Chapter One

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"Good morning. Are you the orc who killed the Great Cairn?"

Glen forced a smile in the face of Sid, the scarred orc in front of him.

"Who are you supposed to be?" said Sid, scratching his face.

"The name's Glen Cairn."

"And I'm the King of Galeria," Sid yawned, pushing Glen to the side.

"There's only so many orcs with that kind of a scar," Glen said, pointing at the faded X-shaped scar across the orc's right cheek. "And only so many knives that can make that kind of a scar," Glen continued, taking out a knife from his side-scabbard and drawing it across his leather gauntlet. Indeed, its serrated edge left the same form of scar into the worn leather skin.

Sid picked up the knife, holding it between two of his massive fingers.

"It takes more than a fancy knife to be the next Great Cairn," Sid said, dropping the knife to the ground.

Glen kicked the knife back up to his hand and slid into Sid's way again.

"Even if you don't buy the name, at least buy my story," Glen said, pushing against Sid's heavy chest.

"Are you some elf mutt? You sound like one."

"Do my ears lie?" Glen said, flicking his pointed ears with his chipped fingernail. "Or I'd say something like this." Glen's tongue danced as he cursed Sid out in the elf language, saying that his mother was a prize-winning green tomato. "Or I'd do any manner of stupid thing just to prove that I grew up in the literal sticks. Which is where I found this."

Glen pulled out the Cairn emblem. It featured an auburn fox clutching a serrated knife, its slender body wrapped around a curly C.

Glen watched Sid for any sign of surprise, but Sid's face scrunched up even more.

"Cairn or not, you have pluck to face me down this early. Come in."

Glen gasped as Sid opened the pub entrance and shoved him inside.

--

The two settled themselves at the bar. Sid went behind the heavy oak counter, and Glen sat down on one of the bar's creaky seats.

"Care for some coffee?" Sid rumbled. "Or if you're truly a Cairn, then maybe I could take out something from my reserves."

"Coffee, please," Glen said, watching the bulky muscles in Sid's scarred shoulders bunch up and relax as he poured the glass.

"You're far too perky for this time of the morning," Sid groaned. "If you're truly an elf, then you don't need much rest, am I right?"

"I still get sleepy, I guess, but it's not like I need it a lot of the time," Glen replied, sipping the coffee. "Where I'm from, you can't really rest for long, anyway."

"It's a wonder you even made it out of the woods," Sid said, resting his head against his hand. "One time, Cairn and I were on this quest to retrieve, I don't know, some druid's stick or something, and we ended up tricked by a couple of dryads into a fairy circle. They stuck us to the ground with roots and it took Cairn's knife work to cut us free before the bears ate us alive!"

"It'd take a couple of days to eat someone of your size down to the bone," Glen said with a grin.

Sid stopped smiling and bared his teeth.

"Just 'cause you've got his knife and his seal, I still don't buy that you're of my friend's blood."

Glen shook his head at Sid's reply. Glen put down his coffee and got up from his seat.

"It's a little early for theatrics," Glen said, "but I guess I have no choice but to go through the whole legend."

"What legend?"

Glen began his one-man act.

Long ago, there was a elf rogue whose hair burned as orange as his thieving path.

All through the forests, he pickpocketed and plundered every ring, amulet, and trinket that a noble fancied.

No one could protect their valuables from his deft hands.

But in his path of larceny, there was one woman who stole his heart.

Her round ears were cupped towards birdsong, and her gentle smile could pierce through even the hardiest of armor. And so, their elopement began.

Glen glanced over at Sid to measure his excitement. Sid scratched his chin.

"I'm sure that'd be beautiful if I spoke any elvish," Sid said, shrugging his shoulders. "Are you quite done bothering me?

"There's no hurrying a love story," Glen said, holding his kissy-face pose towards his imaginary lover.

"Well, I get the point," Sid said, poking Glen in the chest with a thick finger. "More than a Cairn, you're a nuisance. Pay for your drink and get out of here."

Glen took out his near-empty sack of gold and emptied out two coins.

"I was gonna get to this, but...I'm kind of low on gold right now. But, if you just hear me out..."

Sid slammed his fist down on the counter, making Glen fall from his stool and onto the ground.

"Hang up, hang up," Glen said, rubbing his rear end in pain. "Can I go behind the counter for a second?" he asked. "Not gonna rob you, I swear."

Sid tensed his brow, but sighed, gesturing Glen over.

Glen smiled, pommel-horsing over the bar countertop. Glen landed with a thump, startling Sid.

"Couldn't just walk over?" Sid said with a sigh.

"No time," Glen said, already picking the lock on the spirits case. "Don't your hours say you open soon?"

"What's your point?"

Glen stuck his tongue out as he balanced the mixture of liquids he poured out of misshapen bottles into his empty stein. He reached behind his ear and found a metal rod, which he floated at an angle out of the glass. Then, he stood back, reached his palm out, and blew into it. His palm filled with orange flame, which ignited the liquid on the surface of the drink.

Sid reached out and picked up the drink, sipping from the edge of the glass. His half-open eyes opened completely, his lips puckering up.

"What in Galeria is this?"

"Hire me and maybe you'll find out," Glen said, putting his hands on his hips and flashing a crooked smile.

Thieftender -- The Thief Behind the Bar CounterWhere stories live. Discover now