In which one is escaping from the Howlers, and a girl offers a bit of bread and kindness.
|I glance furtively around the alleyway. The guards shouldn't be here, as I've thrown them off by escaping into another Sector. The Swan Sector, I believe. Still, I look around just to be sure. You never know where more Howlers could be lurking.
"Hey, are you alright?"
I whip around, and immediately lunge towards the voice, pinning them down. A young girl stares up at me, bewildered. The wicker basket she was holding falls to the ground.
"Don't you dare call the guards," I growl. To my surprise, the girl simply laughs.
"You aren't from around here, are you?" she asks, grinning cheekily. "Relax, no one in this village is going to report you for a reward."
I let her push me off, and she stands up and dusts off her sky-blue dress.
"Now, you were quite rude for knocking over a lady like myself, but I'll give you a pass since you're new here," as she says this, she reaches into her basket and tosses something at me. I catch it on instinct. It's a loaf of bread.
"Why... " I say hesitantly. "Why would you help me?"
"Because," she says firmly. "your freedom shouldn't be worth whatever measly reward money the guards can scrap up. I don't know what you've had to go through before, but it's different here in the Swan Sector."
"I... thank you," I murmur. "Thank you so--"
An unearthly howl suddenly pierces through the night. Both of us startle, shoulders tensing. It's the signal of the guardsmen.
"Ah, snickerdoodle," she sighs. "I'd better leave."
The girl skips out the alleyway, dress trailing behind her like butterflies. Before she disappears around the corner, she turns and says, "Stay safe! Don't let the Howlers get ya!"
She's already gone by the time I whisper, "You too."