Edelin Bock is a third-generation thief, a "man of the shadows," just like his father and his father before him. Even as a young child, what his father did for a living was not hidden from him. In a way, for the Bock clan, being a thief was as good of a way of making a living as being a farmer, working in Betrovia's plentiful forests as a hunter/woodsman, or even being a member of the militia.
Of course there are laws against such things--what do you think Betrovia is? A land of chaotic, lawless, blood-thirsty barbarians? But just because laws had been written to make stealing illegal does not mean the populace as a whole looks down on thieves. Oh no, not in the least!
The people of Lycentia accept as fact the economic inequities inherent to its system: they realize that those in power are going to maintain their power however possible. And those who are financially well-off are going to remain financially well-off ... however possible.
The unwritten code that binds the men of the Bock family, along with the other families known for choosing this unsavory line of work, is that they would only steal from the rich and the powerful -- from those who would continue to be rich and powerful no matter how much is stolen from them.
But it goes without saying that if a thief is caught, he would be persecuted to the full extent of the law. And his trial would be short and to-the-point. If a thief is caught, tried, convicted and sentenced for his crime, it surely does not make him any less of a Betrovian. His time served in prison would be seen as just a negative consequence of the career choice, much like a woodsman being injured by a falling tree or a even soldier losing a limb in battle. Prison-time is seen as simply as an occupational hazard.
But Edelin Bock is not any common Betrovian thief. And why is that, you say? To keep this from becoming a story all by itself, suffice it to say that Edelin doesn't steal to make a living for himself. No, that would be too easy. His goal, his pot of Fool's Gold, so to speak, is something more powerful, more enticing, possibly even more insidious than a pewter urn overflowing with a precious metal. His goal, his passion, his raison d' tre (so to speak--even if I don't speak a lick of French!) is FREEDOM!
Does Edelin want to be a thief for the rest of his life? No, not really. But what else can he do? What else does he know how to do?
Does he like being a thief? Most-definitely! And he is quite good at it, too! Even his father told him many times that when he was Edelin's age, he was nowhere near as proficient or efficient as Edelin. But did that lofty praise from a man he looked up to--literally and figuratively--cement in the young man's mind the image of him being happy being a thief until he was too old to be one?
No, it did not. Not even close.
For you see, Edelin is entirely self-centered ... as any up-and-coming confidence man should be, right? He wants to do what he simply wants to do. And no one, not even his father -- the man he had worshiped from the day he first knew of his father's fame and prowess -- can tell him differently. Edelin Bock is a thief of thieves, the confidence man from a long line of confidence men. He's a cheat, a liar, and a scoundrel. But, in his eyes, he is FREE! He is free to continue being a thief ... or something even worse.
But is it possible to be free enough to have complete control one's future? To have unhindered access to manipulate one's fate? One's destiny?
For someone as selfish as Edelin Bock, the answer is a resounding YES!
Take a look at how Edelin acts (and reacts) towards Betrovian valuables dangled before him.
From Betrovia, book one of The Land of Betrovia trilogy:
"If those writings (the ancient scrolls that Patrik the innkeeper found one day in a cave) happened to end up in my knapsack, I might be able to find someone who'd do more than translate them." He put his hands behind his head. "Bah, sometimes I find myself living in such a fantasy world. I cannot afford anyone learning that I’m here, especially anyone in Noran. Can’t afford being discovered … being arrested … not again. I won’t be arrested ever again," he said, closing his eyes. "And I definitely don’t want to be involved with Patrik or anyone who’s investing time and energy in deciphering some moldy old scrolls!" He rolled over and pulled a blanket up over his head. "But I just wonder what those scrolls might be worth ... to the right person?"
From Lycentia: Harrak's Scrolls, book two of the trilogy:
“Aha! Here it (a silver medallion engraved with the image of the three spires of the Lycentian temple) is!” he said after rifling through the commander's bags. The moon was nearly full that night, so as he held it aloft for a moment, suspending the silvery object from its chain, he smiled as he appreciated its fine craftsmanship. Edelin then ripped off the chain and tossed it back into the commander's bag. The pendant then joined the coins in the knapsack's secret compartment.
From Ahnak: Edelin's Revelation, soon-to-be-published book three of the trilogy:
“What is that? That ... that shiny thing?” the shop-keeper asked. “There! That tiny plate around your neck! Let me see that! Give it to me! Now!”
“The medallion? Why sir, you are grievously mistaken,” Edelin said. “This trinket is completely worthless and – ”
The shop-keeper then lunged forward, grabbed him around the head and before Edelin knew what was about to happen, had broken the medallion away from its paltry chain. “This! Worth nothing? You strange little man! I know a fine piece of silver when I see one,” the Haarigoian replied. “And this be a very fine one, indeed!”
“Give it back!” Edelin commanded, surprising even himself with his sudden outburst of anger. “Even though it is quite worthless, sir,” he then said, eyes downcast and in a voice with a softer, calmer tone.
“Out again! Leave now! And I be keepin' this trinket! It be a good one for my collection! A fine piece, very fine indeed!”
“Sir, you ... you simply do not understand,” Edelin looked at the man's olive-skinned face. “My poor mother, Othleis have mercy on her tortured soul, the medallion was hers. She gave – ” The brute offered an even-larger grin than before but this time displayed a single-edge short-sword that he pulled from behind his back.
“Little man, the shiny plate be now mine,” he whispered as he waved the weapon back and forth. “Again! Out with you!” he then shouted, waving the sword menacingly first towards the door and then at Shatrik's messenger boy. “Out now! Before you learn the sharpness of my blade!” Edelin sighed and then, with head bowed, exited the shanty. “Ha! Indeed you are wise! Until we meet again, scrawny man!” the shop-keeper chortled before slamming the door.
“The medallion,” Edelin whispered as he stood just outside the Haarigoian's shop. “I must have that medallion.”
Edelin Bock is a thief. But he is not far from becoming something worse, something more dangerous, something more evil. But might that be his destiny? His "pot of gold" at the end of the rainbow he follows?