It was a cold night, though it could be excused with how the night was ablaze with the stars. Such a clear night sky was a good omen. People would get lucky tonight, or at least that was what a young man named Raven hoped for as he hid behind a wagon parked in an alleyway.
Raven had shoulder length black hair, reasonably greasy, mainly because he hadn’t bathed in weeks. He was quite tall and skinny, and his clothes were full of stains and patches coupled with a stubble like face. Being poor meant you weren’t really able to maintain yourself, but being homeless meant you weren’t even able to keep on top of basic human requirements like feeding yourself.
That is what brought him to the situation he was in now, hiding behind a wagon in an alleyway, freezing his ass off. In a quest for food, he may have taken more than his stomach allowed. He would have been able to slip away, but the physical evidence he left behind upon feeling bloated and sick pretty much confirmed his crime. That, and nobody would take too kindly for some random bum to vomit all over your hideout. Especially if you were a crime boss.
But alas, this was an all too familiar scenario for Raven. (Not the vomit thing though, that’s a new tale to tell down at the shelter.) Raven had grown up looking out for himself; he wasn’t much of a fighter. In his line of work, running away meant surviving. Though you couldn’t exactly call robbing thugs and gangsters a job, for one the pay isn’t very good and no hint of a pension plan.
“Maybe I should get unionised” Raven sniggered to himself.
“Did you hear that?!” Somebody shouted.
“Yeah! It came from down that alleyway!” Another guy yelled.
Oh dear, it appears his tendency to speak first without thinking has gotten him into trouble again. So without waiting, Raven ran further down the alleyway until coming across a rather high wall. He jumped on top of a couple of barrels, jumped again, and launched himself over said wall. Quick thinking was a strong suit, though thinking of consequences was not. As he went over the wall, that’s when he realised that it was a rather long drop to the bottom.
He landed face first in what he hoped was mud, cursed his luck, and ran on. It was only several hours later that he managed to get to familiar territory and nobody was following him. He was sick, splattered in mud, tired, but alive thanks to Vitalito, the God of Life. Tomorrow would be the day he would learn self-restraint.
Raven had a weakness you see. He always wanted more than what he could have, a dangerous notion for one who barely has anything. This weakness had always gotten him into trouble for years, but fortunately he had a lucky streak that kept him out of harm’s way. But quite often, he would lie on the ground at night and look up at the sky and wonder. What if he could break out of this life? What if he could work hard and get everything he wanted?
For somebody like him, honest work was hard to come by in Perisias. He did not have parents growing up, so therefore he missed out on the training rituals all other children go through. In this Empire, he was known as ‘Talentless’ which doesn’t seem all that bad, but in Perisias, being Talentless makes you scum.
All children are born to do something. This is decided for them via the rituals and upbringing. But for somebody who doesn’t have a destiny, for somebody to exist within the Empire and not have a role to fill. It basically means you don’t contribute; you are worthless and are not good for anything. If you died tomorrow, you’d only get buried when your body started stinking up the place you died in. One day though, one day Raven would finally make it big.
Raven was in a line in a shabby warehouse filled with dirty tables to be served delicious gruel from a podgy old lady who worked here. The homeless shelter; where starving people could go to eat poisons and crap so that they might die quicker to get them off the streets. Such is the life of a Talentless.
After having his serving splodged on his plate, he thanked that frumpy lady and left the building. Though he may have been homeless, he wasn’t shameless and he hadn’t given up hope. Not like the rest of those saps sitting down cursing themselves. He ate on the go, until he got outside. It was a nice enough day; but the air was still cold.
Upon exiting the building he looked around at the shantytown that was his home. Where would he sleep tonight? Perhaps a nice little cardboard box where nobody had claimed dibs yet. It was a dirty place, but it was home. Once he was rolling in the money, he’d hire somebody to clean it all up. Who knows? Maybe that would inspire the rest of these people to at least try with their life.
However, to his left was a woman he knew all too well. She was a fair lady, wearing normal clothing and pretty hair. She didn’t live here, but her situation wasn’t that much better. She did like to come to the shantytown to help out where she could though. She was kind like that.
“Ah! Lilly! Would you like some of my muck?” Raven smiled while extending his plate to her as he walked over.
“Um, no thanks Raven. I'm sure one of those sick people over there could use it” she said, pointing to some guys keeling over in an alleyway.
“Screw them; they can get their own muck. They have no drive, who needs them?” Raven dismissed them as they began to walk down the square together.
“That’s very cruel of you!” Lilly complained.
“Yeah well, I'm not like you. I don’t have a big heart. I gotta do what’s right for me” Raven dismissed her.
“I don’t have a big heart, I just try to help” she said embarrassed.
“You don’t? Then how the hell do you have such large bre-” her slap cut him off.
“Pig!” She said whilst storming off.
“I swear Lilly, one day I’ll be loaded! Then I’ll have an ale in one hand and you in the other!” Raven called out to her, laughing.
He went about his day as usual, sifting through garbage to find something valuable, avoiding shady people who looked like they worked for the crime boss he stole from. Though he imagined he was in the clear, this crime boss was new around so he probably didn’t know the streets as well as he should. What was his name? Rabin? Reuben? That was it! Reuben.
He had a nice little hideout, he only found it thanks to the tip off he got from little Joey, who was a runner boy for old Vlad’s group who incidentally was also out for his blood. Luckily his best buddy Evania kept him of his back. Mostly. Though Raven was trying hard to stay out of Evania’s way for a little while, after his cock up which ruined her reputation.
Evania was a mercenary. A fairly successful one, she had gotten enough money to get her own place and armour. Albeit kinda crappy ones but she was doing ten times better than Raven. She’d done plenty of dangerous work before; she’s killed a couple of times in the line of her work. Raven remembered them quite vividly, she was sick for ages each time. She wasn’t a mean person; she liked to talk her way out of a situation. But fighting was a useful skill to have.
She’d been going strong for a couple of years until Raven accidentally got involved on one of her jobs, completely screwed it up, and ruined her contract, reputation, and frequency of work for months. Evania said she wasn’t bothered, but Raven still felt awful about it. He often stayed with her when he was down on his lucky streak, but he hadn’t done so in a while to give her space.
Anyways, the day passed again and this time he’d been able to find a whole Gold Victor, the currency of the Empire. It was worth at least one ale, and he didn’t smell too bad today! So Raven went of further into the city to find a place he’d fancy having a drink. He eventually found a place he liked the look of, he could feel his luck a-ringing! The Half Moon Inn. Sounded exotic!
He walked in, and his entrance barely garnered a few stares before they went back to their drinks. He went up to the bar and ordered an ale, to which the barkeep snidely replied if he’d pay with an IOU. Raven snapped his fingers and the Gold Victor appeared from his sleeve. The barkeep bit the coin to check it was real, grunted, and poured Raven a drink. Tonight was going to be a good night!
He walked to a nice out-of-the-way table and sipped his beverage. Nice and refreshing. This is what life was about, something to look forward to and enjoy at the end of the day. How could it get any better than this?
“Hey, isn’t that?” Somebody said in a hushed voice.
“Yeah it is!” Another said.
“GET HIM!” The first one shouted, and immediately hands were all over Raven, dragging him away.
“What?! What did I do?! Get off me!” Raven struggled.
“Who’s this?” A snivelling looking man with a brown bowler cut and a long coat asked the two men holding Raven who were clearly his henchmen.
“This is the guy who left us that ‘present’ at the hideout yesterday!” The left one spat.
“Oh, so you’re the disgusting little Talentless who thought it’d be a good idea to steal from me, and then give it back?” The man said with his nostrils flared.
“No, that was some other bum. I am the owner of over three thousand estates, why I had afternoon tea with the Emperor just this morning. I couldn’t possibly be that guy!” Raven gibbered nervously, trying to laugh.
“Strange, you look like a bum, smell like a bum” The man taunted.
“Do not compare me to somebody’s rectal areas; I am Lunther von van gunter…buttock…nein? Owner of… three… thousand… you ain’t buying this are you?” Raven tried to talk his way out of it.
“No” The man shook his head.
“Waddya wanna do wit’ ‘im Reuben?” One of the men holding him asked the leader.
“Take him out back, make sure he doesn’t bother me again” Reuben responded.
“Hey, hey guys! He’s just playing! He meant let me go with a stern warning, maybe some ice-cream? Not anything you’re thinking of? Right Beuben? Right? Buddy? Best pal O’ mine…” Raven continued to talk as they dragged him out of the inn.