A half hour later found an amazed princess staring into the city, an astonishing sight full of unknowns. They had walked in silence till this point. It was no surprise that Daemon was the one who broke it. "Are you Duke Ariet's daughter?"

Kalarae glanced over at him. "I am… a distant relative. The duchess has maternal charge of me. Her daughter's name is Delina."

Treyen spotted a chance in the conversation and asked smoothly. "And what is your name, milady?"

"I believe it would be prudent to stop referring to me by titles, and to stop discussing heritage." She paused before continuing. "You may call me Rae."

The master thief blinked before stepping back and watching the girl carefully. "Would that be short for Kalarae?"

The girl turned her dark blue eyes to him. "It would be."

Daemon gasped. "The princess? We kidnapped the princess!" He quickly became panicked and started to babble.

"Quiet yourself." Her voice was forceful, and dangerous. "I am one of the princesses. My sister, whom I have never met, is the heir, not me. You did not kidnap me, I asked to accompany you."

Treyen's persuasive voice cut in. "The boy has a point. We will be assumed of kidnapping you if we get caught."

"Which is why you wont get caught. If I am not mistaken you are the Wolf, the leader of some of the best thieves in Altan. If you do not wish to be caught, you won't be. I am only going to be gone for a night; there will not be a chance for you to be accused."

"You speak reason, but how did you know who I am?"

Rae smiled. "Because you do not deny it. The people around you know who you are. They watch you warily, but you do not steal from them because they have not the money, and because nobles are more sport. I have been trained in whom all the thieves are. I suppose so that I can know whether to scream or whether to just hand over my jewels. But knowing only seven people in the world makes you knowledgeable on the tendencies of humans. You watch the quirks of habit; you watch where their eyes wander, you watch the movement of the body. Humans are not as hard to read as they would like to think. Few thieves besides the talented ones would dare to enter the castle premise merely to meet a young child."

Daemon stared at her in amazement for a moment before speaking in his normal tone of voice, loudly. "You should be a thief!"

"Why should I steal? I don't need anything."

The confused the young thief, who always wanted something. Treyen picked up where his disciple left off. "You need freedom. Become one of us, and you will have all the freedom you would ever want."

The princess contemplated this for a moment before nodding slightly. "I will consider it."

Treyen grinned broadly, receiving no expression in reply. His only faltered slightly. "Come on then, lets introduce you to the rest of the wolves." He led the two children to a large clearing past almost all of the town buildings. He gave a sharp short whistle and men materialized from around the outskirts of the town and the woods that bordered the other edge of the grassy area.

A muscular man stepped forward. "Got yourself another runt, eh Wolf?"

"Nah, this 'un's just curious." Rae stepped forward, and the thieves finally realized that she wasn't male, with cries of the obvious.

"It's a girl!"

Other cries were added in, until the clamor reached the point of deafening. "Does she eat?" "Girls aren't allowed!" "She's not strong enough!"

Treyen chuckled humorlessly. Waving for the men to quiet down. "Yes, Rae is a girl. She's going to hang around tonight, and maybe other times."

"She gonna be a spy? That uniform looks mighty real."

Rae spoke in a cool voice. "It is real. I work at the castle. I am deciding whether I wish to help you."

An old man to their left nodded vacantly. "A lil' gal like 'er wouldn't be suspected."

The thief master looked around at the grudgingly accepting faces before changing topics. "So, what have you fools gotten since last we met?"

The man who had spoken first dug into his pockets and offered handfuls of jewels to his leader. Treyen took them carefully and examined them, before separating a quarter from the rest and slipping them into his pockets, the rest he returned to the man who stole them. "Your tribute is noted."

"The pleasure is mine."

Similar transactions took place, some with a group of thieves giving a token together, with the same words duly repeated, the only variance with the reply, but always along the same line.

Kalarae watched, not offering any words until the thieves had stopped transferring their stolen goods to their master.

Daemon was last to give his contribution, and when it came upon his turn, he held out the pouch of coins that she had given him.

Treyen held the entire purse in his hand before taking out four coins and tossing them to Rae. The rest he returned to Daemon, after taking two for himself.

The princess fingered the large coins that had been returned to her. She looked up with curiosity at the man who had tossed them to her. "Why do you return them if you are a thief? Why do you steal?" Treyen chuckled humorlessly, as if at her naïveté.

"We are in this for ourselves." He gestured to the surrounding company. "We have no good intentions at heart. We steal from the rich because they have what we want, not because they oppress those weaker than they. The trick is, we are not weaker. So we take what we want, and leave none who deserve it unscarred." The lithe man jumped atop a rock, and heads turned to face him. "We were born in poverty, destined to live in filth. But who made that destiny?" His charismatic voice brought forth cheers from the crowd. "The nobles, the scum, chose that fate for us. But," his voice rose in emphasis, "we can change it!" The cheering rose to a roar, drowning out what else he would say, and he made no attempt to gain their attention. The master thief turned back to the princess. "So you see, my dear, that man is fickle, for what are we doing but copying our esteemed nobles? The "pure bloods" that we oh so often insult? They steal from the poor, and we? We steal it back." He relaxed into a sitting position on the rock he had leapt onto with such fervor. "However, we are not poor. Every one of us here could retire comfortably, but human greed drives us forth." He relaxed with a cheery grin on his face. "It is ever so nice to have gold and jewels." He winked cheekily at the young princess.

A silence passed in which the two merely watched each other.

The young girl stared into his eye, neither challenging nor accepting his authority. When she spoke it was with a voice much older than her seven years. "Greed is what has caused every war. Greed is what has caused the deaths of millions, and greed, greed, is what you stand here and proclaim as your motto, your motivation? Greed will be your downfall." She turned on her heel and walked away, her skirts brushing against the dust, leaving only a faint trail of her passing.

The master of words, of thieves, of greed, watched her walk away dumbfounded, and speechless.