Doughguy Deacon rose with the sun as he did every weekday. Sliding out of bed he stumbled over to the bucket of water he had placed on the table last night and removed the lid. A young, platinum blonde man stared back up at him from the reflection on the surface. He scooped up a handful of cold water and splashed it into his face, washing away the residue from the night’s sleep. Another handful went onto each arm and two on his chest. It wasn’t the best cleaning, especially without soap, but it was the most he could afford. He grabbed the towel he’d left next to the bucket and quickly dried himself off before leaving it in the bucket to soak and clean. Stripping off his pyjamas he dressed for the new day in a plain white shirt and beige shorts. He meticulously inspected the shirt to ensure it was completely clean, though he wasn’t confident it would remain that way until work started. A quick comb of his hair using his fingers and he was on his way out. The streets were beginning to fill as the poorer half of the town started leaving their homes to head to the fields. He moved quickly through the forming crowds, dodging the worst of the traffic on his way to the meeting spot. Moving against the flow was difficult but by now he was well versed in finding a path. It only took him a few minutes to arrive at the meeting point, the crossroads where it was commonly said the poor and rich parts of the city met, easily identified by where the lantern posts started. Leaning against one of the posts he waited for Eliza to arrive. Aidee It takes three people to wake Eliza up. One to open her curtains and start polishing her trinkets, another one to call out her name and ask if the bath should be drawn and finally someone to clap their hands and call her name. Eliza awoke with a splendid surprise for the servants. As graceful as she looked, the young lady plucked her pillows and whipped it at the servant that clapped their hands, "Don't...wake me up!" Eliza tried to get out of her bed with her messy hair and sleepy disposition. She ran a few fingers through her hair and yawned as the other two servants scrambled around her room. She was promptly dressed and sent on her way out of the bathroom. Rather than going on her merry way, a hand grabbed her wrist and peeled her away from the stairs, "You are not going anywhere without attending to that hair, young miss." Fifteen minutes were spent to untangle strands of her faded red hair. After exchanging a few dirty looks with the maid, Eliza was finally released from her room. As Eliza traveled down the stairs, she grabbed a small purse and yelled out a few words of parting, "Father! I'm off to go sink a child's boat at the river!" Her father did not listen to her excuses and if he did, it was barely acknowledged to give a response to. Eliza hopped out of her house and picked up a stray stick in her estate's garden. Some mischievous little boys must have thrown sticks towards the house. She held up the stick and swung it around as she walked towards the light post that her friend was waiting at. "Deacon waiting by a beacon!" She taunted, pointing at the light post with her stick, "Sorry for being late, but-.." Eliza yawned for effect, "It was a long night." She tapped the stick on the lantern post to hear it ring. Doughguy Deacon was not surprised to see his friend sporting a stick as she approached the lantern post. It was very reminiscent of their first meeting so many years ago, though he had noticeably less bruises than that time. And had fewer bullies standing over him taunting. Whoever would have guessed she was the daughter of one of the richest families in town. And you would have been laughed at for suggesting the pair would be the best of friends a year later. He knew he would have himself. But Eliza was persistent. Just like she was with her nicknames. Why, why was their meeting spot a bringer of light? He couldn’t remember who had chosen it but wouldn’t be surprised if he’d done so himself with the ignorant naivety of a child. Without a nickname of his own to come back with he could do nothing but let out a sigh … and quickly distanced himself from the pole by waltzing up to her side. “What does a rich young lady do all night that keeps her up long after she should be asleep?” With his words he gave the shorter girl a quick pat on the head, knowing the reaction it would illicit. “Onto the orphanage!” he then declared, spinning on his heel and marching towards the building. It was close to town but slightly separated, having once been a church that fell into disrepair ages past. When the mayor had realised how many children lacked parents he had cleaned the place up and gifted it to them so they had a place to live and sleep. It unfortunately had the effect of distancing the issue from most villagers since they didn’t often see the building. Few cared about it, but those that did cared deeply. “What sort of excuse did you give your father today?” he asked Eliza as they walked. Aidee Eliza used her free hand to twirl her hair away from framing her face. Deacon sighed and asked her what she was up to all night. She broke into a grin, "What's it to you?" She rested the thin stick on her shoulder and was going to twirl away from him, but Deacon surprised her with a pat on her head. It emphasized the height different and left Eliza with a scowl. She mocked his words as he left for the orphanage,“Onto the orphanage says the dickhead!” Eliza wasn't really doing anything that night. She was staring at the wall, hoping the night would end. For some odd reason, the plush blankets and ambient sounds of fire didn't emulate warmth and drowsiness. She was troubled and therefore late meeting up with Deacon, “What sort of excuse did you give your father today?” It was one of their daily antics. Eliza dropped her stick for a much more durable one. As she bent down, her bag slung forward. Eliza liked to bring the orphans some offerings like small toys and maybe some treats that she could sneak out of her own home. Today, she brought three soft plush bunnies, sewed carefully with the invisible stitch technique. "I said that I was drowning some child's boat." With a smug smile, she pointed the stick at him, "Which is what we are essentially doing. You're the child's boat and at some point I'll be drowning you." Eliza tossed her stick into the air, "Before you ask, I am joking." She caught the stick with her other hand. As the two reached the outskirts of town, Eliza felt a pit of despair grow in her stomach. An unsettling silence fell over the church's atmosphere, "They must be still...asleep...? Looks like they had visitors.." She thought out loud as her foot glided over the carriage tracks. It wasn't raining last night, but the prints had a slight indention. Eliza swallowed her worries and cracked open the door, "....Fuck." Doughguy As Eliza bent over to pick up the sturdier stick he made a mental note not to be too annoying to her until she put it back down. Even in front of the orphans he doubted he’d be safe, they’d probably cheer for her as she beat him up. At her response to his question he spun around with a look of horror on his face, exaggerated enough that it was clear he was joking. The wiped his brow in relief, “There’s no water around her anyway.” he replied with a cheeky smile. Arriving at the orphanage Deacon felt a similar despair to Eliza but not as great. It was weird that it was so quiet even this early. Normally the children rose early as the rest of the town did in preparation for when they were older. But it wasn’t impossible that they were being left to sleep in today though. He bent down and examined the tracks on the ground. They were deep, which meant the carriages had been stopped here for a while or were carrying a heavy load. “Maybe someone broke down on their way through and asked the orphanage for help? Could be why they’re sleeping in late.” It sounded reasonable enough. Standing back up he walked over to the doors and pushed them open to have his hopes ruined. The inside of the church was a mess. Mattresses had been overturned and thrown about. Clothing that would normally be bundled at the bottom of the bed for the coming day now covered the flood. Broken toys were mixed up here and there, he could spot many of Eliza’s gifts in pieces. But worst of all was the scene at the very entrance of the hall. Mr Grimpin, the elderly man who ran the orphanage to the mayor, was lying at the entrance in a pool of his own dried blood. There was a gaping wound in his chest where someone had thrust a blade. Deacon dropped to his knees as the horror overtook him, unable to comprehend what he was seeing. Aidee “Maybe someone broke down on their way through and asked the orphanage for help? Could be why they’re sleeping in late.” Eliza nodded reassuring herself mentally. Eliza's stomach curled up as she stared at the ground next to Mr Grimpin. She couldn't stare directly at the rotting corpse, she felt that it was disrespectful. She may have not spent everyday with the old man, but she did feel some sort of grandfatherly bond from him. Deacon fell onto his knees with a thud, Eliza placed a hand on his shoulder. With her other hand, she picked up a toy that was ruined from the wreckage, "It's-...Deacon. Where did they go?" She asked absentmindedly. She tugged on his shirt and walked closer to the old man's body and placed a torn sheet over his face, "Snap out of it...we need to find them...They must be hiding..." There was only one body in the room. The only violent struggle she could see was the children's bedding and toys ruined from a fight. Eliza turned over some mattresses and glanced over to her struggling friend, "They aren't here." Her voice echoed into the large corridor. She sprinted towards the door and glanced at her surrounding, "Deacon! We need to catch up with the carriage..!" The girl fell to the ground and examined the tracks. Eliza grabbed a long branch off the ground and yelled for Deacon again. Without much of a warning, she ran down the path. Doughguy Deacon barely felt Eliza’s hand on his shoulder or heard her words. He felt like he was falling in his own mind. Mr Grimpin had been his family in all but name, as had many of the other orphans who had lived there. He watched Eliza cover the dead man’s face with a sheet. She was trying to get his attention as well but he was just staring at the sheet. Why? Who had stabbed him? Who had taken the orphans? What reason did anyone have to do that? He managed to get to his feet and walked further into the room, carefully stepping around the body. The kids had tried to fight but he couldn’t see blood anywhere else in the room. So that meant they weren’t injured at least. He spun around taking it all in, how many of them had there been, that not a single one had escaped with all the struggling? Eliza’s voice rang out from the doorway and he looked up in time to see her disappearing outside. The carriage, yes, they needed to follow it, the children were in it. He stumbled outside after her to see her already running off. Knowing he couldn’t leave his friend he took off run after her trying to catch up. “Eliza, wait!” he called out. He had no idea how they were going to catch up to a horse drawn carriage. He could feel magic tingling in his fingertips but knew doing anything now would be disastrous. His emotions were too strong and he’d have no hope on controlling it. “Wait!” he called out again. Eliza was the fitter of them in the best of times and she was leaving him behind easily now. Aidee Eliza halted in the middle of long stride and caught herself before she could trip. She tapped her foot with an impatient glance towards her friend. Once he was in close proximity, she curled her fingers around his sleeves and tugged him towards a clearing between a darkened forest and an empty field. Dots of sunlight poured into the forest, inviting a discreet and dangerous path. The field was filled with tall stalks of various produce. It was safer to go through there and it was more exposed. "The-...The path it just," Eliza glanced at both ways, "Splits into two.." She approached a sturdy tree and began to scale it. As she reached the top, Eliza scanned the field for the carriage's path that would have inevitably knocked down the stalks of corn, "Deacon! Go towards the field! Straight to the lake!" There was an apparent trail that twisted and turned as it headed for the lake. Eliza walked down a branch and jumped from the height. She tumbled and rolled into the field. Once her balance returned, Eliza ran after her friend. Doughguy Deacon managed to catch up to Eliza as she waited for him, a little colour rising to his cheeks as he saw her expression and tapping foot. He was afforded nor rest then, as she immediately pulled him along behind her as she took off again. He took their little pause as Eliza climbed the tree as an opportunity to catch his breath. He didn't have great endurance or great anything physical. He hadn't expected to ever need it. He'd left the orphanage, got a job as an assistant, he spent a lot of his day sitting or making short trips around town. Maybe he'd make it a bit higher up the chain and spend even more of his day sitting around. His break was cut short by Eliza yelling at him from above, giving directions he should chase in. He started jogging in that direction, trying no to use up everything he had regained. With the emotions of the kidnapping pushed out of his mind by the physical activity a more logical side began to take over, thinking about what exactly they were doing. They were chasing after what was probably a large group of attackers who were all riding in carriages pulled by horses. Even if they caught up they'd be too exhausted to do anything productive. With the children so close just unleashing his magic would be risky. When his friend caught up he tried to convey this too her between gasping for air, "Eliza. This won't. Work. We need. To think." He hoped it would be enough to get her to stop. Aidee Deacon huffed out a few words to get Eliza to stop and actually think for herself. She had to admit that she was being rash and wasn't thinking rationally, but that's why Deacon was there. It seemed like he grounded her whenever she was acting up like this. Eliza slowed her breathing when she realized that she had been hyperventilating the entire time. She collapsed her face in her hands and glanced at her friend. Even with a dry mouth, she tried to swallow down her spit and sit down at Deacon's feet, "Okay. I'm listening." With her overactive nature, she found that the only way she can calm down was to physically sit down and listen to Deacon. Eliza fiddled with Deacon's shoelaces as she listened. Doughguy Deacon gratefully stumbled to a stop as Eliza finally stopped running. His hands dropped onto his knees and he sucked in deep, greedy breaths. He just wanted to fall onto the ground and sleep. But Eliza had already sat down in front of him preventing that from happening, unless he wanted to squish her. "Catch me if I fall." he said, the words just tumbling out of his mouth randomly. He sucked in a particularly deep breath and then pushed his body up straight as he let it out. It helped a little, though his body still ached incredibly. "We can't catch horses." he said, managing to get out some sober words at last, "And if we can we don't know how many people there were with them." he could feel her doing something with his shoes but was too tired to pay that much attention. Instead his eyes were focused on the horizon in the direction they had been running. "We might just end up getting kidnapped as well. And then we can't help anyone. We should head back to town, get more help." He reached a hand down to help Eliza up and, once she was on her feet, went to take a step forward, only to begin falling forward, his first words oddly prophetic. Aidee What he said made sense to Eliza, but she couldn't help but feel hesitant. She knew that she would have no chances against horses, but it was a shot in the dark. Eliza grabbed Deacon's outstretched hand and pulled herself up. Taking in a deep breath, she tried to imagine the children being safe for now. As she stepped away, Deacon plummeted forward, "Woah, watch it!" Eliza quickly grabbed his arm and pulled him upright. Before he had a chance to free fall again, Eliza wrapped his arm around her neck and supported him as they began to walk towards the town, "Sorry for running off like that.." It was entirely too silly to even try to catch the horses, "Do you think...they will help? I would try to ask my parents for help but.." She swallowed and continued, "I don't believe they are the charitable type..." Doughguy Deacon had been expecting a mouthful of dirt and a bloody nose. Fortunately for him Eliza had been listening and managed to catch him before he completed his trip. He felt her shoulders under his arm and felt more secure with her taking some of his weight. His face burned red from the realisation of how out of shape he was. He made a promise when he got home to get Eliza to train him up ... somehow. He wasn't entirely sure how his friend stayed in shape, he had a suspicion she spent her time beating up bullies around town, but surely she could help. He shook his head sadly at her words, "I don't think your father would care enough to help. But we can ask the mayor instead. He'll help us for sure. And if he's on our side then the town guard will be too. And they have plenty of horses. We'll be back here in an hour with a dozen armed men and women with us." he said, a hopeful note entering his voice. The mayor loved the children of the orphanage as much as they did, he wouldn't let them down. "We'll get them back." he said determinedly.