The problem with the masks, I'd decided, was once you started wearing them, eventually, you couldn't take them off

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The problem with the masks, I'd decided, was once you started wearing them, eventually, you couldn't take them off. The irony never failed to amuse me. Though, it wasn't as if I had any experience with them. Being few and far between down here in Imus, finding one meant I'd be dead before I got the chance to use it. Not that I wanted to. Prolong my time in this hell hole? No thanks.

Nope, the masks aren't worth the trouble. Of course, when you're from the upper districts of Aether, it's different. They're a luxury. A fashion accessory. Don't know why they bother, though. Their air up there is pure. Well, as much as any air around here can be.

Oh, sure. The masks seem great to those who can afford them, but as with everything, there is a catch. From the moment you put on a mask, your body will, over time, lose any resistance it once had to the pollution. It's not long before death awaits you if you take it off. Like I said, not worth the trouble.

"Aeris!"

Looking up from the busted belt that was stopping my knee from bending, I twist around looking over my shoulder. I can just see Ellinder's head coming into view as he makes his way up the stairs from the forges below.

"Ellinder, hey. They let you out early?"

Turning back around, I eye the Church in the distance. The building is still silent, thank the Gods, meaning it wasn't quite tea time yet. When dinner rolls around, the acolytes come out and make a big fuss about calling people in for their evening service, right around the time Ellinder clocks off. On an average day, Ellinder and I had to extract ourselves from their claws before they tried to drag us inside, but it seemed today, we wouldn't have too.

"Yeah, guess the Over-watcher felt lenient today" Ellinder replies hopping up onto the wall next to me. "Besides there's only so much a one-armed guy can do." He continued, a small smile tugging at his lips as he wiggled his stump.

Instinctively, my eyes flick to the blotchy, lumped skin, once Ellinder's left arm. He'd lost it a few years back, during an out of control blaze from one of the forge fires. Ellinder, being Ellinder had stopped to help pull another worker out of the way of the blaze, catching the full heat of the flames on his right arm. The image of Ellinder's melted flesh as they dragged him out of the forges is one I'll never be able to forget. As he recovered, I'd drawn up the plans to build him an arm. But with the increasing issue of the scarcity of parts, constructing it had to be put off time and time again. It was now seven years on, since the accident, and I still hadn't managed to build it. Gods knew what Ellinder would do if I used the materials he brought home on him.

Ellinder bumped his shoulder into mine, "So, what should we do for the rest of the day?"

Grunting, I swung my right leg up onto the brick wall, the metal creaking as I did. Heat burned my cheeks as I dropped my gaze, "Just need to tighten up some screws first. I could use some new parts, but there just hasn't been any lately."

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