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eCookie

Pillars of Creation
Chapter 1

"Hold the thief, she's got my jewelry."


A man, obviously a merchant of the market, ran behind a young girl but thanks to her comprehensive physique he had no chance.


Instead, he called for the guards at the market.


After a few jumps over a few different stalls the girl was out of sight and the merchant stopped in the street after struggling to breathe.


When the guards finally arrived, the girl had disappeared without a trace and the merchant could only provide a rough description.


"She was only 16 summers old at the most and had silvery white hair that went all the way to her shoulders. I've never seen hair like this before, it must be easy to find it here in the city ".


When the guards heard the description, they began to laugh,"Mordred, we all know that you demand extortionate prices for your goods and the girl you have described is well known here, although stealing is a crime, the girl only robs usurers who try to drive up the prices, see it as an expensive check. Post normal prices and you won't have any more problems with her."


"But, but... She stole my goods," the merchant slowly turned red,"I demand that the city guard arrest and punish them."


"We're going to start an official investigation, but until then prices will remain at a normal level or you'll have problems again."


"....", the trader's veins were about to burst before he changed his mind and went back to a stand furiously.


"Captain", one of the soldiers turned to his superior,"if it was HER again we can't keep our eyes closed for long. There aren't many thieves in our city and even less of them have such a hair color, it's nice that she is usurying usurers but the merchant is right, we can't allow stealing just like that. If your superiors or other merchants get wind of it..."


"My superiors? For them, only the bare coin and the bottle in the tavern count as long as the order and tranquillity of the city is assured, the merchants of our city know that they protect fair prices from theft."

The captain thoughtfully stroked his half-grey beard with his hand, "but I should still exchange a few words with Rhea. Ever since she left the orphanage, she's been on her little vendetta. I'm going to visit her tonight and talk with her", the captain sighed ," not that it's ever worked out."


The captain turned back to his soldiers, who apparently still listened to him.


"Now don't just stand there lazily, get back to work."


The soldiers jumped out of their negligence and returned to their posts. Only the captain was still standing in the middle of the market, looking in thoughtsover the walls of the market towards the orphanage, which recently had to carry out the city's decision to release all orphans over the age of 16 from the orphanage.


Shaking his head, the captain turned away,"Even in the case of human lives only the bare coin counts, never the thought of the others..."


--------

"Thanks for letting me hide with you, Kalion."

Behind a big sack full of fruits a girl came forward, if Mordred would be standing here he would probably have a fit of raving madness.
The girl with silvery-white hair had been hiding in another merchant's house and, after the hustle and bustle was over, she returned to the street.

"No problem, Rhea, you know how much I like you. Besides, Mordred is exaggerating with the prices at times. But you might want to think about changing your hair color, you're falling on too much,"Kalion replied with a smile.

"Here, catch!"

Kalion threw a red white fruit at Rhea, which she handily caught.

"How fast by hand, sure you don't want to work for me again? A few quick hands are always welcome with me, you know that."

Rhea briefly looked at the fruit before it bit into it and replied, "I can't, you know I've been taking care of the children ever since the orphanage got less gold."

"Unfortunately, it's all about gold, be it the orphanage or the guilds, all of them think only of one thing. It's weird, from my own lips, as a merchant.
I'm sorry that I can't help you, even I don't have the resources for my family at this time ."

"Don't worry, Kalion, everyone has his own life and only a few put another before their own. You've helped me so many times that it can't be balanced in gold, and I'm grateful to you for that."

Both of them fell silent and both felt helpless, some things could never be solved with their available means and both of them had a heavy burden on their hearts.
Everyone cared for a family by themselves, although by the covenant of blood or in spirit.

There were many ways of earning coins, but those that would bring enough money were outside the means, although through skill or will to do so, despite their difficult situation they would never fall back on heavy robbery or worse.

"I know you've denied it many times before, why don't you go to the Aptitude Test of the Adventure Guild?
You never know how the gods forged your destiny, maybe you'll be lucky and go beyond the wall to find an artifact that sells itself for enough gold."

The adventurer test, for many a dream that has never come true and given up when they learned how the real world works. Without the suitability proof of the guilds, no resident could practise a higher profession, for nobles and their children it was no problem, but for a normal resident even the fee to pay the examination of the guilds was often more than they could earn.
And without the test, they were denied everything, their Spîrîtûs, a future and the hope of a better life.

Rhea had already turned his back on Kalion when he asked her. She had often heard this question from many people who wanted to talk to her.

"How many times have you heard that someone has returned from the lands beyond the wall, even more often with an artifact?", the more she said, the more ridicule crept into her voice.

"There are many stories and artifacts of the cities proving that people have returned..."

A spark crept into Rhea's eyes, she knew what most people believed about the artifacts and glorious stories, she hated this blind belief in things people never saw or experienced.

"Exactly Kalion, stories. No one knows if they're true, lies or stories to give children heroes to help them sleep better at night. I also loved these stories and fell asleep with the fantasies of but reality looks different. Artifacts are there, but when was the last time you saw one in action? And dont count the artefact that is used every 4 years in the gate cities.
Cities and kingdoms keep them under lock, the more powerful the more they are kept in secret, far away from everyone. Even those artifacts that can make life easier are taxed, sold at high prices and even reserved to some.
And those who possess artifacts use them only for their own ends, as long as one possesses power, all of them are only stones underneath which they step on to enrich themselves in the helplessness of those who do not possess them.".

The more Rhea spoke, the more mockery and hate crept into her voice, she learned years ago what it meant to be without strength.
Her past encounters with artifacts and their owners have brought her far too much suffering. She had sworn to never use any of these magical objects.

"Rhea, to this day most people only know the version you told us. No one knows the whole story of that time, no one but you, if you would possibly tell us what happened back then...

"I should really go now, Kalion, thanks for the fruit and the hideout."

With a wink in her eyes Rhea disappeared behind the next state, without any touch of her facial features, she wanted to force smile on her lips but couldn´t, much too agitated by the recurring memories.

Kalion looked at Rhea for a few more seconds before he turned to his booth again with a deep sigh.

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