I’ve had a rough ride in my early days.
Being in a kingdom shred to pieces by on-going wars, it was rather challenging for a teenager to survive.
My parents were medics, being constantly on duty, so I was more or less left alone.
The money they’ve left was gone rather quickly, because nobody thought the war won’t end in years, everybody presumed it’s a normal skirmish of the Northerners just like the yearly attacks were.
We were wrong, so wrong.
Regardless of our hopes, the war is still raging, and I am left on the streets.
Our house was decent, 3 rooms, a bathroom, and a kitchen, but what could I have done, when a noble came taking it as a warehouse with his private army?
So I was tossed out like a bag of potatoes and left to my own devices.
I was trained by my parents from a young age, despite being only 15, I’ve been tall, and well-built. (now, I am a scarecrow but that’s not the point)
I knew my way around the city as well, since my mom was paranoid of a war happening, as our city, isn’t that far away from the border with the Northerners.
Thus, I had it easy when it came to finding shelter, or underground pathways to avoid the noble’s guards, who sometimes I think killed the street dwellers for food, since people often disappeared, and I could hear screams from the noble district.
But, fortunately and unfortunately, I wasn’t alone.
Kids of my age or younger were everywhere in the sewer system, as the elderly couldn’t get down here, while anyone over 17 was conscripted into the army.
We were a couple hundreds of kids in the sewers, that banded together to survive.
Since I knew the sewer system and the street system as well, the kids appointed me as the leader.
I wasn’t flattered, as it was a hell of a job.
Making sure they all had something to eat, making sure we could get our hands on some clothes, and making sure they didn’t die of fever, infections, and simple wounds.
The last part wasn’t hard, I got some knowledge from my parents after all, but the other… the nobles, merchants and the remaining guards protected their supplies in unimaginable ways.
But, since they needed sleep, and we started getting used to not sleeping, eating or drinking, we had an advantage. (As they say, there is chance to fight light, even on the darkest days.)
And oh, how well it worked for a while.
Canned food, beef jerky, barrels of water, we started getting more and more.
Clothing materials weren’t many, but we could make clothes from the rolls of materials used by the soldiers to cover their tents.
The only thing we lacked were shoes…
We were constantly ankle deep in sewer waste…
Glasses, sharp rocks, and broken knives were our worst enemies…
All of us started dreaming about getting shoes, being barefoot in this environment wasn’t a funny thing.
And then, the nobles started to take the food from merchants, and soldiers as well, and keeping them in their mansions…
We had no chances of getting over their tall fences, while the sewers led straight into the mansions, but they were filled with maidservants, and guards, so it was too risky.
The days started getting shorter, the nights longer, it was starting to be colder…winter was coming.
Our supplies were stretched thin, and we started to lose hope.
Then, we found it!
A simple pair of leather shoes.
It was nothing else, no magic engraved on it, nothing fancy, actually it was rather used, but better than being barefoot, always needing to cover your feet in bandages.
This pair of shoes was our dream, and my friends gave it to me…
“As the leader, you always run ahead of us, scouting the path ahead. Also, you are the fastest, so it’s normal you get it.”
I gritted my teeth, and accepted it.
With renewed hope, we got braver as well, starting to ransack some mansions of lesser nobles.
It went well, but the food was scarce for them as well…
I made a though decision.
“We shall move to the mountains…”
I said, and my decision was accepted.
Moving to the mountains was easy, since the sewers lead outside the city for kilometres, and we barely had to move aboveground, before actually arriving at our destination.
My mom showed me a cave system when I was 10 years old, and that was to be our base.
We took wooden planks as weapons, and some supplies that could last us for 10-15 days.
After those supplies ran out, we found an underground river as drinking water supply, and we hunted for food.
It was hard, but enjoyable, we were our own masters.
When we got older, we started to visit other cities as well, learning their sewer systems, and streets, we navigated agilely, and gathered information.
Once, a lieutenant who was a magician caught us.
But when she saw our state, and learnt about all the information about possible noble rebels, and traitors from us, she gave us another change: work as an information agency for the kingdom.
My eyes lit up, I agreed only if they provided decent food supplies, and let me do the scouting for new employees.
We agreed, and thus The Children of The streets was born.
We travelled across the kingdom, recruiting all the kids who were left alone on the streets, and slowly trained them how to walk quietly, how to remain unmoved, how to deal with hunger, cold and fear.
Our information system was widespread, and slowly we begun to gain a foothold in the Northerner Kingdom.
As the war raged, our troops started to gain advantage due to knowing the enemy’s supply route, their warehouses position, they reinforcements path, and their camps location.
We won after a decade of hard work, but our services were still needed.
We became a department under the royal guards, but our name and symbol never changed.
When people saw kids begging on the street, they always gave them coins, and when they saw a pair of old leather shoes engraved on someone’s clothes, they bowed their head in fear…
When my parents came back, and learnt of my new position, they were baffled.
“How did this happen?”
“All of this was possible, because of a pair of simple leather shoes…”
I said, chuckling.
I’ve had a rough ride in my early days.