The Dog House
Having remained in the same spot, Cylaen used deep breaths to calm the molten rage coursing through his veins. He needed to find a constructive outlet soon, or he’d start slipping up and making his own bad choices. It bothered him, more than he wanted to admit, having his compassion and generosity thrown right back into his face like that. The truth was, many of the people now living with the stigma of being an ex-con, never deserved that label. The Black Dogs of Cayen had been a scourge on the cities of Skaulling. A slow poison festering unchecked for so long, by the time its symptoms grew inescapably noticeable, it was already too late.
Their treachery had been boundless, had dug deep, right into the veins of the streets. There hadn’t been a single office left untainted by corruption. Using fear, blackmail, bribes and murder, the Cayens had warped everything good and decent until Skaulling had become an unrecognizable monstrosity of its former glory. And their power had rooted itself so surely, the war to remove them had been long, bloody and tragic for all.
Now, the Black Dogs were no more. All of their loyalists had been systematically flushed out of the sewers. Businesses were thriving, and the people had purpose and hope again. The entire infrastructure had really begun to flourish – and then the robberies had started. Six of the Thirteen Houses of Dragons had been broken into and pilfered. Cylaen couldn’t decide if the thieves were clever or stupid for only stealing relics that had once belonged to the Cayens.
It wouldn’t be the first time they’d come up against Black Dog sympathizers, but none of those perpetrators had ever come into a Dragon’s home. Into their sanctuary, where they lived with their families, to commit those crimes!
Yes, Arcylaen understood Talex’s quandary very well. There was nothing he wouldn’t do to protect his family. The difference was that Dragon’s would never be in danger of becoming criminals. Phoenix’s should be able to claim the same truth, dammit, but that was a whole other irritant.
The Dragons were done playing games. The first stages of an elaborate trap were already in place and would begin soon. It was time to draw the thieves out into the open, and they had the perfect bait that even the most cautious thief would be hard pressed to resist.
“Cyl,” Brej brought him out of his thoughts and Cylaen blinked in surprise to see his brother standing so close, unnoticed.
Glancing at Jesper, he found the miniature dragon curled up and sleeping soundly on his shoulder. Merging with his brethren had taken a bit of energy out of him. He returned his attention to Brejeir. “Find anything?”
“Not in Nephi,” Brej replied, unable to hide that he had exciting news, nonetheless. “But, you’re never going to believe who just bought the House of Cayen right here in Lonnex.”
Arcylaen stilled. The House of Cayen had been on the market for five years, without a single offer. No one wanted to own it, let alone live in it, despite the fact that it was a gorgeous piece of architecture.
“What?” he questioned, unsure if he’d heard his brother correctly.
“The House of Cayen,” Brej confirmed. “It’s just been purchased.”
“Mantao Leontle of Meive,” his brother grinned.
“Leontle,” Cylaen balked in surprise. “Cats? A Cat bought a Dog’s house? Brother, that is too painful to even laugh at. Meive can’t be a coincidence, though.”
“No, it can’t,” Brej agreed.
“Get me everything-“
“Already one step ahead of you,” Brej cocked a smirk and handed him the tablet he’d carried into the office with him. He narrated the very information Cylaen scanned over. “Mantao Leontle is a rock-climbing god in the Extreme Sports industry. He made a small fortune by filming his own expeditions and having them go viral worldwide. Soon after, he got his own brand, sponsors and a slot on the highest rating sports program. He’s been interviewed by every outdoor and adventure magazine in existence, but about five years ago, he just up and quit. Left the limelight and sponsors behind to go explore the world on his own.”
“Another victim from the fall of the Black Dogs?” Cylaen wondered aloud.
Brej shrugged. “Possibly. The chances are high, since they had their dirty paws in every media outlet, but Extreme Sports can’t be gambled on, so it’s hard to say. The timing, though…”
“Yes, the timing,” Cylaen seconded, handing the tablet back to his brother. “A thrill seeker wouldn’t necessarily balk at a little B-and-E, either. Make sure our newest resident gets an invitation to the gala. I want to meet this Cat in person, and have Rivyr look into that mortgage. I want to know exactly where the money came from.”
“He’s already on it, brother,” Brej reassured him. “Don’t worry. If even a single gold piece can be traced back to the stolen cache, we’ll know it before the end of the week.”