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A Fool's Errand

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In all eleven years of Khada Reis's relatively short career as a thief, he had not once wavered in his tasks. A fine challenge, that, seeing as he'd been stealing since he was ten. During that period of time, Reis had seen and heard many strange things, many of which the man had never been able to prove true or false. 


Being a thief, Reis had kept an ear to the sky for anything related to gold, rare artifacts, strange foreign delicacies, and anything else worth the thief's time. Occasionally, he heard things that begged further questioning. For instance, back on Earth, a lord in the far East that apparently owned a dragon egg, kept safe deep underground. That had been false; In actuality, the egg had just been a large, unpolished sapphire. Very valuable, but nothing in comparison to what a real dragon egg would have brought in. Another instance of this was an odd rumor involving magic amulets that were being transported from the sea, guarded by a couple dozen armed troops. It had been a half-truth. There were soldiers, but no amulets. The point was that Reis hardly ever backed down from challenges, or mysterious finds, even if it ended up being a waste of time. He had known that it could potentially be his undoing, but he hadn't thought much of it except for a select few occurrences. Like today, for instance


It had started with a tip. Khada Reis had been a little busy worrying about his new predicament for a few weeks by then, unsure of what to do. Instead of a thin, dark-haired young man, he was now an even thinner, red, short bipedal lizard that people around him kept calling a "kobold". Reis didn't know what that meant yet, but based off of the thinly - veiled looks of annoyance and distrust, he guessed that they weren't the most noble of creatures. Instead of worrying about that, he'd just thrown a coat on and tried to ignore it all. Then had come the shock of the new world he'd found himself in, with it's. . . energy. And technology. And magic. The less said about that, the better.


Still, Reis had begun to cope. He still had his own equipment. He'd simply begun to look for projects he could undertake, mainly anything that involved making money quick. He'd offered his skills to anyone who seemed like they knew what they wanted (to have stolen for them), which was how he'd come across the name of Terrenus. Specifically, a place they called “Bi'le'ah”. Reis hadn't read too much into the place, but it was apparently an old, ruined city known for it's destruction and its strange (and mostly dangerous) magic occurrences. It was more than halfway across the map of Valucre. A completely ridiculous expedition.


The lizard couldn't help himself.

After three trips by airship, and a long land trip, he'd found himself in Biazo Isle, ready to enter this ruined city full of danger and items. With the benefit of hindsight, Reis figured that he shouldn't have bypassed the large city of Aspyn in his excitement. If he hadn't, he might have known about the more specific dangers that awaited travelers there. For instance, giant, nightmarish spiders. Or flash storms of ice - or fire. The former was particularly terrifying to Reis, as one of them had chased the kobold for the majority of the day. It had only broken off when a sudden thunderstorm sprung up, allowing him to escape.


Khada Reis was currently on the very outskirts of Bi'le'ah - or Biazo City, it was occasionally called - surveying the mess from afar. It truly was a wreck. From his position, partially hidden in the brush, he could just barely make out signs of a clear sky in the distance, choked out by dark clouds which continuously poured out rain, like a waterfall from the heavens. Reis didn’t know it could even rain that much. Off to the left, there were the remains of several large buildings, and the beginnings of a large tower, which had long since been toppled by the crush of greenery that was common in the area. Besides that, nothing much was obvious. Khada sighed, scratching the tip of his snout idly. This wasn’t what he’d been expecting. It was like a post-apocalyptic landscape, rather than the ruins he’d expected as a kid. A pity. But there was work to be done.

With a grunt, the kobold got to his feet, joints clicking as he stretched. He’d been crouching there for around two hours by then, trying to remain hidden from anything that might have been in the area. During that time, he’d seen a few more odd creatures, all of which he couldn’t fully describe. Luckily, the group seemed to have lost interest in the area and left. It was now or never. Khada was certain that the city was fairly large, so he’d start with the smallest buildings, which were close to him. After that, it would be the arduous task of trying to navigate the alleys and ruined streets, trying to uncover anything useful that he could nab and sell. He’d make a more detailed plan on the fly. That was just his style. Hopefully nothing went wrong. . . A common occurrence in an area like this. Reis corrected himself.  Hopefully he didn’t die. With a quick intake of breath, the kobold stepped out of his hiding spot, glancing around a couple times before beginning his slow crawl towards the closest building, which seemed to have been some sort of storehouse of sorts. Perhaps things were built in this area of the city. . .

Reis didn't get too far before things began to take a turn for the worse once more. The wind was shifting. It was only a slight change, but noticeable enough to make the lizard dash the last hundred feet into the storehouse. It was still storming, but Reis feared that something else was brewing. It just didn't feel right. Perhaps Reis was just paranoid. Still, the wind was steadily picking up. . . And buckets were changing into tubs as the rain came down impossibly harder. The kobold glared upwards as droplets of water pounded down on the ceiling. With his luck so far, he wouldn't have been surprised if the ceiling collapsed. . . Of course, he'd survive, only to end up in a worse situation. That was just his sort of luck today.

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Lightning broke the sky and threw the wrecked city of Bi’le’ah into stark contrast. It pierced the shadows and illuminated a humanoid figure jumping down from the ledge of a broken building, landing on an outcropping below, and slipping back into the dark as thunder and rain blanketed the city in darkness once more.

Tana pushed her back against a wall and stood flush against the corner. The rough brick structure was hidden under an overhead that cast a deep shadow over a few square yards of the street. More importantly, it offered a temporary shelter from the torrential deluge. Tana pulled the canteen from its clasp at her waist and took a long, slow sip as she peered around the corner. The street was empty of life. The only movement came from the twisting of fauna as the wind buffeted everything in its path. She was yet to see any other looters. The monsters she had seen earlier had either fled before the storm or were lurking in a different sector of the city. 

And what a city it was.

Wild and chaotic at best, Bi’le’ah reminded Tana of the Whispernight ruins back home in Genesaris. Whatever event had taken place had truly destroyed the city and surrounding land. Her employer had provided some explanation about a war but Tana would be lying if she said she paid attention to things like that. Strange creatures roamed the streets and lurked inside the ruins- one had given the thief a surprise when she tried to scale a building and found a demonic spider-human staring back at her from the other side of the window. Unlike the Whispernight ruins, the weather here was... unique. Her arm was singed from the firestorm that swept through the area hours ago. 



“What’s the catch, pretty boy?” 

“Is no catch,” said the Terran merchant in broken Genesarin. “I am offering big reward to you for completing job. You keep other things you find. Jewels, artifacts, materials- I not care. You just be bringing me talisman and I pay you.”

Tana shrugged and didn’t look up from picking under her nails with one of her knives. “How much?”

“Three thousand Kites.”

Tana flipped her knife abruptly and slid it back into its sheath. With one motion she swung her feet off the table and leaned forward. Her face split into an greasy, toothy approximation of a smile.  “Three thousand Kites works just fine for me. I’ll need a map and half upfront.” She held out her hand. “Deal?



The thief was dressed in dark greys and browns. Her hood was drawn up and cast a shadow that obscured her face. When the lightning flickered across the landscape, dark eyes gleamed under the brim with the sheen of an oil spill. A dark, blue-grey, mottled tunic rested on top of cracked leather armor and protected it from the damp. Thin, grey sleeves disappeared under a pair of thick, yet supple, hide gloves that reached almost to her elbow. The left hand was fingerless while the right was fully covered. An elegant system of straps and buckles held multiple sheaths and pouches close to her form and within range of easy access. 

With an easy motion, she capped the canteen and hooked it back onto her side. From a separate pouch, she pulled out a folded scrap of paper and waited until a lightning strike lit the area enough to compare it to her map. The storehouse across the street was in the same run down, overgrown condition as everything else in this crumbling husk of civilization, but perhaps that window looked the same as the picture? The wind began to tug at the paper. This was the third building she found that matched the description of her instructions. Tana wasn’t one to pray, but if she did, she would pray this was the last.

The wind was blowing with a sudden gusto and the rain was beginning to gather in a puddle around her feet. Tana rolled and stored the map and glanced out at the street one more time. If it were not for the flash of lightning and the sudden burst of movement, she might not have seen the small creature dash across the open space and into shelter. 

Tana smiled.

Whatever monsters were hiding in the storehouse were in for an unpleasant time. Tana was wet and cold and had spent far too much time running around this brilliantly chaotic city to give up now. A little confrontation was inevitable. She fingered the hilt of a long knife at her side. 

She stepped out from under the overhang and staggered under the force of the rain. The thief covered the open distance in long spurt. She hit the side of the storehouse running, planted her foot against the wall, and jumped up to catch a hold of a loose brick. Her foot slipped on the wet brick and her knee crashed into the wall with a dull thud that would surely echo inside the storehouse. From the fingerhold, she hauled herself up, swung her legs to the side and let go with enough momentum to grab onto the second story windowsill. The glass was already broken and she slithered inside the building. Debris crunches underneath her feet as she stood and took stock, hoping the rain had covered the sound of her entrance from whatever was downstairs.

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The storm outside was once more roaring. It was just as well that Reis had scrambled into the building when he did - the rain itself was bad, but the kobold hadn't wanted to take his chances out there for much longer. The tropical weather could grow even more intense - and perhaps fatal - in the blink of an eye. If he didn't become lost in the thick sheets of rain, there was also the very real possibility that a flash flood could occur. Khada had only seen a few in his lifetime, and all of them had been near the shores of Europe, during the Spring and Summer. He'd never seen such a vast amount of vegetation in one place, however. Perhaps this was one of those tropical jungles he'd heard so much about from travelers back home. There was no chance of it being anything else. . . Of course, Reis would have taken his chances with the flood if it meant escaping a constant onslaught of monsters, which seemed to be a common occurrence in Biazo Isle. 

The kobold shook the water off of his scales like a wet dog, before patting himself down. His long coat was soaked, and the black tunic underneath wasn't in much better condition. Reis was glad that he'd been carrying his essential gear in his waterproofed pack, which he had strapped to his back. That was a precaution he had constantly took, in the past as a human, and now. Reis peeled his goggles off of his face and blinked a few times as his eyes adjusted to the darkness of the warehouse. That was a perk that he rather enjoyed about his new form - it was easy to move around in pure darkness. It made things much harder on his eyes in broad daylight, though, hence his eyewear. It took just a few seconds for Reis to get his bearings and begin creeping around the old warehouse. 

The building wasn't small at all - from where he was, Reis assumed that the building was around 30,000 square feet, with old steel shelves, and many crates and boxes scattered about. It was already clear that this place had been emptied somewhat - lots of the crates and boxes were tipped on their side and/or open. A few crates here and there had been completely destroyed for whatever they had originally held, their frames splintered and ruined. Anything else looked like it was nailed shut. Reis cursed aloud, then covered his mouth. He first berated himself for his lack of cautiousness. He berated himself again for not ever purchasing some sort of crowbar. He had originally been against having one, as one couldn't quietly open something with a crowbar. Now, though, he was regretting that decision. The kobold would just have to do things the hard way. Sighing, he swung his pack off of his back, and to the ground. There was most certainly something else he had that could get one of the large crates open, if need be.

Reis was in the process of rummaging through his belongings when he heard a thud. The thief froze. It could have been anything. From where he was, the storm could still be heard going full force. A tree could have fallen, or something could have just been thrown into the wall outside. Perhaps he was just being paranoid. 

But it had been a long day, and Khada Reis was such a trusting soul.

Reis calmly turned his attention back to his pack. He dug through it for a moment longer, before pulling out what looked like a pair of pliers. There was no need for the thief to draw attention to himself by using his industrial - grade drill to bust through one of the crates. Some of the boxes were padlocked, while others required combinations to unlock. He could crack those open first, using his pliers and lock picks. Reis closed his backpack, and slung it back onto his shoulders, before standing up and stretching. His arm involuntarily twitched, allowing the knife he kept hidden in his sleeve to drop down. He closed his paw around the handle, then raised his arm, allowing the knife to slide back into place. He was getting twitchy again. That wouldn't do. The thief hardly ever hurt anyone during his endeavors; It wasn't in his nature to attack others, and he usually used his knives for self-defense. Still, he'd do what he had to do to stay alive. No monster was touching his scales today. 

Reis walked much slower now, keeping to the darkest parts of the warehouse to minimize his presence. Sure, the howling wind that could be heard from the many broken windows made it difficult for anyone to hear anything so subtle as footsteps, but reis wasn't taking any chances. Not this time, at least. Monsters. . .  Scared him. After a few minutes of walking in the dark, Reis came up on a crate that seemed fairly intact. Instead of attempting to open it, though, the thief ducked behind it, holding his pliers at the ready. He wanted to wait a little longer before he went ahead and started his search for objects, magical or not. If there was a a chance that someone else was in the building with him, no matter how little, he would wait until the other made their presence known. One way or another. After all, thieves could only for so long before they decided to begin looting, couldn't they? Yes, the same could be said for Reis, but he liked to think that he had  little more control over his impulses. Whoever was potentially inside had apparently already made a little noise on the way in. Anyone who made a mistake like that couldn't be too skilled, then. . . 

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There was a ladder leading down to the first floor. Tana tugged her gloves back into place and grabbed the bars. With a deft twist, she hooked her feet around the outside of the rungs and and slid down like it was a pole. Her boots made a soft thud as she hit the ground.

The thief pulled her hood off and surveyed the area. The first floor resembled the second. The only difference was that more of the roof was intact on this level. The creature she saw scurry into the building was nowhere in sight. The towers of crates and debris could be hiding anything.

Face exposed, the woman was disarmingly human. There were no mystical tattoos, no point to her ears, no whisper of an ancient heritage running through her veins. Her face was dirt common- there must be a thousand girls running around central Genesaris with her shared features. Her nose was small and flat and dotted with the occasional freckle that managed to latch itself to her skin after a glimpse of sunlight. Her mouth was thin with pale lips that had a habit of twisting into a cold, wet smile. It was such a common expression that the right corner of her mouth sat at a permanent angle. Short, black hair hung around her face and shone with a mixture of water and grease.

The most remarkable thing about Tana’s face was her eyes. They were slightly angled up and sat deep into her skull. Long eyelashes sat atop a smudged khol lining. The pigment collected in the crevasses of her eyes and gave her the appearance of a fashionable raccoon. And behind everything, under the smeared makeup, beneath the thin, arched brows, sat a pair of irises the color of dirt and black oil. They seemed flat and lifeless until the light hit Tana’s face just right and they gleamed with a toxic smear of reflected malice.

Loose tile crunched underfoot as Tana crept through the dim storehouse. She stopped in the center of the room. Piles of junk rose around her. The storm was the only sound that echoed in the stone walls. If there were monsters present, they were showing a sudden aptitude for stealth.

In a flash, a knife was between her fingers and held in a defensive position. If she was going to search the building, she wasn’t going to do it with a monster lurking around the corner. Tana shifted on her heels and coiled into herself, muscles tense and ready to spring at the first motion. 

“Alright, I’m done playing games. Come on out so I can kill you.” She called. 

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Khada had been sitting behind his little crate for a few minutes by then, and was more than happy to wait a little longer. He wasn't dying today. Instead of thinking about what could have potentially been hiding in any of the nearby crates, the kobold instead distracted himself by listening to the rain hitting the roof of the storehouse, and the occasional crackling of thunder. The sounds weren’t as jarring inside as they were outside, and helped calm him some. In fact, he was almost calmed enough to convince himself that he was just being paranoid about the mysterious person in the building with him. Of course, Reis wasn’t that foolish. He knew what happened to those that let their guard down, even for a minute. He wasn’t about to end up with them.

Still, despite Reis’s apparent resolve, the thoughts of busting open one of the crates lingered. No, he wasn’t about to crack one open - but the kobold had been considering examining the padlock of one when he heard a voice ring out. Reis froze. The voice was unmistakably female, and somewhere relatively close. Reis curled into a tight ball behind the crate, fearing for a moment that he had been seen. Judging by the woman’s tone, though, she hadn’t seen him yet. She had certainly seen or heard the lizard at some point, but it hadn’t been that recently. All she knew was that he was here, somewhere. She obviously wasn’t with the law (unless, of course, it was standard procedure around town to kill intruders without  reading them their rights), and seemed fairly good at sneaking around. Reis hadn’t heard her until she’d gotten as close as she was, after all. So, maybe she wasn’t a novice. . . Whatever she was.

Khada considered his options. If she was another looter, then perhaps they could work something out, thief-to-thief. If she was some sort of hired hand, that wouldn’t work out as well. If she really was law enforcement, then it was in his best interests to run. Reis was really hoping that she wasn’t some sort of crazy assassin. With all the insanity and magic in this world, he wouldn’t have been surprised if she wielded some sort of magic sword and could kill him with a single word. Then again, if she could do that, she would have found him already. The lizard waited a moment longer, then slowly crawled away from his hiding spot, careful not to make too much noise while doing so. In the darkness, he found one of the giant steel shelves that had originally held most of the crates he now saw on the floor, and began to climb. Once he was a good dozen feet off the ground, he rolled onto one of the tiers, sighing slightly. Whoever this was, he doubted that they could see him up here, in the darkness. Not to mention, he suspected that the woman was human. Even if they pinpointed his position, they’d have a hell of a time trying to get up to him the same way. It was pretty dark, after all.

It was only then that Reis decided to speak. No matter who the person was, he felt that he was safely out of their reach, and could question them a little. If they were hostile, it would be simple for him to escape. He was a slippery kobold. Whoever was down there wasn’t. “Hmm. . . I think not. I somewhat value my life, you see.” Reis frowned at his high, somewhat raspy voice. He hated how it had changed since his transformation. It made it that much harder for him to be taken seriously. Still, it wasn’t as if he could do anything about it. “Might I ask, who are you? I was originally under the assumption that I was the only one who was foolish enough to come all the way out here.” Reis moved as he talked, climbing a little higher up the shelf. If he got her to talk, he’d be able to get a good idea of her position as well. “I was wrong, it would seem. Have I done something to offend you so? It isn’t often that I get death threats.” The lizard snickered. “Well, not nowadays, at least.”

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Tana jerked around towards the sound, eyes roving the shadows for signs of movement and finding nothing. After a second, she relaxed her stance and flipped her knife around to a more defensive hold. 

“Death threat?” Tana smiled and cocked her head. “How could I threaten someone I can’t see? Besides, we’re both a long way from home and it would be a shame to kill a conversationalist like yourself.” As she talked, she pivoted slowly, searching the room for the source of the voice. Her initial hunch was wrong. She hadn’t expected to find a person, much less someone who spoke the same language as her. “Unless you’re some new kind of monster, I have no quarrel with you.”

The acoustics of the storehouse made it difficult to pin down the stranger’s location. There was a patch of deep shadow that seemed a likely spot, but she couldn’t be certain. Keeping low, Tana crept forward, walking silently over the debris. She kept stacks of crates between her and her destination, minimizing the time she was in a direct line of sight. 

Anyone who was foolish enough to be in this city was not worth trifling with. He didn’t sound like a member of one of the Bi’le’ah gangs- Tana doubted any of them could read, let alone speak Genesarin. If he was hiding, he certainly wasn’t part of the military or law. He was just like Tana: begging for trouble. However, Tana had a job to do and this stranger was in the way.

“You know,” she called, “it’s hard to talk to a disembodied voice. Come out with your hands up and we can talk. Crazy to crazy.”

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Reis, now lying on his belly while he listened to the potential hostile nearby, rested his chin on his hand, idly trying to catch a glimpse of where they might be. It wasn't all that necessary right then - the woman wasn't making any moves towards him, judging by the distance between the two. His tail waved in amusement as he listened to what she had to say.

"Oh, I apologize. In my experience, people only say things like that when they're about to try and kill me. You can understand my skittish attitude, then." Ha. That was a joke. Khada Reis, skittish? He leaped headlong into danger, and usually came out unscathed. Except for recently, when he'd leaped into the lion's den and been polymorphed. Reis's mood dimmed slightly. "And, well. . . I guess it depends on what you consider a 'monster' then, eh? I'm not some sort of crazed beast, if that's what you were implying." Reis continued to watch the storehouse floor for movement, just in case the woman decided to get tricky and tried to jump him. It wasn't paranoia. Reis had been jumped countless times in the past due to not paying enough attention. In fact, folks still tried things like that today, probably because he looked so vulnerable.

The lizard didn't waste much time considering the woman's request for him to come out so they could talk face to face. it wasn't as if she could catch him. Not to mention, he could see in the dark and she couldn't. The only thing that worried Reis was the fact that the woman didn't know what he was yet. He had no idea what her reaction could be. Would she attack simply because of his appearance? Again, the thief had a feeling that kobolds weren't the kindest souls around. There was a chance she'd just kill him and be done with it. Of course, to do that, she'd have to catch him first, and Reis didn't plan on going quietly if the woman did prove hostile. Maybe he was just being paranoid again. Best-case scenario, she'd just laugh at him.

It only took a few seconds for the thoughts to come and go, and Reis was sliding down the supporting beam of the shelf, dropping down into the darkness. "Sure, why not," He said, shrugging. He did his best to sound nonchalant, but he was idly straightening and flexing his left arm, just in case he had to use his dagger. He wouldn't kill her, of course. He never had to kill anyone. He'd probably just. . . Discourage her. Yes, that was the word. "I'm down now," Reis called out, moving slowly, occasionally crawling on all-fours through the rubble and crates. "You mind making an appearance as well? I'd hate to be the one talking to the shadows." Not like he couldn't see her anyway. If she was nearby, he'd know.

Just to fully sell the facade of carelessness, Reis clambered up onto an especially large crate, and sat down cross-legged on top, crossing his arms and curling his tail around him. This could go a few ways. The woman would either attack, thinking Reis was an idiot, or she'd be amused by his apparent stupidity. Then again, if she was a decent rogue, she'd be wondering why he was giving her such an easy target. Either way, Reis was relatively safe.

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Tana hummed. “Shadows don’t offer good conversation, though I’d say you’re an exception.” Her words dripped from between her teeth as she waited for Reis to show himself. She had no idea what was going to come out of hiding. If it was another thief then perhaps he would know what she was looking for. If he was hostile... Tana was limited in her mobility in the warehouse. Once exposed, she would loose her advantage. She kept her knives in hand as she called back. “I’d hate to think I was being rude.”

Tana started at the small shape that climbed on top of a nearby crate. This rogue had balls. She stepped fully from the shadows and dropped her hands to her sides- a show of false trust. She could bring her knives up almost as fast as she could throw them. The thief cocked her head and looked at the figure.

She began to laugh.

It was a cold, smooth laugh that rolled from her tongue and carried a mocking tone. Her eyes gleamed with a petty malice. “I thought you‘d be taller.” She said. 

She flipped her knives in her hand so that they were facing down and away from Reis. With an exaggerated flourish she bowed her head. Her eyes never left the kobold and the shit-eating grin never left her face. “Tana Wall at your service, oh king of the great box throne.”

She had seen kobolds before in the port cities. None of them had ever struck her as particularly devious or dangerous. Still, considering where they were, this slippery lizard man deserved some credit. She wasn’t sure why he had presented himself as such a target, but Tana was not going to immediately kill someone who had that much bravery or that much stupidity. Of course, bravery and stupidity were almost interchangeable in the situation.

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Reis frowned at the women that emerged from the shadows. From their face to their stance, the kobold knew that he'd do best not to trust the thief, ever. She practically screamed 'TRAITOR!' at him. Then again, so did most everyone that Reis ever interacted with. This didn't deter him, though. Instead, the thief's mind raced, eliminating a few of the lest hostile potential interactions he expected to have with her. That narrowed it down to several possibilities. If she was trying to kill or rob him of whatever he stole here, she wasn't doing a very good job being subtle about her intents. Then again, she'd had no reason to believe that he was even intelligent up until now, and subtlety was wasted on beasts. It was a little too late for her to put on the innocent look, as she'd already shown enough of her devious nature. The fact that she was showing her face now only meant that the woman was confident that whatever potential confrontation she expected to partake in, she'd be the victor. That was worrying. But expected.

Reis didn't move from his crate, or even blink. He simply shifted his position slightly as the woman spoke, lowering his goggles int place. In the light, it would be a bit harder to see the glint of metal hinting at weapons. The lenses made his eyes seem slightly enlarged, revealing cold reptilian eyes that seemed a little bored. He didn't even blink at her insult. "Works for me." I was, at one point. "Gets me places tall folk can't normally reach. Problem?" Reis didn't wait for an answer: He'd already moved on. "Khada Reis, master thief, so on, so forth. Let's skip the formalities." Reis was resting his head on his hand again, and yawning. "What do you want?" It was a simple question, not even laced with cockiness. Just annoyance. He was only getting annoyed because he was tired of this day. 

In his mind, Reis was thinking of all the possible reasons she was taking the time to talk rather than kill him. She could have been just messing with him. The kobold knew too many people that toyed with their victims just because they could. Still, it was only Reis's nature to look for more complex reasons. Was there some sort of organization that frequently looted the place? Possibly. Terrenus was too big for the possibility to be idle. The fact that he was sentient had, once again, obviously put her off somewhat. Perhaps she herself was from some sort of gang, or had been employed by someone to steal from here as well. If that was the case, then she'd have no problem slitting his throat. That was the more - likely possibility. In any event, he needed to be extra careful. 

Then again, it was always fun to poke the bear. If there was going to be a fight, Reis had no problem initiating it prematurely.

The Kobold's eyes had gotten a faraway look while he thought, and he allowed them to focus back on Tana once he'd finished. The corner of his mouth twitched upwards in a smile for a moment. "I guess you're just here to steal, like I am. Well, congratulations on being as stupid as me. I hope you had a better time with the spiders." Reis rolled his neck, attempting to work out a crick. "I hate spiders. And now I hate jungles. It's my first time in a jungle, y'know?" This was something of a jest: He was only being so open to potentially put off Tana a little more.

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“I’m looking for a talis whatchamacallit. Red, sparkly, about yea big. Haven’t seen it have you?” Her lips curled into a smile at the name of thief and she inclined her head. He wasn’t wrong. “It takes one to know one.”

Tana had no deep suspicions about the kobold. There were no machinations in her mind. Simply put, Tana didn’t care enough to concern herself with the outcome of this encounter. Thieves were slippery by nature. If Reis wanted a fight, then he would get a fight. If he wanted to talk, then they would talk. She was confident in her abilities.

Besides, she enjoyed toying with Reis. There weren’t many people to talk to in Terrenus and his attitude was amusing. Master thief. She was surprised his ego fit through the doorframe.

“Stupid as you?” She gasped in mock offense. “I’m hurt. Unfortunately, I was paid to come to this shithole. Now does that make me as stupid as you for being in this place or more stupid for agreeing to come?”

Ah. So he was all attitude and no show. A shame. She should have known not to expect more from a kobold. Her fingers tightened around the hilts of her knives.

“I should wish you congratulations,” She said, her tone heavy with sarcasm. “Your first jungle adventure! You’ll learn to love them, though this one has a disturbing lack of lusty dryads. Can’t say I’ve seen any spiders either. Gangs, yes. Giant, rotting ants, yes. Spiders... hmm,” she made an act of thinking and sizing up Reis. “I bet any spider looks huge to you.” She laughed. “Sorry, that was a low blow. The joke fell a little short.”

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"Talis - wha?" Reis hadn't exactly read up on what sort of artifacts and treasures were kept in the city. All he'd wanted to do was find something and scram, like he did best. Whatever this was that Tana was talking about, it interested him some. Maybe not because he wanted to steal it, specifically: A little knowledge on one of the many things in the ruins could give the kobold more insight on exactly what he was going to be dealing with. The talis - whatever-it-was sounded like some sort of valuable gem to him, nothing to do with magic. Still, one could never be too sure. "I have no idea what you're talking about. In all honesty, I don't know much about this place besides the fact that it's a hazard to my health. That, and there are things here. Valuable things. Strange things. I presume you know of what I speak."

Reis took off his goggles to clean them on his tunic while he listened to Tana. So, she had been employed by someone. That cleared things up. Of course, an employer could have easily hired ten more folks like her as well. There was no guarantee that there weren't a dozen more thugs and thieves crawling around the city. Reis kept a calm expression, yawning once more as he donned his goggles again. "I think it makes you the dumber one. You knew what to expect, after all. Contrary to previously-popular belief, I am not suicidal. I just enjoy taking risks every now and then." The thief fixed his cool gaze on Tana once more. He refrained from saying that he hadn't known of the risks of this place, or the fact that he didn't really know what magic was. Those were weaknesses he wasn't going to delve into with a stranger.

The little kobold cocked his head to one side in confusion at the mention of an unfamiliar creature. "The hell's a 'lusty -'" He snapped his mouth shut. Once more, he wasn't about to reveal his lack of knowledge on this world's creatures. Other gangs and creatures were mentioned as well, including the spiders. Of course, Tana made a joke about those, then another joke within that joke, all relating to his height once more. Reis, too preoccupied with his thoughts, chuckled a little, absently. "Ah, you should be a Fool. I'm sure someone would pay you something to keep them entertained with jests. It beats this lousy job, after all." Khada's tail twitched as he switched subjects. "Tell me, is there anything else you were hired to find here? I mean, I would hate to have to steal the only thing I recognized here, namely, that fancy jewel you were hired to nab. What does it do, I wonder?" Reis cupped his chin thoughtfully. "How much would it go for?"

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Tana bared her teeth at Khada’s inquisition. “Wouldn’t you like to know. I mean, I would hate to have to kill the only thief I recognize here.” Her eyes narrowed as she mocked his earlier turn of phrase. 

A second passed where she said nothing. Her fingers twitched around the handle of her knife. 

Then she leaned forward, her face shifting on a dime to a flirty expression of amusement. She laughed and winked at the kobold. “But we won’t have to worry about that! After all, out of the two of us, you aren’t the fool.” Two could play this game of disarmament. Tana would admit that Reis was good. He danced around her words with a sharp witted ease... when he was paying attention. Tana’s tongue was quick, but her patience was leaving quicker. This game of cat and mouse was entertaining only so long as the mouse kept running. This little mouse was cutting straight to business. Best to get a few more moments of entertainment before ending this.

Tana was more than confident that she could take Khada in a fight. Despite the kobold’s insistence of his skill, speed only went so far. People have said that Tana was too cocky. Many of those people didn’t live to say it again. 

Besides, how much difficulty could one person pose?


Outside, six figures of varying bodily integrity stood in the rain. They held weapons made of scavenged materials: Spiked boards, pipes, barbed wire. This was where that damn thief had crawled into.


“Now,” Tana began, “it’s been lovely, but it’s time for you to move along.”

Lightning flashed.

The door crashed open.

Six gang members stormed into the room, arms at the ready. They fanned out across the room. Their attention was singularly focused on the two thieves in the center. Most were tall, hulking humanoids; some were mutated more than others. The heavy gangsters had bony growths over their shoulders and head. One had an extra arm that sprouted between his shoulder blades. Two of the gangsters were small and wiry. Their eyes bulged under thin, taut skin. Their limbs were long and buglike and they moved with a serious of rapid jerks. 

Tana brought her knives up and shifted into a low defensive position. “You little bastard.” She hissed. She had been certain that he was working alone. “Call off your friends and I’ll leave in peace.”

The gangster with the third arm held his third fist up. “No one fucks with us on our turf! Give us everything you have or we’ll make your face into paste.” He said in rough Terril.

Tana, who didn’t speak a word of Terril, shouted back. “What?” She hollered in Genesarin.

That’s the bitch that iced Trevor!” A low rumble of agreement came from the other gang members. “No one messes with us! Get ‘em, boys!”

Tana, who still had no idea what was being said, but vaguely remembered a run-in with a some gang members a few hours ago, yelled back, “Eat me, dickhead!”

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Now we’re to it. Reis nearly grinned in triumph. So, threatening to botch Tana’s mission here was what got her riled up, then? Good to know. Of course, Tana had no reason not to kill him now. A pity. He’d been enjoying their bit of back-and-forth up until then. Still, it couldn’t be helped. Reis was here on a job as well, and his own personal enjoyment wasn’t a factor. The kobold cocked his head to one side and allowed a little half-smile. “You could try. But I wouldn’t put too much effort into the endeavor. It’d just be embarrassing, now wouldn’t it? Scampering about, trying to catch one little lizard. . . And failing.” Reis’s shoulders tensed slightly, and he prepared to drop his apparent cockiness and indifference. That sort of attitude was his father’s thing. In the end, it had cost him dearly. Reis wouldn’t end up as another body like him. His arm twitched just for a moment, allowing the knife hidden in his sleeve to drop a couple inches. . .

Then Tana switched up her approach, going from threatening to flirty and amused in only a couple seconds. Reis had to admit, he was a bit caught off guard by the switching of tactics. . . Still, that was it. He was momentarily caught off guard. His shoulders dropped slightly, and he blinked a couple times. Okay, maybe she wasn’t actually flirting with him. Not that it would’ve helped her case. This was one of the few times Reis was proud to say that the charms of women had little effect on him. Not that I'm immune to charms from everyone, of course. . . The kobold couldn’t stop a giggle from escaping his lips. He covered his snout with one scaly hand, and glanced up at Tana. “Sorry,” He murmured, biting his tongue. “But - Good attempt. That was your attempt, right?” Reis rubbed his head, sighing. Still, the attempt had affected him profoundly. Not in the way Tana thought, though.

In that moment, the woman had reminded Reis of his missing sister. Yes, it was an odd comparison to make at that moment, but still. The threats and apparent flirting were an all-too-familiar style of persuasion to him. Khada Reis’s older sister, Ceren Reis, used her own charms when necessary on jobs, back when she’d been with him. Unless she could just hold someone at knifepoint, of course. There were some discrepancies, of course, but that was to be expected. At the moment, the lizard’s thoughts were on his original goal, finding Ceren. Outwardly, Reis appeared very distracted now. He didn’t even hear Tana’s next command.

Nor did he notice the doors crashing down, if only for a moment.

When Reis did come to, blinking and shaking his head, Tana was cursing at him about. . . His friends? Khada Reis worked alone. Reis turned his attention to the rest of the room. There were. . . Things inside with them. Whatever they were, they weren’t human, and they didn’t look friendly. Reis dropped his act entirely, sliding his knife out of his sleeve, his gaze darting about. One, two, three. . . six hostiles. “Wh - No. I don’t know these creatures,” he whispered back, not taking his eyes off of the gang members. Whoever they were, they had tracked one of them here. Reis groaned. He’d been so careful. .  .

One of the gangsters said something in a language Reis didn’t understand. Neither did Tana, apparently, as she called out to them in question. The gangster with the third arm didn’t like that, apparently. Or maybe they didn’t like Tana. She and the members seemed to know each other somewhat. . . Reis cast an annoyed glare over at the woman. “Made some friends, I see. Was it your sunny disposition that drew them to you?” He didn’t wait for an answer. The kobold dropped off the crate he’d been sitting on, tail twitching excitedly. Yes, this was dangerous. He should have just run when he’d had the chance. Still, Reis was never one to pass up a fight. Maybe he’d never killed anyone in those fights. Still, wasn’t the fun part of a brawl. It was the energy of it all that drew him in. “I take the big, clumsy ones?” Reis paused, then remembered who he was with. Not Ceren, no. Just another thief, Tana. He couldn’t expect her to simply fall into the role his sister had way back when. If they didn’t work together here, though, there was a good chance they weren’t walking away.

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Tana dropped her act as Khada jumped off the crate, her face settling into a cool mask. She didn’t bother answering the little man. She wasn’t lying when told him that she encountered gang members earlier. Two were in a building she needed to search. It was easy to surprise them in the dark. She slit their throats and left the bodies. How the others tracked her down, however... Tana prided herself on her stealth, surely she would have seen one of these oafs following her.

Tana wasn’t a fool. She was headstrong and prideful to the point of narcissism, but she was no idiot. She knew when the odds were stacked against her and when to find a different way forward. Hamlin beat that lesson into her years ago. Tana cringed at the thought of what her boss would say if she knew Tana had let a band of lumbering mutants follow her into a closed building. It was an amateur mistake. 

Tana spared at glance at the thief. It was an unexpected matchup, but if Reis had a death wish, who was she to deny another crazy soul. She shrugged. “Works for me.” She said. With a flick of he wrists, she rotated the grip of her knives to a hold more suited for close quarters combat. There wasn’t enough room or clear lines of sight to justify using projectiles. She couldn’t rely on Reis to run interference either. He wouldn’t know any of the tactics that the company used in situations like this. “Whatever we do, do it fast. They’re not as clumsy as you think.”

Three large gangsters were at the front, including the brash, three armed one. One heavy on the left. One small on the right. 

One moving behind the boxes.

A pale blur was all the warning Tana got before a form slammed her into a pile of crates and she disappeared from view. The rest of the gangsters jumped into action.

The blow sent Tana reeling into a pile of jagged splinters. Rotting wood gave way beneath her feet. Instinctively, she brought her blades up to block the next hit. Sparks flew as a steel pipe glanced off her knives. Tana pulled the knives out of the cross guard, flashing the edge, hoping to catch skin, but catching air as the gangster hopped away from the diagonal slashes.

She got a first look at her opponent. The gangster was a gaunt, pale excuse for an elf. He had sunken, bulging eyes and a network of red veins that lurked under the skin. At the end of long, insectoid arms, long fingers clutched at a piece of rusted piping. The gangster bared it’s teeth at her and hissed. She hissed back and jabbed low. Dark blood spurted from underneath its chin in a thin stream that wasn’t indicative of a needed fatal blow. 

A large shape loomed behind the thin gangster. Tana rolled out of the way. The descending club cracked the floor. Tana coiled, ready to spring into her next repost. A thin smile rugged at the corner of her mouth. This would be interesting.

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"Damn it," Reis muttered under his breath, readjusting his grip on his dagger. He was beginning to loose his nerve at it all, the size of the thugs, and their bad odds. It was only natural; Reis enjoyed fights when they were somewhat neutral, or in his favor. Fights that were uneven quickly got a little tense for him. No matter. He'd just do his usual routine, as always. Standard dupe-and-destroy tactics. Of course, the actual destruction part of it was the problem. These thugs, despite everything, didn't look as clumsy as the kobold had originally assumed. That, and Tana confirmed it for him. Damn that Tana. Why'd she have to go and piss the gang off doing whatever it was she had done? He was just glad that she wasn't his partner, otherwise he would have perished long ago.

Reis paused for a moment, then drew a longer dagger from a sheathe on his leg. If he was going to do this, then he wasn't going to limit himself. The kobold was about to launch himself at his opponents, planning on being something of a distraction for a moment, when Tana was suddenly knocked away by a previously unseen thug, into a pile of crates and out of sight. He only had enough time to mutter a quick curse before the larger goons leapt into action as well. The a larger goon with a flattened stick of metal was on him first, the swing meant to break his neck. The kobold dropped on all-fours, and the makeshift weapon passed harmlessly overhead. The goon then swung the rod downwards, and Reis rolled backwards, slightly into the shadows. 

Reis only got a moment's respite. He used the time to get his bearings. He was cornered by a few wooden crates, nearby some shelves. Climb the shelves? No, that would only drive the rest of the thugs to go after Tana. Wooden crates. . . perfect. A second, smaller goon was closing in, wielding a short, notched blade. Reis stopped, then spread his arms wide, smirking. "Try it!" He shouted, tensing slightly. The thug shouted something back in whatever language he used, charging the kobold with his blade held high. Technically, there shouldn't have been any escape for him. Still, Reis was small, and quick, He waited until the last moment to leap out of the way, the blade missing his tail by mere inches. It found home in one of the wooden crates, getting stuck there for the moment. Reis took that time to examine his opponent. He was vaguely human, muscle-bound, and mutated almost beyond recognition. Vaguely human. . . Just excessively strong, something Reis would use against him in the coming engagements.

For now, Reis dashed towards the man, leaping up to their shoulders and twisting around so that he was positioned behind his head, sitting on his shoulders. The kobold's long tail lashed out, wrapping around the thug's thick neck while Reis grappled with the man's head. "Sorry," He murmured, tightening the pressure around the man's neck while he reversed the grip on his daggers. "Sorry!" He raised one arm high, intending on bringing the dagger down into the man's shoulder. Yes, he still wasn't trying to kill the man - just disable him. That was just how Khada Reis rolled. The thug, however, wasn't being cooperative. He grabbed Reis's lowered wrist, before flinging him off, and into the remains of an old crate. The wind was knocked out of his lungs upon impact, and he lay there for a moment, temporarily stunned. The human thug took that opportunity to charge the kobold again, blade raised high. Reis wasn't as stunned as he looked, though, and with a flick of his wrist, a third dagger embedded itself in the man's thigh. They gave a shout of pain and anger, faltering in their charge.

Reis took that opportunity to roll out of sight, into the shadows once more. He raised his claws, counting the knives he had left. "I really need more blades," He grumbled, glancing over the crate he was hiding behind. The human thug that he'd struck had worked the dagger out of his calf, and tossed the thing aside. Judging from the lack of excessive blood, he'd missed anything vital. That was fine with him, honestly; There were other ways to take down giants. Like hamstringing them, for instance. Cutting their tendons. Lots worked when you were small. Still, Tana couldn't have been doing the same thing at the moment. Reis quickly glanced around, trying to spot the other thief and trying to ignore the pain in his neck and right leg. Nothing was broken, it seemed, but there was some obvious bruising.

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