(Art by Alice Boewe)


For as long as I can remember, we have been living shrouded in shadows. The Hive’s base of operations in Fairdenn. A whole fourteen years.


It was just another day as a child of ‘The Enclave’ as locals called it, and I had put on my robe and cowl accordingly. I was so proud to get one of my own, a proper black one like dad wore. It was he who I was looking for actually, I don’t remember what I needed to find him for anymore, that bit kind of got lost in everything else that happened that day.


Being so proud of my new robe, I had almost forgotten about the warnings they gave me about going outside with it. I was just about to turn around the corner to the city when I saw a priest walking by. The alarms in my head went off and I turned around as quickly as I could, ran back into the headquarters and bumped into another member. I apologized to the member in the cowl. One should always apologise to someone in a cowl if you might have done something wrong to them. After all, you don’t know who is under it and if they might take exception. Wanting to get out of sight, I ran on and slipped into a meeting room. Which was a mistake. A big one. Rule number 9: Never enter a meeting room without permission or an invitation. Preferably both.


The meeting room was occupied.

I ducked down and hid before they could see it was me. I was in my cowl so they wouldn’t have recognised me anyway, but I guess it was a force of habit. Some of them turned around to see what had happened, but shrugged it off when the person talking didn’t stop to check. “... therefore, it is vital that we restore the order in Fairdenn. We cannot allow this to happen!” He sat down which allowed another member to stand up. A soft, silky voice came forth, “They may have been terrible deeds, and punishments will be performed accordingly. It is not, however, the people of Fairdenn that need to pay. We are here to protect the ones that mean no harm, remember that well chancellor.” There were choruses of ‘aye’ throughout the room and the attention in the room returned to the owner of the silky voice. “All in favour of a non exclusionary extinction contract for the group known as ‘Kings of the Realm’, please raise your left hand.” 17 of the 33 hands in the room went up. “That would be the majority. Is there another order of business from our associates further afield?” Attention shifted again. It was miraculous how everyone seemed to know whose role was filled by which ambiguous cloak.


They talked of killing, of extinction contracts, of the treaty with Death Himself.

I didn’t come out of my hiding place until the meeting had been done for over an hour. I wasn’t going to risk that.

The Hive