"Now, brothers and sisters, about times and dates we do not need to write to you, for you know very well that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night." - 1 Thessalonians 5
Within shadows cast by a waxing crescent moon, a young, inexperienced thief anxiously anticipated his opportunity to strike. His profusely sweating body was on high alert, with senses heightened and heart pounding against his ribcage. Contrary to his primal desire to flee, he willed himself closer to his destination, edging alongside the smooth granite wall of the compound towards the only accessible entrance – a colossal wooden gate dwarfing every other structure in sight, save for the resplendent mansion it served to protect.
The cool night air did little to ease his nerves. A lack of wind only heightened the tension, while rows of birch trees witnessed his actions, unwavering in their condemnation. In this quiet desperation, the thief stopped to draw a breath and drink from his pouch. He briefly reflected on what he was and where he’s been, then found the shred of confidence he desperately needed.
“You’re prepared, Levi,” he whispered to himself while approaching the gate, cloaking his noise in the ambiance of night life.
Levi’s progress halted as soon as it began. Two armored guards were posted on each side of the gate, and their gazes swept across the forest-lined road ahead. With baited breath and focused gaze, Levi performed the night’s first act of theft.
Seconds later, the nearest guard collapsed with a thud, knocked out cold with no apparent cause. His partner rushed to the victim’s side, yelling for support from those posted within and atop the walls. Shortly after, a rush of wind and noise emanated from the gate as it opened wide and a dozen confused, armored men stormed outwards.
Smirking at the success of his ruse, Levi casually passed by the amassing crowd without being noticed. A trick he had honed for years now finally put to good use. Yet he couldn't hold on forever, as one unknown observer would shatter the entire illusion. Knowing as much, once Levi made his way into the yard he took to the shadows again, where nature is ultimately responsible for bending perception.
The levity of the moment soon faded back into bleakness, in which every trace of light meant potential failure. Darting from the cover of a carefully-trimmed plant, Levi wasted little time reaching his destination, carefully bounding between sources of shade along the way. With heavy breath and aching limbs, he rested on the side of a marble column and mentally prepared himself for the most difficult part of the task.
Up until that point, Levi was basing his approach on what he knew. As with a handful of previous robberies, Levi accompanied his mother, a nurse, in providing medicine for a diseased official a few days prior. In this particular case, the patient in question was the Governor himself, owner of the finest mansion and most lavish treasure horde on the island. The opportunity couldn't be resisted, so Levi took note of his surroundings during the visit.
Levi had an idea of where some of the most valuable items might lie, but he wasn't so sure about the security inside the building. Not knowing exactly what he was getting into, Levi cautiously opened a side door connecting directly into a kitchen. He slithered in with eyes wide open, taking a glance at the array of red meats hanging from the ceiling.
“There should be stairs…” he mumbled, peeking out of the well-stocked kitchen and into the lavishly-decorated hallway. Candles, paintings, and suits of armor adorned the walls, but nothing caught his attention. Only a mirror gave him pause for thought, as the muted candlelight revealed his boyish features.
As he crept through the halls, Levi tried to recall the moments he took to survey the area during broad daylight. At that point, darkness was as much an enemy as it was an ally. After what felt like minutes of fumbling about, Levi found the staircase he sought. Unfortunately, it was much louder than he expected.
Grimacing along with each creaking downward step, Levi entered into an antechamber which appeared centuries older than the house above. The rough-cut cobblestone walls had partially caved in, leaving little space in front of the rusted metal doorway, and the low ceiling contributed to Levi’s developing claustrophobia. As he shoved against the door, thick clouds of dust rose from the floor, forcing him to blink and sputter.
“This doesn't seem well taken care of,” Levi said upon entering the room. Relics of island culture from ages past lay strewn across the floor, as if the latest regime had little respect for cultural history.
Not every piece could be rescued, but one caught Levi’s eye. Despite the darkness and layers of dust, a silver medallion gleamed as if it had never been touched. Levi scooped it up in his palm for closer inspection, but the symbols on its surface seemed completely alien. Regardless, it was the only item that appeared to be worth saving.
The thief didn't have much trouble retracing his steps back to the kitchen. More precisely, it wasn't until after he exited the mansion when his plan started to crumble.
Levi’s heart sank as he saw the gate close, killing off his only escape route. His mind raced in search of another ruse, but the answer wasn't clear. Furthermore, several guards were heading back towards the mansion. It would only be a matter of time before he’s discovered.
A desperate thought came to Levi’s mind, and he directed his attention towards the oncoming guards. One by one, each man turned back toward the gate, in awe of an inferno that was never there. While they were stunned by the apparent destruction of the wooden entrance, Levi rushed past them, aiming another illusion at the disillusioned men still standing near the opening mechanism.
For Levi, the night was supposed to be focused on a solitary act of theft. Instead, as he maintained more illusions than he ever thought he could, neither he nor the world would ever be the same.