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Eagle Heart stood at his post, looking stoic and alert, but in actuality was very tired. The poor stallion had been given a double shift when Stout Wings got sick. Thankfully, he was nearing the end of it. He couldn't wait to get back to his bed and collapse in his exhaustion, tossing aside his heavy armor. It seemed even heavier after twice as many hours of it pressing on his wings. He longed to stretch them out. Not long now, he thought to himself, reassuringly. He almost allowed himself a smile, until he remembered that Gilded Helm was beside him. Even if the other stallion was asleep.

It was only a few more minutes until they were relieved, and Eagle Heart was about to lean over and wake Gilded when he heard a noise down the hall. Was Princess Luna inside at this time of night? No, surely not. She would be watching over everypony's dreams by now. He heard another sound, and gave a soft huff. He had to do something about this. Cautiously, Eagle Heart crept towards the place where the hallway turned, and peered around the corner to see what the noise had been.

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A cloaked figure balanced carefully on his right hind leg, balancing a gold vase in his front right hoof, a left front hoof full of jewelry, and the curtain rod from above being held up by his left back hoof. The figure had accidentally pulled the curtain down when he grabbed the vase, now he was trapped, attempting to keep everything from falling. The figure was shaking as his muscles strained to keep his composure, cursing in a hushed whisper. Then, the figure kicked up the curtain pole, getting it to land perfectly back on its hanger. At the same, he had also tossed up the vase and jewels away from him. The figure leaped away from the curtain, catching the vase with the jewels landing inside it. The figure stood up straight and danced side to side a little, "Hot cross buns am I good!" He said in a hushed whisper before freezing up as he caught eye contact with the Guard peering at him from down the hall. "Oh... cheeses." Nameless Trax, Professional Thief.

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Eagle Heart looked both impressed and shocked behind his helmet. But he was quick to remember his training, taking a commanding step forward and lowering his head. "What are you doing?" he called out. His voice was the strong and intimidating tone of all the guards, despite his tiredness. He stomped a hoof against the floor, signalling to any other guards within hearing distance to his location. Hopefully someone else would hear.

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Trax grit his teeth, his cold steel blue eyes shined from under his hooded cloak, "Great." Instantly he tucked away the vase into his saddle bag and threw away his cloak. Trax stood about equal height to Eagle Heart, wearing leather armor, his black and white undercut hair drifted down over one side. "Let me go, and no pony gets hurt, deal?" He asked silverly as he heard the other Guards start to become more lively.

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Eagle was almost taken aback at the suggestion. "Get hurt? I'm fairly certain we would both get hurt one way or the other, whether I let this slide or not. The princesses are powerful ponies, after all."

He lowered his spear towards the other pony, slowly shifting himself between the intruder and the windows. "Come on now, turn yourself in, put the items back where you found them, and I'm sure Celestia will be lenient with you. Maybe even help you so you don't have to steal anymore, hm?" He was trying to help the other stallion see reason. But he was also stalling for time. He knew another patrol would be at the other end of the hall any moment now...

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Trax's ears flickered as he heard the hooves of a dozen guards thundering his way, "Well, you know, as intriguing as that sounds.... I'm gonna have to- Ooof!" He was cut off as another pony landed on top of him, flattening him out. The second pony was a beautiful yellow unicorn mare, her golden hair braided and pushed off to one side, her eyes burned a searing yellow. "You have better have a good reason for missing the rendezvous time, I think the Castle Guards are on to yo-" She too paused and froze as she locked eyes with Eagle, realizing He was there. Also putting two and two together, understanding why her brother was late. "Oh Traxy, you really are like a bad luck charm." Sun Flare, Trax's younger Sister, and fellow Professional Thief. Sun smiled innocently and tried to flirt, "Any way a Handsome Stallion can maybe let us go? Just this once? Pretty pleaze?" Trax chuckled under her hooves and stomped down causing him to wince in pain, at the same time her horn lit up at the ready.

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Eagle Heart blinked, shocked at the sudden appearance of the unicorn. He raised his spear slightly, trying to keep it clear of the potential civilian. Until she addressed him with familiarity and then began to flirt. Eagle Heart sighed and shook his head. "I'm sorry miss, but this is not only breaking an entering, but breaking and entering into the Royal Palace. Not to mention I already saw the stealing. Now if we just put everything back and come quietly-" 

He noticed the glow of magic around her horn and sighed again. "Miss, please, I am very tired, and I would prefer not to fight. Especially not with such a lovely mare as yourself. This can all be resolved peacefully, if you just surrender."

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Sun giggled and pretended to stroke her hair before she and Trax suddenly teleported away in a brief flash of yellow light. A stumbling noise came from behind Eagle, Sun had teleported herself and Trax just behind Eagle, the extent at which she could manage. The siblings picked themselves up and made a run for the window, "Good chat Lad, but we gotta split, see you around!" Trax said as he and Sun both jumped out the window, Trax held onto Sun with his wings catching air, the duo took off into the night. "Call me!" Sun's voice echoed back to Eagle, on the floor next to the window, was a saddle bag, with the vase and jewels.

 

"Shame we had to leave it." Trax muttered solemnly, Sun shrugged, "It was your own fault, they saw what you took, the items would have been too Hot to sell. We'll just have to settle for another score, and with our skills, it'll be easier than the castle for sure."

 

"Eagle, did you spot the intruders?" One of the Guards asked as about a dozen came running up to him.

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Eagle was at the window, staring after them until they fell out of sight. He was annoyed that they made it around him, but he couldn't help but give a slight smile. He quickly dropped it at the sound of the other guards behind him though. He turned and noticed the saddle bag, which he nudged forward.

"I did. A pegasus stallion and a unicorn mare. I believe they were thieves. She used her magic to get past me, but they at least left behind what they stole. Then they jumped out the window and flew off." He finished the brief report, hoping it would be enough to placate the other guards from getting mad. Fortunately for him, Gilded Helm finally came from around the corner with a yawn, doing a poor job of hiding that he had been sleeping on the job. Eagle felt bad for him, knowing he would likely be on cleaning duty for a week for that, but at least no one had been hurt. He was curious about the pair that had fled, however...

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"We can be thankful for the fact the thieves left what they stole, but it means they were close, we should put the castle on alert and report this to Princess Luna." The same Guard who spoke before suggested, but sounded more like orders than anything. Reluctantly the other Guards nodded approval and went back to their posts. The Guard nodded to the bag, "Bring that and report it to the Captain, both of you." He said pointing his hoof at Guilded Helm and Eagle. 

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Eagle Heart nodded and put the saddle bag on his back, then quickly went over to Gilded and urged him to follow along. The earth pony followed without complaint, already aware of the trouble he was in. The pair sighed as they trotted down the stairs to the Captain's office, the dim torches and bare walls reminding them that no good ever came of having to go down here with bad news. When they reached the door, they both glanced at each other nervously, Gilded looking apologetic. Eagle took sympathy on him, then shook himself to look alert, put on a stony expression, and knocked on the door, opening it only after he heard the Captain grunt.

"Sir! We have a report about attempted theft and the recovered items," he said, lowering the saddle bag to the desk between them and the Captain.

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Captain Stryker Shield, an older unicorn Stallion with a rough composure and scratchy beard. His dull green eyes were matched by his dull white coat, his hair knotted brown hair tied back in a short and thick ponytail. Often called a viking pony by those under his command. He spoke with a rough and deep voice, "What is it? I could hear some commotion up stairs." He asked glancing at the saddle bag.

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"A pair of thieves, sir," Eagle Heart opened the bag to reveal the vase and jewels inside, "A unicorn and a pegasus. They... Escaped. But they left these behind in the end. I didn't witness them touch anything else-"

"It was my fault, sir," Gilded Helm pitched in, unable to restrain himself in the moment, "I fell asleep at the post. What with the double shift and my little filly sick at home, I haven't had much rest and... I'm sorry."

Eagle admired his friend's honesty in the moment, but he was more worried about the backlash. He looked back to his captain and repeated the full report, skipping no details. Which also meant he was blushing as he repeated what the mare had said to him...

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Captain Stryker leaned back in his chair, his eyes blinked between the two, finally he let out a sigh of reluctance. "I've had my fair share of double shifts back in the day, it can be a troublesome situation indeed. In the end, the thieves got away, but left the stolen valuables. Most likely it was because you had spotted them, and what they stole, and we would put out a warning to the city. No fence or store would buy something being looked for by the Castle Guard. Well done for catching them in the act, even if it was by chance or luck." He sense they were about to sigh in relief, "However, falling asleep on shift is an act which requires consequence, so is going off without a comrade. Things might have gone differently if Eagle had woken Guild from his nap, the two of you could have caught the thieves." Stryker spoke as he took the bag and rummaged through it, pausing as he held up a token, for a tavern here in Canterlot. "You are in luck, I was going to have you mop the halls, but unstead I am sending you out on a hunt." He slid the token across the table to Eagle and Guild, the gold token had a stork symbol on it. "Find the thieves, bring them in, that will be your task. You can start after your shift ends, and you get some off-shift sleep." He added in as a reminder.

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"Thank you, sir." The two stallions said in unison. Gilded took the token, and then the pair quickly went off towards the barracks. There, Gilded left Eagle Heart to rest while he went home, promising to return in the late morning so they could start their investigation. Eagle waved his friend off, then collapsed in his bunk with a deep sigh. This wasn't going to be an easy run, he could already tell. Not to mention the disappointment in the Captain's voice... His chest hurt to remember it.

 He curled up beneath his blankets, only waking when he felt somepony shaking him vigorously. Heart Breaker, one of the mares who maintained this wing of the castle stood next to his bed with a rueful grin. "Sleeping in late, are we darling? Tsk tsk..."

Eagle stretched, acting as though he wasn't startled to see her, although he couldn't hide his blush. He was used to Heart Breaker's teasing, although her beauty still took him aback.

"No, I have a special assignment. But thank you for waking me up anyway," he mumbled as he rolled out of bed. her eyes trailed after him as he walked out, ignoring his trunk.

"Not going to get into your armor?"

"Not for this one, no. I need to be incognito."

Outside, he met up with Gilded Helm again. He had on a hat that made him look no different from most of the wealthy ponies in Canterlot. Upon seeing Eagle, he forced the pegasus into a suit that a butler would wear. Eagle sighed, but didn't protest, and the two stallions made their way to the tavern they had the token for.

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A tall and built earth pony stallion stood like a stone statue at the Taverns door, he watched the two stallions approach, sporting a well rounded black eye. "This is an exclusive establishment, only refered customers, please." He said ruggedly, adding in the 'please' as more of a warning than a 'thank you for your time'.

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Gilded Helm laughed, sounding exactly like his brother, Golden Crown, then launched into "But of course, my good sir! Only those wanted are to be let in, yes? My butler and I have been recommended this establishment many many times, and finally my dear friends have come through."

With a flourish almost too elaborate, he pulled out the token with the stork and flashed it to the pony at the door, his grin wide and goofy. Eagle Heart, for his part, was looking very bored but alert, as if waiting for an order from his "employer". Secretly, he was glad Gilded came from a wealthy family so that they knew what they were doing.

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((Love it, love it, love everything about it.))

 

The Large stallion raised his unbruised eyebrow before nodding, "Of course, right this way, Sir." He said while opening the door for them. On the outside, the Tavern was nicely kept, and seemed normal. However, the inside was like a luxury hotel, the entire place decked out like a red gala. Almost like it was cued, Trax and Sun sat laughing together at a private round booth, both were tossing back cider mugs. To a trained eye, it was clear manny of the other guests were keeping some distance from them.

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The two trotted in as if they were meant to be there, with Gilded Helm adding a "Thank you my good pony" to the stallion at the door. When it closed behind them, Eagle Heart moved close to Gilded's side and whispered "There they are." The earth pony grinned even wider and trotted right up to them, laughing along with them, but a bit too loud and a bit too long, as if trying to be the center of attention.

"My my, you two seem just to be the life of this party, ohohoho! Mind if I join you?"

Eagle Heart stayed behind him, trying not to be spotted and to look every bit like a butler, blending into the scenery.

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Trax had stopped mid drink while Sun grin slyly with predatory eyes, like a fox watching a fat mouse struggle over a fallen tree. "Why yes darling, please, have a seat." She spoke with a silverly tone. Trax finished his mug and set it down, "What brings you to this fine establishment, Mister.....?" He asked curiously.

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Gilded grinned, and for the first time in a while, shocking Eagle, he said his birth name.

"Gilded Mane, at your service. A pleasure to meet you, my good sir. And madam," he added, winking at Sun Flare as he took a seat. He waved a hoof at Eagle Heart, and he nodded before taking a standing position at Gilded's side, ready to serve. Gilded, for his part, was acting as if he was very interested in Sun Flare. Granted, she was pretty, enough to rival Heart Breaker even. But Gilded was a taken stallion, with three little ones at home with his wife, and he had to try and forget that to keep up this act. But what he didn't know was that Eagle was ready to bail him out at any moment, even if it meant blowing their cover. He wouldn't let his friend risk jeopardizing his marriage.

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Sun scooted close to Gilded, but wavered a few inches away, "The pleasure is ours Mr. Mane, you can call me Yellow, and this is my elder Brother, Cobalt." Trax dipped his in turn at being introduced, his cold steel blue eyes flickered with a cunning curiosity. Sun played with her hair, "Tell me Mr. Mane, will a Miss's be joining us today." She asked charmingly, on the outside she looked elegant and sweet, but on the inside she was a fox stalking its prey. First rule when tagging a Mark, learn about them, search for a way in to gain their favor. Often, flirting is the quickest and easiest, depending if the Mark is taken or not. Trax switched his gaze to the butler, sizing him up on a threat level. By first glance, the butler outfit would be a low level to the lower skilled Thief, but a skilled Thief could see more. For instance, Trax could tell instantly that this butler was former military, or was trained by military. The accute way of posture and carry, as well as determining the butlers build. Trax exhaled calmly through his nostrils, he saw his way in to distract the butler if need be. Wether Former or current, Military could always pick out fellow Military, it was an unspoken rule.

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Gilded smiled and laughed. "I'm afraid not, my dear. I prefer the freedom to do as I feel is most fun at the time, and I've yet to find a pretty mare who supports that... Adventurous mindset."

Eagle admired his ability not to blush. He felt the eyes on him and casually glanced towards Trax. In this new light, he could see the strength to him. He couldn't have been a guard in the past, he wasn't old enough for that. Army maybe? He kept his eyes half-lidded as he dipped his head respectfully to the thief.

"So tell me, my dear," Gilded Helm broke the peace again, "I've only heard vague stories from my friends that invited me here. What is it that you do for fun around here?"

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Sun smiled innocently, "Intriguing, the Tavern itself is just a nicely supped up restaurant, to put otherwise, its a luxury club. The back room is a small casino, upstairs is a small hotel with five rooms and a suite. Below, is a well sought after underground hot spring, my personal favorite. The Tavern is owned by an anonymous businesspony, and does all their work in secret. Specially made for those lucky enough to be given a token, rich, middle class, or poor. Their one condition, is if you desire something, just ask." She explained simply. Trax saw his moment and chuckled drunkily as he reached for his fourth mug, accidentally tipping an empty one over sending it rolling off the table away from them, he made a half-flank attempt to save it but missed it by a hair. At the same time, Sun also made an attempt to grab it too, but used her slight buzz as an excuse to fall into Gilded's lap, "accidentally".

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"Please, allow me," Eagle Heart said in his best butler voice, hoping they wouldn't recognize him once he spoke. He quickly trotted over to the mug and moved to scoop it up, all while trying to keep an eye on their fugitives.

Meanwhile, Gilded momentarily lost his composure and started blushing at the mare across his lap. He almost looked uncomfortable for a mere second, then he recovered himself and helped her up with a laugh. "Best be careful, my dear. Wouldn't want you to hurt yourself. It would be a shame to see anything but a smile on such a lovely face as yours, after all." He kept one of his legs pressed against hers in a show of "interest" as he continued to speak, "These hot springs you spoke of sound delightful. And if you are partial to them, I wouldn't mind accompanying you there, if that would be alright with you."

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