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Rated: E · Book · Other · #1811445
A boy finds a tunnel under his bed filled with all sorts of strange creatures
#831935 added January 27, 2015 at 1:22am
Restrictions: None
Chapter 6
“Hey are you dead?” It was the voice of a human, a real live human. The small oy pocked my boot with a stick. “if you don’t move we’re going to run over your feet with our cart.”

I moaned and slowly propped myself up on my elbows to look around. The cart in question as that was what the small boys were choosing to call it, was a wheele barrow with a goat tied between the handles. There were three of them, boys I mean. Around Letti’s age or perhaps a bit older. The fisrt onecontinued poking me with the stick.

“Are you a bandit, what’s wrong with you, why are you sleeping out here? You must not have any brains my dad said that it is dangerous to be out all by yourself in the woods.”

I groaned slightly, “I’m on the path not in the woods.” It felt a bit werid to talk to someone after so long in the dark and the silnce, but it was also refreshing. “Which way will take me to the village.”

The young boy eyed me suspisiously, “Are you sure you aren’t a bandit?”

I tried to smile around the pain as I slowly got to my feet. “Yes I’m sure, I’m from a village further up the mountain, I got lost a…”I really didn’t know how long, “couple days ago and I need to get some food so I can make my way back without collapsing.”

None of the boys moved or offered any information.

I sighed and looked at their cart I could tell from the tread behind it which way they were coming down the path. As there was not fresh tread the other way, and I’m sure they wouldn’t have walked blindly past me on their first encounter, I started up the direction they had come. I heard some creekign sounds and then the scramble of their feet as they pulled their charge along before coming up even with me, which can’t have been hard considering that I wasn’t moving very fast.

“Who are you really?”

“My name is Edmund, I’m from the village at the shoulder of the mountain.”

“Oh big shot on the trading route eh? No wonder you think you’re better than us.”

“If you mean that I was able to figure out which way the village is , that’s basic tracking, any one that works with goats for a while or does any kind of hinting can do that.”

I continued walking, the boys kept staring at me suspiciously. What I didn’t know was how far the village was and considering how easily the boys were keeping up to me I must have been going slower then I had originally thought.

“Are you hurt?” Probably the oldest of the three asked.

“Yes I am, I fell down a hole and I think I may have broken something.”

“Really?”

I nodded and resumed my focus on putting one foot in front of the other. I think my stomach was in process of digesting itself, I was so hungry.

“I think I remember you, you were the one that speared the wolf at the picnic.”

I was interrupted in my reply by the youngest nearly creaming: “what! No way! That was this guy? He barely looked like he could lead a goat never mind throw something that hard.”

“How long ago did you leave your village, mister?”

What was with the mister, I wasn’t that much older than these kids.

“I don’t know a couple days.”

“How did you get here?”

“I walked.”

“How will you get back?”

“I’ll walk.”

“Why didn’t you turn back sooner?”

“I couldn’t so I had to keep going forward.”

“Did someone put some kind of spell on you?”

“No I don’t think…”

“do you have money to buy food, we aren’t a charity you know.”

I looked at the boys, this one might be younger then Letti come to think of it.

“Are you in charge of the food in the village?”

He kicked at a rock embedded in the walking path. “No but my daddy makes the best malt and he doesn’t give it away.”

“Well I don’t think you have to worry then since that isn’t what I’m looking for.” Some simple bread and cheese would be delightful.

“You don’t know what you’re missing then.”

The oldest pressed my forgotten walking stick into my hand. “My family usually has extra food and if not, then I’m sure I can get some from my cousin. His dad is the village leader.”

Progress was faster in comeing with the walking stick to lean on, “Thank you I might take you up on that offer.

He nodded. The youngest was still rambling on about how superior his dad’s malt beer was in comparison to everyone else’s the middle aged boy whistled while pulleing the goats lead.
“My name is John by the way.”

“It’s nice to meet you John,” I put my hand out for him to shake. The youngest quickly cut in.
“I’m Hans, and one day I’m going to be rich and successful and I’ll be able to hire people to do all the work for me.”

Before I could respond, John pushed Hans out of the way, “don’t brag about your cheese before you’ve made it.”

“You’ll see, I’ll have the biggest house in the village…on the whole mountain.”

“Well I’m going to work in the mines and I’ll find lots of jewels and the people of the south lands will pay me lots of money to make jewelry for them and I’ll get to go to all kinds of places.”

The boy with the goat told me his name was George, but just smiled and kept walking rather than join in with his friends’ argument. It didn’t take too long for the village to come into view and the boys were still arguing, which might have helped, as we began to attract a fair bit of attention.

“My house is over there on the left.” John pointed a bit up the way at a house a bit smaller than ours near the end of the row. I continued my hobbiling only relly now realising what I must look like, I was wearing just a very basic shirt and pants, boots that were more suited for indoor use and I must have been covered in far more grim then my mom would ever approve of. I looked like a common lost beggar. And I didn’t have much to back up my story other than a little boy recognising me from the picnic. Did the adults pay enough attention to us to notice.

“Mama.”

The boy called out as we neared the area. A rather portly lady in a weathered brown dress and an apron with more than a handful of stains and a few holes in it. She was happily sweeping her front porch a fe wayrard tendrils of mouse brown hair escaping from her braid. She was a picture of what most people thought of mountain life as she looked up and waved to us.

John moved up his pace and reached her well before I did. His explaination for me was even more muddled and rushed from what I myself had said as he related it about ten times faster. Still she smiled and said I could come in…or perhaps I would like to have a bucket of warm water outside so I could clean up a but first, yes that would be good, my appetite would be better if I was clean anyway. I had to respect her for being so calm in a situation that I’m sure she had very little idea about how to comprehend never mind explain to the now being drawn attention of her neighbors. John was sent inside to see if he could find anything that might fit me, though I politely declined and said that I would be fine in what I was in as long as I could get some food for energy to get home. Ever a mother she wouldn’t hear of it.

“Besides young man if you are from just a little up the mountain, we have lots of traders that go up that way that would easily be able to return the items or even take me there.”

I would have protested further if John hadn’t taken that moment to come out of the house proudly displaying an armful of clothes with what I’m assuming was an older sister carrying a bucket and sponge behind him. I’m not sure if she was expecting a smaller boy or if I was just that amazingly dirty but I tried to take the shock off her face by slowly moveing forward and takeing the items she held before smiling as well as I could in the pain I was in.

“Would you carry those for me John? I don’t want to get them dirty.”

John led me around to the back of the house where I sat the sponge and bucket down and attempted to pull of my shirt.

Attempted, that was a good word.

After I was able to breathe normaly and John’s eyes were as big as saucers. I smiled at him and propped myself up on my elbow.

“You really are hurt.”

I tried to laugh but it hurt too much, so I just nodded. I slowly tried to raise my arms over my head now that I was sitting. It didn’t work any better. John got the idea to try to just pull my shirt over my head for me.

After I woke from my faint, I was able not only to clean myself up, but also to survey the bright purple an red bruise that covered nearly all of my left side and a patch a bit bigger then my hand on my right near my stomach. After John realised that the bruises were not in fact going to wash off and that any attempt he made to do so sent me reeling, he ran to get the village healer. I couldn’t stop him at the time of his run since I was trying my best to stay conscious while getting into the new set of slacks his mother had provided me with.

The whole village as far as I could tell was now either blatantly at the front door or within easy enough distance to conveniently “just hear that assistance might be wanted” to drop in the moment something promising was said. I’m surprised they didn’t all rush around the house when John ran out. He returned in not too much time with the healer, another young man that I assumed was his assistant, George, Hans and John’s sister from earlier. She offered that her mother was trying to control the growing crowd, though why she thought she needed to tell me that I don’t know.Whatever the healer was trying to say I couldn’t catch it as he seemed deterimined to get every possible response of pain out of me.
“Hold him please.” His helper hesitated for a moment before positioning himself behind me and hoking his arms into mine, he braced the back of my head against his chest and nodded. The healer resumed poking my ribs where the bruises were. I passed out once and nearly retched twice but when he was done the healer simply asked if I had coughed up any blood.

“Not that I remember, but it would have been too dark to see.”

“When was that?”

“I’m not sure Maybe a couple days.”

He nodded and considered what I had told him. “Well then, young man, I can with some reasonable assurance tell you that you probably did not. As if you had and it has been this long you would likely be dead by now. What you have done is given yourself a good fifteen or so cracks in your ribs all together.”

I think I wilted a bit. “Is there anything you can do?”

The healer shook his head, “I can give you some herbs for the pain, I can wrap the area so it isn’t so sensitive, but it will have to heal on its own. The bones don’t need to be set since they are being held together by your muscles anyway.” He smiled, “You seem to be in a growing stage, which is good for you since that means you will likely heal very quickly, but you are going to need rest.”

His assistant released me and opened a bag that the healer reached for. Inside was some wool, that mush have been cleaned at some point and some long straps of linen. They put the wool on either side of me, getting John’s sister to help hold one while the healer wound the straps around to hold them in place.

“I think it’s a bit too tight.” I attempted to loosen his handiwork, but he reached out and stayed my hand.
“I’m afraid not. With being so near the mines, I see these injuries a lot when they fall, I know how to treat them and the bandages need to be tight to give the bones support while they heal.”

John’s sister reappeared, though I’m not sure when she left, with a shirt that was open in the front with five or six bone buttons. The healer applauded her choice as being more suitable for me to wear and helped me into it. When I turned back to thank her she had taken my filthy clothes and disappeared. I put on the boots they had found for me and, with some assistance, made my way into the house.
“My word, lad, how did you ever get this far? In such a state, I know most men would have died in the forest, indeed some that don’t might wish they had.”

John’s mother poured us some warmed goat’s milk. “Poor thing, so skinny, and such a nice tall young man too. Why you’d be quite the picture with some meat on your bones.”

I nearly chocked on the drink. “What?”

The healer laughed, as he finished downing his drink, “Well thank you for your hospitatlity Myrtle, I’ll head back to me hut and prepare a few poltices for the young man, as well as some drinks he can take to speed the healing.”

Myrtle walked him toward the door.

Hans poped into the vacated chair. “The whole village must be out there. You’re famous now.”
I’m not sure that is a good thing.

Myrtle came back into the room, “You’re Garth’s son aren’t you? From the village on the shoulder.”
I nodded, “Yes, have you heard anything from them about me being missing?”

She seemed to consider it while getting another couple of pewter cups out of the cupboard to give to the other boys. “I don’t think so, but that might be more something the men would hear about then me.”
“I didn’t hear about it, so they must not have said anything,” Hans said matter of factly.

Myrtle smiled at him in a motherly way, “is that so, well then, now we know.”

“Do you know if there are any trading groups going up that way soon?”

“Looking for a ride?”

Before I could answer she supplied one herself, “Silly me of course you’d be looking for a ride, with your condition you’d be likely to collapse on the road.”

“You’d have to go a village over for that,” John volunteered. “We don’t really have much for trading groups but we sometimes send stuff up with the men from the village just east of here.”
Myrtle smiled proudly.

I nodded, that fit with what I knew. Now there was just the task of getting to the village in the east. But if this was the village I was thinking it was…

“Do you know a Gavin?”

Hans wrinkeled his nose, “That’s the elder’s younger son isn’t it?”

I nodded, “That would be him.”

He shrugged, “he’s a bit too old for me, and he doesn’t do much.”

“Why don’t you boys go and see if you can find him, so he can visit his friend?”

“Yes, Mama.” John had the oteher boys in tow and headed toward the door before they could protest.
Myrtle sat across from me, “Your poor mother, she must be worried sick.”

“She probably isn’t the only one.”

She nodded, “A young man going missing must be quite a shock to the whole village. I imagine you’d like to get back as soon as you can. I’m not forcing you to leave, you understand, I’d happily let you stay here till you regained some health, we could send them a message…”

I shook my head, “as nice an offer as that is I think I’ve been away as long as I care for, and if I haven’t died yet I’m sure a short trek up the mountain is not going to do it.”

She nodded solemly, “As long as you’re sure. You’re old enough to make your own decisions.” Then she got up and cut me a generous slab of cheese with a large piece of bread.

“I’ll put some dried goat’s meat on to boil, you start with that, I’m not sending a skeleton back to your family.”

Was I really that skinny? How long had I been down there for? I finished what I had been given a moment before she set the now softened pieces of what I’m assuming used to be leather in front of me, I was doing my best to eat those as well when there was some slight commotion at the front door.
“He’s in here?” a familer voice was asking, Gavin came around the corner with John and Hans at his heels, the start of a beard on his otherwise clean chin.

“Ed, I heard there was some commotion in the village, I never thought it would be you though.”
I smiled back at him and out of reflex, stood. With a sharp intake of breath I resettled myself.

“Are you alright?”

“The healer says I broke some ribs.”

“Does it hurt?”

“Only when I breathe.”

He chuckled nervously, not sure if it was really appropriate to laugh or not.

“I don’t suppose you could take me to the village over so I might get a ride back up the mountain?”

“To white rock? Sure. I don’t have that much to do today.” He studied me a moment before continuing.
“Maybe we should take you in a goat cart. My uncle cracked some ribs once, he could barely walk. Hazard of the mines.”

I nodded slightly.



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