[Gift] Hacking - Younger Days
*splash* *splash* *splash*
A merchant looked to the sky as the first raindrops began to fall. "Ah, darn" she hissed. She needed customers, because customers meant money and money meant she was able to buy food to eat and feed her kids. But tourists always disappeared at the first sign of rain. Soon, the flea market will be empty except for a few other merchants, beggars and the occasional desperate individual, who really, really needs something that nobody seems to sell. She could hear the kids giggling inside her tent, the provisional home that provided at least some warmth and privacy. Sighing, she took out a sign that said "50% OFF" from under the table, hoping someone will buy her things before the drizzle turns into a storm.
"I bet you can't sneak by Mr. Grumpy's shop without him yelling at you!" a young paralogos laughed. Cloak eyed her brother daringly. He wasn't really her brother and Cloak wasn't really her name, but as long as they were all safe, she didn't care. Their mom, who wasn't really their mom, took care of them and that was all that mattered.
"You know, one of these days he's gonna notice where we live and he's going to eat our tails." their sister, Scarf, looked up from the book she was reading. "And then we won't only be blank, we'll be tail-less."
Cloak laughed, even though she wasn't sure if Scarf meant it as a joke or had been serious.
"No, *you* will be tail-less, because *I* would never let Mr. Grumpy eat my tail. I'm fast and sneaky, he would never catch me!" Hood proclaimed. Their brother was always so confident, Cloak had no idea where he got that from. Maybe it was from his hood, hiding his fragile, thin body. It is how they chose their names after all, one day, when they found all the discarded clothes in the bin. They each took a piece to always recognise each other from afar. She got the cloak, even if it was too short to be considered a real cloak. Her brother took the hood and his sister picked a scarf. Eventually the names stuck to them, though Cloak believed that once they were to find their word focus, they would lose these silly nicknames. They wouldn't be tabula rasa anymore, they'd be serious and respected paralogos, with powerful magic and vibrant colours. And money, to make sure their mom wouldn't have to stand in the rain anymore, selling her precious life away, just for her kids. The kids who weren't even hers.
"Well?" Hood ripped her away from her thoughts. "Are you gonna do it?"
She nodded. Of course she was, she wasn't a coward and she was finally gonna prove it to her brother by sneaking by the old grumpy merchant's shop. And as proof, she would bring one of the discarded wooden figurines he always threw out, when he wasn't satisfied with his work.
"Well, good luck." Scarf said, without looking up. And with that, Cloak lifted the fabric that the family had been using as a door.
Even though it had just started raining, the market hadn't cleared up yet and the short paralogos was barely noticeable between the countless legs going back and forth. Their mother didn't like it when they went outside alone and soon Cloak remembered why, when someone's foot had accidentally kicked her, another one had stepped on her tail, when her cloak got stuck in the metal of a table, creating one more ripped hole. But she was too proud to give up now, even though she felt really uncomfortable and scared. She was pretty sure she remembered which way to go - turn right at the tall handsome human merchant's table, then straight for three more tables and left, until she reaches the dark tent, where the fortune teller scams people. At least that's what she's been told, although she often wondered if the fortune teller wasn't actually able to see the future. A young woman was just leaving the fortune teller's tent, she looked like she'd just been crying, but her eyes seemed relieved..
Cloak shook her head, snapping out of her thoughts. Wait, where was she supposed to go now? She didn't have time to think, as she suddenly heard yells from her left and feet running towards her. She turned to her right and sprinted as quickly as she could, until she couldn't hear the yelling so loudly, only faint voices in the distance. She sighed in relief and looked around. To her surprise, she was exactly where she needed to be, across the old grumpy merchant's store. And to her luck, he was just throwing away the scraps and she spotted one wooden statue that apparently wasn't good enough for selling. She snuck past the legs, now a lot more sparse than before, and hid behind the bin. Carefully standing on her toes, she picked the wooden doll out of the trash and turned around to leave, when she remembered how she get there in the first place. Right, the yelling was coming from where she needed to return to and the commotion seemed to be coming closer.
Cloak thought for a moment, but considering she didn't know how to get back any other way, she decided sneaking back was her best option. Most of the merchants had only few items under their tables, so if she could keep hiding under those, no one would notice her. Executing her plan seemed easy enough.
She almost made it to the fortune teller's tent, when the tablecloth she's been hiding behind got quickly lifted up and a tabula rasa rushed next to her. His eyes widened in surprise when he saw her, but he quickly grabbed her wrist and motioned for her to keep quiet. Shocked, she obliged and waited. And waited and waited until she thought an eternity had passed, looking into the tabula rasa's dark eyes. Eventually the yelling outside quieted down and nothing could be heard, except for the breath of the two blank paralogos. She wasn't sure what to do now and she didn't dare move, until the tabula rasa spoke "I suppose this isn't your table?" she quietly shook her head and he smirked, "Right then, let's not lurk under someone's workplace. I will take you somewhere quiet instead."
Cloak wasn't sure what that meant, she was confused and scared where this mysterious creature would take her. "Don't worry, it's right around the corner." He stood up and dragged her behind him, leaving no time for protests from Cloak. They rounded a few corners, against Cloak's liking, but quickly enough they reached a small, almost invisible tent, held up by only a few jagged sticks and bent nails. Inside, the paralogos turned to her. "Right, yes, I should probably introduce myself. As you can see, I'm a blank, so I have no official name, but I'm usually known as The Thief around here." He scratched his head in thought, "Now that I think about it, maybe it's not my name, just an accusation. Either way, you may call me Thief. I think I've seen you around here a few times. You work here?"
Cloak was still too shaken up, but she managed to whisper an answer "M..My mom does."
"Oh right, that makes sense, you seem too small and.. quiet. For selling that is." He looked her up and down and his mouth twitched up a little. She smiled back at him, trying to shake off her fear bit by bit. "You should probably wait here until the storm passes, unless you wanna get sick." Thief said. "Or unless I'm too intimidating for ya?" his eyes glinted with mischief.
"You're not! I'm not scared.." Cloak lifted her chin up.
"Well then, let's talk until the storm passes." Cloak's host smiled at her.
"Where have you been?" Hood ran up to Cloak and started examining her.
"He's not going to admit it, but he was scared Mr. Grumpy has eaten your tail." Scarf informed Cloak without looking up from her book, which was nearing its end now. Hood smiled, but didn't say anything and only sat down.
"Well, now that you're here, I gotta know. Did you sneak by Mr. Grumpy's shop?" he looked at Cloak and then squealed with triumph in his voice. "I bet you didn't and just waited until the rain had passed! You didn't bring anything back from his trash!"
Cloak realized she must have left the wooden doll somewhere in the hurry, but she didn't mind. "Guess I'll have to prove my bravery next time.." she smiled, curled up, ready to close her eyes and rest. She may not have brought back any wooden dolls, but she was satisfied with her little adventure.
Thief watched as the small blank paralogos waved and left to hurry to her own tent. He couldn't make out what it was, but something about this young tabula rasa spoke to him. Maybe he could befriend her? He was certainly hoping this wasn't the last time he's seen her.
Once she shook off her shock, she was actually really talkative and sweet. And mayhaps she could be useful in the future..
When she disappeared into the returning crowd, he turned around in his little den one could barely call a home. There was a wooden doll lying on the floor, probably forgotten by the young cloaked friend he's made. Thief picked it up and placed it on a box he's been using as a shelf. "Until next time I see you, this will do."
A story about how Hacking used to live before finding her word focus - with her adopted siblings, Encrypted and Schloss - and about how she first met Red-handed.
If it isn't clear from the story, the nicknames are: Cloak-Hacking, Hood-Encrypted, Scarf-Schloss, Thief-Red handed
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