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A Masterpiece of Evil: Chapter 1

"No", the butcher said bluntly.   "Just a little bit, please!" Arigio begged. "I'm so hungry..."   "Do you think you're the only one? If I gave a piece of meat to every beggar who came here, I'd have nothing to sell! Now, go away, before I call a guard!"   Arigio turned around—not before trying to plead once more, with the eyes—giving up on his search for food. There was no greengrocer, butcher or fishmonger in that market who wanted to give a single peck of anything to a hungry boy.   This city is always getting worse, thought him, crossing the uncrowded courtyard. In former days, it wasn't difficult to get some bits without stealing from no one; when the market was more crowded, it was easy to find fresh scraps around there. Besides that, there was much more generosity in the people. They had much more, but now barely have the sufficient for themselves...   Passing under a high arch, the boy arrived to one of the main streets of the city. Two guards were walking in the opposite direction, but they weren't regular ones: there was a blue band around the right arm of each one, showing that they were inquisitors. The fault is on you, thought the boy in a glance.   Then, for a moment, Arigio held his breath: one of the guards seemed to pay attention on him... but continued his way, for his relief. If anyone in that city knew about his gift, he would be lost.   Arigio diverted from the passing people as he walked to the other side of the street, and leaned on the stone balustrade; there, he had a good view of the city. A bit to the right, a couple of pigeons also rested on the balustrade, but the boy preferred not to give them any attention. Instead, he looked to the pointy bluish rooftops before the outer walls, and remembered the days when, at every moment, at least one of those rooftops was on fire.   A little more than one year before, the Cerulean Inquisition had arrived and initiated a great persecution to the mages. The smartest ones fled before the situation became too harsh, but the rest... fought to death. Even common folk had been executed, just for belonging to a family that had once had a mage. Everyday, being it day or night, the sounds of battle, the screams of despair and the black smoke were common over the city. The beginning of the inquisition certainly had been the worst period of Arigio's life, that had spent those days almost completely hidden, checking at each step if someone could be watching him; everyday, before going to sleep, he had been haunted by the fear of never waking up again.   But nothing of that could be compared to the pain of losing his friends. Some of them once had a small gift: Elana could move small stones without touching them; Valdo, who taught Arigio how to read, could create tiny flames in the air; and Pilipo was able to twist the shadows of small objects. Nothing dangerous, but they still died. Sona and Cello had no magical skills, but were bastard grandchildren of a mage, and had disappeared after being caught. The rest of the gang disbanded, afraid of falling into the hands of the Inquisition; Arigio was one of them.   Now, the times of despair were over and the boy felt safe—or the closer to that when one lived on the street—but he was alone. A person in his situation could do anything for a piece of bread, and he trusted no one anymore: the fear of being denounced isolated him from any relationship.   And speaking of bread...   Arigio's stomach rumbled once more and he understood that, if he wanted to eat, it would be necessary to use magic. He looked to the pigeons: they were big and fat, despite the scarcity of food in the city. They would provide a reasonable meal, but still...   The boy's stomach rumbled once more.   Reluctant, he looked around, trying to be discreet; there was some movement in the street, but it seemed there was no one paying attention to him. Could it be one of the advantages of being a beggar?   With the arms still over the balustrade, Arigio extended his left hand towards the first pigeon, looking at it with the corners of his eyes. Concentrating the most he could and aware of the exhaustion that would come afterwards, he moved his fingers in the air, as if groping something; in fact, he felt that he was touching something, that he knew, were the birds' brains. With a great effort, he searched for the right spot and contracted his fingers, successfully: the second pigeon flew away when the first one began to flail, falling on the ground and shaking violently.   That drew the attention of the passing people, who began to cluster around the bird. A terrible headache almost knocked Arigio down, but he could bring suspicions over him if he didn't react; for that reason, he joined the crowd in that small dark spectacle. The boy had pity for the animal when he saw it flopping, and promised himself that he wouldn't waste anything when eating it.   So, a hand weighed on his shoulder. Arigio thought that it could be someone trying to reach closer to the bird, but, looking behind, he saw a familiar face: it was the same face that stared him when he left the market courtyard.   "Please, come with me", said the inquisitor.

Hello! This story was first written in Portuguese, my native language. I did my best to translate it, but if you notice any mistake or weird word, please don't be shy to tell me.   Thanks for reading!


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