Chapter Two – Exodus

The guards at the gate grunted as they slid the wooden bar into and locked it into place. To the nearest urchin one said: “Boy, take this key to the tower and give it to one of the servants there. If you don’t go straight there he’ll know and you don’t want that. Be quick now.”

The boy looked sadly at the key and started running towards the centre of the city.

All the residents of the city deep down knew it was futile to attempt to leave the city before the coronation of the new King or Queen but the gates were barred and locked into place. There were stories of residents who had attempted in previous years to leave the city. Over the years these had turned into spectacular stories with bloody endings and misery for all involved. A favourite story of a particular kind of child in the city was that of a man who snuck over the wall close to a stream and as his feet touched the ground on the far side of the wall all the blood and bones vanished from his body. The description of the supposed mess the guards found a few days later allowed the more wayward child a moment of colourful notoriety amongst friends.

Other stories circulated and new ones were inevitably added each time a new King or Queen was being selected by The Process. This year would be no exception and Eremiel would take pains to ensure that all new stories were captured for the history of the city.

 

Evie’s mother was roughly shoving a few items into a bag, to call it packing would be putting too fine a point on it. Evie watched from the chair in the corner of her bedroom.

“It’s not right to defy The Process, Mum. The Angel too, Mum, think of the Angel!” she’d shout when her mother was out of the room and she’d roll her eyes moodily when she was in the room.

Evie and her mother were due to be part of a group attempting to leave the city before The Process was complete. The plan was deceptively simple: follow the route of a stream through the city, under the wall through the drainage system and out into a field on the far side of the wall. The ragtag band of residents had already factored the looming presence of Eremiel into their plans. He may see everything in the city as it happened but if their plans worked he wouldn’t see this group of residents slip out of the city.

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