I had watched the manor for over a week. I had even been inside a couple of times. Merchant Saghir was a cruel backstabbing bastard which is why he had made my list. The port city of Salmara was several leagues wide and extended twice that back along the Salmara river. I finally stood as I heard the sounds below quiet and took three running steps.
I jumped and shifted into one of my elemental forms. I drifted across the two dozen paces as if I were a cloud. When I reached the other roof I let my body change back. There were not many elementals left. Most had been killed during the mage war and the rest were nothing more than nomads. As for me, I am a breed apart.
My dad had been half fire element and half earth, my mother had been half air and half water. When I was orphaned an old thief took me in, my name is Storm which people knew instantly was a nomad name. I was ten before I changed the first time. I was picking the lock in a door and leaned closer before suddenly becoming nothing but air.
I drifted around and under the door. I was twelve before I changed to another element which many think impossible. I was in a warehouse office when a wooden panel slammed down on the door trapping me. I panicked and exploded in flames, setting the office and then the whole building on fire.
I have changed to water and earth in the four years since then and both are useful. I drifted across the merchant's roof half substantial. I opened the ceiling vent before changing completely again and dropping into the narrow vent. I moved down before peeking out a wall vent. I moved out and stood before changing and looking around.
Behind the merchant's desk was a large, heavy lock box. I glanced around before walking to the pitcher of warm water and carrying it to the lockbox. I reached into the pitcher and shifted my hand to water before chilling it. I brought the water from the pitcher out and let it flow into the lock before freezing it.
I twisted and the lock clicked open. I warmed my hand and the water melted quickly. I held the lock and knelt to the small puddle on the floor. I changed my hands to fire and the water quietly disappeared in a cloud of steam. I stood and opened the lockbox before pulling over three dozen gold pieces and a few hundred silver out.
I put them in the pack I was carrying and then dumped the copper coins in after them. I left the way I had entered and was soon walking through the alleys. I usually only robbed merchants a couple of time each month. I had four places I stayed around the city and never more than a month in each.
Thirty minutes later I silently moved through a large ornate garden to the pump shed. I moved around the large hand pump. I glanced back before reaching up to the ceiling above the back wall. I pushed and lifted what looked like the solid wooden frame. It lifted barely an inch and there was a click, I pushed and the wall swivelled as it opened.
Long ago this had been open so the pump line could be checked. I moved through the wall and used the ladder to climb down. At the bottom of the ladder was a pool of running water a couple of feet deep. I waded to the left and felt around in the dark before pushing on one end of a brick. There was another click and I pushed to open this wall the same way as the one above.
I walked through and carefully climbed the stairs across the small room and out of the water. I stopped to pull a candle out and used my finger to light it before starting down the tunnel. At the other end was a large room with chests stacked around each wall. I went to the open chest on my right and set the candle to one side.
I poured the pack out in the chest and took time to move the gold into another chest and then the silver. I filled a large pouch completely with copper before taking the candle and leaving. That was something that always seems to get thieves caught, spending the money especially the gold and silver.
I closed and made sure each door was locked as I left. I moved away and through the city into an area that was once considered rich with high walls and thick doors. I looked around before slipping between two walls and sidestepping. When I came to the wall that blocked my way I turned to the left and squeezed in between two walls again.
This time I only went a few feet before stopping to listen and then push against the back wall. It slid back and in and I stepped into the abandoned and isolated garden. I pushed the wall back into place before crossing to a long stone shed. I used the candle again to check for vipers as I walked into one of my homes.
I stripped and laid back in my bed as I tried to let my mind calm down. The city was not like it used to be. The new council was both greedy and violent. They had also allied the city with several dark temples other countries had outlawed. War was coming and it was just a matter of time. I woke to dawns light through the greenish glass in the shed roof.
I glanced around before standing and crossing to the long trough against the back wall. The water was running and drained out into clay ditches that fed the garden. Since there were no snakes in the trough I slipped in and lay back. I washed as the water soothed me and then climbed out.
I stood on the tile floor and changed into fire before changing back. I dressed carefully in the clothes of an apprentice merchant. I left quietly and it was not long before I was walking through the main streets of the city. I bought a thick cheese stuffed roll with a couple of coppers before heading towards my next target.
I spoke to people on the street around the fancy shop. I was eating spiced meat roasted on a stick when two black cowled priests followed a city guard and watched as he posted a notice. I waited until they had gone to join the crowd as they read the notice. My body went cold as I read about the city guards taking people they deem appropriate and giving them to the Temple of Scorn to be sacrificed.
I smiled as I turned away, thinking the temple of Scorn had just moved up to the top of my list. I walked the streets as if I had been sent. No one thought to stop me or question me. It was a couple of leagues before I reached the temple complex. I continued past as priests guarding the main entrance looked at everyone.
I turned down an alley that bordered the grounds and kept walking. After a walk around I left and headed to the nearest of my hidden places. This one was a hidden room behind a wall in a tavern's wine cellar. I rested as I thought and when it grew dark I changed into dark clothing. I had planned to scout the temple before stealing anything.
I shifted and jumped for the top of the wall from an alley. I peeked over before rising and floating to the ground on the other side. I started for the temple and slowed at the sound of dogs. There was a wide moot around the temple area with water coming in from a fountain. It probably drained out the other side using the city drainage system.
I moved to the side and shifted as I stepped into the water. The dogs arrived several moments later with guards following. I let the flow take me as I watched the dogs following. I knew they would know I was there. I also knew human nature and the guards started pulling at the dogs after lifting lanterns to look into the water.
When I reached the moot there was a grate and I hesitated before moving through it. The huge creature in the moat were suddenly attacking through me. It continued to do that as I moved around the moat. I glided across and lifted out of the water and shifted part of my body to air and then the rest of me as I jumped.
I pulled myself up the side of a temple building and looked into a window. I moved in and looked around before becoming solid. I carefully searched the room before going to the door. It was unlocked and I stepped out into the semi dark hall. I partially shifted to air and moved down the hall. When I saw someone I shifted completely and moved into the shadows.
Behind the main temple I found the treasure room. I also found a girl my age or a little younger in a cage. I checked the room carefully before moving closer to the cage. I became solid and knelt to reach into the cage. I touched the girl and she turned her head to look at me. I could almost see the despair in her eyes, "why do they keep you?"
She sat up slowly, "for their morning sacrifice."
I looked around before looking at the lock, "want to come with me?"
She nodded and I thought before pulling out picks. I normally did not do it this way but decided to be careful. It took a few moments before I opened the simple lock. I slipped it into my pocket after it was open and stood to open the door, "come help me."
The girl stepped out slowly before following me across to the chests on the other side of the room. We emptied all the gold and silver into one chest and added the small chest of fancy jewelry. I filled it with copper coins before pouring all the rest of the copper into my pack. I grinned at the girl before shouldering the pack and lifting the chest, "stay behind me."
I had been thinking and knew I could not go out the way I had come in. I moved through the silent temple towards the front. I went to the left as far as I could after we came out into the central courtyard. I set the chest and my pack down at a side wall before looking at the girl, "quiet."
She nodded and I shifted into air and drifted up to look over the wall. I grinned at what I saw and floated down and became solid, "when I lift you, sit on the wall."
.... There is more of this story ...