The streets of Pentra were dark and drenched with rain. Overhead lightning flashed, followed by a deep rumble of thunder. Clouds of Fog drifted about the buildings unhindered by the rain and moving on their own breeze.
His bare feet slapped loudly on the wet stone as he aimlessly made his way through the streets. Muddy water splashed upon his tattered pants as he jumped with both feet into a puddle.
Legin giggled and jumped into another larger puddle as a bolt of lightning struck the archway high above his head and sent a boom resonating through the city.
“Awesome,” Legin exclaimed softly as he brushed back his long hair and squinted up through the rain drops.
He enjoyed walking the streets at night, the regular clouds of Fog would keep most people indoors and kept the streets relatively safe for a young boy to play about. Legin also enjoyed it because it gave him time away from the chores at the brothel. At night the women always kicked him out of the building or sent him to his small room, though he did not understand why.
“It don’t matter,” Legin said as he wiped his hand on his wet top and continued to skip along the streets.
As he skipped along Legin began to whistle a tune and continued to purposely jump into the puddles on the road.
His whistles came to an abrupt halt as he skipped around a corner and bumped into a large man. Legin bounced off the man and fell on his backside before looking up to the man with surprise.
“What’re you doing boy,” the man snapped as he glared down at Legin, “Made me fumble with me Fog mask.”
The man was of the city watch and grumbled loudly as he adjusted the thick scarf around his head and over his mouth and nose.
“Damn runts shouldn’t be running the streets at this time, and in this weather,” a second guard huffed, he also wore a mask. “How old are ya boy?”
“Sorry misters,” Legin apologised as he jumped to his feet. “My adopted mum said I will be five this year, and...”
“By The Five, Dom, he’s got a tail,” the first guard interrupted and backed away from Legin.
“What are you, some kind of Abyssal spawn of the Fog?” the second guard roared in fear.
“No, sirs,” Legin shook his head in surprise.
“Die demon,” the first guard yelled and drew his sword.
Legin squeaked in surprise and quickly fled from the men. His eyes wide and his heart pounding, Legin knew he could not out run the guards. Thinking quickly he darted down a side street and in between some crates. He could hear the curses from the guards behind him and the clatter of boxes, but he did not turn around. Fear clutched at his heart as he slipped through a narrow gap and down yet another alley way. Too afraid to look over his shoulder Legin continued to run.
It was many minutes by the time Legin stopped from exhaustion and he looked around in fear.
“Where am I?” Legin wondered aloud as he glanced about the unfamiliar surroundings.
Thunder cracked overhead, causing him to flinch and hug his arms close suddenly feeling cold.
“Go to the roof,” Legin mumbled to himself and started for the closest building.
The climb was slow and he nearly slipped and fell several times, but eventually he made it to a small crevasse between two buildings which had some cover from the rain. Slinking under the cover Legin looked out across the dreary city, not recognising any of it.
“You fool,” Legin sobbed to himself, “You should have just stayed in bed.”
Legin sniffed again and wiped away a few tears as he pulled out a large seed from one of his pockets. He remembered finding this strange brown nut on the beach one day and for some reason as he looked at it now and turned it over in his hands it gave him some comfort.
His eyes soon became heavy and he curled up in a ball, holding his lucky seed close to his chest.
“Who are you?”
The voice caused Legin to jump awake in surprise. It was early morning now and a crisp light shown over the city and upon a small boy standing in front of him holding a makeshift dagger.
“Please don’t hurt me,” Legin gasped as he tried to moved away from the boy, but the building behind him stopped him.
“What are you?” the boy asked suddenly as he noticed Legin’s tail.
“I’m boy, what does it look like,” Legin snapped, “My name is Legin.”
“Well you are in my house, Legin,” the boy replied, still pointing the dagger at Legin.
“Sorry, I was lost,” Legin replied sheepishly.
“Run away from your mummy, did you?”
“No.” Legin replied angrily, “My real mum is dead, and I don’t have a father either. The ladies at the brothel look after me most of the time.”
“You’re lying,” the boy stated, “How’d you get lost then?”
“I’m not lying,” Legin snapped, “I was playing last night and some guards tried to kill me, ‘cause I got a tail. They called me an Abyssal spawn. I ran away from them, but got lost.”
The other boy considered Legin’s words for a few moments before putting away his dagger.
“You are still in my home,” the boy said stubbornly.
“It isn’t much of a home,” Legin remarked as he looked about and the bare rooftop and from under the small cover where he sat.
“It’s still mine, so get lost,” the young boy snapped.
“Sorry,” Legin said and hopped to his feet.
Pocketing his lucky seed Legin walked across the rooftop and to where he had climbed up the night before.
“Hey,” Legin said as he stopped at the edge and looked back to the other boy, “Do you want to come live with me? There’s plenty of room, and you can help me with my chores around the brothel during the day.”
The other boy looked at him with confusion.
“It would be better than here,” Legin continued and smiled.
“Why do you want to help me?” the boy asked suspiciously.
Legin shrugged and smiled, “Everyone needs some help sometime.”
The other boy did not reply as he looked thoughtfully at Legin.
“Come on,” Legin encouraged, “The ladies at the brothel won’t mind.”
“Well, alright then,” the boy shrugged, “If there is food and a bed there, I’m game.”
Legin smiled wide, “There will be, I promise. What’s your name?”
“Pip.” The boy replied.
* * *
The dream of his first meeting with Pip drifted into darkness and Legin slowly woke up from his slumbers. With a wide yawn Legin stretched out in his bed. A flash of pain suddenly shot through his body and Legin’s eyes popped open.
“Careful bro, you’ll break the stitches,” Pip said as he walked from the window to beside the bed.
Legin groaned in pain and gently grabbed his arm which was heavily wrapped as he slowly sat up in the bed.
“Hey, this is Aurora’s room,” Legin remarked as he looked around the room.
“It is,” Pip nodded, “Only the best for Legin, said Aurora.”
“How long was I out?” Legin yawned and rubbed his heavy eyes.
“Near on a couple of days,” replied Pip, “Blood loss will do that to you. Drink that.”
Pip pointed to a cup of water on the bedside table, which Legin greedily grabbed and gulped down.
“The last thing I remember was Aurora casting some spell,” Legin mumbled as he scratched his head, “And the whole ground eating the brothel. Or was I imagining that?”
“No imagination,” Pip shook his head, “Though I could hardly believe it. Nearly broke the prison walls an all.”
“Wait,” Legin suddenly exclaimed, “Weren’t you and Lilly in the brothel?”
“Obviously we got out,” Pip replied dryly, “No, in truth we were already out when it happened.”
“My head,” Legin groaned, “Worse than any hangover I’ve ever had.”
“Whatever bro,” Pip scoffed, “On your feet. So much has happened whilst you were sleeping. You should go and see Aurora right away.”
“Alright, alright,” Legin grumbled as he slowly climbed out of the bed and gathered his clothes on the chair.
“I’ll see you done stairs,” Pip remarked as he headed for the door and left Legin.
Getting dressed was a slow process and his back and arm felt very stiff and the skin tight, but eventually he was dressed and after sculling another mug of water he headed for the door.
“I am starving,” Legin mumbled as he grabbed at his stomach and moved down the stairs.
Curiously the main hall was empty so Legin pushed through the door into the dining room where he met the surprised look from Aurora.
“Legin, you’re awake,” Aurora exclaimed before a smile came to her face, “It is good to see you are up and about, though you still look a little pale.”
“Is there any food around?” Legin asked curiously as he looked with disappointment at the sparse platter on the table.
Aurora laughed, “I am afraid this is all I can spare. We are all on rations now that the war has started. But by all means help yourself to what is here.”
Legin licked his lips eagerly as he practically jumped into one of the seats at the table and began stuffing his face.
“What war?” Legin asked curiously with a mouthful of banana.
“Please do not talk with your mouth full, dear,” Aurora sighed and took a sip from her chalice. “The fighting between the Quarters has turned into an all-out war. As a result of my anger half the West Quarter is nothing but a broken ravine and its remaining inhabitants have flocked to Saiross. Now the Southern Faction Leader has double the amount of allies that we have. Thankfully Kōrrin has been true to his word and remains on our side, and has established a strong defensive line along the south-eastern wall. Saiross is holding his ground though and his own forces defend the wall on the southern side.”
“Hey Aurora,” Legin said after he took a big gulp of water, “How’d you destroy half the West Quarter?”
“I hardly think that is the biggest issue here, Legin,” Aurora gave him a dull expression.
“You used the Anther crystal ring, right?” Legin asked.
“Yes,” sighed Aurora, “There was little Fog within the ring, but it was enough. Now it is empty.”
As she finished the yineth slid the ring across the wooden table to Legin, who after inspecting it briefly dropped it into his pocket.
“What kind of spell did you use anyway?” Legin asked curiously as he began eating one of the few sandwiches on the table.
“Yineth magicks,” Aurora shrugged, “Do you know what happened to King Elvaar and Lord Thenridred when they fought on the Yineth Plateau in the Third Age?”
Legin looked to the ceiling as he tried to recall, but shook his head, “Not really.”
“Do you not recall your history lessons?” Aurora sighed.
“What history lessons?” Legin grinned, “I never got any schooling.”
“I see,” a smile also came to Aurora, “Well simply put, the two leaders and their armies were annihilated when the earth consumed them. They had angered the Yineth and they paid the ultimate price. Boris angered me so he too paid the price. Although what I did was on a far lesser scale than what the Yineth did to the rulers of Sesserrech and Krnōrel.”
“Another war is bound to happen soon between those two realms,” Legin remarked thoughtfully, “They just can’t help themselves.”
“Indeed,” agreed Aurora, “But I think you should be focusing on the war we are currently in the middle of.”
“But that’s easy though,” Legin moaned and let out a deep breath, “Kill Saiross and it will all be over.”
“Easier said than done,” Aurora was quick to reply, “Saiross could over run us with his greater numbers. But the old fiend has turned this battle into a defensive one, daring us to make the first strike and knowing that we cannot.”
“Bummer,” Legin grumbled, “This is going to get boring.”
Aurora narrowed her eyes at him, “Follow me,” she bade and rose to her feet.
Grabbing another banana Legin hoped up from his chair and followed the yineth from the dining room. She moved quickly through the entrance hall and out onto the grassy plateau of the Northern Hill which over looked the entire prison compound.
Outside Legin instantly looked to the West Quarter to see the amount of damage Aurora had caused, but even after he had heard what she had done he could not believe his eyes. It was if half the Quarter had simply folded in on itself and collapsed. The ground had suddenly fallen away from the prison wall into a deep chasm with great rifts snaking through the broken houses. Half of the north-western wall was broken and only the southernmost houses of the Quarter still stood, all the rest was a jumble of broken buildings and jagged rocks.
“Look here, Legin,” Aurora said as she stopped, causing Legin to nearly bump into the back of her as he still gazed to the West. “You can see our lines of forces as well as Saiross’s men.”
“You guys have been busy,” Legin remarked as he looked across the prison, “Are those catapults?”
“Yes,” Aurora replied, “Kōrrin and his dwarves have fashioned them from the mining constructs, though they are not yet working and we have no ammunition.”
“A bit of posturing I see,” Legin chuckled and Aurora smiled.
“The dwarves have also built a ballista,” said Aurora, “But again, we have no bolts. So you see this fighting has become a stale mate. Saiross positions his men along the south-eastern wall, as you can see, as do we.”
Legin nodded absently as he looked to the two forces sitting on both sides of the two foot wall.
“I have also positioned a squadron on our north-western wall,” Aurora pointed to the bottom of the hill just before the ravines, “In case Saiross tries to flank us, though I do not think it likely. And I have also ordered a watch tower to be constructed on the hill to the west, as you can see.”
Legin looked to the western lip of the plateau and whistled softly upon seeing the half built tower.
“You guys have been busy,” Legin said again, “But like I said before: boring.”
“Hush you,” Aurora snapped playfully, “What is happening down in the West Quarter might be of more interest to you. It is in dispute.”
Legin raised an eyebrow and a slight smile came to his face.
“The terrain and remaining buildings are making it difficult to get a foot hold,” Aurora continued, “But it offers a strong position to strike out from. Saiross knows this as well and it is where the fighting is taking place, and where I want you to go.”
Legin looked at the Yineth in surprise.
“I won’t be of any use,” Legin replied, “My back, my arm. If anything I will be a detriment.”
“We do not have the time for you to rest and fully heal,” Aurora was quick to reply, “I need you to go into the West Quarter and aid our forces there.”
“Can’t anyone else do that?” Legin asked.
“There is no one else left,” said Aurora seriously, “As I said before, Saiross’s men greatly outnumber ours and our ranks are stretched thin. I will be going down to Kōrrin after I have finished speaking with you, so you see everyone is doing something to prevent us from all being killed. I need you to do this, Legin. Or will you desert and join Saiross like many cowards have already done?”
Legin took a breath and scratched his ear uneasily.
“Why aren’t the guards stopping this anyway?” Legin asked suddenly.
Aurora shrugged, “They do not care, I guess. Word is that Regional Commander Rathgard is no longer at the prison and there is no one else taking command. So it seems they are content to sit back and watch the show. But you are changing the subject.”
Legin smiled sheepishly, “Alright I will see what I can do in the West Quarter. But I seriously don’t know how effective I will be.”
“You will do fine, I am sure,” Aurora smiled back.
“Guess I’ll get to it then,” Legin said awkwardly and gave the Yineth a slight wave before moving to head down the hill.
“Find me with Kōrrin when you are done,” Aurora called out as Legin walked off.
“Sure,” Legin mumbled to himself as he walked along, “No doubt I will be done with this business in the West Quarter in under a day. Saiross’s men will all be dead and I will do it all without injuring myself further or getting killed. Great.”