By Alec Meer on June 29th, 2009 at 4:58 pm.
The Diamond Job
The armed guard wasn’t the problem. The child was. I’d successfully lockpicked my way through the upstairs door, sneaking into this alchemist’s store from their unwatched balcony. The guard, I knew, was downstairs, watching the front door. If I stuck to the shadows, I should be able to get past him to the storeroom, where the jewel awaited. Easy. Straight in, straight out, cash reward, and if I was lucky a spare diamond for myself.
But the child almost ruined it.
There had been reports that Vvardenfell was once a sad, strange place with with nary a youth in sight, but these days children were all over the towns. One, a teenage boy, was inhabiting the upstairs bedroom of this shop. He spotted me the second I entered the room. Rather than shouting or running, he simply stood stock-still at the top of the stairs. I had no way down.
Unless… dark thoughts flickered across my self-interested mind, and I placed a hand on the hilt of my dagger. No. There had to be a better way around this than physically carving a thoroughfare through a faintly creepy Aryan child.
Instead, I skulked in the shadows, and waited. For hours, I waited. It was boring as all hell, but somehow it made me feel like a professional – just waiting for my chance to strike. I must have dozed off at some point, for when I came to around 4am, the child was gone. I didn’t know where. Was this his home? Was he a thief like me? Had I imagined him, even? No matter – the important thing was that this tyke-obstacle was now gone.
I crawled downstairs, coolly cast my Chameleon spell to sneak right past the guard’s eyeline, and swept everything in sight – including two diamonds. O frabjous day! – into my bags. Then I just walked right out. If the guard was surprised, he didn’t show it. He was a consummate professional – just like me.
The Mansion Job
I was a thief enabling another thief – obtaining the key to a locked-tight mansion for some sinister high-up figure in the Guild. I never found out why, nor did I establish why my employer couldn’t do it himself.
The job was easy, a simple pick-pocket from a drunken councilman. He never even saw my face. Curious, I used the key to snoop around the mansion in question myself. Whatever it was my employer wanted from here, I couldn’t find it. I idly hoped his intentions weren’t too insidious. Who lived in this place? What did he want with them?
Still, a job’s a job, right?
The Artifacts Job
It takes a thief to catch a thief, as they say. A delivery of stolen Merman artifacts was due from the tiny fishing village of Hla Oad, but the contact hadn’t come through. It didn’t take long to find him. Annoyingly, he was as cool as a cucumber – I’d been secretly spoiling for a fight, something direct after all this skulking around. What artifacts, he asked. Ah, go on, I replied, piling on the charm. A few well-timed compliments later and he was calling me Friend. The bastard still wouldn’t tell me where the artifacts where, though. He did, however, confirm he hadn’t delivered them. It didn’t take much reading between the lines to realise the smug oik didn’t intend to, either. So, when my ‘friend’ turned his back, I snuck through the trapdoor behind him. Where else would one keep ancient, mystic artifacts than in a sinister underground cave system?
Alas, there were no artifacts here. There was, though, a nest of criminals. I turned on the charm again, but none of them knew anything about my target. One did, however, request I do a job for him – to deliver a slave to a man of ill-repute. No, of course I won’t: I’m naughty, not a monster.
As I turned to leave the cave, the slave – a skinny female Khajiit – watched me. She didn’t say anything, didn’t even gesture sadly – she just watched, as though this was exactly what she expected. Something flipped in the pit of my belly. I couldn’t just leave her there. Equally, I couldn’t just pick a fight with the slaver and his nearby chum: I was pretty sure I could take ‘em, but to simply start stabbing would contravene my flimsy moral code. I gamely attempted to provoke him into a rage and attack me first, but I couldn’t get him past Very Grumpy. But what if…
Despite our war of words, he agreed to let me deliver the slave after all. I led the haggard creature out of the caves, and as soon as we were out of sight tried to assuage her fears. The poor wretch was terrified, and could barely speak to me. A few friendly words later – I was becoming quite the Persuader by this point – and she seemed to realise my intentions weren’t as a monstrous as the slavers’.
Tell me, I said. Finally, she revealed the slavers weren’t interested in her after all – only what she carried in her belly. She was a drug mule, and expected brutal punishment whether or not her consignment reached its target. Her one hope was the Argonian mission, an enclave of charitable lizardmen, in the far-off outpost of Ebonheart. Argonian Mission? Clearly the catlike Khajit were not the only non-humans this island had treated unkindly. I was glad there was a place to take care of such abused folk.
Ebonheart, though? I thought back to my travels with poor old Granny, and how difficult it had been to lead a frail, confused soul across so many miles of hostile terrain. Gah. Would it be wrong to stuff a tortured catlady into a mailbox?
By a miracle, a woman at the local dock offered sea passage direct to Ebonheart. I began to wonder if a higher power was interfering in my life – leading me off my path of mild darkness, making me into – ugh- a do-gooder. Fortunately, I didn’t seem to have any compunction about robbing everyone in this village blind, so this shouldn’t muck things up too much. A sign is a sign, after all. So we sailed to Ebonheart, a strangely bland town of military brickwork. The Mission took the Khajiit slave in gladly, and I felt good about myself – the first time I’d done so in this land. They also paid me well. Hmm – good deeds and profit aren’t mutually exclusive after all…
There was still the matter of those artifacts, however. Back to Hla Oad I sailed, and back to the thieving thief’s den I went. He seemed pleased to see me- the feeling was not mutual. I searched the room again, and just before giving up all hope, imagining my career in tatters, I spied a chest hidden behind a few barrels. Aha. Gotcha, dunderhead.
The second his back was turned – literally, the second; he didn’t take his eye off it for long – I prised the box open (with the help of a magic ring that temporarily boosted my meagre lockpicking skill. Hurrah for magic rings!) and made off with my trophies. Both my wallet and my soul had profited, and without even a drop of blood spilt. This was a good day.
Tomorrow, I shall celebrate by being a dick to someone.