A familiar strike of hunger gnawed at Tarry's stomach. The dirt-grimed stones he lay upon sapped the warmth from his body, the threadbare tunic doing little to keep in any heat. He kept his slow watch over the alley, ignoring the wind blowing through. The burnt out torch near the entrance smoldered, and he saw some passerby ignore the alleyway, as if it were not there. He felt Finell roll over on his side, sucking on his thumb, the only part of his body not covered in dirt. He nudged him away a bit, annoyed at him. As young as Finell was, Tarry wished he was a bit less likeable. He had latched onto Finell about 4 years ago, when he was barely older than a toddler. Tarry had ignored Finell, until Tarry saw him collapse. Tarry threw him some food out of pity - a rare act that was uncharacteristic of him. If he had thought that he would be left alone after that, he had been sorely mistaken. Now he had the boy acting like a wart: unwanted, but impossible to remove.
Tarry picked a potato skin off of his thigh and inspected it for a moment before he tossed it away in disgust. He tried not to eat food that resembled dirt more than food if he could help it. He wasn't quite that hungry yet. He gazed around again, his sharp brown eyes taking in his filthy surroundings. He glared at an old man across the street, in the opposite alley. He had seen that old man preying on a couple of the younger girl and boys. He had almost cornered Tarry once a couple years ago, but left with surprising speed when a rare guard happened to enter the slums. The man gave Tarry a smile he knew the boy hated, and seemed to mutter to himself. Tarry spat on the ground in disgust and pushed himself up. His stomach had awakened him, and as always this annoyed him. Finell stirred momentarily, then turned over again and fell back into a peaceful slumber. Tarry glanced down at the boy - he knew leaving him would be dangerous, but they needed food or else they would both starve. After quickly hiding Finell's position with a spare piece of burlap and a crate thrown out from a nearby store, he walked down the street, avoiding anyone who might take a swing at him. He walked the long way around to the shopping district, so he could make sure he avoided his father's hut, or the shitty tavern/hut with a distillery in it.
Tarry passed an armless cripple and crossed to the other side of the small street to avoid him. He wasn't worried about being hit by him, as the street urchins often were by the drunkards or older beggars. He also avoided the Toskers because he hated their eyes, and the mutterings he heard, spells and rituals carried in the harsh winds coming from Leona Lake. All Tarry knew about them was that their giant cathedral-still a mighty pile of rubble near the town square- had been destroyed. The organization had quickly gone underground, and, from the stories Tarry had heard of their practices from before the Great War, they became even more sinister (if that were possible).
Tarry wrapped his tattered tunic closer to himself, the wind sending icy pinpricks up his spine. Winter was coming, and that meant more nights having to sleep in his father's hut. If Tarry didn't get kicked out or beaten while asleep that is. A faint smell of bread came to Tarry's nose, floating over the filth and feces that found their way into everything in the slums. He slowly approached the bakers shop, staying on the other side of the street. He felt nervous; why were there so few people here? It was usually packed at this time, being one of the cheaper shopping districts in the city. There were a couple old men gambling with cards on a discarded crate, a couple rich women, escorted by a bodyguard, and another street urchin other than himself. His stomach growled, alerting him had gone a day too long without food. Tarry waited patiently for an opportunity. He glared at the streetrat, scaring him off. He didn't need anybody messing this up. Last thing he needed was to be thrown in some stocks and ridiculed and starved because some punk was trying to get in on his theft.
'There.' Tarry thought, seeing an older women walking towards the baker. He took a deep breath and began to walk in sync with a woman approaching the stall, shadowing her, so the baker could not see him. Tarry's hand involuntarily twitched a couple of times, causing him to clench and unclench his fist in order to stay controlled. Stealing never got any easier for him unlike some people. Maybe that was why he seemed smaller than his thirteen years could account for. He stood patiently behind the woman as she interacted with the baker, and smoothly slipped from beside her to the side of the table. Spotting a roll, Tarry quietly rolled it off of the table and into the loose pocket he painstakingly had sewn into his tunic, with a chicken bone and burlap sack he had found. Tarry hesitated a moment before doing the same with another roll, thinking of Finell.
When no one had noticed him, Tarry turned and started walking hurriedly to leave the stall, when he felt a large hand fall down on his shoulder. What little food remained in Tarry's body made a weak attempt to revisit the world, and Tarry felt his heart drop into the dirt, assuredly dirtier than the ground he had slept on. He looked over his shoulder and saw a city guard looking at him angrily. "Give those back, you damn half-breed!" snarled the bullish guard. The man had a couple wine stains on his otherwise white shirt, and he seemed extremely angry, even more than a crime like this would warrant. Tarry opened his mouth as if to speak, then chomped down hard on the man's wrist, making the man considerably lessen his grip. Tarry quickly spun about, breaking the man's grasp. He quickly darted out from underneath his arm, sprinting towards the main square. Tarry's panic-filled brain could only hope that the square would have more people than the near-empty shopping district. Hopefully he could lose himself in the crowd, and the guard would give up the chase over two measly rolls as well as the sore wrist. Tarry dodged through the groups of people, quickly finding himself within a denser crowd.
The fear started to slowly ebb away, 'I can escape', Tarry gratefully thought. Tarry slowed down to a movement blended between a brisk trot and a strut, trying to make sure that even he did not know where he was within the crowd. Tarry was sure that there were few guards that would pursue for so long after such a minor offense. Tarry slowly started to notice the feeling of excitement in the air, watching the kids run around, and the men talking boisterously and loudly. Alcohol was being passed around freely. Although he tried to accept it from a man, he was blocked by a couple of crude looking men laughing at how straggly little hang-abouts don't need drink. Growling, Tarry continued his movement through the increasingly dense crowd until he finally reached a point where he could no longer move forward without becoming a hindrance and being noticed.
Tarry tried to remember if he had noticed anything odd leading up to today. Other than the market having few patrons, he could only remember a large group of people moving excitedly towards the nearby city-gate yesterday. He distinctly remembered the occurrence because a large number of wealthier people had passed through the slums, which they would have avoided like the plague otherwise. Tarry settled down and gnawed on one of the rolls, which quickly diminished after Tarry remembered his hunger.
A sudden stirring in the crowd grabbed Tarry's attention, even as he did his twentieth or so check of the surrounding area for following guards. All Tarry noticed other than the stirring, was a woman shying away from him, likely because of the smell, or filth he possessed. Tarry then saw several people rise above the rest, about 15 yards ahead of him, likely standing on some upraising or likewise. Tarry quickly hissed. Elves. He had never seen one before but noticed the differences in the two kinds fast enough. The cheekbones, the ears, the unnaturalness of them all screamed out the alien presence they brought to an entirely human world of Tarry's. Watching closely, though, Tarry also noticed the strength and gracefulness, suddenly feeling a strong surge of jealousy at. What he wouldn't give to have the attributes possessed by these magical beings.
"Attention citizens of Dras Leona!"
An old man, likely one of the city officials according to his purple robes, wrenches Tarry's attention from the regal elves.
"I would like to welcome you all to the Egg ceremony!"
A cheer rises from the crowd. Tarry stared angrily. He had no respect from the riders. All they did was abandon the Empire and Surda after the Great War, rarely ever coming back to Alagaesia. But apparently not everyone shared his sentiments, obvious by merely listening to the cheers. The old man rambled on a bit on the great history of Dras Leona. Tarry grew agitated. Could he sneak back to Finell now? Before Tarry could make a decision and act on it though, he was distracted by the older man mention Eragon.
" Eragon Shadeslayer then flew off to Urubaen to fight Galbatorix, and win freedom for the people of Alagaesia. Since then we have been blessed by Queen Nasuada, and in turn, Joshua the Strong. After Eragon left Alagaesia, he has sent groups of Elves, laden with the task of ferrying Dragon eggs among the People of this land, to continue, and grow the ranks of the Dragon riders. "Tarry was upset. How could these men and women be glad of a man who abandoned his people, while there were children starving, and he was abandoned? That was not a man to be praised, especially if he had the power to change, and to help. Tarry turned to leave when he heard a voice that struck a chord within him. A voice with a near musical quality that held wisdom beyond its looks, and knowledge beyond the most intelligent of Dras Leona's scholars. "Let all the children between 10 and 25 come to the stage." People began to get excited- although not all were as such. A few even groaned and scoffed at the speaker who was still obscured from Tarry's view. A few drunkards even let loose a mocking guffaw. One of them, a short pudgy man with a greasy face, yipped above the growing commotion, " Oh, and how do we know you aren't just going to spirit away our young, you freakish-"
A loud roar, which was quickly followed by another, shook the buildings nearby. Tarry looked around in terror, as well as many of the nearby people. Tarry grew scared, even more so than when the guards had chased him. What beast could possibly make that kind of noise? What could stop him from being devoured by it? Tarry felt everything grow deathly quiet, then suddenly the square vibrated as a loud thump filled the air. The square shook again, the air blasting hard upon all. Tarry and the rest of the crowd turned, gasps going up in all directions. Tarry felt tremors run up his legs, his pulse quickening as he beheld two magnificent Dragons fly and attempt to land upon the now puny looking stage.