Kayden woke up in a strange world.
When he first opened his eyes, everything was dark. Looking up, he couldn’t see the ceiling at all. Only the inky darkness and clouds of foggy mist greeted him.
He was currently on his back, with his eyes wide open and his hands on his stomach. Kayden didn’t know how much time had passed since he’d been here, or how much time he spent staring at the ceiling, but eventually, a voice rang out,
How long are you just going to lie there?
Kayden jolted into motion, his survival instincts kicking in. When he stood up, the first thing he saw was dry, rugged walls that boxed him in this place, stretching so high up it disappeared with the ceiling.
‘A cave of some sort?’
He glanced through his surroundings but failed to find the source of the voice. The area he was in gave him a sense of déjà vu. He was in a long, cavernous corridor, with one end leading into a dark room that revealed nothing inside from his position, while the other end seemed to hold no end in sight, much like the Serpent Dungeons’ passageways.
Situated on the walls were torch braziers that gave him just enough light to see. He strained his ears and could hear the faint dripping sounds of water against rock.
‘What happened? I am very sure that I slept on my bed last night. No way I rolled all the way back here in my sleep?’
Kayden was finding it hard to believe the situation that he was in. He gave the room a once-over and saw no alternative ways to escape, the walls too steep for him to reasonably climb. Faced with no better options, he cautiously stepped towards the room.
The echoing sounds of dripping water grew louder the closer he got to the room, and he was half-expecting the entrance to the room to suddenly close as soon as he walked in. Thankfully, nothing of that sort happened.
Once he stepped into the room, the unlit torches on the walls all at once flared to life. The flickering flames of the torches weren’t very good at lighting up the place, but at least he could somewhat see. Resting in the middle of the room, Kayden could see a dark silhouette. It was a bench made of carved rock, and it only came up to his knee. His interest was further piqued when he saw an unmoving statue of a handsome man with closed eyes, sitting cross-legged on the bench itself.
Kayden could appreciate the intricate clothing design for the statue, and it was carved so skillfully it looked lifelike. There were thick shoulder pads and a long, dark cloak that draped onto the floor. Further up, he could see the statue’s face, which had a wide smirk and cunning eyes with an intelligent glint. Protruding out of his forehead were two curved horns that reached an impressive height-
In an instant, a knife was in Kayden’s hands, and he backed away. It’s not a statue, he realized. That had been far too careless of him. He gripped his knife and pointed it at the fiend.
Come on… there’s no need for that. This is a dream! I can’t hurt you, and you can’t hurt me.
Now that Kayden thought about it, there was a strange inconsistency from real life that he had felt since the very start. Despite being in some cavern where the sunlight may never reach, the air didn’t feel musty, and he encountered no breathing difficulties. In fact, he didn’t smell anything at all.
Kayden always had a more sensitive nose than others, and the air always had some kind of smell, depending on the area. There were stories he had read in books that the air we breathe wasn’t present if you go very high up in the sky, and he supposed that this was how it must smell way up there.
Yes, a dream. Surely by now, you must have an idea of who I am?
“Are you perhaps… the God of Thieves?”
The figure laughed, his laughter echoing throughout the cavern.
Do they still use that title? I’m surprised that nobody had taken up that mantle in almost two millennia.
Those words confirmed Kayden’s suspicion of the figure’s identity. There was one thing that bothered him, however.
“Were you always a demon? I had read stories about you… and the depictions never said anything about horns.”
The figure laughed again, this time louder than before.
You can’t see in the dark, can you? It’s just an accessory.
“An accessory? I must say, having long horns must be very inconvenient when you’re trying to steal something.
The figure raised an eyebrow.
Young man, I thought you read the stories? Once you grow as powerful as I am, you can steal right in front of their very eyes and they can’t do anything about it.
After all, I’m a god! What are they going to do? Try to stop me?
Kayden got the idea. If someone incredibly powerful were to come to him and take all his money, he would be powerless to stop it. In this society where might makes right, nothing is impossible as long as you are powerful enough to do it.
Anyway, let’s get to it! I don’t have all day! Allow me to tell you why you are here.
The figure snapped his fingers, before laying down suggestively. He managed to look strangely comfortable on the rough and jagged exterior of the bench.
Kayden expected something to happen, but it seemed that the finger snap achieved absolutely nothing. All it did was unnecessarily add to his pizazz and glamour, as if the weird outfit wasn’t enough.
“You know, I kinda pictured you differently. Your religion’s all ‘Feed the poor! Save the needy!’,” His fingers formed air quotes as he was speaking. “I thought you’d be some nice and humble guy who only just happened to have sticky fingers.”
What? No! Why be humble if you are powerful? And since when was I regarded as some kind of hero? I mean, I’m a thief!
Kayden couldn’t believe what he was hearing.
“If the many people who follow your doctrine were to hear this, they’d be dancing with so much joy.”
Sarcastic. I love it! What’s your name, by the way?
“It’s Kayden… no last name.”
Well then, Kayden no last name…
Congrats! You have met the minimum requirements to unlock the spell orb. Rejoice! For from this day onwards, you will never be the same again!
“So it wasn’t a spatial orb? Ha, I was right! So what do I get?” Kayden looked like a kid who got to celebrate Christmas early, not that the holiday exists here.
The word was followed by a wide grin on the god’s face. Kayden was not amused.
Come on, I’m just pulling your leg. It’s a little bit complicated to explain, but from where I come from, we call this a System.
Yes, System. With a capital S. To explain it in mortal terms, it’s a blessing and essentially serves as a tool that can make you far more powerful in far less time. A cheat if you will.
“So, what you mean to say is… If I get this ‘System’ or whatever, I can become as powerful as you are?”
As powerful as me? Don’t be silly, that’s impossible to achieve! But God status certainly is, as long as you have the desire.
Kayden’s heart was pounding wildly.
‘The God of Thieves personally said that I could become a God. Since nobody knows whether the God of Thieves was still alive, I could very well take this title for myself.’
Actually, he could probably just ask…
“Just asking, but… Are you still alive? I’m not sure if you Gods are actually immortal.”
The trickster smirked.
I can tell what you’re thinking. You want to replace me? Well, go for it. It’s the people that choose the title anyway.
“A-ah… of course.”
Having his intentions seen through was not a good feeling to Kayden, similar to when the old gnome saw through his disguise. As an illusion magic-user, being seen through meant that he was vulnerable and exposed. Although… he had to admit that he had been a bit obvious this time.
There was just something about the aura of the man before him that made him feel he could trust him. He couldn’t quite pin that the feeling.
The man clapped his hands, drawing Kayden’s attention.
Like I said. I don’t have a lot of time. Any questions before you wake up?
“uh, you haven’t told me how to use the orb!”
Hmm? Ah, yes. The barrier that prevents it from breaking should be undone now, when you wake up, just break it like you normally would. Now, anything else?
Kayden pondered for a while but couldn’t think of anything. He felt it was a shame that he couldn’t ask for the guidance of the art of thievery, but that would take time. The God had said he was busy, and unless he wanted to be smote by him, it’s best he grab his shit and go.
“It’s been an honor to meet you. I’m prepared to leave.”
Kayden gave a polite bow.
The horned figure grinned and sat up straight.
Of course it’s been an honor! I’m a God! See you later! I’m sure you’ll find my blessing very, very interesting. I’ll be seeing you soon!
With another snap, Kayden’s vision turned black. When it recovered, he was sitting straight up on his bed.
The familiar sight of his room comforted him from the events that had just unfolded. He glanced at the nightstand by his bedside.
The orb simply lay there, looking the same as it did before.
“Fuuuu- I need some time to sort my thoughts out. I’ll go freshen up first.”
The room that he had rented didn’t have its own bathroom and he had to go to the one provided on his level. With that, he got up from his bed, did some stretches, and walked out the door.
“Fuuuuu- I guess it’s time…”
Kayden stretched his fingers as he mentally prepared himself. For the past fifteen minutes after refreshing himself, he had spent it walking back and forth in front of the door to his room
Several other occupants of rooms on his floor gave him confused looks as they walked past him. At one point, a staff member had noticed and even came to confront him about his suspicious activity, but he waved her away.
He was noticeably nervous about this. After all, absolute power was right in front of him, and all he had to do was reach out. This could be the step he took that would change his whole life.
‘Welp. Guess this is as ready as I’ll ever be.”
Sitting cross-legged on his bed, he picked up the orb and once again rolled it around his fingers. Taking a deep breath, he wrapped the orb with his hand.
And clenched it.
The orb shattered, revealing a burst of bright light. Kayden couldn’t keep his eyes open with the display of fireworks that just showered his room. Any occupants outside his room right now would be able to see the light show seeping through the gap underneath the door.
“Here we goooooo—!”