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After the Sun
Raven walked along the blood-stained pathway, looking down at dead bodies that lay upon the ground. He held his shoulder tight from a wound he had gotten in battle. The soldier limped over to a wall using his sword as support. He sat down and leaned his back against a wall and looked at his wound, moving his hand to look at it. Raven was having trouble breathing and started to become weak and and his muscles were numb. His hand dropped to the rocky ground with a thud.
The soldier started to cough and wheeze. Each time he gagged it made his head pound worse than it already was. He was fading out of consciousness and his sight started to get blurry. His eyes opened and closed slowly, trying to keep himself awake; trying to keep himself alive.
Then there was a noise, it was in the distance. It sounded like yelling, but not out of pain or misery. It was happy, like hurrahs and hurrays. "Maybe a platoon was sent to look for survivors," Raven thought, hope in mind. He tried to look at the gate, falling over onto his side, laying on the ground. He saw a silhouette of a person walk in the gate, carrying a torch. The bright fire on the torch bothered Ravens eyes, so he looked away for a few moments.
Voices became louder but none were understandable. They were just blurbs of sounds put together, or so that's what the soldier thought. It was a completely different language, one that Raven could not recognize.
Raven took a deep breath, weezing from the ash that remained after the town was brought to the ground. He looked up at to see the silhouette standing above him. The torch was in between them, lighting the face of the man and heating up Ravens face. There were tears welling up in his eyes.
"Could this be the end of me?" Raven thought. The man he looked up at was none other than an enemy in this war, a Pertin. There was a smirk on the mans face. He put his hand to his side and withdrew his blade. Ravens breaths started to quicken their pace, he was scared. The man looked over to his comrades and yelled something to them, they yelled back. His smirk became wider as he raised his sword high and laughed.
Raven covered his face with the strength he had left in his arm. He didn't want his enemy to see the tears of hopelessness and despair running down his face. They made long red marks on his face from the blood of other soldiers, enemies and allies alike. With his other free arm, Raven reached into a pocket in his tunic and gripped a piece of paper tight. He took it out of his pocket, his arm shaking and he lifted it up to the soldier that stood above him. Raven gagged before saying something.
"P-please, my fam- my family. They need, help." That was all Raven could get out before he let go of all his muscles, not caring what happened of him now.
Out of the corner of his eye, he saw the man put the paper in his pocket and raise his sword up high. Raven closed his eyes, waiting for death. He whispered a few words of his children and girlfriend, clasping his hands together in a final prayer. A prayer to end the war and keep his family safe and for his eldest son to be strong.
Then he felt darkness overtake him, however there was no pain. He just remembers seeing a vision of a big town, celebrating something. Knowing Raven, a soldier of the Acura army, he was probably hoping it was a celebration of peace.
Four years later
Keaton looked at the price of the bread, 7 shillings, then he looked at his side to the bag where he kept his money.
"Nevermind, just keep it," he said to the shopkeeper. He put the bread back on the stand and shooed Keaton away as if he were a puppy stealing sausages from a butcher.
Keaton snuck off down an alleyway where he lived with his little sister and brother, Joey and Rose. They were all dressed in rags and old clothing that everyone else threw out; except for Keaton of course, he had to go out in public. They lived at the end of an alley where they were protected from harsh weather because of the bridge above that connects the roof of two buildings. The place was run down, but it was what they called home. A few blankets and pillows, food, and water.
Keaton sat down near his siblings and sighed, staring at the ground in defeat. "I didn't have enough money for the bread. I'm sorry guys, I let you down." Rose scooted over by her big brother and cuddled up with him. She sniffled and hugged him tight. Keaton looked down at her and kissed her head. "I wish I could help you, Rose, but," The boy looked back the ground, watching rats rush by. Who knows what they were in a hurry for. "I can't."
Their mother had died only two years ago; the children were too young to take care of the taxes and costs of keeping their home. The orphanage they were sent to treated them like dogs and street rats. The threesome had run away to live on their own no matter the obstacles. Rose, Keaton, and Joey could barely live off of what they stole and made off of simple jobs like deliveries.
Illness was the thing causing the most death at this period of time. The same illness that their mother had caught may soon take Keatons little sister. Keaton has done all he could to raise money for some medicine, but they can't even afford food and water. Japas, a rich merchant, helps the family with their little predicament. That's who Keaton makes deliveries for.
Keaton got up and looked down at Joey. He seemed to be sleeping, so Keaton kicked him awake.
"Waddaya want brother?" Joey was only eight years old.
"Can you come help with some deliveries? We need to get more money so we can get Rose some medicine."
"But I don't wanna..."
Keaton walked away crossing his arms. "Little selfish brat," he muttered. "How is he even my brother?"
He walked to the west part of town where Japas's shop was. It was mainly a food store, but Japas was famous for his cooking at the palace in the north quadrant of town. That's how Japas made so much money so he could help the kids. Keaton knocked on the door to the shop and there was no answer. Is he out ordering food? Keaton wondered.
Someone went up to Keaton and tapped him on the arm.
"Hey Raphael. Have you seen Japas around? I need to get a job from him," Keaton said to the boy.
"I saw him heading for the market a few minutes ago. I overheard him say that he would be back after he found the guy that accepted his Hunt."
Hunts were jobs people do that include finding a monster and killing it. At a few places in town there are Hunt boards where you can accept Hunts, but the person who posts it has to agree to let you do it. Sometimes you can get a bonus if you return quickly.
"You should go see Japas, you can take over the Hunt!"
"Raph, I don't even have a weapon! Even if I could Hunt, I don't want to risk getting hurt. Where are your parents right now?"
"Oh, they are at the Jewelers, my papa got my mum a ring."
"Okay, you better catch up with them before they start to worry about you. I'm going to go see Japas before he starts to get mad."
Raphael scurried off into a building while Keaton headed south to the market. The market was just a long strip of town where all there was every few steps were stands, shops, and soldiers. The stands varied from food to weapon stands, and club to potion stands. Japas always shopped at the end where he could get exotic foods for cheap.
Keaton was lucky to find him at his usual stand. He was bartering with a human for what looked like cactus flowers. They were a rare delicacy here in Koult. Japas was holding what looked like a large wheel of cheese to trade. Keaton walked over to see how his bartering was going (although Japas wasn't the best at it).
"Japas, finally found you," Keaton said as he walked over.
Japas looked back at Keaton, he seemed to be mad about something. His face was shriveled and drooped. His usually purple skin was pink.
"Don't ya see I'm in the middle 'o something?" Japas sternly asked Keaton.
"Ha! Is this your squire or something, Mr. Reny? He's kinda old for that don't ya think?" The merchant was amused to see that Keaton knew that pile of wrinkles and jewels. Japas was really into wearing jewelery, especially jade on his earrings.
Keaton stylishly walked up to the merchant and leaned over the counter so he could whisper to him. "How about I give you five shillings and the cheese wheel for seven flowers. Sounds like a reasonable deal, right? You can easily get some more flowers for no cost to you."
"Yeah, but what about the monsters? They'll eat me alive!"
"You don't have another employee to waste? Everyone does!" That was a flat out lie on Keatons part. Everyone he knows he values, even mean ol' Japas. The merchant thought for a second. He nodded and put his hand out. Keaton gladly shook it and took five shillings, his last five, and handed it to the man along with the cheese. He stuffed a bag with seven cactus flowers and handed them to Japas. They began to walk away from the stand and back to the shop.
"Done and done! Now you owe me another loaf of bread."
"How 'bout I give you a whole meal instead so you can become one of my employees? I'm losin' 'em every time I turn! You're the only one good at barterin' an' gettin' me my supplies. Whaddaya say?"
"I'll think about it." They arrived outside the shop and Japas unlocked the door. Inside was an assortment of artisan breads, plants, and soups. "Need any deliveries done? I still need at money for my sister and my little brother won't come."
"Oh, I've got a delivery for ya!" Japas walked outside and pointed to the north sector of town to a tall building towering above all the others. "There," Japas simply said.