Chapter 3, Part 2

Fortunately, the lack of any kind of physical barrier between the slums and the city meant that it was child’s play for a skilled thief to slip past the guards. Alessandra and her team hid in the shadows of the buildings on the slum side of Lasamar Street, and one by one, slipped across the street and started scaling one of the buildings on the Viunay side of the street. Of course, there were guards posted on the roofs of the nearby buildings as well, but not so many that it was difficult to evade them. Alessandra watched as her team members made it up on top of the building and disappeared, and then it was her turn. She shed her jean jacket, leaving it in a small cubby hole in the wall of a nearby building, where she could hopefully retrieve it later, and then she ghosted across the street and reached the opposite side of the street. Lasanar Street was brightly lit, but even the best artificial light left shadows that a skilled thief could take advantage of. Once up against the wall, she began climbing, using windows and drainage pipes to make her way to the top. As soon as she reached the top, she saw a burly mercenary on the other side of the building. He had a sword strapped to one side of his hip, and a long cudgel strapped to the other side. Alessandra flattened herself against the roof of the building as soon as she saw him, and once he turned around she swiftly and silently got to her feet and slipped across the roof. As soon as she reached the other side of the building, she dropped over the side and quickly climbed down to the alley below.

Making their way through the streets of Viunay District was easier than simply getting into the district in the first place, but it wasn’t as simple as taking a stroll through the slums. The mercenary clans had guards posted everywhere, and they weren’t shy about accosting anyone they thought looked like a slum dweller and demanding their papers. Fortunately for thieves, the mercenary clans only thought in terms of strength, and they had very poor understanding of stealth. That made it easy for skilled thieves to evade the mercenaries’ gaze.

Soon enough, Alessandra and her team had reached a point where they could see the Vanmorzen manor in the distance. The building was massive, at least ten times the size of the Mekoval clan house, which was one of the largest buildings in the slums. The manor was made out of ornately carved marble, was three stories tall, and had hundreds of large windows on every side. Those windows no doubt allowed in a great deal of natural light, but they also made the manor a tempting target for thieves. No matter how many mercenaries guarded the manor, there was no way they could have someone posted at every window.

Now that they could see their target, it was time for their plan to go into effect. Alessandra, Breska and Veloran formed one group and continued walking toward the manor, while Mikaelo, Ahlen and Nieshata took to the roofs to await their signal to proceed. Once they reached the manor, Alessandra and Breska took up their positions in a nearby alley, while Veloran went on ahead. The manor was surrounded by a ten-foot tall brick wall, with spikes lining the top of it all the way around. There were four entrances to the manor, one on each side of the wall. Three of them were larger and had six guards each, but the one in the back was only guarded by two guards. This was the entrance that Veloran was headed for. She had a sway in her walk and a smoldering fire in her eyes as she approached the guards. Alessandra and Breska were too far away to hear what she was saying, but they could see the effect she was having on the guards. One of the guards was very eager to follow this strange woman into the alley, but the other was clearly reluctant. Before too long, though, Veloran and the eager guard had convinced his reluctant friend to abandon their post. Alessandra and Breska exchanged a wry look as Veloran and the guards approached. As useful a skill as seduction could be, Alessandra wasn’t too upset that it was a skill she didn’t possess.

As soon as the guards entered the alley, Alessandra and Breska stepped out and eliminated them, Breska by snapping one guard’s neck, and Alessandra by driving a knife through the other’s throat. That done, they hid the bodies under a dumpster, and then quickly the three of them moved forward toward the gate. As they reached the gate, Alessandra turned around and waved three times in the direction of the nearby rooftops. That was the signal to Mikaelo’s team that the path was all clear.

Inside the courtyard, Alessandra’s team found a small garden that had been marked on the map of the manor. After checking to make sure it was clear, they hid in the shadow of a large elisai tree and waited for Mikaelo’s team to arrive. As soon as they saw Mikaelo and the others pass through the gate, they began flitting like shadows toward the massive manor.

They had no way of knowing exactly which windows would be clear, but they had a few in mind to check. Fortunately, nearly every window in the manor was lit up, so it was easy for the thieves to see if there was a guard standing in the window without having to get too close. A quick glance at the building’s facade told Alessandra that their preferred entry point on the third floor was clear, so she signalled for Nieshata to do her work. Nieshata quickly scaled the side of the building and made her way up to the window. The windows were rigged with alarms that would go off if any of them were opened from the outside, but Nieshata was an expert at bypassing security alarms. After a few minutes, the window was open, Nieshata had slipped inside, and Alessandra and the rest of her team were climbing up to follow her.

To be continued…

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