Vilstram (Part Two)
By Josh Vogt (TheLorian)
Vilstram dropped down off the rusted metal rungs of the ladder into the cavernous sewer system, only to find a shadowy silhouette leaning against the wall to his right, letting loose a nervous chuckle. Daelin was a taller, leaner man, but muscled to a point that it seemed unusual for his body. Vilstram was sure he was taking some kind of enhancing drug but was frighteningly considering that Daelin was just that scary on his own. The older man’s coat was just like a classic pirate’s long coat, though a stranger mossy green color, with black flower petals all across it. He wore a pair of darker, thin glasses that rested fairly lower on his nose, just above his thin, well-trimmed goatee, the only hair he had on his entire head.
“Finally come to accept my offer, Squirrel?” he demanded more than asked, crossing his arms and stepping away from the wall.
“You know I hate that name,” Vilstram sighed.
“But you climb just like a—” Daelin stopped as he saw Vilstram’s expression, shrugging. “Well, the offer?”
“Uh, well, not exactly yes, but not exactly–”
“We’ve got a good thing going tonight if you want in,” he insisted, lifting something from his coat pocket and tossing it across the floor where it landed with a thud. “We’re going to take them from everywhere at once.”
Vilstram picked up the item, a small bundle of leathers, and inspected it cautiously before Daelin gave him a very motivating glare of impatience. Inside the bundle was a pair of glasses that looked very strange, with a harder, much darker glass that he had not much seen before this moment. He’d heard stories of it, and of its mystical properties, but nobody really believed they were real. As far as the stories went, they allowed you to look through things, whether darkness, three feet of solid rock, or…a snowstorm.
“You’re going to use these to make a move on the guard, aren’t you?” Vilstram demanded.
“No, boy, we’re not imbeciles. We’d never survive a direct confrontation with the entirety of the empire’s garrison here, and there’s no chance they’re anything but holed up in that damn Palace of theirs. No, we’re going to hit every shop, every traveler foolish enough to be stuck outside during the storm that’s coming…everyone. We’ll bleed the damn imperials dry and turn this in our favor.”
“This doesn’t sound like simple crimes anymore,” Vilstram noted. “What exactly are we planning here?”
“Ah, so you have accepted my offer,” Daelin smiled.
“Well, I suppose so.”
“Then I can be frank. This is not and has never been a gang war. We have far loftier aspirations, Squirrel. Designs on ruling, making this whole country a better place for everyone involved.”
“But, what we’re doing tonight just sounds so violently opposite of that,” Vilstram frowned.
“You’ll do what you’re told and we’ll all get out of this very rich indeed. It’s money we’ll need if we’re to stand a fighting chance against the might of the empire,” Daelin demanded. “Meet me at the location marked on the leathers your glasses were in. Don’t be late.”
Vilstram looked down at the leathers, noting the location he was supposed to meet…someone, he supposed, and when he looked up to say something to Daelin, the man was nowhere to be found. He shouldn’t have expected his old friend to ever make something easy for him or stick around to answer his questions. He made his way down the south tunnels of the sewers, looking for the ladder that would lead to his place.
A couple of hundred feet down he was making his way up the rickety old ladder into a large, open warehouse that had been abandoned six years ago. The place was still full of old crates, marked with the magical arcane eye sigil of the empire, long-forgotten cargo that nobody seemed to care enough to come and get. He’d tied an old tarp between two of the taller boxes, making a hammock hanging up for a bed. Across the floor were scattered dozens of things he had collected over the years, from jewels dropped in the trash by those too rich to see their worth, to simple dolls that he had thought looked cool and deserving of a home. He took a magic match from one of the nearby crates and snapped a few inches above it, causing it to spark up with a light blueish light, thanking the gods the empire was so obsessed with their extensive research into magic and related items. He used the match to light candles around the warehouse before it went out, grateful for its extended duration, given his supply was running low.
Vilstram sat upon his hammock, relaxing as he thought about what they might ask him to do tonight and debating if they were genuinely fighting for the people, given that they were attacking the people instead of the guard. He understood the idea of crippling the economy but didn’t understand how that would help himself or others like him. Vilstram wouldn’t mind it if they were targeting military installments or caravans, or…something that a revolution would go after. He wondered if Daelin thought him an idiot, or if the plan was just so far beyond his understanding of tactics. Either way, he was out of time and out of food, so he decided that he would at least show up and give it a chance. Daelin had enough of his trust to at least hear him out and see what was really going on.