Agent of the Sway: Rogue - Part Five
Terror Mountain was as cold and frigid as Clayton remembered. He'd been there many times, and he couldn't say he enjoyed any of the visits entirely.
The Thieves Guild had moved to Terror Mountain as Galem Darkhand's last act before being removed from the Guild. He had butchered the organisation in his quest for Bori magic, making it a shadow of its former self. When Kanrik had taken over, he had a big job in front of him, but he had proved himself up to the task.
Over the past few years, the Guild had expanded back to most of its own haunts. Kanrik himself had been based in Neopia Central for a while, but according to Falmouth had been forced to flee back to Terror Mountain due to the recent riots in Neopia Central.
"How do we find the Guild?" Falmouth asked as they left the pier, bundling herself up against the cold.
"That shouldn't be the hard part," Clayton said. "I used to be one of them, before I joined the Sway. I know their old meeting houses. Getting in might be an issue - I doubt there are many people left from my time, and I don't have the membership card any more."
"You have membership cards?" Falmouth stifled a laugh.
Clayton gave her a curious look. It had been a joke, sort of. The Thieves Guild used a special pendant, a golden Cobrall wrapped around an emerald, as a membership badge. He had assumed that Fyora's guards knew about them... Were they really such a well kept secret?
"Perhaps my magic will help again," Falmouth considered.
"Not this time," Clayton replied. "When confronted, thieves don't run and get their master... They just run."
He led her through the frozen streets of Happy Valley. It was night, and a storm was brewing on the mountain, so those few people who were outside were moving quickly to their destinations. The backstreets of the town were twisty, dark alleys. The perfect place to hide thieves. Before long, Clayton stopped at the mouth of an alley, the Kougra holding Falmouth back.
There was a Yurble standing at the end, arms crossed solidly against the cold. He was a doorman.
"Right, you stay here," Clayton instructed.
"Because any thief worth their weight can tell a soldier a mile off," Clayton replied. "Even when they aren't dressed like one."
Leaving Falmouth there, he made his way down the alley to the Yurble.
"I have business with Kanrik," Clayton said.
"No, you don't," the Yurble replied. "I don't know your face, so you don't get in."
Well, that at least confirmed he was in the right place.
"I'm sure we can come to some arrangement..." Clayton said.
"Yeah, we can," the Yurble told him. "You can head back down there to your friend and leave me alone. What are you, members of the watch? She certainly looks like military the way she's trying to hide."
Clayton sighed, gesturing to Falmouth that she need not bother hiding any longer.
"I am here on the orders of Queen Fyora," she announced as she strode down the alley. "Only a few months ago she appointed one of you number a Master Thief."
"Hanso isn't one of our number," the Yurble stressed. "And your kind aren't welcome here."
"Humour me," Clayton said. "Tell him Clayton Moore is here to see him."
"I'm happy here," the Yurble told him.
"Well, we're not," Clayton replied. "And when Kanrik finds out I'm out here, he won't be happy either. The thief that's been keeping me out here won't be a thief for long, that much is for sure."
"Let them in," a voice came from the shadows.
A Gelert with a scar stepped into view - Kanrik.
"How long have you been there!?" Clayton demanded.
"Long enough to see you squirm," Kanrik replied. "Nice to see you, Clayton. Shall we get out of the cold?"
He led them down the steps into the basement lair the Guild were using in Happy Valley. There were dozens of thieves there, all crowded around tables whispering between each other.
Kanrik found them a quiet corner and sat down.
"I didn't think I'd ever see you in the company of a Faerieland Knight," he said. "She one of yours?"
"There is no 'mine' any more, Kanrik," Clayton explained. "I've gone freelance, so to speak."
"Ah," Kanrik said, a knowing smile spreading across his lips. "I've been waiting for this day. Knew they couldn't keep you chained up for too long - sooner or later, they always come back to the Guild. Take this."
He produced the customary Cobrall emerald from under his cloak and threw it across the table.
"I'm not here to join the Guild again," Clayton said. "I can't take this. Not yet, anyway."
"Why not? It's yours," Kanrik said. "When you left, all those years ago, I kept it. Just in case. Keep it, you never know when it might come in handy."
Clayton nodded, pocketing the thing.
"But that begs the question... If she's not one of... Those, who is she?" Kanrik asked.
"I am exactly who you think I am," Falmouth answered. "I don't double deal."
"How refreshing," Kanrik said with a polite smile.
"Lady Falmouth arrested me after the fall of Faerieland," Clayton explained. "I'm helping her find the Sway, my former employers, and arrest them."
"What happened to the Clayton who said he was doing good work?" Kanrik asked. "The one who said he was happy?"
"A lot has changed since we last met, Kanrik," Clayton said. "Duke Hopesmeade is dead, and the Sway has gone in a direction I don't agree with. They need to be stopped."
"And you need my help with that," Kanrik said. "How?"
"We're planning on drawing the Sway out using an ancient obelisk in Tyrannia as bait," Clayton said. "But we need people there, people that the Sway might fear could find the obelisk first and claim it for themselves."
"You want me to send the Guild to Tyrannia in search of ancient treasure?" Kanrik asked. "Clayton... I can't believe you would ask something like that. You know how hard I've worked to change the Guild back to how it was before Galem went mad with power. He spent thirty years hunting for the Bori magic, and you'd have me do the same? You'd have me undo everything I've worked for."
"That's not what I'm asking, Kanrik," Clayton explained. "I don't want you to claim the obelisk, I don't care if you get near the thing. I just need to you be there, Kanrik."
"What's the difference?" Kanrik asked.
"And they let you be the Guildmaster?" Falmouth scoffed. "I'm a Knight and even I can see Clayton's angle on this. You are a thief, Kanrik. You steal things. There are going to be others at the obelisk, not just the Sway. The Seekers, the Order of the Red Erisim, the Brute Squad, even some zombies. And that's not even counting any locals who turn up. All you have to do is make it look like you want the obelisk, and then, while everyone else is fighting, you can waltz around pickpocketing the lot of them."
"Couldn't have said it better myself," Clayton said. "We'll make a thief of her yet."
Kanrik considered their words carefully.
"Alright," he agreed eventually. "Though only because its you asking, Clayton."
"You're not going to ask how you'll know when we need you?" Falmouth asked.
Kanrik gave a sly smirk.
"Every time Clayton seems to pass through this way, he's carrying slothite explosives," he said. "Funny thing, there's a ship came into port not long ago loaded with the stuff - I take it that it belongs to you? Seems like there's enough stuff onboard to cause a big bang. I'm sure we'll see it when you get things going."
The Tyrannian port was a lot more welcoming to their ship the following morning. The temperature in the jungle was a welcome change to the storms of Terror Mountain, at least.
Perhaps it was that they didn't understand what they were carrying, but the locals also didn't seem suspicious of the great amounts of slothite that were being offloaded. In fact, it only look Falmouth an hour to arrange for a stone-hewn transport and some guides to lead them further inland.
The Grarrl who appeared to be leading the expedition gave them a skeptical look when they showed him a map with the location they wanted taking to. He muttered something in Tyrannian to the others, who grumbled in response, but set about moving the transport regardless.
"It appears the locals still remember the obelisk," Falmouth whispered to Clayton when they were underway.
"You speak Tyrannian?" Clayton asked.
"Enough to get by," she replied. "You mean you don't? I would have thought it was required for international men of mystery. He told the others that we were looking for the ghost's tower, as far as I understood. Some of the others muttered things along the line of, 'their funeral'."
"Tyrannians are cleverer than we give them credit for," Clayton said. "They learnt a long time ago that the Oracle and the obelisk are more trouble than its worth. The Sway will learn that, too, soon enough."
"You know, your newfound sense of justice is admirable," Falmouth said.
"Don't misunderstand, I just want the Sway," Clayton said. "I'm not planning on joining the Faerieland Guards any time soon."
"Nor was the position offered," Falmouth replied. "You are my prisoner, remember?"
To be continued...