He and I have since collaborated on two such projects. Here is a third, done in tandem with the very talented and imaginative artist, Jamie Noble.
Hope you enjoy the story!
Algrimm should have known there was more to the job than Blind Delphus had let on. That was the problem with getting the skinny from an oracle: there was always more to it than met the eye.
There was treasure involved. With Delphus there always was. But the ease with which Algrim had gotten the map should have given him pause.
A thief of no small ability, Algrimm had easily infiltrated the small estate Delphus had described, eluding wards which were in his estimation no more dangerous than those that might protect a haberdashery or alchemist’s still. The guards were likewise less than vigilant. Algrimm left them to sleep, dreams sweetened by the narcotic powder known affectionately as “Deep Sleep” in the Old Quarters. Despite the sometimes dubious requirements of his trade, Algrimm was not a violent man.
When finally he found the room in which the fat noble slept, wheezing as fat men do in their sleep, Algrimm discovered the map exactly where Delphus had said it would be, hidden in plain sight on the mantle above a fireplace from which ruddy light eked into the room. Algrimm had taken the map from its place in silence. Still, the stertorous breathing had stopped.
He had turned, long knife in hand, to find the nobleman propped up on one elbow, staring at him in the dark.
“There are eyes. Hundreds of them.” The Baron had said, just before Algrimm blew the black dust in his face.
After his escape, Algrimm had not returned to the fetid room he called home. He had paid handsomely for the map’s whereabouts for a reason, and if the nobleman did have the means to penetrate the glamour obscuring Algrimm’s features, then that was all the more reason for him to do the job and get out of town.
If he did this right, this would be the last time he would have to abscond in the dead of night. He had tired of this brutish existence, the endless sleepless nights when he was out plying his trade, the long days imprisoned in some grotty bolt hole to hide from the constabulary or jealous rivals. He knew that it was a matter of time before he would become just another body added to the necrotic offal that piled up in the back alleys.
But such were the dreams of men like he, easily dashed, easily subverted.
Now he knew the meaning of the words the sweating, snoring man had said. Not a warning, but a reason why the map was not hidden, why it was so easily purloined. He had thought he had meant eyes in a colloquial sense: sentries, a warren of goblins or a den of dire rats that would grow larger as he descended. These things could be evaded by the use of his simple cantrips.
But not this.
If he survived, he would have remember this lesson: in the world Algrimm belonged to, anything that came easily was always and invariably a trap.
Jamie’s art can be found at www.thenobleartist.com
Facebook account www.facebook.com/jamienobleartist.
I look forward to more collaborations with this very talented artist!