20 years earlier.
Climbing over the rickety fence, Samuel could hear footsteps racing to catch him. Taking only a moment to glance back up the alley he counted four cloaked figures. Damn, he'd hoped to lose at least one or two of them in the tumble through the low-town market. Samuel leapt down from the fence into a dead sprint, feeling in his pocket to be sure the amulet was still there. Maybe he could duck around a corner before his pursuers made their way over the fence, but before he could make it to the edge of the block, he tripped and fell onto something soft. "Wassa big idea?" said a voice coming from the heap. "Do I break into your house and", the rest was lost in a coughing fit as Samuel had thrown down a misting sphere to mask his escape. Damn shame too, Will, the Guild's quartermaster, charged a fucking dear price for those things, the job was hardly going to be worth the effort.
After running a few more blocks, Samuel stepped into a shady stoop and took a moment to examine just what the weeks of preparation and planning had been for. Taking the amulet out of his pocket he noticed that, exactly as described, the setting was in the form of an owl, all diamonds, but with piercing blue sapphire eyes. He turned the trinket in his hands and confirmed the writing on the back: "Elise, my morning star, my safe bay". Samuel shook his head at the saccharine message and put it back safely in his pocket, and proceeded down to the city docks to find some raggedy inn to get a drink before returning to the guild's hideout.
The smell of salt and old fish was suffocating this close to the sea and requisite fish-mongers stalls, but it reminded Samuel of home, which suited him just fine. He walked down the dusty lane to find his favorite watering hole, "The Donkey's Backside". Why they didn't just call the place "The Ass's Ass", was beyond him, but in any case, he had never understood the local joke, "If you don't want broken ribs or a mouthful of shit, avoid the Donkey's Backside". Always seemed like a respectable establishment, all things considered.
Upon entering, Samuel was greeted with the familiar smells of stale ale and roasting meats, and he grabbed an unoccupied table in the corner after motioning to a serving girl. Enjoying a bit of time by himself before returning to work, he stretched out his arms only to ram one hand into the chest of none other than Will Beechem who immediately grabbed it and twisted, causing Samuel to emit small squeal, not unlike the sound of the hinges on his bedroom door. "Well, fancy seeing you here, laddie. May I join you?" His eyes tearing up from the pain, Samuel nodded his head, if just to get his arm back.
"Of course, Will. Always a place at my table for you, you penny-pinching, usurious, conniving, bastard."
"Always good to meet a fan.", Will responded nonchalantly while taking the chair across from Samuel. "Now listen, it's a good thing I ran into you here. I'm guessing that you did manage the job, yes?"
"I wouldn't bloody well be here if I hadn't", Samuel responded.
"Excellent, well here's the thing", Will glanced around the room before proceeding. "I think it would be a bad idea to deliver on this contract. Let me explain. You see I have reason to believe that what you have in you possession is not just some lovey-dovey trinket, but is in fact an artifact from the Sinjenn."
"How is that possible?" Samuel asked, mouth agape. "The Sinjenn have been extinct for two thousand years. All that's left of them is those damn pillars outside town, and them just barely. How can you think..." Samuel trailed off and noticed a sly smile crossing Will's face.
"Laddie, how ya ever made this far in the game as gullible as ya are." Will shook his head and got up to leave. "Get yer skinny ass up and let's go see Skivah."
TO BE CONTINUED