Eat, Drink, Steal

(Dear Reader – this is a work of fan fiction set in the Forgotten Realms (as envisioned by various authors and WOTC), somewhere in Faerun, circa 1370 DR. It is set in a large, human-dominated city called Capitol and follows the adventures of the young Elf Rogue, Daelynn, and takes place shortly after the events in the story "Good Luck, You'll Need It". It has not been Beta-read. Hope you enjoy it. Constructive criticism is welcome.)

Chapter 1 – A Dinner Date

She was being followed. From the corner of her eye Daelynn had spied the cloaked figure as it flitted across the street behind her. The day was ending in Old Town and she was heading home, taking a circuitous route, checking to make certain that she had not attracted unwanted attention. That's when she noticed her shadow.

Daelynn turned down the next alley and headed west toward the Temple Quarter. There was a gap in the stone and wood buildings further up the alley. She'd lie in wait there and see who was so interested in her.

After a few dozen breaths, there was still no sign of her follower. The elf drew out a small pocket mirror and used it to peer down the alley without having to move out of concealment. Nothing. Daelynn adjusted her position and looked up the alley in the direction she had been traveling. There - movement in the shadows. How had he got ahead of her so quickly? Perhaps there were two of them? She checked behind her again. Still nothing.

Loosening her dagger in its sheath, she drew a throwing star out of her belt and stepped into the lane, making her way west. Daelynn had almost cleared the alley when she sensed a presence in the shadows to her left. Without breaking pace, she shifted her body and released the shuriken. She knew she had missed upon hearing the dull sound of it biting into wood and not flesh.

A voice, male, with a sing-song cadence, spoke from the dark. "If ye intended to come that close to ma nose on p'rpose, then I'm impressed lass. But I'm thinkin' instead ye missed."

The shadows moved, rippling an flowing to one side to reveal a tall, older man dressed in a grey cloak much like her own. In his left hand he held her star, in his right, a small piece of parchment.

"Yer wonderin' why I've been following ye this last day? Well, tis been two days. Oh, I see by yer eyes ye did not notice me yest'rday? Well na worries girl. I mean ye na harm. I've a job off'r. This tis na place ta discuss business. Here." He slowly stepped forward and handed the parchment to the elf. Daelynn kept one hand on her dagger as she accepted the scrap.

"Tamarra night. Eight a'clock. Dinn'r. Dress for a soirée. Ye can have yer toy back if ye turn up."

With those words the man stepped back into the shadows, disappearing from Daelynn's sight, taking her throwing star with him. He had utterly vanished.

She exited the alley. The end-of-day light was dimming but her keen elven eyes made out the address written on the parchment. At least dinner was going to be in a nice part of town. But more importantly, what was she going to wear?

The address given to her by the grey man was in a fine part of the city. It was about middle of the hill. So not nobility; they had homes and estates on the hilltop. Middle hill was for titled persons and wealthy merchants. Lower hill had exclusive markets, shops and, it was rumored, excellent gaming houses and reputable brothels. It had taken her most of the next day to scout out the location, familiarize herself with the neighborhood and learn who resided there. She then raced back to her more modest neighborhood, changed and arranged a carriage, arriving at her host's promptly at eight.

Daelynn was greeted at the door by the man himself. The house was an old two story stone building, ivy covered with beautiful, large glazed windows and a well-appointed interior. The elf was escorted to a small, comfortable dining room where a light but appealing looking supper had been laid out. She removed her wrap, a shimmering piece of red fabric, handing it to him. Her gown was tight at the top, loose and flowing from the waist down, as was the fashion this season at court. The sapphire blue of the gown accentuated her icy blue skin. She wore her dark hair up in a simple yet becoming coif that covered her elven ears. As he took her wrap he gave her an appreciative, approving, and at the same time, respectful, glance. She wondered how long it took men to learn how to do that. The younger men in her circle still had trouble with the latter two parts.

Placing her wrap on a nearby settee he stood by his chair. As was the custom in Capitol at a formal dinner host and guest bowed to each other before taking their seats. A light red wine had already been poured into glasses. He raised his and toasted the king's health. She raised hers and responded in like fashion, asking a blessing on their queen. Formalities having been observed, the grey man spoke.

"I'm glad ye came and I hope my off'r will be of int'rest to ye," he said, in his lilting voice.

"An opportunity for employment is always welcome. What is it that I could do for you, Sir Roland?"

He smiled at the use of his name. "Ah, na bad. Ye had less than a day to ferret that out. And I have na doubt ye have a good idea of the layout of this place already?"

Daelynn smiled back at the elderly gentleman. "Only a general sense. Your neighbors, merchants and vendors are a closed mouth lot in these parts."

"Oh, that they be. If they talked too much about their custom'rs, then business could dry up. So, their taciturn'ty it is more from self-intr'st than respect, Lady C'orillae."

Daelynn had been sipping on her wine when he spoke and almost choked on it when he used her titled name. Quickly recovering she tried and failed to hide her surprise. How long had he been following her? Investigating her? She placed the glass back down on the table, dabbed her mouth with her napkin and returned her left hand to her lap. She hoped the movement of the right hand playing with the glass distracted him as she slowly reached within her silk gown for her dagger.

"Have na worries lass. I doubt very much that anoth'r soul in Capitol knows that the Lady Daelynn C'orillae, Honorary Lady-in-Waiting to our beloved Queen, and who studies at the College of Her'ldry, is the same Daelynn who haunts Old Town and is also… what? Thief? Rogue? Kicker of mugger's and pick-pocket's arses?"

Daelynn relaxed slightly. Her name and title were not a secret but she preferred to keep her evening activities separate from her public life. The title was honorary, an award bestowed on her family for their service to the crown. However, she had no desire to bring any hint of impropriety to her family or her Queen; and some of her recent activities outside her school were not those expected of titled young women.

"What is the job, and why me?" she asked.

"I work for a r'spectable client who, on occasion, requests that c'rtain items be obtained or disposed. Also, inf'rmation of a sensitive nature may need to be deliv'rd – or made to disappear. The lawfulness of some these tasks is debatable. Intr'sted?"