Fourteen: Hope for the Hopeless
Posted by Wolf2407 , in Act One: Roarke 07 August 2012 · 395 views
Hope for the Hopeless
It was going to be a bitter winter.
He’d seen starvation before, during the Urban Wars, in London, the man thought. It had been one of many factors in the chaos, one thing to add to the howls of the dying that haunted the night.
Children, he remembered, had killed each other for scraps, chased the alley rats like dogs.
And had died by the hundreds.
And here, in the winter of 2029, there would be death. Those that froze to death- fear would still be in the eyes of the corpses- either awake or asleep, because they didn’t have a home or would rather die than face the pain of it, would be among the first: he’d seen a teenage boy in London still leaned back against a wall in an alley as if keeping watch, and had actually walked to him and touched him before he realized that the boy was dead, not sleeping.
There were worse ways to go, yes, but it was bad enough to fall asleep shuddering, and not wake up.
He had a daughter of his own, only four years old, bright and innocent. Marlena, he thought, and his lips curved.
She was safe, and wouldn’t freeze or starve. He’d go without- and had a few times already- to make sure she didn’t.
A breeze blew lightly, then gained strength, making him grateful for his coat.
The moon shone plainly overhead, making midnight bright as noon: the silver glow gave briefly as a cloud passed overhead.
And there was a distinct- soft, but distinct- birdlike call behind him, a delicate kaer.
Basil whipped around, turning on a dime, his hand flying to his hip and gripping the hilt of his knife.
The boy couldn’t have been older than five, maybe six, his eyes wide with horror as he tried to regain his footing- had lost it, the man noted, trying to follow in the older man’s tracks, as the snow was too deep for him to easily navigate.
The bird on his left hand- massive, by Dublin’s standards, and as white as the snow- adjusted her wings slightly, gave another call.
The boy reached with his right hand, took her beak between his fingers.
Another victim, the man thought with a wrench in his gut, spotting the bruises on the boy’s arm as the sleeve of his coat- too light a weight for winter- fell back. An abused child.
But few young boys had the patience, the resolve, the kindness to befriend and tame a bird, he thought. He’d never heard of anything bigger than a dove kept as a pet- and those by the older survivors, by the teenagers who were agile enough to steal the nestlings.
A bird that big would have had jealous parents.
Saved, Basil realized. She’d mostly likely suffered a crippling wound on a hunt, and the boy had found her.
Had had the sheer guts to approach her, take her in.
As she wasn’t wearing a tether of any sort, he’d gained her trust, hadn’t hurt her, beaten her, treated her unkindly.
He’d saved her life.
With a small smile, he fingered a small object in his pocket, then lifted it out.
The thirty-credit coin glittered as he extended his arm, dropped it in plain sight on the snow-crust.
He turned, walked a solid ten, fifteen meters and looked back.
The boy had followed perfectly in his tracks, and now held the credit to the light.
He was young enough, Basil figured, to not spend it on drugs or alcohol.
It wouldn’t be wasted.
When the boy met his eyes, the man who would one day take the name of Summerset turned, started walked again- and smoothly stepped to the top of the snow, balancing perfectly enough to not sink through.
And for some, he thought, there would be hope.