Descent of Darkness
Blink’s original name was Alwin Fletcherson. He was born into a comfortably well-off family of fletchers on the good side of the city of Aldritch. For the first ten years of his life, things were nearly perfect. His family loved him and he them. The arrows his parents made and sold ensured that he always had a warm bed to sleep in and good food on the table. Thoughts of the infamous dark side of the city never even crossed his young mind.
All that changed, however, in the winter of his tenth year. An unusually bitter winter caused sickness to spread across the city almost like a plague. Though Alwin was spared, both of his parents fell sick to the violent fits of coughing and the alternating fever and chills that had gripped so many in the city. Still, he believed that they would pull through, like many others had. In the grueling weeks that followed, however, he watched helplessly as they both succumbed to the wasting sickness. The shop his parents had run closed for good and young Alwin was left devoid of family, home, and the future he had once believed to be his
His first few weeks on his own were the most miserable he’d ever known. With little food and less money, he eventually wound up in the slums of Aldritch. His father’s sword, once kept above the mantle of his childhood home, served to ward off some of the bullies and thieves that might otherwise have taken advantage of him in those early days on the street. He eventually found a section of Streets to become part of and he was no longer as alone as he once was. But though he was safer and more protected than most of the Streets in the city, he couldn’t stop his longing for the life he had known. The jeers of his newfound companions upon finding him crying on more than one evening taught him to mask his emotions when they became too strong. He learned to blink back the tears instead of crying and the constant blinking in those early days earned him his Street name: Blink.
Blink’s handiness with the sword and his adaptability allowed him to survive and even thrive being a Street. Eventually, he became the leader of the section of Streets he had first joined so many years ago. But though he led them, he still bore the memories of a kinder life and he treated the other Streets in his territory well. Everyone, from teenager to toddler, had something to eat when it was available. Blink had been known to give away his own share of food for the day to ensure each of the younger children had a meal. Yet the hard-earned toughness he’d gained from becoming a Street served him well too. When rival gangs threatened the safety of Blink’s small section of Streets, he did not hesitate to do what needed to be done to make sure they didn’t threaten anymore. Only in shows of violence and force did some of the other gangs finally back down and leave Blink’s Streets alone, at least for a while.
So it was that one day while walking back from a confrontation with another gang of Streets Blink happened to hear a small voice crying mournfully from one of the dark side alleyways of the city. Wary of a trap but concerned for the obviously small child’s voice, he carefully and stealthily slipped into the alley. But there was nothing to fear from the child crying as if her heart would break, sprawled against the alley wall. From her size she couldn’t have been much older than two or three or so. Blink rushed to her side and was relieved to see that she didn’t look hurt. Taking a second, sharper glance at the girl’s delicate, angular features, he took a startled breath as he realized that she was an elf. Not that he’d ever seen an elf-child before but he’d seen one or two adult elves come through his parent’s shop and he knew enough from those bygone days to recognize her heritage. What is an elf doing here? ESPECIALLY a child he wondered. She must belong to someone he thought as he glanced at the tattered remnants of what had once been a finely embroidered green silk dress. Her family will be looking for her. I bet she got lost on the good side of Aldritch and wandered down here, poor thing he thought. Taking her hand, he walked her to his Street’s home base – a broken down building that once had been an inn. I’ll just care for her until her family comes. They’re bound to come.
But the days passed. Weeks turned to months, which turned to years and still no one came. There were not even whispers on the streets of anyone in town searching for a small elf child. The toddler Blink had found, who had been nicknamed Ears by the other wide-eyed Streets as they stared at her strange looks, grew slowly from an almost-baby to a young child. When she had first met Blink, she refused to speak. Blink had heard that sometimes happened when a young child saw something terrible and he didn’t push her. In time though, she spoke as quickly and as often as the other young children. Ears had some special talents too. She could see things in the semi-darkness, when the rest of his Streets were all but blind. And she was quick with her fingers and quiet too. As she got older, Blink took her along on more and more pickpocketing and thievery forays.
Blink had grown in the time since Ears had come to them as well. No longer the awkward teen leader, he’d grown into a handsome young adult. His heart had never settled on the street though. He yearned for a taste of the life he had once known with his parents, so many years ago. And as time went on and he saw so many of his young charges killed by rival Streets or simply the harshness of living too long on the street with scarce food and less clean water, he became sick of it all. It was a constant cycle – as more Streets died, new ones came and they lived and stole what they could to survive. Eventually those were driven off or died as well and another came. Blink hatched a plan with his gang of Streets that he was sure would end the cycle, for them at least. They’d always stolen just enough to eke by and not starve. But if he could hit the Mayor’s house – where a lot of the city’s excess trading wealth was stored, he could make it out! He could take him and his small gang of Streets and finally leave the city. He’d heard the next town over had no street gangs. Less people would know them there and he, Ears, and the handful of others in their gang could start over – could know a real life. They would be each other’s families and finally be away from the violence of the streets of Aldritch. He set Ears as look-out as she had the best ears and eyes of any of them. He would enter the house himself and steal the money they would need. The other Streets he left at their home inn. No sense everyone going down if the night went awry. He wanted them safe. Blink made a silent plea to the gods to let this venture be successful. It might be foolhardy to attempt to rob the mayor – the city, really, but he was desperate. He couldn’t make it another night just simply surviving, with no hope for anything to ever be better. This had to work! It HAD to!
But that fateful night was to be Blink’s last. The mayor, tipped off by one of Blink’s biggest rival Streets was awake and wary that night. When he entered the house, she was lying in wait with armed guards. When Ears saw the lamps flare on in the house, she fled in fear. Blink was quickly bound, hands behind his back, by the guards and marched to the willow tree in the middle of the town square. The terror in his heart as he saw one of the guards pull out a thick cord of rope never reached his face as the mask he had learned to perfect so many years before fell into place. With a defiant glare, he said “The life of a Street is worse than awful. You all sit here in peace and comfort while children a few streets down from you starve and perish. There will be a reckoning, one day. The children will rise and take what should be given freely. No one should starve.” The mayor’s face showed only disgust as she told the guards “Take care of him. Let him be an example to the others for what happens when one thinks to overstep their bounds” Her icy expression shot daggers at Blink as she watched the guards hoist him onto the platform, rope tied around his neck. “I regret nothing” Blink replied coolly, his face staring straight ahead. At least Ears hasn’t been caught in this mess. He winced and closed his eyes as he saw one of the guards begin to pull the rope that would spell his death. His last thoughts were of his parents and the joy he would feel when he was finally able to see them again.