I'm a thief. Now, don't get me wrong. I ain't saying this out of pride, but I ain't ashamed of my occupation neither. Thieves got a perfect right to exist in the Empire. People say we're dishonest. Of course, those people are usually either merchants or priests, which really slays me. Sort of the snake calling the worm legless.
Rulers like us. Crime in moderation is good for the economy. The trick is to keep it at a good even pace, with a well timed lull and a minor wave to keep the fat bottoms from becoming complacent. Of course, stupid, but talented thieves will keep stealing, empty their pockets, and steal some more. This ain't good for no one. That's where the guilds come in.
A thieves guild is what they call a crime regulator. We protect each other and punish the clumsy and greedy. The kings depend on us to keep the amateurs out of business.
Yeah, occasionally, a king will come down on us. I've even seen my Thieves Guildmaster get himself stuck in prison once or twice. Some cohort of mine said her first Guildmaster got himself hanged. Then the Thieves Guild has to get foul on the king, and, let someone who knows tell you, the results ain't pretty.
I got into the guild, the way I've seen most thieves do it. It was a few years back, when that bully Jagar Tharn was sitting on the throne only everyone thought he was the Emperor. My parents farm turned into eight acres of dust and rock, and they threw me and my brothers out. I was always a skinny thing, but by the time I made it to the closest town, I was a good deal more skinnier.
Just cause the town had some dirt that plants could grow on didn't make them that much richer than my folks were. I tried to get all kinds of jobs, but the hungrier and more raggedier I got, the quicker anyone who might have work would kick me out. When the rainy season finally came, it came like a sea, and I didn't have nowhere to stay. Lucky I found the unlocked cellar door.
Turns out that the owners of the house slept like old dogs, cause I robbed them blind (and tripped into things like I was the blind one) and they never woke up. I sold all the stuff at a dirty pawners I knew and spent the next two days living like a potentate. Then I got my first visit from the local thieves guild.
I remember what the guy looked like, but not exactly what he said. Something like, "Hey, kid, if you want to steal in these parts, you're going to have to join the Guild. Otherwise, I or someone like me is going to break your skinny arms so you can't steal."
I've known some people who've refused membership in the Guild and kept on stealing anyhow. I've broken one of their arms. As for me, this was the first offer I'd had for a career since my pa told me that if I didn't milk the cow, he'd rip my head off. In comparison, this guy at the tavern was almost a gentleman. I agreed right away.
Sure, I had to prove my worth to the Guild before I could join and even now. But having two working arms is only part of the benefit. They trained me, taught me, and kept me out of prison. How many other guilds can boast a forgery expert on the premises?
So the next time you're calling some swindling merchant or usurious priest a thief, think about it. There is honor among thieves -- I should know.