Tibidi skulks forward, intent on the prize. Vitaly whispers for him to hurry... and Tibidi takes a bad step onto a creaking board. Tibidi is only two arms lengths from the sword, and as the Boyar stirs in his bed, his eyelids flickering, the thief decides "Screw it."
Tibidi throws caution to the wind, dashing to seize up the blade before vaulting across the bed, startling the nobleman awake. Tibidi crosses to the hearth in three steps, and tosses the sword through to Vitaly. By the time he's scrambling back through, the chambers are already ringing with cries of guards! Guards!
A man in his sleeping clothes appears in a doorway, bleary eyed and brandishing a sword, and Vitaly looses a bolt at him without hesitation. He's trying to load in another when two more guards appear, and a clatter comes from the door to the master bedroom as the Boyar fumbles with the lock. Tibidi manages to peg one of the guards with his crossbow, and the two of them dash for the exit.
In the meantime, Vasily and Galapas have been tearing down tapestries to tie together into a rope. They have about twenty five feet of this remarkably expensive climbing equipment, and a window they might exit from, when they hear the cries of the Boyar echoing down the hall. Galapas lets out a mighty whistle, and in a couple of seconds, Vitaly and Tibidi appear, with the clatter of armored guards not far behind.
Galapas ties off the rope and slings it out into the pre-dawn air as Vasily hurls another spell down the corridor to slow down pursuit. Vitaly practically dives nose-first out the window, catching the rope with practiced acrobatics. The sword is safely tucked in his sash. Vasily starts to follow as Galapas takes up Vitaly's dropped crossbow, and he and Tibidi start firing back at the guards fighting their way toward their position. A bolt whizzes down the corridor and takes Galapas in the arm. Vitaly makes it to the ground with a drop of a dozen feet or so, and calls up for them to follow. Galapas fires a final shot, and swings onto the rope.
Before Tibidi can follow, though, the knotwork gives way. Galapas was about halfway through fireman-sliding his way down, so he's injured in the fall, but not badly. Vasily casts a spell to tend to Galapas' injury, and Vitaly calls up and urges Tibidi to try jumping anyway. Tibidi wordlessly gazes down at the forty foot fall onto flagstones. He glances back at the oncoming guards. He sighs.
Tibidi throws down his crossbow and puts up his hands, surrenduring himself. He gets a few savage punches to the stomach, but he's taken in alive, and the rest of the group is obliged to make a frenzied dash for the walls without him.
The party hides out for the next couple of days, dodging from derelict basement to derelict basement to stay ahead of people looking to cash in the reward Boyar Petra has offered. At last, the day comes for the hand-off.
They follow the directions back through the hedge maze, but this time when they come to the meeting place, they find only a single bored knight examining his fingernails and lounging on one of the benches. Vasily approaches. He recognizes him from the first meeting here, so he's definitely working for their contact.
The knight spits. "Well. You boys fucked up."
"What? We brought the sword."
"I'm sure you did, and that's... something at least," the knight nods. "You may recall, though, that one of the conditions was that you take the damn thing during one of the public events."
"How much difference does it make?" insists Vasily. "The point was to humiliate Petra, correct? Well, we took the sword literally from under his nose, to a great deal of hubbub. I should think the purpose was served."
"Yeah. Well," says the knight, still not looking up. "That hubbub happens to include one of you getting pinched, and your dear employer having nothing much in the way of a reliable alibi for his household."
The group is starting to seethe. Vasily says "So. You don't plan to pay us?"
The knight finally looks up. "Do you have the sword with you?"
Vasily pauses, then gestures to his brother, who produces the blade from under his heavy cloak. He steps forward, and deposits it on the bench next to the knight. The knight gives a nasty grin, then wordlessly tosses a bag of coins to Vasily. They count up the payout as he carefully stows the sword.
"There seems to be something missing here," growls Galapas.
"This is barely a tenth of what we were promised!" cries Vasily.
The knight chuckles and gets to his feet. "You brought back the bare minimum of what my master hired you for. Count yourself lucky you're getting two thin stags."
"It's barely more than our expenses," says Galapas.
"My, my!" the knight says in mock surprise. "You're saying you made a profit? My master is more generous than I'd ever dreamed!" He smirks. "I'd advise you take that little windfall and find your way out of town. Far out of town. If Petra doesn't get you, then my Master might decide that the bounty on your heads is worth more than the damage to his foe's reputation."
With that, he stalks out of the courtyard, leaving them to discuss their next move. Galapas has nowhere in particular to be, and Vitaly, at least, is displeased at the thought of leaving the area so soon. Vasily has a suggestion, though.
While asking around Harjevo, he's heard tell of an expedition about to get underway. They consider this for a few minutes, before agreeing. They will gather such supplies as they need, and then meet again at a small town on the northernmost border of Harmark...