Gyr was walking down through the illness-stricken streets of his town. He gazed around him: all he could see was the old and damaged narrow streets colored only with gray. Under the gloomy clouds at noon, he kept on walking and stepped on a puddle. He saw his reflection for a moment: short black hair on a bony face with a grim expression that had a bristly beard as the most notable feature. He reached for his cheek, slid his hand across his beard, and realized how definite his cheekbones became. He had lost some weight for some time. “These dark streets...” he thought, “are the reason for everything.”
Streets were dark indeed, there were buildings placed next to each other in such an order that you always had to walk between them. You could almost never see what was above and beyond. The few people you saw would mostly sit on the muddy ground and cough most of the time.
Coughing. It was all you could hear. With every cough, the risk of being infected by the plague would boggle your mind. It was everywhere, the rats, heralds of this horror, surged around the streets, bringing pestilence to this town.
He knew the plague would get to him someday, just like it had for his family. But until then he needed time. “I need to find him. If he’s alive...” He took out a golden locket from his pocket. He opened it and there was a picture of a handsome-looking man with a sharp jaw and olive eyes. “They took you away...” he reminisced with a sigh and clenched the locket in his fist, bringing it closer to his heart.
The locket was all he had from him, which he had been keeping for a while now: it had seen the happy days, the sad days. And now it served as a beacon of memories for him. The picture stuck inside kept Gyr going.
As he was walking, from the shadow of a building, a man appeared in front of him. He was walking slowly towards Gyr, hands in his pocket, his eyes were fixated on Gyr’s hand. Gyr knew what was going to happen, for it had happened many times before. Suddenly, the man pushed himself forward with a dash and tried to snatch the locket from Gyr’s hand. Gyr dodged to his right and with a punch to the back of the neck, he knocked him out. Gyr took a look at the cutpurse’s ragged clothes, it was easy this time, but Gyr knew it wouldn’t be the last.
Gyr coughed. “Oh damn it.” he cursed. He knew what was happening. He had until midnight to get an antidote, otherwise, he would suffer a most horrific death. That was what the plague did. You felt perfectly fine in the morning, start coughing at noon, spit blood, have a high fever in the evening, and be dead by midnight.
He knew someone down the street, a doctor that had no official record and yet cured hundreds of people. He started running. His black boots were splashing on the puddles, leaving his footprints on the muddy parts. His black raincoat was fluttering everywhere with his movements, it had hit some people that were on the ground; but he paid no mind, he had no time.
He found the doctor’s building, and just like the others, there wasn’t anything different on it, except for a number on its door. There was the number 4 on the door carved in Roman numerals, so thin that without a closer look you wouldn’t notice it. He knocked on the wooden door, a figure with a black leather coat opened the door. The figure had a black cane that touched the floor just right from his hand. “What is it you need?” the figure said with a husky voice, behind his white beak-shaped mask. Gyr coughed, the running had made him feel worse. “Antidote.” was all he could say.
The beak snarled, “You know the price. Have you got it?”
Gyr froze. He had forgotten about the price. He didn’t have any gold, except for the locket he cherished. He needed the locket to find his beloved but also needed to give it up to live and continue the search for him. “I’ll get it back from him, be it by gold or by force.” he thought to himself. He reached for his pocket in his raincoat and took out the locket. The beak held out his hand and Gyr put the locket on the black glove. After inspecting the locket with a careful gaze, “This shall be accepted.” the beak snickered, and gestured Gyr to come inside.
The beak ushered him to a wooden stool. He put the locket on a desk that had lots of torn parchments on it. Gyr looked around. Under the dim light, he saw old papers lying around on the floor, the shelves were full of dusty books with a hectic order. He could hear the creaky noise of the shelves and drawers as the beak was rummaging through his untidy workplace. Despite the uncomfortable sight, Gyr knew the beak could be trusted, he was his only hope after all. “Here!” the beak exclaimed, as he took out a small bottle that had a green liquid in it. After holding it up to the dim light “It ain’t tasty, give it a good gulp.” the beak forewarned, passing the bottle to him.
Gyr did what he was told. As the liquid went down his gullet, it was burning through everything it touched inside. Gyr struggled with his hands on his chest, trying to breathe but the burn was too much... he felt his eyelids closing and he felt himself falling on his back.
The last thing he heard was the beak say, “They will be waiting when you wake up.”
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