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Abric

Abric - Lessons

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“Hm Hm Hm, dah dah dah.”

With a wordless tune hummed, Edgar admired his handiwork. Before him was a ram-shackled collection of twigs and leaves, formed into what could be considered some sort of house. Held together by only the sheer amount of materials used, a few of the sticks that stuck out of the main hold had some bits gouged out, to look like windows. To Edgar, it was a masterpiece that rivaled the far off stories of Stormwind Keep itself.

Plopping down to the ground, Edgar leaned back on his hands, looking to a tree that stood an arms length away. In that tree, a squirrel cautiously watching what the boy was doing, since he first entered the small grove of trees.

“Why yes, Sir Squirrel. Your castle is ready! Here, you can rule over alllllll the other squirrels in the land. We will call it Squirrel Ke- ooh. Where are you going, Sir Squirrel? Oh, shoot!”

Edgar huffed with frustration as the squirrel bolted back into the unseen reaches of the tree. Looking down to the Castle of Squirrel, Edgar could not lose the smile on his face. It was an awfully good castle, he thought. Though, more in the shade than he liked. It was shade, strangely, that wasn’t there moments ago. Shade in the form of a man.

Leaping to his feet, Edgar thought his father may have found his secret playground. Excuses began to tumble inside his head, and started to make their way to his lips. They died just as they started, as he noticed this man was not his father.

“Oh hello, uh, sir.” Edgar’s words were stuttered uncomfortably, just as the bow he made to the man was. Straightening, he tugged at the hem of his tunic, eyeballing the man; thinking it might be a friend of his fathers.

Immediately, Edgar knew he couldn’t be. This stranger looked very sickly. Slightly hunched over, he was dressed in an odd collection of leathers. The armor, Edgar thought some of it looked familiar, could not hide the very thin frame of the man. Too thin, Edgar could see it in the face. The skin seemed to be stretched over his skull, the lips thin and grayed. No hair grew on the man’s head, but not like grandpa’s head. There seemed to still be strands of blonde hair, but very thin. It looked like all of his hair was ripped out; dark blue and purple welts dotted the stranger’s scalp.

“It is not everyday I find a young child, straying from his home.”

When the stranger spoke, Edgar felt like he did something terribly wrong. The tone of the stranger’s voice sounded like his father talking to their neighbor, whenever his dog got out and chased the hens around.

“S-sir, I was out playing and, and I was go-“

Edgar closed his lips together as the man knelt down, looking eye to eye with him. An uncomfortable feeling came over him, as he looked into the eyes of the stranger. The eyes, that seemed to almost be glowing with some sort of strange light. Tears started to well up in Edgar’s eyes, not understanding what feeling was coming over him.

“Are you to cry, child? Is there something not… agreeing with you, hm?”

A meek cry escaped the sealed lips of Edgar, the man’s voice the catalyst for a foundation of tears to erupt from him.

“Ah, yes, child… the natural defense mechanism. Pity is what you seek, or possibly the end of whatever form of punishment you are seeing in the future. I remember, for I did it as well. How strange, to think everyone of us do.”

Edgar didn’t understand what the man was saying. Losing his composure, he fell to his knees. He wanted to stop looking at the man, but he couldn’t. Even blurred from the tears, Edgar could not look away. He tried to think who this was and why the stranger was speaking so mean to him. Never having met anybody like him, the stories of his father started to filter to him.

My son, you must be very careful not to leave sight of the farms. There are more cruel things out there than bears and bullies. They live in Tarren Mill, that place I showed you on the map. We call them Forsaken, and they only mean bad things for us all.

“P-ple-please don…” Edgar tried to plead for the man to leave him alone, but he couldn’t form the words, his crying become more verbal; gasping for breath between his sobs.

“Please? Please what, child? Do you ask me for something, or do you ask something of me? Hm? I see you cannot form the words… afraid of the unknown. You seem young, but not stupid. You may not know who I am, but you know *what* I am.”

Edgar saw through his tears, the strange man reach up and run a gloved hand through his hair. The touch revolted him, for there was no warmth that came through the leathered covered digits of the stranger. Edgar could not shy away from it, unable to do anything but cry.

“It is very unbecoming of a boy to cry like you are now. Peasants and women do such things. Ah, but then… you are a mere peasant. You cannot help yourself. It is in your blood.”

The stranger kept stroking Edgar’s head, as if it was some revolting comparison to the way his father patted his head after helping with the morning chores. Soon, it was the only thing that kept Edgar on his knees; and not curled into a ball on the ground.

“Shhh, now. You should feel some self confidence, boy. If it was not me that would have found you, it may have been one of my more… monstrous, companions. Do not feel the fear of me feasting on you like some pig. I am here, to give you a lesson. A lesson you will carry with you for the rest of your days. Today will be a day you will remember, even if it is not my face or my words that you remember the most. Yes, child, I think you understand now. I am not the reaper, or a collector of souls. I am no boogeyman hiding in the dark. I am a teacher… and I am here to teach you a lesson. The lesson of silence, and the many things it brings.”

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It took Edgar’s father and one of Southshore guard’s many hours to find the grove of trees, which was Edgar’s secret playground. The motionless body of the boy was first sighted the guard. Fearing the worst, he tried to hold back the father, telling him to turn from the sight. Of course, a father’s love could not be held back from the fate of his own.

Pushing the guard aside, he moved to kneel near his boy, placing a calloused hand to the small shoulder. There was no fear in the first tones of the father, for he saw his son’s chest rise and fall with life. Yet, when he looked upon his son’s face,

”Edgar, Edgar... oh by the Light.”

His son’s face was covered in dried blood, smeared over by his own small hands. Cut marks were across the jaw and cheeks, as if he was fighting something off. These cuts, though, were not the worst of the wounds. When Edgar was finally shaken conscious, the boy’s eyes widened and his mouth opened to emit a scream. A scream, which would forever be silent. His tongue had been cut out.

Only later, after the Magistrate was called in from Southshore to investigate the incident, was the removed appendage found. Placed, what could be noted carefully, inside the stick house... the self-proclaimed Castle of Squirrel.

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