Wednesday, November 02, 2011

NaNo WriMo Day 2: The Bastard's Boys

Chapter 2: The Bastard’s Boys

“Orten!”  Gurley shouted as he wobbled down the hallway.  “Orten!” He approached the steps and lifted his crutch by it’s worn handle.  The rap of wooden shaft on oaken door echoed throughout the open yard.  Wind whistled through the inlets flicking torch light across his face.  Hardly time for supper and it was near black as night.  “Open the door you lazy bastard.  Storms coming and I ain’t fixing to get my bum leg wet.”

The door creaked open.  A silhouette of a large man was cast against the far wall by the light of a roaring fire in the fire place.  Orten, with his back turned, was heading away from the open door back towards the fire place.  The distinct smell of burning pine wood permeated the room.  “I should strangle you.”  His threat didn’t seem to register with Gurley at all.

“But who would dance a little hobbled jig for you then?  What laughter you would miss.”  A smirk crossed Gurley’s face.  “And what of mother.  What would she think?”

“We may share a mother, but do not mistake us as family.”  The tone this time seemed to catch Gurley’s attention.  Do not mistake us as family.  Gurley had heard this enough to know something was wrong.  With the aid of his crutch, Gurley shuffled over to a chair at the dinner table.  The scraps of a forgotten meal lay across from him.  Reaching for it, he knocked a silver goblet over.  Left over wine spilled between the cracks of the table and a short roll later, a clanging rang across the room.  

Orten was on Gurley before the last bounce of the goblet.  His hands clasped around Gurley’s neck like a shackle on a prisoner’s ankle; hard enough to prevent escape but loose enough to be a firm reminder of imprisonment.  Orten’s tangled auburn hair fell free from his shoulders and brushed it’s way across Gurley’s face.  The smell of smoke trapped in countless clusters of ragged hair invaded Gurley’s nostrils and a burning sensation chaffed at his collar.

“You bloody fool.”

Gurley saw the ground before he felt it.  Orten had tossed him aside with ease.

“This is not your fault.  Excuse my anger.”  Orten didn’t look forgiving as he hefted the table and slammed it back to the ground sending cutlery bouncing off the stone floor.  Wisps of smoke rose from the tables edge.  “As if it wasn’t enough to suffer the insolence of this new Wind Lord, this Enlil, and his attempt to foul my one luxury in this forsaken by the gods hole, they send this sodden fucker, this, this Thunderer, here with his storm whores.  This foolish king knows not what he is dealing with.”

Orten paced hastely from wall to wall while Gurley recovered enough strength to begin the clean up.  It wasn’t long before the table was back as it was.  With care, Gurley worked his way through the left overs once again.  Hard rain began to drive against the wooden shutters drawn tightly closed across the windows.  A cold dampness crept throughout the room.  Minutes passed into a silent hour before Orten spoke again.

“Get Toots and Jacco to the stable yard and prepare horses for the rest of the boys.”  Orten’s tone was still serious causing Gurley to jump, as best as a cripple could jump.  Orten watched as Gurley fumbled for his crutch.  “We are going to ride out during this storm.”

Bum legs going to get wet after-all Gurley thought as he headed for the door. Halfway there he turned.  “Jacco won’t like this.”  Gurley put a concerned face on.  Orten furled his brow and looked down Gurley’s lanky frame.  “Not riding out in the storm, but the...”  Gurley stuttered.  “Me telling him whats to do and all.”

“That whore son should of thought of that before threatening mother.”

“He did not mean it.  Jacco needs you.  He would never dare touch mother.”

“The boys do not jape about mother.  That bitch is mine and mine alone to curse.  Make sure the boys understand this.”  Orten dismissed him with a wave.

It took longer than expected to reach the bottom of the steps to the yard.  Puddles sprang up in every wind worn crevice, corner, and foothold.  Castle Black was not built with cripples in mind, let alone for cripples tumbling their way through a torrential downpour.  A couple more awkward hops and Gurley reached the door to the lower keep.  A wooden rail aided his decent into the torch-lit room below.

Seated closest the door was Jacco, slant-eyed and olive skinned.  Jacco’s black hair lay taught against his scalp, pulled into an ornamental horn of sorts.  Gurley eyed him uneasily as he took a seat on the bench opposite. He tapped a wooden spoon on the table top.

“Orten says we riding.  Wants you Toots to go get the horses.”  Gurley pointed across the room to a pot bellied man hunched over a half-butchered hog.   The big man laughed.

“Picked a fine time, seeing as how we just caught this hog scrounging the pile below the walls.”  Toots spat on the floor as he spoke.  “Send for the stable hands.  That fat ben ain’t making me into no stable boy.  I cook, he eats.”  Ben.  As if bastard wasn’t harsh enough, to use the slang term for it where word may make trickle back to Orten was a bold statement.  The eastlanders had taken to calling Orten Fareen by this term.  Orten Ben Fareen, the bastard son they said, often dragging out the ben in before pausing after his name.  

“Ain’t my choice.  Orten wants you Toots.  And... “ Gurley turned towards the door to where Jacco sat.  “You too Jacco.  Says both of ya needs to get the horses ready.”

“Ten brother best come down and stit in my dinner bowl if he tinks I’m readying horses for tis fat ass.”  Jacco drawled the h’s as he spoke.  Gurley knew he would not dare call Orten a brother of Gurley in Orten’s presence.  The boys had clearly grown mad over this trouble with mother.  Not that years of imprisonment in Castle Black had helped.  Gurley started looking for a graceful exit.

However, before he could find one the door came crashing open.  Rain bit into the dry cellar air.  Orten’s large frame filled the door way, his blood-red studded leather armor drawing a stark contrast to the pale sandstone steps behind.

“Boys.”  Orten said with a nod of his head.  “We ride.”  

Gurley nearly fell off the back of his bench, but he steadied himself on his crutch as Orten strode across the room.  Orten’s long strides eclipsed the stone tiles beneath his padded boots.  The sweet smell of freshly oiled leather lingered in his wake and mixed with Orten’s distinctive smokey scent.  Orten approached the table with the butchered hog, a half dozen pairs of wondering eyes following his every move.

“Toots, I’m sorry for this son.”  With a resounding thud, Orten grabbed Toots square in the chest.  Lines of smoldering smoke rose from between the two as Toots large, wobbly frame stumbled backwards pulling Orten across the butcher’s table.  Toots, caught by surprise, failed to struggle.  Raw pig meat sizzled as it fell into the cooking fires.  The dagger was nearly invisible as it swept through Toots’ side.  The fat cook faltered, slumped, and with a firm shove from Orten, joined the pig meat in the fire.

“No one can know of our exit.  Toots fat arse wouldn’t make it a league outside of the castle without killing a horse so its best he cooks here with that pig of his.  If I deem that any of you boys can’t keep pace, you will meet a similar fate.”  Orten was dead calm.  He leveled his gaze towards the seat nearest the door.  “Jacco get the fucking horses while I drop my trousers to take that shit you spoke of.”  The room erupted.

Word count: 2764

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