The Scoundrels of Virtue

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Maia was very surprised that no one had recognized her. Her 'Missing' posters were still hanging around in castle town. The others were probably very happy that no one had, but for Maia, it felt a bit like no one cared about her, not even the Princess... She missed Zelda, and she was sad that she hadn't seen her for the short time that she had been in the castle... 

But with saving the children, she felt like she had an actual purpose now. Not like back at the castle, where her only purpose was cleaning and taking care of Zelda. She wasn't sure about stealing the clothes thing, but she knew that they had no other choice. 

She was still very confused about that man that had tried to murder her. Every time she had thought about it, shivers went down her spine. What had she done wrong? She honestly didn't understand any of it. Maybe the others had their ideas about it, but asking and talking about it would probably make her sick. It would be for later. 

She was sitting with Lorcan, who, as she had learned, didn't speak often. He was the most pleasant company she could wish, because she thought the rest was rather loud. With Lorcan, she didn't have to talk. She could watch her surroundings, and think about everything that had been going on, which has been the most in all her life. She was pretty nervous about the whole disguise and break in thing, but it was the right thing to do. 

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Torianna fiddled with the lock for a few moments. Behind her, Endel glanced nervously over his shoulder, keeping an eye out for passers by. With a satisfying click, the lock opened and she pushed open the door. The house that they'd chosen was medium sized. It wasn't large enough that the clothes would appear too extravagant or fancy, but not so small as to upset Endel's precious conscience about stealing from poor people. The house was dark as they entered, the inhabitants were obviously out.

"Nice work," Endel said with a nod, before taking to the stairs. Torianna followed up behind him, and they split, ransacking different bedrooms. It looked like Endel got lucky, because Torianna seemed to have found her way into the kids bedroom. There was nothing there but twin beds, children's clothes, a few books and some toys. She frowned, perching down on one of the beds. Sitting on the pillow was a blue toy rabbit with long legs and big floppy ears. She grinned, throwing the toy from hand to hand; it seemed appropriate.

As she made her way back into the hall, Endel emerged from what must have been the parents room with an armful of clothes.

"We've got enough here. Let's scram before-" he stopped short, looking at the blue rabbit. "What's that?"

"A toy!" Torianna replied. "You know, to give to a child or whatever!"

He glanced her up and down with a mixture of disbelief and disgust. "Put that back!" he admonished. "That toy probably means a lot to a kid, you can't just take that!"

"Why not?" she asked.

He scoffed, shaking his head. "Just put it back and let's get out of here."

Torianna rolled her eyes, tossing the disproportionate rabbit back into the children's room before they made for the stairs.

Edited by NayruGoddessOfWisdom (see edit history)

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Lorcan scowled down at the clothes he wore, shifting uncomfortably and feeling naked without his armour. Skallin was guarding their possessions, waiting close by the door of the nursery as stoic as ever.

"I can't believe we're doing this," Torianna muttered bitterly. Lorcan pinched her arm hard, glaring down at her. She rolled her eyes, huffing, and changed her tone near-immediately. "I mean, I sure can't wait to adopt our first child!"

It was Lorcan's turn to roll his eyes, looking to Endel and Maia who seemed to be handling the situation at hand a lot better than he and Torianna were. 

"Torianna, keep with the act," Endel warned her. "You're doing the talking for both you and Lorcan, so you've got to stay as civil and well-mannered as is possible. Understand?"

Torianna stuck her tongue out at him once more before resuming her first-time-parent mannerisms. Lorcan couldn't fight the smile her shifts in personality brought on, but he shook it off quickly as they headed across the street to the nursery. 

"Remember to at least nod here and there or pretend to whisper something to me," Torianna reminded him, and Lorcan sighed exasperatedly. How stupid did Torianna think he was, anyways? He could act when he wanted to; he spent most of his time acting.

"Alright, let's do this," Endel said. "Everyone ready?"

After a nod from each member of the group, Endel pushed the doors open wide, and they stepped inside.

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((Oh, shit I forgot to mention, Knuckle told me to tell everyon he would be unable to post until tommorrow.))

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((He also told me he wants all of you to start calling him "knückle"))

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((Finally back!))

 

The extensive makeups and costumes Endel and the others had applied must have paid off, because none of the children at least seemed to recognize them as they walked in. If the caretaker Endel had spotted earlier recognized them, she was doing a good job of hiding it. "Can I help you?" She asked innocently.

"Yes, my wife and I, as well as my sister and her husband are looking to adopt." Endel replied casually, hoping that Torianna wouldn't guffaw at the insinuation she and Lorcan were married. His expectations were defied when the thief went into a story about her previous children dying in the Twilight Crisis, to which Lorcan shed a few tears for effect. The caretaker, on the other hand, made the serious mistake of not flinching. 

 

"Yes, well, there are certain procedures one must undergo for adoption." She began with an out-of-place smile. "I assume you've been acquainted with the adoption fees you have to pay by law, 20,000 rupees per parent." Endel turned to the others, dumbstruck, but Maia silently shook her head in a way that said 'you're wrong' rather than 'we didn't know'. It was the last nail in the coffin for their hopes of avoiding strife, and now both parties knew it; Endel could feel the mutual hostility raising the hairs on his back. "How unfortunate," the caretaker continued with less hospitality, "I suppose that concludes any business we might have-"

"Just a moment!" Endel broke in. "Perhaps you also know that collateral is a viable alternative to rupees in these times." He had no idea if this was actually the case, but he spoke with authority, and the caretaker didn't call his bluff.

 

"Hmmph." There was no facade in the woman's voice now, and she was viewing all four of them with contained anger. "Very well, follow me to the back room so we can discuss your financial situation." Everyone but Maia was now bracing for a fight, but even so they were all caught off guard when they walked into the room and a bladed tail lurched from beneath the woman's dress, its swing barely missing Lorcan. 

 

"Fools, you're too cocky if you expected to gang up on me..." Their enemy no longer resembled a woman at all, but rather a green, reptilian beast halfway between human and Lizafos. "Master Warlock Kazdan will be pleased to see you all dead!"

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((Good to have you back, Knuckle!))

 

The situation had certainly taken a turn for the worse, but the sudden change was hardly unexpected. The reptilian humanoid hissed, her long, forked tongue flitting between pointed teeth. Some powerful magic must have been used to disguise her - likely from this 'Master Warlock' she mentioned.

Torianna smirked, pleased at finally being able to drop the irritatingly pleasant demeanour. She reached down at whipped her gold dagger from her boot leg, twirling it nonchalantly between her finger tips. Both Lorcan and Endel produced their concealed weapons, while Maia stifled a gasp and pressed herself back against the wall of the back room.

The beast was first to attack, she swung her tail in one fluid motion across the room. Endel and Torianna jumped quickly, but Lorcan's feet were swept from beneath him and he landed, winded, on his chest. The beast hissed once again, advancing on him. Lorcan reacted fast enough to kick the beast away, but it just made her more aggressive.

She took another swing with her tail, but missed all three combatants this time. The bladed tail whacked clumsily into the bookshelf along the back wall of the room. Books clattered to the ground before the whole thing collapsed. Endel jumped out of the way just in time to avoid being crushed.

That's when the reptilian humanoid raised itself up, inflating it's chest with a deep breath. It began to blow out a jet of red flames that engulfed the books and set them alight. Torianna leapt back, but the flames still caught onto her cardigan. She muttered a curse as she ripped it off - stupid disguise! If she'd been wearing her leather jacket it wouldn't have burned like that! She stamped out the flame quickly, but when she looked up the beast was advancing on her.

She gripped her dagger tightly in her right hand and took a slash at the hissing, spitting creature. It recoiled from her hit, a gash visible across it's chest let out an awful, raucous growl.

Edited by NayruGoddessOfWisdom (see edit history)

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The creature roared in pain, clutching at its wound only to have its claws tear the gash open further. Within a minute of profuse bleeding, it was dead.

Maia took her hands away from her mouth, looking on in disgust. Endel sighed in relief, returning his weapon. Lorcan did the same, looking to Torianna who wore a self-satisfied smile. He was still mad with her, in fact he was always annoyed with her, but he believed in giving credit where it was due.

Reluctantly, he gave her a thumbs up and ignored the grin she sent his way.

They left the nursery and were treated to the sight of Skallin, surrounded by the rescued children with some of them clinging to his armour. Lorcan grinned at the suit of armour. If it could emote anything at all, Lorcan was sure the Darknut would be wearing quite the unamused expression.

"I see you've been successful," he noted.

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The creature roared in pain, clutching at its wound only to have its claws tear the gash open further. Within a minute of profuse bleeding, it was dead.

Maia took her hands away from her mouth, looking on in disgust. Endel sighed in relief, returning his weapon. Lorcan did the same, looking to Torianna who wore a self-satisfied smile. He was still mad with her, in fact he was always annoyed with her, but he believed in giving credit where it was due.

Reluctantly, he gave her a thumbs up and ignored the grin she sent his way.

They left the nursery and were treated to the sight of Skallin, surrounded by the rescued children with some of them clinging to his armour. Lorcan grinned at the suit of armour. If it could emote anything at all, Lorcan was sure the Darknut would be wearing quite the unamused expression.

"I see you've been successful," he noted.

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"I don't know yet, but we need to get out of here before the guards show up." Endel warned them, but it was hopeless. They were already being approached by castle soldiers from both ends of town, and what were they going to do, leave all these orphans behind? Torianna got ready to dash, but Lorcan grabbed her immediately. The guardsmen didn't even pay Skallin any mind as they surrounded the thieves; thank goodness they were wearing their stolen clothes to cover their thieving attire. "We got complaints of a noise disturbance," one of them said, "you got anything to say about that?"

"Yeah, try running background checks on your orphanages to make sure they're not run by lizardfolk." Endel replied sarcasically. "If you think I'm pulling your leg, there's a monster carcass in that building you might want to check out." Most of the guards laughed at the idea of a monster running the orphanage, but one entered the room they'd just been in to humor him, and came back white as a sheet.

 

"M-M-MONSTER!" he bellowed before taking off down the road, a trademark tactic of the guardsmen these days. The rest of them started quivering a bit as their leader issued his orders. "T-take these four to the castle... straight to the queen... make Zelda take care of it... g-go!"

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"Typical man," Torianna muttered under her breath. "Let the woman take care of it, but he'll take all the credit."

"Alright sweetheart, save it for later," one of the guards said, taking Torianna by the arm. She shot him a nasty glare; she hated being called sweetheart.

As they group made their way through town, escorted by the guards Torianna felt a little ill at ease. They seemed to be being treated as witnesses rather than suspects, which she was grateful for. But still, there was no telling what might go down in the castle. What if someone there recognized them as thieves? What if Maia suddenly had a change of heart? The outcome didn't exactly look great. Both Endel and Lorcan were visibly nervous, though Maia seemed to be over the moon.

The guards led the group up the steps towards Hyrule castle. A guard manning the door shot the disguised thieves a weary look, but his co-worker spoke up. "They're here with us, we need to see the princess."

The door guard nodded and stepped aside to let them pass. They were emitted immediately into the castle, and found themselves in a very grand looking entrance hall. Various members of staff and castle guards were busying themselves, but the group didn't stop. They proceeded straight up the ornate marble stair case to the throne room. The heavy oak doors were thrown open, and Torianna got her first close up glance of the princess.

For all the incapability of her guards, for all the chaos that had enveloped the kingdom, Princess Zelda seemed to somehow maintain perfect composure. She rose from her throne as the group entered, regarding them with concern and confusion.

"Mattius?" she spoke to the guard that had led them here. "Whatever has ha-" she trailed into silence as she laid eyes on her personal maid, and her expression softened. "Maia..." she whispered.

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The relief that washed over Maia was apparent to all in the room. It seemed to be an effort for her to remain in place, a huge smile plastered onto her face.

The rest of the group were definitely not in the same condition, and Lorcan himself was quite apprehensive.

"Who are the others?" Zelda asked, scanning them all with interest.

"Names," Mattius barked.

"Endel," the thief introduced himself.

"Torianna." She turned to grin at Lorcan, who shifted nervously under the princess' gaze.

"This is Lorcan," she introduced him. "He doesn't say much."

Lorcan scowled, not exactly able to deny it.

"We have reports of a... a humanoid lizard, Your Highness," Mattius said slowly, as if the bizarreness of the situation had just hit him.

Zelda frowned. "I think... I think I'll sit down and hear this, Mattius."

Edited by ButterflyBabyBlue (see edit history)

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No man or woman had ever coaxed Endel's respect quite like Zelda. She was not only the epitome of regality, but also a font of serenity that compelled Endel to tell her the complete truth. The mission of the Scoundrels of Virtue, why they kidnapped Maia, the attempted assassination... it was all relayed to the princess in perfect detail as the others fidgeted anxiously. The princess was not like Ashei or even Telma; she took it all in while remaining fully attentive, showing both child-like fascination and mature consideration as he finished.

 

The room was tense and quiet for a short time before Zelda responded.

 

"These are dark times we live in..." she began, "when the enemy of Hyrule is not from without its walls but within. Our brothers and sisters are being turned against us by some force, and now we must question our own kin." Her head remained bowed as she spoke, giving the appearance of grief. "But the gods have not sent us another hero. They have given us scoundrels to deliver Hyrule from evil. I do not understand why, and I rarely fail to understand anything, but so be it."

 

Zelda decreed that the Scoundrels of Virtue... his family that had worked so hard on their own to fight evil... were nothing more than puppets of the gods this whole time. It was like a blade of ice had impaled Endel in the gut. She was wrong, completely wrong! What a stupid thing for her to say. Endel and the Scoundrels only had one person to thank for their spoils; themselves. No god here or anywhere had ordained they would become the saviors of Hyrule.

 

He wanted to shout, object, do anything to tell Zelda she was wrong, but he just stood there livid, barely holding it all in as she continued. "Your next task is to find this Kazdan. He is one of the court nobles, but as the political situation is now, I cannot accuse him of any wrongdoing with your testimony alone. Use all of your skills to infiltrate his manor, find evidence of his guilt, and help me bring him to justice."

 

Endel gave a stiff bow and left the chamber briskly with the others. It was all he could do not to utter a word until they left the castle.

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They were provided with fresh horses and a carriage as they left the castle. Endel, who appeared to be in a furious mood for reasons that Torianna couldn't quite understand, launched himself up onto one of the horses. Lorcan made for the other one, but Torianna butted in before him. She put one foot into the stirrup and hoisted herself up, shooting him a proud smile.

"You're not the only one who can ride a horse!" she said as she settled into position and took the reigns. Lorcan shrugged and made for the carriage with Maia. They stopped along the way to pick up Skallin who the guards had idiotically left behind before making for the shores of Lake Hylia, where they'd been informed that they could find Kazdan's manor house.

"You look about as angry as Lorcan when he has one of his temper tantrums," Torianna said, glancing sideways at Endel. "What's got your feathers in a ruffle?"

He let out a heavy sigh, gripping the reigns until his knuckles turned white with the pressure. "We weren't appointed by the Gods to protect Hyrule. To accredit our successes to divine powers is complete idiocy."

Torianna raised her eyebrows. She hadn't realised quite how strongly Endel felt about the Gods. "Well you're not wrong..." she muttered.

That's when a large, beautifully designed house began to roll into view. It was made of a strange sandy coloured rock and stood at least four stories tall. Gilded windows dotted the walls, and the door was tall enough to emit large carts and carriages. The entire place reeked with a magical aura, and it was enough to make Torianna shiver.

They parked a small distance from the house and took the last part of the journey on foot, weary of their carriage being spotted and blowing their cover. It seemed redundant however, as there were several carriages already parked outside, likely belonging to staff or visitors to the manor. As they approached, Torianna began evaluating the best way to break into the house unnoticed.

"Perhaps there's a back entrance, for staff," Skallin mused.

Torianna shook her head. "That's too obvious, what we need is a ground floor window in an unoccupied room."

Lorcan gripped his sword, and Endel nodded, still looking a little bitter.

"Let's get to it then."

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(( Gonna back up a little bit to where Maia's in the carriage ))

 

She had seen the Princess! Maia was so happy, the Princess had looked happy to see her too! She wished that she could have stayed there.... She missed the castle... Not that she didn't like the outside and the adventure, because she did. She just wasn't used to it, and she didn't know if she would ever be. She wasn't entirely sure about her companions though. It wasn't that she didn't like them, they were just so, different. And they were thieves! What if they couldn't be trusted? Surely they would have tried something by now, but still. 

One thing still haunted Maia. When the Princess had asked if anyone knew the assassin that had tried to kill Maia, she could have sworn she saw something in Torianna's eyes. It was only a split second, but she had seen it. Could she trust her? Could anyone trust her? Maybe this group didn't know Torianna as well as they thought...

Edited by Franne (see edit history)

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