At night the streets of Red Rock were just a dark orange blur, especially from this height. Daneski Vilton climbed carefully up the side of the Dalsakesh Manor. It was one of the tallest buildings in Red Rock and housed one of the wealthiest men there. Hasha Dalsakesh was the owner of more Red Rock horses than any other man except Lord Faralay himself and unlike Faralay he was obsessed with foreign luxuries and decorations. Nobody had dared to scale the Dalsakesh Manor in the past, but Daneski had worked out how to do it.
There was a guard keeping watch on the top of the tower, but unless he looked straight down at the wall, and he would have to lean a long way over his barrier to do so, he would never see Daneski. This meant Daneski had to be quiet as flea in the dirt as he climbed, which was why he moved so slowly.
There was also a soldier on the ground walking circuits of the tower. Each circuit took four minutes, after which Daneski would need to be hidden behind one of the drapes that decorated the tower. If he had to hurry to the next drape then the guard above would hear, if he didn’t make it in time the one below would see. Most saw this task as impossible, for a master like Daneski it was simply a challenge.
The only unlocked window was the highest in the Manor, at least eight stories up, and Daneski was almost there. If he were to look down now he would see the entire city, its flat topped roofs and grid of streets and alleyways, fading into the gloom. Many would hear of the great heist he was about to pull in the days to come, it was his most ambitious job yet.
Daneski once again carefully positioned himself behind one of the drapes that covered the tower as the soldier below made his circuit once more. The drapes were decorated with pictures of mountains and forests unlike anything in the Faran Badlands that Red Rock was surrounded by. Daneski always wondered how much of the world there was. He had been read stories as a child about heroes and wizards travelling through incredible lands but could barely believe anywhere could really be so different. Dalsakesh’s treasures were some proof however.
He was within reach of the window now, the guards above and below still oblivious. Somewhere nearby on the ground were Milosh and Grendic, two of the toughs in the gang that Daneski was also in. Jeneal, their leader, would be with them, she was running the show. Everything needed to work perfectly.
Daneski had with him a stone, which he would throw from the window when he was ready to make his escape. When they saw the signal Milosh and Grendic would start a diversion, drawing the attention of both guards, so Daneski could make a speed descent down the wall with as much treasure as he could carry, which would hopefully be a lot. Then Jeneal would meet him at the bottom and they would make for their safe house, Mad Naric’s.
The guard passed by, oblivious once more, and Daneski made his move, still being careful with every movement he glided up the wall and onto the windowsill. The room he saw was filled with all kinds of golden artefacts but it was not these that caught Daneski’s eye. A man in an armchair holding a crossbow was staring straight at him, Hasha Dalsakesh. Or would have been staring at him, had he not been sound asleep. Daneski breathed a sigh of relief. He had been about to risk the huge fall and jump from the building. Either way though this man was sure to complicate matters.
Daneski felt for his knife, but he carried nothing except the warning stone. He could not risk carrying the treasure he wanted while the sleeping man was armed and ungagged. On one of the tables in the room the aristocrat had been eating something with a silver knife and fork. That would have to do. The thief took the knife and crept behind the sleeping man’s chair. With the blade on his neck Daneski carefully removed the bolt from the crossbow before covering Dalsakesh’s mouth with his hand.
The man woke immediately and tried to called for help but only the tiniest mumble was able to escape.
“If you want to live, stand up and stay quiet.”
Daneski tried to keep his voice calm and authoritative, praying to Almar that the man would fail to see through the bluff. This knife was so dull it would barely draw blood, he could never kill with it.
“Even if you scream now I could kill you and be gone before anyone could intervene,” Daneski whispered, thankful to see his hostage tense with fear at the words. Meanwhile Daneski’s eyes scanned the room like a sprinting wolf, desperately looking for something highly valuable to sneak away with. He would not be taking a sackful of loot home with him today.
In this light what looked gold could be brass, silver could be polished iron, jewels could be real or fake. He needed a sure thing, something that was guaranteed to be valuable. Then he saw it.
Daneski grew up around horses in Red Rock. He had ridden in the races as a child until he became too tall and heavy. He had even ridden Dalsakesh’s horses for a short time and had won a highly prestigious trophy as well. As the rider Daneski had been given a small painted wooden replica of the trophy but Dalsakesh had received the real, solid gold version. Daneski would never forget it, and he was looking at it now. He just needed enough time to throw his stone, wait for the diversion, then grab it and leave. He turned Dalsakesh away from the window to face the middle of the room then moved his hand from the man’s mouth to go into his pocket for the stone to throw.
“You know,” said Dalsakesh. “You won’t cut much with a serving knife. Guards!”
Dalaskesh spun and Daneski had to duck the rich man’s fist. Daneski responded with a slash of the knife but it was blocked by a forearm and sent sliding to the floor, without leaving even a mark. Daneski realised what a fool he’d been, he’d faced his hostage directly in front on the table he took the knife from. The guards would be here soon, Daneski needed to get that prize or this would all be for nothing, but he also needed to escape. Milosh and Grendic would have heard the commotion, they would be doing their best on the ground to make an escape route but that would only be open for a short time. Daneski had to act fast.
He dodged two more punches and responded with a strike to the man’s jaw that sent him reeling back. Daneski took his chance and grabbed the trophy before leaping from the window, catching a drape as he did.
Climbing down was an exercise in speed, not stealth. For any other to climb that wall with the heavy trophy in hand would be near suicide, but Daneski was a master escape artist. In moments he had both feet on the ground and was running into the side streets with Jeneal, Dalsakesh screaming incoherently from the windowsill.
“So you finally got your hands on that trophy after all these years,” Jeneal chuckled. “Get any trouble from the old boss?”
“Nothing a good right hook couldn’t solve,” Daneski joked back.
“You idiot,” Jeneal laughed. “We wanted you to break into his house, not break his jaw.”