[RP Episode] "Pathetic runt..."


#1

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It was a dark and stormy night. Lightning constantly tore through the sky, lighting the moor with a sickly green flash every time, thundering with a tremendous crackle. The rain was coming down in sheets, crashing on the road and fields. The waves of golden grain bent low in the onslaught of water, bowing to the sheer force of the drops.

Underneath a wooden roof of an inn a small child lay shivering. At every clap of thunder he shook with fright. No one was there to hold his hand. No words of comfort, no smiles. Nothing. Only him and the empty building. His huddled form was completely enveloped in the darkness, with not even a candle to shine some light. The pain. The pain was unbearable at this point. The throbbing in the child’s skull grew more and more, but at this point, crying was useless. He simply huddled his knees up to his chin and stared forward listlessly into the black room. Another flash of lightning, and a thunderclap shook the entire house, rattling the doors and windows violently. The brief instances of light highlighted the space in front of the child. A young woman lay sprawled on the floor. The way she lay looked like her death had been excruciatingly painful. Another flash of lightning caused the blood soaked floor to reflect the wooden rafters.



A tiny tear rolled down the little boy’s face. Mama. The woman had what appeared to be sharp protrusions from her head. Her face, laying on its side on the wooden timbers, was gushing with blood. Her mouth had opened so wide that her jaw had snapped. And the teeth…

Like a fan or a comb, the teeth had grown to massively disproportionate length. The bottom row had gone right through the roof of her mouth, and splayed outward until they emerged from her head, resembling a gory tiara.

The top row of teeth had grown downward, perforating her throat, stabbing it full of holes. The entire head was covered in blood, so that the face could not even be made out…and so the child stared. Only catching glimpses of the horror before his eyes every time the lightning flashed.


#2

Clip clop clip clop clip clop. Amid the howling of the wind and the thunder, a horse whinnied and drew to a halt near the door. The boy looks nervously towards the door, as he crawled backwards into a corner, wincing in pain as he did so. Sploosh! The sound of boots landing into a puddle of mud. As the sound of the wet footsteps clopped towards the entrance the child curled into a ball, trying to make himself as small as possible. A heavy knocking sounded, shaking the door frame, followed by another clap of thunder. The knock repeated, more urgently this time, followed by the latch shaking as the intruder tried the handle. The boy didn’t dare answer the door. The knocking stopped for a while, and the footsteps fell away. The little boy breathed easily again.

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SLAM! The boy screamed in fright as the door cracked in the middle and flew into pieces and a figure kicked its way through. The wind grew louder and howled in anguish. Rain flew into the room, and the lighting flashed on and on as it had been, silhouetting a tall sinister man, wrapped in a cloak completely soaked through with water, dripping all over the floor.

The man didn’t say anything at first, for the first thing he saw was the boy. He cocked his head sideways, staring at him, and walked over to the bar counter, clothes dripping, leaving a trail of water behind him. He sat down on a stool and hunched over, rubbing his sore legs.

“Pathetic runt.” He spat the word ‘runt’ as he said it, growling in a low raspy tone. “Ye could have opened the fucking door.”

The rain continued to drip from his clothes as he sat, so much that he undid the cloak and let it slip to the floor in a soggy heap. He pulled a small paper wrapped package from his belt, which caught the glistening eyes of the child. With a little crinkling noise of the paper he unwrapped what looked like a hunk of meat. Seeing the boy eyeing his food hungrily, he glared at him. “Is that yer work on the floor over there?” He nodded at the dead woman. “I don’t trust murtherous li’l shites like yu.” He bit voraciously into the jerky, chewing loudly.

The boy shed another tear, larger than the first. The stranger pretended not to notice, and so a silence took over the room. After a while of thoughtful chewing, he tossed the remainder of the morsel towards the boy. The boy reached for it eagerly, and snatched it up, but after a short moment, he put it back gently on the floor. He teared up even more, shaking with loud sobs.

“Ungrateful runt.” The stranger shook his head. He got up and walked around the room, looking for some food.


#3

He started rummaging through the cupboards, finding nothing but plates, pots, and pans. He threw them to the floor in his annoyance, causing a clamor. One dish after another flew over the counter, crashing to pieces or clanging across the floor, but no food was to be found. “Augh sod it! D’ye got any firewood?”

The boy said something that sounded like speech, but couldn’t be made out. His voice was breathy and quiet.

“What’s wrong with ye lad? Cat got yer tongue?”

In between sobbing and crying, the child tried talking,“I h-an’t…I hant halk hir!” Then he proceeded to wail mournfully in the dark corner.

“Argh shut yer hole, kid!” The stranger knocked over the stool and started stomping on it, gradually smashing the piece of furniture to pieces. Then, after picking up the bits, he walked over to the fireplace and tossed them in. He walked into another room, finding a straw stuffed pillow on a small bed, and came back. He took out a flint and steel and began building a fire.

After the fire started to burn merrily in the stone fireplace. The traveler took off his wet shirt revealing a muscular upper body, covered in scars and obscene tattoos. His face became visible in the firelight. His face was twisted and his dirty blonde hair cropped short. His nose looked like it had been broken a couple of times in his life, he had a wild medium length beard, and his skin was blotchy from sunburn. But his eyes were sharp. Bright blue diamonds shining in the firelight. As the stranger sat cross legged in front of the fireplace, the little boy came up from his corner and placed the meat next to him, and backed away, sitting a short distance to the man’s left. The boy looked at the fire with a happy look in his eyes, although he wasn’t very close to it.

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#4

The man looked over at the boy. Something about him felt…odd. The body on the floor hadn’t bothered him, he’d seen plenty of death in his lifetime. But why was the kid here? All alone?

This was an inn. Where were all the people? Nobody else had sought shelter in a downpour like this? Perhaps a bandit raid? It would explain the dead woman. The kid’s mother?

The stranger suddenly felt a pang of guilt. Of course it was his mother.

“Aye, kid. Get closer. Ye’ll freeze yer arse off with the cold blowing in like it is.”

Seeing that the man wasn’t a threat, the boy scooted forward, until he was a few feet away from the warm blaze of the fire.

When the stranger saw his tear streaked face, however, he recoiled.

“Saganos’s scrawny hide! Yer a demon child or what are yu?”

The kid’s teeth had grown almost a pinkie’s length and had caused his jaw to lock wide open grotesquely. The gums of his teeth were bleeding. Seeing how the man stared at him, the boy turned away, putting his hands over his face. He started to cry again. “Ih Hurhs!”

The man’s heart softened. The child was in pain. Poor li’l demon. He pulled out his pipe, lighting his match on the fire, and gave it a few puffs, trying to calm his nerves. “My grand’mammy told me a story once.”

He blew a few rings of smoke that wafted toward the fire. "How people grew teeth like hares when they don’nah eat properly.

He chuckled. "Of course, she were just trying to make me eat my supper. But I was a sly lad, ye see. And I said, ‘Granma, I can eat like a hare and chew on sticks and stones! My teeth won’t bother me!’ But Granma was sly too, and she told me, ‘Ah sonny, but ya can’t keep chewing all night on your sticks and stones. If ye fall asleep before eating yer deer-liver haggis, yer teeth will grow right through that quick-witted noggin of yer’s.’ " He sighed happily, fond memories of childhood coming back to him.

“Now my grand’mammy was sly, but she was no druid. So how you’ve gotten the hare’s teeth I haven’t the faintest idea.”


#5

The man looked at the dead woman. “I imagine it hurts like hell don’t it?”

The boy nodded sadly.

“Well look,” he rummaged in his knapsack. “If ye don’t wanna end up like her…” He pulled out a thin whetstone. “…I’d get to workin’.” He handed the rough blade-sharpening stone to the boy.

The child looked at him, wide-eyed and scared. He’s barely in his tweens the li’l runt. For fuck’s sake.

“If ye wanna live or not, that’s up to yu. Yu can die a li’l demon runt. I don’ give a damn.”

The stranger stretched out on the floor, tucking the leftover hay filled pillow under his head, leaving the child to his own devices. As he closed his eyes, he heard the boy move a short distance away. The storm outside was subsiding. The thunder had grown quieter, and only the rain drummed steadily on the roof. As he started to doze off, he heard the sound of whimpering, and then the quiet rasping noise of stone on teeth. The man shuddered instinctively, as his brain automatically tried to imagine how it felt.

The man eventually fell asleep, as the boy worked slowly and painfully on his teeth. I don’ give a damn…Li’l demon runt The words repeated themselves in the boy’s head as he scraped the whetstone along his teeth, wincing in pain. So sinister and cruel. This stranger was the opposite of everything his mother had been, but he was right. Nobody could save him but himself. He began filing faster, trying to ignore the pain until he almost blacked out. He cried so much that the tears in his eyes stopped, and his face was swollen and red. Another 15 minutes of filing, and he started to feel his front teeth throbbing, and a liquid began to pool in his mouth. Blood. He was losing more and more by the minute. Help. Help me. Someone. Please. Am I dying? He dropped the whetstone. His vision started to darken. He shrieked and fell to the floor. The fire was in the corner of his vision. The boy crawled on all fours towards the light, desperately trying to wake the traveler. He shrieked loudly and with one final struggle towards the fire, blacked out completely.


#6

A long time passed as the boy remained unconscious. He awoke to the wincing pain of his cut teeth, and after choking out a bloody rag that had been stuffed into his mouth, his eyes frantically darted around the room. Blood darkened his vision, but he desperately looked around trying to see where he was. He rose to a sitting position, his arms wobbling under him. The loss of blood had left him weak and pale white. Sunlight peered into the room through the patchy cloth walls. He was in a tent, and sitting on a simple cot made of hemp and wood, which wobbled under him as he tried to swing his feet over the edge.

In a clatter of wood and bones, the poor child toppled to the floor, unable to stand with his weak scrawny legs. He cried bitterly, cursing his luck. As he cried he noticed a strange sensation in his mouth, and felt the same pressure as last night, a pulsating throb as his back teeth started to press against each other painfully. Demon runt.

The inescapable death. It was back, a morbid reminder that there was nothing he could do but wait.

A murmur arose outside the tent, and the heavy tread of boots and metal came closer and closer. “A child?”

"Yes, a goddamn child! The second voice was most definitely of stranger from last night.

“Ye brought him all the way here?” A woman’s voice. She sounded concerned, and lot gentler than the man.

“Wot else was I s’pposed to do?!”

“How’s his condition?”

“Bloody terrible.”

The voices were very close now, and the men entered the tent through the flap in the front. The stranger entered first, followed by a slim woman with auburn hair and a ragged linen dress.

Seeing the boy lying on the floor, the she immediately helped him back on the cot. “It’s a damn shame, Lod. I didn’t know he was so young…” She held the boys mouth and examined his teeth carefully. “That’s Hare’s disease alright, I don’t see it that often but this is obvious.” Holding her hand to his forehead she suddenly became more grave. “Saganos’s flaming arse, he’s burning up!” Her tone grew more frantic. “Lod, get some water boiling, this boy is deathly ill. Fine job you did, dragging him through the rain. Hurry! Get the hell on with it!”

Lod grumbled but swiftly exited the tent.

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The woman knelt down next to the boy, stroking his hair. “Don’t you worry, li’l dove. You’ll be alright.” Her worried tone said otherwise. After a few trips in and out of the tent, she amassed an arsenal of towels, blankets, herbs, and a leather knapsack. Lod returned with a steaming kettle. He placed it on the ground next to her. “If that runt’s a goner, Aesa, ye’d best not waste yer time.”

“Ah hush! Not around the lad.” She looked at him angrily and mouthed the words “Get out” very clearly.

Lod grunted, but didn’t respond. He left Aesa with the boy.


#7

Aesa tended to the sick boy, applying towels soaked in cold water to his forehead, and making him drink copious amounts of herbal tea that she brewed with the hot water Lod provided.

The boy was so hot to the point of delirium. He occasionally looked at Aesa with his glassy eyes, whispering “Mama” over and over again, his face blankly staring at her, expressionless. After a few hours of changing towels and Brewing more tea, she managed to get his fever down significantly. With her mind somewhat at rest, she thought about what needed to be done. Frowning, she examined the child’s teeth, and noticed that they had started to bend outwards from the extreme pressure as they grew at an abnormal rate. At that moment Lod walked in. “Any better?”

Aesa sighed in her exhaustion. “The lad’s going to live, Lod.” She’d been taking care of the child throughout the day, and the blazing heat of the afternoon was upon them. Sweat dripped from her brow. The boy was peacefully asleep on the cot, with every breath his snores sounded like a little whistle piping faintly.

She stood up and drew close to him, whispering in a low tone, “His teeth, they’re going to kill 'im unless we do something…”

He remained stone-faced. “Stitches can do it.”

Aesa froze. “Stitches is a sick bastard…”

“…he’s all we’ve got.” Lod responded bluntly.


#8

Lod left the tent, ignoring Aesa’s objections. The camp was quiet. It was a warm, lazy afternoon, and almost nobody was up and about. As he walked past the other tents a few of men sat and nodded or waved to him, most of them had a sleepy look in their eyes, or a drunk stupor. These men were rough, swarthy looking fighters like himself. He kept walking, beelining his way to particularly new-looking tent in the middle of the camp. Approaching it, he drew back the flap…

“For fuck’s sake Lod! Can’t you knock?” An annoyed thin voice shouted from within the tent. Two scantily clad women screamed and ran past Lod out the exit, their clothes bundled up in their hands.

Lod gave a mischievous smirk. “Pardon?” He looked behind him, “Those two again?”

A scraggly haired man sat on in a mess of blankets and pillows, leaning back on his hands, a very annoyed expression on his face. His eyes had dark circles under them, and he had a very short, unkempt, black beard that he had shaved in an eccentric way. “Yes? I’ve got a thing for red heads. So what?” He gave Lod a surly glance.

“Ah, fuck yu, Stitches.” Lod growled. “Git some trousers on and get on to mah tent. I’ve got a…patient.”

Stitches threw his hands in the air, feigning defeat. “Stitches do this, Stitches do that. Patch my scars, Stitches, wipe my arse, Stitches…whatever.”

He got up, caring not that his entire posterior was on full display. Turning around, he grabbed a pair of brown trousers and a loose green shirt.

Lod rolled his eyes and trudged out of Stitches tent, and started walking back to his own.

Stitches jogged up behind him, a backpack jingling with medical supplies bouncing on his shoulders.


#9

“So? What be the problem Captain?” Stitches caught up with Lod, and slowed down to a walking pace right next to him. His gangling legs were like a sticks, and his entire frame wiry and tough.

“I brought a lad from the inn on the road from Fordham. He’s sick.” Lod spoke blandly.

“Ahhh…” Stitches tapped his nose, thinking. “The Velvet Unicorn, right?”

“I don’t know.”

“Bah. What’s he sick with?”

“You’ll see.” Lod approached his tent, and pulled the flap aside.

Aesa was inside, sipping a cup tea. Seeing Stitches however, she spat to the side. Stitches grinned churlishly, “Happy to see me?” She didn’t reply