Short Story: Frendei

F-,
Tonight I need an item forgotten in a closet in the Grazlov estate in town. Guard dogs roam inside the gate, but they will be overfed and relatively sated. The sides of the house are less guarded than the front or back. I will have the rear window on the right side of the house left unlocked. The closet you are looking for is up the backstairs on the left before the privy. Bring me the empty looking sack lying on the floor on the right wall.
-S

Frendei was chilled to the bone. The Halfling stood in the pouring rain, trying hard to scout the stone mansion ahead. At his feet, rivulets of water wore hard at the muddy road. The job had to be done tonight, regardless of the weather. Pulling his boots from the sucking mud, Frendei slipped around the main gate to the shadows along the side of the house.

Frendei examined the window. It was unlocked, as promised. A little grease on the moving parts would help make sure he wasn’t heard. The party inside the house was loud enough to cover any incidental noise, but it was always good to be safe.

The interior was dark. Luckily, the low clouds helped to reflect lanterns and brighten the night sky, allowing him near perfect sight with his inherent night vision. He was in a study. There were surely treasures to be had in the ornate oaken desk, whether in gems or in valuable information. And the books…any scholar would surely love to set his hands on them. Frendei slunk to the door and listened.

The house was classy; even the servant stairwell didn’t squeak. Frendei snuck up, making sure to place most of his weight on the edges. The hallway at the top was straight and full of doors. The one he wanted was on the left before the privy. The only way to find that was to locate the privy and work backwards.

The sack was about three feet tall, a couple feet wide, and completely empty. It was on the floor, completely separate from a large pile of various sacks. He grabbed the bag in multiple spots and didn’t feel a thing. Stefan hadn’t asked for anything except the bag, so he started to roll it up. Then he was on his toes, choking. A voice whispered from above.

“What are you doing with my bag, Halfling?” The rope around Frendei’s neck tightened. “I’ve been tracking that for weeks. I’ve been scouting this house for days.” His toes were off the ground and the rope slowly spun him around. Looking up, there was a shadowed shape squatting on a high shelf. The voiced changed to a cruel tone, “It’s not right for you to take what I’m about to rightfully steal.”

A woman screamed in the closet doorway. The rope dropped. “Help! A thief! Guards, please,upstairs! Thief!” Frendei grabbed the sack. The shadow jumped down off the shelf. He was a dark haired human with a black goatee.

“Actually, I have an invitation. I doubt you can say the same about the Halfling.” The man began to unbutton his black top, revealing bright finery. Frendei noticed the maid’s hands twitching in nervous gestures. He slowly backed into a corner. “Where do you think you’re go—“ the man was interrupted as a guard entered the closet doorway with a sword drawn. The maid relaxed.

“Oh, thank goodness! I opened the door to get some fresh linen and this man was dressed in black and sitting on the top shelf.” She pointed to where the man came from as a second guard came to the doorway. The man in black tensed as the first guard grabbed his arm.

“I am an invitee! It’s that blasted Halfling you need to worry about!” The man turned and the Halfling was gone. “Where in the world…?”

“There was no Halfling; I don’t know what he’s talking about. Please keep me safe, please arrest him. I found him dressed like this, hiding in the closet. And he was on the shelf!” The woman backed out as the second guard entered to haul the man in black away.

Frendei poked his head out of a pile of empty sacks as the door closed. He looked down. The pile had light sacks, dark sacks, small sacks, and large sacks. He was completely buried. He lifted his right hand out of the pile. It had the one sack he needed, tightly clenched. Frendei wasn’t sure what in the world just happened, but he knew that he needed to get out. Stefan was waiting and his luck had already been pushed too far for one night.

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