By nightfall he was still miserable. This sort of thing happened all the time. It was sick.
I creaked open the door and peered around it into the night. Everything was calm and quiet. I beckoned for Pertitus to join me. We crept out and clung to the shadows as we began our journey.
“Bruma.” He whispered.
He nodded toward the street veering off to the left. I squinted into the darkness and saw a little boy, probably only six or seven, sleeping in a corner.
“There’s nothing we can do right now. Just come on.” I pulled him along the path.
Soon we reached the forest where we knew we couldn’t be heard by the villagers. I searched around for the hole beneath the big oak tree that served as the entrance to the Base.
“Why wouldn’t you help that little boy?”
“You think we have time for that?” I snapped, “It’s hard enough to get food just for the two of us, you think we can take that kid in?”
“He’s only small! He can’t survive on his own! You took me in didn’t you?” His eyes were full of anger.
“That was a much different situation, in case you’ve forgotten. It was for my survival as well.” I finally found it and slid down before he could say another word.
“Right on time again, you two.” Sator, our leader, placed a hand on my shoulder and smiled down at me.
He was all you could expect from a leader. He was tall, and strong, and an amazing strategist. He had mouse brown, undercut hair and thin, amber eyes.
He walked back up to the end of the wide, stone tunnel and stood on a small raised platform. We were the rebels and the freedom fighters. The tunnel was packed, but we were only a few of them.
The rebellion was started by three brothers: Sator, Rector and Filius. Rector was the oldest, and he gives all the orders to his younger brothers. Sator was the second oldest and he was in charge of giving orders to those with good fighting skills or great minds. Filius was the youngest and he commanded the less talented.
Sator and Filius had gone round the country, recruiting the rebels to build up an army. Sator had found Perditus and I around a year ago. We were lurking around, not stealing enough to be noticed, but enough to get us by. Sator had caught us in the act so we ran, even tried to take him down which was ridiculous as we were only eighteen. That was when he recruited us. We soon made our way to his division.
“Attention, Rebels!” He projected his voice, causing us to all fall silent, “I have received orders from Rector. Our mission is to wipe out Numen’s advisors, military and political leaders.”
Instinctively, the top strategists went to discuss with Sator. I was part of that group, though I wasn’t very high up among them. I was the lowest of the highest. Perditus wasn’t smart enough to join. He never thought anything through, but what he lacked in logic he made up in accuracy.
“The meeting is almost over,” Sator looked at the dying candles we used to keep time, “Listen, I want each of you to think carefully about how we could execute this plan over the next two weeks and we can discuss it at the next meeting. Be careful.”
I scanned the crowd for Perditus as everyone began to depart through the many entrances we had created. I spotted him at last and jogged over to him.
He didn’t say a word. It was because of what I said to him before the meeting. I knew it. The two of us were only nine and we were both starving and orphaned. I had stolen to provide for myself, but I needed a place to live. He was still living in the house of his deceased parents. He had shelter, I had sustenance. We each had what the other needed, so we joined forces to scrape by. That was how it all began with him and I.
Since Perditus was much taller than me, he wriggled up and out of the hole. Once he was out, he stuck his hand back down to pull me up. Once I, too, was back above ground we headed back to the town.
Luckily it was still dark, so the chances of us being spotted were very slim. We slipped through the darkness, in and out of the shadows. The only light came from the stars, the moon, and fireflies. I focussed only on getting home safely and hardly noticed my friend leave my side.
I reached the door and turned to look for him. He was running far behind, a small child running by his side. I clenched my fists together tightly. After giving him my coldest stare, I went inside. Now that the little boy was with us we couldn’t very well tell him to leave. As if we weren’t dealing with enough risk already.