Chapter 11, Part 1

Alessandra would always look back on the next couple of months as some of the happiest days of her life. Becoming Clan Master had been her dream from the moment she set foot in the Clan Mekoval clanhouse, and having attained that dream, she found that it was every bit as wonderful and satisfying as she’d always expected it to be. At first, she found being Clan Master to be more boring and full of more drudgery than she’d originally expected, but thanks to Torea’s guidance, she quickly found that she had a knack for planning strategy and figuring which clan members should go on which jobs, and which jobs were worth pursuing and which weren’t, and other aspects of running the clan that she’d never thought about before. Even so, if that was all there was to being Clan Master, she would have longed for the days when she was just a grunt. Fortunately for her, part of being Clan Master of a thief clan meant constantly proving that she was the best thief in the clan, so she still got to go out on jobs, only now she got to choose which jobs she went on. As she’d never led a job before (aside from her ill-fated Vanmorzen manor job), she deferred to the Team Leaders at first, but after a few jobs, she felt confident enough to lead a team herself, and she found that, as long as nobody knew about the job ahead of time and planned an ambush, she actually was a very good leader. And with the skills she’d gained from Ilimay Ladron, she was easily the best thief in the clan now.

There was very little that got Alessandra down after she became Clan Master. Despite the general dislike her clanmates had felt for her under Bezzum’s rule, the ease with which she had dispatched Bezzum convinced most people in the clan that she deserved to be the Master. The only holdout was the Clan Leader Ilnorat. For about a week, she had been a thorn in Alessandra’s side, constantly challenging her decisions and belittling her. Finally, with tacit encouragement from Alessandra, Torea convinced Ilnorat to challenge Alessandra, and Alessandra took the opportunity to solidify her rule even more firmly by decimating Ilnorat in just a few seconds. Anyone who was unconvinced that she was really the strongest after seeing her beat Bezzum had all their doubts answered by watching her take care of Ilnorat even more efficiently.

Yes, things were going even better than Alessandra had ever hoped. Occasionally, she thought about the little card that Ilimay had given her, and she wondered if it was worth making the trip to the Avaroth with it, but she always rejected that thought. She had everything she’d always wanted. What could the Order of Sunaru give her now that she didn’t already have? In fact, she was more than a little worried that they would take away the powers that Ilimay had given her, so every time she thought about the card, she immediately tucked that thought into the back of her mind and forgot about it.

There was one thought that wouldn’t go away, however. One little thing that remained to cloud her joy at achieving everything she’d ever wanted to accomplish. The Vanmorzen manor. What was in that box in the Vanmorzen manor? Why was the Storm Corps guarding it? Years later, she would remember her obsession with that box and wonder what her life would have been like if she’d just forgotten about it. But, eighteen years old and blessed with more power than she’d ever imagined, there was no way she was going to forget about it. Her failure at the Vanmorzen manor hung over, and somehow she knew that she would never truly believe that she was the best thief in the Mekoval clan until she’d stolen that little box. She had to do it, to prove to herself and to everyone in the clan that she was the absolute best.

And so, little by little, a plan began to take shape in her head. A plan to succeed where she had once failed. She would successfully break into the Vanmorzen family vault, and she would steal that little box made of velisite wood, and this time nobody in her clan would die.

It took about two months for her to fully work out her plan. Part of the reason for the delay was that she was still getting used to the ins and outs of being the Clan Master, but the main reason was that she was trying to get as much information about the Vanmorzen manor as she could. Learning what Bezzum had known about the manor was a frustrating exercise in futility. Alessandra was convinced that there was some connection between Bezzum and the Storm Corps, but she was unable to find any record of it in his papers. Nor had he told Torea anything about what he knew, either about the Storm Corps, or the Vanmorzen manor, or the contents of the velisite box.

Finding out anything about the Vanmorzen family was equally aggravating. Public records indicated that they were the richest family in the city who weren’t a member of the Circle of Elders. The patriarch of the family was Vizik Vanmorzen. He had a wife, Nishitay, and two children, Vedik and Vemira. And that was it. That was literally all the information Clan Mekoval’s agents could uncover about the Vanmorzens. Either they were extremely secretive, or they didn’t actually exist, except on paper. In fact, Alessandra began to suspect that the latter was true, and that the Vanmorzens were a front for some sort of secret Storm Corps operation. In retrospect, that hunch should have convinced her to stay away from the Vanmorzen manor entirely, but arrogance and naivete blinded her and made her want to break into the manor even more. Like all slum dwellers in Serotopolis, she despised the Circle of Elders and everyone connected with them. None of the clans had ever successfully challenged the Circle, and if Clan Mekoval could be the first under her leadership, that would just solidify her status as the best thief in the clan, and maybe even the whole city.

To be continued…


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