"Anyone wanna tag along?" I said right after I stood up after reading a book about monsters.
Speaking of monsters, I learned that they were classified into five types; Class E being the lowest, Class D, Class C, Class B, and Class S. They were classified using these three criteria:
The first was toughness, which was measured by how long it took for a sword to bury in their skin.
The second was technique: the way they moved, fast or slow, agile or dull.
And lastly was strength: it was measured by how powerful their individual attacks would be.
The only monsters we encountered were slimes, which were only Class E monsters—it was obvious. Also, I kept wondering why we encountered nothing but those when we prepared to ambush the merchant caravan—the reason was the environment. Slimes were common in sparse forests and plains. Other monsters existed in there, too, but because of the slimes' abundance, they ended up being their prey. It was numbers that always won, except if the monster was Napoleon.
I read a lot about other monsters, too, and they were all quite interesting. Some of them already existed in Earth's fictions like Trolls, Kobolds, Dragons, etcetera, while the rest were original here in Altyria. Some of them were: Fierzander, a dog with three fiery tails; Codognal, a gigantic eye that walked on its gigantic sole arm and Yaktul, a fire yeti. There were also s a lot more others—like the Okur, I knew at the village—but I forgot since their names were quite complicated to pronounce.
"Where are you going, boss?" Liq asked. They were currently playing poker.
Ever since we took a few months' breaks from stealing, it became boring so we had to find a different activity to indulge ourselves in. One was reading, but the books we had here almost finished—even if we wanted to buy a new one, it was expensive.
That time, I thought I could introduce them to poker. As for what we used as our playing cards, I bought plywoods and had them assist me in drawing the suits and numbers there. It turned out pretty good. Afterward, I taught them how to play it, and once they learned the mechanics, we started betting right away. Guess what? I won—naturally. I was literally OP in poker that they made a petition to kick me from playing it when there were bets. I couldn't even enjoy it anymore.
So, they were reading and playing pokers when they were bored, and of course, it became a trite after a few months. I had to introduce a lot of other stuff again like rock, paper, scissors; chess that used stones as pieces; snakes, and ladders with an improvised die—Melfi loved that game, so she played it with Julia, or with the rest of the boys every day.
"The fence, Opeas, invited me to join the Thieves Guild. I wanted to ask questions regarding it since it sounded cool."
They all stopped playing poker and looked at me. The first to speak was Hanon.
"Is it alright, though? Even if you join, that doesn't mean you can make a lot. I heard that even if you join it, you were still on your own."
I had no idea how it worked, though. But when I heard him said that, I thought of a particular game that had the same thing, where even if you join, you were still on your own. That was why I was going to ask Opeas for more information regarding the guild.
"Is that so? Then it must be better for me alone to join it. Opeas told me it was an information center as well, so I thought it might be good."
"How about us, boss?" Liq asked.
"Don't make that expression as if I'd leave you, you idiot. I only wanted the sweet rumors or anything that might help me."
They all breathed in relief. Seriously, these guys were attached to. However, there was an exception.
"I'm going to join as well."
Everyone stared at the guy who just spoke. It was Malon.
"I thought you hate stealing?" Mazuk asked.
"I had already stolen a lot with you. It has been four or five months, and I had gotten used to it."
Malon had a resolved expression. I had no idea why he'd say such. He was fine with being just here.
"What made you think of that? You know you're better here with your sister, right?" I told him in a serious tone.
"That's right, but I couldn't just sit around here without doing anything."
"I love being here!" Gadi said enthusiastically after he raised his hand. Everyone then glared at him. Well, it was only natural since he didn't join us ever since he was almost caught for stealing. His only purpose here was being Zada's burden and Melfi's play toy.
"Whatever, I'm going there. If you guys wanted to, then do it yourself. See ya later."
"Hey, wait up!"
Malon followed me as I turned my back on them. So, there were two of us on our way to Midnight Star. While we were walking, I decided to ask what was his intention of joining the guild.
"I have to move, or I'll become like those commoners who depended on you," he said with a glare. He was really prideful.
"Ya know it's the best choice, right? I get to think and decide, and you guys wait for what I'll tell you to do."
"I am not someone who will live being ordered. I need to at least improve on my own, or I will not be able to face my future."
This dude is hitting his puberty. I didn't really understand nobles, but since I told him I would help him become his house's head, then I guess it was fine for him as long as he considered it a training. I wondered why he would choose to join a society of thieves, though.
Reaching the inn, we greeted Gatrus and immediately proceeded to Opeas' room. She was already preparing to live, wearing the dark cloak over her body while she locked the door to her room. Opeas then noticed us.
"Ya guys plannin' to sell somethin'? Too bad Imma 'bout ta leave," she said so while playing catch with her key.
"Nope, I'm here to get information about the Thieves Guild. I was thinking of joining."
"Izzat so? Then 'tis a perfect timin'! I'm headed there—why doncha come along?"
We decided to tag along with her since it might be better to see the guild for ourselves. Exiting the inn, we turned to its alley and proceeded from there. If I remember correctly, it leads to a place that I swore not to visit again—the stink-zone, slums.
On our way there, while Malon and I pinched our nose from the stench emanated in the alleys, Opeas told us about the guild being in the slums. The reason was obvious—to avoid the guards. There were barely any patrols roaming around here, so the crime was often. It was the perfect hiding place.
We turned to various, reeking, muddy alleys, passed through houses that you could barely call a house. It seemed like Opeas was well known around here; many people greeted her along the way. Were fences supposed to be known?
After another few minutes of walking, Opeas stopped in front of an old, abandoned house. Its windows and doors were barred, and the rotten, wood wall was barely holding itself. The whole structure creaked whenever a strong gust of wind passed. Its collapse was imminent.
"Don't tell me we are already here?" Malon asked as he stared at the house with concern.
"Ya got it right, boy."
"Are you serious?"
I understood how Malon felt, but I just remained quiet.
"Not in there, silly. In 'ere."
Opeas pointed towards a pile of crates right in front of the house. She moved some of it aside, revealing a small trapdoor enough for one person to fit in. Opeas opened it and began to descend without any trouble. Her curvy body fitted well.
"Follow me, a'right? The men 'round us will take care of the rest," she said, her head stuck out of the wall before she continued descending.
"You go first," Malon told me.
"What a coward."
"What'd you say!? I was making sure if it was safe!"
"You're saying that when a woman went ahead first? Or are you not able to fight just in case some baddies or sewer rats appeared?"
"You… I'll go first! You're pathetic!"
Oh, man. Malon was really in his puberty. He hesitated to go inside first; but then resolved himself and dived in.
"It stinks!" he said.
"Just go in already!"
After his body vanished into the hole, I followed him. It wasn't a difficult task to get in. What's hard to tolerate was the smell. It was a mixture of pee and poo. After landing on the floor, I felt a mushy thing touched my sandal. I knew what it was before I looked at it.
"Don't you have any good place to hide in? This place is where feces go!" Malon complained; his voice echoed throughout the sewers.
Opeas was there, standing with her hands on her waist.
"Ya guys are chicks! Ya couldn't even stomach this smell, what of blood n' guts? Seriously, ya better be government dogs or somethin'."
It was only the smell that bothered me... and the thing below my foot.
Opeas then lead the way. Our steps echoed along with the sound of splashing noises. Occasionally, rats squeaked, but we couldn't see where they were because of the dim light from Opeas' torch.
I thought the guild was in a particular location in these sewers, but then Opeas turned to a hole that seemed to be artificial. The hole then lead into a cavern—though the smell of shit and piss was gone, it was replaced with a stagnant odor, but it was tolerable enough.
The cavern was at least twenty diameters wide. The stalactites above were few, as they had already fallen aside from the still intact, gigantic stalagmites. The torch's light reflected onto the little water below us, giving the entire confinement an orange-ish tint. The rats' squeaking was replaced with the bat's clicks and flapping wings. I wish there weren't any monsters here.
We followed Opeas, who jumped across rocks and turn to different directions until an encampment appeared behind the collection of huge stalagmites. It was lit by torches randomly scattered about. There were tents there made of various materials, in different sizes, where movements of men's silhouettes were noticeable.
As we approached the place, one patrolling figure stopped and began to walk towards us. He was a male orc wearing the same armors the guards on the surface were wearing.
"Oh, it's only you, Opeas. Who are these kids?" he asked in suspicion. His voice boomed throughout the cavern.
"They're thieves, worry not. They're here to ask 'bout the guild. It seemed they've taken an interest in it?"
The orc then stroked his chin; his face wore an inquisitive look.
"Yeah, you're right. If you want to join, proceed towards that large tent. There, you'll meet Agadura, the guild master."
He was pointing toward an old pavilion tent that might have been used to belong to knights. Though the torches were barely lighting the camp, I could see the movements people made. There were a lot of them. So, this was the Thieve's Guild, huh? Isn't it supposed to be a building or something? Either way, this is good. This place is perfect for hiding stuff; and a good spot for transactions.