Derik groaned as he cracked open one eye. He peered at the ceiling of the cheap hotel. A piercing headache throbbed in the back of his head. It was too much effort to fight it and he drifted in and out of a daze. His gloriously long, black hair spread out in a sunburst around his head, rippling off the edges of the straw mattress and touching the floor. One of his sheets had wrapped around his leg, but he couldn't find the energy to crawl out of the warm covering.

He pressed one delicate hand against his face, still peering at the ceiling through his fingers while his other fumbled with the rickety nightstand that leaned against the wall. Catching the edge of a bottle of rotgut with his fingertips, he pulled it closer, then sat up to drink it. His face wrinkled with distaste as he finished the bottle and tossed it aside. It hit the wall, but didn't break.

He snarled silently and flopped back down on the bed. “Damn, I could use a whore right now.”

He scratched himself, working his fingers around his shaft. Idly masturbating for a moment, he finally got the energy to sit up again. His long black hair pooled in his lap and he ran it through his fingers, enjoying the silky strands along his sensitive fingertips. In the back of his mind, he remembered how the blond woman's hair caressed his thighs and a smile crossed his lips. Almost instantly, he remembered Rick's invasion and the smile disappeared.

“Fuck it. Better get moving, only eighteen days left.”

Over a week had passed. He already tried to pick up a pair of cheap prostitutes, but they snubbed him as soon as they realized he was blackballed. Derik pulled another face and glared at the room in general. He couldn't even get a street urchin to give him a hand-job, not that he would after the latest crackdown on loli sex. Consent, the child goddess, running around and slaughtering everyone for raping little children did wonders for making anyone even close to age of eighteen not even remotely interesting.

Staggering out of bed, he found a clean pair of clothes and pulled them on. Tight jeans—dyed black—clung to his ass and a white shirt showed off the nearly flawless skin of his chest and shoulders, with just a bit of chest hair, to show he was a real man. He grinned and brushed his hair out and tied it back with a simple black leather tie.

Feeling presentable, he admired himself in the mirror, then abandoned his room. He considered locking it, but dirty clothes, empty wine bottles giving the burn of a three-day old brew, and a dirty sheets weren't worth the effort to steal. He chuckled to himself as he took the stairs, his boots rapping sharply on the wooden steps.

In the entry hall, he looked around for his ever-present thriban shadow. Bruk, who dogged him every step for the last twelve days, couldn't be found, and Derik let a smile cross his lips. Without grabbing breakfast, he hurried out of the main hall and into the busy streets. His destination was the Bone Gate, not the closest gate, but one near the poor district of town. He carefully avoided the guards wearing the uniform of Baron Hamel, the local lord known for his intolerance of thieves, and the known spots where Rick's underworld thrived with business. He actually hummed as he slipped through the crowds, relieving some of a few marks as he passed. By the time he reached the Bone Gate, he was a hundred marks richer and almost floating across the hard-pounded dirt.

Reaching the gate, he looked around for his shadow and let out a sigh of relief. Ducking his head, he pushed his way into a thick knot of farmers and followed them as they made their way out of the gate.

He almost made it.

Just as he reached the shadows of the Bone Gate, a deep clearing of a throat froze the entire crowd. As one, everyone looked at the massive thriban standing in the center of the opening while looking pointedly down the center of the lane.

Derik swore to himself as the crowds parted, instantly melting away to leave him standing alone in the center, with Bruk chuckling as he hefted a large, metal-banded club in his hand.

“Morning, Derik.”

Derik blushed and laughed as smoothly as he could. “Bruk! How are you? I was just going for a stroll.”

It didn't even sound like a real lie.

Bruk shrugged and let the club head drop to the ground. Even from the ten paces away, Derik could feel the impact through the ground. “Just going for a brisk walk?”

A casual question, but the thief could hear the menace. A cold shiver dripped down his spine as he stared at the bulging muscles and the evil grin.

“Um, no, just checking out a mark.”

Bruk scanned the gathered crowds with yellow eyes. A quarter of a hundred farmers desperately wanted to get out of the gate but didn't dare pass the thriban. Even the other thriban farmers were unwilling to pass him. A few of them glanced at him and their attention grated on Derik's senses; he was not in a position where he wanted to stand out from the crowds.

Derik backed up slightly. “Look, I'm going to check out somewhere else, okay?”

Bruk nodded, “You do that. Wouldn't want you to get hurt.”

Threat delivered, Derik grunted in acknowledgment and fled back into the city. As soon as he disappeared from sight of the Bone Gate, he ran. Dodging between tightly pressed bodies, he managed to gather up another fifty marks before hopping on a straw cart. Before the driver or the mule pulling it could notice, he jumped up on the awning of a store and then up to the roof.

Grinning gleefully, he sprinted across the rooftops, heading for another city gate, the Shell Gate, which stood right at the junction of the river and the city's northern wall.

Thirty minutes of flat-out running left him gasping for breath as he leaned against a chimney and stared at the massive gate. A carved shell in the center of the door represented the namesake of the door, but he was more focused on the thriban who stood in front of it, hefting his massive club and looking around curiously.

Fuck! How did he get there so fast!? Bruk wasn't even breathing heavily.

Derik groaned and leaned against the brick, catching his breath as he tried to estimate how fast he could get to the Wood Gate.

Wasn't worth it.

“Fuck,” he repeated.

Slower this time, he hopped back along the roof and started to walk back toward the poor side of town. His mood darkened, despite the sunny day, and he found himself spitting at pedestrians below as he followed the line of stores and houses.

By the time he reached the Buggered Unicorn, his favorite tavern, he was in such a foul mood that a raincloud almost literally followed him. Hopping on the sign, he jumped down and landed on the ground neatly. Pushing open the door, he ignored the sign that said they were closed until sunset and disappeared inside.

The Buggered Unicorn smelled like home to Derik, and he let the scents of the old wood, bourbon, and beer fill his nostrils. A ghost of a smile crossed his lips.

One end of the tavern held a large wooden bar, lined with glasses and bottles. Behind it, an older man in his thirties peered over a small set of glasses and smiled sadly. “Wondering when you'd show up, Derik.”

A blush colored his cheeks. He stepped carefully over to the bar and sat down. “Hi, Storn, how are you doing?”

Storn shoved a few glasses out of the way to pour Derik a beer, then pushed the glass toward him. “Kind of sad actually, wished you'd been here last week.”


“I heard about your troubles with Rick.”

Derik's good mood evaporated instantly. His fingers clutched the handle of his glass and he let out a long sigh. “Fuck.”

Storn said nothing so Derik looked up.

“How'd you know?”

“Everyone knows, Derik. He's the king of the underworld and someone you don't screw with. And you blew every mark you owned him on whores and booze. We all know. Every damn thief, hustler, and fence.”

Derik groaned and lowered his head to press his forehead against the glass. “Fuck me more.”

“Rather not, it would piss off Wendi.”

Derik raised a delicately arched eyebrow. “How is your sister?”

“Still wants to castrate you.”

“And your mother?”

“Still wants to fuck you.”

“Well, I guess that always—”

Storn cleared his throat, “And if you flee to her, I'll tell Wendi and my brothers where you are.”

Derik shivered. “That's cold.”

The older man shrugged, “You left her at the altar, Derik.”

“I panicked.”

“And took the family silver too?”

Derik blushed deeply and he rapped his head against the glass, feeling the cool beer against his face. “I really panicked, okay?”

Storn reached over and pressed two fingers against the bottom of Derik's chin.

For a moment, the thief resisted, then let his friend tilt his head. He found himself staring into the green-brown eyes of the bartender.

“Look, Derik, I love you as a brother. That is the only reason that I still talk to you after everything you did. But, you need to get a handle on your life.”

Derik's blush deepened.

Storn released his chin before sighing. “Look, why didn't you come here after Rick? I could have helped you.”

"I-I-", Derik sputtered for a moment, “I hate asking you for help, Storn.”

“But you always come here. I heard about your troubles and managed to line up a couple of jobs. Would have gotten you free and clear in a week, but someone else grabbed them.”


“Some new thief on the block, calls himself the Shadow Wasp.”

Derik snorted with laughter.

Storn, on the other hand, didn't look amused. “Problem with the name, ‘Silk Spider’?”

The icy tone silence Derik. He pouted for a moment. “I haven't used that name in three years, Storn.”

“Yeah, but all new thieves go through it. And he's moving pretty fast up the ranks. Less of an acrobat as yourself, but a pretty good boxer.”

“I hate safes.”

“Yeah, and I found a great job for you. But then you didn't show up for a week, and he took it. Damn it, Derik, get a hang of yourself and stop doing this two-bit crap!”

Derik could hear the frustrating in Storn's face, but couldn't say anything. He turned away as the door to the tavern opened. Seeing the bulk of Bruk, he groaned and turned back to his beer.

The thriban sat down next to him.

Storn nodded. “Morning, Gluk, how's things?”

Derik looked up. Gluk?

He considered saying something else wittier, but it came out as he thought. “Gluk?”

Bruk, or Gluk, he wasn't sure how, chuckled dryly as Storn handed him a large beer. Unlike Derik, the thriban pushed a few marks over the counter in return.

“Yeah, didn't you know?”

Derik looked at Storn, then at the grinning thriban. “Um, know what?”

“Gluk is Bruk's brother.”


Gluk grinned and drained his mug. Slamming it down, he sighed happily. “Delicious, Storn.”

Storn grunted.

Derik let out a soft whimper as he looked back and forth. “You mean, there are two of them?”

Gluk laughed for a moment, “Three, actually, but Truk is the pretty one.”

Derik looked at the massive muscles on the thriban, then focused on the fangs that peeked out from the lower lip. A face that only a mother could stomach, despite the raw strength of Gluk, and apparently his brothers.

“P-Pretty one?”

“Yeah, Truk is the pretty one, but she's also nastier than either of us.”

The idea of a female thriban left Derik feeling cold. He shuddered at the thought of the few naked thribans he'd seen. All muscles and hair; he suspected that he didn't want to see a shaved thriban in his life, but it might be better than the mess of curls between their legs.

Gluk chuckled, “Pretty boy is getting sick.”

Derik blushed and looked away. “I am not.”

Gluk just laughed again, a booming laugh that vibrated the glass.

Derik waited until it grew softer, then looked pleadingly at Storn. “Is there anything?”

“Only the nasty jobs.”

Derik almost got up, then he looked over at the thriban enforcer. “Fuck, I need the money. Fifty thousand.”

“Eighty,” corrected Gluk.

Derik's heart stopped for a mere moment and he clutched the glass tighter. “Eighty thousand marks?”

Gluk gave him an apologetic shrug, “Sorry, interest.”

Derik groaned and bowed his head. “Fine, any job over eighty?”

Storn nodded, “Three of them, but you really shouldn't do any of them.”

“Hit me.”

He glared at Gluk, just in case the thriban took it as a suggestion.

The tall creature chuckled and drained another beer.

Storn rolled his eyes. “Well, there is the longest one. Survive Shiel. Two hundred thousand if you can make it past the month, a hundred days. An extra ten thousand for every month after that.”

Derik choked, “Shiel? She's a monster!”

“No, she isn't, she's just a good bounty hunter.”

“She broke Baston's legs and arms, and that was because he managed to evade her for a week! A week! Do you know what she would do to me if I managed to escape a month!?”

Gluk chuckled. “Probably rip your arms and legs off, turn you into a pillow boy.”

Derik snapped back, “That isn't even funny!”

Gluk grinned. “It is to us. Truk says she would love sleeping on your pretty little body.”

For a moment, Derik growled, then his face froze. “Us?”

Gluk grinned, “Yeah, we're triplets. Got that whole mind-reading thing going on. Psychic siblings.”

It took another long second for that to register. “God damn. That is why you kept showing up; you can talk to each other.”

“And you can't run faster than thoughts, boy. Face it, you screw up and your ass is Rick's.”

Derik's anal ring clenched up at the thought. “I don't want that.”

Gluk shrugged, “I don't want that. It will take weeks to get your screams out of my head.”

It sounded sincere, and Derik stared at him in surprise.

Gluk shrugged. “What? You are going to be like a little cunt when he breaks you. High-pitched and with all the sobbing. We're just betting how long it takes before you ask one of us to take your life.”

Derik's mouth closed with a snap. “Thanks, you bastard.”

Gluk grinned, “Thank you.”

Ignoring the thriban, he turned back to his friend. “What else that isn't suicide?”

“Well, the Eye of Hamel.”

Gluk gasped. “You mean the fist-sized sapphire that is perfect for enchanting. The one hanging from the baron's constantly occupied great hall?”

“Yes, everyone knows that.”

“No, I'm reading it on a poster behind you.” The thriban pointed to a torn piece of paper nailed to one of the boards.

Storn rolled his eyes. “Two million marks, I could have a buyer in three days.”

“There are standing orders to torture anyone who tries. No thanks, what else?”

Storn looked away suddenly, grabbing a mug to polish.

Derik frowned, feeling a very bad sense of danger in the pit of his stomach. “Storn?”

Storn glanced over to Derik, “Why don't you go for the Eye, Derik? You are a great thief, you can make it.”

“What's the third?”

Storn hesitated. “Wendi.”

Derik's mouth dropped as Gluk roared with laughter. The peals of laughter filled the room for a long moment before Derik cleared his throat.

“E-Excuse me?”

Storn sighed, “Wendi. She'll clear your debt if you hand your ass over to her. She made the offer herself when she heard about you.”

“That would be a living hell! She'd kill me!”

Storn shook his head, “Probably not. Dad's a necromancer, remember?”

Gluk burst into another roaring laugh.

Derik just groaned and dropped his head to the bar. “Fuck. He's involved?”

“You fucked my mom on your wedding altar a few minutes before the ceremony, and the entire family walked in. That's kind of hard to put aside.”

Gluk bent over with laughter, clutching his side as he fell to the ground.

Derik, blushing brightly, looked down at the thriban.

He sighed. “Fuck.”

Ignoring the thriban rolling on the floor, he looked up in depression. “Eye of Hamel, huh?”

In the twenty minutes that followed, Derik got the details he needed, and Storn promised to send more with Gluk.

The thriban staggered back to his feet and sat down on the stool, smirking as he ordered a round for him and Derik.

Slightly buzzed, Derik finally pushed himself away from the bar. Groaning with the weight of the world, he waved to Storn.

Storn called to him. “Look, Derik. After this, why don't we sit down? You really need someone to help you stop screwing up your life. This should have never happened.”

“Yeah, yeah. I'll make a good score, then I'll settle down.”

Gluk snorted, but said nothing.

Derik turned quickly but instead of striding through the door with his dignity, he ran ran into someone. Reflexively, he held up his hands to stop himself and his palms pressed tightly against a pair of very large breasts. He squeezed without thinking. The size and heft were familiar, but it wasn't until the hard nipple with a the tiny cross piercing that pressed into his palm that he realized he knew the owner of the magnificent tits.

His eyes focused on a surprised woman standing in the door. “Wendi?”

Wendi was a curvy woman, not skinny but not fat. She wore leather armor and a corset, which gave her an hourglass figure that nearly stopped Derik's heart again. Her dark hair shimmered in the light of the fading sun as a flame burned in her eyes.

Her look of surprise turned into one of fury. “Derik,” it came out as an epitaph, a year's worth of hatred burning in a single word.

“Um, hi. How are you?”

“Suddenly better.”

Behind her, two large men glared at him. They were nowhere near the size of Gluk and Bruk, but much larger than Derik's slender form.

He groaned. “And your brothers, brought them too?”

She shoved him back and he fell to the ground. Winching at the impact, he crawled backwards, his hair mopping the floor as he looked between the three siblings with growing fear.

“Um, can't we talk about this?”

A clear flame rose up around Wendi as her eyes turned incandescent. Power beat on the air as the battle mage, the girl he once loved, brought her powers to bear.

“You fucked my mother!”

Gluk laughed loudly again. “Stop, this is killing us!”

For a brief microsecond, Derik remembered the feeling of the soft breasts wrapped around his cock, and their shared grunting right on the altar. However, the brief flicker of a smile on his lips only ignited Wendi's anger even more.

Snarling, she pulled out a long hunting knife and lunged for him.

Derik let out a scream as he tried to dodge it, but his feet caught on his hair and he fell to the ground.

A ham-sized hand grabbed her wrist, halting her.

Shuddering from fear, Derik looked up to see Gluk holding her hand.

“No knives,” announced the thriban in a low, amused tone.

Derik let out a gasp. “Thank you, Gl—”

“Just beat him up properly, no broken bones though.”

Derik gaped, “What!?”

Wendi grinned at Gluk, then favored Derik with an evil smirk. “Doing a job for Rick, huh? I never thought you'd get that desperate.”

Whimpering, Derik nodded.

Wendi bent over, her massive breasts almost obscuring his vision. She whispered to him, “You know, I'll bail you out. No matter the cost.”

The very idea of selling his soul to Wendi terrified him more than anything else. He looked over at the bar, pleadingly toward Storn.

His long-time friend shook his head. “My family owned that silver for nine generations, Derik. Nine generations. You may be a friend, but you aren't that much of one.”

Wincing, he turned back to Wendi who cracked her knuckles. Whimpering loudly, he took a long breath and shook his head.

Wendi looked almost disappointed as she cracked her knuckles again. The raw, beating power silenced though as she prepared to beat him to the ground using nothing but her anger. Her two brothers, still furious over the minor thing he did had done on the altar, closed the door and locked it.

She turned to him as she stripped off her leather top, revealing a silk blouse under her corset. The nipple piercing pressed against the fabric, a black cross of the battle mage. “This is going to hurt you a lot more than me, Derik.”

Wendi cleared her throat. “Who am I kidding, this is only going to hurt you.”