“I’m going now, mom!” Richter exclaimed, waving his right hand as he hemmed his leather satchel containing his lunch safely on his shoulders with his left.
“Be safe on the road, dear!” his mother said back at the front of their house, also waving with her left hand as she was holding a basket of cloth on her right.
Today was just like any other day for the boy; waking up from his bed by the sound of the bell tower to signal daytime and eating breakfast served by her mother. Then, he would help with chores as his mother worked as a seamstress, making clothes from things all around the world and then selling them as his mother said – that’s also why his shirt looked good. Only once the bell tower rang its bells again to signal one hour before school did he go out.
“Mornin’, Richter!” A gruff but cheerful voice came from one of the stalls. It was the father of a girl he liked selling fish. “A fine day today is, eh?”
“Morning, mister!” Richter waved at him as he skipped along the way, letting the sea breeze ruffle his black hair.
His mother told him his black hair was a rarity in the kingdom of Coastline. Most people have caramel hair like this mother; most of the nobility and royalty had blonde hair or pale cream matching the sand or so the saying went. His mother said it was the color of the ancient heroes of Qantasia with brown in second place and was something to be proud of as something he inherited from his father.
Thinking about his father, he didn’t remember much about him. He was only a baby when he died six years ago, his mother told him he died in a war when many princes were fighting each other to see who got to be king which ended with the neighboring kingdom invading. While his mother grieved, she was worried about their future as his father had been the backbone of the family of three, and his income barely supported the family. With him gone, It could only get worse from there.
But it didn’t.
“Here’s your shipment, sir!” a wolf beastfolk practically sang as he lugged a crate to a plump man before a tavern. As Richter looked, there were at least three more crates still on the wagon.
“Finally!” the tavern owner huffed, heaving the load on his hands. “After his majesty lifted all the stupid restrictions, you’d figure getting hops from the other side of the ocean wouldn’t take this long.”
“Yeah, I wonder,” the beastfolk chuckled, his ears twitching as he scratched the back of his head.
The war ended when the invasion was repelled and the one who led the kingdom to victory was Albert von Coastline. His win was everything everyone hoped for as he then went on to become the new king. Richter’s mother told him he was the only one who cared about the common people like him and his mother and so was supported by the people. Because of that, it was in his camp that heroes like Jonathan, a hero descendant like him, rose among the people and delivered victory.
As the new king, he showed his wisdom as Richter grew up. Unlike the new king, the other princes and nobility were bad to the people and put big tariffs on everything – Richter only understood that it made everything expensive -, but king Albert got rid of them and punished the bad people who made them, making everything better. Before, his mother could only make clothes from poor materials, but now she can make them from all the best around the world and sell them better, making her not worried anymore.
“Wait, was that building always there?” wondered a fox beastfolk, his orange tail swinging left and right staring at a shiny new building on the side of the road.
“I don’t know, but I think Bell Conglomerate built it,” another fox-eared man rubbed his chin before pointing his finger. “Look,” he said. Dodging a passing carriage, Richter could see the familiar rusty bell wrapped in a light-blue cloth above the entrance.
“Another one? They’re really ramping up. At least they’re not putting us out of the job, then I’d riot.”
“You got that right.”
Although the king made everything better, it didn’t happen immediately. His mother was still concerned about how to get food to the table in the meantime. Then a few months later, a merchant company came and changed everything. It was called Bell Conglomerate and Richter’s mother told him it had been there even before the new king was king. Like other companies, it had struggled to be rich because the bad people wanted to be the only ones who were.
But as if it only needed the new king on the throne, there were suddenly a lot of buildings with the Bell Conglomerate symbol on them including that bell tower. But the most important thing was that the conglomerate liked his mother’s sewing and even let her work from home after hiring her. Thanks to them, they can eat delicious food every day. They even let him go to a school they opened for free.
“Hehehe, my friends are gonna like what I brought!” Richter grinned as he skipped across the road, he can’t wait to show his friends at school the toy that his mother got as a bonus.
That is the boy? Son of a Bell Branch employee?
Unbeknownst to the little boy, he was being watched by no less than four Court Wizards. Darcassan and Jonathan, in robes, were hopping across the rooftops where no one would normally look that high up and the general noisiness of the city would mask the sound. Richard and Jill, also in robes, were at parallel roads to the boy, keeping an eye on any cultists coming in or out – Alicia noted Jill looked reluctant to separate from Richard but then turned away in a rush once he turned his face to her. Finally, again in robes, Alicia and Owen were tailing the child on foot.
Why did you not tell us that before?
It wasn’t important. (Darc)
Really now!? You meanie!
The dark elf didn’t retort to the pixie’s snark.
That was the nickname Voice made up for Darcassan Erith being a dark elf. Ilezenya Erith, the Nature Guardian as well as Darc’s little sister, did say that her brother really likes his black coffee, and Rin told her that even his tea was very bitter. So Alicia assumed that to be the basis for Voice’s epithet for Darc for having chocolate-colored skin and being bitter sometimes.
I see two cultists. In the alleyway between the blacksmith and clothing shop. (Jonathan)
Alicia looked into the area Jonathan mentioned. It took a moment, but she saw a pair of figures in black robes eyeing the black-haired boy. The color of their garb blended them so well in the shadows that she had to squint to spot them.
There are two more on the other side. (Owen)
Looking at an approximately ninety-degree angle away from the two cultists between the blacksmith and clothing shop, there was a gap between two unnamed buildings that had another pair of black-clad cultists. However, those cultists retreated into the dark corridor as their target had gone far away from them.
Wait till they make their move. Continue to watch the child. (Darc)
Right. (Everybody else)
In the busy streets of the capital, Richter passed by a group of younger children playing marbles.
“And… Go!” one kid, a fox beastfolk, shouted cheerfully as he flicked his yellow marble. “Yay! I got twelve!” he cheered as the yellow marble knocked ten other marbles out of the circle drawn on the dirt.
“Aw, man!” a human boy cried. “I like those marbles…”
“My turn!” a fish beastfolk boy exclaimed as he readied his blue marble.
Richter was always fascinated by fish beastfolks. On land, they appeared to be like any other beastfolk with fin-like ears and gills on their neck. Once they’re in the water, however, their legs transform into fish tail and their hands grow fins between their fingers to swim underwater.
At the back of his mind, Richter remembered her mother saying something about how kids of different races wouldn’t be playing together before but after the new king arrived they did. While he didn’t understand what the new king did, he knew it had something to do with the fox beastfolk appointed as the head knight of the new king’s sister’s knights, Alyssa von Coastline the princess of Coastline.
Richter didn’t really get why it was such a big deal. He has always lived surrounded by people of all shapes and sizes and he didn’t see any problem with it. Many of his friends were from different races and they got along well. In fact, the girl he liked, Anna, was a cute wolf beastfolk girl and she liked him too.
“I brought it, right?” Thinking of Anna, he paused for a moment and checked his bag. Today was her birthday and he planned to give her a ribbon he bought with the allowance he saved up for months.
“What was that!?”
“There was an explosion! It’s coming from the bakery!”
Just a couple of steps away, Richter could see the bakery he always passed by in flames while a growing mob kept a safe distance from the building. He and his mother rarely buy any of the bread there – they liked the bakery from the next street -, but Richter still felt concerned.
Then out of nowhere, a brown hooded figure appeared as if he fell from the sky and then rushed to the bakery.
“Someone went in!” a man exclaimed as the brown figure jumped into the broken display, busting through the debris.
“What the?” another onlooker was pushed to the side and fell to the ground with a THUD. The culprit was another brown hooded figure who was just a head taller than Richter himself. “Hey, don’t go in there, kid! It’s too dangerous!” the onlooker screamed as the smaller brown figure entered the blown bakery too.
Just as the smaller brown figure was in the bakery, the taller brown figure jumped out of there carrying two people on their shoulders. “That’s my wife and daughter!” a man exclaimed. The taller brown figure said nothing and shoved the two women to their family patriarch and ran back into the bakery.
The crowd was getting thicker with more townsfolk gathering around the site. Richter wanted to get a closer look and so he did. He walked past the alleyway and then…
“A-Ack!” Richter grunted as he felt his left arm being grabbed. He was pulled into the dark corridor.
“Oh Dark. Entrap thee with your dreams. Sleep.”
There was not much struggle when Richter heard a whisper and felt sleepy afterwards. The poor boy has no understanding of what is going on as his vision blackened with his consciousness leaving him.
The cultists on the left got the kid. (Darc)
Damned cravens! Burning a shop just to abduct a child! I can see them exiting the other side. I am chasing them now! (Jill)
Do it. Richard, watch the other cultists. Make sure they actually regroup with their colleagues. (Darc)
Right away, master! (Richard)
Alicia, we’re going with Jill. Owen and Jonathan can take care of the fire. (Darc)
Alicia just hoped the people trapped in the bakery could make it out alive as the Dark Guardian sunk into his artificial shadow which then slithered to her while everybody else was distracted. As the shadow reached her, Darc emerged from his shadow, wordlessly grabbed the Fire Court Wizard by her robe, and proceeded to submerge back into the shadow with her in tow.
Azhure: So, what do you all think of this sub-chapter? Is it good? Are there any problems with it? Any reviews or feedback is appreciated as long as they’re not plain insults meant to blow off your stress.
Voice: Don’t do that to people! Not even on the internet!
Support My Work
SociaBuzz (for local and global donations): sociabuzz.com/azhureraven/tribe