The Joining Payment

“We’ve got 10 minutes until the alarm goes off.”

Fezula didn’t look concerned. She was never concerned about this.

“Fine,” she replied, “let’s get to work.”

She held out her hand at Tulep. Tulep passed her the bag of warded coins.

“You know,” Fezula, “I thought you were going to be too stressed for this, kid.”

Kid? Tuelp thought. She wasn’t a kid anymore, she was probably only two years younger than Fezula.

But Fezula had lived this life from birth. For Tulep, it was still relatively new, this life of warded coins and night-time thievery.

“You’d be surprised,” Tulep remarked.

Fezula gave her a raised eyebrow as she began to take the coins out of the bag and place them around the safe door.

“Surprised?” Fezula said, “I’m amazed. Never thought a Lawmaker would join our motley crew.”

“Well, you can blame the Gods for that one,” Tulep said. After all, they were the ones who had given her the ability to ward coins. They were the ones to blame for her losing everything overnight.

Fezula barked a laugh.

“Gods ain’t got nothing to do with it,” Fezula said, “you’d have always had the ability, somewhere.”

Tulep pursed her lips. Now wasn’t the time to debate the finer points of The Beginning, where the first warders had first appeared after the end of the Long War.

Fezula tapped her fingers across the coins laid out in front of the safe, and then stood them up on their edge. Each one vibrated slightly, the ward magic knowing that it was soon to be activated.

“Put your hands over your ears,” Fezula said, as she shoved small pieces of foam into her ears.

Tulep took that as a sign to put in her own ear foam, nodding to Fezula when she was ready.

“Good,” Fezula said, her voice muffled by the foam.

She flicked each coin in turn, making it spin on its edge. Tulep winced as the coins began to let out the high pitched wail that was the hallmark of warding magic.

Fezula flicked the last coin.

The wailing noise was replaced with a low humming. Each hum was unique to the individual who cast the warding magic – this one was Tulep’s own note that sung out in the empty gold room.

“Good,” Fezula said, pulling the foam out of her ears, “all yours kid.”

This was the test, the test that would allow her to join the Shiners.

Fezula stepped back, and Tulep knelt down in front of the safe.

Please open, Tulep thought. She had stayed up all night warding the coins. This had to work-

She reached out and grabbed the handle.

Please open.

Please open.

Please Gods please open.

She pulled down on the handle. The latch gave easily, and she swung the door open.

The coins had worked.

The coins had worked.

Tulep breathed a sigh of relief as she saw the gemstones that glittered within.

“Good job, kid,” Fezula said, reaching over Tulep’s shoulder and grabbing the jewels, “how much longer do we have for the alarm?”

Tulep paused, looking over her shoulder. Only the owners of the house would know where the timer was located, hidden in the etched tops of the wood panelling.

“Three minutes,” she replied, as she shoved her hand into the safe and took what was rightfully hers. Her inheritance, taken away from her when they had found out about her warding abilities.

Her way to buy herself into a new future with the Shiners.

Alex.J.Cobalt is a fantasy writer from the UK. When she’s not working away at her fantasy novel series, she posts free flash fictions on her website, along with regular blogs about writing.

Photo Credit: Clark Van Der Beken on Unsplash

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