Medievia Mudslinger

December 2nd, 2001

The Origin of Ratarko - By Ratarko

Life just didn't seem to hold much for him in Trellor, he thought. There was so much out there to do, so much to experience, and he was stuck here, working in his father's pawn shop. Sure, items came in, carried by adventurers that told stories, magnificent tales of far-away places, but that did naught but whet his own appetite for adventure.

Reporting to work on time (his father would become enraged if he were tardy by but a minute), Boy turned the sign in the window to "OPEN", dusted the inventory and lifted the shades. Sighing, he readied himself for yet another day of boredom and daydreaming.

After only a few early customers and an hour later, his father entered the store, drunk and scowling. He ran his finger over everything in the store, looking for a reason to beat Boy. This was something he did every morning, not so much as to ensure the appearance of his stock, as for a reason to beat his son.

The pawn shop hadn't been faring so well, after the end of the Great Castle Wars. Less trophies were brought in and pawned, as the castles were abandoned. That meant less gold to go around the population, the end result being that less gold was spent in his shop. He would always flash a customer a strong, warm smile, while he would take out his frustration on his son when they had gone. He picked up drinking, to escape his problems, but the violent rages he would enter into would only create more.

"Father," Boy said meekly, not wanting to set off his parent, "Jarg and I were thinking, that after we close the store tonight, he and I could go and visit Tylaa?" Jarg was Heron's son (it was because of his father's drinking that he ended up making friends with Jarg), and Tylaa was Lucretia's daughter. They were all within three years of age of each other, and would be together as often as they could.

"You want to go out and cause trouble, isn't that what you mean?" his father snarled, his eyes piercing. His face turned red. "You want to go hang out with those despicable pickpockets, and steal from decent folk, isn't that what you mean!" His face became flushed with anger, fists formed at his side. He began to walk slowly towards boy, violence in his eyes. "You want to disgrace your old man, you want to bring those damned Stormwatch to my door, ISN'T THAT WHAT YOU MEAN!" He was screaming now. He pulled his fist back, and but a second later, Boy was on the ground, blood spurting from his broken face.

He lay on his back, crimson tinting his vision. He was aware that he was injured, gravely, but it didn't even hurt. He wondered what Jarg was doing, and if he was seeing red, also. He laughed silently over this, as his father was definitely seeing red. Maybe everyone was seeing red? Vaguely, he heard his father's voice, very soft, very far away, saying that the reason he was called Boy was because he wasn't worth a proper name. The bells jingled as the door closed behind him (or was someone coming in?). He lay in the silence for a few minutes (hours?), then decided that lying down on the job would only make his father mad at him. Can't make dad mad. He might get violent.

Strange, his legs didn't want to work. That wasn’t very nice of them, they had never let him down before, he thought that he had a sort of agreement with his legs. They worked for him, he worked for them.

Air. He wouldn't mind some air. His father never yelled at him in the past for sticking his head out the door to catch an oncoming breeze before. He decided that it was safe, and, since his legs were being treasonous, crawled to the door. Thankfully the door wasn't latched, and he was able to open it with just a slight push, as the bells above him jing jingle jangled, letting the world know that there was someone about to make an entrance or exit. He felt the cool breeze push against his face, and it was there that he died.

He stood in a tunnel, bright with warmth. His legs were working again, he thought, that was nice of them to come back. He was about to scold them for their abandonment of him, until he saw a boy on the ground, far below him. There was a man standing over the boy, dressed in flowing black robes, a large gold talisman dangling off his neck. The talisman glittered in the sun, and Boy thought it was a very beautiful piece of jewelry.

He watched the man lower a bottle to the boy, and draw something out of the body. It was a light blue, wispy energy that fled into the bottle. Boy thought that this was very strange, indeed.

Something seemed very familiar about the boy. Boy couldn't quite place his finger on it, though a horrified thought crossed his mind that it might be Jarg. He tried to get a better look, but the robes of the strange man with the talisman would constantly be blown over the face of the boy by a breeze. With a sigh of relief, he realized that it wasn't his friend. Jarg was much bigger than this bo... with a horrible, soundless scream, he realized who the boy was. It wasn't Jarg, it was his own body.

Memories came back to him in a rush, opening the store, his father's rage, the blinding flash as he was punched and dropped to the ground. He was dead. He felt a tug. Looking around, seeing no one pulling him, he began to struggle. He fought this pull with all his might and will, though it only became stronger as he resisted. He rushed, uncontrollably, towards his earthly body. In an agonizing flash, he was returned to his body.

He opened his eyes. A stench reeking of rotted horsemeat (he sometimes smelled a similar odor when cutting behind the butcher's shop to go to the docks) surrounded him. He put a hand to his face and felt his face. Both eyesockets were shattered, along with his nose and cheekbones. He wanted to scream for help, though all that escaped his rotted lips was a low moan. He tried to think of what to do. He couldn't go to his father. For one thing, he had left the shop unattended. For another his father would get angry that Boy allowed himself to become in such a position. No one would want to purchase anything from someone as hideous as himself. He couldn't go find Jarg, because he would be helping his father tend bar at this hour, and there was a very good chance that would be where his father was.

Tyraa was definitely out of the question. Even though her mother might be able to help him, he was in love with Tyraa. Death seemed to be the only way to bring this conclusion to his mind. He couldn't let her see him in this condition. Where to go? Who would help him? His thoughts, and his sight, settled on the Great Temple. The Goddess loved everyone, or so the priests always said. He would have to avoid everyone on the way, of course. They'd tell his father, and that wouldn't be good if they saw him. He entered the shadows, and promptly fell on his face.

"Okay, who's the funny one", he thought to himself. It seemed that when he wasn't looking, someone had attached a ball and chain to his leg. A heavy thing, he discovered. He stood, and began to walk to the temple, falling constantly.

After a while Boy made his way into the temple. He tried his best to sneak by the priests, townsfolk, and others as he made his way to the altar. Finally reaching his destination, he stood in awe of the glorious scene that stood before him.

An altar made of the purest marble stood before him, decorated with scenes of the goddess Trel and the wonders she had wrought. A silk altarcloth stretched from end to end, topped with a silver chalice, roses, and assorted bottles of oil and water. Behind the altar, praying on her knees, was the High Priestess. To each side were two people, resting. The two, a male and a female, were armed to the teeth, which seemed out of place for a peaceful temple such as this. The High Priestess didn't even seem to notice that Boy had entered, though the two others greeted him as he entered.

"Rest with us", said the female, who offered the name of Sedona. She addressed the man, who nodded and smiled, as Barnwalf. They explained that they had come up to the altar to pray, and that he should do the same.

He bowed his head, praying to the Great Goddess, and to Vryce. He opened an eye slightly, as a green mist swirled around him. He watched, as the rotting flesh upon his arms began to heal, he watched as his nose took once again, its proper course. In but a few scant seconds, he felt renewed, refreshed, alive once again.

The High Priestess, seemingly oblivious to the world until this point, raised her head.

"You must go with these people, child. No one holds sway over you any longer in this city. You must make the move from boy to man, and leave those you have known before in the past. The girl you love is not the true love in your heart, for your true mate will come to you later. You also must claim for yourself something that belongs to you. It is something anyone can give you, but something only you can give yourself to make it mean anything."

Boy stared at the High Priestess, trying to soak in everything she said. Sedona and Barnwalf ushered him out, away from the altar, giving him equipment that he might need in his quest and further travels. As he walked down the stairs to the fountain in the city square, a flash of white caught his eye. Crouching down he opened his hands, as a large, white rat came to him. Placing the rat on his shoulder, he drank from the fountain, and walked towards the southern gates of the city, off to find his name.


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