275 Days Until Chaos and The Uncertain End (part 4)
The goal was to finish gathering supplies for the month by shopping for what they had not gotten on their missions and raids. They needed to stock up. In order to pay their rent they needed to trade what they got on their missions. The city was dangerous and they had to tread carefully to keep all the children safe. Heia tried to remind her siblings of this as they walked that they did not have time or the funds for other “fun” things. This did not deter Kori or Kony.
“Look at this.” Kori held up a bag of skin colored patches, designed to stick to the skin and to conceal blemishes. They were made for those with a far different skin color than her, lighter, paler, too yellow, almost inhumane in color — yellow-green.
“What are they for?” Kony asked.
“The Circles use them to cover naughty bits in the CloudCities.” The saleswoman answered completely disregarding what the package said about covering blemishes, scars, and whatnot. The packaging also said that they color corrected to a person’s skin tone when placed. Heia did not believe that.
How stupid, Heia thought. What was the point in selling something so pointless in LakeLost? Such items were only good for the rich who had the luxury to play around without fear of consequence. Considering how many bags of the useless patches the woman had, Heia figured there was not much demand for them in the CloudCities. The saleswoman had a wide variety of useless things that Heia saw: pointless trinkets, photo frames, rocks that were not worth anything, and what looked like a massive crystal wand. There were toys and there were things that looked like they were without a point. The only answer was that the city had had another CloudCity raid, one she hadn’t heard about.
“I want this.” Kony pointed to the crystal wand. The crystal wand was engraved with what looked to be a string of characters and symbols etched into the glass, mixed with all sorts of designs of silver and gold writing. The wand was designed like the wands out of picture books, swirling and thick at one end and pointed at the other. The pointed end almost looked broken. Unfortunately the wand reminded Heia more of a large stick, about the length of her forearm and the thickness as well.
“It’s glass.” She told him, reminding him that the item was useless outside of being pretty.
“I want it.” His hands trailed over it.
“Kony. We don’t need it.” Heia was not about to waste money on an item that had no purpose. “Come we need to trade.” As Heia directed the two on ahead she saw the dangerous look within Kori’s eyes. “You will not steal it.”
“Way to spoil the mood.” Kori rolled her eyes.
“We don’t have a use for it.”
“And the toys we get the other kids?”
“You aren’t like those kids.” Those kids were too young to need to have worries. Heia wanted to protect their happiness and innocence for as long as she could.
“Hardly the problem.” Kori pouted. “He wanted it. When does Kony ever want anything?”
“It’s okay Kori.” Kony laughed. “I don’t need it.”
Pressing on, Heia moved to the location of where she planned to trade. Setting up did not take much time, and soon Heia was swamped with trade deals to pay the little bills and excessive taxes that they had. As she traded, Kori and Kony wandered off, no doubt to get that crystal wand for Kony some way or another. Heia figured she’d reprimand them for stealing it later, even though the items were originally stollen from Circles and Stars. There was only so much scolding she could give to them for stealing things that were stollen, when they had brought back real weapons on their last mission.
“Heia.” A hand appeared before her, snapping her attention from appraising the items she had left to sell to the male figure before her. Looking up to Shawn, Heia glared.
“What do you want Shawn?” He had been her best friend since childhood, but that did not matter much in this world of high taxes for living, low payment for surviving, and the risk of being taken because she existed. Heia could not allow him into her world, not with how many children she was in charge of — illegally, as most of them were considered dead.
“Heard your family was looking for some items.”
“Low chance you have those items.”
“I can get them for you cheaper.”
“Sure you can.”
“How’s the family.” He leaned down. Dark eyes and dark skin blocking the lights on my table. It wasn’t like she hated Shawn. However, now that everyone was out for themselves, she couldn’t care for him. Besides, he was supposed to be in the military fighting against the monsters. He’d joined up after The Catastrophe, and had disappeared long ago. When he had returned she was not sure she could trust him. With her illegal siblings that he did not know about, and the fact that they skimped out on their taxes, and that they stole from other cities. He would arrest her and her family as a military officer, no questions asked. For there were no questions asked anymore. City sanctioned raids would happen weekly and there was to be zero tolerance. That was the rule.
However, after years of being with him she hadn’t asked the most essential question, having opted instead for the wrong one. This time she would not make the mistake.
“Why are you here?” This was the right question because she didn’t care what he wanted. He wasn’t supposed to be there.
“That’s not an answer.”
“First you come here trying to get me something, then you ask about the family. If I didn’t know any better, I’d assume you defected.” She said the words that were a greater disgrace than any other to a military officer. To defect meant to give up on humanity. Shawns eyes narrowed as he backed off. “So I ask again. What do you want?”
“Just trying to help a friend.”
“Not many of those around. Now if you will let me be, I’ve things to trade.” Heia looked to the customer behind him hoping to get this all over with faster. Shawn watched her from the side without saying another thing as more customers came. Soon Heia completed her trading, packed up, and was ready to disappear.
“I heard that your things were great, but the rumors weren’t true.” Shawn approached me once more, he had noticed. He knew that she had gotten her items to sell from outside the city. “They are greater.”
“Why are you here Shawn?” Heia’s heart was pounding. If he asked too many questions, she’d have to lie. Heia wasn’t sure she could lie to Shawn. Where were Kori and Kony? She could not leave without them, but they needed to go now.
“I—“ His excuse was cut off by the sound of mass movement, screams, and a large commotion. Leaving the trade area Heia walked out to see the people parting to the figure of a person running… no, being chased. Unwanted Guests? Her thoughts were confirmed by the figures of those who chased the man. Her thoughts went to her siblings.
Running from Shawn, Heia hurried to try to cut off the running figure.
“Heia!” Kori’s voice stopped her in her tracks. Heia’s eyes focused on the crowd picking out faces one by one until she saw Kori holding a bag of the odd skin colored patches, while Kony held the wand. They had stollen them and they needed to go before anyone caught them.
“Where were you?” Heia snapped at them.
“Doesn’t matter.” Kony shook his head. “That guy was a Circle.”
“A Circle?” Here? Circles would never visited UnderCities. “Why?”
“I don’t know but… we should help him.” Kori suggested.
Heia did not care for Circles or Stars and damned them with everything she had, but she would not let someone fall prey to Unwanted Guests. Without another word the three hurried down alleys to try to intercept the Circle. They heard the commotion, and knew the streets better than anyone. When Heia saw him, he seemed to be debating on changing, holding clothes in his hands as he remained concealed by his hood. Kori, and Kony pulled out their blades ready to fight as the sound of followers resounded on the payment near them.
“You!” Heia called to him. He turned to her, hair as black as night both on his face and head. It was thick and had a slight curl to it. Eyes a shade of brown she couldn’t place, he watched her. His skin was lighter than her’s, but still dark even under the layer of grime that covered him. “Hurry up!”
He seemed to debate following her.
“Hurry!” She repeated as he raced towards them. Leading him and her siblings throughs the alley way, Heia raced into the locked tunnels of LakeLost. The Unwanted Guests would follow and would lose them or worse. Yet they would not succeed, as they had entered her domain.
They ran through the tunnels and destroyed homes that stank with the stench of the dead. To the carts that went deep into the caves, set up once to search for survivors and discarded when none were found. Pushing the cart through the tunnel Heia found the underground tracks that connected the destruction districts. Kori took control of the wheel and led them down the path that would not be destroyed before it needed to be.
“When I say so. Jump and reach out for the ledge. We jump in three.” Heia warned him. “Two. One.”
When she said the number he jumped from the cart with her and her siblings. Grabbing to the side of the cavern the cart went tumbling into the fissure that had killed thousands. There had been no hesitation his part, which made her respect him a little despite the fact that she had told him late, in a mild attempt to kill him. A Circle in their home would bring more trouble than it was worth and she could have dealt with her conscious and siblings. She’d sentenced enough people to die, what was one more? Pulling herself up the ledge, she helped him up and led them towards the next cave that would take them to their hidden home.
“Intricate.” The boy finally spoke, accent of someone she’d never heard. His eyes held no fear but a light smile was on his lips. What they had just done excited him?
“What’s a Circle like you doing down here?” Kori asked him as they walked on.
“Searching.” He answered.
“What’s your name?” Kori asked on.
“Evester. You?” What a fake name, Heia thought as he answered. The name Evester was not a popular one, but Heia had heard it used often in her life. It was the name of a celebrity — the celebrity of the world. Son of the most important political woman and son of the man who had predicted the Catastrophe. Evester Igilistal of EverDanger was the only Evester who mattered, and this man had to be using it as a cover. Evester Igilistal was not a lost Circle, not this Circle. Besides, even if it were, who gave out their real name to strangers?
“Tori” Kori answered in a lie. “What are you searching for Evester?”
Heia led them towards their home not sure of how to speak to this Circle. It was not his fault that the world was destroyed, yet she had purposely almost killed him with her late warning to jump. He did not seem to care. She turned to his task: searching for a person? Family? She didn’t want to know. Instead she gave him a warning. “We can’t protect you.”
“I don’t need you too.” Evester stated. “Thank you for helping me.”
“Sure.” Heia was happy that from that moment on Evester seemed to think it was time to be silent just as she wanted. They continued to her family’s home.
For whatever reason I wrote this in first person, so if you see any “we, I, us.” in here tell me. I need to fix that.