Good Boy

by Joe

The child prowled across the rooftop, his daggers clutched tightly in his small hands. He risked a glance down into the alley below him where the group of thugs huddled in the shadows. His marks appeared completely oblivious to him as he advanced; obviously too intent on their own business to pay much attention to the surroundings. Clearly they were meant to die today. He poked his head up to look at the main road, she was still half a minute away; more than enough time.

The first thug died before the child's feet hit the ground, a knife driving down into his neck, into his spine and then ripping away. His closest fellow died a moment later as the second blade punched through his side and transfixed his heart. Number three almost had his sword drawn when the boy darted forward and plunged a bloodied dagger through his eye. The last man proved his sharp survival instincts by running for the mouth of the alley, and had almost reached sunlight when death overtook him. Ten seconds gone, only twenty left, and some of these men looked heavier than expected. He would have to hurry. The child latched his gauntleted hand onto his fallen foe and dragged him back to the depths of the alley, kicking dirt over the small trail of blood left in his wake. Twenty five seconds. The bodies lay piled up at the far end of the alley, just final touches now. A smashed crate dragged in front of the corpses provided a last piece of cover. Now to hide and wait. And wait. Minutes passed; too long. Something was wrong. He scrabbled to his feet and scurried up the crumbling wall, back onto the rooftop. Then a quick crawl to get a view of the street. She was gone. Where? His eyes scanned the shopfronts, nothing there to get her attention surely? Jewelry, fine clothes, fancy foods, she didn't need any of them. She didn't need anything here…so why had she come? His eyes fixed upon a building across the street and his shoulders dipped. There. She'd gone in there. The child drops back down to the street. A nonchalant walk across the road, ignoring the hawkers, then along the side of the building. He stops by the back door and listens; bustling activity inside, just a couple of people. Probably a cook and a serving girl. Let her head out of the kitchen, there she goes. Now ease the door open and head inside. The cook is staring intently at the food, so leave him be. The boy paces silently across the floor, absently picking up an errant onion and setting it back on the table. He reaches the doorway and crouches besides it, looking out into the tavern. She is sitting alone. A half full glass in front of her. A small splash of wine mars her shirt. The child wonders whether she hasn't noticed, or whether she simply does not care. She looked sad, he thought. It was because she was sick, sick in the head. That sort of thing made you cry. His first mother had been like that, crying all the time when she wasn't working. She would drink too; drink until she fell asleep or the next man came and she went back to work. It was the sickness that made her send him away, he knew that now. If she'd been well she wouldn't have given him over to Red Jake, wouldn't have placed a knife in his hands and ushered him out of the door. His mother had been a bad person, but she was sick too, so that was probably why. If she hadn't given him away then he might not have found the Light, might never have understood how life was supposed to be, might never have met his new mother. The priestess has let her head fall into her hands, her hair spilling forward over her face. He wanted to go to her, to hug her and let her know that the Light loved her, that he loved her. He began to draw himself, ready to walk into the room… A hand fell on his shoulder. He span around, knives flashing into his hands and thrusting up towards the suprised face of the cook. At the last moment he remembered himself and stalled the blades inches from the wide, panic-filled eyes of the old man. The cook tottered back a few steps and collapsed heavily to the floor as his legs gave out. “I'm sorry sir, you surprised me. I'm very sorry.” The child bowed his head in contrition. The cook, stared at the boy in front of him. Long daggers clenched in small fists, one a gauntlet of finely wrought steel, the other covered in bandages through which seeped thick, crimson blood that even now dripped onto the floor of the kitchen. It was the child's face that truly held his attention though; empty eye sockets filled with scarred, raw flesh. Not uncommon in the White City, but somehow a hundred times more horrible when placed against the background of the child's young, almost cherubic face. Heavy footsteps approached from the common room, the clink of chains, a woman's voice calling out to ask if everything was alright. The boy stiffened, biting his lip in agitation. The footsteps drew closer still and with a hurried half bow to the cook, the child fled the cluttered kitchen. Later he sat on the rooftop and reflected. Today had not gone well; he'd been careless. She would probably be out looking for him now. The bodies would have been discovered, and she'd be upset. He almost regretted killing them. But no, they deserved it; they were bad people. They might even have attacked her; yes, they definitely needed to die. The Light was not displeased. Still, he had made a mistake, made her unhappy. He would have to atone for that. He slipped a potion from a pouch and tossed back the contents of the small phial. Then he gasped and worked to suppress a grimace, watching intently as the purification potion went to work. Across his left arm patches of skin blackened and burnt, the metal surface of his right arm twisted and warped, glowing a deep red from the heat within. He shuddered and bit his lip as the burning travelled along his limbs back into his chest, blinking away tears he grinned as the sensation spread across the symbol the Light had left in his breast. He peeked down his shirt and was rewarded with the sight of the sunburst scar glowing fiercely. The charred, dead skin was falling away now, revealing healthy flesh; he is cleansed. He got to his feet and brushed himself down. Back to the chase, she couldn't have gone too far. Probably off to find another tavern; looking to drown her sorrows. It wasn't her fault; she was ill. She needed looking after. He'd be there for her, until she got better. Or she died.

misc/fiction/goodboy.txt · Last modified: 2011/04/05 19:39 by osj01
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