「Chapter 1: Their Life」
[Year 344, The month of Flame, day 12]
Sunlight poked into a few holes in the roof of our one-room shack when mom’s restless tossing and turning woke me up. There wasn’t a lot of furniture in the room only a small bed, a box of miscellaneous items, and the dresser with a few half-melted candles on top of it.
“Mom! Wake up! Wake up!”
I grabbed mom’s arm and tried to shake her awake. However, I’d forgotten something important.
Her eye popped open as she let out a pained yell and snatched her arm away from me. I’d hurt her again. Even though she had told me about it, again and again, I kept forgetting to hold back my strength.
“Sorry… I didn’t mean to.”
Mom held onto her arm as she looked around and gained her bearings. She let out an extended sigh when she remembered where she was.
“Haah, it’s okay Gaisei. Mommy was just having a nightmare. You were only trying to wake me up. It’s not even that bad, see.”
Even though she was trying to make me feel better, the newly formed bruises on her right arm only made the pit of my stomach feel heavy.
“Come on, how about we get something to eat? We should have a few pieces of dried meat left over, so how about we add it to today’s oatmeal, hmm?”
“See, now that’s the way you should start the morning.”
Mom started messing with my hair when she saw me smiling.
“Why don’t you go bring the meat down while I get started on the oatmeal.”
I nodded my head before going outside. Despite the sun coming rising in the sky the floor of the forest was still covered by a layer of fog.
When I squinted my eye I could just barely make out the bending road a couple of yards away from our home. Since it was possible to get lost in the forest around this time, I tried to keep the road within view while I ran towards our storage tree.
Mom said that meat and other foods could attract animals and monsters if we keep them in the shack, so we hung them from the branches of a big tree. Occasionally, we would find animals roaming around the tree trying to figure out how to get to the food.
It was fun to mess with some of the animals that circled the tree whenever mom left me at home to visit the village.
When I reached the storage tree the first thing I noticed was the different sets of tracks around the base of the tree and the remains of one of our holding bags. The second thing I noticed was the large brown boar eating the leftover meat that had been in the bag.
The boar started squealing when it noticed I was there. It lowered its head in a stiff-legged stance in front of it’s freshly gotten gains. I wasn’t gonna be able to get the meat back so I started to slowly backstep from the tree, however, I stopped in my tracks when I looked up and found a couple arrows embedded into the tree in the area around the other bags.
That was a mistake, as the boar took it as a challenge and charged me.
Before I could react, I felt the air being knocked out of me as the boar tackled me. After I hit the ground, the sour taste rose in the back of my throat, and I barely had enough time to roll to my side before I began vomiting.
Before I could catch my breath the boar charged me again. I managed to dodge out of the way but I ended up rolling through my own vomit.
“MOMMY! MOMMY!!! MOM-ohmp.”
The boar tackled me once again, but this time its tusk managed to snag my shirt and it dragged me along the ground for a couple of seconds before the shirt ripped, and set me free.
Not wanting to get hit again, I roll away until I hit something hard. Opening my eyes, I realized had hit a nearby tree.
I frantically searched around for the only to see it charging straight at me. There’s nowhere to hide and I didn’t want to be hit anymore.
I started throwing stones at the boar to making it stop, but most of them missed their mark. The one that managed to hit the boar only hit one of its tusks, snapping it in half and tripping it up for a second.
All of a sudden mom came rushing out of the with the two knives she alway kept nearby. Before the boar could even turn in her direction, mom had throw one of her knives into its side and was closing the distance between them with her other knife raised.
Mom repeatedly stabbed the the boar with her knife, even after the boar was no longer capable of moving.
Within a matter of seconds a stab wound-ridden body laid on the ground. When I mom started walking towards me in her blood-soaked clothes, I couldn’t hold back my tears anymore.
“Honey it’s alright mommy’s here. Everything’s alright.”
It took me twenty minutes to quiet Gaisei down.
That encounter with the boar had really shaken him up. When I had heard him scream for me I ran towards his voice as fast as I could. By the time I arrived his brown over shirt had been shredded and he was covered in his own vomit.
However, Gaisei didn’t seem to be hurt at all.
The area looked as if two massive creatures had fought in it with the shallow holes all over the ground, trees that had small pieces of bark stripped away, and the freshly turned over patches of dirt. Yet, he remained uninjured.
I unconsciously grabbed onto my bruised right arm, as the realization of what must have happened dawned on me.
Though I’d heard that Darh’ki had strange bodies and had even witnessed it first-hand…
Just how dangerous could he become? Even though he was only seven, he was stronger and more durable than most adults.
When I looked down at Gaisei I could have sworn there was a faint glow around his body, but it vanished in a blink of an eye.
“I’m okay. Come on let’s go back home and clean ourselves up.”
With a head shake, I cleared my head of unnecessary things and tried to pick Gaisei up like I used to. However, Gaisei backed away from me and pointed toward the bags we hang up in the large tree behind us.
“… The arrows.”
When I looked at where he was pointing I saw the several arrows sticking out of the tree. Seeing as so many of them missed the ropes they’d been aimed at, this whole mess was probably the result of someone’s misguided attempts to scare us away.
“Haaa… There’s nothing we can do about that now. Come on”
I forcibly grabbed his hand and practically dragged him back towards the isolated shack the village leader allowed us to stay in. While he was sympathetic to my peculiar situation, there no way he’d allow a Darh’ki to stay in the village.
When we reached the shack I went in and grabbed a couple of rags and what remained of the bar of soap I managed to get my hands on a few months back. Depending on how much I could get for the boar meat and the cost of a new set of clothes for Gaisei, there’s a chance I could buy some more of it. Then we don’t have to skip our bi-weekly bath.
Gaisei had already stripped off his ruined shirt by the time I came back outside. His ribs clearly poked through his brown skin and his normally curly black hair was matted down by vomit.
But, strangely enough, there wasn’t a scratch on him. With a decent wash and some new clothes, no one would suspect that he’d just survived an animal attack.
The two of us quietly walked to the two barrels of water we keep behind the shack. The larger one held are drinking water, while the smaller one was for our bath water. Though it was a far cry from the tubs I used to bathe in, it got the job done.
After popping the lid off the smaller one I was treated to my own reflection. My once vibrant blonde hair was a dim light brown now. There were deep bags under eyes and my cheekbones were more prominent than they once were. Even my pointed ears seem to hang lower than before.
I was but a shadow of what I once was.
“Mommy, are you alright?”
When his crimson eyes looked up at me, I could see the worry in them.
“I’m…. I’m fine honey. Mommy’s just tired.”