A dark-haired boy sat at a chair, the quiet squeaking of wheels and gentle tapping of his fingers on the desk were the only sounds in the entire circular room. It was maybe fifty feet big. The walls were made of peeling plaster that exposed the dirt underneath. The musty smell of wet dirt and fabric plagued the room. The boy smiled to himself. He remembered the day he’d first entered the room fondly. He looked up from the leather bound books in front of him and up at the walls, trying to remember how they looked when the plaster had only just begun peeling, the way his father had smiled. “We’ll have to get that fixed,” his father had said. The walls were never fixed, though. The peeling continued, worsened, until mounds of dirt were spilling out of the walls, and sections were held together with nothing but duct tape. A few dozen tables were scattered around the room. Some had chairs, some didn't. The materials and quality varied. Some chairs appeared to glow white, while others were a deep black. Some chairs were sturdy and held together well, while others were held together with the same duct tape that patched up holes and looked like they could collapse if you breathed too hard on them.
It had to be at least one in the morning. It wasn't as if the dark haired boy could tell, though. The room was illuminated by few lanterns, and it was always hard to tell what time it was. The sense of normalcy that came with the squeaking wheels and his tapping fingers was something the dark haired boy cherished. By seven, everyone would be awake, and just like that, his normalcy would be gone. He shuffled through the books until he found the one that bore his name; Rico Rico smiled at the writing. It wasn’t shabby for his ten-year-old self. He was eighteen now, though. He enjoyed writing in the book before him. His journal. He’d kept a journal before The Shift, and it felt familiar. He wrote a few things,
I am Rico.
I like coffee.
I hate tea.
His thoughts grew more and more personal, and as quickly as it had come, the normalcy slipped away.
I lead a group called The Ravens.
I’m too young for this.
My dad is dead.
He shouldn’t be.
The Shift happened.
The Shift had been an event twelve years prior. A group that called themselves Catago had seized control of the world. Twelve years ago, The Ravens came into existence. But Rico thought more of two years earlier. Two years ago, when his father had been killed. The Catago supposedly had lots of followers, but Rico knew better. He’d seen their blank eyes for himself. They weren’t following out of choice. The Ravens planned to fix their broken world. As the normalcy finished slipping away, Rico relaxed. He felt unhappy at losing it, but what was done was done. He shut his eyes and before he knew what he was thinking, his hand found its way to Ravens’ Rulebook. It wasn’t a book, just a single page pinned into a leather book. His father had never been big on having lots of rules, so the three rules kept it simple and to the point.
Rule One: Training can begin at ten, and becomes less of a focus at fourteen when missions begin. Training ends entirely at sixteen. If a member is mature and can handle the situation, they may go on missions before turning fourteen.
Rule Two: If the leader of The Ravens dies or steps down, their elder child will take their place. If the child has not completed their training, the second in command will become the leader.
Rule Three: You may not harm other members.
Rico had been holding off on something for months now. He didn’t want to change the rule, to do that would be an acceptance that times had reached their darkest. But he had to, and he did. The rule he was modifying was the first one. He took a deep breath and crossed out a few lines. He gazed at the new rule version, the beginnings of tears welling up in his eyes.
Rule One: Training can begin at ten and becomes less of a focus at fourteen when missions begin.. Training ends completely at sixteen. If a member is mature and can handle the situation, they may go on missions before turning fourteen. Missions begin when the member is needed to join one.
It had been such a tiny change, but it was such an emotional one. Times had reached their darkest. People were dying in the simplest of missions, which meant that Rico had to read the letter from his father. He remembered watching his father weaken, slip away from him, until the sixteen-year-old couldn't handle it anymore. He remembered leaving. He felt horribly sick when one of his kindly friends had brought him a letter. ‘He wanted you to read it if times become dark. ’His friend had tilted his head and told him, ‘good luck.’ It was hard for a person to formulate a decent response when someone's father had just died. For months after that fateful event two years ago, Rico had cried. He hadn’t done anything a leader needed to do. He’d had his father ripped away from him when he was far too young. He pried open the letter.
If you are reading this, I am likely dead, and times have reached their darkest. I was hoping that this moment would never come. But I assume it has, so please listen.
There is a boy. He is twelve years old right now and had his parents taken from him by the Catago. There is an odd prophecy which seems to detail him.
Seek him out at the New Horizons Orphanage in Vecuria.
Rico sighed and grabbed a new piece of paper, then began to write a letter. A letter that would be sent to a now fourteen-year-old boy. A letter that would change everything.