In the centre of a room was a table. There was a chair in front of the table and there, a boy sat. He was too young for this.
The room was fifty feet big. The wall was now peeling plaster that exposed the dirt underneath. The musty smell of wet dirt and fabric plagued the room, but everyone had long gotten used to it.
The boy smiled to himself. He remembered the day he’d first entered the room with a smile.
Before him, sitting on the table, was a box, filled with leather-bound books.
When his father had led their force, the plaster had only begun peeling. He'd told his son that he planned for that to change, soon.
The walls were never fixed, though.
When everything about everything started falling apart at the seams, so did the walls, and mounds of dirt would spill out of holes. Within a year, some parts of the wall were nothing but thick layers of duct tape.
A few dozen tables littered the room. Some had chairs, some didn't. The materials and quality varied. Some chairs appeared to glow white, while others were a deep black. Some chairs were sturdy and held together well, while others stood only because of the same duct tape that patched up holes. Those chairs looked like they could collapse if you breathed too hard on them.
It was at least one in the morning. It wasn't as if the dark-haired boy could tell, though. The room's only light came from a few lanterns, and since everyone was underground, it was always hard to tell what time it was.
The sense of normalcy that came with the quiet was something the dark-haired-boy at the table cherished. By seven, everyone would be awake, and just like that, his normalcy would be gone.
He shuffled through the books until he found the one that bore his name;
Rico smiled at the writing. It wasn’t shabby for =his ten-year-old self. He was eighteen now, though.
He enjoyed writing in the book before him. His journal. He’d kept a journal before The Shift, and it felt familiar.
He wrote a few things,
I am Rico.
I like coffee.
I hate tea.
His thoughts grew more and more personal, and as soon as it had come, the normalcy slipped away.
I lead a group called The Ravens.
I’m too young for this.
My dad is dead.
He shouldn’t be.
The Shift happened.
The Shift was an event that had twelve years earlier. A group that called themselves Catago had seized control of the world. Twelve years ago, The Ravens came into existence.
But Rico thought more of two years earlier. Two years ago, when the Catago killed his father.
The main opposition to The Ravens claimed to have lots of followers, but Rico knew better. He’d seen their empty, milky eyes for himself. At least three-quarters of their followers were prisoners, some of them people he'd known. All those people hated the Catago with a burning passion, and now they served them with empty eyes. It was a punishment of the cruellest kind.
The Ravens planned to fix their broken world.
As the normalcy finished slipping away, Rico relaxed. He felt unhappy at losing it, but what was done was done. He shut his eyes and before he knew what he was thinking, his hand found its way to Ravens’ Rulebook.
It wasn’t a book, just a single page pinned into a leather book. His father had never been big on having lots of rules, so the three rules kept it simple and to the point.
Rule One: Training can begin at ten, and becomes less of a focus at fourteen when missions begin. Training ends entirely at sixteen. If a member is mature and can handle the situation, they may go on missions before turning fourteen.
Rule Two: If the leader of The Ravens dies or steps down, their elder child will take their place. If the child has not completed their training, the second in command will become the leader.
Rule Three: You may not harm other members.
Rico had held off on something for months now. He didn’t want to change the rule, to do that would be an acceptance that times had reached their darkest.
But he had to, and he did.
The rule he was modifying was the first one.
He took a deep breath and crossed out a few lines.
He gazed at the new rule version, the beginnings of tears welling up in his eyes.
Rule One: Training can begin at ten and becomes less of a focus at fourteen. Training ends completely at sixteen. Missions begin when the member is needed to join one.
It had been such a tiny change, but it was such an emotional one.
Times had reached their darkest. People were dying in the simplest of missions, which meant that Rico had to read the letter from his father.
He remembered watching his father’s dying body until he couldn't handle it anymore. He remembered leaving. He felt physically sick when one of his kindly friends had brought him a letter.
‘He wanted you to read it if times become dark.’
His friend had tilted his head and told him, ‘good luck.’ It was hard for a person to formulate a decent response when someone's father had just died.
For months after that fateful event two years ago, Rico had cried. He hadn’t done anything a leader needed to do. He’d had his father ripped away from him when he was far too young.
He pried open the letter.
If you are reading this, I am probably dead, and times have reached their darkest. I was hoping that this moment would never come. But I assume it has, so please listen.
There is a boy. He is twelve years old right now and had his parents taken from him by the Catago. There is an odd prophecy which seems to detail him.
Seek him out at the New Horizons Orphanage in Vecuria.
There was a table in the centre of a room.
At the table, there was a chair.
At the chair, there was a boy.
The boy was writing a letter.
A letter that a now fourteen-year-old boy would read.
And that letter would start a ripple in the ocean of the rebellion that would change everything. And all because at a table, in a chair, someone wrote a letter.
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