A crown ill-gotten is a crown ill-spent - RPLOG
Terry darts into the safety of the Inn, sparing a quick glance behind him as he tries to lose himself amid the crowd. He slips into one of the far booths, hoping not to have been seen, and takes a few deep breaths to calm himself down. He's got clutched in his hand the only coin that he managed to keep after having dipped his greedy paws into a merchant's cash box while he was distracted, having dropped all the rest in the ensuing run from him and every other being that answered the merchant's calls for help. The ocelot runs his hand through his hair, straightening it as he considers what to do next. Maybe hole up in here for a bit...
A smile on Katrina's lips as she meanders through the streets, having seen the chase from afar... Now, she's casually striding through the marketplace, her tail swishing behind her and her ears flicking lightly as she moves with her usual, practiced grace, hips swaying lightly as she makes her way towards the inn Terry entered...
As for the coin Terry has in his paw, at least it's a valuable one... A single crown.
Terry licks his lips as he regards the coin, flipping it over his fingers. The inn's common room swirls with the scents of freshly baked pastries, roast meat and hearty stews, making the small thiefling ever hungrier. He pockets the crown, reluctantly. There's no way he'd be able to spend it without drawing suspicion. He hides away as a waitress walks in his direction, not wanting to be seen. It would be awkward if he had to order some food and then run away without paying, almost as much as if he paid for it with his ill-gotten coin.
A smile, a rumble, and Katrina makes her way into the area, her ears continuing to twitch to every sound of the marketplace, while her tail swishes behind her. A door opened, two stride made, and the door closes again, with nary a being looking up as the well-dressed, masked panthress moves through the area with silent steps...
And then, a hand on Terry's shoulder, and a soft rumble. "I saw your little stunt there, kid."
Terry jolts as the hand comes to rest on his shoulder. He looks up at the pantheress with wide eyes, and launches into a stammer. "I'm s-sorry I d-don't know w-what you mean." He gulps. Could he have sounded more guilty? "I mean, uh..." His tail flits nervously as he keeps his gaze on the patheress' eyes. "P-please don't turn me in." He tries his best to look cute and harmless. "I was only hungry, I only wanted some food..."
"I could be persuaded. Assuming you want to talk it over during dinner," the she-cat rumbles with a sly smirk, her tail curling lightly behind her, while an arm is used to gesture at a secluded table to the side. "Your treat, of course," she adds with a glance back to Terry...
Terry shrinks down under the pantheress' gaze, but sees no choice in the matter as he nods quickly. "Y-yes 'maam." He blurts out, sliding out of his booth and rushing towards the table she pointed out. He slides in but keeps his gaze down and fidgeting nervously.
A smile, and a soft rumble as Katrina calmly and casually follows after Terry, before gesturing a waitress. "A Shralestan Merlot 453, if you have it, along with the roast duck," she rumbles, off the top of her head, tail flicking as she watches Terry... These are not inexpensive things, after all.
Terry looks up at the pantheress with a look of alarm, then glances between her and the waitress. "I.. I uh.. uhm.." He gulps. "I'll have the.." He fidgets again, mentally trying to add up how much those two expensive sounding things must cost. "I'll have soup. A little bit. And some water. Please." He offers the waitress an all-too-nervous smile hefore looking back at his hands, where he's still clutching that gold crown.
"Relax, kiddo. It won't break the bank," Katrina rumbles with a playful smile, a flick of her ears. "Now, sit up straight, and tell me... Is this the life you'd like to lead? Scrambling after collecting some petty cash from a merchant?" the she-cat rumbles with a sly smirk, hidden behind her mask...
Terry blinks. Petty cash? This will feed him for a month, if he manages to keep hold of it. "I.. I get by, miss." He gulps, knowing that this didn't really answer her question. He sits up a bit straighter like he was told. "I just do what I need to do, is all. It's what works for me." He nods at his own words.
A small chuckle, a short shake of the head. "And how often've you been chased, these past few weeks?" the feline continues her questions, watching Terry and keeping an eye on the waitress. No need for anyone else to notice the contents of their conversation, after all.
Terry peers around cautiously as well. He gives the answer a light shrug, his right hand moving to rub his left shoulder shyly. "A few times.. sometimes twice a day.. but I usually get away." He clutches the gold crown with his left hand. "With this I won't have to steal for a bit, if I spend it carefully.." He gives the pantheress a glance, but quickly looks back down timidly.
"Stealing? Petty theft, you mean," the she-cat scoffs for a bit... "A true thief knows how to steal from their mark in broad daylight... Without them even realizing they're being stolen from until it's too late," she rumbles, her tone of voice suggesting that for Terry, it is already 'too late' right now...
Terry looks up at the pantheress, blinking as he takes in her words. "A-are you.. are you.. going to take it from me?" He glances between her and his clutched hand, then shakes his head. "I n-need it. It's mine." He peers up at her, trying to assert himself before the pantheress.
"Of course not. It's yours, as you said. And you did say you intended to spend it on food... Though I might pop in for a dinner or two, every now and then," the she-cat rumbles with a lick of her lips, before shaking her head, before watching Terry with an interested eye.
Terry deflates, tucking his arm back in. He briefly brushes his hair back with his right hand before it returns to rubbing his shoulder. "O-okay.." He says, defeated. This silly gold crown just wasn't worth the trouble anymore...
Katrina smiles and flicks her ears. "Good. Now then... Your name? Unless you prefer being called 'kid'?" the she-cat rumbles with a smile, a gentle sway of her tail, watching the waitress arrive with the drinks, before moving off again. "As for your... Skills. I wouldn't say you don't have potential... But if you go at it like this, you won't make it. Especially not considering the city is -our- turf," she rumbles, with no apparent intention of letting him know who she's referring to.
Terry clutches his own drink, taking a nervous sip from it before answering. "Terry, miss." He brushes his hair back again, switching his grip on the glass. He peers up at the othe rbeing. "Y-your turf? I.. I don't understand... " He eyes the pantheress up and down, trying to assess that kind of being she is, really.
"Our turf... For the most part, we're quite alright with the petty thieves, but when they start stirring up trouble, and the guard has to join in, they just make our life harder," she notes with a small sip of her wine, before watching Terry again. "We don't care about a few crown more or less. After all, it hardly matters when your average haul is much bigger... But we do care when the petty thieves make our job harder," she rumbles.
Terry deflates further, looking at his hands. He peers up at the pantheress after moment of introspection, and earnestly replies. "I'm sorry, I didn't mean to cause trouble for you." He gulps. "I'll try not to.. uhm.. attract attention, next time. O-or I can go elsewhere." He nibbles on his lip nervously, then gingerly places the golden crown on the table in front of her.
"Your track record says otherwise, though, Terry," the feline rumbles, in an almost patronizing tone. "And relax... I'm not here to... Remove you. If that were the goal, it would've already happened," the she-cat rumbles. "I am merely here to give you a choice."
Terry leaves the gold crown on the table, peering up at the pantheress as he listens. His ears perk as she mentions a choice, tail flitting curiously. "A.. a choice, miss?" A moment passes, because he asks. "W-what choice would that be?"
And that's the moment the food arrives. A bowl of soup for Terry, and a rather extravagant duck for Katrina, whom gestures at her now-empty wineglass for a refill, before looking up at Terry to see if he wants something. "Oh, miss? I'm afraid Terry isn't too used to dining, especially not with the food they serve at the orphanage. Mind throwing in a small breadbasket and some garlic-butter for the poor dear? Can't have him starving on my watch, after all."
Not even waiting for the waitress' reply, nor giving Terry the chance to object, she simply continues. "I've seen your work... It's sloppy, but it has potential. Perhaps, with some proper training, you could learn how to do it right... And if you manage, you might just be dining like -this- every day," she rumbles, gesturing at her duck.
Terry stammers incoherently as the pantheress orders up extra food, all but ensuring his golden crown will be at least half gone, if not more. He offers the waitress a shy smile. "T-thank you, miss." He turns his attention to the pantheress, fidgeting nervously before managing to ask. "With.. with training?" He licks his lips, eyeing the duck greedily. "I'd like that.." He vocalizes, perhaps unintentionally. He looks down at his soup and digs in, eating several spoonfuls as his hunger kicks in once more. He pauses after a moment to look up at the pantheress, realizing he had basically been wolfing down the meal savagely, and takes his next spoonful much more calmly.
Katrina smiles and rumbles softly. "Training begins right now," the she-cat notes. "Sit up straight, and no slurping," she adds, almost as if a non-conscious afterthought, while she sets her knife into her food casually, starting to cut the bird up, into slices, taking one of them into her muzzle, only lifting the mask enough for her to raise her food into her mouth, her ears flicking lightly. "If you do well the coming week, we'll get you a better outfit. But for now, that'll have to do," she adds with a smile on her lips, a soft purr.
"Look around the room, tell me who you see. Point out the ones to be considered marks for when we leave."
Terry does as he's told, straightening up while his eyes stay fixed on the female in front of him. He takes one more spoon of soup while listening, being extra careful not to slurp. He nods and peers around, trying not to make it too obvious. "Hm..." His eyes flit over the crowd. "I think.. that badger, there." He says, referring to a jovial-looking badger a few tables over. "He's obviously rich, from the food he's having, and he's distracted by talking to his friends. Could probably slide up to him and fish a coin out of his pocket without him noticing."
He continues to look. "Or those two ladies over there, the lizard and the sparrow." He nods in the direction of the bar. "They've got several drinks in front of them. One of them's bound to be going to the restroom at the back soon. Could bump into one of them 'by accident'."
"Wrong, and wrong. The ladies are away from the door. Moving in their direction would arouse suspicion. The badger, while in our path, has his coinpurse on the other side of the booth. Unless you intended to splay yourself out in his lap?" the she-cat rumbles, before shaking her head. "There are no 'marks' to be found here. Weigh your options carefully. Lesson one."
Terry looks down, deflating once again. He squirms awkwardly on his seat. "Y-yes m'aam." He takes another sip of his soup, and helps himself to a piece of bread to go with it. He looks up at her after gathering his courage. "S-so what should we do? I-I mean.. what should I do?"
A smile, a soft rumble, and a flick of the tail. "Today, you enjoy your dinner. Tomorrow, we're going on a field-trip. There is simply too much risk in going about the way you are handling the job... First things first, we have to teach you another way... Perhaps we'll get you some fresh clothes after all. Fresher, at least," the cat rumbles, before shaking her head lightly,
Terry nods quickly. "Yes 'maam." His ears perk curiously at the mention of clothes. "Another way? And.. how would clothes help?" He tilts his head curiously, tail flitting eagerly. He reaches for another piece of bread, nibbling lightly on it while gazing up at the pantheress.
A smile, a soft rumble, and another tailflick as the she-cat takes another bite of food into her mouth. Once swallowed, she simply continues. "To charm another, one needs... Charms. Clothes go a long way," the she-cat rumbles with a coy smile. "And you're in luck, Terry... With a name, and a physique like that... You could charm either gender," the she-cat purrs with a smile on her lips.
Terry nods at her words, briefly understanding what she means.. until that last sentence. He feels his cheeks flush hotly as he looks down again, his tail flitting anxiously from side to side. "Yes 'maam." He licks his lips, considering what she had just told him. "If.. if it works, I suppose it's good enough..."
"That, Terry, is only your first lesson. A quick, easy way to get a meal if you run low on crown. Or, if you simply don't want to bother paying for a drink," the she-cat notes with a rumble, a gentle tease of her tail along his leg. "You will learn -every- lesson there is to learn. And at the end of the day, you will be a true gentleman-thief," the she-cat notes. "-if- you do well, of course."
Terry smiles slightly at the pantheress' words, seeming quite taken by them, and by the prospect of what she is offering. His tail flits excitedly from side to side as he nods. "Yes 'maam." He pauses thoughtfully, then asks. "Where should I meet you? Tomorrow I mean.. I don't really have a.. uhm.. what you'd call a home, so.."
A smile, a rumble, and a tailflick. "We have a small room nearby. You will be staying there until dawn, at which point I will collect you," the pantrhess explains softly, while she continues slicing up the last bits of her duck, tail swaying behind her. "Any further questions?"
Terry shakes his head. "N-no 'maam. No more questions." He pauses. "W-wait, I uhm.. I don't even know your name." He realizes how silly this entire situation is, already so amiable to this being he's barely even met and doesn't know the name of. "If.. if I may know your name, that is.."
"Later, Terry. Not right now," the masked feline continues, before taking her final bite, the final sip of her drink. "Perhaps during or after your dance-lessons," she notes with a coy smirk, a flick of her tail.
Terry blinks. "D-dance lessons?" He stammers, trying to formulate a question, but slowly coming to realize the pantheress will only give him answers at her own pace, and for her own reasons. He instead nods curtly. "Yes 'maam, as you wish."
"You heard me. Perhaps later this week, we can arrange those... For now, we will focus on the art of seduction," she rumbles softly, before shaking her head. "One of the most powerful weapons in a thief's arsenal, and often, so sorely underappreciated."
Terry nods obediently once more. He regards the pantheress up and down, wondering how much of this art of seduction was just used on him without him even realising it. He finishes up his piece of bread and sits there in a somewhat awkward silence before adding. "I guess they've stopped looking for me by now.."
"Hold on there, Terry... You still have a part to play tonight," the she-cat rumbles with a smile on her lips, before gesturing for a waitress. "Terry'd like another loaf of bread to go... And we'd like the check," she rumbles, before flicking her ears. "And, as I'm teaching him some things about money, he'll be paying for dinner tonight," she rumbles, gesturing at terry to do the honors, after the waitress notes the full price of 65 scepters, with Katrina helpfully adding to not forget the tip...
Terry groans softly as he retrieves the crown from its resting place and slides it over to the waitress. He offers her a somewhat forced smile as he offers her the 5 scepter tip on top of the bill. "Thank you, the food was delicious." He says, more out of obligation than anything.
A smile, a rumble, and a gesture, before Katrina awaits the waitress with 'her' change, and the loaf for Terry, before she gently places the thirty scepters on the table. "Take them with you... Just in case tomorrow's lesson doesn't pay off, you can still get some breakfast... And that's also what the loaf is for," she notes, gesturing at the small baguette. "And, I should note, you do all your work supervised by -me- now. Clear?"
Terry collects the bread and thirty scepters, nodding at the pantheress' words. "Thank you 'maam." He nods again. "Yes 'maam, I won't do anything without your supervision." He fidgets nervously. "I.. I'm sorry, again, for uhm.. riling up the guards."
"Relax. You are in good hands," the she-cat rumbles, even as she walks off, swaying her hips visibly. "Someone will be with you to escort you to your chambers soon... And if you intend to stare, do it discreetly. That goes for people -and- potential merchandise. Lesson two," she rumbles with a smile on her lips, before moving off.
Terry was indeed staring, and he all-but crumbles into a ball of awkward as he averts his eyes after his words, his cheeks flushing with embarrassment again. He sits patiently and waits to be collected, unwilling to anger this.. being, whoever she is.
Soon enough, another feline, a male cheetah wanders in, gestures at terry, and simply guides him through the city. Not a word spoken, before a key is handed to him, and a door is gestured at. "Don't disappoint her. You wouldn't want -that-," he rumbles with a flick of his tail, before himself disappearing into the city.
Katrina omniously purrs, "A crown well-spent?'"