Who Stole The Artifact
He wasn’t there to do a noble deed.
The metal door to the vault unlocks with the sound of two clicks, his amber magic fading into nothing. He strains his ears to listen for trouble, for signs that those two clicks set off something. When nothing came, the figure dressed in rags opens the door and darts in. The burlap bag in his hand suddenly feels a lot heavier, and there is a roaring heartbeat in his ears. With a shake in his legs, he stands at the podium in the center of the room. Strung upon thick, braided leather is a silver medallion, its carved insignia depicting two swords crossed in front of a star. It is the remains of a civilization lost to the endless expanse of time; its history flung so far that it left a trail barely able to be found.
He wasn’t there because of a higher calling.
Upon his palm is a red dust worth more than he’ll ever make working at the tavern. After two mugs full of beer mixed with a special ingredient, a noble was more than happy to hand it over. He’ll have to thank the barmaid, whose voluminous figure was just as helpful as the suggestion potion. Tiny cracks appear in thin air above the medallion, snaking up, up, up, and then meeting at a rounded point; the invisible dome barrier snaps apart. Without a single thing to stop him, he grabs the amulet and shoves it in the burlap sack. Now he takes out a spool of white thread and a rock found near a river.
No one paid him for this- though he surely will pay for this.
The safeguards in places like this shouldn’t let him teleport out- but manipulating magic- especially magic used for security- is a pastime of his. The thief strings the white thread upon the floor of the vault, making a circle. Then, he puts in his mind an image of that river; he imagines crystal clear watering, the full moon, a disc floating on its surface. And then the bank, two strong oak trees growing there. And then the world blinks out of existence just as his heart begins another beat.
He was there of his own accord, his own selfish choices.
When the beat is done, he’s at the river’s side, the theft complete- finally. But now… what? Now, what does he do? The thief has his prize- he has that which he went into the vault for. His body relaxes, the nervous tremors fade, and a laugh-
Yes, the thief laughs and laughs and falls to the grassy bank laughing with joy. He did it! He did it! This medallion, this artifact that his country worships, is finally his. Truth be told, the thief had no idea if he could pull it off. And now-
Why did he steal it?
No one paid him- though surely he will pay for stealing such a priceless piece of a vague history. A god didn’t tell him to take, nor did any goddess convince him to do so. The thief was as far from noble as one could be. What, then, would a thief with knowledge of the arcane want with the amulet? Simple:
He wanted its knowledge. And how could he obtain that? No one would give him the amulet. And anytime he tried to understand why his fellow arcanist thought it holy, they merely looked at him like the answer was obvious. There was something to this amulet, something powerful, and the thief knew it. So the thief calculated the risks and decided that whatever knowledge he’d get would be worth whatever price he would pay.
It’s simple- the artifact’s thief is a wizard hungry for knowledge.
Photo by Anna Hecker on Unsplash