Their exists a time, when the mind opens from sleep, not due to noise, or panic or hunger or thirst or any of the numerous breakers of the wonder that is rest, but due the body crying that it has had it's fill, that it is ready for what will come. In these moments a mind can know nothing. No name, no age, no place, just the knowledge that it is awake. That is where I am now. And I feel no need to discover it. Everyone knows this anyway. Who am I kidding to think that I am the first to come up with something poetic about this. I mean, I'm not even writing it down! I've got my eyes closed and everything.
Where am I then? Suppose I should wake up. It's nice and quite. Probably why I'm still lying around like a sack of hay. Okay, not going to open my eyes until I know where I am... And who I am. And how old I- seven years! It's my birthday! Oh by the great civilisation of Humanity, of which I am in a small city Furous, it is my, Calenda's, birthday. And I am the first of many to awake to the world!
Two eyes open, a body sits upright. And IT begins. Yes, IT. With capitals.
Their really wasn't that much to see. Seeing as it was an attic. And their was no light. So Calenda spent the next few minutes bumping around until she found the door-in-the- floor, opened it up, which let in enough light to reveal that it was in fact a very old and thin mat she had been sleeping on (but she didn't look, because she knew that), and then slipping through.
Calenda landed gently on the wooden floor below, which let out what would have been a thunderous creak if it had of been the middle of the night, but the noise from the adjoining road muffled it enough to reduce the magnitude to a light groan of complaint, and sprinted down the stairs, letting out a cry "It's my birthday".
By the time she reached the bottom she had recalled the utter state of poverty in which she lived, queued mostly by the horrendous state of the wooden shack in which she live, and that she had at least 8 siblings, queued mostly by the 13 year old boy who had given her a nasty look (the "it's always your birthday" sort, but that was actually just the sort of face he had), the two of which made her instantly regret her decision to get up that morning, and gave her the knowledge that she was probably going to regret it further in the near future.
The small girl gradually turned towards the kitchen, where stood her mother, pipe in mouth, 2 year old in arm and spoon that was gradually stirring what Calenda had learned was called "soup", but with a slightly larger education could have correctly identified it as having the same consistency of liquid rubber. "And I care because?" her mother said.
Ouch. The knives of the house were kept behind lock and key (along with some emergency provisions) but truly the most scarring equipment was the tongues of the brood.
Nothing else had passed between them. Calenda had left the house immediately in search of the company of her friends (and possibly something for breakfast that was not liquid pineapple, milk, tomato "soup"). The river of people immediately pulled her in, the current of which she sailed upon in search of that special brand of adventure that can only be found on a day dedicated to oneself (as apposed to the sort found in one's birthday suite).
Furous' main industries are the growth of coconuts, the manufacture of half-aluminium pieces (one of which is estimated to be able to buy you a tenth-part time share on a potato seed), the training of Nay-Sayers and the invention of Slang. It has a population of 142,923 (note that in the time it takes to say this number three people are killed in pub brawls (the leading cause of death) and two pairs of twins are born (the average number of children in a family). The local barracks has capacity for 20,000 men and women (total- but several buildings would need to be burned down to allow access to others in a more seemly state of repair) but currently only houses 2,103 (the senior officer's wife's favourite number (privates get shifted around a lot)). The favourite form of comedy kicking a man while he's down (the least favourite form of drama is the man getting up). The city, like all good cities, is surrounded by a wall, colloquially known as "the fence" (being 3 foot high and made from pickets), which, like walled cities divided what needed to be defended for whatever would threaten it (it also helped to divided the riff-raff from the not-so-riffy-raff). Within the wall sat the barracks, Lord Furous the 4th's manor (Lord Furous the 4th had actually been dead for the past 200 years but Furous the 5th had kept it a secret to avoid repaying the assassin who had killed his brother, the 6th need to maintain the illusion to avoid being implicated in his father's death and it just would have been embarrassing for the 7th to have revealed it ), 76% of the cities protection brackets and the ruins of an aqueduct that the inhabitants were all quite proud of (it was even the tail of half-aluminium pieces (note that the aqueduct was actually the out end of a neighbouring cities waste system)). Out side of the wall lay the greatest scene of depression, disease (both kinds) and dirt ever painted by humanity on the canvas that is Humanation.
Calenda's house stood one the outside of the wall. It was two story wood construction (plus attic and moonshine cellar), with both floors containing 3 rooms and a hallway. It was a thing that forgot to leave with an era that was long gone (not because of the construction (poor design was universal) but because that's when it was built). Calenda had been lucky enough to score the dry, warm and relatively sound proof attic through a game of chance (the rules chance are simple. After your last sibling to inhabit that room moves out or dies, the first one to be able to stomach the thought of living in a dead persons room (or a heavily trapped one) wins). Note that this house was actually a sign of upper-lower classdom, with the middle-lower class not having any access to trees, therefore having to substitute mud, and the lower-lower class only having access to the bodies of their relatives.
Ahhhhh, the market. I love this place. I really do. I mean- look- hats! Gosh, people pay money to avoid having clean water go through their hair, or clean sun on their face? What's that- a store selling wooden coins modelled on actual coins (or at least wooden coins of actual coins). Huh- the half-al costs a whole-al. Hey, watch it, you almost made me drop my- sorry sir, didn't mean anything by it, I don't even have anything to drop. No, I wasn't trying to pickpocket you, you don't have pockets. Huh. Run, run, run, run, dodge into alley, run , run, run, through alley cat, run jump over corpse, run dodge into crowd, run, ooh that pie looks reeeeeeeeal good, run, run, run back past stall, run I mean very reaaaaaaaaaaly good, run, run, grab pie, run, oops
One minute earlier
Datev stood before the pastry stall, deciding what he felt like.
"Chicken, or dodo. Hmmmmm, they never have real chicken, I bet their both the same anyw-"
His train of thought was distracted by a small, ragged, beragged girl bumping past him. After checking that his uniform was still clean, he turned back to the stall, angered that hims mind had been averted from the task at hand.
"In the name of what hell am I stationed in this blackwater, grim covered, drunkard- no, no mind wandering, what do I want-" again the girl brushed past him, but this time in front. Further annoyed, Datev's eye flicked back to the stall, where he notices something he had overlooked "Sky pie! And only one left! If she hadn't barged past me, I wouldn't of- thank you beggar of the world, may all of you die quickly and fertilize-". Datev noticed the girl again, but this time she was reaching for the pie.
"Vuurato" Datev screamed. A blade of glass condensed a foot ahead of his pointed fingers as he move arm from hanging by his side to raised above his head. A silence swept the nearby people. Datev lower his arm slowly to level with Calenda's head. She did not notice. She was transfixed by her hand, still clutching the pie. The blade had cut cleanly through the edge of the stall, leaving a burnt cut, then up through an orange pie, frying the edges, then finally vanishing when his arm has stopped. Though the noise of the market continued around the, the immediate crowd hushed as they awaited the verdict of the mage. It had been too long since most of them has seen a child die. Datev paused.
"I name you" he shrieked "Thief. Thief. Thief." The crowd looked to one another, then joined the chorus. Humiliation of others was far more satisfying than their death. Why kill once when you can shame one thousand times. The cries continues incessantly. Eventually Datev stopped, by the crowd continues. Then he simply walked away, at which point the voices quiet too, leaving Calenda alone in a crowd.
She did not care. The hand still gripped the pie, but she could not control that. She looked at the stall keeper, who all the time had remained as silent as her. The sceptical had brought attention to him, and with attention came customers, so he nodded. Calenda walked off with the pie, still in the hand, but with a severed lump where her hand should have been. She had not planned on being disabled before breakfast.