PART I: CAMPBELL
Campbell hadn't known that the streets were so cold. He supposed it was to be expected- the winter months were closing in, and even the Abbey had begun to let in a chill. At least there, though, if the cold nipped too fiercely, he could bundle himself in blankets (Or whores, or both if he felt.)
He had been allowed nothing when he had been cast out, when he had been hurled begging and pleading into the streets by the very men he had once commanded. He couldn't help but touch the brand when he thought of it- he had cracked his head against the cobblestones when one of the men had kicked him away, and it had scraped the cauterized wound raw. He'd cleaned it as best as he could, with water from fetid puddles and gutters. He now worried that it would begin to fester.
He found himself missing even the floors of the Abbey. He swore to himself that even its marble was softer than the cobblestone he now called bed and home. For a brief while he'd found a place whose family had died of plague- He'd had to move their fly-infested bodies, but the mattress and still-functional stove had been to good to pass up. They were the only nights he slept at all, before the Dead Counters had chased him out and barricaded every entrance.
When he heard the pounding of the nails, he began to cry for the first time.
There was no help for him, but he still had his hope, and he swore that it was the greatest curse ever visited upon mankind. When he thought he'd given up, when his dignity and his pride could suffer no more abuse, he would be buoyed up by a sympathetic glance or a hesitant step. The results, however, never varied.
Every few hours he could hear the propaganda, reminding the world that aiding him was a criminal offense. He still tried. He begged, pleaded, making himself more and more pitiful as his pride sunk lower and the hole in his stomach grew wider. He begged for bread, for crusts, for crumbs, for anything to quell the hunger in his stomach. For a blanket, a sheet, anything to wrap himself in and fend off the cold just a little longer.
In the end, he'd been forced to eat the rats.