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24 July 2015 @ 08:04 am
_The God of Thieves_  
I suspect you've seen bits of this here and there, in the rough drafts, but as a reintroduction:

It had been twenty-six years since Xen had been here.

The Temple of Love in Cadent had changed.

The Goat statue was long gone, and in its stead, two human forms. Romeau exuded romantic love from every pore, well, every vein of pink marble. Dydit broadcast sex appeal in every glint from the black marble statue on the other side of the altar.

Xen snickered and looked around for the infamous Virgins.

"Hello? Anybody home?"

Apparently they didn't get many people Traveling onto the doorstep. The door behind him was locked, so he walked over to the side door. It opened easily.

To the obvious surprise of the two young women standing guard on either side.

"Hello. Sorry, I should have thought about the time difference. What is it here? About two in the morning?"

"How did you get in there! Only the God Of Love comes and goes without passing the Guardians of the Temple of Love!"

"And anyone else to whom he gives the Traveling key." Xen corrected them. "I need to talk to the Virgins, but I suppose I ought to wait for a decent hour. Is there a coffee shop or . . . "

"Ha!" The brunette blocked his egress. "If you just popped in here like a God, why is the door unlocked? I think you must have a sneaky charm, and it wore out." She grabbed his wrist, then ran her other hand up and down his biceps.

Xen backed up, a bit taken aback. "Err, sorry. Look, I'll come back in, umm, six hours, will that work?"

The blonde appeared right beside the brunette. Xen had an uncomfortable feeling that she'd raised the alarm while her buddy kept Xen occupied.

Four more women piled in, breathless from running.

"Now, what did you steal?"

"Nothing. I came to talk." They glared and closed in quietly.

A faint clink behind him.

"Careful, there's another one." The first brunette said. "Close and lock the door."

Another squad of six women entered and the door was locked.

Xen waited patiently while they searched the Temple.

"The Wine! The sacred vessel is _gone_."

Xen blinked. Had someone actually burgled the place? He closed his eyes. There were the twelve women, and, damped down as much as he could, another presence. He opened his eyes and nudged the woman who was gripping his arm. "There's an invisible man sitting on Romeau's shoulders."

"What?" The woman started looking up at the black statue.

"Hey! How did you see me?" Male voice, indignant. Echoing around the rafters.

"Experience. Who are you and what are you doing stealing wine? This isn't the sort of stuff you want to get drunk on, and they give out samples every summer for the other effects, don't they?"

The woman shook him. "We will ask the questions."

"Yeah," they all muttered.

A spectacular black haired beauty walked up to the statue and frowned at the invisible man. "Who are you? Come down here."

At that point, the thief slipped, getting down from the pink statue, and hit the ground with a loud thump. Half stunned, he also lost his grip on his light warp, but not the gaudy decanter of wine.

The women pounced, half rescuing the wine and half pinning the man. Well, not quite half. One still held Xen's arm, and the black haired woman stalked over, and swapped a glare between Xen and the thief.

"Trying to help him get away?" she glowered at Xen.

"No. I told you he was on Sir Romeau's statue. Don't you even know these guys' names? The black one is Dydit Twicecutt, the Last Duke of High Top in Scoone."

He peered at the man on the floor, and then stared. "Kevi? What are you doing here? Wait, how did you do that? You aren't magic."

"I am now." The boy looked smug for just a second. Then uncertain as he looked around at the collection of women. "The Black Mage fixed me up. A mage Y that I didn't get from my Dad and a witch X that I didn't get from my mother."

"The Black . . . Mage. Old Gods!" Ras, what are you doing?

The door behind the altar slid open, and Sir Romeau walked out.

"Oh, Xen, when you see the . . . " He looked around at the scantily clad guards. "Umm, after you're done playing around, and see the Virgins, ask them if they actually need this building any more, or if I can move it, eh?"

"Umm, sure. As soon as I see them."

"Thanks. Carry on." He walked back through the door. "Ah! Youth. Only the young could play the games they . . . " It slid closed behind him fortunately cutting off the rest.

The guard holding his arm released it suddenly. "I was not playing around with you!"

"I know, you were a very vigilant and excellent guard. If only your uniform covered more skin and didn't drape so suggestively." Xen stepped over to Kevi. "What I want to know is why you are stealing the wine?"

"I am going to be the Greatest Thief in the World. So I needed to steal something incredible. I mean, think about it. Stealing the Wine of the Virgins is like stealing the Fire from the Gods. It's monumental. It's boggling. It's fantastic!" He wiggled a little under the five women who were still holding him down. "I'd have brought it back after they did something good, you know fed the poor, sheltered the orphans, gave money to old folks without family, something like that."

"Okay. It's boggling. That is absolutely for sure." Xen said.

"It's so heroic!" squealed one of the blondes.

"Like Robin Hood." The redhead seemed to have gone from pinning to cuddling.

The black haired guardian frowned. "We already do all that sort of thing. Why didn't you go steal something significant and magnificent from someone who needs to be taken down a few notches?"

"You do?" Kevi sounded appalled. "Oh, I'm so sorry! I guess I should have done some research, I just, I mean everyone says it's just about sex, and that you're filthy rich and." He was cut off by a brunette kissing him.

The black haired one turned back to Xen. "And why are you here?"

"I was going to ask the Virgins if they wanted to also distribute an elixir of long life." He shrugged off his pack and pulled out the wine bottle. "I brought a sample."

"What else does it do?" she asked.

"Nothing. This one just affects the cellular level aging process. The Wine of the Gods can fix outer appearances and energy level, for a little while. This is different. And the two of them together do a great job."

She held the bottle up and eyed it warily. "You'll drink it first, and we'll just see what it does."

"Well, to me, nothing." Xen shrugged. "I've got all the longevity genes. This is so anyone who wants to, can live forever. Or at any rate, until they die of something else."

Behind her the guardians were breaking out the wine glasses and more bottles. Blackie tried to stalk, but barefoot and barely dressed it was a very sinuous, graceful, catlike stalk, over to get a corkscrew. She returned with a glass of wine. "Drink it."

At the first sip he knew she'd used the temple wine. "Aren't you going to try the new wine?"

"This is both. If there was poison in it, it is neutralized. Drink it all."

"Um, I really wasn't planning on . . . "

"This is the penalty for breaking into the Temple." She had him backed up against the wall, and he drank the rest of the glass.

"That's not the way to enjoy a really fine wine, you know. Knock it back like it was whiskey . . . " Haploid spell, haploid spell, on myself, quick.

"Indeed, but Trespassers should do as they are told."

"Did you, by any chance, go to the Academy in Ochase?"

"What makes you think so?"

"The extreme military attitude. Actually that means you didn't go there. They want enslaved witches, not powerful soldiers. I can't believe they're actually making sex slaves out of the Temple Children. Have the Virgins gone and inspected the Academy? Checked on the kids?"

Blackie narrowed her eyes. "We had problems here with several magically talented children."

"Yes. Smokey and Sunset, and, umm, whatever the other's names were. Witches do need training, but they need the right sort, not the travesty that 'Academy' gives. Maybe these two gods need to speak to you lot about it." He was sweating with the effort to not kiss Blackie. "Do you have a name?"

"Autumn Night."

"Umm. Perfect." He gave up and kissed her.

She snorted in amusement. "Come, the Virgins will want to meet you."

As she led him out the door, Kevi barreled through and bolted up the street, scantily clad guardians on his heels.

Autumn Night sniffed in dismissal and led him through the maze of the temple complex, and finally into the presence of the original Virgins. They were drinking wine. From the bottle he'd brought.

"Very interesting." One of them said. "If your claim stands up, we'll distribute it to any who want it."

Another one eyed him coolly. "Without payment or promises."

Xen nodded. "Freely and honestly. Something like this just can't be handled any other way."

"Yes."

"Umm, Sir Romeau, the God you've got modeled in pink, he wants to know if you need the temple building, or if he could move it?"

"Our temple!"

"Well, we do only use the one room."

"We could build a new one, more space, a few more floors for offices . . . "

"Something a bit more modern."

"But we're keeping the statues."

The sixth one smiled at Xen. "Yes, dear, the next time you see the God of Love, tell him we will remove our statues this week, and then he may move the Temple."

Xen bowed. "I will." He Traveled back to Romeau's doorstep, and from there Traveled home. The dwellings of the old gods were clear and unique recognition points. He wondered if his house would ever feel like this, and then shivered and rather hoped it wouldn't.



***


Nighthawk missed the Gremlins, but in the usual way of things, first one boy and then another had arrived on the door step. The two new boys were still a bit uncertain that they really, really were safe. That they weren't going to be exploited, even though they were being asked to clear the tables.

Harry had taken Lily off somewhere to show her something new. So it was just Flare, Nighthawk and Centauri running things. Not that they weren't able to cope. But Nighthawk was definitely too busy to be keeping an eye on that lad. Young man, rather. He was probably five years older than she was, but he had that softness of expression that said he had a lot of growing up yet to do.

Just because he glowed like a god didn't mean he was good.

So she just spot checked that he was still there, didn't seem to have stolen the silverware, nor the other patron's purses. Humph. Three tables of soldiers in tonight. He'd be a fool if he tried anything.

He paid while he was finishing up the cherry pie, and the next time she came out, he was gone. She hoped without taking someone else's horse. The soldiers finished up and trailed off some time thereafter. The two men staying the night were already in bed so she swept and locked up.

Flare was starting the dough for tomorrow and Centauri had the dishes half done; the boys were already in bed.

"They need their sleep. They're both awfully scrawny." Flare said.

"Soft heart." Nighthawk grinned. "You've been around Harry too long." She took over the dishes. Being a witch she could heat the water, although a bit fitfully, being just a Crescent Moon.

Flare chuckled. "He's so cute, now that he's got Lily. Things certainly are changing, even the Gods change."

Nighthawk forbear to call her the Goddess of Hearth and Home. She was stacking the last of the dishes when she heard Harry's door creak. Harry had always lived under the stairs in a suite as large or small as he needed it at the time, and the door had always had a soft little creak. She looked out—no sign of Harry, and anyway if they were back they would have stuck their heads in to say something.

Nighthawk stepped back, warped light around herself and slipped out before the kitchen door swung shut. Flare thumped a few things in the kitchen, finishing up.

After a long moment the door creaked again. A cautious head poked out. Nighthawk grabbed a fistful of hair and pulled. The young man from earlier flew out with a yell and crashed to the floor. Flare burst through the kitchen door, lantern held high. Centauri and the two boys were just a bit behind her.

"What do you think you're doing?" Nighthawk's eye widened and she pounced. "Harry's spear? You were going to steal Harry's spear? Are you insane?"

"I'm going to be the greatest thief in all the Worlds." The young man climbed to his feet and scowled at the spear now in her hands. "I was going to steal The Spear from the God of Travelers."

"You are mad. The Travelers would kill you."

"I'd have returned it as soon as he stopped stealing and abusing children." He pointed at the boys.

Flare leaned forward frowning. "Kevi? Is that you? The boys just got here two days ago. Harry hasn't had time to feed them up, teach them to read and write and set them on their way. Which is what he has always done."

"He has?"

Nighthawk tossed her head. "Yes. And for someone who wants to be a great thief, you aren't impressing me, Kevi. Why don't you go steal the War God's Black Stallion? He'll tromp you into jelly, and then the rest of us can relax."

"Very funny. He's on my list, right after I steal a Hell Hound."

Nighthawk leaned the spear against the wall and advanced on the idiot. Grabbed an ear. "Just to show you what a nice girl I am, I'm going to demonstrate to you what an utter incompetent you are. Maybe, just maybe, it will save your life." She hauled him out to the street and thrashed him.

Then hauled him back inside and found him a bed. "Maybe you should consider sticking around long enough for some lessons."



 
 
 
muirecanmuirecan on July 24th, 2015 10:01 pm (UTC)
I remember that first half. It looks like your splitting up bits of things and that god of thieves has no common sense at all or survival instinct at all.
matapampamuphoff on July 24th, 2015 11:54 pm (UTC)
Zero. He's the comedic relief of the Baby Gods. But when a lot of people think something needs to be stolen, he'll be driven to go steal it.
Bretbretw on July 27th, 2015 07:36 pm (UTC)
So does that mean the collective subconscious on comet fall thinks the god of thieves should be utterly incompetent?
matapampamuphoff on July 27th, 2015 08:11 pm (UTC)
The collective subconscious goes by the overwhelming majority opinion, not the most knowledgeable members. Think of it like dye in water. A little blue wisdom, and a gallon of red tall tales, myths and stories doesn't even get you to purple.

So the God of War is the mighty lone warrior, not the brilliant general, or even a damn good soldier. The God of Spies falls for the enemy agent, excels in public where he ought to be unnoticeable. The God of Thieves? At least the Pink Panther is unknown. But there are too many stories about things being stolen with good intentions, but amusing results, to not find resonance in Kevi. Remember him from Mages? Poor fool volunteered to be a baby god. At least I gave him a big black horse for a side-kick.