It was nearly dawn, she realized. A rosy color was creeping up on the eastern side of the shoddy buildings she hid between. It was one of the poorest sections of the city, a section she knew all too well, so she was cautious as she crept deeper into the shadows. The deep darkness was created by two tightly packed decrepit and rotting buildings. Filth, in how many variations she couldn't know, covered the outer walls of the narrow gap; it also littered the ground, squishing in between her bare toes. The smell was strong, but not completely overpowering, so she pushed on, forcing her exhausted, body to continue forward. It didn't matter where she went anymore, it only mattered that she kept going in the opposite direction in which she had come. With this in mind, she glanced back, sensitive eyes cutting through the gloom. No one followed. Something hard buried beneath the grime caught her foot, and her guard. She stumbled and fell into the slimy wall smacking her temple hard then crashed unceremoniously to the ground. She drew her knobby knees up to her still flat and equally bony chest. She wrapped her thin arms around herself, her pounding head found the wall behind her, headless of the grime entangling already matted long black, black hair.
When she opened her eyes which she didn't remember closing in the first place, panic immediately set in. She jumped to her feet, nearly slipping again. Sensitive pale eyes darted up and down the alley, searching once again for intruders. Just as the night and dawn before, she was completely alone, backed far into the shadows. The light had left the eastern side, so she looked up at the sky. The clouds were unusually grey and thick, blotting the sunlight mercifully from her over-worked, sore eyes. She wisely turned her attention to the front of the alley; people were beginning to walk in front of the entrance, drawn out by the cool air heralded by the overcast skies.
she thought to herself. If people were passing, someone might enter. If someone entered, they would likely do one of three things to her; shove her out of this wretched haven, exposing her to unwanted eyes, force her, or kill her. The first two she had, had more than enough of, and the third she had done her best to avoid up to that point, and wished to continue on that chosen path. But, if she left the alley, the first of her unpleasant options would come to be for sure. She peered down deeper into the alley. It lead to a poorly constructed dead end, just scraps of rock and mud patched together, standing barely-- at some six feet at the highest of the uneven top. There was a pile of old crates shoved against the rickety wall, they looked tall enough that she could scramble over the top and escape deeper into the city. The girl trudged through the filth which was progressively getting deep and thicker the closer to the ramshackle block she got. She was panting with exhaustion when the sloshing sound of foot prints other than her own in the muck froze her before she could reach the other end. Instinctively she ducked down, against the wall, watching the new intruder who hadn't seemed to notice her yet. She studied him;
He was drunk out of his mind that fact was as clear as the muck she knelt in was deep. In his hand he clumsily grasped a bottle of some sort of strong spirit. He was muttering to himself, feverish looking eyes were darting around the alley. His eyes cast over where the girl hid but were too blurred and unfocused to actually notice her in the dim light and in the intoxicated state he was in. He took a long swig of his bottle, leaning far backwards then promptly over balancing and crashed onto his backside. He landed hard, tossing equally hard obscenities loudly into the silent air. The man's outburst caused the girl to jump nearly from her filthy skin and gasp aloud. She clamped a hand over her mouth, frightened at the small sound of her own voice. She couldn't remember the last time she had spoken, and prayed to whatever supposed deity was watching over her damnable life, that the man hadn't heard her.
Of course, over his own cursing he heard nothing, not even noticed anything other than his precious liquor spilling out of the broken bottle a few feet from him. The neck of the broken bottle rolled a little ways, up towards where the girl was tucked against the wall. The drunk's frantic eyes followed it, suddenly hoping to finish off any last few drops sloshing around before the very last of the liquor spilled and melded into the muck. The man crawled forward onto his knees, tucking his feet beneath him and leapt clumsily forwards, aiming for the bottle neck. He over-estimated and instead of landing at the broken bottle, landed on the bottle, the glass exploded into his knee, his howling started all over again. He was close to the girl now, she tried desperately to skink further back against the wall, but there was no more room to fill between her back and the wall. Her heart began to race anew. The drunk was withering on the ground, when suddenly a flash of light, metallic light, caught his eyes. He stopped his cries and peered into the darkness. After so many hard years on the streets, he knew anything metallic was worth investigating. It was either a good thing or it meant trouble. He saw the flash again, his eyes met the girls. His grimace of pain slowly twisted up into a vicious grin as he uncovered the rest of her from the shadows with his awful gaze. This time the metallic seemed to be a god thing, a morning treat.
"Well 'ello 'dere little ting! What's ya doin' back 'dere? Ye comes out nows, and lets 'ol Huffer has a looks sees at yas." The man tried to climb to his feet, bottle and injuries apparently forgotten. The girl's eyes widened and she scrambled farther down the wall, her back still pressed hard against it. As the man finally managed to somewhat straighten himself he noticed the girl slinking away.
"Eh! You gets back 'ere. Come talks ta 'ol Huffer. Eh!" the man tried to grab after her but the girl was out of his reach.
The boy was sorely disappointed. This was the first hunting trip his father had allowed him to come along that spring. Riddion and his father accompanied several visiting nobles and a few of their personal guards from neighbouring countries and territories. Despite the nearly ungodly early start, the hunt had been going well. They had been on the fresh trail of a boar. Riddion had never actually seen how a boar was hunted down and had been keenly excited to see how it was done, but the endeavour had been cut short by a messenger delivering a note from the High Lord demanding a hasty return for "important business" the boy's father had told him.
"Don't worry, Riddion, we'll get out again soon enough, even catch something next time." This father's words pulled Riddion out from his internal sulking.
"When father? You never let me come!"
"I let you come this time didn't I?"
"A lot good that was." Riddion said slumping in his saddle, matching his old pony's plodded gait his father noted with some amusement.
"You are always in a rush the chance will come again, my boy, you just have to learn some patience
though perhaps I'll need to find you a better hunting mount. That worn out old
beast you're on is looking like just that, a worn out old beast."
"Old Bill in the stables says this pony is so old that his grand-dad rode him when he was a boy!" despite the jest, Riddion patted the old grey affectionately. One of the nobles, a tall man with a face sharply angled as though he had some sort of elvish in him rode up to the other side of Riddion's father.
"My Lord Keavan, what can I do for you?"
"Lord Garson," Lord Keavan greeted. "I was wondering if I might speak with you quickly and," He glanced a look over at Riddion. "And privately for a moment? I'm curious as to what the Lord Haral needs of us so urgently?" Riddion's father nodded and moved his horse up a few paces out of Riddion's ear short and began conversing with Lord Keavan. Riddion rode on his own, near the center of the group, until they reached the city once again.
They city of Meadrah was the capital city of the newly formed territory of Bravaasi. It was ruled over by the High Lord Alef Haral. Riddion, whose father Ries Garson was one of the High Lords main advisors. Because of this, Riddion had known High Lord Haral's rule all his short ten years of life and lived within the luxury of the High Lord's fortress, practically named, Fort Meadrah.
As they entered the eastern gates Ries reached back and grabbed Riddion's reins and pulled the old pony in closer. Riddion didn't fight; rather, he was secretly a bit relieved to be closer to his father's protective side. The eastern side of the city was by far the poorest and most run down section, a sector simply known as East End. Even before the High Lord took over the city some fifteen years previous East End had made up the slums of Meadrah. This was the home to the impoverished, the bums, drunks and the few slaves who managed to buy their freedom or lived in hiding from their previous masters. All eyes turned to the passing hunting party; some twenty-five nobles dressed in fine hunting garb, astride well-bred and well fed horses. Horses that probably had a better life than many of the people in East End Riddion mused between nervous glances at the residents.
It was near mid-morning and the people, poor waifs that they were, were out going about whatever daily business their lives entailed more active with the cooler overcast sky, though many took the opportunity to stop and watch the hunting party seemingly parade past them. Riddion squirmed under their harsh stares. A few children came running up, hands out, asking for food or coin, whatever they had. Their sudden running and enclosing startled some of the horses, causing them to whiney and a few to rear up. The nobles and hunters tried their best to calm the mounts while others screamed at the children to be gone.
"Get along you brats!"
"Beat it now! We've nothing for you!"
Riddion's heart was pounding from the excitement, though it also sank at the site of the children, many of them were likely his age. He had gone to bed without supper once as punishment, and it had been terrible! He couldn't imagine having to go to bed hungry most nights. What sort of life was that?
The small chaos was soon sorted out with one child being stepped on by one of the noble's horses. He was left crying in the street.
"Come on, Riddion, the High Lord is waiting for us, and the least amount of time spent down here the better." Riddion glancing back pityingly at the boy just once quickly urged his mount on to catch up to his father.
She desperately clung and slid against the wall, trying to get away from the drunken man turned attacker. But the man seemed to gather more focus, and with that focus came coordination. He was much taller than her and was able to spring at her and grab one of her spindly arms.
She couldn't help but scream, knowing all too well what was coming next.
The man slapped his other hand over her mouth. The filth and its horrible stench found its way in to her mouth, stinging her tongue and throat.
"Shhh, shhh now lit'le birdie. Ye keeps yer mouth shuts 'cept when I tells yes ta open wide." He grinned at her wickedly, the sight of only four yellow teeth and swollen purple gums added to the grotesque taste in her mouth, making the girl gag. The man lifted her off the ground as easily as one would lift a hand tool and shoved her hard against the wall. He nuzzled her neck, pushing knotted hair aside with a large hooked nose, leaving a trail of mucus in its wake. Then her neck grew wet again as he followed the same trail with his tongue. The girl squirmed and tried to thrash and fight but she simply didn't have the size or strength to make enough of an impact. The man pushed against her with his body, holding her in place with his bulk in order to free up the hand not on her mouth. That free hand began to roam and search the young girl's body, fondling her in several places. His breath was heavy and humid on her neck and hair. She closed her eyes and began to tremble violently. The hand around her mouth relaxed just a bit and his other hand moved more firmly, pinching and groping her. Suddenly, without thinking, she bit down on his hand as hard as she could. The man cried out more from surprise than pain and pulled his hand away.
"Ye damn girl!" He shook his hand out then looked back at her, still trembling against him, he moved himself in a beneficial way to her shaking.
"Ol' Huffer caught 'im self a feisty one 'eh? Was gonna be gent'le with ye, but seems ye's clearly not deservin' that no more, eh?"
Tears welled in her eyes, she tried to scream but no sounds would come out. She shook all the harder in fear of how helpless the situation was. Her hands where pinned to her side from the weight of the man, there were no way she could fight him off. The man moaned and moved back in to her neck with his filthy mouth and tongue, hands frantic.
After the chaos near the gate the hunting party was largely silent. As they would deeper though the uneven dirty streets of East End Riddion thought he heard a scream. He looked up and around, wondering if anyone else had heard it, but no one seemed to have noticed. Riddion shook his head assuming it was nothing. A few moments later he heard another cry, just a head of the group.
"Father did you hear that?"
Ries nodded his head and urged the group forward at a quick trot. He ordered a handful of the escorting guards to remain with him, and the rest to continue with the other nobles back to Fort Meadrah.
"Riddion, you go with the other's back to the fort."
"I'll have no games from you, Riddion, off you go." Ries motioned to the remaining guards and headed to the right.
Riddion sighed, and looked up the street where the returning group was a few yards ahead. He turned his pony in the same direction. He didn't catch up to them though; he kept glancing behind until his father rounded the corner where the sound had come from.
The group rounded a corner, entering one of the oldest and poorest sections of the entire city. As they passed the nearest building Reis glanced down the alley way between the first building and its neighbouring one. At firs all he saw way a man against at the second building's wall. Though on second glance he noticed a small form pressed cruelly between the man and the wall. Ries reined his horse up and shouted.
"Hey! What do you think you're doing!?"
The drunk jumped back, startled. The girl fell roughly to the ground. Suddenly the tiny, dirty alley was filled with men, horses and chaos. The drunk at first stupidly tried to push through the crowd.
"Block him in, block him in!"
The guards rushed to obey Ries' command. Horses whinnied and tossed their heads as their riders forced them to pack in at the entrance. The drunk was knocked over; he scrambled backwards, away from the stomping hooves. Ries glanced towards where the girl had landed, she wasn't there. He looked further down the wall and noticed her slinking away, back pressed against the wall. She was nearly at the entrance, but Ries and his men were so tightly packed there was no real room get after her fast enough. He looked behind him, to see if there was another solution for catching the girl. It came in the form of a misbehaved boy on an old grey pony.
"Riddion! Catch the girl!"
Riddion, heard his father and searched the entrance for the girl. After a moment he saw her, at least, he assumed the small creature wiggling her way out between the wall and the crammed horses was the girl.
"Hey! Stop!" Riddion urged his pony towards her. The girl froze and looked at him for just a moment before bolting away up the street.
"Stop! Comeback! Hey!" Riddion turned his mount in the direction of the sprinting girl. On his pony, Riddion soon overcame her and stopped in front of her. The girl skidded but didn't stop, simply ran around the pony. Riddion whirled the beast around and took off after her again. People were dodging left and right to get out of the way of the chase throwing curses and shouts of alarm. Riddion came up on the girl and reached down, grabbing her arm. Using the momentum of his pony's speed and the fact that the girl was so skinny, Riddion lifted her up from the ground and swung her up behind him on his mount. Still keeping an awkward though relatively firm grip on the girl's arm, he pulled up to a stop. Riddion glanced down the street. People were continuing along as though there hadn't just been a chase a few moments ago. Nothing out the ordinary down here, he supposed.
"Man, you run really fast." Riddion turned in the saddle, facing the girl.
She was filthy, Riddion wasn't sure he had ever seen anyone quite to dirty. Mud (what he assumed and hoped was mud) dirt and little bits of what may have been blood covered here, head to bare toes. She had long black hair so matted and tangled, it hung in large chunks. Under it all Riddion realized she was tiny perhaps around his twelve years but probably twenty or thirty pounds lighter. She was shaking too, Riddion realized. Her eyes darted everywhere but at Riddion himself. They looked pale, but he couldn't quite tell.
"Like, really fast. I didn't know girls could run to quick!
Hey its okay, you don't have to be scared. I'm not going to hurt you, I'm just going to take you back to my dad so he can take you back to where you belong."
The girl did look at Riddion then. Her eyes shot up and met his for just a second. They were a clear, brilliant silver colour. Metallic irises reflected Riddion's own image back at him. They were beautiful, though terrified eyes.
For a moment, Riddion couldn't speak. But something told him to help her.
"You don't want to go back to where you came from?" The girl shook her head, eyes down again.
"How come?" The girl merely shook her head again.
"Is it bad? Where you're from?" she shook her head yes.
"Where will you go?" She shrugged.
Riddion, getting lost in thought about how to help this strange silver-eyed girl, unintentionally relaxed his grip on the girl's arm. And just like that, she was sliding off the back of the pony.
"Hey!" Riddion tried to grab after her but she bit his hand. Riddion cried out and pulled his hand back. Then she was sprinting down the street, weaving in and out of the crowd. Before Riddion could recover from the surprise, she was gone, lost among the people. The only sign of her was the blood on Riddion's left hand, just below his thumb. With a shake of his hand, Riddion turned his pony back towards the alley where his father had been.
He passed a couple of the guards, dragging the unconscious drunk down the street, taking him to the jail house where all the rapists went when they were caught. Riddion nodded his silent approval. That girl had been so frightened
"You didn't catch her?" Ries asked of his son when they two met up a moment later.
"I had her for a moment, but she got away." Riddion help up his still bleeding hand.|
"So she did. And just what exactly were you doing behind us anyways? I told you to go with the nobles back to the fort. That situation could have been a lot more dangerous, you could have been hurt!"
"I'm sorry father, I only wanted to see what was happening. I thought maybe I could help." Riddion's eyes lowered to the ground.
"But I can't even catch a girl."
She stayed on his mind the rest of the day, occupying his thoughts through his father's continuous stern lectures about disobedience, through his schooling lessons, and even his late afternoon fighting lesson.
By the time he was at his family's private dining table eating with his parents in their apartments at Fort Meadrah, Riddion could resist the question no longer.
"Father, have you ever seen anyone with metal eyes before?" Ries cocked his head in confusion.
"What do you mean 'metal' eyes, Riddion?"
"Well that girl today, the one from the alley that got away from me, her eyes were silver. Like a mirror or one of mother's rings."
Ries and his wife glanced at each other. Some sort of silent communication seemed to pass between them, but Riddion wasn't sure what was being said. Then, Reis turned to Riddion, his face was stern.
"How silver were they, son?"
I don't understand?"
"Where her eyes actually metallic instead of a colour? Or were they just very pale?"
"Oh no, they were literally silver, father! I could see myself in them!"
Riddion's parents exchanged glances again, his mother look fearful.
"Where did she run off to? Which direction did she go when she got away from you?"
I don't know, father. She disappeared into the crowd almost right away."
"Did she say anything to you?"
"No, she never said a word, I could tell she was afraid though, father she was shaking like a leaf!"
"Did you hear any strange sounds when you were near her, son?"
Riddion was confused, and a little nervous about all these questions. Silver eyes aside, what was so interesting about a skinny, frightened street girl?
No I don't think I heard anything, father I don't understand."
"Riddion, with eyes like that, and the fact that she escaped and disappeared so quickly, it sounds like she may have been Haaschett."
"Ries you don't really think so? I thought they had been eradicated!?" Riddion's mother, Althea questioned.
Ries nodded, "most of them were, but who's to say that a few didn't survive? They were a race known for their supreme survival skills, that's largely what made them so dangerous, they were so damned crafty."
"What's a Haaschett?" Riddion interrupted.
"The Haaschett were a race, something similar to the elvish and other fae races in the north, except for more sinister and completely untrustworthy. They were notorious, for their strange powers over other people's minds. The Haaschett were a very dangerous race who over the years were largely hunted down and slaughtered whenever seen, else they might enter your mind and take over your body to use as a puppet for whatever they deemed amusing or unworthy of doing themselves. In the last century or so, they have thought to be essentially gone, killed off, moved on, or vanished to some knew land to wreak havoc on. Either way, good riddance to them."
"But father what makes you think that girl is one?" Riddion was fascinated, though still confused.
"Haaschett people were considered to be a beautiful people. Slender builds, like others of their, fae, kind. They lived mostly in caves, because their eyes, always some sort of metallic colour, were extremely sensitive to daylight. They were much more suited for the deep underground, or, when they did venture out into the lands, the night sky. No other race has eyes like that, son." Ries glanced at his wife.
"I had better alert the captains about the girl, if she is Haaschett, or even part Haaschett, she should be caught."
Riddion's eyes widened. "Father what will they do with her!?"
"If she is Haaschett, they will have to kill her. Meadrah can't afford to let a threat like that walk its streets. What if there are more of them here?"
"But father, she's just a
she- she's so small
she was so scared! She was shaking like this!" Riddion held up his hand and trembled it violently, trying to imitate girl's fear he had witnessed. "You can't just kill her
that's not fair."
"That's life, Riddion. Threats must be identified and taken care of. If she turns out not to be Haaschett, she'll be sent on her way. That is the best I can offer you, Riddion. Althea, if you'll excuse me, I need to take care of this now." Althea nodded.
"Finish your dinner, Riddion." She instructed. "There's nothing to be done to help her."
Ries walked swiftly through the room, then down the open hallway. Riddion imagined his father's fading foot steps to be the silver eyed girl's fading heartbeat.
Riddion went to bed later that night, feeling guilty and defeated. His father had returned a short time ago, saying the watchmen and patrols were on high alert for the girl. And information was being sought about her in the streets. Riddion was old enough to know that anything or one could be found in the streets for the right price.
High Lord Haral had very deep pockets.
And in a city as large as Meadrah, Riddion knew there was nothing he could do to help the girl. He fell asleep that night dreaming of sliver eyes.