Light slowly began to rise up into the sky as we watched and waited. The haze dissipated and even more of the street became visible. I began to notice things which otherwise, had been unseen to my eyes. The filth and refuse in the alleys, hidden away from the public eye. Just beyond those many doorways, I could see quiet individuals, wary of our presence here. Rundown and decaying buildings, thin and emaciated people.
Though no one dared to venture out of the shadows where they were currently hiding, my eyes could pierce through that darkness. For hours I remained there, motionless and observant. There was no sign of any small girl. Sure there were a couple of boys who were brave enough to play in the street, but nothing more.
She's not here, I said, looking at Idril.
“Patience,” was his response.
Patience... like being patient would be enough. If they truly were afraid of us which seemed to be the case, why would any of those people, child or adult, dare to leave the places they thought were safe? I couldn't see that girl – if she really was here – ever coming out into the open.
She's not here.
Idril shook his head... with disappointment probably. “That girl is here,” he insisted and then he stood up. “Wait, I'll see if I can flush her out.”
I eyed him as he lept off of the building, landing with a quiet thud on the cobblestone. Idril crouched low to the ground and vanished into the darkness cast by a rising sun. Even after I could no longer see him, my ears twitched to every footfall he made. Soft on the cobblestone as he weaved around buildings and inside some of them, exploring their interiors.
It was when the sun was almost fully up, that my eyes began to drift downwards. Sleep crept up on me like some kind of creepy crawly and I allowed it to. I was tired and needed to... needed to... a set of small, running footfalls caused me to snap my head up. Now alert and watchful, I scanned the area below to see whom could have made that sound.
My answer came when I noticed a girl running down the street. She tripped once on a loose rock as she ran around a corner, but picked herself right back up again and sprinted away. Then Idril exited a building and looked at me with narrowed eyes.
“What are you doing?” he asked. “Go after her!”
Rolling my eyes, I stood up, stretched and could hear Idril's frustrated growl from the street. When I glanced at him, his arms were crossed and he was tapping his foot. I don't see why I have to be the one to do this, I mumbled. But despite all my bluster, I lept to the cobblestone below and followed the sound of the girl's footfalls.
I stopped after rounding the corner and looked down. There was a very thin splotch of crimson blood where she had fallen. In her attempt to get away, she had injured herself. I sighed, but then continued down the street.
Keeping my head low, allowed me to more easily catch her scent and it wasn't long before I came to the alley she had chosen as her new hiding place. Peering inside, I could see her form huddled tight against a wall. The girl was sitting in the filth, with both arms wrapped around her legs and she was shivering. This girl also... wasn't as little as I had presumed.
She was most likely in her tenth year of life or perhaps a year older. A thick, black grime covered her from head to toe and the clothing she wore, could hardly be considered clothing at all. Rags which just happened to have holes for her head, arms and legs to fit through. This girl appeared to be severely emaciated and little driblets of blood ran down the leg she had scraped. Footfalls alerted me to Idril's approach and I glanced up at him.
He walked up beside me and knelt down, looking into the alley. “I hope you can understand Mallin,” he said. “By looking at her here. The life we provide those kids, may require them to work but they receive food, shelter and clean clothes in return.”
So then... you are doing this for them? I asked.
Idril hesitated for a long moment. The atmosphere around us became so quiet, that the only sound was the moving of the wind. Finally he looked up at me and shook his head. “No. We bring these kids to the pits because it is only them who can do what we need to be done. I do wish there were better reasons but, that is the way it is. All you need to know is that they are well cared for.”
They don't receive the same treatment I had?
“No,” Idril said and then he stood up.
I watched as he walked over to the girl and knelt down before her. She tried to squirm away, but Idril took hold of her bony wrist.
“It's okay,” he said in a soft voice. “We've come here to help you. Tell me, what is your name?”
She looked up at him with frightened eyes, but remained silent. It seemed like she wouldn't talk or maybe was just too afraid. When Idril said nothing more however, she did gain the courage and spoke in a small, quivering voice. “Mazi.”
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I am a female fantasy writer (maybe some sci-fi down the road), I read books, gamer and I like anime and all that fun stuff!
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