Owen strutted confidently into the tavern but stopped dead as he saw the room filled with a group of armed men, all wearing the uniform of the notorious Uyalon Police. They all stopped their drinking to stare at the two newcomers. Vivi stopped short and blinked, but Owen simply cracked a smile and waved genially.
"Looks like your fun is off the agenda," he whispered. "How about we go to 'plan B'?"
Vivi wanted to ask what this 'plan B' was all about, and why she hadn't heard anything about it, but Owen had already marched off towards one of the tables and taken a seat across from one of the officers.
"Afternoon," he said politely, leaning back comfortably on the bench.
Screaming internally at her friend's idiocy, Vivi followed him, trying to catch his eye and tell him to abort whatever he was doing.
"Good afternoon," the officer replied shortly. "Can I help you?"
Owen gestured dramatically. "Alas, perhaps not. But maybe you could give me some slight assurance; I’ve heard such terrible rumors of that horrible pirate guild and their raids... why, aren't they raiding towns as far south as Silmah now?" He shook his head. "What if, one day, they decide to pay us a visit down here as well?"
Vivi cast one last side glance at Owen before giving up and playing along. "Yes, 'tis true," she added, giving her best impression of a paranoid glance around the tavern. "What if they just"—she spread her hands in a dramatic gesture—"attacked in the middle of the night when we're all asleep?"
The officer smiled. "Lucky you have us, then," he said, a bit smugly. "In fact, we captured a guild ship this morning heading up the river." Owen cast Vivi a short glance as the officer took a long sip from his glass with a satisfied smirk. "No doubt," he continued, "they were scouting out the area for future raids."
Vivi caught Owen’s glance, but as the officer placed down his glass, she gave her best worry-face. "But you’ll protect us, right?"
"That's why we're here, miss," the officer said confidently. "You won't have to worry about any pirates as long as we're around."
Vivi nodded solemnly in response. "Thank you, good sirs."
Owen nodded as well. "Indeed. I—" he cut himself off. "By Shān!" he exclaimed, pointing towards the window behind the guards. "Then who are they?" The officers were distracted for a split second, and Owen made good use of it. Standing up suddenly, he grabbed onto the table with both hands and flipped it on top of the officers, then dove forwards to snatch a bag lying on the bench next to them. "Oh that’s my bad," he chirped, quickly backing away towards the door. "I could have sworn I saw something."
Vivi bolted after him towards the door, grabbing his wrist as she ran past to yank him outside. The guards shouted and screamed after them as they scurried away from the old tavern—a volley of gunshots rang out, and a bullet whizzed past Owen's ear, but he just laughed.
"I'd say that worked out pretty well, wouldn't you?"
"Pretty well?" Vivi snapped, flinching as another shot rang out behind them. "I don't think they took it all that well!"
Owen quickly dove into an alleyway, pulling Vivi along behind him. "Personally, I don't see what their problem is," he said, quite evidently enjoying himself far too much to pay any attention to Vivi's protests. "We were getting along splendidly."
Vivi peeked around the corner, watching the policemen rush into the street, fanning out in search of them. "You flipped the table on them—I think I see what their problem is. You on the other hand..." She punched the half-elf in the shoulder, just hard enough to let him know she was cross with him. "Why did you do that? Now those tincaps are going to be chasing us all across town—what if we can't get to the ship? Or what if they give Captain Aenwyn trouble?"
"I think she'll be the one giving them trouble if they so much as set foot on the Ajdaha," Owen said confidently. "And besides, what's life without a little fun now and then? You know... narrowly escaping certain death and such?"
Vivi sighed deeply—she wanted to say she couldn't believe he'd do this, but in reality she wasn't surprised in the slightest. "At least tell me that bag you snatched is worth anything," she said sourly.
Owen held up the bag and squinted towards it. "I dunno... it looks important." He pointed towards the insignia sewn into the bag: a skull pierced by a dagger. "That's the mark of the Thieves' Guild, right?" Vivi nodded, her interest piqued. Owen opened the bag and pulled out a small scroll, sealed with the same skull and dagger stamped in wax. "And this message... you think it could be for..."
"It belongs to us, you brat."
Vivi spun around to face the mean-looking tincap that had suddenly appeared at the end of the alleyway. Her first instinct was to run, but she froze when she saw the gun pointed towards them.
"You think you can just do something like that to the Uyalon police and get away with it?" he growled, slowly creeping closer. "Do you know what happens to scum like you when we catch you?"
Owen scratched his head, looking very genuinely thoughtful. "Well... it's been a while, but I think we get dragged away, locked up, and made to face justice for our heinous crimes?"
"That's for the lucky ones," the officer snarled, cocking his gun. Vivi felt her stomach drop as she saw the murderous look in his eyes. She wanted to run—somewhere, anywhere—but there was nowhere to go, the tincap would get them if she tried it.
"So how about it, you filth," he said, his eyes narrowing as he raised his gun further. "Do you feel lucky?"
The officer spun around to face the voice behind him, but he only had time to see the elf's fist striking him square in the face. He stumbled back a few steps, stood swaying for a moment, then fell backwards onto the pavement with a crash.