In a darkened place, it is very easy to lose track of time.

Chimera had long lost track of time by now. As far as she was concerned, it was dark and it would always be dark. Apart from the torches, and they might as well have been not there, for all the help they did give.
Casting a glance upon Ketsen, who was still moving along just fine... she realised he didn't have a clue where he was going, but she supposed that made two of them. A thieves' hideout should, of course, not be too easy to find.
"Are you sure it's even in here, Ketsen?" she had to ask, in the somewhat feigned voice she'd gotten used to speaking as. The thought occurred to Chimera that, had she not been female, she'd have been male. It seemed like a good alternative.

Then she laughed.
"No! It is in here. I have taken people before. They know me in there. I was even given a map!" he replied.
To which the green-haired novice stumbled against a wall. "You have a map? So why are we trying to get there without it?!"
"It's good practice. After all, better you don't get used to always having the map there. Then how will you cope?"
"Ketsen.. WE'RE NOT COPING!" she screeched at him.
"Course we are. If you'd like to be honest, you're greener than grass. They wouldn't accept you, period. You use that knife like it's a sword, and they don't like that."
Ketsen said, stopping suddenly. Chimera could easily forget that he was so much more over her at this point. "I don't suppose I could coerce you to come to Izlude and become a swordie?"
"Not what I'm interested in." Chimera mentioned. "Shiri always told me I used my sword like I was trying to cut vegetables with it."
"Food is good." Ketsen said, before continuing walking. "I guess I don't want to have too many swordsmen anyway. We have two as it is."
*One swordsman.* came the mentally projected voice. *And one swords/woman/, thank you. Besides, you're not a swordie any more, you're a fricken' KNIGHT.*
"Can't talk just now." Ketsen spoke, stepping over the point in an expert fashion; ignoring it. "We have a bat problem."

The air was clear. Chimera couldn't hear anything, and the only things they'd seen were Spores, which were the mushrooms.. and Poporings, which were green and mostly useless. Ketsen had poked at one with a sword, and while it tried to suck his arm off, she'd hit it about. Quite good practice, really. She felt a little better with her knife. Right now, though.. there were no bats.
"We do?" questioned she, before being cut off.
"Uh huh. Shh now. You might hear them."

Silence overtook the dusty maze chamber in which they were running around, a little like rats caught, but with no cheese or light to guide their path. Less like the common analogy, since no rat ever had to put up with roughly two dozen gnats, out for blood. And similarly.. Chimera could hear something. Flapping. But it was echoing on a somewhat large scale. Perhaps this was the swarm she had seen such a long time ago. "Now, you stay here. And watch. Maybe you be convinced to take up the way of the swordie." Ketsen mentioned, smiling that stupid smile, and then walking off towards the sound, tsurugi at arm's length in front of him.
"Oh, what now.." mentioned the girl, shaking her head...

The mentality of a common farmiliar is very, very straightforward. Flying is good. Food is good. People mean food. People are bad. Sharp weapons are bad. Getting hit is bad. Magic is more bad. Et cetera.
Knights walking towards groups of them with sword out is only half-bad, because knights are slow, and bats are not. Indeed, Ketsen had been right; roughly 20 bats of various demeanours were flapping around what appeared to be a set of stairs.
Ketsen knew what it was. Someone running for their life had caused a train of bats, and then escaped the area, leaving behind just them.
"So then." he spoke. "Come get some."
The sounds he spoke rosed the slightly annoyed farmiliars, and they all set off in his general direction. They didn't see the tsurugi with its brilliant glow, nor did they see him grinning like one who really, really, really knows what's going to happen next.

Chimera saw it, anyway. Well, heard it. The knight she was watching, as he pulled back to hit, about half a second before hollering. "Magnum Break!"
That was, of course, half a second again, before the area around him exploded in a fire-assisted flourish of power. And she stopped blinking for a while.
The area was littered with dead farmiliars, a few still smouldering. Some that didn't get caught in the initial blast were busy being taken out gradually by Ketsen, each taking a hit or two - sometimes he missed, but it didn't mean much. He was getting hit, but he didn't really seem to mind; what with that armour, and his whole 'knight' experience status, small cuts were as nothing.
The last bat was probably on the verge of bolting, but he wouldn't do so. Ketsen wouldn't give him the chance anyway, stepping up, and muttering something, before hitting it then. To the tune of it just completely exploding. Chimera knew that move, that was Bash.. pretty neat, really, but very messy if it overkills. as it obviously had. "And that, as they say, is that. Take teeth, or wings, or whatever; there are collectors and merchants out there that fund the effort against monsters by paying you for it. Mad people, they are.."

Beyond where he'd been standing, there was a narrow flight of stairs going downwards. There were wards around it that prevented monsters from coming in. Magic, thought Chimera. But not exactly the cheap stuff. This was just a prevention, of some sort..
"Why, of course, is because we've reached the thiefy place." Ketsen spoke, shattering silence with not as much effort as that battle took.
"Doesn't look much.." mentioned Chimera, as both of them went downstairs, one after the other. It was a basement, pretty much, and another corridor stretched out in front of them. But this place had more light. It still wasn't exactly homely.
"You were expecting rich tapestries and furnishings? There's a reason Morroc dislikes the merchants, and I don't think I need to say more than that since you already know so." spoke the knight, wandering along with tsurugi now back on his belt, to his side. Chimera hadn't had her knife out for a while; it seemed a pointless venture to keep it out while the bats were being decimated. She wasn't going to do anything, as such..

A sign sat at a crossroads, to three rooms. Two were unmarked, but one had an arrow on it. It didn't have any words written.
"The arrow has it. There's only one reason anyone ever comes here, so writing on the sign is unnecessary." explained the ever-wise knight, letting Chimera take first step, and then following her in. A step that the green-haired one duly did take.

"Ya know, I thought nobody wou'd ever get here again. Those bats have been there for days 'n days now." a voice spoke from inside upon seeing the two hapless ones wander in. The voice was female, not very well-to-do; it wasn't familiar to Chimera, but she thought it might have been at one point. Living around Morroc generally means you see townspeople at one moment, and the same people as thieves at another. Just like her. "Bats. Pfft. Someone set that gathering up, and you know it. Hey, where's our Benedric, anyway?" asked Ketsen, trickling a finger down a dusty wall, and looking at the thief female. Red-haired, wearing some slightly revealing garments, mostly tanned, and looking slightly mangled. Like she'd tried to fight off some farmiliars herself at one point.
"Benny headed to Izlude by teleporter. He leads us, that makes him one of the better fighters on this continent. He was needed to stop the monster overrunning, at least in his mind he was."
"Benedric, helping people? Pfft." Ketsen retorted.
"Never believe everything you hear in a merchant and GM-controlled world, hoss." she spoke, wandering from her position sat upon a dusty counter, just to stand in front of the taller knight. "If you really want to hold to your thoughts, though.. if the world goes to ruin, where do we steal from?"
"Your point is made. Anyway, there's a reason I'm here, and I'm guessing since you're here, you can help me out. I have a novice friend, and I believe you can guess the rest."

So this is how Chimera found herself held about the neck with a loose arm grasp, from the front, being looked at by a goggle-clad female thief with slightly musky breath and a really tired look. "Looks green."
"So do all novices. Tell us something I don't know."
"Well... Ok, mister, what's my equip."
Chimera grinned. She never had any problems with this.. "Stiletto, thief clothes, boots. All carded. Stiletto plus.. 4. Or 5. Goggles, carded. Buckler, slotted. Doesn't see much action."
"Stiletto, plus 4. They're similar enough. Keep going."
"Muffler, slotted, uncarded. I don't blame you. Two earrings, and you don't need earrings, but you have them anyway. Ten unreal fingernails, and one gold tooth. And the thief clothes are plus 8. You paid someone very pretty money for that." This was easy.
The fingernail comment had her thrown off guard. But she retorted to something different. "I saved up for years to even earn enough to buy the services of people at my equal so we could go and steal it. After all, what's the point in paying when they're as corrupt as Baphomet anyroad?" pouted the thief. "Okay, okay. You're Morroc and that's an understatement. What's the quality of my stiletto? How much damage has it sought, and what would I get for it as best price in open market?"
"Damned if I know or care." Chimera mentioned. "Early in its life. You'd get whatever they wanted to pay you. Merchants are restrictive like that."
"I like you." she said. Before whispering to her, Ketsen attempting to put an ear into it. ("Short hair suits nobody female. It's a crime. You don't feel right, but you're a pretty good disguise aside from that. I'll keep hush.")
Chimera twitched. The thiefy pulled away.

"So then.. I don't know you, mister knight, but I'm thinking you should take him and go beat stuff up a little longer. He's got the knack, but I can't take someone in at this level of fighting skill. Me old grandmother could probably do more damage than you right now." she spoke, teasing the last point.
"Hmm? I guess it's harder to be a thief than a swordie then.. That's wrong, I think."
Ketsen said. "But that's the way the cookie crumbles. Mmm, cookie. C'mon, let's fry some more flying stuff."
Chimera wasn't satisfied.

"You know, I've spent all day trying to get through this pyramid. I've been bitten, sliced, squished, slimed, and generally beaten about on my way here, following a knight who, knowingly having a map, isn't actually using it. My arms feel like they're lead, and my reflexes are about as finely tuned as a dead fish. Right now, anyway. Now I'm just worried that even if I get as good these next few days, I'm not ever gonna find my way back here. Heck, if I was meant to be skilled before coming here, what's the point in joining?" made Chimera, a speech as she stared right at the girl - a little taller than she. Making a slightly falsetto job of the speech, but otherwise keeping a lid on things.
It took the thiefy by surprise. "Well, I.. I don't make the rules."
"Pfft. Nobody else is here. You do as you want to do. But, okay. Fine, fine. I shall go out and do some more damage. I guess." said she, dejectedly shrugging, and wandering towards the door out. Ketsen watched. He knew something was going to happen here..

"I think I'll have more success, anyway. Especially if I use this stiletto and buckler I just happened to find in the last ten seconds.." spoke Chimera, with an air of grace, presenting the sharpened dagger and the shield item above her head for the whole room, the empty one, to see.
The thiefy stared a while.. before patting her back and by her side, just to see if this was some sort of falsehood setup. Nope, her own weaponry and shield had gone. Probably taken while the speech was going on. "H.. HEY!"
She stormed up to Chimera, reaching at the items quickly, taking them back. She was much faster than our green-haired heroine, thus, reacquiring the items rather simply.
"You know, I rescind that. I don't like you." Pause.
Chimera tilted her head, wondering if this little ruse had failed..
".. I really, really like you. You have guts, mister. And a knack. Something we need more of. Tell you what. If you two don't mention this to /anybody/, I'll put your name down and kit you up." she said, wavering the tone. Of course, to have it known she was disarmed by a novice of the sort to make even grass upset, she'd never hear the end of it from those she knew..
"Fine by me." Chimera said.


"And now you look like a proper thief." Ketsen commented, when Chimera returned from one of the adjacent rooms. Indeed, the blue adventurer suit was still present, but it was worn open now; a firm yellow sweater and thin roan-red gloves. Black trousers, with special patterns along the seams and on the knee, sat long over the top of her ever-present carded sandals. And the bandage, that bandana she wore, sat neatly atop short green hair. "I could like this." considered Chimera, neatly looking at her reflection in a watery reflection caused by the only thing close to a mirror in the area; a stored clear case of clear liquid, supplies for the hideout. Water, of course.
"If your knight or you have some spare coppers, I can sell you some other things. Daggers, shields, robes. The prices on them on the outside are unholy, but we only charge half. Even half is slightly overpriced, but it's the lowest you'll find anywhere. As much as we'd like to lower it, we don't get enough to fund supplies and operations from here otherwise. But hey, at least we aren't exactly lining our pockets with it for the sake of doing so. Think of it as an investment." mentioned the seasoned thiefgirl, wandering to the counter.
"You talk like you're enticing." Chimera said, giving a tooth-grin.
"I'm from Alberta. It's part of the heritage. Don't even dare thinking worse of me for that fact, mister, it's not like by living there I endorse the merchants who feel that they can have money out of their ears unfairly, while Morroc goes under the poverty line, and Geffen works barely over it."
"Wasn't going to mention it." said Chimera.

"I will buy you stuff now." Ketsen said. "Got any cookies?"
"Uh.. Nope." said the thiefy. "We do have daggers, though."
"Daggers are shiny." shrugged Ketsen. "What will 20 thousand get me?"
20 kays? Chimera looked at Ketsen endearingly. "Hey, I kill stuff. People pay money for stuff that shows I've killed. Keeps people training, so that towns don't go under in the Overrunning. Items recovered from that glow fiercely. Merchants pay thrice normal price for that. It's a GM thing. I like Overrunnings, but I get beaten up a lot. We win, though."
"What's to like about the possible destruction of a town, anyway.." considered the green-haired one..

The thiefy glanced through stock prices. "20 thou will get you.. a dagger, a muffler, and a buckler. It could alternatively get you other things, but those would need to replace what you're wearing, and I won't waste your money doing that."
"Sounds fine." said Ketsen, removing a bag from his pocket and fingering through the contents.. eventually extracting some zeny, in the form of jewels, and presenting them to the thiefy. She gave a few back as change from a sack under the counter, before wandering around finding the items indicated.
Eventually, she returned with a sharp dagger, a rounded blue shield, and a light brown covering garment for the neck and upper body. "Muffler. Buckler. Dagger. Thanks for funding the cause."
"Not a problem." Ketsen said, pointing at Chimera. "Put the stuff on. You know how the shield goes, right?"
Chimera was busy finding the area on the back of the jumper where a shield would go when one didn't feel like holding it in a hand. "I took one off earlier today, I know how this works." The knife found her belt, and the muffler found her neck. Layers of clothing, and she was quite fine under it all. Perhaps she could even avoid dying from bats now. That'd be something.

They went to leave then, the thiefy waving them out before going about the business of eating and drinking something. Now other people could get in, she had to be properly ready. No rest for the wicked, she considered, as the place went silent once more.


"So where do we go now?" considered Chimera as Ketsen led them back up the stairs. The corridor was darker than she'd last seen it, and quite empty of everything.
"Now, we go to Izlude. I have money, so we don't have to walk. Izlude is a long way away, I don't want or need to walk until we have the party out here." Ketsen said, simply. "So how's it feel to know that your life consists o being expected to rob people, Chichi?"
"Chichi.." Chimera shook her head. "You heard the lady. Don't believe everything you hear."
"Ahh, she was eyeing up the tsurugi. She would have taken it had you not already shown that you watch everything going on in a room at the same time. You had your eye on it ever since I met you, but I trust you more than that."
"Honour among thieves, I guess. Bet that doesn't extend to knights.." said she, following Ketsen then. "It should! I gave her zeny!"
"And she stopped looking at the tsu after you did." said Chimera. "Anyway. Let's get going then. Maybe the bats are thinking of stealing your tsu now.."
"They are?" Ketsen said, feigning belief. "I guess... I'll just have to kill any I see." And off he dashed, the odd provocation being spoken just in case something was hiding in the shadows. It wasn't hard for her to follow, since he was slower than she was, but she was spending more time in thinking right now.

She'd never been to Izlude. And she'd never seen a town not long after an Overrunning. Speaking of which..
*Hey.. miss? Is Izlude free of the monster invasion yet?* she asked the empty void.
*Yeah. I got here, and I couldn't get in. We were being kept out by a fairly high-level priest, who knew precisely who could help and who would get killed. I was a novice, so I didn't even try. But they won already. A few buildings were damaged, but nothing bad happened. And not many deaths, either.*
"That's good." Ketsen said. He seemed to speak to everyone at the same time, and Chimera decided she didn't need to ask about it. "We'll be there soon, so just wait around."
*Sure thing, Ket.* the voice came. It was quite serene for a swordie, considered Chimera; she could even have come from Geffen. Or Aldebaran. She'd ask if it wasn't obvious when they got there.

The trip out was a lot quicker, and she considered Ketsen was actually using the map this time. The sunlight, meanwhile, hit both of them quite hard around the head.

Chimera wasn't aware someone was following them, but if she had been, it probably wouldn't have mattered in the slightest anyway. Tee hee. And by a healer, too. The acolyte, this particular acolyte, often did things without thinking them out first. It wouldn't be the first time. It probably wouldn't even be the last.

And the sunlight hit him hard, as well. Ouch.