Chapter 1: Prologue
“Wanna go steal-”
“Hey, buddy, how about a story?”
“...What kind of story?”
“Uh...a story about how...the three of us got together...and started working with your parents!”
“Oh, come on, it’ll have fencing, fighting, torture, revenge, giants, monsters, chases, escapes, True Love, miracles…”
“I guess it doesn’t sound too bad…”
“Your vote of confidence is overwhelming. Alright, here it goes…”
Chapter 2: On a small farm in Florin...
On a small farm in Florin, there lived a young man named Alec, but everyone called him Hardison (and no one knew exactly why). Although he worked diligently, his favorite pastimes were liberating income and information from undeserving persons, and jumping off of buildings with Parker, the farmhand. (A side note- he didn’t necessarily enjoy this, but Parker made him do it anyway).
“I thought you enjoyed it!”
“It’s really hard to say no to you, babe. Anyway…”
One day, Hardison was amazed to discover that when Parker asked him to jump off a building with her, what she was actually saying was “I love you.” And even more amazing was the day he realized he truly loved her back.
“Wait, why are you kissing? Is that part of the story?”
“Parker, Hardison, stop kissing in front of the kid!”
“Kissing in the middle of conversations is rude.”
Parker wanted to steal biggest, shiniest diamond to propose to Hardison with, so she had to leave. Hardison decided that he needed to be all dramatic about this.
“Parker, who’s telling the story? Me or you?”
“Both of us!”
“NO. I’m telling the story.”
“Babe, I’m sorry, stop- stop making that face. Please. Just let me tell the story.”
Unfortunately, Hardison was right to be dramatic, because Parker’s ship got captured by the Dread Pirate Roberts.
“Dammit, Hardison, are you ripping off-”
And anyways, the Dread Pirate Roberts never takes prisoners. So she had to be dead.
Hardison locked himself in his room for days, neither sleeping nor eating. When he finally emerged, he vowed that he would never love again.
“Eliot, be quiet. It’s my story.”
“Then how come Parker gets to be in it?”
“You’ll get your turn, man. Calm down.”
Chapter 3: Five years later
Five years later, the main square of Florin City was filled as never before to hear the announcement of the bride-to-be (actually a groom) of the great Prince Collin (colloquially known by the stupid self-made nickname, Prince Chaos).
The Prince stood on a balcony high above the square, the King and Queen behind him.
“My people, a month from now, our country will have its 500th anniversary. On that sundown, I shall marry a man who was once a commoner like yourselves. Would you like to meet him?”
The crowd roared Yes!
“My people- the Prince Alec!”
Hardison glared at Chaos, but as the band started playing, he put on a cocky expression and sauntered down the carpet. As he looked around, Parker’s absence tore at his heart. Unfortunately, he didn’t have any choice- the law of the land allowed the prince to choose his spouse, and Chaos was blackmailing him with his youthful indiscretions with the government’s treasury.
“Just call it hacking, Hardison.”
“Excuse you, I’m telling the story.”
Despite Chaos’s assurances that Hardison would eventually grow to love the position, his only solace was sneaking out of the palace to visit the roofs of buildings Parker used to love jumping off of.
One day, after sneaking out of the palace in a red dress and long wig, Hardison was stopped by three people- two men and a very scary-looking woman who seemed to loom over everyone, despite being the shortest person there.
“A word, my lady?” said the older-looking man in an obsequious whine.
Hardison took off his wig, and the man did not seem surprised.
“Oh, sorry about that. Ahem, we’re but poor, lost circus performers. Is there a police station nearby?”
“Uh...no, not for miles,” replied Hardison.
“Then there will be no one to hear you scream.”
Before Hardison could react, the woman punched him in the face and everything faded to black.
Chapter 4: Stop rhyming now, I mean it
(Nate. Nate. What are you doing. Nate. Nate stop. Nate. Naaaaate.)
“No offense, Ford, but what are you doing?”
“Ripping a piece of cloth from the uniform of an army officer of Guilder.”
“Mi Guilder?” Mikel asked. She obviously understood English, but with a cat-like obstinacy, she occasionally insisted on only speaking in Hebrew, which forced Eliot to translate.
“Country across the sea, and sworn enemy of Florin,” Eliot answered.
“Once the palace guards find this, the fabric will make the prince suspect that the Guilderians have abducted his love. When Prince Alec’s body is found on the Guilder frontier, Prince Chaos’s suspicions will be totally confirmed.”
“You never said anything about killing people, man,” Eliot snarled.
“I hired you to help me start a war,” Nate replied mildly. “It’s a prestigious line of work, with a long and glorious tradition.”
“Ani lo ohevet l’harog anashim,” Mikel interjected. “Ani lo choshevet shezeh nachon.”
“She says she doesn’t think killing someone is right,” Eliot translated. “And you know I don’t do that anymore.”
Keeping in character, Nate got right into Eliot’s face, mindful that Eliot, unlike Mikel, wouldn’t hit an employer for invading his personal space. “Firstly, you’re both a couple of washed-up assassins, and you’ll do what I pay you to do. Secondly, neither of you is being paid to think- I am. So stop.” Nate took a step back and took a deep breath. “And if you won’t kill him, I will. Just make sure we all get to the Guilder frontier in one piece.” He stalked towards the getaway van.
“Hoo ko’ays,” Mikel grumbled.
“I’m thinking more...basket-case,” Eliot replied.
“Aval hoo lo matzik,” Mikel said thoughtfully.
“Maybe a little bit meek,” Eliot continued with a grimace-like grin.
“What the hell is that supposed to mean, Hardison?”
“It’s how you used to smile!”
“Shut up, both of you. I’m still telling the story.”
“Charitzah tovah,” Mikel said appreciatively.
“Todah,” Eliot replied.
“Okay, stop rhyming now, I mean it,” Nate interrupted.
Mikel smirked. “Anybody want a peanut?” she said with a heavy Israeli accent.
“Get back to work!” Nate shouted.
Eliot and Mikel shared a look filled with amusement and exasperation as they bundled Hardison and his dress into the back of the van.