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The Boy and the Cat

Posted: Wed May 05, 2010 7:18 am
by Guest
The boy and the cat. Part I

He was an outsider. Everyone knew it. There were dozens of people on the island from many parts of the world. None were outcasts such as he.The island was populated entirely by the survivors of two ships that had passed in the night. Passed right into each other and wrecked just beyond the broad reefs ringing much of the stoney cliffed island. More than half were missing, or lost elsewhere on the island.

He knew better. For more than a year the boy had roamed the massive island.
Alone.
Outcast.

There were none other here save the survivors who had resigned themselves to making a life here until rescued. Some had tried to escape the paradise. Makeshift rafts seldom made past the reefs. Those that had were never heard from again. Perhaps they made it to inhabited landfall. Perhaps not. The boy didn't care.
Outcast.

It was a pirated ship, adrift in the night that rammed the large cog he and his parents were sailing on. They were headed for the lands in the mysterious deep south. His father was a sword master, his mother a weaver of great skill and creativity. They were celebrating the boy's eleventh birthday when the drifting pirated vessel had rammed into the port bow in the spring fog that bathed the island that night. He had received a short, well crafted sword from his father, and a deep green and silver tunic from his mother, which he paraded proudly as the two ships began their death kiss.

The boy was a strong swimmer for an eleven year old. He seemed to sense the flow of water over and through the reef. Grappling a plank of ripped timber, he clutched his sword in hand and held tight to the bobbing wood, kicking furiously toward the island he seemed to know was there.
Alone.
Outcast.

He landed on the short bit of white sand after what seemed too many minutes of tossing and rolling in the surf, finally being beached by the sea, as if spitting him out.
Outcast. Alone.

He found his mother the next morning as he stumbled about the beach and rocky outcroppings which stood like rotten fangs beneath black volcanic stone cliffs. Her body had been wracked by the churning ocean before being brought to rest atop a perch of grey-black basalt. His father was never seen again.

He was gathered by a kindly group of men and women, many races and cultures showing in the now blazing sun. Other children had survived the wreck. Several were about his age. It took a few days for the groups of men and women and children to gather more fully along a stream carved ravine opening onto a larger stretch of beach. A small handful of the menfolk appeared to be padfoots and cutthroats. Rumors spread like snake venom that they were from the drifting death wreck that killed the cog.

Being outnumbered by sturdy men of all nations, the pirates made no attempt at control or trouble. It was the third night in the ravine. Not enough shelter had been built, and some of the braver lads slept under the starlit forest canopy, amongst the small fires and menfolk. Strange sounds reigned in the night. Dark shapes flowed in groups of fluttering wings through the trees. The occasional squeel of the ended hunt pierced the blackness. Sometmes it was the growl of the hunt missed.

It was the one they called Catte. He was lithe, quick and moved without sound when he wanted to. Tonight he wanted to. He snuck upon the boy and slammed a scarred, wiry hand over his mouth. He snatched the lad from his sleeping place with graceful power and speed. The boy squirmed with shock and then relaxed and surged into struggle again as comprehension filled his quick mind. Catte only saw a brief flash of something shine through the air. Then the burning pain of the deathblow. The boy had a short sword, and he used it to kill the thief.

Catte dropped to his knees, releasing his grip on the boy as he voiced a sad wimper and fell over dead. The boy rolled free and instantly rose to an en garde position, breathing in heaves. Father would be both proud at the quick response, and disappointed in the lack of breath control, the near panic the youth actually felt. He never figured out why he thought those things at that point. He only remembered that he did.

Others awoke at the death cry of the one they called Catte. They found the shaken boy standing a few feet from the body and quickly gathered in the execrable story. They told him he was brave and extolled his quick-witted actions. none tried to take the sword. Behind the smiles and praise there was the fear in their eyes. He saw it.

He was not allowed to sleep with the other boys again.

Catte's shipmates never left the boy without a set of eyes upon him. At all times. They eyed the sword. They scried his every move. They leered maliciously. They never never left the boy....alone. And the youngster returned the leers. He matched the lot of them hate for hate. The bastard brigands were rumored to have killed who knew how many, they had been responsible for the wrecking of his ship and the death of his parents. He hated them with a depth the sea could not drown.

One morning, some days after the assault by Catte, the group awoke to find the pirates all slain. Five dead men, each with his heart cut out. The boy was found on the beach, bathing in the cleansing briney foam of the sea. His blood stained green tunic lying in the sand. His sword still strapped to his naked body. It was then that he was left...
alone.
Outcast.

The boy absorbed this with a grim understanding and acquiescance. He cared little for the thoughts of those around him. They had not protected him in the first place. They could not have protected themselves. Hadn't they allowed the pirate scum to live amongst them? Untried? Unjudged? Unpunished? They could not protect the women or other children.

And that was not a concern for the boy. For he knew he would do so. This was what his father had taught him to do. This was why his father had trained him to be hard and merciless from the time he was old enough to hold a sword. This was why his mother made him learn to read, and taught him about things like rules and kindness and fairness.

None knew the future as they stood on the beach, watching the boy clean the mess of justice from his body, watching him clean the youth from his mind, watching him clean the heartache from his soul. None knew that Bradine Stone would become the founder and first Prince of Stonehaven. None knew he would build a beautiful city above that bloody beach of sorrows.

None knew he would become my great-grandfather.