Tumblers twisted and turned as Leah pried at the archaic lock, its otherworldly intricacy pushing the limits of the seasoned thief’s abilities. Every time her pick depressed a pin, another would spring back into place. Each and every motion she made was hindered, as if the lock was grasping at the pick.
With a bout of renewed vigour, Leah attacked the stubborn lock. Pin after pin clicked at her vicious assault, and before they had a chance to spring up she twisted the torsion-wrench, wheeling the lock around.
A hulking chunk of steel turned from within the exquisite door, great iron bolts pulling inward. The racket of grinding metal alarmed Leah, who froze on the spot. Well trained ears strained for the slightest noise, for fear her unwanted intrusion alerted one of the Marlin’s many guards.
A moment of silence passed, with no footfalls heralding the arrival of trouble. Satisfied she had avoided detection, Leah allowed herself a moment of elation. The lock had been an enjoyable diversion, and she was tempted to undo her work so she could try picking it again. The pull of plunder proved stronger, however.
Softly, Leah pressed upon the weighty door, testing for any traps that may be rigged to the slab of timber. No gears turned within the walls, and no string snapped at her prodding. It appeared that the duke was satisfied with the exquisite lock, not wanting to add another layer to the rooms defences. This disappointed the thief, her hopes of another intricate puzzle dashed.
Putting her shoulder against the door, Leah pushed the portal open. The monstrous hinges were silent, no doubt oiled at the duke’s request. This eased the thief’s laboursome task, as the stupendous mass of the door was greatly hindering her progress. Slowly the slab opened, until a crack appeared, just large enough to fit Leah’s svelte frame.
Silently the thief slipped through the door, before heaving the chunk of wood shut behind her. Total darkness enveloped her, no light seeping into the room. The air was stale, and tinted with a metallic stink that set the Leah’s racing. She reached into the folds of her cloak, before producing a glass vial capped with a perforated cork.
The vial was no longer than her pinky, and held within was a vicious little beetle, whom Leah had named Irving. Irving was a rare specimen, a crimson roach from the arid desserts of the continent. The little devil hissed as Leah brought the vial to her face, the scrabbling of chitinous feet against glass ringing through the darkness. Faint flashes of light illuminated the vial as Irving squirmed about, growing brighter as his irritation mounted.
Gently, Leah blew on the cork, her breath filtering through to the beetle. Irving screeched maliciously, and in a wonderful display of aggression lit up like a candle. The light was just bright enough to see by, and with repeated coaxing could last for five or ten minutes, depending on the beetles mood.
Silently thanking her verminous companion, Leah began to survey the room.
Surrounding the thief were oaken shelves, arrayed with all manner of bric-a-brac. Twisted metal sculptures sat next to obsidian dining ware, gilded tablets squatting beside intricate scrimshaw. The variety of strange relics was staggering, eclipsed in wonder only by their sheer quantity.
Leah felt herself overwhelmed by the press of exotic goods. Her seasoned mind appraised the artifacts as she glanced over them, the tally adding up to an obscene number. It would take days for her to spirit the stash away.
A few stolen items may go unnoticed for months, if their absence be noticed at all. That made the whole affair terribly uninteresting, as stories of a great heist were unlikely to spread should she make off with but a sack full of trinkets. No, Leah had to swipe something of greater value, something that would draw the attention of the duke himself.
Irving in hand, Leah began to stalk the overflowing hall of relics.