Everyone is born with a destiny. I am no exception to this fact. Some embrace it, others fight against it. Some destinies are bought and sold. However, mine was one that got dealt only once in the last three hundred years. And it was a destiny that no sane person would take.
I was born to a normal mother and father in a regular hospital as every child in the city is. My parents were two of the many poverty stricken merchants whom frequent this place. They had saved their money for many months to provide me with a first class birth. I assume this means they loved me, at least for a little while. The thought surprises me, considering that they sold me less than a week after I was born.
My birth parents peddled their trinkets and wears to the city folk. They made the commute daily from the land beyond the bridge to come to this urban center. It seems only natural that the city, which is the center of everything, should exist on an island. It sits perfectly situated high above the ocean, with steep, thousand foot tall cliffs lining every side. Most of its shores have only water for as far as the eye can see. From the remaining bank, across the way, there is a small clearing and a heavily forested land.
Though there are many buildings so tall that to stare at the top of them would strain your neck, I have never been up in one to see the great distances. I had only heard tell of what lay beyond the borders of the city. No decent city folk ever leave. To do so could cause great shame or suspicion. A loss in stature that great could not be risked, for any reason. Even though there are cable cars that glide from the tops of the buildings, networking them together in a web of convenience, there is only one way in and out of this metropolis.
The bridge. Giant in its construction, it spans the great breach between the shores of this land and the next. If twenty men were to lie end to end, they would hardly reach both rails. The pass was laced with gold as a display of the influence and prosperity of the Empire. It was a false icon. Many merchants traveled the bridge daily, as my parents did, to sell what they could to the affluent citizens who lived in excess.
There were times when sales were good, and there was money to be made. However, the bridge retracted at dark. The loud sound of the gears as they groaned to lift the monstrosity echoed across the island every night.
If a merchant were caught still within the city limits, they would be heavily fined. If they committed more this offense more than twice, they would be hanged as an example. Begging was also not allowed within the city limits. To do so resulted in swift action, often finding oneself on the wrong side of the cliff.
Occasionally, when there were celebrations to be had, if the city was fully stocked, to impart some lesson, or if the Emperor just felt like it, they would not drop the gate. There were times when the bridge stayed raised for weeks, ensuring that many of the merchants who depended on the city would die from starvation.
The winter before my birth, my parents nearly suffered this fate. Luckily, my father was an adept hunter and was able to provide both food and fur for my mother and my embryonic self. I am not sure if they had a home, or merely lived out of their cart. I try not to bother myself with such questions. Curiosity normally only leads me to sadness. Perhaps it’s the sadness that I shall never know them, for the loss that I never had them, or for the idea that they could so easily part with me.
Four months into my term, the overpass opened once more. My parents continued their daily migration, scrimping and saving for my impending arrival. They had to be more and more careful as the months passed, as pregnancy amongst the poor is not looked upon favorably.
Merchants had no rights inside the city’s boarders. A guard in search of entertainment could deem one a trouble maker, take all their belongings, and throw them to the lions. Literally, there were lions. While we have, what some consider to be, advanced technology, the people of the city are not beyond the trials of old. They enjoy the spectacle of man on beast combat, paying little more empathy to the person than the cat.
The city dwellers lived their lives of luxury. Lucky enough to have been dealt a favorable destiny, or had parents rich enough to buy one for them. They had no care for the ways of the wood-kin, their plight, or the whispers that magic still existed deep within the forest.
With some luck, or perhaps fate, I made my appearance in the middle of the day.