Part 69: Star Door 11: Phantom Thief B Report-Primal Grounds-
These doors are all getting so violent! Kurt must be a bad influence.
-A Gravestone Struck By Lightning-
Maybe don't bring casters for this one.
An Investigative Report on Phantom Thief B
His Crimes, His History, and His True Identity
Imperial Chronicle Investigative Team
Phantom Thief B has had quite the lengthy and productive career in thievery in the Empire, as the amount of records we have been able to find on his crimes proves beyond a doubt.
From numerous paintings held in the Imperial Art Gallery...
to a septium crystal held in the Empire's customs warehouse to even a cutting-edge tank held in an Imperial Army research facility...
nothing is truly safe when he desires to steal it.
His conquests aren't limited to inanimate objects; he has been guilty of pretending to be a military officer and eloping with the wife of a marquis on one reported occasion.
Yet--and this is perhaps the most baffling part--there is no concrete evidence to suggest he has profited from his exploits.
Rather, the objects stolen usually end up in places so bizarre, their owners are liable to faint upon hearing about them.
In other cases, they are transformed into mira which is then rained down from the sky in areas largely inhabited by those less fortunate.
Hearing this, one might be led to think him a vigilante thief who takes from the rich and gives to the poor, but make no mistake. The truth is not so simple.
The wife of the marquis discussed earlier is a fine example of that.
As of this writing, it has been a little over half a year since the elopement took place. Since then, she has remained unaccounted for.
Many of the items stolen by him may return to the public eye in some fashion, but not all.
Between his eccentric techniques and bizarre behavior regarding the objects he steals, it might appear as though his thefts are purely whims and nothing else.
Upon studying the overall picture and reviewing the objects--and indeed, people--in play, you begin to see that they all have one specific thing in common.
Take the artworks stolen from the Imperial Art Gallery, for example. Each of them were works of pure genius, painted by a master of their craft...
but they gained a reputation for being too complex for the target audience of such works--the nobility--and were shamefully stored away instead of placed on public display.
Similar could be said of the septium crystal. Known for its unparalleled beauty, after being seized by customs, it was sealed away in the warehouse and doomed never to be admired by human eyes again.
The tank, again, is one more example, with its promising development cut short. Rather than be put to good use, it was left collecting dust.
As an aside, the case of the marquis' wife does contain some striking similarities.
Despite marrying her, he devoted most of his attention to his concubines and barely spared a thought for her.
In conclusion, we can see now that the underlying motive for his actions is finding objects of beauty that have been abandoned by the world and freeing them from their foolish owners.
No matter how the world may see his crimes, his motive is clear.
The truth of that is evident in the cards he leaves before committing his crimes.
This is the so-called 'liberation of beauty' mentioned upon each of them.
Phantom Thief B steals not for money, but for an ideal he believes in.
...And in this fact, we believe, are clues to his true identity.
A number of valid theories have come about on the face behind our phantom thief...
Unfortunately, they are all as lacking in conclusive evidence as they are numerous, and so it is impossible to say whether any of them are actually correct.
To complicate matters further, we now even have deranged individuals coming forward pretending to be him and allowing themselves to be captured by law enforcement.
That is not to say, however, that none of the theories circulating are at all plausible.
Here, we will introduce three such theories which have developed significant followings...and may not turn out to be too far from the truth.
[Theory 1 - Amorous Con Artist X]
[X's Personal History]
X is known for his exceptional skill as a con artist, having faked his own identity in order to engage in romantic relationships with many noblewomen.
He was as handsome as he was capable, and he was exceptionally proud in nature as well.
Born to a poor family in the temperate south, he became used to stealing in order to make ends meet from a young age.
According to testimony from a companion of his at the time, he was never once caught for such thefts.
The reason X converted from being a common thief to a con artist is believe to have stemmed from falling in love with a noblewoman of much higher social standing than he.
The rule of the aristocracy was absolute in the country he called home and blessed romances between those of different classes unthinkable.
With that in mind, he resolved to crated a false identity in order to make his dream possible.
Following his first rousing success, he came to do the same on a myriad of other occasions, indulging in one forbidden affair after another.
It was a mere ten years ago that he was arrested on suspicion of identity fraud, but he performed a miraculous escape from prison. Ever since then, his whereabouts have remained unknown.
Both X's peerless skills as a thief and his interest in forbidden romances with noblewomen sound remarkably like what we know of Phantom Thief B.
Also worth noting is that despite using his abilities in deception to court those of vast wealth, he displayed virtually no interest in their fortunes.
That is to say, he gained no financial benefit from his actions whatsoever.
Instead, he simply lamented that he was able to indulge in them because of something as trivial as his social class.
We conclude that this attitude bears a striking resemblance to the thief's own views on beauty.
[Theory 2 - Tragic Artist Y]
[Y's Personal History]
Y was an artist with a rather tragic past.
Born to a middle-class family in the north, he was hired by an influential aristocrat to be their personal artist, producing many a stunning piece of work.
However, it was later discovered that wasn't all he produced; on the contrary, he was also responsible for a number of counterfeit pieces.
The one who hired him sought to profit through ill means thanks to his work, and so he created such counterfeits under the noble's instructions.
One day, however, Y suddenly left the noble's service. (The reason remains unknown.)
This is where his tragedy begins.
Immediately after leaving his client behind, Y received a terrible piece of news:
His lover, the daughter of a respected family, had been killed in a traffic accident.
While there is no evidence to prove as much, it is rumored that the noble may have had a hand in her death.
Y was only spotted once more at his lover's grave before forever disappearing from the public eye.
To those who knew his story, he became known as the truly tragic artist.
Several years later, the noble was murdered.
The story of Y still has several unsolved mysteries surrounding it and has invited much speculation, both of which have likely led to the theory that he and Phantom Thief B are one and the same.
Those aren't the only reasons, naturally.
Phantom Thief B has been known, at times, to try and dispose of counterfeits, believing them to be 'false beauty.'
This has led some to believe that Phantom Thief B may be attempting to rid the world of counterfeits that he himself created.
Lending further credibility to this is the discovery that the forgeries disposed of by Phantom Thief B were indeed the works of Y.
[Theory 3 - Skilled Martial Artist Z]
[Z's Personal History]
The story of Z is significantly different from the other two potential identities we have established here, making this an unusual--but still plausible--possibility.
Z was born in the far East as the son of a famed military family.
He was an attractive, delicately-built young man, but he was far more skilled at martial arts than his frame would have suggested, being blessed with great natural talent.
He is also said to possess a keen, sharp mind, and there was a mild air of arrogance about him, too.
Z was indeed blessed in every way. He came from an important family, he had skill, he had looks...and as a result, he came to feel bored with the world around him.
He hardly kept such thoughts to himself--in fact, he often voiced his complaints to anyone within earshot.
These complaints persisted until one day, he simply disappeared, telling no one where he was going and leaving nothing to suggest his next destination.
Much of this theory is based on the idea of geniuses being eccentric by nature.
There are some who say that the fighting style of Z has some resemblance to the peculiar skills used by Phantom Thief B...
but in terms of credibility, this theory is barely a cut above many other similarly unusual suggestions.
Still, the idea that the man beneath the mask is one from the East is certainly an interesting and exciting one, leading many to wish it were true...even if they find themselves doubting it actually is.
That brings us to the end of outlining three very different theories.
Could X, Y, or Z be the true identity of our famed phantom thief?
Or is the truth perhaps something else entirely?
The only way we will know for sure is to hear the truth from the man himself.
Of course, whether we can trust anything he says is a discussion for another time.
After this article was first published, we received a card believed to be from Phantom Thief B himself at our office.
The contents of the card are as follows:
'The truth of my identity is already within your grasp. My number reveals all.'
Judging by this, it is believed that one of the three theories proposed is the true identity of Phantom Thief B.
That said, uncovering the meaning behind his words has proven to be a trying task.
Will one valued reader be able to step forward and solve what we cannot? Only time will tell.
Side Story [Phantom Thief B Report] finished!
Received Phantom Thief's Cape.
Received 10,000 mira.
The Chronicle is going to feel pretty silly when they realize only one of those three could be a number.