20 years ago:
One of the benefits of being all sneaky-sneak is that if someone is after the same mark you are, you hear them coming.
Din had quietly walked over the roofs of the townhouses of this block until she reached the middle house, climbed down to the top window at the back- making sure to not make a single sound with her light halfling step – and then carefully slid the window open and slipped inside. If she didn’t close the window, she’d probably be able to sneak out the same way after she got her hands on the ring. The merchant who owned the house, and technically owned the magic item Din was after – at least for a few more minutes – was away and all the staff were in bed. This should be an easy job, even on her own.
Easy until the owner, an older human man, came bustling in, unexpectedly returning from his travels. The staff rushed out to welcome him home, confused and asking if anything was wrong, but the merchant shrugged them off and sent them back to bed. Then, he walked up the stairs to his chambers – the very same ones Din was hidden in. ‘Fuck fuck fuck’ Din whispered to herself, but then got very quiet. Something sounded off. The sound of the merchant walking up the stairs was wrong. If she didn’t move and held her breath, Din could hear a soft clop-clopping sound instead of the soft thump of shoes on the stairs.
As soon as probably-not-the-merchant stepped into the room and closed the door, Din stepped behind them and pressed her dagger into their back. “I know you are not him. Get out, I’m on a job and I was here first”. Din heard a tinkling laugh filled with genuine joy in response, before the not-merchant whisked around and knocked the dagger out of her hand with their staff. At the same time the tip of the staff sprouted a bunch of daisies. The owner of the staff seemed nearly as surprised as Din at this. “Oooh, flowers, how very romantic, you shouldn’t have!” said Din as she stepped back and grabbed her rapier. The not-merchant laughed again and dropped their human form. Suddenly Din saw a female satyr before her, with a flowery staff in one hand, a sickle in the other, and a wickedly beautiful smile. Well, that explained the clop-clopping sound at least.
“Listen,” said the satyr “I don’t want to fight someone who looks this confident with a rapier. How about we share the loot and leave quietly so we don’t get caught?” Din felt the familiar tingle of magic at the base of their skull, trying to lure her into a false sense of security. Ohhh, this lady was dangerous… With a shake of her head Din resisted the magic, but that gave the satyr just enough time to hit her once with her staff. Ouch. Out of reflex Din tried to jump out of the way and hit a bookshelf. A few books fell, loudly, and stirring noises came from the other floors. Both women froze and waited until all was quiet.
Then Din moved into the satyr’s space, pushed her up against the wall, and held the point of her rapier to the other’s throat. Why did the satyr not stop smiling while she tilted her neck up, Din though. It was distracting. “We’re both going to get killed if we keep fighting. All I’m interested in is the ring, you can have any other loot. But no more hitting or creepy magic or stupid flowers, ok satyr lady? I just want to grab the ring and get out.” The satyr nodded and somehow widened their smile to something just beyond genuine. “Sure, I don’t care about a silly ring, I am just picking up something for Lady Titania. And you can call me Elissa.” After a hesitant nod, Din stepped back, grabbed her dagger off the floor and put her rapier away.
As Elissa rummaged through stacks of papers, Din quickly picked the locks and disassembled the traps of the heavy desk’s drawers, and opened the box the ring was in. It was beautifully inlaid with gems in a flower pattern. “Ohhh, that is pretty. I’ve changed my mind, I want it” said Elissa from just over Din’s shoulder, startling Din enough to nearly drop the ring “What does it do?”. “None of your business” answered Din. “Oh really? Do you want me to hit you with my staff again?” “Yes, because I’m soo scared of some flowers…” Quietly bickering Elissa and Din climb out of the window and up to the roof. Elissa sighs as she looks at the sliver of moon. “I really want that pretty ring though, but you have my word that I won’t use magic to get it. So how about some ale?”
A few years later, Din used that very same ring to propose to Elissa with. She always gets her way in the end.