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Kanrik's Tale: Ordeals

by extreme_fj0rd


A/N: This is the sequel to the story Kanrik's Tale: Memories, in issue 169. To fully understand this story, you might want to read the other one.

"Kanrik!" a Kau shouted. "Your turn."

      A blue Gelert in his mid-teens stepped out of the crowd of pets. The Kau paced the room, staring up at the ceiling; handkerchiefs and wallets were stuffed into his pockets, and jewels were strung around him lavishly.

      Kanrik watched the Kau for a moment, then walked out on an intersecting path. The two bumped into each other. "I'm sorry," the Gelert said, helping the Kau to his feet. The Kau nodded, and they walked off in opposite directions.

     The Kau kept pacing; Kanrik returned to the group and held up the wallet he'd taken from the Kau's pocket. The others laughed appreciatively; the Kau opened his mouth to call out another name.

     Everyone went silent, and Kanrik turned. A Darigan Grarrl stood behind him.

     "Kanrik," the Grarrl said. "I think you've spent enough time here."

     Kanrik's face lit up with a grin. He'd heard the phrase many times before, and each time one of his classmates had left. It was the phrase, he knew, that meant he would be given the entrance exam for the Thieves' Guild.

     As the door swung shut behind them, he heard the Kau clear his throat and shout out the next name. Kanrik had to trot to keep up with the much-larger Galem; the Gelert was slightly out of breath when they reached their destination, and the Grarrl was fresh as a spring daisy.

     When he got his breath back, Kanrik glanced around the room they were in. It was filled with treasure; gold and jewels were piled indiscriminately around the room, covering most of the floor.

     "See this?" Galem asked. He scooped up an amulet from a pile. A golden snake wound around an emerald and sank its fangs deep into the gem; ruby-red eyes glinted viciously from the snake's head. Kanrik nodded.

     Galem gave a bark of laughter. "Good." He tossed it away without care for where it landed; Kanrik heard it clink against another jewel.

     "Every member of the Thieves' Guild has one of those," Galem continued, looking straight at Kanrik. "They all earned it. Now it's time for you to earn yours," he added.

     The Grarrl told Kanrik what he had to do.

     "Steal from another member?" Kanrik fumed, storming through the corridors. "He's insane," he muttered.

     "Something wrong?" A cloaked Acara came up beside him and fell into step with the Gelert.

     "Galem just told me what I have to do to get in," Kanrik said shortly, not lessening his pace. "I can't do that!"

     Masila smiled and laid a hand on his arm, forcing him to stop. "What about-" She whispered in Kanrik's ear, then stood back to watch his reaction. "Well?"

     Kanrik glanced away, his brow furrowed; then he looked back, a smile twitching at the corners of his mouth. "Thank you, Masila," he said fervently, and hurried away, preoccupied with his thoughts.

     The Acara watched him go, smiling secretly. "You're welcome," she told his retreating back.

     The room was dark; only a thin slice of light came in from under the door. Kanrik walked silently across the room, listening carefully for creaking floorboards. He arrived at the other side of the room safely and let his breath out. First he checked the cabinets; then in the mattress of the low bed, and under the floor.

     The door banged open, letting light in; too much light for eyes that were adjusted to darkness as Kanrik's were. He turned his face away, covering his eyes with a forearm and trying to regain his former calm.

     Galem moved quickly across the room, a Lost Desert Dagger in his firm grasp. His voice was a low rumble. "Who are you. Why are you here." He didn't make them questions.

     Kanrik's eyes still watered from the light; he took deep breaths to calm himself.

     "Who are you?" The tip of Galem's dagger rested against Kanrik's skin, just below his eye.

     His eyes had finally adjusted; he raised his head and took his forearm away.

     "Kanrik?" Galem's tone was horrified. The Grarrl quickly took his dagger from Kanrik's face.

     A crowd had formed in the open doorway; Masila slipped into the room and took hold of Kanrik's paw. "Let us go to the healer," she said, leading him away. Kanrik reached up with his other paw and touched the skin underneath his right eye; it was wet. He took his paw away and concentrated on following Masila.

     Two weeks passed; Kanrik watched each evening at dinner, and took note of who wore their amulets and who didn't. He finally selected an unsuspecting Wocky called Camder for his new target. Kanrik watched, and waited, and planned.

     Three weeks to the day after he had made the unsuccessful raid on Galem's room, Kanrik left dinner early. Camder was talking animatedly with a red Techo whose name Kanrik didn't know.

     Kanrik slid into Camder's room and closed the door behind him, and let his eyes adjust to the darkness. He crept across the floor and checked the cabinets, then the mattress, and finally the Gelert tapped his way across the floor. It wasn't anywhere. He stayed where he was, crouched on the floor, and punched the floor in annoyance.

     A soft clink, and then a muffled one. The line of light from the doorway glinted off of gold, and ruby, and yes, emerald. It was underneath one of the cabinets. He reached out, not even quite believing that it was there; he took it and slid it into his pocket.

     Heading back to the main room, he could only figure that it had been stuck behind the cabinet, and him punching the floor had dislodged it. As he neared the door, he stopped thinking about it; he put a paw over the lump in his pocket and wished that Galem was still there. And yes; when he walked in the door, there was the Grarrl looming above everybody else.

     Kanrik walked over to Camder and tapped him on the shoulder. The Wocky turned. "What?"

     Silently, Kanrik held out the amulet. Camder stared; so did the Techo he had been speaking with. Slowly, the entire room quieted and focused on Kanrik and the amulet, sparkling in the firelight.

     Finally Camder swallowed and spoke. "My thanks to you, lad." He took the amulet; Kanrik didn't try to stop him. Galem stood up and came over. Kanrik looked up at the Grarrl defensively, but all Galem did was clap him on the shoulder.

     "Congratulations," he said, almost smiling, and reached into his own pocket. The Grarrl pulled out an amulet the double of Camder's and fastened it around Kanrik's neck. "Keep it somewhere safe," he said.

     Kanrik glanced around the room, searching for Masila. Their eyes met, and Kanrik smiled hesitantly. She responded with a ghost of a smile and twinkling eyes.

     He looked back at Galem and smiled at him, too; the Grarrl shook his head and went back to his seat. A hand on his shoulder made Kanrik turn. It was Camder and his friend.

     Kanrik shook his head. "No hard feelings?" he asked. It would be unlike a thief to apologize, he thought; so he didn't.

     "None at all," Camder assured him cheerfully. "I'm Camder; my friend here is Tubork."

     The Gelert felt as though he was being inducted into some secret community. He smiled, just a wisp of a smile. "And I'm Kanrik," he said.

     "It's nice to meet you."

The End

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