The City of Thieves
The City of Thieves is the grandest city-state in all Khavayin, and it is also a city that does not exist. It is a fiction, a tale spun by burglars and swindlers, by cutpurses and charlatans, by robbers cutthroats. It is also as real as any other city can be said to be real, for it has as much sense of civic identity.
To be less poetic, the City of Thieves is the foremost criminal organization in Khavayin. Its members are a loosely allied lot, not so much brothers and sisters as they are neighbors. They speak of themselves as residents of a certain city, and their tales of their home are coded messages to one another. “I sold wine in the Yellow Quarter,” one might say, and his meaning would be “I am familiar with false currency and skilled at creative accountancy.” “My mother lives under the Summer Bridge,” another says, by which she means “I know a hiding place below-ground.” In this way they discuss business. advertise their skills, and even let one another know where one neighbor’s territory ends and another’s begins.
The City is certainly not good, but nor is it evil. It is selfish, but not cruelly so. It has its laws and codes of conduct, which do not respect the property rights of “outlanders,” and which do not ban use of force outright. Its governing body is the “Amir’s Court,” which is an elected council of ministers from the very first water of thieves. The Court settles disputes, punishes the worst transgressors, and assigns or revokes certain territories of operation.
Some who fall in with the City of Thieves learn a few fragments of their specialized language. But allies can never be mistaken for neighbors, for there is one secret exclusive to the City — its name. Only those who have sworn to keep the City’s oaths can remember the City’s name. To all others, it is forgotten as soon as it is heard. Is this anonymity a blessing from the god of deception or the goddess of thieves? Is it the fruit of a carefully worded wish? That, too, cannot be explained to outsiders. And so the City of Thieves will always know their own, for only they can answer the question “And where are you from?”
Hayr Charike, crimelord and collector of fine treasures