As far as lunatic schemes went, this was the best he had ever conjured, and they both knew it.
“Excellent” Jeth said, clapping Valen on the shoulder.
“Brilliant.” Valen agreed. The two exchanged grins.
Valen retrieved a heavy bottle from the room’s oak cabinets and filled three long stemmed glasses with wine. The first he kept, the second was pressed into Jeth’s eager hand. The third glass he set on the desk where their strange young friend stood, hovering over notes and stolen blueprints.
“Leon.” Valen said. He edged the wine closer into his friend’s vision. “That is my father’s best vintage. You figured it out, celebrate.”
Leon picked up the glass of wine and took an appreciative sip. “I figured how to get in, not out.” His green eyes remained on the spread of paper over the desk. Half the maps were rotted away, ancient and water damaged. The other materials were new, freshly freed from shelves and drawers.
Jeth groaned. “Don’t tell me that Valen’s work ethic has finally rubbed off on you, you’ve been spending too much time together.”
In the dim of the study Valen’s sudden flush went mostly unnoticed.
Leon shrugged, “I like puzzles. When you can provide more entertainment than one, perhaps, I’ll afford you more of my attention.” He didn’t have to turn from his work to see if his barb caught. Jeth’s affronted huff was followed by a short laugh from Valen.
The two gentlemen exchanged another look behind Leon’s back. In the capitol to attend school, their new mastermind was the youngest son of some far-off middling nobility. Questioned about his home, Leon had assured them the wealthy, if obscure, province his family governed was overwhelmingly dull.
No one pressed long, wherever he’d come from, Leon had taken to the capitol intrigues with effortless skill and no ambition to speak of. That unique combination made him a particularly valuable friend for the young and enterprising.
More than a few were suspicious of the oft smirking but soft spoken youth, but this was the capitol, if you weren’t suspicious you were an idiot. After a few successful plots, everyone agreed that Valen had done well bringing Leon into their circle.
Jeth set his now empty glass down on the desk. “Well, I have better things to do than watch him think. Let me know when we get to pull this off.” Jeth waved, back already turned and walking. Before Valen could say anything Jeth had disappeared into the hallway.
“He doesn’t.” Leon commented once the study’s door had clicked shut.
“Hm?” Valen hadn’t been paying attention, worried about someone seeing his friend leave. If Valen’s father knew his least favorite son was sneaking around his study, they’d never get the chance to try Leon’s scheme.
“Have something better to do.” Leon smirked and folded one of the notebooks closed. “He doesn’t, we’re just boring.”
“Not all of us are as perpetually amused as you are. This is business, our futures, not a game.” Valen said with a breath.
Leon’s sideways look over his wine glass was all the disagreement Valen needed to see. “I’m serious.” Valen said.
“So serious.” Leon agreed this time, finally turning from the maps, dockets, and plans. “How bad is it if we get caught in here?”
Valen paled at the thought. “Indescribably.”
Leon nodded and began packing up his work. The ancient weather pages were tucked back in their protective holdings and shut away in the desk drawers and cabinets. The newer blueprints were delicately folded and the dockets were closed. Valen watched the meticulous care Leon put into leaving even the dust on the shelves undisturbed as he returned the materials. “What about your puzzle?” Valen asked, remembering Leon’s farewell to Jeth.
“I said I’d abandon it for something more entertaining.” Even crouched and halfway through locking a drawer back up, Leon managed a suggestive look.
This time Valen’s flush was noticed. Leon laughed and moved to help him pick up the wine and glasses
No one should expect punctuality from a thief, we’d be in different lines of work otherwise. This particular theft was late, but check out the Legal Theft Project and the originator of the line, Apprentice, Never Master, anyway.