The Captives of the Lost City of Alhassar
By Dwayne MacInnes
Greetings and felicitations, I am Gwendolyn a wood elf and wealth adjuster. You do not know what a wealth adjuster is? The easy answer is that I am a thief. However, that title carries many negative connotations with it that are not strictly accurate. To be sure, there are thieves and then there are thieves. Now that I have muddied the waters a bit let me clear up some things in our profession.
Most thieves belong to the Thieves Guild. Our organization regulates and set strict rules that our members must follow. In exchange, members receive some degree of legal protection. Now, there are rogue thieves, who do not belong to the guild. I fear to say these rogues give us all a bad name. These unregulated thieves will steal and rob from anyone. They do not refrain from using violence to obtain their goals that can even lead to ghastly murders.
To be sure, we as a guild, hunt down these rogues. We cannot afford to have anyone using our title running amok doing whatever he or she very well pleases just to obtain a handful of silver crowns. Some of the rules are that we do not rob from the poor, nor do we rob from fellow members. We also frown on using violence to rob someone. Furthermore, we do not condone murder. Only in the case of self-defense is a guild member allowed to use violence. After all, any idiot can club someone from behind and lift his or her coin purse.
Now that I have established my profession, I will now regale you with who I am. In previous publications, I established that I became the Grand Champion of the arena in Imperial City. Many know me by my title as the "Black Arrow". Unfortunately, many more know me by the romanticized and embellished woodcuts printed in fliers. These show me in the arena as an Amazon -- sans any piece of garment for modesty -- often holding a severed head in my left hand and a raised gore covered long sword in my right.
I cannot tell you how many people are a little disappointed to see a lithe average built Wood Elf armed mainly with a bow when I tell them who I am. The Imperial Arena loves good promotion and nothing packs the arena better than the idea of a naked muscle-bound woman in combat. Nonetheless, I can still fill the seats when I make my special post-retirement engagements in the arena.
Therefore, you now know my official profession as a retired gladiator and you know I belong to the guild. However I am not merely a guild member, I am also the leader of the Thieves Guild. That is right I am the Shadow Fox.
Many of you dear readers may doubt the existence of the Thieves Guild and more will doubt the existence of the Shadow Fox. However, I can assure you both exist and we take great pains on making sure that the general public is mostly unaware of either one.
As the Shadow Fox, I am even an enigma to most thieves in the guild. However, I am the overall head of the organization. With the help of the guild leaders, we assign various tasks to the most suited thieves. Believe it or not, most of our work comes from the government. We are adept on securing secrets, restoring lost possessions, and just knowing the everyday buzz on the street.
To be fair, we are not the only organization often employed by the Empire. The members of the senate often use the Assassins Guild to settle debts in a less subtle manner. To say there is a rivalry between the Assassins and the Thieves Guilds would be an understatement. Fortunately, when it comes to being unnoticed the Thieves Guild will always beat the Dark Brotherhood.
Now, as I was saying, being the head of the guild sounds prestigious. Unfortunately, it is also a lot of paperwork and sitting behind a desk. So every once in awhile I would assign myself a task, much to the chagrin of the guild leaders, just to keep myself in tip-top condition.
It came to pass that a few months after the whole "Tiberium Letters" affair that a group of adventurers found their way into Imperial City. Word quickly passed around that they were associates of Brunis, the evil mage I killed in Giland. I knew that one of these strangers was a mage. If they were looking for revenge, a little research with the Mages Guild would discover my suspension from that organization over the fortunate (or unfortunate) demise of Brunis.
I also took the time to scout this quartet of adventurers. I heard many things and learned even more. I heard the so-called ranger had killed a dragon. On observing him moving clumsily around town I figured the dragon was old and decided to choose ‘suicide by knight' which is more common than you can imagine.
There was a rogue thief claiming the name of King of the North. A fairly good thief I will begrudge but not much of a fighter. However, I would choose him over the ranger to back me in a scrap. I kept my spies on him to make sure he did not try anything disruptive in town.
The party also boasted of a bard. He was a decent singer and tale-teller, but with dubious tastes of the carnal nature. I fear his hormones tend to make most of his decisions. Not too terribly good if one is attacked by a succubus, nymph, or even a group of choirboys.
The final member of the party was a sorcerer of average quality. However, his street smarts bespoke of some time traveling with a troupe of performers. I can tell you that if I had the thief under watch I had the sorcerer under double watch. He was the one rumored to be an associate of Brunis.
I soon put any concerns I needed to fear this band of adventurers to rest. They were at best a group of amateurs. Nonetheless, I decided it was best for all involved if I left town for a while. As I previously stated we thieves do not kill if we do not have to. There would be no honor in dispatching this small group.
It so happened that the Emperor had sent another group of adventurers into the city sewers for its annual clean up. Now, a maintenance organization makes sure the city's sewers operate efficiently; however over the course of a year, things move into the sewer. Nasty things and the Emperor will pay handsomely for a group of adventurers to clean them out.
Usually, the adventurers are lower ability and desperate. The money is good, but the danger is great, and the smell is even worse. It happened that no one had heard from the latest group for over two weeks. The Emperor had petitioned the Thieves Guild to look into it. I personally accepted.
I grabbed my trusty longbow, elven armor, short sword, and my enchanted shield that dispels all forms of hostile magic as well as a few other do-dads. Little did I know I was about to engage in one of the strangest adventures of my life.