Questions

Questions

Postby Jirai » Wed Oct 16, 2013 9:43 am

Son.

Solena had asked about him, and that had triggered a visceral, inexplicable worry in the child. No, Cat did not know where Son was. No, Cat did not know if he was alright.

Something about that was dreadfully wrong.

So Cat set out to do what Cat was best at - finding things out. This led to an urchin sneaking through a window at the Rememdium Edificium one evening, and in short order a very worried child was at the older boy's bedside, shaking his shoulder with a wary glance for the rest of the room.

"Son? Son, y'okay?"
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Re: Questions

Postby catch » Wed Oct 16, 2013 10:13 am


He stood above the pit, a pit of limestone and smooth, curved walls. It was the Lord's zoo, his personal and private collection. Papa had done well, and this had been his request, a chance to bring his boy and show him the beasts. There had been a tyger, and a great, sabered snow-cat from Derry's high mountains, and a thing Papa called a unicorn, though it was ugly and scaled and didn't look at all awful or dazzling. There had been something called a stone-bear, some terrible beast from far away, and it had looked ill and Papa said it would die, because it wasn't hot enough for it. That was something you had to look at, he said; you had to look at the places the beasts came from, and you had to mimic it, or else they would pine.

The Lord wasn't good at that; he didn't care. The men he hired for this aspect of his riches were scholars, academics on one side, and a slew of dumb ignorants on the other, the ones who actually tended the beasts and kept things clean. It meant stone floors and straw, and thick, iron bars, or pits - like this one - too deep for them to emerge. The Lord wanted to see his animals; there might be a bare plant, here or there. This pit was strewn with sand and gnawed, splintered bones, and there was a single, giant tree-husk.

'These are the whar-wolves,' Papa said, his hand on the boy's shoulder. He was proud, and Son was proud with him, his heart swelling as he looked down at the awful beasts. They were quiet, and they gazed up, twin, blunt faces staring, like they were intelligent. Son could see the glittering, baleful malevolence in their eyes, and he had shuddered. He knew the story, how the Female had managed to escape this very zoo, and how she had terrorized the lands around. She called men and women from their beds, mimicking someone they knew, and when they came out, she devoured them whole. How Papa had taken his dogs and his crossbow, and he'd had her cornered in front of her den.

It had been the pups, Son knew. Papa had been fortunate, because she was mad to protect her pups. And here they were, living and breathing and proof, with their thick jaws and necks and sloping backs, a build like a man's and a dog's combined, the worst of both held inside spotted hides. Son couldn't look away from them, and they, he thought, couldn't look away from him. Papa was gone; a man had come up, angry, one of the scholars, asking what they were doing. The Lord hadn't mentioned the permission. Papa was gone to tug at his hat and soothe the man's ego.

"Hello," they said to him, they spoke, their voices like a man - one of them, the bigger one, like a woman. "Hello. We remember you. Come back to us, to us, mother's boy-boy-boy."

Then they both laughed, and laughed, horrible and high-pitched, and Son threw rocks at them, and they had to leave, leave right this instant, what did he think he was doing, these beasts were worth more than the hide of some ugly boy and stupid, unlearned hunter -



Son fought through the haze of drugs. He struggled because he hated this nightmare, because that wasn't how it had happened. Of course they hadn't spoken to him, of course they hadn't called him brother and laughed. Stubborn. He was always stubborn, and he clawed his way through a red mist. It hurt to do it, but there was something important. Something he needed to do, or see, or something had happened that was terribly important. He became aware of the hunger, first, the hunger that came on the tail-end of that mingled memory and nightmare.

Under Cat's hand, the boy stirred, and abruptly tried to rise, immediately curtailed by the stabbing pain that banished all hunger, and left only a dizzying nausea. He made a noise, wordless past a tongue too thick with sleeping-draught to speak. It was loud, but - fortunately for Cat - his room-mates were similarly drugged, exhausted. They had put him in with the dangerous ones, the people who were certainly altered, and thus kept quiet while wounds healed and debate raged.

He tried, again to speak, but at least his eyes peeled back, and he stared straight at Cat, pupils mere pinpricks, uncomprehending, even as his fuzzy mind narrowed immediately on the urchin's face.

Cat.

And his arm thrust out, trying to grab the urchin roughly by the collar.
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Re: Questions

Postby Jirai » Wed Oct 16, 2013 10:33 am

Seeing Son just lying there in the bed had been terrifying. He just lay there, like Gloria had, and Cherny, and all Cat could do was shake his shoulder. Fortunately, that worked - as it had with the other two - and Cat grinned in relief.

"Don' try t'get up, y'be 'urt," The urchin started to chatter as the older boy tried to move, and when he made that sound, Cat brightened a bit. Water. All he needed was water. Surely there was some around here.

It was as the child was looking around for water that Son's hand closed around that collar, startling a quiet yelp from the urchin.

"'ey! Whatcha doin'? Leggo, Son, I go get y'some water!"
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Re: Questions

Postby catch » Wed Oct 16, 2013 10:38 am

Something. Something happened to him. He remembered Noura, too clear in his mind, and he remembered the Militia sawing him down from the warehouse beam, the rough, red scab still burning on his throat. He remembered going out, and then nothing. Nothing. Nothing except Cat, something centered around the urchin. He stared at her, unable to articulate anything more than a growl, a low, thick rattle of a dry throat.

Cat was offering him water. It took a second, a second that Son gripped the urchin tightly with iron fingers, not knowing what he should do. Because he had so, so many questions.

Finally, his thirst overcame him, the abuses heaped upon his body the last few days catching up. The boy let Cat go, his long arm dropping; he shifts, trying to keep his belly off his backbone, curling around it under the blanket. His eyes were a little more keen, now, and he nodded, and waited.
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Re: Questions

Postby Jirai » Wed Oct 16, 2013 10:43 am

Well, that had been awkward for a moment. Only a moment, though, and as Son released his grip the child shook like a dog might, smoothing out collar before trotting to a nearby table where there was a pitcher of water. A little brought back in a cup that was offered to the older boy.

"'ere y'go. C'n y'hold it?" Cat asked, completely willing to pour the water right down Son's throat if the answer was no.
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Re: Questions

Postby catch » Wed Oct 16, 2013 10:50 am

At least the beating hadn't addled his brains, because the look he gives Cat is positively withering. The drugs were still cobwebs, making his head feel heavy and his limbs feel dumb, but he'd never admit it, even if he had been able to speak. He grips the cup, and - still holding his belly, awkwardly twisting - he sucks the water down, life-giving as it was, sweeter than anything he had ever tasted. He wanted more, but for that, he was at Cat's mercy, and he knew it. It was the only pitcher not soaked in herbs, and Son didn't want it, not with the people that were crammed in with him.

"More," he says, and he manages to sound civil, even if it came out as a rusty croak. That was his first word; his second quickly followed.

"What." What happened. Cat would know, should know, why Son suddenly switched from Noura to her, why Cat had figured so prominently from one breath to the next. Noura was there, of course. A concern. Her, Cherny, the dogs, the Militia. had everything worked? Son knew he'd make no sense, so he pointed, impatiently, at the pitcher.
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Re: Questions

Postby Jirai » Wed Oct 16, 2013 11:10 am

There we go. That withering look proved that, despite the injuries, Son was still himself. Therefore, the look was met with a great big grin from the ragged blonde.

"Li'le more, sure, but y'don' wan' t'drink too much too fast." Cat said with a rather superior tone, taking the cup to be refilled - but not too full - and returning it. "C'n make y'sick iffen y'ain' careful."

Of course, while 'more' was easy to answer, 'what' was much less so. That question caused the child to wilt visible.

"I don' know what." Cat grumbled.
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Re: Questions

Postby catch » Wed Oct 16, 2013 11:18 am

Another glare. He hadn't really known that. He'd never gotten sick just from eating or drinking something, only from nerves, when the taunts and cruelties of the other children had gotten too much, and anxiety and suppressed rage ate at him, and forced his supper back up. And after Haik. He didn't want to think about Haik, or the uneasy blur of memory from Noura at the stocks, the drugged nightmare.

Son made a show of drinking slowly, but he savored it. And now that the pain had eased, the hunger came back, chewing at his belly, making him almost want to cry. He grit his teeth against it. He hadn't cried since Papa died, and he wasn't going to start, not in front of Cat.

"You," he says, keeping his gruff voice low. "You - we - did somethin'." A sentence. Progress. Son takes a deep, hitching breath; his ribs felt beat upon, cracked, maybe, but not broken. It still hurt; his entire midsection was a pain, from ribs to groin. "Cherny? Did it work? Where Noura."
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Re: Questions

Postby Jirai » Wed Oct 16, 2013 11:22 am

Again, Cat decided to answer the easiest things first.

"Cherny an' Noura be fine. I tell Cherny y'be 'ere, an' mebbe I c'n take y't'see Noura, but I gotta ask first, okay?" Solena had wanted to know about the large boy, at any rate, and Cat would tell her.

"Th' Lady, she be dead. But... I don' 'member what 'appened." The lack of memory was agitating the child, who began to bounce a bit on bare feet. It was getting cold for that, but Cat didn't care.

"I were goin' in t'town... an' then I were somewhere else, an' I don' 'member."
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Re: Questions

Postby catch » Wed Oct 16, 2013 11:36 am

They're fine. Cherny and Noura were fine. There was something about permissions and visits, but Son drank the last of his water, and he sank into his bed, not knowing how tense he was by just not knowing, the glass a limp relief between his hands. Broken. He'd remembered that his finger had been broken, and there it was, standing up stiffly between splint and wrappings.

"Me neither," he'd say, after trying to drudge it from his memory. Cat couldn't remember. He couldn't remember. Did no one remember? How could he, a hunter's son, been so completely lost?

"Remember you," he says, slowly. "Somethin'. Noura. I got a hole -" Son remembers that, and he uncurls enough to pull the blanket away from him. He was naked, save for a hip-wrap; his belly was tightly bound, thickly padded, and he could feel the pull of stitches.

"Stabbed. Didn' happen -" With Noura. He doesn't finish it, but shrugs, and lays the blanket back over him.

"Don' r'member." He was repeating himself. He shakes his head, his eyes bleak even when he should be ecstatic.

"What now?"
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Re: Questions

Postby Jirai » Wed Oct 16, 2013 11:55 am

Son remembered Cat. The urchin bounced faster on those feet, glancing off to the side. Hands, covered in blood. The dagger, also bloodied... no. Cat didn't want to think about that, didn't want to remember it, didn't want to guess what it might mean.

Still, as the boy pulled the blanket away, Cat very carefully did not look, and that had nothing to do with the older boy's state of undress.

"I get y'some more water. An'... I don' think I c'n drag y'out o'ere, y'ain' okay enough f'that. I go find Cherny, right," and Solena, "An' we take care o' you, okay?"

The hand Cat extended to take the cup was shaking.
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Re: Questions

Postby catch » Wed Oct 16, 2013 12:25 pm

Son didn't notice. He didn't even think of it. It was strange, was all. An hour missed, for himself, for Cat for - maybe - everyone. But everything came out okay. Noura was safe, Cherny was safe, and Cat was safe, and that last one felt like it gave him some closure. Maybe he'd been worried about the kid. That sounded right. He passed the urchin the cup, and he even manages a weary sort of smile, turning into a grimace as he looks around him, and doesn't like what he sees.

Why was he in here with them? Drugs in everything, in food, in water -

Like they were afraid.

"Don' worry 'bout it," he says, trying not to worry himself. "I'm tough. They gotta let me out sometime."

Son didn't know who Solena was. Elliot had mentioned her. Some kind of patron, then, maybe a queen of thieves. Oh, no. That was right. Cherny was afraid of her, he did remember that. Oh, well. It was a worry for later.

"Thanks, Cat." That came out low, almost too low to be heard. Son wasn't one for thanks. He wasn't one for sorry. But even though he muttered it, it was still genuine.
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Re: Questions

Postby Jirai » Wed Oct 16, 2013 12:36 pm

And, in the end, Cat was in just as much hurry to leave as to come, Son's thanks chasing the urchin out of the room.
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