Arena - Chapter One - What Love is

What Love is


Part 1

  Avelin knew she was pretty, or cute, depending on the person talking. It was what she expected to hear from anyone meeting her for the first time. Most seven year olds hear something of the sort at some point. But, for her it was different. She'd seen someone her age breathe their last breath, she'd seen her father breath his last breath, she'd meet people who could fly with wings as white as pearls. And the one thing she had never seen or rather heard, was someone not make a showcase of how she looked. It wasn't a thing. It was more expected to her than the setting and rising sun. More frequent than breathing. She was grimy but some how, that was pretty. Her grey dress, sewed together with clumsy hands was alluring, sensual and mysterious. This despite the fact that the dress had once been pearl white at some point.
  Avelin had no idea what sensual, alluring or mysterious meant. Only that it was another compliment to be piled with the other compliments.
  But, it was also the most dangerous thing in the world. Girls who didn't get a tenth of the compliments she did were grabbed all the time. Which was why, when a man in a stylish tunic and posh bowler hat walked up to her and said 'hello' Avelin immediately screamed and took off.
  She broke into a sprint, no longer screaming, if the man had actually been from South Wall, he would have known a child screaming literally meant nothing. But instead, he hesitated, more than enough for Avelin. She stepped onto the main road, carriages and horses created a continuous flow of movement. In a second, it was broken. A horse reared, lifting its front legs, threatening to crush her skull. She dove forwards, her red hair tickling iron shoes before she turned her body so she flipped and landed in a flip, rolling her to her feet. She turned to see, not only Mr Posh as she tagged him but another gruffer man, with a scar from his chin to his ear with him.
  Her suspicions confirmed, she ran on, her pinkies in her mouth as her feet pitter-pattered on thick, dense cobble stone. She whistled loud and true. At that moment the hairs on the back of her neck stood up and she dove again, this time diving left just as an alley came into view.
  She didn't look behind her this time. Who ever was chasing her was good.
  The alley had once been an entrance to a grand building, the Oakenshield. The doors were closed and on all other sides was the smell of rot. It emanated from the crates, shit and other items long forgotten by time. She could feel something on her head, the gentle sprinkling of sand. Her ears perked, eyes squinted in concentration. Her ears identified the hollow clank of tile being hammered on tile by feet between her own steps and her own drumming heart beat. Someone was on the roof, and was keeping up.
  Who ever these people were, they were very VERY Good.
  She hadn't expected this.
  She sped up still, almost running low with how much energy was going into making her legs move. She was at the entrance doors. She dove, her arms out stretched, her stomach tucked, her small hands clenched into fists. There was a wooden create there, waist high. She dove, crashing into it.
  It smashed through as though it were made of the breeze. She slipped right through and past a hole in the wall. She turned back but jumped when two floors up, glass shattered and next to her the door was slammed into.
  They were determined. She took a breath then took off.

Part 2

  Four men, three of them human converged into the middle of the dinning hall.
"What is happening?" said Mr. Chin.
"We saw her dive in here." Mr. Posh said panting.
"Yeah, but then what?"
"Well, first before we lose it, there's a very good chance she's still in the building. My tale would have said something if she was just gone." The non human said, he had fur from head to toe, with it the longest tail Avelin had ever seen. It seemed to move beyond the man's sight, acting on its own. She dubbed him, Mr Tale.
  The men parted ways slowly and Avelin took a breath, she pulled herself up from the ceiling floor and took another breath for good measure. Her eyes stayed ground-wards, anything in the attic to be taken had already been picked clean by the South Wall Sewer rats.   Her bare feet stepped as gentle as a ballerina on the wooden beams, following the posh man when a section of the ceiling trembled. It was enough to stop her in her tracks, her heart in her throat.   A metal hook burst out of the wood, the metal head spun around as if looking for her, it snagged on two beams that crisscrossed the ceiling and lifted, just a few centimeters, before slamming down, hooking the beam. Down wen the entire section.   Caught by surprise, dropped to her knees, giving away her position and scrambled she scrambled for the corner of the ceiling. A pool of black which had been pointed with chalk awaited her. She was off her knees, she was rushing so fast. The hook passed right by her hip, immediately catching the crossing beams and pulled down, sending the whole section coming down.   But she'd already jumped.   Straight into the black corner, she fell through what had once been a chimney shoot.   She landed in a pool of a straw and moldy cloth, where she held her breath, unwilling to give herself the reward of air. Instead rolling over off the bedding and picking up two rocks, banging them together.
"She's here!" A voice yelled.
  Bang bang
"Then get her!"
  Bang bang

  Nothing was happening.
  Bang bang

"Fuck off, you get her."
  Bang Bang.
  Finally sparks flew and the mound caught alight just as a man jumped on it nearly putting it out. But she was already holding a glass jar, she threw it has hard as she could at the lip of the shoot. Jelly like liquid burst from the glass and immediately the entire area burst into flame. It Mr. Tale. He screamed. His fur quickly catching fire, almost sparkling in the intense heat.
  Avelin stepped back watching as he flailed.
  Avelin felt a furred hand on her shoulder and she jumped only to be pulled in against much thicker, uneven fur. She calmed.
"Lindo you jerk." She cried into his bare stomach
"I'm the jerk? You're the one who set someone of fire."
  She stepped back and faced him. The man was nearly twice her size and screamed danger, his fur black and brown with a wet snout and uneven fangs which showed constantly. But his eyes, those were younger than hers.
"You're not supposed to say that. They came after me."
"I know, I'm sorry." He looked genuinely hurt for a moment, she put a hand on his shoulders and he dropped to one knee, she jumped on his back and he trotted away.
"South Wall rats survive again," He growled proudly.
"Did you tell the others?"
"The others are already off the streets. They're back home."
She sighed into his fur. "Bad day for us?"
"Don't know, yet."
  Time passed silently, with Avelin biting her lip and squeezing him, threatening to choke him. At first it was to get the trembling to stop. Then it was do inventory on her muscles. They needed food if they were to function. Sugar to be specific. Her mind tried to negotiate. There was no sugar. And despite Lindo's optimism, it was the second day of the third week. No one had money, and with every one having been called in. It was likely returns would be less than noticeable. Then what? Her muscles screamed, rioting.

  Her mind drifted to the dead body they'd left. A crime had been committed... Reflexively her whole body shuddering, reeling from what was being presented.

But with a sigh, she relented.  
"Think I should talk to the bitch."
  This put a bounce to Lindo's step.  
"Yes, you should absolutely talk to Asya. Otherwise they'll come after you."
Part 3  
"What the fuck is wrong with this kid?" Asya yelled to her husband who'd chosen staring at the table over looking back.
  Avelin had grime on her face that wasn't there before, courtesy of Lindo. Her clothes had been reduced in quality, the sides torn where she'd tripped and skid in areas.

  She had a glass of ginger ale in front of her, it was surprisingly cold and large enough for her to need two hands. All around her was activity as bodies moved up and down, all grown ups. Most were faces she knew. From the officers to the privates. Tommy Breakers moved up and down, left and right, lost in their private missions while Avelin waited, ginger ale being carefully sipped.
  Weapons passed all around her, each as big as she and weighed more. Everyone was big, larger even than Lindo, all hulking figures. There was something beautiful about it. People at the lowest points of their lives being helped by these who were simply... living. This was their lives. Being a Tommy Breaker was something unique but at the same time...
  Asya came marching up to her, sitting down next to her, too angry to look the girl in the eye before she broke off a piece of biltong, chewing it aggressively.
  Asya waited...
"So, you saying one of them is dead. And was Imosi?"
  Asya nodded.
"Do you know how they died?"
  Super Small Sip  
"They jumped into a fire while chasing me."
  Tiny Sip  
"Just so I understand. A grown person... Chasing you... For no reason."
Avelin stopped sipping, looking dead eyed right at Asya, something she did so well it caught the Tommy Breaker off guard. "We both know the reason."
"Yeah, it's sad that you know the reason."
"You showed me."
"I know. I mean it's that I had to show you at all." She was exasperated and short, glaring. "Where's the body?"
"The Sewers."
"They tried to follow you into the sewers? Okay then, what's the problem then?"
  Tiny Sip  
"I figured since he's one of the tailed people, it might be a union issue."
  Tiny Sip  
Asya seemed to think about this. "Do you know what type?"
"Can you describe him?"
  Tiny Sip  
"Of course."
"You know, if you weren't such an extortionist, you'd make a magnificent snitch."
"I'm not a snitch."
"You're snitching right now."
  Normal Sip  
"I'm protecting my friends, because they're gonna come back. For me or for one of the others and we cant stay underground otherwise we can't get food."
"There's an orphanage."
  Normal Sip  
"More kids go missing there than anywhere else."
Asya sighed, too tired to glare. "You have an answer for everything ne'"
  Tiny Sip  
"I try."  
Asya shook her head. "Fine we'll look into it. Where's the body?"
  Avelin measured how much was in her glass and gulped. She got up and ran to the window. Two pinkies to her lips and the loudest whistle burst from her lips. It was enough to bring every eye to her direction.
"What the hell are you doing," Asya yelled, slapping the back of her head, nearly toppling her as her red hair splayed loosely upwards. Avelin's eyes watered but didn't acknowledge it, it didn't happen.
The worst thing she could do was start crying.
  Moments later a short but bulky nizinja man ran in. He was out of breathe, a reasonable thing to be considering they were four levels up. He was holding a sack. He was imposing but compared to the others he was a kid . People turned to him, including those of his race, they eyed the sack. He handed it over to Avelin, it was heavy but she managed.
"What's in the sack?"
Avelin opened it to reveal a charred head and got an even sharper slap to the head. Lindo growled, his fangs showing. Asya didn't flinch. "Avelin, what's wrong with him?"
"There's nothing wrong with him, he's just shy about doing this."
"Hey, why aren't you talking? What happened to the person in the bag?"
Now the other Nizinja had their attention turned to her. "What?"
"He's twelve years old."
"He's literally bigger than me."
"They grow fast. Asya." Avelin said.
Asya gave her another. "Sargent Asya or Ma'am"
"Yes Ma'am."
Ranako finally appeared as if out of nowhere. "Okay, I get it. You're a leader of the Sewer rats?" Lindo nodded, his eyes down. Avelin took a gulp before passing it to Lindo with a long straw she pulled out of his pocket. Ranako nodded to her and put an arm around him and his wife. "Love, you and another Inja Sergeant are going to get his statement. Then we'll put the head somewhere and request a Jingelor in order to find out if it is at all possible to find the rest of him."
"We can't send a Jingelor to the sewers, you'll kill it."
"Okay, then we look for another scent on the body and then we-"
"I can help with that. They were following me and I'm pretty sure more than one of them hurt themselves. We can all go, but you'll have to get rid of the Tommy Beater outfits, these guys aren't from here but they wont have to be from here to know you're a Tommy Beater if you're all dressed like that. I already know you got the special weapons, the brass knuckles, the billy clubs and your magic. Their friend just died and they're crooks so they're most likely looking for me. You know why."
  Avelin clenched her jaw while fattening her cheeks it was good way to hide the nervousness brought on from the looks of abject bewilderment that came from all in listening range.

Part 4

  It was raining, the drops hammering against thatch and tile roofs as the group walked on with Avelin and Asya in front, Lindo, Ranako and a Inja by the name of Zuberi a short distance away. Her was almost a full head taller than Lindo with a thousand times more muscle and what looked to be endless definition.
  [To Be Continued]

Hey to any one actually reading this. I hope you make it to the end and find this stuff enjoyable. I really hope so, because I love writing.


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