Chapter 1

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"Are you sure this is going to work?" he asks, crouching in the bush next to me. The rest of our party is hanging back, waiting for the signal. The night covers us like a veil, hiding us from sight. Darkness really is a thief's best ally.

I look at him, his nose red from the cold. "Aiden, have I given you a reason to doubt me?"

He thinks for a moment, ruffling his blond hair.

"Well, you where pretty reckless last time. And every mission before that."

"Sometimes you have to be. Look, we go in, get the money, and get out before anyone shows up. Let's just focus this time, and stick to the plan."

He scoffs. "Since when do you follow a plan?"

I roll my eyes at him. When I first joined the Thieves Guild six months ago I was reluctant to work with others, but Vex insisted. I hated it, being treated like I had no idea what I was doing. I have more experience than half of those men. But Vex, being the leader of The Guild, simply saw it as helping a newcomer. That is one of the reasons it took me four years to join them, I didn't want people like Aiden getting in the way.

"This is serious. If we succeed, we will be rolling in gold by the time we get back."

The Guild has had their eyes on the Caronell's gold for quite some time now. Vex has had people scouting out the place. He even sent someone to work undercover as a servant for two months, mapping out the place and memorizing the guard's shifts. Frederic Caronell is a man with more wealth than is good for him, and one of the King's professional buttkissers.

The City of Alvira casts its shadows over us, silent after the long day. It is a huge city set at the foot of the mountain. It is full of winding cobblestone streets hugging old buildings, with the castle set on the far side of the city, standing like a hungry giant larger than the rest. The consequences of the Great War are still evident to this day in the buildings, as well as the people inhabiting them. In war, there is no winner.

I tuck a strand of dark hair behind my ear, and the unwelcome feeling of something going wrong sneaks its way into my mind. This is like any other job, but there is something different about this one. It feels off.

Is this even a good idea? What if we do get caught?

Malcolm, a dark, mountain of a man, shifts closer. His stature is in no way diminished by his attempt at a stealthy stance.
"We have to get going, the guards will be swapping posts in ten minutes; that's when we make our move."

Malcolm is right. We will have exactly three minutes to get in before the guards arrive for the next shift. I'm surprised that Vex left the planning to me instead of one of the older members. It seems like he has finally learned to trust me. Although, I can't say the same for him.

Pulling my hood lower over my face, I give the signal and we're off. The five of us run swiftly through the city, without a sound. We come to an alleyway where two guards are patrolling. Baxter, a scrawny man with a ratlike face, throws a smoke bomb around the corner. I draw my dagger and run into our target. The combination of the darkness and the smoke makes it nearly impossible to see, but there are other senses. I can hear the guard's sword being pulled from its sheath as he swings it around blindly. As soon as it pasts me I grab him from behind, hitting him over the head with the but of my knife and he falls with a grunt. I walk back to the rest, alone.

Baxter is the first one to go back into the street. He has been in the guild for much longer than I have, and this is the first time we are doing a mission together. "Never liked tight spaces," he says. His forehead is covered with sweat, even though we have only been running for a few minutes. Vex once mentioned that Baxter spent a year in The Pit, an old mine made into a prison for criminals that people don't care enough about to be given a trial. They just leave you there to die slowly. The cells have no natural light and are barely big enough to stand up straight in. Or so I've heard. The fact that Baxter escaped, is a miracle.

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