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Tuesday, October 19, 2010

How To Be A Thief - Chapter 9

Twin cubes careened down the soft, green velveted-covered pit and bounced chaotically off the spiked wall. As they eventually gave their energy away and came to a rest, they were greeted by a loud cheer.

"Seven!" shouted a young man dressed to the nines. He was surrounded by a crowd of spectators, all a clamor. Each person there was tall, beautiful, and well-dressed. Fine jewels gleamed from the necks of their owners. Several hands were embellished with rocks so large wars would be fought over them. The combined riches of the crowd would be enough to let an entire kingdom retire peacefully.

In the middle of this crowd, however, was a Man dressed to the elevens, as if being dressed to the nines was just not enough. Light seemed to come from his pure white and incredibly suave smile. The tuxedo he wore sparkled so much that it could probably be seen in a pitch-black room. Atop The Man's head was a short, stiff hat that was tilted ever-so-slightly; it would look odd on anyone else, but he made anything look good. His every movement was born out of some seemingly limitless supply of confidence, even as he leaned into the pit to simply pick up the dice. In fact, one might even believe that he, himself, was somehow the source of all confidence in the world, and that all other boldness was just a shadow on the wall of a cave.

Dice in hand, he grinned at the audience in general and winked, eliciting a sigh from every female and even several of the males. He brought the dice up to the woman who was standing beside him. Like him, she seemed to effuse a warm glow. She was tall, almost as tall as he was, with hair the color of the midnight sky spilling down her back and shoulders and constantly covering part of her face. The dress she wore revealed just enough of her perfect, lightly freckled skin to kindle the imagination of any who spent more than a passing glance on her form. No jewels graced her figure, as they would only detract from the splendor. Full, kissable lips were twisted in a seductive smile as she blew on the dice in The Man's hand. "For luck," the Lady said. At the sound of that voice, teenage boys would gladly go through puberty in a matter of seconds.

The Man threw the dice again. "Seven!" the young man called again, much to the delight of the onlookers. This time, the Lady leaned over, making sure to show off just a little more of her flesh to the handsome young announcer, and grabbed the dice.

"MURPHY!" came a shrill shriek over the crowd. The Man turned around with a confused, yet still strangely confident smile on his face.

"Ah, Skeps. I didn't expect to see you at such a… business," Murphy said as the crowd fell silent and drew back a little.

"Believe me, I would have spent the next eternity blissfully unaware of this establishment and all others like it." Skeps was a severe-looking woman with blond hair tied up in a tight bun. She wore a business suit with a long skirt that hid most of her legs. As she looked up and down the pair before her, she pushed up on the bridge of the small, square-framed glasses that adorned her face. "I see you brought your little… Lady."

Murphy frowned at her, an entirely unnatural expression for him. "Felicity," he said. "It means-"

"I KNOW what it means. Send her away; my business is not for the ears of Minors." Skeps drew closer and lowered her voice. As she did, the color faded out of the crowd and scene around them. Soon, it was as though they were walking in the middle of a 3-dimensional painting.

"What is this about, Skeps?"

Before anyone could answer, there was a small burst of light nearby. Out of it walked a young man, his arms full of books. The stack he carried was enough to hide his face from view, but a few glances gave away some of his features. He, too, wore glasses, but unlike Skeps, it seemed he needed them. "M-Mistress," he called out as he blindly walked towards them. There was almost no confidence in his voice.

Skeps rolled her eyes and sighed. "Can you not see I'm busy, Caret? This had better be important."

Caret lowered his arms just enough to peak over the books at Murphy. "O-oh! S-s-Sir Murphy! I-I'm sorry, I didn't… this wasn't on your schedule…"

"Meetings with him rarely are…" Skeps said under her breath.

"Ma'am, you wanted me to tell you when…" Caret started, but as he stared at Murphy it slowly dawned on him that there was a woman standing there with him. "L-Lady!" A fierce blush erupted on his cheeks, made even deeper when he stumbled and dropped all the books he was carrying to the ground in a series of muted THUMPs. "Ack!"

Murphy's smile returned as he saw this. Skeps could swear she saw a gleam of something mischievous in his eyes as he turned to whisper something to Felicity. The Lady grinned and nodded to him, politely curtseying to Skeps before walking over to Caret.

"Tell me what?" Skeps demanded in a terse tone. Caret was distracted as Felicity knelt down and started to help him pick up the books. It didn't help that she looked up at him and winked. "CARET!"

"Oh! M-Mistress! The Council of 6 is set to meet soon and you have been chosen as the Arbiter." Caret turned his attention back to the books, trying hard not to steal a glance up at the beauty helping him. It was not very often that the gods, minor or major, interacted with each other, and even less so with Caret. He spent most of his time with books. Fiction, nonfiction, educational, interactive, written, drawn - it mattered not. He had read almost everything that ever had been or ever will be written, so it was no surprise that he rarely got to see the other gods and goddesses.

Skeps set her jaw as she leaned in close to Murphy, her cold, steal-grey eyes staring straight into his. Her voice was low, but it was dangerous. "I will make this short and shorn. I know you were behind it, Fate. There are no coincidences, especially when it comes to you and your favored. One of my best judges has passed on, and now the Eye is missing. If I ever catch you involved in the death of one of my judges again, I will make sure the Council removes you. Permanently."

Murphy simply stood there, a small smile on his face. "I'm sure I don't know what you're talking about, Order." He presented the dice in his hand to her. "For luck?"

Skeps narrowed her eyes, almost like she was trying to bore a hole through his skull with it. "Come, Caret!" she demanded. Before turning, she hit Murphy's hand, sending the dice flying towards the pit. A few feet up from his hand, they paused in mid-air. "There's a lot to prepare for." Felicity stood up as Skeps walked over to the them, grabbing the young god by the ear. In an instant, they, and all his books, were gone.

Without warning, color flooded back into the scenery and faces of the people as time began to flow properly once more. The dice bounced off the floor of the pit and bounced off the wall before coming to a halt. "Eight!" the young man announced as the crowd let out a painful groan.

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