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A story fragment that popped into my head last night, starring my tabaxi rogue. Enjoy!





Shade-of-the-Candle slid the final stretch of the ramp in a
low crouch, dropping forward onto one hand from her momentum when she hit the
bottom. The torch she’d been carrying clattered across the floor, extinguished,
but to her surprise, she didn’t need it.





She’d been deposited into a large, round chamber with
concentric pillars that were covered with writhing hieroglyphs. The middle of
the ceiling was dominated by a cluster of dimly-luminous indigo crystals; sitting
cross-legged on a dais under the crystals, was the robed figure of a man.





Or… not? There were too many arms, for starters, and the skin
visible on the man’s forearms and hands was a dusky blue-gray, but that may
have been a trick of the light. The fact that each of the four hands had two
thumbs, one on either side, also did not inspire confidence. The man’s face, if
indeed he had one, was completely obscured by his cowl, but Shady had no doubt
that he was aware of her.





Shady blinked at him. He didn’t move. The tomb was supposed
to have been lost. It was definitely trapped. She’d had a tough scrabble to get
this far, only to find this oddity sitting in what she had expected to be the
treasure chamber. Either way, she wasn’t about to go home empty-handed now. Her
tail flicked back and forth involuntarily, as she rose to a standing position
and slowly drew her cutlasses.





The hood dipped slightly. A deep bass rumble assaulted Shady’s
ears and crushed her skull, nearly knocking her back off her feet, but then it
passed as quickly as it had come. Across from her, the figure gave a quiet and dismissive
snort.





Shady blinked at it. “What kind of hellspawn are you?” she
asked.





“I am no kind of hellspawn, you superstitious creature,” the
figure replied. The voice was male, more of a deep buzzing than anything else, and
spoke in the clipped tones of a noble.





“Then what are–“





“There’s no point in telling you what I am,” he said. “It
wouldn’t mean anything to you. And even if I could explain it, it would just
blast your already dangerously-limited mind into even smaller fragments.”





The corner of Shady’s mouth rose in a smirk. “So you’re a
wizard,” she said, moving slowly into the ring of pillars.





“Fine. Yes. I’m a wizard. It’s less wrong than anything else
you might come up with.”





“You’re pretty rude,” said Shady.





“I am intensely rude,” said the wizard. “And I intend to
remain that way. What will you do,
now that you’ve come to that brilliant conclusion?”





Shady stepped forward again, pointing at his cowl with the
tip of one of her swords. “I’ve heard it said, that the best thing to do when
you come upon a wizard, is to kill it.”





The creature didn’t move. “So why don’t you, then?”





She gave him a long, appraising look. “Because…” she finally
said, “you don’t seem particularly afraid that I might.”





Two of the wizard’s four arms retreated under robes. He used
the other two to shift into a more attentive position. “The creature has some
sense after all!” he said. “This may turn out to be interesting.”





“What are you doing, squatting in an ancient tomb?”





“What are you
doing, crawling around in it?”





“I’m a thief,” said Shady.





“Of course you are.”





“But you didn’t answer my question. The tomb was sealed. What
are you doing here?”





“I am playing a game of strategy,” said the wizard. “A game that
spans eons, made up of the most infinitesimally small moves imaginable.”





“A game?” said Shady. “There’s no board. There are no
pieces.”





“I’m looking at one right now,” said the wizard.





Shady rolled her eyes. “Okay, this conversation is
pointless,” she said. “Where’s the Red King’s treasure chamber? Where’s the Red
King’s treasure?”





“Oh, it’s here,” said the wizard. “Right where he buried it.
Every few hundred years another would-be robber comes blundering in, and not
one has managed to take it way yet. One or two did manage to get away richer
than they came, of course. You may be one of the lucky ones.”





“Any objections if I try my luck?” said Shady, gesturing
with her sword again.





“None whatsoever,” said the wizard. “I have no interest in
baubles. There’s another passage, behind me. You may find what you’re looking
for that way.”





“Fine,” said Shady, sheathing her swords. “Go back to your
game then, wizard, and stay out of my way.” She collected the torch from where
she’d dropped it and reignited it.





“Another pawn moves into play,” said the wizard. Shady glared
at the back of his cowl, and plunged down the passage.

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