Sunday, February 2, 2014

The Luck Thief (Part 1)

Sheriff Duncan Kettleborn released the latches and locks on his tomb. The air was still quite cold and would be for several days. Spring was here and he had a year before he'd return to the tomb. Pestle was always slow to awake after Falcon's  Winter. Duncan always got out as early as possible. He could still see the last blue waves in the far east. However crime was always at the worst this time of year. Many people are broke after preparing for the winter and try to get out and at people's valuables quickly. Personally Duncan opposed the commercialization of survival, but as the sheriff didn't have to pay for his tomb he had little ground danger to himself and much if he opposed the system as it stood.

Lost in his thoughts and still stretching outside his tomb Duncan did not notice Deputy Phil Larson walk up behind him.
"We've got a suspected homicide. Woman froze to death outside her tomb key in hand. Strangest thing I've seen for awhile." Phil speaks everything in the same monotone. One reason Duncan found him invaluable, the deputy never got riled up or emotional about crime. He was always focused sometimes too serious. It has been said he leaves his tomb before it is safe and that he survives with magic. Duncan doesn't care about such practices, but the people of the Outer Wilds live there to stay out of the magical conflicts of the "civilized" regions and therefore don't trust those who practice magics. For whatever reason or ways Duncan is certain Phil has been out for at least a day now.
"Guess I've spent all my vacation stretching. Lead the way Phil." Duncan was still stiff. His provided quarters were scant and tight, but they were better than most could afford. Originally used as mines the miners lived down in the vaults year round and once the mine dried up the owners added gates and enclosures and made them tombs for rent. Used to be everyone lived underground out in the wilds. Slowly and violently civilization comes sooner or later. Duncan just shrugged at this thought and continued following Phil. It wasn't far to the Vault it was only across the thorough fair. All the vaults rested on the mountain side of Pestle. They look like a line of giant coffins. The sheriff guessed that was in fact what they are.
"She melted out a bit, but otherwise she is the same as when I found her." Duncan didn't like what he was seeing at all. There were always people who got trapped out in the winter, but this was not normal. She had her key in hand and was at her door. The way she looked off towards the mountain like someone had been standing there. If there had been someone there how were they still alive.
"Lets move her quick. Last thing we need is people thinking we got an ice walker in town. We'll check out her tomb once we have her at the Doc's." Duncan shivered at the thought. Wizards that lived for Falcon's Winter when there powers manifested 100 fold. Most of them were mad and extremely violent. The time following winter was when they released there pent up fury. Many an Outer Wild town has been taken over by an ice walker. Turning the place into a small winter kingdom. At least for a month or two when there power would finally wane.  Then they'd usually disappear only to return with Falcon.
"You really think we have an ice walker boss?" Phil sounded alarmed. This was unusual.
"No, but I know how gossip works here. Pestle will be stringing up anyone with a cup of ice by weeks end if word gets out." Duncan hated to admit it was true, but survival out here lended itself to a level of phobia.

They had her wrapped up nice and neat for Doctor Vivian Garnet. She would be out in the next day or two and she would want to look at the body. Lucky there was plenty of ice in the town to keep the corpse fresh.

Back at the tomb Phil turned the key and opened the first gate no problem. The men crouched down and walked down the steep steps to the next gate. This one as smaller and thicker. Opening it they saw the place had been left untouched. Whatever happened to the girl it was not a robbery. The little six by six by six room as even smaller than the sheriff's. He understood why so many went insane during Falcon's winter. A week of captivity like this can ruin anyone's mind.

Looking in her cupboards they saw she had the usual provisions. It was regretful that the mine owners would claim her assets, but such was how the law worked. Concerning everything she left in the tomb. They stumble on their first luck when Phil saw a journal wrapped in her bedroll.

After perusing for a few seconds Phil looked up, "Her name was Jocelyn Rivers. Her family were very wealthy only ten winters or so ago. Some say that there luck ran out. She was the last surviving heir to the estate. Which was scant at this point. Apparently she had to work at the Golden Sun just to make ends meet. I'd say once we speak with the Vault Officer we will need to go there."
"Sound like a plan Phil. Once you've finished reading the journal leave it on my desk at the office. I need to finish the rounds."
"Alright boss. Don't be out too late you know it'll still be cold."
"I got my duster it'll be fine. Thanks for the concern." With that Duncan crawled his way out. And all he could think of was what he'd dreamed over and over in the tomb.

P.S. I hope you are looking forward to Part 2. Something that I always strive to think about in my world creation is who has the power. As you can tell the Sheriff is more of a figure head. Sure he stops lawlessness, but the true power is held by the Vault owners. Since survival is always paramount it is an easily held power.

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