A Masterpiece of Evil: Chapter 2
"You haven't ate for a while, right?" from inside a large purse, the guard took out a loaf of bread and broke it in two, giving a nice piece to Arigio. "The butcher told me." The boy couldn't see as normal all that generosity coming from an inquisitor, especially towards something like him, and only because of that he resisted to the strong will of eating immediately. He remembered of stories from the beginning of the inquisition, when people like him were poisoned exactly that way. He and the guard were sitting at the top of a stone stairway, located between two of the quieter streets of the city. At each side there were tall buildings, what let that place a little dark; at the end of the steps, the other guard—actually a female one—kept an eye at the lower street. Arigio was very suspicious about that, but he didn't knew if it was worth trying to run away: that could denounce him, and, even if he were able to escape in that moment, he would be caught in no time. Refusing that offer could also draw attention to him, and, in the worst case, the question was: eat the bread and die by poison or don't eat it and be caught by the inquisitors? After some moments wondering, there was finally an answer: the guard was offhandedly eating his own piece of bread, what meant that (probably) there was no poison at all. Arigio then took the risk, giving the bread a good bite: it was delicious! The boy devoured his piece in no time, leaving nothing more than crumbs. "More?" asked the guard, offering another loaf from the purse. He seemed to understand the worries of Arigio, and once more took a piece for himself. The boy accepted it, eating as if there was no tomorrow. Food! Fresh food!, he thought. He couldn't remember how much had passed since the last time he ate a fresh piece of bread. After three or four loaves, the guard took a flask and drank a bit, offering it to Arigio afterwards. The boy had a sip and found it was beer, better than any other one he had ever drank. Only after some strong gulps he finally said something. "Thank you very much, sir." "You're welcome, son." "But..." the boy had a bit of courage to ask, "why are you doing this?" "Well, feeding a starving people is a way to protect it," the blue eyes of the guard expressed kindness. "And protecting is the work of a guard, right?" "You may be right, sir, but I've never seen a guard in Galcara doing such a thing." Specially the inquisitors, he thought. "There are guards and guards." That explanation didn't satisfy Arigio, and he felt that the guard was hiding something. Although very thankful for the food, he thought on something to say and prepared to get out from there: now that he had accepted the offer, maybe he could go away without any problem. "Thanks again, sir," said the boy, standing up and going towards the upper street. "It's good to know there are guards like y—" Two people appeared, blocking the way: a man and a woman, dressed as common folk, but clearly on the side of the inquisitor. But the Inquisition didn't act that way... did it? Arigio turned around and look down: the other inquisitor, at the bottom of the stairway, was ready to stop him if he went that way. What is happening here? "All right, all right, guards don't feed beggars for kindness," said the inquisitor, still sitting in the ground. "Actually, I'm glad you didn't fall for that one, smart boy. The truth is that I wanted to have a little conversation with you. "A conversation?" Arigio's hearth began to beat faster. He knows! He knows! "Yes, a brief one, and when we finish you can go away and run your life as you want. And, if you doubt my word, understant one more thing:" the man opened his left hand, lighting flames over it in a sudden flash, " despite this blue band around my arm, I am not an inquisitor. Fire? That mas was... a mage? Arigion didn't know what to say, and stared the oscillating flames on the guard's fingertips. "Now, can you sit again, please?" the mage said. "I don't like to stay looking up, it hurts my neck. Arigio sat down, since there was no other option. In a certain way, despite that strange situation, he was actually curious about the mage. "Let's go straight to it: we saw what you've done to that pigeon, boy," Arigio's blood froze." But don't worry, no one else thinks that it was your fault. We only know it because we've been keeping an eye on you for a while. "Are you spying on me? Why?" "My master, Nora Gernera, knows that what the Inquisiton is doing is madness, and that magic must be kept alive. Therefore, she looks for and shelters people like you and me, the few that still have mage blood in Colliori, so that we are not completely exterminated by the Inquisition. Those words hit Arigio in a weak spot. "Are there more mages, real mages? Alive?" "Yes, Arigio, real mages, that can have a decent life without the fear of being who they are. What I offer you is the chance to join them, to have a roof over your head, a clean and comfortable bed, warm food everyday and... a family, "his eyes stared the air for a moment, as seeing something invisible, "a family that will never leave you." The eyes of the boy were glowing; those words seemed more like a dream. Will I have a home? A real home? "But nothing comes free of charge, of course, and I need something back," the mage was serious. "I ask you, Arigio, to help us take down the Cerulean Inquisition. The disappointment couldn't be bigger: it was indeed too good to be true. "I... I can't join you them," Arigio said with sincerity. "I don't know how to control my power. I could barely kill a pigeon! How could I help to defeat the Inquisition, that killed mages so much more powerful than I'll ever be? The false inquisitor showed a half-smile and faced the boy with his deep blue eyes: "We don't want you to fight now, you fool; a few of us are really ready for something so grand. But we are all working, learning about our powers, studying the enemy and gathering reinforcements. If you are willing to do it, you will understand your magic and become a powerful mage, with dedication and effort; at least, this is our main goal: improving ourselves until our strength is big enough. We are hidden now, but, when the time comes, we will smash the Inquisition with what it fears the most," the mage opened his hand again, and now a much bigger flame was conjured, "magic. What do you say?" The mind of Arigio flew away: he remembered the horror days, when his friends disappeared during the night and he feared to disappear too; when the boots of the inquisitors didn't stop to march and their swords didn't stop to spill blood. He thought about every friendly face that was gone... and promised himself that, if it was up to him, nothing of that would happen again. He was not used to have opportunities in life, and that was one he was not going to let go. "What is your name?" he asked the mage." "Bertono." "Well, Mr. Bertono, I have no valuable things, so... don't worry with my luggage."