Part 2: Past – Don't hold the door for me.
The night was perfectly calm and the only sound that could be heard was the polite bantering of nobles, wafting delicately from a large, ornately structured mansion. A single cloud surfed the dark sky, freckled by a million stars and a thin sliver of silver that was the moon.
This peacefulness ceased when we arrived though.
We were lingering in the shadows behind a huge mansion in Treno where a party was being held. Currently, we were waiting for Ruby to change and for Baku and Cinna to come back with the first stolen good. As usual, I was the one to put up with the taunts.
'I look like a fool,' I moaned, tugging at my black waistcoat.
Blank chuckled behind his hand. 'Nah, you look sophisticated! A proper noble!'
'And like the product of cross-breeding a monkey and a penguin,' Marcus added and they burst out laughing.
I went red with anger and embarrassment. 'Hey shut up! I'd like to see you wearing this suit you bastard!'
Marcus shuffled like a penguin and made monkey noises while Blank claimed his sides were splitting. I just stood there shaking with anger, urging myself not to rip the damn thing off me.
I was just about to introduce my fist to Marcus' cheek when the click-click-click of heels announced Ruby's arrival. She swaggered in a feminine manner due to her high shoes, her rose red dress floating around her slender form gracefully. It was going to be her 'posh' clothing for the evening.
'Now y'all just leave lil' Ziddy alone!' she said. 'I'll bet he looks mighty finer than you boys in a tuxedo anyway.'
I grinned and pulled a face. Blank was about to argue when, with a bang, Baku appeared suddenly from a side door to our right accompanied by a very smug looking Cinna.
'Phase One complete boys! Gwahahaha!' he guffawed noisily.
Cinna waved a thin, elegant silver key in the air like a flag. 'Stole it right under their noses, ha suckers!'
'All right you good for nothings!' our Boss began; 'Phase Two takin' place soon! You know what to do Ruby, Zidane you gotta be quick or they'll notice. Marcus, Blank, be ready at that window and keep ya eyes peeled! Cinna and me will be waitin' to catch it below! Got it?'
We did the Tantalus salute and the Boss gave us the final signal for us to take our positions. The boys scampered off in all directions, leaving me and Ruby alone on the mosaic plateau. Butterflies were fluttering in my stomach from excited nervousness and I couldn't prevent the grin that erupted on my face.
'Ready to join the party?' I asked, offering her my arm. 'And can I say, you're looking h-o-t tonight, babe.'
She giggled and took my arm. 'Oh you're such a flatterer! Now stop ya stallin' and act like a noble, all right honey?'
'Gotcha! ...I mean...top notch idea my darling Ruby!'
She suppressed a giggle as we flashed false invitations at the guards and entered the towering mansion, arm in arm. Yeah, okay, I felt a bit stupid because Ruby was a good few inches taller than me at that time, and I'd never worn a suit in my life – I doubted I could pull it off. To tell the truth, I was surprised Baku even picked me to play such an important role in this plan – a lot was resting on my head and I knew if I failed there'd be a beating of a lifetime waiting for me.
We were greeted formally as we walked into a knot of chattering people, not one odd look or questioning stare. Ha! No one suspected a thing! Heartened, I flashed a smile at a pretty young woman in a navy blue dress. The man next to her gave me a menacing look and tried to distract the woman's focus.
I felt Ruby nudge me. 'Stop drawing attention to yourself, partner, or you'll blow our cover!'
'Aw, Rubes, are ya jealous?'
She gave me 'the look' and I shut up immediately.
Minutes past and we wandered from clusters of nobles to clusters of nobles and conversed lightly about inconsequential matters like the weather until we saw what we were looking for. A large crowd of people had assembled around a short pedestal, which was crowned with a diamond-encrusted gauntlet constructed of pure gold, encased in a glass box with a lock on it. It shone very brightly in the lights and I had to stop myself from drooling.
'One of a kind!' the owner was proclaiming – a fat pompous noble. 'Made in the East by the most skilful of craftsman, and the diamonds are straight from the rainforest mines to the West. One of a kind, no doubt! No doubt! Cost a fortune, if I may be so bold to add!'
I was actually drooling... it was so... shiny... all sparkly...
Ruby gave me a pinch and I awoke from my 'magpie' state, and I slipped unnoticed to the other side of the room, hiding myself behind one of the many towering, marble pillars, as thick as tree trunks.
Phase Three: I watched Ruby sway on the spot, put the back of her hand against her forehead and topple backwards onto the floor with a dramatic gasp. A woman cried out in surprise. A man knelt beside her limp form. A young girl ran to fetch some water. Another man tried to support her head. And a crowd began to form around her: Away from the golden gauntlet.
Very quickly and very quietly I snuck up behind their turned bodies in front of the pedestal, conscious of the tapping my shoes were making on the hard floor. I withdrew the silver key, unlocked the glass casing and as fast as I could, lifted the gauntlet from its transparent cage. I almost dropped it and nearly cried out, surprised by its heaviness and had to bite my lip to stop myself, drawing blood.
Gripping it with both hands I scurried over to the window. A rope flew from its open mouth and I spotted Blank and Marcus beckoning furiously for me to tie it on.
Time was short.
I heaved it into one hand and used the other to tie the rope around it. As soon as I had, the two guys above started to heave it up to the window. It made a heavy clunk as it hit the wall.
Ruby groaned loudly. She was losing them.
Taking action, I skidded into the circle of nobles. 'Oh my darling wife!' I cried dramatically. 'What has happened? Who is responsible for this?'
An elderly lady who was wiping a wet cloth over Ruby's forehead looked up. 'Not us, sir. She fainted I am afraid, too much bubbly perhaps? Although, it is quite stuffy in here, perhaps we should open the doors and let in some fresh air?'
My eyes darted to the window and I saw they nearly had it to the top.
'Oh no, no. Come on darling, up, up! You're quite all right, aren't you? What were you thinking, giving all these nice people a scare?'
I put Ruby's arms around my neck and hoisted her up, which was actually really difficult because she was taller than me.
'You say she is your wife?' a rather obese man questioned.
'Y-yes; that I am.'
'Rather young, aren't you? Why, you look no older than fifteen, hardly an age for marriage, eh?'
I laughed nervously, desperately wishing Ruby would help me out by taking some of the weight off my chest. She looks skinny but damn is she heavy!
'Well...erm...I'm quite older than that, you know. Besides, it's young love. Nothing wrong with being hasty!'
My eyes flicked towards the window. They were gone!
'Anyways,' I concluded with a grin, 'It aint none of your business so butt out and go spend ya cash, buster!'
With that Ruby perked up, grabbed my hand, and we both went skidding from the grand hall in a cloud of laughter that didn't stop until we were soaring in the sky on the Prima Vista admiring our Golden Gauntlet.