Rumored Legacy: Part Three
Krawk Island and Mystery Island were actually more difficult than anticipated. Tight quarters forced cutthroat competition and Kanrik's thieves were especially hard to break and allow other freelancing thieves anywhere near their turf. The only compromise was made in Smugglers Cove. Few independent thieves wanted anything to do with the Cove, so it was designated guild turf.
"But only Smugglers Cove," Purrow confirmed.
"Only," Roxon echoed.
Purrow offered to let Roxon stay to enforce these rules, then thought better of it. He wasn't Kanrik; he didn't need to have someone stay behind like some ranking thief making sure the rules were followed.
Mystery Island was, as expected, a popular tourist destination, controlled almost exclusively by Kanrik's guild, even in Geraptiku. Only when they had narrowly escaped a rather hungry Ghost Hissi were Kanrik's thieves willing to talk.
By the time they reached Moltara, Purrow was feeling rather elated. He was making a difference in the thieving world; this would be his legacy, freeing thieves to do what they were made to do: steal. Without worry that they would be attacked by some gang of thieves. And if they were attacked, then they could call on their fellow thieves as needed for help without any sort of obligation.
Yes, it was all coming together so wonderfully. It was like he'd been destined to do this, as if it had been written in the stars.
"So I have to ask," Roxon said as the aboveground part of Moltara loomed in the distance. "What happened to Meesha? I mean, I always thought you could never get Purrow without Meesha or Meesha without Purrow."
"She left to go after the obelisk," Purrow said shortly. "She didn't join the guild, mind you, but she believed his words about fabulous riches that anyone has yet to discover."
He would say no more on it, and as they disembarked, he did not need to. Once they set foot in the underground city, they went right into freedom mode, a term coined by Purrow of course, since they were in essence freeing the thieves from Kanrik's tyranny.
Moltara went smoothly enough with only a couple thieves falling accidentally into the Magma Pool.
"Altador is next, then?" Roxon confirmed.
"Altador, Shenkuu, then a trip across the mountains," Purrow said confidently.
As they sailed into Altador, Purrow began salivating. They were having some sort of festival, he figured. Or was it always this extravagant? Oh, the goods to be had here...
"Where do we even start?" Carissa wondered.
"The Hall of Heroes," Purrow said. "I've always wanted to see it." He cleared his throat. "And of course, so have many others so there are bound to be thieves abounding."
But they knew something wasn't right when they found a sign saying, "Closed for cleaning."
"Well, all the better," Purrow said. "Means we won't have to fight the crowds."
They sneaked in easily enough, admiring the statues, only mildly suspicious of the lack of not only guards, but the fabled cleaning crew.
"So, this is Purrow."
The group whirled to see King Altador himself walking toward them. But the awe of his presence could not disguise the horror when his bulk moved to reveal Kanrik behind him. And behind him was Meesha.
"Meesha!" Purrow cried involuntarily.
She did not reply.
"You've been up to some very naughty things, Purrow," Kanrik said, not bothering to hide his irritation. "Attacking my thieves, stealing my territory, and all for what? An idea." He knelt before Purrow. "You've been traveling a long way around Neopia for this cause. Would you like to know the fruits of your labor?"
"We're freeing thieves so they don't have to be afraid of bullies like you!" Purrow told him strongly.
"Oh? No commissions, open territory, protection at only a call. Well—" Kanrik fished out some letters from a pocket inside his cloak. "—here are some of those calls. From Riley. 'Help! Kanrik has sent a dozen thieves to take back not only Neovia but the Fairgrounds too!' And later, 'Where were you? Sam and I are forced to scavenge in the outskirts of the Woods. We're starving! At least he is. I'm a Ghost.'
"This one is from Lakhem in Sakhmet. 'The Desert Raiders have come for the Summer Solstice Festival and they're taking everything! We need help!'
"And here's one from Krawk Island. 'A ship just full of Smugglers and Thieves swarmed the island today! They're all over the place and we can't steal anything.'
"I don't have ones from Mystery Island or Moltara yet, but rest assured, they will come." Unfortunately, wishes, dreams, and promises do not provide the same thing a tangible incentive does."
As Kanrik read the helpless letters, Roxon and the other Aisha Thieves started backing away from Purrow, now wanting nothing to do with him. King Altador merely gave a gesture to his guards and allowed them to leave peacefully.
Kanrik stood. "It was a pretty idea, Purrow. Heck, even I would join your little band of rogues and thieves. But it doesn't work. Why? Because we're thieves. Incentive is a wonderful thing."
He left Purrow standing alone in the center of the Hall of Heroes. He and Meesha stared at each other, but before either could speak, King Altador moved, knelt, and motioned them closer.
"Purrow, why did you do this?" Altador asked.
"Because I don't like to be bullied," Purrow declared.
"All thieves have their turf. Yes, you dispute and fight your little battles, but this was a full crusade, trying to 'liberate the thieves of Neopia.' What made you do it?"
"It was my fault," Meesha said. "I left to go fight in the War of the Obelisk."
"And so by her joining Kanrik, you felt like you were being robbed yourself, right, Purrow?" Altador pressed.
"I guess," Purrow mumbled. "She's my sister and like my best friend."
"You're a good thief, Purrow, though I do not condone your actions. And Meesha, you are also a good thief. You two have good hearts and are part of one of the nastiest little thieving rings in Neopia. You're small and adorable, quick, and quick-witted. You already defy the laws of Kanrik's guild and that is why you are good at what you do. And most importantly, you do it together, best friends, brother and sister helping each other out. You don't have to liberate Neopia's thieves to be the best you can be. Not all legacies are found in illuminated tomes. Some legacies are the rumors, the quiet stories whispered among friends and the like-minded. And those are the ones that last."
Purrow and Meesha were quiet for a moment as they considered this. Finally they looked at each other and smiled.
"I guess you're right," Purrow conceded. "I never wanted to be the leader of anything; I just wanted my best thieving partner back."
"I'm sorry I left," Meesha said humbly. "But I never considered you would do something so drastic."
"I will let you free this one time," Altador said, standing. "But you are still thieves and enemies of the public good. Go now, and return to your real home."
And so they did, getting only as far as the door the Hall before getting out their packs and sneaking out through the window in plain view of King Altador's gaze.
"So, how did it go?" the Duchess wondered.
"You say that like your little birds have not already told you," Kanrik said. "You're done helping me. Now get out. I have a skirmish to plan for."
"I don't do favors without compensation, Kanrik."
"I never asked for your help."
"But you took it anyway, and I demand payment, much as you demand payment from your thieves."
"Fine, I'll bite. What do you want?"
"Just stay out of this battle. Only one. The Awakened have been turning in their graves over how many skirmishes they've been left out of."
The fur on Kanrik's neck prickled. It was a simple enough request, but this was the Sway after all. There was nothing simple about it, but how did one really manipulate the course of Neopian history based on just one battle where one side may or may not fight?
"One battle," Kanrik confirmed. "We will meet you in the next."
"I would ask for nothing less, Kanrik," the Duchess said.
"And?" Norheim asked.
"They're out," the Duchess confirmed as she moved toward the table. She moved the map of the battlefield aside to reveal a map of Neopia. "Purrow's mission failed, but his idea still permeates the thieving underworld. My little birds already report some dissent from the lower ranks of the Thieves' Guild. This Obelisk War has a high price, and not everyone is willing to pay it."
"What do we gain by forcing Kanrik out of a single battle?"
"Nothing yet, but the next time he examines his war finances, he may find that he has been had by the most patient thieves he has ever seen."