Winter Sleeping, Chasers’s Day 5, Year of the Lion number 427; January 2, 1739 Agathon; Linne 182
I wanted to write about the winter solstice and new-year celebrations, since they are distinctly different than what we do in the Tabaxi culture. You can see the year numbers have incremented, though we’re still in the Year of the Lion. That number won’t change for another forty days, at the spring equinox.
However, as is usual for my life, things change. Tonight, I’m in my apartment packing my meager possessions. I’ve already communicated to the landlord that Respect is taking over the lease. Though, in her behalf, I’ve gone ahead and paid the next three months.
I’m leaving town. I don’t know where I’ll end up, but right now, I’m headed to Hiltmar, Avensaria. What scares me is that everything I’m doing is based upon Lord Mordecai Baird’s interpretation of Propheta’s riddles. Yikes. If things screw up, I could get executed for my involvement in this, but Lord Baird needed someone to blame and I, being an outsider, was the only one he felt he could trust. Don’t get me wrong – I’ve been paid well for what I’m doing. But I’m also accepting a huge risk, and the condition that I cannot return to Linne until, “The seas run dry.” Whatever the heck that means.
I can write about it here, because the person we’re tricking should never see my journal.
On Chaser’s 1, the day after my last journal entry, Lord Baird came to me. He said he needed my help with a task later that day, and that he felt only I could be trusted with it. I said that already. Sorry – I don’t mean to repeat myself. I’m writing this in a hurry because I only have an hour before I leave. Everything’s packed and ready. I’ve said goodbye to Respect.
Later that afternoon, I learned that John of Scales had left town to personally deliver a message from Lord Baird to the King of Handocher. An hour after he left, Lord Baird took me to a small room in his private chambers and opened the door. What I saw in this room was amazing! Gold, silver, jewelry, trinkets made of gold and brass, old books, weapons of all sorts. He said, “Kabize, before you is the treasure of Linne, collected over a thousand years. It belongs not just to my family, but to the people of this great city. Because of this treasure, I am able to keep taxes low – just enough for people to know that we are part of their lives and give them the feeling of investment in their leadership. There is more here than we’d need for ten generations. When I die, all this goes to Saxton. However, right now he is not worthy of this inheritance.”
“You gave him half his inheritance a couple weeks ago, did you not?”
Lord Baird laughed. “I gave him half of what John of Scales knew about. Nothing, compared to this.”
“Why do you bring me here, my Lord?”
“I need you to steal it.”
Again, he laughed. “I need John of Scales to believe you stole it. We will take this treasure and hide it elsewhere in the castle. Here, help me fill these bags and come.” We filled several sacks full then left the room after he closed and locked the door behind us. We carried the bags through the castle, using some passageways I hadn’t seen before, until we came to an old door that opened to a small garden. He unlocked another door in the garden, under the castle wall, that had a small room. The false ceiling in the room was open. He had me climb up so he could hand me the bags. He instructed me to dump them out, but carefully so that the treasure didn’t fall to the floor.
We made several trips until all the treasure was moved. Then he took me to the official treasure room, the one John of Scales knew about. This we moved in one trip. Once all the treasure was relocated, he closed the false ceiling and latched it. I heard the coins shift position above, knowing that if the doorway was opened again, all the treasure would fall to the floor below.
“Now this is the part I don’t quite understand, but Propheta insists.” He took a rope and threw it over the beam. He tied one end to the latch so that when pulled, it would open the false ceiling. On the other end, he tied it into a hangman’s noose. Under the noose, he placed a stool. He stepped back and surveyed his handiwork. “Okay. Just a couple more things and we’re done.”
There was a broom in the corner and he asked me to sweep the floor clean of dust. I did so, bringing the broom with me as we left. He locked the door then handed me the key along with a small pouch. I felt the gold coins within the pouch. “There’s 100 gold, 50 silver, and some gems you should be able to sell for at least a couple thousand. The money is yours. However, you must take the key to the witch, Syreni, who is living in Hiltmar, Avensaria. She will know what to do with it.”
As we returned to the castle, Lord Baird explained. “You will be identified as the thief who stole the city’s treasure. Don’t worry about us. We’ll be fine. You, however, must leave before John returns, which will be a few days after the New Year. Say your goodbyes and make whatever arrangements you need to make, but don’t be here when he shows up.”
“What about Respect?”
“I trust her as I trust you. However, I fear that if John thinks she had anything to do with it, he’d have her executed before I’d be able to do anything about it. You can’t tell her the truth. I’m sorry I must put you in this situation, but of all people, I know you can do this. You’re a survivor. Propheta has confidence in you as well, and I trust her, even though I can’t understand her most of the time.”
Is this what my life has in store for me? Always on the run? If not from people, but from myself? I hear the wagon I hired pull up outside. It’s time to go.
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