“Once we steal the scroll, who’s going to buy it?” Vanity picked at a bit of loose skin on her elbow and kicked her legs. She was sitting on the edge of the table, which was already taller than she was.

Torment gave a flat reply. “I hadn’t lined up a buyer yet.” Though her expression suggested boredom, her prehensile tail swished, betraying a certain amount of frustration with the question.

A casual flick of her fingers sent the bit of dead skin careening into the gloom of the basement where the two chatted. Vanity kicked her feet more aggressively, as though she were trying to swim through the air from her sitting position. “I thought you had this worked out already.”

Torment crossed her arms and snorted, emitting a tiny flame from somewhere in a sinus cavity. Vanity’s expression shifted to display a smug, self-satisfied smile at what she identified as brewing hostility.

“If I had looked for a buyer already, they might betray our plans. Or if we were to fail, they’d be the first suspect and the robbery could be traced back to us. I don’t like either of those options.”

Vanity blew on her fingers, and buffed her nails on her vest. “That’s why you should have let me put this job together. I would have everything all figured out, and we’d be running it right now.”

Torment snorted again. “Running? Like last time? I definitely remember running involved in the last job you put together.”

The halfling shrugged. “I could hardly be blamed for that.”

“I’m blaming you. I wouldn’t call that hardly,” said Torment with a sneer.

Vanity arched her back and let out a bored-sounding sigh. “I’d call you ‘Hardly,’ it at least sounds prettier than Torment.”

The tiefling groaned.

“Besides, I thought the idea of leaving a fake in place of the scroll was to throw off the curators. There shouldn’t be a suspect at all. No one to worry you, no one to worry me. No one to worry anyone.”

Torment leaned back against the wall. “Look, this plan is like an experiment. A proof of concept,” she gestured toward the center of the basement as though she were lecturing to a class full of students. “If we can steal one scroll without being detected, we can do it a second time. And a third time.”

Vanity leaned back and raised an incredulous eyebrow. “Who said I want to go back a second time? Wizards are dangerous, vindictive people.”

“I know.”

The halfling leaned forward and said in a sultry tone, “Is this about being a wizard then?” She let her tongue hang on the last syllable. “Is this about getting revenge?” Vanity clicked her tongue.

Torment heaved a sigh. “It’s only partly about being a wizard. Only a little about revenge.” She crossed her arms again and kicked at the stone floor. “You didn’t seem so concerned before, what changed?”

“I didn’t have anything to do, with you doing all the planning. I poked my nose into a few corners, asked around.”

It was the tiefling’s turn to raise an eyebrow. “Who did you talk to? No one in the Library should know I’m here, as far as they know, I’m halfway out of the kingdom, maybe two kingdoms over.”

Vanity maintained her sly demeanor. “Nobody of note. We’ve done a couple of jobs together now, you can hardly blame me for getting inquisitive.”

“You should have asked me.”

“You were busy,” replied Vanity.

Torment shook her head in an effort to clear her thoughts. “This isn’t going the way I thought it would.”

“No plan survives contact with the enemy,” said Vanity.

“Since when are you the enemy?”

“It’s a saying, I don’t mean it literally. Which reminds me,” she began, “what do we do if the Library does figure out what’s taken and comes after us? Your plan could only be carried out by a wizard.”

“They won’t come after us,” replied Torment, and she gestured toward herself. “They’ll come after me.”

“Since when does a wizard care who or what gets in their way?” said Vanity.

“I don’t imagine you’ll stay in the way very long,” said Torment, “And I mean that as a compliment. You’re shifty.” She paused after a moment to consider her words.

“Thanks,” said Vanity. “Charity would have been a good name for you.” Her voice stank with sarcasm.

“If I trusted you even a little bit, I might have told you my real name.”


“But I meant that you’d move out of the way as quickly as possible if the Library came after me. You have a good nose for trouble.”

“Again,” said Vanity, “I’m not seeing the compliment. But you get credit for trying. I think that leaves you in the red for all the back-handed compliments you gave me earlier, but slightly less red than, I don’t know, your tail.”

Torment flinched, and her tail swished again. “Right.”

Vanity swung her legs back, hunched her shoulders and pressed her palms into the table, then vaulted off the table, using her momentum to carry her forward. She landed on her toes and transferred the momentum from the front of her foot to the back, and up to her knees, which she bent.

To Torment, it all looked very graceful, very practiced. “I’ll need about ten minutes, once we’re in,” she paused. “You’re still in, right?”

A look flashed across Vanity’s face that Torment couldn’t identify. “For the money, of course,” said the halfling. “I’m sure a buyer will turn up, and my problems will take care of themselves.” She paused and asked, “When?”

“Our window will be in a couple hours,” said Torment, “Ioun willing.”