[color=AA7402]The undisturbed, slender streets of Keian sent a cold shiver through Elieja’s spine as he searched for an empty building. The last two nights, the boy had slept without a roof above his head, and it had been raining for the past three days. His thoughts went to a beautiful jacket, that he had picked up from some old lady’s shack in the outskirts of Zete, just east of Keian. The drab set of pants he had picked up from a storefront a few hours back would have looked horrific next to the craftsmanship that jacket had contained. He pictured the soft fabric, soaked a dark red, and he could smell the sweet scent it had maintained. Elieja took a deep breath and pulled in the familiar scent of wet death that only grew stronger as he rounded another street corner in search of a vacant shelter.
The raindrops felt colder as they broke onto Elieja’s bare shoulders, and he knew it was getting later; so he would need to find shelter, or else another night in the rain might get him sick. This part of town appeared to be more occupied than most parts of the worn down town that Elieja had come to know. He began to wonder how there were so many occupied houses and yet not a soul was on the streets with him. A few more turns, down silent streets with lights in the windows, and his concern grew. And right on cue, a sudden sound froze the boy in his tracks; he looked all around him, trying to detect where the noise came from.
“Pst,” came a familiar voice that echoed down the narrow passageway. “El, what are you doing?”
Elieja backtracked, and took a moment to search the nooks and crannies of the old houses, until he finally spotted Nealt, crouching behind some broken boxes covered in torn sheets. He closed the distance between them swiftly, before he asked the old man why he was hiding.
Nealt took the boy by the upper arm and walked him forcibly back the way he came. Once they were back into familiar territory, Nealt let go of his arm and slowed his pace, speaking with a mixture of anger and distress, “What were you doing over there, Elieja?” Then his voice contained a heaviness, as if he hadn’t slept in ages. “Did you even know where you were?” He looked up at the boy’s face and saw that Elieja did not grasp the discretion, and emphasized his concern. “The Yeccha run these streets,” Nealt sighed. He began wishing the boy would learn some sense soon; for it had been some 14 years that Nealt had been taking care of Elieja, after the loss of the boy’s mother - to the very Yeccha that Elieja would have been introduced to, had he stayed around long enough.
The two of them walked together in a comfortable silence, both lost in thought, for just over an hour, through the winding streets of Keian. The rain finally trickled to a halt as they got closer to their home. Elieja looked at their surroundings with a new vision as he imagined what it would mean to leave the town he grew up in, and to venture out into the rest of the country. The crumbling, stained walls looked brighter than Elieja had remembered them to be; the houses looked taller, and the mundane sounds suddenly became more vibrant. He watched Nealt, the man who had raised him, and studied his motions; Nealt was old, as old as he had ever been. It occurred to Elieja, in that moment, that Nealt had always been an old man, that he had never seemed to age, that he looked the same age as he had looked when he first started taking care of a 4-year-old boy. This thought reminded Elieja that he had no amount of magic within himself.
Nealt had his mind on the effort and years he had offered up to take care of the boy he found all that time ago. He remembered how he hadn’t even thought twice about picking the child out of the crib and taking him home. He remembered how saddened he had been when he found Niala’s body, days later, in one of the very streets he had just retrieved Elieja from. He wondered how different it would be if he had not found the child; the possibilities seemed endless. As they reached the house, Nealt slowed to a stop a short distance from the entrance, wanting to share his thoughts with Elieja.
For the last segment of the walk, Elieja couldn’t look up at the old houses anymore, his thoughts had gone darker and the houses didn’t look taller or brighter. Instead, he watched Nealt’s feet; he noticed the old man favored his right side, putting more weight onto his left as he took each step. He could tell when they were getting closer to the house by watching the pace of Nealt. When the man stopped before going up to the building, Elieja looked up from the ground to his adoptive father and asked carefully, “Something is on your mind?”
The old man found himself smile as the boy pointed out his wants. He nodded and spoke his words carefully, softening them for Elieja, “I’ve had this on my mind for too long now, El.” Nealt paused, collecting his thoughts before he continued on, “There isn’t a day that goes by that I do not feel grateful and proud of the young man you have come to be. I know your mother would be even more proud than I am, of what you have become.”
The sudden gloomy change threw the boy off and his mood darkened further. Elieja dug the toe of his soft shoes into the decaying cinder blocks beneath their feet as he spoke. “I’ve never done a thing worth mentioning to anyone. I’ve never set a goal of my own. What do I have to offer to anyone?” He couldn’t bring himself to look at the never-changing face of the old man who had raised him, as images of his mother ran behind his eyes.
Nealt dismissed the gripes and tried to encourage Elieja. “You have yet to explore yourself, and you cannot say you’re a failure until you have failed at something. Your title is an empty slot right now, maybe now is the time to fill that slot with something of your own.” He had more to say, but wanted the boy to make the choice on his own.[/color]
Every person must, at some point, define what exists in this world as their god(ess). Some choose power, money, and sex, others choose their loved ones and their pursuit of what is "right." some have gone so far as to believe purely in their selves as the zenith and crux of society.
And some, truly, deeply, honestly, believe in nothing.
In a somewhat sour part of Brownsdale run primarily by the dominant gang, the Yecca, Avaya could be seen strolling through the city's street. With a somewhat slumped posture, his right hand in his pocket, and his left holding a small bag over his shoulder, the black armored merc walked with an almost lackadaisical stride. A small blade of wheat in his mouth, Avaya paid no concern with his surroundings. While this was gang owned territory, Avaya happened to be doing work for the very gang who're occupying the area. The Yeccha had hired his services to rough up some locals who believed they had a choice in the matter of paying up for "protection."
Avaya entered a somewhat shaggy building, making little noise, and drawing even less attention, Avaya slyly made his way through the seedy, somewhat-whore-house-looking front room and back towards security. He nodded to the door man and made his way in.
Once inside, there were several men twirling knives, picking their teeth, and generally looking quite rude. Typical gangster wannabes. Avaya strutted up to the table in the middle of the room and tossed the bag on the table, its contents of a few teeth and a medallion spilled out. A weasel looking man leaned forward from the dark and rummaged through the bag.
"So it's done, is it?" he chuckled.
"Yeah," Avaya spoke sharply.
"Where's the rest of my money?" The weasel laughed and motion one of his men towards Avaya.
"Pay the man." He spoke with a strange whistle, as his two front teeth were unusually large.
A larger man handed Avaya a decent sized bag. Avaya gripped it by the top and bounced it several times. Felt like it was all there. Then, without a word, Avaya turned and began to walk out of the room.
"HEY!" the weasel shreiked. Avaya turned back to him.
"Did the little bastard squeel?" He spoke with anticipation.
"Gonna' have to pay me more for that info." Avaya spoke with a shit eating grin on his face and began to leave once more. The weasel sat annoyed, but satisfied all the same.
Someways down the road, Avaya came upon another young man, dressed in brown merchants atire. Out of place in what seemed like a residential area, Avaya stood afront the man.
"Gilo, you look good." Avaya spoke with a subtle hint of sarcasm, as the man, though brown in complextion, looked quite pale.
"Yeah, yeah, you're real funny." Gilo had a small coughing fit.
"Well," Avaya spoke with half a sigh/
"Here's what you need. What else is going on around here?" Avaya handed him some of the coin he'd made earlier.
"Well, there're a handful of rumors going around. Senator's wife's been sleeping around, a lot of gang warfare in these parts, but nothing much more than small scuffles here and there. I got a tasty bit for you though." The man placed the coins in his pocket.
"And?" Avaya spoke with unyielding sarcasm.
"Well, Rumor has it that something's popped up in The Bath--"
"Yeah the fuck right." Avaya cut the man off sharply. "Give me a real tip, not some bullshit."
"It's legit man!" Gilo spoke urgently.
"Apparently, there was a girl asking a few questions about it, and only a few people have seen her since. Mighty suspicious if you ask me." Gilo raised his eye brows hoping to entice Avaya.
"Whatever. Even if it actually it out there, it's fools gold with no real gold involved, waste." Avaya scoffed.
"Fuck it. Thanks for nothing Gilo." Avaya began to walk off. But just before he did, he turned his head slightly and caught glimpse of a young man crouched down in an allyway next to an older man. The two were within earshot of Avaya and his collegue, probably able to hear most if not all their conversation. Avaya stopped and staired at them for just a moment, then turned and slowly began to walk off.