Anlhwen and his friends live together as members of a guild of childhood thieves.
In a far off land, buildings are made from stone. Guilds, orders, and even gangs of children rule the towns and cities regardless of the punishment from the church.
To survive even a little while on the streets to avoid parents that beat unmercifully you need to be quick on your feet, quick witted and ally yourself with a guild or an order. Even if living with them isn’t much better, they protect you and stick together.
Once every two weeks one of the older members of the guilds and orders collects payment from the rest of them. A group of five children all wearing rags, ranging from almost any age, shape and size lined the back wall of an alley.
The one on the far left was a twelve year old named Radi, he had short, greasy brown hair, and dark brown eyes. He held out his hands and with a bow handed the ten copper coins over to one of the bigger, more muscular members named Rachsud who was sixteen years old.
The next one, on the middle left was named Fortis, a boy looking somewhere in his early teens with dark hair handed over his ten coins.
The middle one, who was ten years old and named Anlhwen stood proud against the wall with his hands behind his back. He held his head high with his dark blonde hair. He didn’t have the payment… Again, and that meant yet another beating. He was still bruised from the last time.
“You pathetic bastard… What, did the thievery not work out so good for you?” Rachsud asked accusingly.
“I’m not a thief.” The young Anlhwen stated plainly, glaring at the young man with his wonderful ice blue eyes.
“Of course you are. You’re a member of this guild… We’re all thieves.” The older one said and then rammed his knee in the little one’s gut. His body collapsed downward, he wrapped his arms around his stomach. The wind was knocked out of his lungs. In an instant Rachsud’s muscular hand grabbed the writhing boy’s head and smashed the back of it into the wall behind him, drawing blood with a loud crack of the back of his skull. He let out a pained growl and struggled to breathe.
“I bet you really want to hit me right now.” The big one stated plainly.
“You really think you’re worth it…?” The boy asked. “You really need to rethink a lot of things.” He stated in a pained tone.
“Yeah… I think I’m worth it. And if you don’t, think again.” The big one said and then whistled as a signal for the others to help. Two other older members walked over, each of them carrying a cinderblock, they dropped the blocks hard in the ground beside his feet and flipped tall ways.
They placed each foot on a block of their own. The man to his right jumped up and forced both his legs down hard, shattering the boy’s knees. He let out a loud, pained cry. The other children did nothing they only stood there, pretending nothing was happening. The other man did the same thing to the boy’s other leg. Tears and beads of sweat rolled down his face, washing off the dust that had settled there.
“What do you think now? Am I worth being hit now?” The young man squatted down on the balls of his feet.
“Why do I have to keep repeating myself?” He paused. “You aren’t worth it.” He enunciated each word through painful sobs. The boy worked up a good bit of spit and spat right onto the older boy’s face.
“You little fucker!” He hissed angrily. He pulled the head from the wall only to push it even harder back into it, the little one let out a scream. He stood and drove a foot into the boy’s stomach. He picked up both the boy’s hands and held them firmly. He pushed the thumbs all the way back until they let out the loud crack of them breaking. Another scream rang out in the city. The young man’s fist smashed into the boy’s nose to shut him up.
The boy sat there holding his hands over his broken nose to slow the bleeding. He let out short hollow breaths between sobs. Blood covered the back of his neck and the wall where his head was smashed.
The young man moved onto the next child. A little girl about eight years old named Sonya stood against the wall and sank down to a sitting position. “Next time, you owe me double for both you and her.” He said, looking back at the battered, bloodied and sobbing ten year old.
Rachsud continued to the last child, a fifteen year old named Tosus. He handed over three silver pieces, he was the oldest against the wall. “That should cover the payment for the girl and the boy as well.” He mumbled plainly.
“Sorry kid.” The young man said and kicked Anlhwen hard in the chest the breath once again left his lungs in a huff.
Rachsud and the other older members left the five children against the back wall of the alley.
“Anlhwen, why don’t you just hand over the money you’ve been saving?” The oldest of the children asked.
“He’s not worth being spat on, let alone the breath that fills his lungs. I’m not giving him the satisfaction of breaking me. Besides, I need that money.” The boy responded.
“Oh shit, Radi, Fortis, tie something around his legs. I’ll take care of his thumbs.” The child pulled a cloth from under his rag shirt and tore it in half. He tied one half around one of the boy’s hands. “Remember how bad this feels. Pain is the only mentor you’ve got. And we can’t always be there to help. You and I both know he would’ve killed you if he wanted to.” He said before tying the other half cloth around the boy’s other hand. “Keep your hands as still has possible and try not to use your legs. I’m sorry but we just don’t the right stuff to fix that nose of yours.”
“It’s alright. I don’t think he would’ve killed any of us. I know he wanted to kill me but he didn’t. I think something’s going on with the higher ups in the order.” The ten year old replied.
The other two boys removed their shirts and tied them around the boy’s legs.
“I don’t think that’s the case. But for some reason we do need all the man power we can get.” The oldest child said.
“Hey, can you help me get my shirt off?” The battered boy requested, holding his arms over his head.
“Huh? Well alright, as long as you don’t mind using it as a blind fold.”
“It’s fine with me. I need to learn how to use my other senses more.”
They pulled the shirt up over his head and ripped of two small sections and stuffed them into his nostrils. Then they tied the shirt around his head, covering his eyes, nose, and the crack in the back of his head.
“Hey, I know the perfect way to get back at Rachsud. He’s afraid of the dark, so all we have to do is lure him somewhere, preferably the grave yard. We’re gonna freak him out so much.” He chuckled painfully.
“Too bad you won’t be apart of it, you’re pretty much useless as you are now.” The oldest one said, helping the boy to his feet and swinging an arm across his back. Fortis got the boy’s other arm. Together they propped him up and carried him out of the alley, the others followed. “By the way Anlhwen, what are you saving that money for anyway?” The oldest child asked.
The battered child only smiled and picked his head up.