Estrio returned to the room he was pillaging with the others: Rofo, Steeg, and Kathrine. His thief comrades had already stuffed everything of value into large sacks tethered around their torsos. Rofo looked up as Estrio entered the dark, quiet room and asked in a hushed tone, "Did we get it?"
Estrio shook his head and replied, just as softly, "I sent the boy after it."
Steeg, the elder, cocked an eyebrow until it disappeared beneath his mane of stringy black hair, "Alone?"
Estrio found his own bag of spoils by the window. He hoisted the strap to his shoulder with a grunt and growled, "Yes, alone. Are we almost finished here?"
"Nearly," Kathrine whispered, "this chateau of Baron Von Deusseau's is exquisite. We could return to rob him three or four more times before he'd realize anything was missing."
"Yes, but don't weigh yourself down. We might need to be light on our feet if the guards awaken from their drugged stupor. We are here for one thing and one thing only."
Steeg arose to full height. Once a massive man who intimidated others with his formidable size, age had eaten away at his build until he was a gaunt, twisted form that glided across the floor like a wraith. He scowled in Estrio's direction and repeated, "Alone? Estrio, you let the boy go to the orb by himself? Are you daft?"
If there was one thing Estrio hated it was being threatened, and Steeg's perceived challenge served only to straighten Estrio's back, "Two things, Steeg: One, you have not been the leader of this little quartet of ours for many months. I do, I make the decisions. Understand me?"
Steeg's lips twisted in frustration and hatred for a moment, but he relented, "Of course Estrio. And two?"
"Pilaro is too honorable not be completely loyal. Also, if the orb is booby trapped and he is killed, we'll just divide his take between ourselves."
Kathrine chuckled, "Dupe the kid. Nice. And if he lives?"
Estrio shrugged, "Then perhaps we'll keep him."
Movement outside the window caught Rofo's eye. He laughed heartily.
"What's your problem?"
Rofo pointed toward the glass and snickered, "So much for 'Honor Among Thieves.' Your good friend Pilaro is running across the courtyard, leaving us to fend for ourselves!"