Tinsen was built like a fort: short, squat and made of stone. His head just reached Roake’s jaw.

“Briggs says you’re square,” Tinsen said. He extended his hand. “If Briggs says it, that’s good enough for me.”

Roake fingers were lost in the man’s grip. He looked at Briggs.

“You said we needed a carrier,” Briggs said, smiling.

“Good,” Roake said.

They were back in the private room. The serving girl dropped off meat, cheese, bread and wine. The soup was already gone. All three men looked at the plans.

“I see,” Tinsen said, looking them over. “We could do this a couple ways.”
Roake nodded. He took a bit of chalk and began writing on the parchment. He could erase any errors they made that way.

“We come up from the cellar,” Roake said. “Through the servant’s quarters.”

Tinsen shook his head. “Servants look at other servants,” he said. “That’s no good.”

Roake looked at the map again. “There’s no other way up,” he said.

Briggs sipped some wine. “We could do it if we were quick.”

“No good,” Tinsen said. “We’d have to come up and go back down. Once is risky enough.”

“We arrive late,” Roake said. “All the servants will be on the first floor or in the garden.”

“Not all of them,” Tinsen said.

Briggs nodded at Roake. “Most of them.”

“Enough of them.”

“Just like before?” Briggs asked.

Roake nodded. He drew a line with the chalk. “We arrive after the party has started. Late enough so most of the guests are drunk.” The line went from the serving quarters to the main stairwell. “Up here,” he said. He was drawing as he talked.

Roake circled a flight of stairs. “The servants’ stairs can carry us up to the third floor.”

“Out of sight of anyone who matters,” Briggs said.

Roake circled a room on the third floor. “This is where the vault is.”

Briggs squinted at the map. “Behind a wall?”

Roake nodded. “Behind a wall.”

Tinsen didn’t like that. “Do we know where behind the wall?”

Roake shook his head. “No, we do not.” He pointed at a symbol on the plans. “This means there’s a key. If there’s a key, there’s a lock. And if there’s a lock, we can get by it.”

“That means me,” Briggs said.

“What if it’s an enchanted lock?” Tinsen asked. “What then? A screwsman isn’t going to get us by an enchanted lock.”

Both Roake and Briggs smiled.

“All right,” Tinsen shrugged. “You can pop a magic betty, I’d like to see it.”

Roake started again. “In the vault, we grab the paper. Leave the coin. We pack it into the luggage. Then, we carry the luggage back down the servants’ stairs, back down to the cellar and out the slumming hole.”

“What about the carriage?” Tinsen asked.

“We use that if we need to.” Roake told him.

All three men looked at the plans. They were quiet for a long time.

“There’s a lot that could sour this job,” Tinsen said. “We get spotted by curious guards or chatty servants. Briggs can’t pop the betty. We get nabbed, there will be a whole unholy host of nobs bringing pain down on our heads.”
He shook his head. “We can’t let anyone see us.”

Roake nodded. “No one will.”


Fantasy Noir 10
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