Chapter 2

Maru went to the slums once more. From there, he could again exit the city with the use of its sewers. When he was halfway through the slums, a group of children barred his way. He tried running but the much older boys were faster than him. Maru got caught.

"Well well well. What have we have here, boys? A mouse! Hahaha!" the leader of the group laughed at Maru. Two boys held him and he got searched all over his body.

"15 pennies. An abundant income wouldn't you say, mouse?" the leader asked Maru.

"Please. You can't take the money. My mother's sick and I need that for us to live." Maru begged the group of boys. He was now crying as he had worked very hard to get those 15 pennies. He spent nine tough hours just to be able to collect those from good people. Those that had pity left inside them enough to care for a little beggar like him, even if they too, were mere servants with meager incomes.

"You know the rules inside the slums, mouse. You can take what you can if you don't get caught. But if you are, you have to pay the price. Beat him!" the leader commanded the boys with him. They were mostly ten years old, ganging up on one small six-year-old child. It was brutal.

"Learn your lesson, mouse. Don't come here again." The leader advised Maru after they were done with the beating. He looked so miserable he could barely walk. His red hair turned even redder because of the blood that covered his broken face. If his mother and sister would see him now, they would find it hard to recognize their family member. Maru was horrible to look at. He had only one eye that could see because the other one had swollen already.

He crawled towards the sewers until he recovered well enough to stand on one foot while dragging the other just to find his way back home before dark. It was dangerous if he got stranded here inside the city. There were those who preyed on children and ate their meat. The cannibals of the slums. Maru was glad those boys hadn't sold him to those monsters. These were what his mother told him to look out for.

It would also be unsafe to travel in the dark outside the city. He had no light on him and he still had to travel 30 minutes back to his family. That time would be longer now that he was injured. Maru could only hope that the moon would shine bright tonight because he simply couldn't make it home before nightfall as he had promised his sister. When he got inside the sewers, shadows were everywhere as the light of day welcomed the dawn of the evening. He limped while he dragged his right leg. It was broken.

Moving any part of his body hurt but he had to endure. His remaining left eyesight was also beginning to dim because it too, was getting bigger as it started to swell also. His tears had long been emptied. What he wished now, more than ever, was only to go home and be with his family. Maru did not stop his journey in his wish to exit the sewers. His sorry figure was crawling once more when he got halfway through the sewers. He could no longer see anything as both of his eyes had already swollen. Maru was blindly touching the walls of the sewers to guide himself home.

"I have to live through this. I can't leave my mother and sister. I will survive. I must survive!" Maru was keeping his hopes up. He would not die before he saw his loved ones. He had still so much to do. Maru wanted to make his mother and sister happy. To give them a life worth living for. He'd have given the world to them if he could. He wished he could see them one last time.

But now it seems that those hopes and wishes will never come true. Maru stopped his crawl. It was not because he wanted to stop but because he couldn't move anymore. His arms and legs had no strength left. His six-year-old body had been washed with bloody gashes from his crawling. This aggravated his already injured condition. Human wastes and mud had also stuck on every part of his body.

Maru could hear his stomach growled because of hunger. He did not have lunch earlier because he wanted to save the pennies for his family. He wanted to buy 2 kilos of rice for those 15 pennies. Now it is gone. It seems that he was also going to lose his life here. Maru felt that he was getting even weaker by the second.

"I want to live. I don't want to die like this. I can't leave my family alone. Mother, sister, I'm sorry." Maru's thoughts were racing as he was getting closer to death's door. He had lost much blood during his way home. He wanted to cry when he thought about his sick mother and his little sister. But even the relief of crying was taken away from him. He had no tears left to cry. Maru was dehydrated.

It was at this moment that he heard a voice in his ears.

"Initializing system…





100% complete

System Integrated...

Welcome to the Artificial Intelligence System, host." The female voice said.

"Hi." Maru answered with his thoughts. He had no strength left in him. Even opening his mouth to utter a word was impossible. Maru was unsure of what was happening but he decided to try communicating with this strange voice. He hoped that this person could help him from this dire situation. Maru felt so alone at this moment. He wished he was not hallucinating this new change of hearing a voice from out of nowhere in the middle of the sewers. He was sure that none had walked in on him because he was currently lying on his back. If there was somebody who came, he would have heard them a few feet away before they could get within whispering distance.

"Maybe this was one of the mystical cultivators that mom told me about. The fairies and heroes of this world." Maru thought hopefully.

"What are your orders, host?" the voice said to Maru.

Comments (1)
goodnovel comment avatar
Marcie Hutchison
dystopian for sure.

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