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The Thief King

63ebb68e

Link: https://www.wattpad.com/story/13132969-the-thief-king

Target Audience:

My target audience enjoys young adult as well as fantasy books, reading about an underdog's journey of overcoming the odds, heart-racing action, and forbidden romance.

Blurb

Koltin Seaward thought he could be the Thief King without sacrifice.

In a city where the rich live frivolous lives and the poor barely survive there are two kings. One who earns the title by inheritance, the other paid for in blood. Koltin paid the price and earned the title to rule the underworld, but his world is about to change.

To protect those he holds dearest, Koltin has to fight in order to save his family, his city and himself, but at what cost? What will he sacrifice? His heart or his soul...

Excerpt:

Koltin Seaward swore his death would be legendary, or at least so twisted with lies and exaggerations that well-traversed bards sang its like in far-off kingdoms. Alas for most Lethilians, tonight was not the night he'd die. He knew it. There was something about being well-acquainted with death that gave him an edge when it came to danger. The type of danger that came with being a thief would scare most off, leaving only the strong and desperate behind.

Kole had learned the art to thieving, flirting with fate and attempting the impossible. Impossible meant untried, and if someone hadn't tried it, that meant it was unnecessarily feared. Trying to succeed where others had not was one of the reasons Kole had remained a thief. He thrived on the unknown, sought out fear, and conquered it without fail. Doubt, the stone in any good horse's hoof, could be the end to a short thieving career. He'd learnt that the hard way.

This thought passed through his mind as the man in his grasp grappled to relieve the pressure Kole applied to his airwaves. Kole kept his hold firm, but not to kill the man—unfortunately. The fool had almost managed to shout a warning to his men below before Kole got a proper grip on him. Like a passing breeze, the man's fight faded, and Kole released his fingers slowly, aiding the body to the roof's tiles in a silent heap.

Kole turned to Chase who stood a few paces away, his own victim at his feet sporting a head injury. "Don't say it."

"I don't need to," Chase grumbled. "You already know it."

"It's a good plan, Chase."

"So you keep telling me." Chase crawled to the roof's edge and peered down. "And yet, I have this nagging feeling in my stomach we're poking at a hornet's nest ill-equipped for the consequences."

"You sure it wasn't something you ate?" Kole sighed at the unamused glare he received. "Look mate, I get it. We've never tried anything like this before and th-"

"No one has tried this, Kole, and for good reason. The man is a paranoid, fastidious peacock with too many feathers and far too much..."

"Fat?" Kole suggested.

Chase agreed with a grunt.

Kole admitted he teetered towards reckless at times. He liked living unpredictably. "A predictable thief is a dead thief; this is the very definition of unpredictable. He's not going to catch us because he doesn't think we know about his books."

"He's going to find out someone gabbed. It's inevitable."

"Look, if you don't want to help, you know where I'll end up."

"In the hatch?"

"More than likely," Kole scratched the back of his neck, earning a sigh he recognized as surrender.

"In that case, to save myself the hassle of breaking you out, I'm going to have to stay and watch your back." Chase exhaled, elbows rested on his knees. "How long does it take to anger a bar wench?"

Kole snorted. "That sounds like the start of a good joke."

"You laugh, but I'm freezing my balls off. All it takes is for Rusty to say something offensive. How long could that take?"

"If it were me, I'd be on my third word before I got a flat one."

"If it were you, you would be on your third step in and be thrown out."

Shouts echoed below, both of them sat up and crawled to the edge. As planned, two men were being thrown out of the brothel. Rusty's tall frame and Stone's much wider, muscular one swayed away from the building. Kole and Chase watched as they rounded the corner, their gait straightening. Both looked up before slipping into a nearby alley.

Chase flicked Kole with the back of his hand and ran off, keeping his body low. Kole followed. They ran along the roof until they reached its edge and flung themselves across the street. Kole's hands found a grip on the Quivering Lips' roof outcrop. His feet swung forward, found the old stone wall and pushed off to make it easier to pull himself onto the roof. Chase had done the same and now peered over at the small attic window below.

"You think there's a lock on it?"

Chase scratched his chin. "It's Shogan."

"Good point," Kole said, pulling the sash at his neck over the lower part of his face and tugging on his hood. They surveyed the building, finding a few of Shogan's men chatting outside with ales in hand.

Chase sneered. "Can't risk it until they go in." He mimicked Kole, covering his unusually, golden hair with his hood and masking his face with the sash at his neck.

"I still think you would look good with dark hair," Kole whispered.

"Drop it, Kole. I'm not dying my hair."

"Why not? Scarlet dyes hair all the time, she'd do a great job. What are you so scared of ?"

Chase opened his mouth to answer but closed it again when the men below fell silent. He only spoke again once conversation had resumed. "If fear is the word we are using, then in context, I fear the repercussions."

"You're scared of looking like me? Tall, dark and handsome? The ladies love it."

He could see Chase frowning. "Sera would slap you, if she could hear you."

"She loves it. Ask her." Kole's black hair was something of a trait. Part of his street name came from his hair being darker than the thickest shadow, but it had been his childhood nickname too, him always having coal smudges on his face from sketching.

"I don't need to," Chase growled. "I believe it's my hair that gets us information that places us in situations like the one we're in right now. If I recall, it was to the wench's approval that my hair was fair." The lass he was referring to was a serving wench who worked at the Quivering Lips, the brothel and gambling house they now surveyed. It had only taken an hour for her to loosen both tongue and skirts in Chase's presence, something Chase was renowned for. "Besides, it is one of many reasons that I find life so...pleasurable."

Kole contained a laugh and looked over the lip of the roof once more. "Balls, you'd think the weather would hurry them up."

Finally, the men finished their drinks and ambled inside, laughing at a joke boisterously. The door closed with a definite bang and a semblance of silence echoed down the streets of Lethilian's centre.

The Quivering Lips was situated on the cusp of the Lowies and the Golden Peak, the nobles' sector. Somewhere at the hill's peak, the palace and its surrounding grounds towered over them. Because the Noble's sector bordered the palace, The Quivering Lips was seen as a civilized establishment, having patrons of considerable wealth. The brothel itself was plain and easily missed as a house of sin, but that was likely the point. In the thieving community, it was well-known as Shogan's headquarters-trouble was getting in. Shogan, a man as paranoid as a mother with a sick child, hoarded and guarded his empire with all the coin he could afford, all the while pretending his station was above 'corrupt owner of multiple establishments of vice'.

Kole swung down, reaching with his toes towards the attic window's small sill. Once he was confident he had a reasonable amount of grip, he released one hand and sought out a dagger.

The window had wooden shutters with no hint of a keyhole. Lock picks would prove useless. The most Kole could hope for was a hinge on the other side that could be lifted. He slid his dagger between the shutters and came to a stop halfway up. The hinge caught, creaked a little, then gave way. The shutters swung outward. His left foot slipped. Before his arms inherited his full weight, he grabbed onto the ledge and thrust himself inside. The wooden floors acknowledged the weight of his landing with a gentle groan of protest. He waited, surveying the dark room. The only source of light came from the open window.

Chase slipped in, far more elegantly, with barely a sound. They waited for their eyes to adjust to the dark. Slowly a desk came into view and shelves heaped with scrolls and badly bound books. A dirty rug lay in the centre of the room and many small chests lay stashed in the corner.

Kole was about to whisper something, but Chase raised a finger to his lips, pointing at the far corner. A sleeping figure dozed on a palette, mouth wide open, his grey hair splayed like an over-zealous fountain.

Kole rolled his eyes, shaking his head. Nothing was ever easy. He should have known Shogan would have an old man stashed away in his records room to do the books. Now that he thought about it, the idea of Shogan calculating his wealth and keeping track of his employees was laughable. The man did not care, as long as the majority was his. If those that worked for him were unhappy, he'd likely kill them for their impudence. In Shogan's opinion, working for his rotund self was a privilege in itself. This old man had likely not left the attic in years—no way to complain—the attic lacked a door or hatch, or none that Kole could see.

Rufus had always told Kole a man like Shogan was more bark than bite, but that didn't mean he never bit. He just didn't do it himself. Over the years, Kole had witnessed many encounters between his late mentor and his current nemesis. It had taught Kole a lot, but he wished he'd known at the time how much trouble Shogan would prove to be. He would have paid more attention to the smaller details.

Chase tiptoed further into the gloomy room towards he large desk, ready to pounce or hide. Kole did the same, but towards the chests. Stealing coin was never a bad idea. He reached the first chest and lifted its lid. Little brown satchels of wealth smiled back at him. He lifted one, feeling its weight, and glanced over his shoulder to gage Chase's response.

The man was in a crouch, his ear pressed to the drawer of the desk while his fingers worked lock picks. Kole heard the latch give and cringed. Chase paused, taking a cautionary glance at their unexpected companion who remained in blissful slumber.

Kole released a breath and turned back to the chest of gold. He took one more pouch from the chest, pried another open, and took two more pouches. Any more would weigh him down or turn himself into a walking bell tower. He closed the last chest and crept towards Chase.

"Anything?"

Chase had opened the drawer and was leafing through papers. Kole took the remaining sheets and scanned them, thanking Sera silently for her determination to see him grow up a learned man. Without parents, he had been rebellious and irresponsible. He supposed the only reason Hannah had made it out of her toddler years was because of Sera. Without her, his sister might have been a street urchin or a pickpocket like he had been.

"Here," Chase said, pointing at the sheet he was holding. "It's a year log summary." When Kole showed no signs of understanding what that was, Chase growled, shook his head, and moved past Kole towards the shelves. His finger traced the edge of the shelf before stopping and pulling out a worn book with leather binding. He unravelled its tie and opened it. "Got it," Chase said, retying the book and stuffing it into his coat.

Kole did a final scan of the room before replacing the papers in the drawer. Something caught his eye, a map of sorts. As he lifted it closer, he recognized a name scribbled along one of the lines. Murker Street. A map of the city. Someone had drawn a familiar seal crudely nearby. The circle held a feline face with lightning as stripes, its mouth spread below its triangular nose like roots below a tree. He rubbed at the ring adorning his middle finger, the lines a familiar pressure under the pads of his thumb.

"Kole!" Chase hissed.

Kole looked up, stashing the piece of paper in his pocket.

"What are you doing?" Chase insisted. "No coins remember."

Kole smirked, walking towards his friend. "I am not leaving my coin, Chester. Don't worry your pretty golden head. I'll leave my mark at another encounter to feed my massive ego." He'd reached the window when the sleeping man let out a long, sonorous snore. He halted, looked back, hoping to see the man still sleeping. Instead, the man's eyes stared at him, glassy from sleep.

"Who's there?" he croaked.

Kole said nothing, dropped daggers down his sleeves.

"Tabitha," the man mumbled. "I told you not to..." he rolled over so his back was to Kole and Chase. Kole let out the breath he'd been holding and turned to find Chase shaking his head with mirth.

Both men climbed out the window, closed its shutters, and returned to the opposite rooftop.

Kole would have whooped with joy if they had been further away. As far as he was concerned that was a job well done. The best heists were ones never recorded, as Rufus used to say. He also used to say the best heists were ones where life was stolen before death could catch it.

"I do remember you calling my plan something before," Kole muttered, pulling down his sash but leaving his hood up. "What was it?"

"It's still a stupid plan, Koltin. We're deep in Shogan's lair."

"True, but we got his ledger, don't we?"

Chase's tugged his sash down too, and Kole saw his answering grin.

"Kole?" A third familiar voice below called.

"Rusty," Kole answered. "Where's Stone?"

"Stone be watching the men that got Misty." Rusty flicked his head towards the entrance of the brothel. "Something gone wrong, mate."

A growl built at the back of Kole's throat. "And all was going so well." He dropped to Rusty's rooftop and Chase followed. Together the three of them ran. It was not far.

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They found Misty held by two men double her size, her white-blonde hair loose for a change, and her small body clad in a dark grey dress. Convincing her to wear it had been a battle of its own and now she fumbled in the thing, clearly unable to move as she usually would in breeches and a shirt. She was likely cursing his name right about now.

Kole stepped out onto the streets, his hood and sash up. It took the men a moment to see him, but when they did they bared their teeth. A third man stepped out of the brothel and immediately noticed Kole.

"Fief King," the man said, missing his two front teeth was clearly not working for him. "Ye way out of yer territory, boy, and all alone."

Kole's smile was hidden so he voiced a chuckle. "Alone?" As he said it, he felt Chase and Rusty step up behind him. A street away Stone appeared with two more of his men, Jasper and Ben. "Let her go," Kole said, ice in his tone.

"We found 'er snoopin' in our business. She's ours to do wif as we please."

"I ain't nobody's ye filthy rat!" Misty spat. "If I weren't in this bloody dress I'd skin ye, ye hear."

"Pretty mouth this one got, ey Tom?" the one man sneered at toothless Tom.

"Shogan will want to 'ear of vis," Tom leered. He whistled and in a moment four more men ran out the door. "Get em."

The men dropped Misty and all seven ran at Kole and his crew. Kole's daggers dropped into his hands in an instant. He heard the release of two arrows but never saw their target as he met Tom's dagger with his own. He dropped to a crouch where he sliced at Tom's calf. Tom yowled, turning and catching Kole's coat tails. He yanked Kole backwards, one of his daggers slipping out of his hands from the force. Tom caught him at the throat, squeezing hard until Kole heard trilling bells in his ears. Kole drove the second dagger into the man's bicep, but Tom only roared in his ear, his grip never faltering.

Kole used Tom's body as a ladder, climbing up him 'til he reached the abdomen. He kicked, sent them both flying. Kole rolled to his feet, reaching for two more daggers, threw the first at Tom. It hit Tom's shoulder. As if it'd had no effect, Tom yanked the dagger out and threw it back. Kole ducked, the dagger whooshing over his head.

He grinned. "Lousy shot, Tom. What's Shogan gonna say when you tell him you had me feet away and missed."

"Yer dead meat, Black Coin," Tom sneered, rising to his feet.

"Well, now I'm just offended." Kole feigned pain, clutching at his chest. "And here I was thinking we were bonding."

Before Tom could reply, a small figure appeared out of nowhere and knocked him out with a dagger hilt. Tom swayed for two moments before falling unconscious. Misty stood over him, tucking the dagger into her dress belt.

"Stinkin' fool," she spat, then turned to glare at Kole. "Chase were right, this plan's stupid. Next time, ye be wearing a dress, ye hear?"

Kole grinned, looking around. Chase had his opponent tied up but conscious. The other men sprawled on the pavement, faces bleeding, out cold.

"Any casualties?" Kole asked.

"Yeah," Stone laughed, "their egos."

Kole walked over to Chase who was kneeling over his man.

"What ye say, mate?" Kole clapped Chase on the shoulder, bending down next to him. "We kill him or just leave a message?"

"I don't know if he's clever enough to remember a message."

"Shogan will get you for this, Thief King," the man sneered.

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