Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: Illustrate the meaning of "A Man is Known by the Company He Keeps" (without using the actual phrase). (01/31/08)
TITLE: A CHILD OF THE LIGHT
By mick dawson
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“He makes my skin crawl, that one.” Spoke a bandaged figure.
“Aye.” Agreed his companion gnawing, the last vestiges of meat from an undefined bone.
He flung the curved bone maliciously at the huddled figure. Glancing from his spine, it fell to the damp earth floor where rats busied themselves with the bounty.
“But Dollifer has proven his worth in the past.”
The gaunt form known as Dollifer risked a glance at his leprous kinsmen. He never got used to their unsightly faces. Lips had been lost, broken teeth protruded and eyes sagged. Their grotesque forms were only ever semi covered with their filthy wrappings but their natures were even more hideous. He fought back nausea unable to look to their meal. It was once a denizen of the inner city, someone who would never be missed.
He looked to his own arms. They were perfectly covered as was all exposed parts of his body. The young man resisted the urge to look upon his naked face. The others often reminded him that he was fouler of appearance than his fellows.
Dollifer had to escape the grisly scene. Negotiating every tunnel he breached a cobbled lane behind a tavern. A sound filled his ears and he felt himself drawn to a female voice.
From beyond, a beam of light emanated from a shuttered window. Pressing his eye to the gap he witnessed a girl of the village singing away as she prepared her wares for the next day’s market. The aroma of flowers boiling filled his nostrils. At times he had seen her selling her wares during the day. She was so beautiful. Even more so than the elegant ladies that would buy her perfumes.
Dollifer sighed heavily. He wished he could approach the girl, but he knew that this was as close to love as he would ever know, to catch glimpses of her and to hear her voice.
He felt himself buffeted abruptly from behind. Dollifer wheeled to see one of his fellows with cudgel in hand. A soft skittering of feet sounded bringing another eight of the lepers into view all armed with daggers and clubs.
More swiftly running feet sounded down the end of the lane. He knew full well that he only looked on one of the many hunting parties of the tunnels.
“You will suffer if you do not do your share tonight, worm.” Slurred the leader of the group, through a mouth of broken teeth.
Dollifer nodded nervously.
Breaking away from the group he shouldered open the door. The girl shrieked then her cries became smothered behind his hand.
“Heed me.” He hissed. “There are people coming who seek to abduct you. Do as I say and you may survive this eve.”
The girl nodded with widened eyes.
Dollifer then proceeded to open the opposite shutters and overturn a table in the single room quarters. He waved to the table and stood in front of it. The girl obediently dived behind it a moment before the leader of the group filled the doorway.
“Do you have the wench?” he demanded.
“No she escaped through the window before I could get her.”
“We will scour the streets that side, you go back the other way.” He said then slipped from view.
Dollifer sighed his relief.
“You are safe now.” He said to the girl.
She backed away from him cringing against the wall. He reached out his hand to assure her only to hear her scream.
“You are in league with them!” she shrieked.
“No I am not like them.” He protested.
“Call the watch!” she screeched. “Help!”
Dollifer dived through the window onto the street. Over the years he had learned to easily elude the watchmen in the shadows. This eve was no different to any other.
When the danger of the armor clad sentries of the city had passed him, he sought out the nearest opening in the street.
Finding a broken grill behind a mercer’s shop, he crawled through on his belly. At last free of the immediate danger, he negotiated the familiar tunnels until he found a lonely grotto.
He stared into a puddle at his bandaged face, knowing it was all the girl saw. He hammered his fist into the reflection.
“I am nothing like them!” he shouted.
He repeated the words as he pounded the puddle. Eventually he fell face first into the water.
“I am nothing like them.” He sobbed bitterly.
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