Chapter 2, Part 4

“Yes, really,” Bezzum sneered. “If you want to prove yourself to me, this is the way to do it. The Vanmorzen manor is the biggest prize in the whole city, or at least the biggest one that won’t bring the Elder Guard sweeping into the slums if we try to take it. So this is your big chance. You pull this off, and I’ll make you a Clan Leader.”

Alessandra shook herself, and very slowly began to pull herself together. Bezzum was right. This was her big chance. Short of challenging Bezzum to a duel and beating him, this was the best opportunity she’d ever have to make something of herself, and win the position she knew she deserved. She couldn’t screw this up. It was time for her to put her money where her mouth was.

“I’ll do it,” she said firmly.

“Of course you will,” Bezzum replied, nodding slightly. “You’ll need to start putting together your team.”

“I want Mikaelo as my second,” Alessandra said. Bezzum just nodded. “And Veloran for a decoyer.”

“You got her,” Bezzum said.

“I assume I’ll need a lockpick?” Alessandra asked, raising an eyebrow, and Bezzum nodded. “Shaloy,” she said. Bezzum shook his head.

“I sent him out two days ago, and haven’t heard a thing,” he replied.

Alessandra frowned.

“How about Neskata?” she asked.

“Need him for a job three nights from now,” Bezzum said.

“Ahlen?” she asked.

“She’s all yours,” Bezzum said.

“Okay, and how about Nieshata?”

“What do you want her for?”

“Bypassing security, cutting through walls, that sort of thing.”

“Good choice. You can have her.”

“And Breska for muscle,” Alessandra said.

“I’ll let him know,” Bezzum replied.

“So what’s the job?” Alessandra asked.

“Whatever isn’t tied down and won’t weigh you down too much when the mercenaries come after you is fair game,” Bezzum said, “but there is a specific item I need you to retrieve. On the third floor of the manor is a treasure room, and inside is a small, gilded chest made of velisite wood. Open it, get what’s inside it, and bring it back to me.”

“What’s in the chest?” Alessandra asked.

“None of your damn business,” Bezzum replied. “You’ll find out after you open the chest, and then you’ll forget as soon as you get back here. Understood?”

“Yes, Clan Master,” Alessandra replied, saluting.

“Here,” Bezzum said, handing Alessandra a rolled up sheaf of papers. “Plans of the manor, everything we know about their defenses, guard postings, security systems, you name it. Memorize these before tomorrow night. Get together with your team, and devise a plan to get in.” He paused for a moment, and held Alessandra with his eyes. “I know you lust for a position of authority and influence. Get me what’s in that chest, and I promise you will have it.” Alessandra just stared at him for a moment, and then she grinned and nodded.

“I’ll get it, Clan Master. Don’t worry.”

***

The next day flew by for Alessandra. This was the moment she’d been waiting for. An opportunity to finally prove to Bezzum that she was the best thief in the clan. An opportunity to stake her claim as a leader in Clan Mekoval. And not just a leader in a figurative sense, but an actual Clan Leader, one of the elite. She’d dreamed of this moment for so long, and now it had finally come. She needed to pull off this job, and do it in such a way as to take everyone’s breath. Once that was done, her future would be assured. She would be the one to take Bezzum’s place as Clan Master for sure.

The waiting would have been unbearable, but fortunately Alessandra had plenty to do before she and her team could head out. They needed to go over the maps and information they had about the Vanmorzen manor, and come up with a plan to sneak into the manor and obtain what they were looking for. The Vanmorzen family was probably the richest family in Serotopolis that didn’t have a connection with the Circle of Elders. Because of their great wealth, the Vanmorzens could afford to hire the best mercenary clan in the city to guard their manor, but because they weren’t part of the Circle of Elders, thieves who targeted them didn’t have to worry about bringing down the ire of the Elder Guard. Not that Clan Veldisa were slouches, but they were no match for the Elder Guard. No thief clan, or at least none of the clans in the slums, would dare go after a member of the Circle.

This, of course, put the Vanmorzen family in a difficult situation. Scarcely a month went by without a thief clan attempting to break into their manor. That they rarely succeeded was a testimony to the effectiveness of Clan Veldisa, who had guarded the Vanmorzen manor for as long as anyone could remember, but Alessandra intended to succeed where most other clans had failed. As far as Alessandra knew, Bezzum had never sent anyone in Clan Mekoval against the Vanmorzens. Either he had more confidence in Alessandra’s skills than he’d ever let on before, or he really, really wanted whatever was in that box.

The trickiest part about this was going to be the fact that Clan Veldisa was going to be ready for them. Veldisa always expected a raid on the manor, which was a large part of the reason why the frequent raids rarely succeeded. But Alessandra knew that the Vanmorzen manor, while a tough nut to crack, was not impregnable. Just last year, Clan Balmorna had pulled off a massive heist there, without losing a single member of their crew. Alessandra knew that she and the clan members she’d chosen were better than anybody in Clan Balmorna. She had the utmost confidence that her heist would be even more epic than theirs.

“I think this just might work,” Mikaelo said, leaning back in his chair at the end of several hours of planning.

To be continued…

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