Gold Fox slunk off into the darkness, taking a vantage point where she could see down into the manor. She gave a chuckle as the guards kept running around in confusion and the barking dogs caused chaos. It was always a pleasure to watch the chaos she caused to play out. Fox gave a little hoot in surprise as one of the guards shot another by accident, though frowned as that caused the chaos to start to subside as people started running around for medical supplies and recover their composure.
Once the show was over, she moved off and away, tracking through some brushes along the roadway. In the moonlight, she saw a strange glint and crept closer to what caught her attention. When she brushed aside a branch of the brushes, she found a small statue about two feet tall.
Gold Fox picked it up and held onto it as she moved to a spot where she could stay hidden but had enough moonlight to examine it. Ducking behind such cover, she was startled to find it was a statue of the Goddess of Tricksters. Nowadays, such a thing was quite the rarity. It is no wonder someone secreted it away, they probably still worshipped it but would not let others know that.
Finder’s keepers, however, was one of the rules of the Goddess of Tricksters, so Fox held onto it as she went back to Cunning Linguist’s apartment. There, she set it on a table and started to take a nap on the couch.
She woke up a few hours later, in the early morning light, with Cunning shaking her gently. Her hostess asked, “Have a good night?”
“It was very productive, yes. Everything’s set up on my end. Yours?”
“I got most of the gangs ready to meet me in a few hours. Everything’s good on my end.”
“Good. Can I ask you a favor?”
Cunning gave a nod as she sat next to Fox, “Sure, what is it?”
Pointing to the statue, Fox inquired, “Could you mail that to a special location of mine if I pay for the postage?”
“Of course, that’s not a problem,” Cunning then leaned in to study the statue a bit, “Isn’t that…?”
“Yes, the Goddess of Tricksters.”
“But…her worship’s been banned, hasn’t it?”
Fox gave a slight nod, “Sort of. In the non-human lands, it has been, yes. Elfland forbids it, and the dwarf clans won’t allow the iconography in their lands. Before they were wiped out by the humans, the orc tribes abhorred her and called her a demon. Only a few humans and maybe a rare half-elf will worship her still.”
“A rare half-elf….like you?”
Fox laughed softly, “I’m a rare half-elf, but I do not worship the Goddess of Tricksters. On the other hand, I do not disrespect her, and I do collect rare art. When I can.”
“I see.” Cunning looked at the statue then asked, “Why don’t more humans worship her?”
“Humans do not worship very much at all. And when they do, it’s nearly never one deity, it’s a pantheon of. Even the odd ones who heavily favor one amongst their pantheon almost never take the Goddess of Tricksters, for they say ‘she is like a dagger, liable to be thrown back at you’. Too risky for their taste, in general. I suppose most who do worship her did so to placate her and try to keep her happy and content and not bring mischief to them.”
“It’s odd though, that humans do not worship her as their primary choice.”
“Why do you say that, Cunning?”
“Well, I heard the story that humans gained their prominence because of her.”
“Ah, yes. Let’s see now….” Gold Fox paused in thought some, then continued, “If I recall right, it went like so: Elfs are superior at magic and very good at art, Dwarfs are superior at crafting and very good at war, and Orcs are superior at war and very good at magic, of the shamanic sort. But humans, they were superior at nothing whatsoever, nor very good at anything. They were, in effect, third best in all things. Which made them, suppoedly, better at Elfs at war, better than Dwarfs at magic, and better than Orcs at art, but bested on a whole.”
“Yes. And feeling marginalized and inferior, humans kept mostly to themselves and learned to hate the other peoples.”
“I think they were more jealous than hateful. After all, when Elfkind originally sent a delegation to Humanity, the two peoples became strong allies and lived like the best of friends for centuries. That is, until almost a century ago.”
Cunning pointed to the statue and said, “And that’s when she stepped in. Now, at this point in the story, there’s some variations. What is the one you heard?”
“The Goddess of Tricksters stepped before the other deities and pointed out the disparity in abilities. How Elfs were so good at magic, and Dwarfs so good at crafting, and Orcs were so good at war, and she demanded that the humans be the best at something.”
“I’m with you so far.”
Fox nodded, “The other deities asked whatever else they could be good at, as magic, art and war were taken, and the Goddess of Tricksters pointed out that humans have a lot of supersitions. That if you leave a bowl of milk out, one of the Little Folk will do household chores for you, that if cold iron touches an Elf they act as if burnt, that if you hang a crooked nail over your doorframe a Dwarf can not enter your house, and so forth.”
“Ah, this version of the stsory.””
“Indeed. So the Goddess of Tricksters asked the other deities to make the human superstitions real. That humans should excel at storytelling, to the point that their stories can be real. The deities gave consent to the superstitions granting powers over others, but with the caveat that humans did not have the power to tell stories that could influence reality.”
“And, once their folklore became real,” Cunning ended the story for Fox, “they used the power to first take control of the Little Folk, then forced one sided contracts upon the Dwarfs, then sought control over the other beings of our world. And they put the Little Folk to work in their factories, which gave them far more weaponry than Orcs or Dwarfs could make. And so forth, until we got to today.”
“That is indeed the story I heard. What was the version you heard, Cunning?”
“I heard that the Goddess of Tricksters convinced the other deities to grant Humanity the abilities of any other peoples they conquered. So the Little Folk begged to be enslaved instead of destroyed, but the Orcs did not, and they became extinct when Humanity sought to be the best at war and out-produced weapons to use against them. Now Humanity are the best at warfare, for they took that power from the Orcs.”
Fox gave a slight nod, “That could be. But if that were so, how come Humanity and the Dwarf Clans have a neutrality agreement? If they rendered the Clans extinct also, they’d be the best at warfare and crafting, would they not?”
A shrug from Cunning, “Mayhaps. Mayhaps it is the story you heard. Mayhaps, also, it is another story. Or no story. Or many stories put together.”
Fox stood up and tapped the statue gently, “Knowing her, it may be all that, or none of that. Regardless, it is good stories, and good guesses as to how Humanity rose so fast in the past century and change.”
“Agreed. But for now, breakfast. We have a big day ahead of us.”
Once breakfast was done, Fox wrote down the address and put a few coins on the table. Cunning may or may not be able to mail the statue today, but she trusted the other half-elf will do it soon enough. The two then wished each other luck and left their various ways. Cunning Linguist walked out of her front door. Gold Fox snuck out on the fire escape in the illusion of a cat, then walked to the rooftops. Once there, in her Dark Elf Butterfly guise, she ran from rooftop to rooftop, jumping across the gaps with ease.
Fox ran with speed towards a safe spot close enough to the spot between the two crime family’s houses while still being able to hide in a safe spot. She made it in time, for the crime families spent their mornings trying to figure out how to proceed, before eager and aggressive members of their groups demanded bloody justice.
About a half hour after Fox arrived on the spot, the Surkelli family came out to shout invictives towards their rivals, who then responded by bringing their own men out. Both sides shouted at one another and pushed each other back and forth, but it was all posturing.
This kept going until both bosses came out. They quited down their own groups, then moved to the middle to converse. Fox gave a smirk, then gave the command word, “Funtime”. Once said, the disks she planted on the back of each boss’ head overnight exploded, tearing half the head of each man apart, rendering them both deceased.
No one noticed during the posturing two nondescript, plain looking men suddenly appear in the group, illusions cast by Fox. Once the disks exploded, she had the illusions hold thundercaster pistols up in the air, then declare that war begun.
Hot headed, blood riled already, the war between the criminal families had, indeed, begun. Right on the street between their manors blood was shed and thundercasters were drawn and fired. The criminal problem of this island was sorting itself out in a bloody harvest.
Several members of the house guard of the actual house she wanted to sneak into did leave their gated premises to guard the outer premises of their guarded property. A few shots of a thundercaster could tear down their wall, and no one in the large compound wanted the bloodshed to spread onto their yard.
Gold Fox snuck into the yard through the tunnel she was shown by Cunning Linguist earlier. It snaked around and sloped down, then upwards, until she infiltrated into the compound behind bushes in a corner.
Knowing that night would not increase her odds of success dramatically, she waited only momentarily to dust herself off and insure no one was looking her way. Then, she ran towards the house itself and snuck into the basement window.
Here, she quietly began the long process of quietly sneaking through a mansion without being detected, until she could get to the third floor office that was her true objective.
It always seemed easier in simulations.