This job was going to be the big one; I could just feel it. Perfect weather: a foggy night, not too hot or cold, and just a sliver of moon to see by. I put on my night-vision amulet and off I went.
The mark was a local wizard, eccentric (aren’t they all?), but known to frequent a local tavern. I just waited until he came in, hung out a bit longer so as not to look suspicious, then walked out the front door… and into the stable to put on my gear. Then it was off to his tower.
It wasn’t far, and my horse is fast. I waved a magic detector amulet over the door. Nothing. Went ahead and picked the lock.
There were the stairs, right in front of me, like the job had said. Up I went, near-silently thanks to my sneaking boots. The detector was starting to glow faintly, but that was to be expected. I have a pretty good sense for traps, generally, and didn’t feel even a prickle. So far, this was a bit too easy.
Came to the first door, that was his bedroom. Then another flight of stairs. I wasn’t worried: I could get out through the window in his study, and climb down with my sneaky boots and some sticky-finger gloves I had in my back pocket. As long as I was out the window before he was up the stairs, I would be fine.
The study was amazing. The amulet was really glowing now: too much ambient power for it to be any real use detecting security. I’d just have to take my chances. There was a big, solid oak chest, inlaid with spirals and some kind of weird glyphs. It hadn’t been in the job description, but I picked the lock anyway, just to see what was inside. Clothes and things. Too identifiable. I moved on.
Display cases with glass as clear as water graced several tables. I peered into them, wondering what else might be worth taking. Did that one glow just to give light, or was the light a sign of something sinister? No matter; it wasn’t what I came here for, and I wasn’t sure I could move it, not knowing what it did. A few stray coins went into my pocket, at least, and a loose gem or two. It was weird how he left them just lying around, like he started making jewelry or somethign and got bored. Who leaves these things in a bowl on their desk, and why? Eccentric indeed.
Finally, I spotted my mark. A lovely wooden box, inlaid with designs of lapis and gold, sat in the center of his desk. I looked at it quizzically. It was way too obvious, as if it had been planted there. I waved the magic detector around a bit, trying to see if it could pick up anything, but it was still just glowing for the whole room. I made a mental note to pick up a more precise one some time, maybe with a little dial. Did they make those?
I picked the locks on the desk drawers, just for something to do while I considered. I pocketed a few more coins, and put some scrolls and potions I knew the use of into my sack. But in the end, there was nothing for it. The box contained what I had come here for. I had to open it to complete the job.
I took a deep breath, listening, and looked around one last time. There was still no sign of the old wizard. Tentatively, I reached out and opened the box.
The most wonderful light poured out, and as it washed over me, I felt a wave of calm suffuse my very being. A small smile graced my lips, and I blinked slowly. I could see the crystal inside the box, resting on dark blue velvet. It was so beautiful. I just had to pick it up.
Once it was in my hand, another wave of calm washed over me. I sat in the chair by the desk. It was so comfy and soft. I held up the crystal, and it turned a bit on the end of its chain. It caught the light so prettily. I couldn’t stop staring. I didn’t want to stop staring. Everything felt so calm and wonderful.
“Aw, look at you.”
I had no idea how much time had passed, or when he had come in, but the wizard was standing right next to me, a hand on my shoulder. I felt confused. “I… look at me?”
“It’s just adorable how entranced you were, that’s all. Go ahead: stare a little deeper. I don’t mind.”
Smiling, I nodded, and did as I was told. The facets sparkled so pretty with the candles glowing on them. A tiny part of me screamed an alarm, but I couldn’t seem to focus on that with wave after wave of calm crashing into and over and through my mind. I let out a happy sigh.
“That’s right. Here, let me hold it. It looks like your hand is getting a little tired.”
I nodded again as he took it. My hand was really tired.
“That’s right. You can stare a little longer, as you stand up and walk over here.”
I felt my body standing and following. I couldn’t look away. I didn’t want to.
“You’re going to lie down right here in this cot, next to my bed. Once you’re comfy in the cot, you’ll let your eyes close, and just listen, still every bit as entranced and open to my words as you are now. That sounds wonderful and relaxing, doesn’t it?”
“Yeah…” I heard my voice answer, distant and soft.
He chuckled. “That’s ‘yes, Sir’ from you from now on.”
“Yes, Sir.” I heard myself say. The bed was so comfy. I had never been so relaxed on a cot in my life.
“Goooooood,” he purred. He pet my head softly as my eyelids fluttered shut. “You did such a good job. I asked your guild to assign a truly accomplished thief, and you were certainly up to the task. Do you know, I had at least a dozen guards between the tavern and the tower, an informant in the guild, and three more in the tavern, and not a single one of them told me you were coming tonight. You got all the way to the crystal. And if your mind were a little stronger, you would have made it right out the window with it, too.” I frowned. Was my mind too weak for him? I wanted him to be pleased with me. “Awww, it’s ok. Shhhhhh. You did a gooooood job.” I smiled. That was alright, then. “It’s ok that your mind gave in, because now you get to feel these wonderful waves of calm and peace as you hear me speak. It’s ok that you’re relaxing and accepting this now, because you’re going to really enjoy staying here, serving me, any way I see fit.” I smiled. I was enjoying it already. “But for now, it’s been a long night, so I need to get ready for bed. You’re already ready, nice and relaxed, and so very sleepy. So go ahead, just give in and sleep.” As I felt sleep taking me, he added, “and you’ll have plenty of cozy, obedient dreams. Good night, my good little thief. Your training begins in the morning.”