The nine-year-old boy crouched in the shadow of a towering, eroded statue of some past, forgotten hero, silently watching the Rich Children at play, jealousy burning in his young heart.

He was indistinguishable from the countless thousands of other urchins crowding the filthy streets of overpopulated Calimport. The strands of his unruly mop of dark hair were glued together by dried mud and oil. His small body was paper-thin; you could count his ribs through his frayed shirt.

He watched the Rich Children toss their brightly-colored ball back and forth to each other, laughter and cheers erupting frequently. Their eyes were bright and merry. And innocent…so innocent. Those were eyes that never saw more than a few drops of blood before, that had been sheltered from the sight of true poverty. Eyes that most likely would not comprehend the sights the nine-year-old boy had witnessed. These Rich Children had never had to steal for their meal before. They had never been forced to kill other children for their continued survival.

To the young boy who crouched amongst the shadows, the Rich Children were cattle.

Yet he longed to join them. He longed to shed the lice-ridden clothes off his back and don the velvet outfits of the Rich Children. He longed to have an actual ball to play with, instead of a fractured human skull his gang had found lying in a gutter one day.

Most of all, he wanted to laugh with them. He could not remember the last time he laughed.

So caught up in his fantasies was he that he almost failed to react when the ball raced toward his nose. With lightning-quick reflexes, he caught the sky-blue object and held it before wondering eyes.

"Come on!" cried one of the girls, a pretty one in a little pink dress, her unusual blonde hair done up in pigtails. "Play with us!"

Tears leapt unbidden to the boy's eyes, and his throat tightened as if something were lodged in it. The boy gratefully stepped forward to join them, passing the ball to another boy as he did so.

A shriek rent the afternoon air, and a mother, dressed in sparkling silks, dashed out of one of the grand white houses lining the Rich section of Calimport. Glaring at the boy as if he were some dangerous, rabid dog, she ushered the protesting children inside out of sight.

As he wept that night, little Artemis Entreri's sense of loss and agony coalesced into indescribable anger, and he realized that he wanted to kill them all.

A/N: Felt lonely one night, so I wrote this.