Chapter 5, Part 1

Later that night, Alessandra was lurking on a roof across the street from a nondescript house of the edge of the Morkal District. In fact, it was so nondescript that it looked exactly the same as every other house on this street, including the one she was crouched on top of. Morkal was a lower middle class district that had, until recently, been part of the slums. In an attempt to push the prosperous areas of the city out further, about twenty years ago the Circle of Elders had razed a chunk of the slums, and built row after row of generic houses for factory workers to live in. The result was Morkal District.

The house that Alessandra was currently watching had no distinguishing characteristics compared to its neighbors on either side. The only reason Alessandra knew it was the right house was because of the address that Bezzum had given her. As far as Alessandra knew, there was nothing special about what was inside the house either. This was, as she had angrily exclaimed to Bezzum, a training mission. New recruits were sent to the Morkal District and instructed to remove at least one item from a specific house. The point of such a job was simply to test the recruits ability to carry out basic thieving tasks. None of these houses contained any valuables that were otherwise worth a thief clan’s time. There were no security systems on these houses, just simple locks. No mercenary clans patrolled Morkal District. No one who lived there could afford to hire such guards.

There was a burning sensation in the pit of Alessandra’s stomach at the thought of being stuck on such a demeaning mission, but at the same time, she felt grateful even to have this chance. After all, even a training mission was better than having to serve stew. Part of her felt like she should just blast into the place, grab the first trinket she saw, and get out. The stronger part of her, however, felt just the opposite. This was her first job since the disaster at the Vanmorzen manor, and she was determined to pull it off perfectly. That meant watching the house carefully, and figuring out the patterns of the family who lived there. Alessandra had no qualms about killing, but she didn’t enjoy it either. Much more satisfying to slip into a house unnoticed, take something valuable, and slip out, without leaving a trace aside from the absence of said valuable object.

So far, she knew little about the family that lived in this house. The father was a heavyset man, in his late fifties, with a receding, gray hairline, and a scowl that seemed permanently affixed to his face. He had departed a couple of hours ago in a denarja, presumably on his way to a night shift in a factory somewhere. The mother had stepped outside briefly after he left, puttering around in a small garden plot. She was as slight as her husband was thick, with short, curly gray hair, and a worried expression that seemed as permanent as her husband’s scowl. The two had at least one child, a preteen boy who came outside to pester his mother for a few minutes, and then followed her inside. There may have been one other child, but Alessandra wasn’t sure. She’d seen an outline in one of the windows that looked vaguely like a teenage girl, but it may have been the boy.

A few minutes later, the mother and the preteen boy left the house and got into another denarja that was parked in the driveway, and then they drove off. Alessandra hesitated for a moment, and then she scaled the side of the house she had been perched on (which looked identical to the house she was casing), slipped across the street, and crossed the target house’s lawn and went around back. Perhaps she was being reckless, but it was entirely possible that the house was empty at the moment. It wouldn’t take her long to slip in the back door, grab something, and get out before anyone returned.

She tried the back door, and was surprised to discover that it was unlocked. She opened it a crack and slid into the house without making a sound, closing it behind her. She found herself in a small, shabby, yet clean, kitchen. There were no lights on, so Alessandra crept very slowly through the room to avoid running into anything. Very quietly, she opened a drawer, and discovered a set of silverware inside. Taking one of each piece, she turned back to the door, and then she stopped for a moment. She was doing exactly what any rookie thief on their first real mission would do, and she was no rookie thief. She needed to do something bigger, something better.

Turning back toward the interior of the house, she stealthily made her way across the kitchen and through the nearest door. This led to a small living room, furnished with a well-worn couch and even more worn recliner, both of which were facing a viela, which was dark. Alessandra considered taking the viela, but decided against it, as it would be difficult to carry back to the slums without attracting attention. Instead, she made her way to the stairs and crept up them.

Reaching the top of the stairs, she froze. The stairs ended in a hallway, which had two doors on either side. One of those doors, the second on the left, was open a crack, and light was shining out of it. Alessandra frowned. It seemed she had been too hasty after all. It was likely that there was a teenage girl in the house, and if so, that teenage girl was still here. That would make things more difficult, but, Alessandra thought with a smile, also potentially more fun. This would be a good test of her skill. If she could get into the master bedroom and take something, and then get out, without the girl noticing she was there, she would at least prove to herself that she was still a superb thief.

To be continued…

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