“It is no secret that Vulane’s finances were formidable,” the little creature said in his smart suit and glasses as he stood in the glorious Palace of Peace. “I am confident in saying that Vulane has at least twenty percent of all wealth in the world stored within its various accounts, buildings, and undiscovered cave systems.”
The audience in attendance gasped. When the tribunal suddenly erupted in ‘debate’ over which country could claim the fallen state of Vulane as their own, Tys’s ringed tail retracted and poofed up as he sat down. Tys Rusuf - until recently - had been the Royal Exchequer of Vulane, and he suddenly felt like he had committed a grave error.
I guess it was a secret after all, he said to himself.
The weasel diplomat who had asked the question - Wellik Stringspine - folded his ears downward and gave a look to Tys as though the raccoon had just stood on the little desk in front of him, taken his suit off, and begun a lewd dance.
The lion, tiger, bear, wolf, badger, wolverine and kitty cat with a cute little crown on the tribunal debate on the finer points of diplomacy and equitable sharing of the resources of the fallen city-state of Vulane had begun to climb in volume. The audience had now started debating as well, talking points turning into claw points.
“Don’t let that damn raccoon escape!” The lion roared to her guards in the court well, pointing at Tys with one hand while he held off the wolverine with the other. “He has a ledger of where it all is!”
“Tys!” Wellik yelped as creatures and guards of various species were climbing over each other towards him. “Meet me at the Gourd in a year!” The weasel screamed as he was overwhelmed.
Tys, for his part, was well-schooled in escaping bodily harm. His former boss - a fox enchanter by the name of ‘Szal’ - was keen on making creatures who displeased him disappear mysteriously. ...not that Tys ever displeased, but he had taken training from a well-known ferret thief on escaping certain situations. Tys slipped through the claws and between the legs of several large creatures, tossing off his coat in the chaos and evading the attention of the audience whose words had half-turned to snarls, growls, and insistent meows by the time he escaped.
He exploded out of the palace like an arrow clumsily loosed from a bow, spilling onto the cobblestones.
My gods, Wellik... he thought to himself as he skittered into the backalleys. A year? Luckily, every creature in that grand town was in the palace to attend the aftermath of the city of Vulane, and so he was able to make it back to his apartment.
The inn was well appointed and only one person was left: the kindly otter barkeep who smiled a cheerful smile as he cleaned glasses. Tys simply nodded and dragged his bedraggled accountant physique up the staircase. Presently, he could faintly hear shouting coming from the direction of the Palace of Peace.
Tys looked at his desk and knew he had time to only take the most important items. He swiped the ledger index - still in its magnificent purple leather binding - and stuffed it under his little arm, along with a few forged passports. He then took a second look and swiped his favorite pen - with internal inkwell! - as well, and disappeared into the world
...after cleaning the sweat off his glasses, of course.
A year was a long time for a wanted raccoon. Tys had seen things and experienced things that were unseeable... inexperience-able. His left eye was partially blind now as he sat across from his old weasel confidant.
“Well of course it was a secret!” the haggard weasel whispered in the dim tavern. “I thought raccoons were supposedly clever!”
Tys chuckled. He barely cared anymore. He didn’t respond to Wellik, he simly sat back and poured the red wine at the table into his gullet. Wellik, concerned, continued - a bit more gently than before.
“I do have to hand it to you, though... you are now one of the wealthiest creatures in the world.” The weasel said as he swigged some wine himself. “...That we know of.”
Tys used his good right eye to observe his old friend, then responded. “‘One of’?” He chuckled. “I have used the last year very well.” He waved the ledger in front of his friend. “While thousands die in the fields outside of Vulane, I have secured a legacy of thousands of years for myself.”
Willik simply nodded quietly.
“I remember what you said at the Palace of Peace a year ago: ‘It’s no secret...’ Did someone tell you to tell the entire court how wealthy Vulane was? To overstate it?”
Tys giggled once more. “You weasels are a good breed,” the raccoon said. “But there are people out there who... Oh, you wouldn’t understand.”
Willik chuckled himself and decided to change tack. “You certainly got us, Tys. Tell me, after you escaped the Palace, where did you go?”
Tys lifted his glass with fiendish glee. “You first!”
Willik felt a chill run down his weasel-y spine. “All right!” He said cheerfully as the firelight played off both of their fur. “I was dragged to prison... and tortured regarding your whereabouts.”
Tys stopped, his glass slowly lowering as Will continued. After a few sentences, Tys shook his head.
“Please stop, sir, please...”
“I was just getting to the good part!”
“Do not chide me, sir!” Tys said. His new voice was more authoritative: he liked it. Will stopped and nodded.
“Obviously, I didn’t know anything. The mind sorcerers couldn’t detect anything... They let me go.”
The air in the tavern was suddenly cold and quiet. The candle on the table flickered a little. Will looked dead into Tys’s eyes as he nodded.
Tys stood as quickly as possible. The last year had been one adventure after another, but he knew they had found him.
“I’m so sorry, Tys,” Will said as the raccoon looked wildly around the room for an exit.
“You bastard!” Tys hissed. “You’ve sold me out for nothing!”
Heavy steps up the stairs to the third floor of the tavern.
“What do you mean?” Will asked.
“You-know-who has already taken everything... except the ‘wealth in the undiscovered cave systems’ - he told me to say that! I haven’t seen him since the fall of Vulane!”
Will’s countenance went from flat to sour as canine footsteps approached. They could both hear curtains being opened and questions being asked. Will put his paw up to his mouth.
“How can I trust you?” Tys countered, whispering. Will opened the window to the rainy darkness outside. When Tys reached for the ledger, Will shook his head.
They slid down the shackle roof to the street outside and disappeared into the night as collies and shepherds in armor stood over the former dining table of two of the most wanted creatures in the world.
Outside the tavern, several teams of dogs waited in the rain - completely missing the two small figures who ran into the darkness.
The rain splattered against a few lonely wanted posters of Szal, the ‘former archbishop of all foxes’: wanted for ‘treason against all living beings.’
Little footprints in the mud led to the dark forest beyond as the moon travelled soundlessly overhead and as constables retraced their steps.