The Star of Paradise
"I once picked a pair of pockets."
A hooded Acara stood in front of a cracked, dusty mirror leaning against a brick wall. For the most part, her faded blue fur blended into the shadows of the alleyway, although occasional passersby would shoot her a disapproving glance. Her features seemed to be that of a youth, but one look at her eyes said otherwise. They carried a fierceness that screamed of years of unquestionable suffering and pain. A jarringly sweet smile seemed to betray her otherwise sorry state.
"I once picked a pair of pockets," she chanted to the mirror as if it were some sort of brutish thing that had to be impressed.
It remained silent.
Her smile faded. "... Yeah, I wouldn't want me either," she sighed, sliding down the opposing wall. Her hood melted against the surface revealing both ears. One appeared perfectly normal; the other seemed to have bite marks, as if from a rouge Psimouse.
Her right paw began to twirl about her blue-grey hair as her mind slipped back into a dream of what once was...
A sunny spring day in Meridell seemed normal enough. Song flowers danced about in almost every garden lining the street. They mimicked the noises of everyday life and turned them into a beautiful, if not horribly irritating, melodies.
The Acara sported a long-sleeved brown tunic and a pair of oversized worn out pants. A cloth hood fell loosely against her back, sky-blue ponytail draped atop a fraying bandana. Twin daggers rested snugly against her waist. She lurked about the town's cobblestone streets until she spotted a pair of young Meridellians.
She snorted. They're sugary cuteness could only be described as nauseating.
The two little Shoyrus, one red, the other yellow, wore identical floral pattern dresses and pink lace up shoes. Yellow lilies dotted their orange hair, and from their belt hung a bag of gold sitting snugly in plain sight.
The Acara walked up to the little girls and give a small, seemingly innocent grin. When the two jumped back, she switched tactics. Compliments always worked better anyway.
"Hi!" she started, trying to imitate their sweetness. "Your lilies are so pretty! And wow, just look at those little dresses! Are those... um... roses?"
The red one seemed to turn her head in curiosity while the other cowered behind.
"These aren't roses," she said matter-of-factly, is if anyone passing by should know. "They're poppies, silly!"
"Oh, yeah, I knew that." An eyebrow twitched. The little girl reached into her curly carrot-colored hair and picked out one of the lilies. She then quickly presented it to her.
"I think you'd look a lot prettier with this on, Lady!" The Acara winced. The flower's petals seemed so well manicured that little dots only added to its front of perfection. She stroked a petal gingerly, but within moments, a little smudge and a couple of blue furs appeared across its otherwise pristine surface.
"Come on, put it on!" The Acara sighed as the flower fit snugly between her ears. Every turn of her head the flower rubbed against her fur, causing a tickling sensation. Many times she fought the urge to flick the decoration to the ground but instead planted both paws against her waist and kept as straight as possible.
"Woooow," the Shoyru crooned. "You look so much prettier now. Oh, I know," she turned to her sister, who seemed to be twiddling her thumbs and tucking both wings tightly against her back. After a few seconds (during which the Acara tried to swipe her gold, she kept moving), the Shoyru whipped around, only to see the Acara much closer than before and wearing a nervous grin.
"Daisy and I agree: you should come with us. We could look for even more ways to make you pretty!"
A job is a job, right? The Acara's eyes rolled, but she ultimately nodded anyway.
"Yay!" cheered the one who promptly nudged her sister. She remained silent, but followed anyway.
The three of them went around town, turning heads wherever they traveled. The red one seemed more energetic, bouncing around and cooing at every pretty item she saw, while the yellow one seemed more reserved, quietly following her sister. The Acara had to admit, walking around with a hyperactive little one—especially during midday—was relatively embarrassing. And even worse, the munchkin spent some of her gold for cutesy adornments. A string of dunkydoos slung about the Acara's neck and a bracelet made of plurby bush flowers caused her paws to itch incessantly.
"You look absolutely beautiful! A lot nicer than before, anyway."
She snatched a mirror from a shop clerk and handed it to the Acara. Instead of smiling, however, the Acara's face only wore a frown. Sure, the flowers matched her fur color, but... all of those Neopoints gone to waste...
Noticing her sadness amidst the florid chaos, she faked a smile, one that the chatty girl, based on her nod of approval, seemed to enjoy.
"Thanks so much." She lowered to the ground and balanced on one knee. "How about a hug to celebrate our new friendship?"
The one hopped up and down excitedly, barely touching the ground, but the other walked silently up to the thief. She reached into her hair and removed a pin that had been hiding amidst the lilies, likely attached to a head band of some sort. Colors exploded from multiple star-shaped petals as a metallic sheen reflected the sun's rays.
"I want you to have this. Thank you for being our friend."
The Acara's eye widened as a wave of guilt washed over her. It would have been easy to steal from the one, but...
When she didn't respond, Daisy spoke again. "We'll miss you."
The thief's hand reached out to grab it, but retracted, letting her arm momentarily hover in the air before slowly picking it up. She then fastened it onto her tunic and patted it for good measure.
Before the two could come for their hug, she removed both daggers from their resting places and hid them in either tunic sleeve. They both approached. One came jubilantly, the other averting her eyes. The actual hug was short, but it seemed to last for an eternity. The daggers slipped from her paws and sliced the cords holding their money bags. Just as quickly, the loot vanished into her garments.
Hopping up, the cloak whipped over her head, sending the ponytail flying haphazardly to the side. Yellow petals fell to the ground.
She mouthed the words "I'm sorry" to Daisy, and began to sprint away.
Within an instant, the raucous girl started shouting words like, "thief," "liar," and "wait 'till I catch you!" all while hovering slightly above the ground. Song flowers cheerfully mimicked the Shoyru's shouts as the other said nothing.
Eyes snapped open to see the same brick wall and cracked mirror. A single paw rested against a tarnished pin with specks of reds and blues escaping from otherwise rusted metal.
"I'm ready," she whispered, lifting her frame gingerly off the ground.
Sneaking about the back streets, she came upon a bolted door. Above it stood a rotting sign with a picture of a faded cup of coffee.
As she approached, a small frame slid open. Cold, hardened eyes glared down from above.
"What is the password?"
Such a question seemed simple, but obtaining such a password costs time. And when you're a lone thief, time is earned, not given.
"Hannah." Her heart began to race, each beat pounding harder against her chest. The password she given could have easily been a fake. After all, she refused to give up every possession on hand for the precious information.
Both eyes narrowed and the frame closed. The sound of around one-hundred locks clicked before the door finally creaked open.
"Welcome to the guild..."
The room was dimly lit and various shady fellows gathered about tables that wobbled even at the slightest touch. A push on the back from a less-than-pleased Lutari moved her forward as did the glares of various other thieves within the room.
"Boss Kanrik, this Acara here wants to join the guild."
A tall cloaked figure with a large scar rolling down his face looked upon her impassively. His snout twisted slightly. Although relaxed in appearance, his paw remained snugly against his waist as if ready to pull out a dagger at any moment. In the dim light, it was hard to recognize the Gelert's features, but if he was the Kanrik, one wrong move would surely lead to a world of pain.
"Why should we admit one as young as you into our guild? What use could you serve for our ends?"
"I picked the pockets of the ones who gave me this pin. It has stood for everything I have done in order to get here today." She gulped, trying to calm her shaking voice. "I have nothing else but thievery and deceit. Without this guild, I am nothing." Kanrik raised a brow, but remained otherwise unfazed. There was a long, harsh pause. Everyone in the room stopped their chatter to look upon the potential new recruit.
"And what should I call you? 'Nothing' is no name for a member of the thieves' guild." The Acara gasped, but quickly regained composure.
"I have no name, Boss, but if you wish to call me anything, my codename will suffice." Her hands rubbed against the rusted petals.
"Some call me a thief—and I am—but those who know me best call me 'The Star of Paradise."