woke up while I was opening his conveniently placed treasure chest."
"Ever hear of 'easy come, easy go'? It seems you stepped on a few toes to get this money "
"And now that you know how THEY feel, maybe you'll consider a change of career."
"I'm not sure what's worse, the moralizing or the theft."
"Funny thing is that he seemed to feel the same way. Anyway, with one last jab about working hard I jumped out the window and we took off through the night back to our hideout."
"When you say fortress, how big are we talking here?"
"A bit bigger than Jad."
"The head of the guild is Flamekhan, although his thieving days are far behind him. His.. consort, I guess is named Isabella"
"The Navarre Thieves Guild is no more! We are now the Navarre Kingdom.."
" under the leadership of His Majesty, King Flamekhan!"
"So we'll build our kingdom in a new place by taking over the Wind Kingdom of Rolante!"
"We're starting a meeting right now.. why don't you guys rest for a while?"
"And with that I was dismissed to my spacious and well appointed room. I didn't know what to make of the whole thing, especially the bit about Rolante. I couldn't figure out why we'd want to invade a tiny goddess-forsaken place way the hell up in the mountains.
"Hey! There's nothing wrong with Rolante.. I guess just about anything beats a sand encrusted so-called fortress."
"Oh.. yeah, you are from Rolante, aren't you? Sorry about that."
" Navarre Kingdom? What is Lord Flamekhan up to?"
"He's always taken pride in being a thief.. why would he go and do this all of a sudden?"
"I imagine that a nice comfortable kingdom starts to sound a lot better the older you get."
"And I don't just mean 'the monarchy,' I mean the entire concept of monarchy itself."
When I first heard that, I thought it was meant as an insult!"
"Did she slap the shit out of you for that?"
"Yeah, pretty much."
"Naturally I went after her, but I kept running into people who wanted to waste my time talking with me."
"I don't suppose it occurred to you all to pay some people to dig new wells or buy water from a supplier?"
"What are these 'buy' and 'pay' words you keep using?"
"The amount of influence Isabella seemed to have over Flamekhan made me kind of uneasy.. and she seemed to know about a lot of things she probably shouldn't have."
"From the way people were talking, it almost seemed as though Rolante was just the starting point."
"Maybe, but if they come this way they'll probably run afoul of the beastmen."
"Since I didn't have any luck finding Jessica, I went to see her brother instead. He was worried about his dad acting strange.."
"And yet somehow not worried about his sister coming to see you in your room. Kind of funny that way."
"Um.. yeah, never mind about that. Anyway, Eagle blamed his dad's strange behavior on Isabella and was pretty determined to get to the bottom of it. He rushed out of the room pretty much like his sister, but I had a pretty good idea of where he was heading."
"Disturbingly enough, a lot of people seemed to be looking forward to having a war."
"They shouldn't have been.. if it hadn't been for the sleep powder and my brother letting two of them in to the wind machine it would have been a bloodbath."
"That wasn't exactly Navarre's proudest moment. Anyway, there were at least a few people who weren't happy about the way things were going."
"When I got to the meeting room, Eagle was already waiting there, but.. well.."
"Things didn't go as planned."
"What happened to the guy she was talking to?"
"He just kind of vanished into thin air. It was pretty mysterious, but we had other things on our mind."
"Eagle didn't really have a chance. Isabella just zapped him with some kind of spell before he could do anything."
"It put him completely under her control, and she levitated toward the ceiling so she could get a nice view of us fighting."
"So what did you decide?"
"Well, I'm here aren't I?"
"But I'm good enough that I didn't have to kill him to snap him out of it."
"Of course, all that meant was that she had to be a bit more direct."
"And that's about when the guards burst in."
"Pretty lucky on her part, since if they'd burst in a few seconds earlier her entire scheme would have fallen apart."
"Things looked pretty bad, and since she was the next thing to being the queen they pretty much tossed me in the dungeon. And just when I thought things had hit their lowest point.."
"If I tell her the truth, she'll die. That's the curse "
"That's an unusually specific curse. Does that mean the truth about anything?"
"Not quite.. let me explain."
"It was more than she was somehow aware of anything I said to Jessica and was going to kill her if I squealed."
"Naturally that was precisely when Jessica showed up to try and dig the real story out of me, since she knew that I never would have hurt Eagle."
"I couldn't say anything, and she ran off thinking that I had murdered her brother."
"Running off in a huff seemed to really be a thing with her."
"I think it ran in the family, honestly, although it must have come down from their mother's side."
"I ran into the bars a bit and tried to find my way out, and then the room pretty much blew up."
"There's no friend like a friend with high explosives, I always say."
"I can't imagine that actually comes up very often."
"In addition to busting me out, Nikita actually had a pretty good idea."
"Nikita was a pretty decent bro and agreed to try and keep Jessica safe while I was gone."
"And being a cat person he was pretty unlikely to try and sleep with her while you were gone."
"At least you know where she is. You just have to find whatever the Priest sends you after and get back there."
"If someone doesn't stop Isabella soon, and save Jessica and the others "
"..That story, is it true?"
"Of course it is!"
"I don't necessarily follow the logic.."
"Surprised that someone like me would know a king?"
"Umm.. yeah, I'm really sorry about the whole invading your kingdom thing."
"It must be fate that we ran into each other! How about we go together?"
"Let's just get through this cave together and see where it goes from there?"