PROLOGUE: Throw Away Treasure
Thousands of beginnings exist within every single solitary second. How then should I begin my tale? I suppose, for simplicity’s sake, I will begin way back when, about twenty so years ago, on the night after the Monsoons ravaged the Bay.
The skyscrapers and the storms were doing battle over who would have supremacy over the city — who would loom over the small lives that dance undertow? The storms had been winning the war; thrashing the mirrored glass of countless windows asunder, bending the steel framework of the new and old until they cracked under their own weight. These storms were putting human architecture to the test. Many buildings collapsed during the Monsoons, but these were mostly the newer ones; those built by profit-driven businessmen from the Lower Heights district.
The safest buildings were the low-lying, older mansions, shacks, and homes of various designs. These were buildings created with respect, or a patronizing sense of respect, to the storms and in honor of the Earth from whence we came and to where most of us aspire to return.
When the storms had past, the wreckage lay splatted across in all directions of the city. Of all the tall buildings erected to stab the sky, only the old clock tower remained swaying in the evening breeze. It’s foundation, untouched by the storms, sparkled crimson under the remains of the fallen buildings. Above the wreckage the tower stretched high into the sky, it’s weathered stone thicker than the height of a man and twice as strong as his soul gleamed like the scales on a Black Dragon’s neck. The onyx stone gradually gave way to pure white marbled that shined mother-of-pearl when hit by the eastern sun. A single silver bell hang high onto of the bell tower, under a roof-top laced with bronze and gold. As the sun rose, the bell rang out over the once glorious city of Kenae (note to writer: Mykenae = greek city-state).
Most of the citizens, this day, were mourning the dead, counting their loses, and asking WHY in one continuous howl. However, there were those who not only lacked the time, patience, or luxury of sorrow — they lacked the sense of lost all together. For them, Kenae was never theirs to begin with. Separated by politics from family and friends, forced to work by for those who think less of them for little to no pay, suffering various indiginities until they begin to forget that they too are human. No. These poor souls could not mourn for a city that was never theirs to begin with, for they are and will forever be Mystics.
Due to the politics of the day, Mystics were herded into three large groups: the Crafters, Operatives, and Laboreres. The largest group was the Laborers and on the day of September 29, they were out in full force cleaning up the debris, lifting the carcasses of fallen metallic giants off the ground and into large green steel trucks known as Turtles. The Turtles carry the remains into the processing plants on the outskirts of town where Mystics rummage through the trash and extract anything of value before the rest is sent to the incinerator deep below the ground. The treasures are usually sent to recycling once they reach the processing plant and are sorted out. But where there’s treasure there will always be treasure hunters. Or as those who possess the fortune to be righteous call them, vultures.
But Mystics by nature do an efficient clean-up job. They began restoring order before it was even lost. They did not do it for home or country — they did it to survive on their daily wages — comforted in the knowledge that their pay checks came from the tax surplus drenched in their forefathers’ blood.
They own no one anything and thus can take whatever throw-away treasure comes their way.
One in particular knew no family at all. Well, no family beyond the forgotten scraps that were once important for a particular task. He collected tin cans, rusted nails, gears, cogs, pistons, panels, sockets, tools, antique trinkets, jewelry, and what ever else he found in the trash of the wealthy.These were kind and kin to Baloo the Bugbear of Trash-Heap Hallows (as he would famously boast in pubs until it finally stick). His flat roofed, aluminum clad shack sat a mile east of the processing plant, right in between the plant and the city landfill. It was no bigger than 4800 square feet wide and 7 feet tall. On the outside, it looked like a very large aluminum crate with an outrageously ornate elm door set into the right corner facing the road. Ply wood steps lead to the door and formed a small porch where tin cans were gathered, standing like sentries to a castle. The earth around the shack seemed to be more mud than earth, but despite appearances formed a strong foundation for the shack and hid the true nature of it fairly well from would-be tax collectors.
You see, Baloo was a treasure hunter and he built his small isolated castle out of the treasures he found before they reached the plant.
He was the best.