When I woke up, I was in some kind of cavern. Only Aven was with me. He asked me why those boys had attacked me and I said it was because I was stealing. He gave me a peculiar look, then said I wasn’t very good at it yet, but he would teach me.
-writing on the wall
The shriek irritated him, but didn’t interrupt his breakfast. At least not until the downstairs maid rushed into the dining room and skidded to a stop at the side of his chair. He glanced over at her, taking in her heaving breasts as she tried to catch her breath and her eyes wide as saucers. His wife, at the other end of the table, gave her a curious look and their three children completely ignored her, being too engrossed in their breakfasts.
“Yes, Ama?” Lord Almi said tiredly. “What is it?”
She managed a small curtsy, teetering slightly on her feet and then pointed in the direction she had come from, her finger quivering. “My Lord, my Lady, a robbery!”
That got his attention, as well as everyone else’s. Chairs scrapped as Lord and Lady Almi stood. Lady Almi motioned for the children to remain seated. Without a second thought, all three of them did. They knew what was going on. It was the same thing year after year. The feud had been going on for longer than Tyala had been alive and they were used to people breaking in. They had had guards, at one point, but that had only taught them that nothing deterred the people of the underground. Now they took what happened as incidents came. With things like this occurring so often, no one thought of them as any more than incidents these days.
“Show me,” Lord Almi ordered as he threw down his cloth napkin into the remains of his meal. He wasn’t angry; he was disgusted and irritated that Sarlik had made the first move this year, thereby forcing the continuation of this blasted feud. He had no doubt that his wife was already plotting retaliation.
Ama bobbed another curtsy, now a little steadier on her feet, and then led her master and mistress into the parlor, the skirt of her ankle-length gown rustling as she hurried. Coming to a stop at the doorway, she pointed a still shaking finger at the mantle. Frowning, Lord Almi approached it to see what was missing.
It wasn’t that hard to miss. The glass case that had held his seed of magic, the last powerful one in the entire kingdom, was gone. He picked up the case and turned around. Lady Almi gasped and then fumed.
“It’s that man again,” she hissed. “Sarlik took our magic.”
Lord Almi looked at his empty box with a grave expression. “Yes. That is quite likely.”
With that said, he walked out of the room and toward the staircase, the box in hand. Lady Almi chased after him and caught him as he was halfway up the first flight of stairs. She wrapped her hands around a post knob at the bottom of the stairs and called up to her husband, who turned at the sound of her voice.
“Emeri, what are we going to do?”
He paused a moment and then said, “Why, my dear, we have two options, as usual. We can do nothing or we can retaliate. You know my answer. Make your own.”
Lord Almi turned and continued up the stairs, quickly vanishing from her sight. She frowned, knowing her husband’s choice was to do nothing. She didn’t blame him; he had, after all, married into the feud. He had never thrown himself fully into it, even after their many years of marriage. It was up to her to do something. It was up to her to continue this feud.
And, for that, she would need the cover of darkness. And one Thief Lord by the name of Raven.