The Bane of Rendsberg Part IV
The room grew darker with the progression from dusk to full nightfall. The twinkle of remaining light faded from the clinging frost on the window, but Olivier remained cuddled in the soft bed among the heavy comfortable covers. He lay on his right side with his back to the frosty window and his face towards the door. The fingers of his left hand gripped the down pillow at his head. His right arm remained hidden within the warm cocoon. His gently closed eyes and soft smile upon his face spoke of a peace that this once dead and damned Kobold previously had never known. Red filled in the full cheeks and a strong warm flesh color had returned to him. One would never have guessed that this being had been dead a mere month ago. Although thin by Kobold standards, he was a far cry healthier than he had ever been in his entire existence.
The door creaked open without any reaction from the sleeping resident. Alteng entered the room with a tray of food precariously balanced on his left arm. The iron hook on the end of his left arm did nothing to steady the platform of food. With a sigh, he relented to using his right hand and had to back kick the door closed. He made several discerning grumbled remarks about the protesting bang of the door. Using his agility and grace, he managed to place the meal upon the night stand without spilling any of its contents.
He blew out a breath in exasperation. He was not cut out for this type of domestic work . . . alright, his father was bred for this, but he himself did not fit into the standards of a house Kobold. The being in the bed took that away from him when he took his hand and his eye. Drawing in a deep breath, he had to force himself to remember that he had forgiven his uncle for the sins committed against him. He knew more than he really wanted to know about the other's past and motivations. The young Cuxhaven smirked. This was Olivier. The Kobold talked way too much and allowed too much about himself to be known.
Rubbing his arms, Alteng realized how cold the room was and noticed the fading embers in the fireplace. The young Kobold had shed his heavy clothes for lighter and more comfortable wears, because of the warmth and security of home. This wasn't to say that he was going to give up his extravagant fashion sense. His shirt, although loose fitting, still bore embroidery on the sleeves and collar, but he wore knee length brown britches with dark red socks and simple brown shoes instead of his black traveling boots. He wore his hair loose, instead of pulled back, but it was still well groomed and combed to the left side of his face to hide the simple brown eyepatch and scars there. Relaxed he may be, but he still wore his silver dagger at his waist. A predator still resided within these walls.
He snorted as he livened up the flames in the fireplace to chase off the clinging March chill. He knew how to deal with vampires. He had very little fear for himself and most of the household, because at this time of the year, they went to bed after sunrise, and they were awake and active by sundown. The vampire was immobile during these times they slept, and he tended to stay out in the open and with more than one of his cohorts when he socialized. Alteng's smirk widened further. The damned atrocity would be gone by the time of the lengthening shadows of winter. William would see to it, because of his dear sister's threat. The elder had given up too much to lose his family now. The youth would be glad to have things back to normal again.
Everyone woke up before dusk except Olivier. The blind Kobold tended to sleep into unusual hours of the evening, but Alteng was not particularly worried about his father's brother because of this. The blind one tended to do this when they lived in Tönnin. It was odd, but Alteng seemed to remember his uncle slept more then than he did now. Olivier was prone to stay up later than the rest of them. There were signs of house cleaning going on. Alteng was at a loss as to how a sightless Kobold was able to pull off such a feat and do it efficiently. He laughed at the thought of it being fairy magic. These were the made up stories he told the humans. He was unsure how his cohorts would take to the use of magic either, since it was forbidden to their kind. He snorted. They had no place to comment. They accepted the forbidden people. There was an accursed vampire running among them after all.
Whether because the vampire was preying upon his mind or not, the young Cuxhaven's only eye opened wide to the sight of the livening flickering blue flames. He bit back the cold that traveled his spine, and the tingle of rage filled his body. Gripping the dagger tightly, he withdrew it from its sheath. The bitter salty smell of garlic juice filled his nostrils, but he knew from first hand experience that the herb worked against the monster. The vampire still bore the scars of being tied with ropes covered in garlic. It would be good to know what the substance would do if forced into the monster's blood.
"I know you're here, Lucifer!" he growled.
The black haired Kobold appeared from behind one of the heavy drapes at the frosty window. His pale cheeks turned a rosy pink, as he cast his dark eyes down to his clasped pale hands almost hidden in the oversized sleeves of his shirt. The youth sneered as he looked the other over. He suspected that the brown and white clothes belonged to his generous guardian. The oversized sleeves were very much the master of the house's preferred style. William was on too friendly of terms with this monster! Alteng took in a deep breath to calm himself. It would all be over in five short months. The vampire would go back to his haunts and leave them in peace. He could dispatch the monster here and now, but it was not fair to attack an unarmed enemy nor had Lucifer truly done anything to provoke him during this stay.
The black haired Kobold made a low bow to the youth. "I'm sorry for the intrusion. I worry about Olivier, because he sleeps so much later than the rest of you. The rest of the Kobolds here are up and about by the time I awake," he tried to explain.
Alteng furrowed his brow and blinked his remaining eye. A sudden lump formed in his throat with a disturbing thought. His fingers tightened on his dagger, and he moved himself in a fighting stance. "What have you done to Olivier?" he demanded.
The vampire looked up at him. The angered firelight reflected nastily in his narrowed eyes. "Nothing. Olivier is my friend, and I worry for his well being."
The youth made his way across the room to the sleeping Kobold. He never took his eye off the quiet vampire. Alteng turned his attention to the sound of the steady breathing of sleep that came from the one in the bed. The young Cuxhaven carefully moved the hook to brush away the hair blanketing his uncle's neck to exposed the flesh below. He only took his sight off his adversary a moment, but he never lowered his guard or his dagger. He inspected the sleeping one's neck for any sign of the vampire's mark or blood shed. There was nothing there save the brutal ugly scar that brought about the older Cuxhaven's death. The wound had severed both major blood vessels there, and the scar stretched across them. Alteng was certain that his opponent was smart enough to sink his fangs into this mark, and his transgression would never be discovered. He blew out a defeated breath. Who was he fooling? He was grasping at straws, and he knew it. There was nothing new wrong with Olivier.
Without softening his stance, Alteng looked up to where the vampire had stood, but he was no longer there. The youth was startled and jumped at the sight of the irate vampire on the opposite side of the bed. He had not seen any flicker of movement nor heard him. The undead monster narrowed his dark eyes to a fierce glare. "I have no intentions of taking his precious life or his hard won pardon," he stated in a forced calm, "Your search is in vain. His breathing is too normal for a vampire, and I cannot truly sleep at anytime. His color is too strong as well. When I awoke as a vampire that first night, I was a dry husk of a being. He is not."
"Leave us alone!" the youth commanded in a louder voice than he wanted to. He gestured with his dagger for the creature before him to leave. The vampire pulled back from the irritating scent upon it, and he knew what the young one had done to it. Although one of his yolk should have been infuriated by this, he did not hold the temper he had heard that vampires were suppose to possess. "I don't want to catch you near Olivier unawares again!" the youth continued in his raised voice. Olivier shifted, and there was a slight sign of a squirm, but he did not wake. "If I do, I will find where you hide during the day, and I will destroy you no matter what William says or threatens."
A smile tugged at the pale black haired Kobold's lips. Although the words were harsh and accusing, they made him happy for his friend. Olivier, like himself, had gained the dedicated love of a blood relation as well. He didn't doubt the young one's threats. Bravery had never been an issue for this one. Lucifer shrugged. His resting place would not be hard to find. He chose the same place as he did when he was here before. They gave him a sense of their trust, and he was willing to return the favor. He had likewise hoped that this would smooth over the relationship he held with the others and especially this one. He would make an exceptional friend and an ally. Still, thought the vampire, he was not making this any better on himself. He made a bow to the Kobold and disappeared.
Alteng glared at the place where the undead being once stood for a few brief moments. He then sighed with relief and allowed his shoulders to slump. The room brightened with the return of the normal flames of the fireplace. Feeling the security of the return of normality, he sheathed his dagger. He looked down upon his peacefully sleeping uncle. A brief concern as to why he didn't wake to the raised voices crossed his mind, but he shrugged it off. He was certain the other was all right.
Bracing himself for the task ahead, he reached out the fingers of his only hand. He swallowed hard. Every time he had come to his uncle's room to wake him over the last month, he was always bombarded with the frightful memories of that cold January day he woke him from a troubled sleep. The elder had attacked him with lightning speed and tore out his left eye as a result. He hated this job because of that, but William was insistent. Olivier was the young Cuxhaven's responsibility, so therefore, it was Alteng's job to wake him on the evenings that he overslept. The youth would never confess his misgivings over the task given him. Johann would have a good roll at this one. So, after giving himself a good sound mental kick for his fears, he reached out and took hold of his uncle's shoulder. It would have been safer with the hook, he thought to himself, but that was too cruel to do to the sleeping Kobold. He shook the sleeper gently, then he jumped back from him as if he were some kind of poisonous viper.
Olivier shifted his body, and his eyes twitched, but they did not open. He cuddled deeper into the blankets and pillows. Alteng calmed himself, but he was still not willing to approach the Kobold in the bed again, as the left side of his face gave him a painful reminder. "Olivier?" he called in a gentle enquiring voice.
The elder Cuxhaven's ears perked at the sound. His blind eyes blinked and finally opened, as he pushed himself up on his elbows. He furrowed his brow and blinked his useless eyes in confusion, as he looked down at the pillows.
"I have brought you your breakfast, Olivier," Alteng prompted in a clear voice that did not betray his anxiety. He dared not approach the other yet. He had just the one eye and the one hand, and he'd like to keep them both.
The blind Kobold shook his head. He turned around and sat up in the bed. Lacing his fingers together, he stretched out his arms, and the other could see the shape of his legs moving about underneath the cover. The elder rubbed the itchy matter from his eyes with the heels of his hands. He, then, opened them wide and alert, as he looked towards where his nephew stood. The flicker of the firelight reflected back in an eery hollow golden light. A smile crossed Olivier's face, as the younger felt assured that his uncle was now stable. The youth picked up the tray of food and placed it before the other. Still finding such regular meals odd, Olivier was not about to deny the sustenance. Besides, it tasted a far cry better than what he was used to.
"Why feed me so often?" he asked, as he bit into the sweet bread from his plate.
"So often?" the other complained, as he moved across the room, "You only eat twice a day." With a shrug and a hint of a laugh on his torn lips, he added, "Besides, William says you will eat even if the rest of us starve."
Olivier sat up straight, and his shoulders dropped. "I'm not worth all that," he complained.
"It has nothing to do with your worth. It has to do with your previous eating habits," the young Kobold pointed out as he went to the closet.
"I won't do that again!" the other objected as he swallowed down a chunk of cheese, "I should be the first to die here. I have had my time, and I will die if it means that you could feed from my flesh to survive."
Alteng looked over the array of clothes in the closet with thought. With a shrug, he chose a collection and draped them over his left arm. He closed the door and headed back to the other's bed. He made eye contact with the sightless stare and smiled. "You have nothing to worry about there. We are all pretty good hunters here. Unless that damned vampire brings about the death of all life about us, we aren't about to starve."
The other cocked his head at the sounds of the other's movements at the foot of the bed. Alteng laid out the clothes he had selected, then he turned to the dresser to choose a pair of socks. All comments about the undead Kobold escaped the once dead Kobold's mind in favor of the immediate happenings. "What are you doing?" he queried.
"I'm setting out your clothes for the evening," the other replied nonchalantly.
Olivier crossed his arms and sent his nephew a nasty glare. "I've told you before that I am well capable of dressing myself! I got along a good many years before I met you."
Alteng met his glare and smirked. "I'm not about to dress you. Your color coordination leaves much to be deserved. At least this way, your socks will match."
The elder put his fingers in his mouth. "My appearance is not appealing to the seeing eye?" he managed to ask coherently around his fingers.
Alteng shook his head and laid out the socks on top of the clothes. He gave a glance to the other's uneaten meal. "Eat," he encouraged.
Olivier dropped his shoulders and fingers and did what he was told. "Alteng," he asked through a mouthful of stew, "I hear you're planning to attend the Festival of Meetings."
The youth shrugged, as he placed the other's boots by the bed. "Yeah. What of it?" he demanded in a defensive way. His mind began to formulate his arguments for his going.
"Can I go with you?" he asked cheerfully.
The youth stumbled back and opened his one eye wide. Out of the all the questions and objections he expected, this was not one of them. Finally, the shock passed, and he narrowed his eye at the other. "Why would you want to go?" he asked abruptly.
Olivier turned his eyes downward and fingered his sleeve. His cheeks turned a deep shade of red, and his feet shifted under the covers. "I've never been married before . . . I guess that doesn't really matter. I don't have a mate, and I am of age."
Alteng drew in a deep breath. "I guess you're right there. I forget that you are alive, and you've never married. I always thought of the generation before me as being settled and not having such interests. Still, all the same, what could any female see in you?"
The elder shrugged as he finished out his meal and stack the plates neatly onto the tray. He, then put the tray on the floor beside the bed. With an effort, he straightened the covers and made up the sleeping place without disturbing his clothes or the empty plates on the floor. Taking off his sleeping gown, he folded it neatly and laid it gently on the blankets. He made his way to the pitcher of water and washed himself up for the evening. Turning to his nephew, he asked the expected question. "And why are you going?"
Alteng shrugged as he watched his uncle put on his new clothes chosen for him. "I've never been to one before."
"But it could prove dangerous for you," he complained, "You are marked as an outcast by that missing eye and that missing hand." The blind Kobold stopped his chore of dressing himself. Clutching his shirt to his bare chest, he looked downward and added in a quiet voice, "They have the right and the duty to kill you."
"Ah, but that could prove the fun of it all," the younger laughed, "You know me. I like the sense of adventure." He shrugged with a smile on his face. "Besides, it is still rather chilled. I'll be wearing my cloak and hat. I'll keep my inefficiencies hidden. It's not like I'm seriously looking for someone to be my wife there."
Olivier finished tying his scarf about his neck, and Alteng helped him fluff it out to more effectively hide his scar. The elder took hold of his long jacket. He paused a moment, then turned back to his nephew. "Alteng," he chirped happily, "Can I be dressed in purple to go to the Festival? I'd like a purple coat and pants. I hear the others here say you wear red clothes all the time, and that's not normal for a Kobold either."
"What do you know of purple?" the younger complained, "You've never seen purple."
The blind Kobold shrugged. "I like the sound of the word," he answered as he threw on his jacket.
Alteng sighed. "I'll see what I can do," he replied. A smile tweaked the corners of his mouth. "Father used to like dark blue. I guess it runs in the family." he ruffled the other's hair as he said this, then he added in a motherly way, "And don't forget to comb your hair."
Olivier blinked at him a moment. The youth bent over and picked up the meal tray. He turned to leave, but Olivier added, "How do you see me?"
Alteng paused by the door. He cocked his head and thought on this question. "What do you mean?"
"Am I an uncle to you, a friend, or a child?" he clarified.
A wide wicked smile crossed the youth's lips. "My murderer," he responded levelly as he exited the room.
Olivier stood up straight and pulled back slightly. His brow furrowed in deep thought. "But you're not dead," he complained to the door.