Hero Souls: Awakening

by SvenFoxx

42. The Master Thief

Rarity did not waste her moment of surprise, immediately swinging the cane in her magical grip at Shifter.

Shifter did not boast about being the best for nothing though. Seeing the cane move had instantly snapped him out of his shock. The dimensions of the hallway, his position in the hallways, Rarity’s position in the hallway, all of it ran through his mind. Then he decided on his course of action.

He lashed out with a gauntlet clad hoof, making Rarity yelp when he smacked the cane so hard that it was torn from her magical grip, sending it skidding along the carpeted floor.

“Please… don’t attack me,” Shifter said almost conversationally, believing the fight was over. After all, most high society mares couldn’t tie their own dresses, let alone fight.

That line of thought was shattered by an aura of magic gripping his neck, yanking him off the ground. He very briefly got a look at Rarity’s enraged brown eyes. ‘Wait… brown?’ he had thought in confusion, before finding himself tumbling through the air and through a window.

Shifter noticed a nearby tree and leveled his gauntlet at it. The hand on the gauntlet opened, and then fired with a concussive blast. The now projectile hand grabbed a branch on the tree, and the rope connected to the hand instantly started reeling Shifter towards it and away from the sharp glass falling with him.

Inside, Rarity was too far gone into her anger to notice as she grabbed the cane in her magic and leapt through the window with far more agility than she normally would have been able to.

“... Instructions on how to perform my ancestor’s………. ire Jump, a technique……………into the thickly fortified castles of feudal Japan.”

She never noticed how she twisted in midair, making use of her magic to redirect herself lightly, to land on an upturned branch on the same tree as Shifter. She adopted a pose that equally distributed her weight and maintained her balance, taking into account the heft of her cane.

Somewhere in the back of her mind, Rarity was marvelling at the feat of gymnastics. That part of her mind was still clouded over in rage though. “Trying to steal from me was a mistake,” she growled.

Shifter eyed Rarity with new eyes, instantly revising any thoughts he had on her, and also mentally kicking himself for assuming a country-town pony would be incapable of fighting, regardless of their personality type. He needed to escape.

Small town Ponies tended to be trusting, yes, but they also had a revenge streak miles wide.

Smiling at Rarity, he said, “Well, when a pony with ambitions like yours lives in a backwater town like this, it makes a thief… curious.”

That said, he flung an object at Rarity.

Rarity reacted instinctively, batting at the object with her cane, only for it to explode on contact and blind her with a brilliant flash. Shifter leapt at another branch, then sprang off of it towards Rarity to tackle her. He yelped in surprise when she managed to somehow backflip out if his way. He was forced to roll on the ground to avoid hurting himself.

He stood up and looked at the tree, spotting Rarity, her eyes squinted shut, looking straight at him. “Alright, you clearly are not the kind of mare I thought you were.”

“Call it a talent, darling. You’d be surprised what one can do with the right words in the company of the right ponies,” Rarity responded, smirking.

“I hope you know I didn’t actually do anything to your sister, right?”

Rarity scoffed. “Please, do you take me for a fool? I would have known instantly if Sweetie had so much as cut herself. If you had killed her, you would not have escaped the blast radius.” She frowned after a moment. “But why me? I really don’t have anything of real worth, except perhaps the deed to my home and business, but that would be useless to a thief.”

Shifter tilted his head forward with a growing grin. “I’m a thief, darling,” he said, affecting her own accent rather well. “Most of us do this because we enjoy it, not because we need to. I’m not out for money, or riches, but rather the challenge of tackling a difficult heist. I’m not like most thieves though, and want the world to know of my exploits.”

“...by stealing from other criminals…”

Rarity shivered, before shaking her head. “So you set out to steal another person’s hard work… for fun?”

Shifter frowned. “No, I…” He had no time to actually argue, as Rarity had launched her cane at him like a missile. He had only a moment to react. Most ponies couldn’t react that quickly. Shifter was not most ponies. His eyes flashed the color of his magic, and then he simply rolled his head out of the way. The cane buried itself a quarter of the way into the dirt behind him. Then he was calmly weaving around Rarity, who had dropped down to try and take the fight to him personally. “You are rather rude, you know that?” he noted, even as he continued to dodge.

“Says the thief with delusions of grandeur,” Rarity responded.

Shifter noticed with curiosity that Rarity's attempts to attack him were sloppy at best. However, as he continued to dodge, he realized that he was beginning to have to put some effort into dodging, as her punches, kicks, and cane swings seemed to begin blending into each other. It was like every miss seemed to make her just a bit better.

“It all began when I was just a kid, bouncing on my father’s knee. You see…”

Rarity staggered this time, and Shifter took the opportunity to counterattack.

Rarity’s last thought before she was seeing stars was, ‘What’s happening to me?’. By the time Rarity managed to regain her senses Shifter was long gone. A little unsteady, Rarity grabbed her cane and stumbled her way into the boutique.

An image flashed through her mind as she crossed the threshold into her home. It was that of a large, leather-bound book.

“My name is Sly C......I come from a long line of…….., who kept all their secrets of……….. in an ancient book.”

More images flashed through Rarity’s mind, portraits of a variety of raccoon-like bipedal creatures. Each portrait had a name on the bottom, but Rarity couldn’t make them out.

“The Thievius Raccoonus. Anyone who read it learned to be especially sneaky.”

It suddenly occurred to Rarity that this may be what her friends had been experiencing. The awakening of a Hero Soul. With that, she focused more, and finally the words she had been hearing became clearer.

“Which is why we specialized in stealing from criminals.”

“What?!” Rarity yelped, before her oncoming headache doubled over and make her stumbled, then slump down. She groaned.

“After all, there’s no honor, no challenge, no fun stealing from ordinary people.”

“No no no no…” Rarity muttered to herself shaking her head in denial.

“You rip off a master criminal, and you know you’re a master thief.”

“No!” Rarity yelled, suddenly shooting to her feet. “I’m not…” Her headache, getting worse by the second, made her wobble and cut her declaration off. “Ooooohh,” she moaned.

Then, unceremoniously, Rarity fell over, out cold.

The Soul of Honor had Awoken, and did not like this.