Chapter 4: Exile

He leaps awake to the sound of a distant scream, the ground convulses, his ceiling begins to crumble. Hobbling for the exit of his burrow, in scurrying up, he presses his now swollen leg into the dry dirt, opening the cut and causing it to bleed and weep. He grunts and grimaces with pain as he lifts himself onto his feet, his expression dropping, his eyes widen to take in the chaos before him. The clock tower has fallen, the walls have crumbled into the moat revealing a village occupied by smoke, fire and fear. The thief is snapped out of his shocked, frozen state by yet another tremor shifting the ground under his feet, small cracks begin to form.

He limps his way towards the village and climbs over the fallen rocks that once made a wall, the sharp squeals of a child cut through the air and the crackling of the flames. Making his way as fast as he can to the source of the cries, into a house on the verge of collapse. Up the stairs, his burgundy bandanna now down over his mouth and nose, the terrified wails of a little girl lead him to a cupboard, the fire is almost there. Swinging the door fully open the little girl, a tiny, young alligator, pounces into the thief’s arms.

“I twied to hide fwom the fire, but I fink it still found me!” the child sobs.

Child in his arms, he turns and runs to the window to hear the Captain’s voice.

“MAYELLE! WHERE ARE YOU?” Captain calls, the panic clear in his voice.

“DADDY!” the child screams.

The Captain looks up to see the thief holding his precious girl.

“CATCH!” Thief yells, tossing the girl through the window and into the air over bellowing fire.

Her descent felt as if it lasted an eternity, her little dress fluttering in the passing air, before landing safe and sound in her fathers loving arms. The captain glances up at the thief, whose gaze is fixated on the tender moment shared between parent and child, before yelling.


The thief is suddenly engulfed in dust, smoke and debris as the ceiling caves into the first floor. In the split moment he has to react, he clings to the windowsill and launches himself out, dropping to the ground with an obvious snap coming from his chest. Doubled over in pain, he scrambles to his feet and tries to make his way across the village.

A guard approaches and grabs him by the neck. As the guard opens his mouth to talk, the ground beneath them both opens up, separating the pair of them. The thief scurries behind a row of barrels as strange, black, shadowy creatures flood out of the cracks. Some drag themselves across the floor by their thick claws, others swim through the air like eels in the water. In no shape to provide any more help, the thief flees back out of the village dodging the horrific figures as they aid the fire in dragging down an entire colony and slaughtering everyone in their path.

Accompanied by vile screams, the thought crosses the thief’s mind to give in and accept death but something won’t allow him. No, he can’t, just can’t. He leaves, limping as fast as his wounded legs can carry him, doing his best to ignore the agony of his injuries. He makes his way over to a nearby river. After tripping into the water, he finds a split log on the riverbank. After pushing it into the water and dragging himself on, his body drops, weak and exhausted. The water rocks him as he drifts off into a deep, dreamless unconsciousness. It will soon get cold, now that the sun has set on this dark day.

Chapter 2.5: Meanwhile

“GET HIIIIIM!” calls the alligator Captain, taking pursuit alongside his troop of 10 armoured men of varying races, wielding swords, spears and bows.

The thieving rat makes a break for the village wall, lugging a tatty sack over his shoulder. Holding his paltry haul in his teeth, he leaps to the top of the nearest house, barely reaching, digging his claws into the thatched roof and pulling up before heading towards the edge of the village. The soldiers on the ground cease the chase and take aim with their spears and bows, launching bladed projectiles at the thief. A single arrow sliced against the thief’s thigh, stopping him only for a brief moment.


Recovering from the initial sting of the wound, the thief dashes again, pouncing towards the high wall surrounding the village, clinging as hard as he can to the rough jagged stones. He climbs up, scrambling for his life, the clinking and clanking of arrows hitting the rock beside him. Finally, he reaches the top, looking up, he sees a lone guard on the walkway with a lit torch.

“Take that!” shouts the guard, beating the thief across the face with the torch, burning his fur, melting his whiskers and covering him in ash. The guard loses balance trying to grab the thief by the hair, nearly falling to his death over the wall. The thief seizes the opportunity to dash up, past the guard and leap off the other side into the glittering moat below.

The guard atop the wall rushes to see where the thief heads. Looking down, he only sees the disturbed water and a stream of bubbles emerging from a cloud of red slowly growing beneath.

“I guess that’s over,” the guard mutters under his breath, as he turns to report to the captain of their success.

Moments later the thief lunges out of the water, gasping desperately for air, before flopping exhausted onto the riverbank. His vision blurring with tears and fatigue, grasping at the grass tight in his fists and pounding on the dirt angrily, struggling to keep himself from screaming.

“I want to sleep, I don’t want to be here, I need to leave, can’t s… stay h-here,” he whimpers pulling himself to his feet and limping into the dead forest to the burrow in the ground he calls home. He collapses once again, onto a pile of dusty rags to rest and inspect his loot; wet bread, now-bruised fruit and a broken bottle that once held fresh-pressed tomato juice.

With very little choice he wolfs down what little food he has, and turns over to rest, falling asleep instantly despite every joint and muscle screaming with pain, his thigh still stinging and seeping with blood.

Praying tomorrow will be different…