A young boy wearing only a pair of tattered shorts stood surrounded by rock, his pale white skin covered in sweat. He stood at 5’10 and had a slim yet muscular build. Pitch-black, slightly wavy hair flowed to the bottom of his shoulder blades. His eyes were dark brown, and his whole face had a sharp look to it.
Ruith grabbed the canteen from his belt and greedily gulped down the remaining water, it was near the end of his shift anyway.
Then, he raised his pickaxe just as he had for the past 11 hours, and began swinging away. The impact sent shocks up his exhausted arms, but he had to continue for him and his team to meet the daily quota.
Ruith sighed. The sound of rock being struck constantly rang out around him, enough to drive most people crazy.
Today was his 16th birthday, and here he was, deep in the mines, barely earning enough money to survive. But alas, he had no choice unless he wanted to starve on the street.
Another hour passed before he stopped once again, now his shift was over.
He and the other men hauled the ore from this day's work up in wooden boxes, and after nearly ten minutes of walking, they reached the surface.
Exiting the mine, cold air rushed into Ruith’s lungs, nigh euphoric after working in the stuffy and hot environment for 12 hours.
The overseer awaited them outside, watching as they placed the crates down.
“Good haul today…five copper coins for each of you!”
Ruith felt a bit of excitement.
‘Two more than usual, a good birthday present indeed!’
In the Bastion, the currency was simple. One hundred copper is one silver, and a hundred silver is one gold.
For people like Ruith, who didn’t have any special skills, all they could do was manual labor, barely earning enough to have a roof over their heads and food on their plates.
However, since it was his 16th birthday today, he would be receiving his ability. Ruith prayed that it would be good enough to let him stop working in this hellhole.
After receiving his money, Ruith and the other men loaded the crates onto horse-drawn carts. They all proceeded to sit on top of the crates as the driver began to move.
Off in the distance, just a few miles away, rose the massive gray walls of the Bastion.
The Bastion was the final hope of humanity. Now it had been 500 years since the mysterious Voideborne, terrifying creatures, had appeared, forcing mankind into the four Bastions. This was the last of its kind, the rest destroyed by monsters of unimaginable power.
Driven to the brink of extinction, all hope seemed to be lost, until the fateful day 100 years ago. Humans gained abilities, and the power to use the strange energy called Mana.
Ruith did think it was slightly strange that in those 100 years, there had barely been any expansion, though several towns now existed outside of the protective walls.
As the cart drew nearer to the massive gates, he couldn’t help but wonder how these massive walls were constructed even before humans gained abilities. They rose several hundred feet into the air, and each side was around 20 miles long, forming a massive square.
Once Ruith entered through the gates he quickly hopped off the cart and made his way home. It was very dangerous to be out at night in the slums, and the ability awakening process would start in just under an hour.
Drawing nearer to an alleyway, Ruith heard voices coming from inside. Curious, he peeked around the corner.
A short young person, about 5’1,had been cornered by two ragged-looking men. The person seemed to be a girl at least from what he could tell, since she had a black cloak around her whole body.
Ruith sighed, sights like this were all too common. These people in the slums were already at rock bottom and had nothing to lose. Combining that with the fact that there was zero law enforcement around here, one could only imagine the terrible things that went on in the slums.
Normally Ruith ignored things like this, feeling that it wasn’t his problem.
‘Well, maybe I should be a little helpful for a change…” He thought to himself.
He sighed once again and was about to move when something happened that completely shocked him.
As the two men walked towards the girl, her arm moved beneath her cloak. And from under it, came a long, silver sword.