Today is my greatest challenge. I have been sent to steal the King’s most valuable possession. That is why I have been here almost every day for the past four months, spying on behalf of my Mistress. A long look left and right and I am running straight for the keep wall, easily twenty-five feet of stone and mortar: impossible to climb—for all but the best, of course. I lengthen my stride and leap high up onto the side of the wall, latching my fingernails into the masonry, while my feet fight for purchase against the vertical structure. Within two minutes I have scaled half of the distance. I draw to a stop immediately, pressing myself into the wall as much as possible, yet remain totally exposed to the two guards who walk the pathway some twelve feet below me. Neither looks up at me, and I release the breath I had unknowingly been holding, again only once their footsteps have disappeared. This time, more carefully, and yet still quicker, I positively swarm up the side, hopping onto the top of the battlements with ease, keeping low to shield my silhouette from the horizon’s stark contrast. It is only about an hour until dark falls—then I will make my move.

An hour to a Thief is a tiny mite of time; the best of us can stay put for days on end waiting for the golden opportunity. As the sun finally falls beyond the horizon and dark creeps up from the ground to encompass the night, I find myself scurrying down the exterior wall once again, though on to the other side of the keep, so that I can slip in through the window to the King’s chambers. I do so with ease. I have trained all of my life to do this. The room is vast; a plush soft bed dominates one corner, away from the door, while several rugs keep the stone floor warm underfoot. Along one wall is a row of three wardrobes and the ceiling is held up by black painted rafters. Quickly hoisting myself up, I wedge myself between them, concealed amidst the darkness.

After ten minutes or so of slight discomfort, the chamber door opens, and in steps the King; he is tall, dark and somewhat broody. He sweeps over to the window and gazes out, attempting to see into the dark. He returns to the side of his bed and strips off, revealing his naked body to me, the woman in his ceiling. Any normal girl would blush, but not a Thief—not this one, anyway. He walks over to the few candles illuminating the room, bold as brass in his nudity, and snuffs them out with a saliva-slicked finger and thumb. Plunged into darkness, I hear the King stride over to his bed, confident of its whereabouts in the dark, and slide in amongst the sheets.

You can find the complete version of Thief in issue 70 of TBD.