Open Windows


A large gust of wind came out of the east and nearly ripped Renny off of his precarious perch.  From his vantage he could have seen the across the Moragoor channel, if he wasn't clinging for his life to the outside wall of one of the tallest towers in the city.  As it was his fingers and toes were aching with the exertion of raising himself these last few feet to the window that was his goal.  The old masonry had degraded enough to give him plenty of hand and toe holds, but he had not counted on the wind being so strong this high up.

The opening was barely more than halfway to the top of the tower, and it was just one of many windows above and below it, but on this night the thing that made it special was that this window was open.  For four nights he had waited for a west facing window to be left open and unattended close enough to the ground that a man with Renny's skills could get to it.

His questing fingers found a good hold above his head and he gave a grunt and hoisted himself up one more level.  He struggled against his urge to hurry; a mistake at this point would be fatal.  Although his clothes should blend in with the stone on a dark night like this, he felt very vulnerable this high up where anyone could potentially spot him if they were looking closely enough.  It was a calculated risk.  There were very few folk west of this tower, and eyes in this part of the city strayed towards the channel more often than not which meant they weren't looking up at where he was.

He could feel his heart beating in his ears as he moved laterally along the wall.  He edged sideways until he was directly beneath the window.  He braced one toe in a crack, bending his knee, and prepared for the last push which would bring his fingers up on to the sill.  He stopped for a few minutes a tried to hear anything above him that might mean the room was occupied.  He waited for a few heartbeats and then pushed himself up, putting first one and and then both up on the sill.  His strong fingers gripped and the edge and his tired arms quivered as he pulled himself higher.  

Soon his head was at a height that he could see into the room and was relieved to see it was empty.  That was his biggest flaw in this whole plan.  If someone was in the room it could have been a very bad situation.  He pulled himself up and over the sill until he was found himself sitting on the floor beneath the window.  He took a few seconds to draw breath and release the tension in his arms and legs, which had started shaking with the relief.

The room was dimly lit with a pair of candles on a polished chest of drawers.  There was a simple bed on one side of the room and a small writing desk and the chest of drawers.  Renny considered seeing what he could find but immediately dismissed the idea.  He had a very specific thing to steal and the longer he remained in this manor the more chance there was he would be caught.  

This was a more hazardous job than he would normally risk, but he could live for many years on the payoff if he pulled this off.  It was too good an offer to refuse, and besides that, Renny was not a man who liked to back down from a challenge.  This was right up his alley.

He walked over to the door and put both hands on it and closed his eyes.  He concentrated on the other side of the door and opened up his mind to it.  After a few seconds he could sense the empty corridor on the other side of the door.  He opened himself up further and expanded his reach to it's limits and still could sense no one through the wall.  It was clear.  

He opened the door slowly.  The hinge had looked well oiled so he hadn't felt the need to use the little vial of oil he kept handy on these occasions.  He slipped soundlessly into the corridor and moved quickly toward the curving stairway at the end of the hall.  He took the stairs two at a time as he ascended to the next level.  He Slowed as he got near the top and leaned against the inside of the curving wall of the enclosed staircase. 

His eyes came level with the floor and again he could see an empty corridor with stairs up the far side.  He estimated that the room he was looking for was two levels up, so he trotted quietly down the short corridor and climbed the next set of stairs.  As he neared the top of these he slowed again and found his luck holding as this corridor was empty too.  Feeling his goal was near he went to the end of the hall and stopped well before the top of the staircase so he could reach out with his mind's eye. 

Renny slowed his breathing and opened himself to his surroundings once again.  His hands touched the smooth stone of the stairwell and again pushed himself to the limits of his ability.  It took total concentration, and he sensed the sweat beading on mis forehead with the effort of it.  He could sense some life in the rooms above and two more men in the hallway.  They were the guards he had known would be there.  He strained for just a little more until he was sure that there were only two guards, though he thought he sensed two people in the room beyond, but he wasn't sure.  Rotten luck, but he had come prepared.

He stopped seeking and gathered himself.  He threw back his hood and slipped his hand into one of the many sacks in his pocket, and filled his hand with the contents.  He put on what he hoped was his most innocent expression and climbed the steps up to the top.  The guards noticed him immediately and they stiffened at his approach, looking wary.

“Hold there. Who are you?”  

He took a few more steps forward as he responded “Message for Lord Mannix of Kinney, from Lord...”

“I said hold!”  The guard bared an inch of steel to make his point perfectly clear, but it was too late as Renny pulled his hand free and threw a handful of yellowish dust into the face of the guard.  They inhaled and started coughing and rubbing their eyes before they both slumped to the ground.  Renny pulled a thick rag out of his other pocket and put it over his face as he stepped past the guards and charged into the room beyond.

His plan had been to throw more dust into the face of the occupant, and grab what he came for and leave, but what he saw stopped him in his tracks.  Lying on the floor beside the bed was the Late Lord Mannix of Kinney.  If the unnatural angle of his head did not give away the fact he was dead, the staring eyes and and caved in skull would convince.  On the floor at his feet was the item that he had been told to take.  It was a large light-blue crystal bigger than his fist, and it was half covered in blood.

Renny gave his head a shake and spurred himself into motion.  He had to get out of this situation now.  He bent down and grabbed the crystal he had come for and left the room at a sprint.  He headed for the stairs that he had come up but a voice penetrated his panic and made him halt in a skidding stop.

Voices  leaped up the stairway to his ears.  “I felt the wards break minutes ago.  Get moving!”  He could hear their urgent footsteps coming right toward him as he turned and ran for the other end of the hall.  Renny had never run so fast, but it was not enough.  He heard a shout before he made it to the other end and heard the pounding feet of men in pursuit.

He ran up the stairs and as he got to the top he faced a tall short round man flanked by two burly men with their swords drawn.  He reached into his pocket but before he could grab more sleep dust he felt a force push him backward.  It was though the air had become a giant hand and gave him a shove.  He fell gracelessly backward, the impact knocking the breath out of his lungs and sending the crystal skittering out of his hand.

He tried to get up, but the guards were quick and he felt an explosion on his skull as the pommel of a sword struck the side of his head.  The world went black.  The last thing he saw was a blue crystal covered in blood inches from his outstretched hand...

The End

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