A/N: For those that I owe reading stories to, I have been in a writing binge, and it has been taking up all my time. I will be back in action real soon. This is the last chapter of Part I.
The Story of Olivier Part I
Alteng stayed with me throughout the autumn months going into winter. It was a different experience if not just weird. We argued often. He said things that not only did I not expect but things that I didn't quite understand. The voices around me never argued about such things nor used such . . . different words. Some of our arguments were frivolous, but his words hurt all the same. He wasn't exactly fond of my cooking. He let me know this in blunt terms. I felt so little in his presence and throughout his complaints. I knew no other way. We were running desperately low on supplies and, as always, I had to make do with what I had. I didn't know how we would survive the winter. I wish he had come at the beginning of the spring. I think we would have been happier together. After one violent argument, I bit my lip and sat on the floor with my arms around my legs. I wanted to cry, but I knew I was useless. He didn't have to tell me this. Father had already let me know often.
As the days turned into weeks, he grew stronger. I was finally able to take him out to search for food with me. Although the weather was getting frigid and the first snow was not far away, I wanted to teach him how to fish. I was good at this skill, and I knew it! My efforts usually brought home something. He would have to be impressed. Although I was successful in my efforts, I could not stop shivering in my wet clothes. Still, I was able to present him with the evening's meal. His lack of enthusiasm stabbed me deeper than any knife.
"How am I supposed to fish that way when I have only one hand?" he demanded as I threw my coat over my freezing shoulders.
I swallowed hard. He was right, and I knew whose fault it was he was like this. It was like a severe smack to my chafed face. I felt the shame weigh down on me like a stone. I couldn't answer him that one. I lowered my head and took my prize from him and motioned for him to follow me. I bit my lip hard and held back the frustrated tears. I couldn't teach him my greatest skill, and it was my own stupid fault. All the same, it wasn't a total loss. We would eat that night.
Ever since he had come to me the pain was not so much. My hunger wasn't so great, and the food tasted so much better. Fresh meat was an exceptional treat at this time of year. After the meal, I sat by the fireplace and patted my full belly. It was so different being comfortable. Alteng fussed about the clean up, and I let him. The smile dipped deep into my jaws as I heard him move around the room. He was so like Michael and a true house Kobold. What had I done before he came into my life? What I had done to deserve such happiness? Was this the existence of the blessed? Did I deserve this?
He soon finished his work and sat down across from me in front of the fireplace. His scent combined with the cleaning mixed and gave me more pleasure. It made me imagine that Michael was here instead. I didn't move nor speak. I didn't want to break the moment. I was so caught up in the contentment of his presence. He was nothing like my friends, whom I could only hear their voices. He was warmer and more real.
"Uncle, what are we going to do about eating during the winter?" my companion asked at last.
Reluctantly, I pulled myself up into a straight sitting position. I clutched my hands together in my lap. I closed my eyes and put my mind to the question. "When Michael died, I had no real intentions of surviving the winter."
"That's silly. I survived Father's death. He wanted me to live to carry on the name," he answered. I clutched my fists at the thought of what that name was, but he continued before it could fester further. "We could get food from the humans. Mom taught me about them. We would survive and not be hungry anymore."
My shoulders tensed, and I had to swallow an aching lump in my throat. "No!" I commanded. "Never go around the humans!" All the screams and chaos returned to my memory. What would they do to my little companion caught up in their violence?
"But uncle, we will starve. I can do this. The miners of Schönberg, they thought me awfully cute. Mom used to use that liking of me to get food out of them. I can do it on my own now. I know I can!"
"No!" I insisted. I couldn't bear the thought of him getting hurt as a result of my lack of abilities. Besides, I had caused him enough pain.
He paused for a moment. The crackling of the fire seemed so loud in the absence of noise. "They will attack me because of what you did to me, won't they?" he commented.
I swallowed hard. I had not thought of that one. I guess it would explain the Customs. In no way did I think of him as a cursed demon because of losing a hand. He gave me a way out, and I took it. "Yes," I answered automatically.
He stood up suddenly. "You are the one who did this to me! I will not be beaten down like a criminal for something I didn't do! I will not sit here and starve!" he cried out as he stormed out of the house.
I only sat by the fireplace and blinked. I did not know what just happened or what to do about it. I knew I deserved that outburst, and I was too ashamed to follow him. Maybe he did need some time away from me. I made my way to the door. The chilled wind washed over my face. I just wanted him to come back safe. I wished he had just struck me to take out his frustration. I hated myself for severing his hand.
As I leaned against the doorway and the cold, autumn wind entered my coat and chilled my back and shoulders, I thought on why I had attacked him in the first place. He was a Cuxhaven! He bore that accursed name and blood! His sole purpose in existence was to bring me pain and suffering. I growled an obscenity. I stood up straight. I clenched my fists at my sides. I would slice open his throat and drink his blood when he came back. No Cuxhaven deserved to live!
I went back into the house and started sharpening my knives. My thoughts got more violent at every swipe of the knife as if it were taking off a layer of flesh. I would make him truly suffer. How dare he come into my house and mock me! There would be no regrets this time. No wonder he wanted to associate with the humans. He intended to trick me. He would lead them back here and leave me to their mercy. I growled more. Maybe, I would starve to death this winter, but I would take him down with me.
My anger had reached a peak when the door creaked open. Alteng's scent reached my senses. I clutched my knives at the ready. The sound of the dragging sack and no other scent of a living being made me lower the tension. I could hear the titter of his childish laughter. My resolve broke. He was only a mere child I needed to look after. He was my sole companion.
"Uncle, I did well! They didn't even know I was there. Mom taught me well! She told me that they don't see well in the dark like we do. I got us food for several weeks. We won't go hungry for awhile," he announced proudly.
I put my knives away. I made my way to him and his miracle sack. He had brought home several kinds of vegetables and dried meats. He had gotten a couple of loaves of bread as well. It had been years since I had had bread of any kind. I had no clue as to how to make it and it didn't come in the wilds like that. I didn't know what he meant by they couldn't see him. I'm still not sure what this 'see' is. I understood dark as not having the sun's energy. Was this 'see' only something that applied to the human? I knew they were none too fond of the dark. I pondered on this only briefly as my fingers lighted over the bounty.
I moved my hands to frame Alteng's face. He was smiling as wide as I ever could. Cuxhaven he may be, but he was still Michael's son. That made him a good Cuxhaven if such a thing could exist. My smile soon matched his as my hand came upon the basket around his bandaged left arm. The sling caught it so it would not fall off his handless wrist. Curiously, I examined the contents of it and found eggs. My eyes opened wide.
"How did you get eggs? The birds have left for the winter, and they are such big eggs, too. The bird must be enormous!" I exclaimed.
"The humans keep chickens. They lay eggs year round, uncle," he replied in that sweet voice.
I still puzzled over the thing in my hand. He moved to put the basket on the table. I soon joined him in putting away the food. He was an amazing child. I reprimanded him for putting himself in danger like that. All my earlier hatred was gone and I was just grateful to have him here with me again. How could I do without him regardless of his cursed bloodline. Taking stock of what he brought home, I figured that we would have enough food to last us until the middle of January. I wished that I could be so useful. Thoughtfully, I went to pet him on the head. He pulled away from me. At first, I thought of my other friends, but I shook it off. It didn't matter. We would eat well tonight. Come January, we could figure out what to do then. Maybe he could teach me his way around the humans. He had never made any mention about my flaws I had outside of my bad cooking, and I wasn't planning to cook for the humans. Maybe, my failures and crimes were undetectable by others. I laughed at the prospect. A part of me really wanted to know about humans. I knew I wouldn't ne so afraid with the child at my back.
We did well on the salted meats and the grains. Many nights Alteng woke before me. He would make our meal, and he would wake me to partake in it as well. His fingers were always so warm and gentle upon my shoulder. It was a pleasure to wake for him. His voice was so innocent and kind in his offerings. He prepared food very different than what I did. I asked him why he didn't serve the shells with the eggs and he laughed at me. I ate everything including the eggshells. I guess he was trying to get me to live a better quality of life.
Eating each day was a big part of our lives, but we other chores to attend to. Once a week we unraveled his bandages and checked on his wound. He wrist no longer leaked blood. He still pulled away in pain when I touched the scar, but it was less violent. All the same, he had a vast bitterness in his voice that cut to the core. I knew I deserved this for the horrible crime I did to him. I so wished that I had never done it, but he was a Cuxhaven. He was far too proud of that fact. He deserved some kind of punishment. I almost growled as much to him the last time he hit me for touching his wound. By the end of December, the bandages were gone and he was healed as much as he was likely ever to do. He still did exceptionally well with the chores I didn't ask him to do. He often did them better with one hand than I did with both of mine.
The snows came in mid-December, but my spirits were high and my stomach full. My companion grew quieter and more private except for the times that we worked on his injury. If I could give him one of my hands, I would. I didn't think that it worked that way. He had gathered a goodly amount of wood. I had no fear of the fire going out anytime soon. I think he wanted to do this task so often to get away from me for awhile. I was helpless to do anything about it. He always returned, and I could always cuddle next to his warm body to sleep. His sobs even came less frequent, and he slept deeper. I was happier this winter than I could ever remember. Maybe I had found a reason to live.
This all changed in the last two weeks of January. The food lasted a little longer than I had expected. I was used to going without for a long period of time, and this winter I had gained a little bit of weight on my arms and legs. My belly shrunk some, but it didn't hurt like normal. I might last without much of a struggle until the spring thaw. Alteng had more meat on his bones than I did. Besides, small animals were still around to be caught if I tried hard enough. Alteng felt otherwise about my plans.
He was insistent about dealing with the humans. He tried to bring back my enthusiasm about learning his ways of getting food from them. The memory of my time in Cuxhaven still haunted me. His offer to teach me what to do still intrigued me. What if I could live off of the abundance they offered? What if I could safely communicate with them? Would they accept me? Alteng brushed my hair out of my face and told me to smile. He told me that they would find me cute and they would feed me. I tried to adopt his confidence, but I couldn't. I delayed the encounter day after day. He grew impatient but I wasn't willing to let him go on his own. What would I do if they killed him? How would I explain this to Michael?
Finally after several hours of badgering, I relented to him. I would go with him the next night after I had fully rested and calmed my nerves. He grumbled about my sleeping habits, but I needed to prepare for this adventure. It had been many years since I had dealt with humans. As I laid there, dreams full of misgivings filled my head. Then it finally struck me what this young upstart Cuxhaven was planning to do.
My living partner was a Cuxhaven. All Cuxhavens were the enemy. Their sole purpose was to make my life miserable then destroy me because I didn't meet their standards of perfection. I don't know what this Alteng had that made him so much better than me. I had even cut off his left hand. This made him one of the accursed. I knew he wanted to lead me into a trap because of my crimes. He would bring me into the den of humans, where they would tear me to pieces and put me in the stew pot. I would not be so easily deceived. I know why he was so eager to get me to go. He was so successful the first time to give me a false sense of security. I wouldn't fall for it. I'd kill him first. I would dine on Cuxhaven blood yet again.
These thoughts and brooding ran through my mind as I felt his gentle, warm hand on my shoulder. I uttered a deep, guttural growl. My hand shot up with full force and strength. It dug into his left eye socket. He screamed and tried to pull away. My fingers curled around my prize. I pulled it free with some of his flesh. He stumbled and hit the floor. He scrambled there for a moment then ran. The door slammed. I hardly noticed. I was frozen with the warm, wet mass in my hand. His blood cooled and I tasted it. A familiarity rushed through me. I had tasted this before on the first night he had spent with me. I knew then what had happened to that missing hand of his. I had already done it once, what was another time? Now I ate the mass in my hand. It was as sweet as the other body part.
I sat there on the mat for awhile trying to decide if it was time to do my chores or not. It suddenly struck me and sunk in. I had committed another unforgivable sin against the child left in my care. He had done nothing in our time together to deserve this treatment. He had always been good to me. He had never called me useless or treated me as an inferior, even though he was better at the housework than me. He gave me some semblance of respect. We were almost friends. We sat together and laughed often. I bit my lip hard enough to draw the blood. I did these things to him regardless. I hated myself even more than I did after killing my father. Father deserved to die. This was worse than letting Michael die. What could I have done to save my brother? I really didn't deserve to live. The damned Cuxhaven blood in me this monster. It worked against me. It was out to destroy me. I should never have been born.
I clenched my fist until I drew the blood from my palms. I knew with some certainty that he would return to kill me. He had promised to do so many times when we tended his wrist. If I ever hurt him again, he would kill me. It was what I deserved. It was what I wanted. He would not have to steal from the humans to survive. My death would provide him with the meat to last the winter.
I leaned my head back against the wall with the thought. We would all win. I could finally have my oblivion. I think I was evil enough for that judgement. I would not fight him. I could stay here on the mat and remain motionless. He could rip my heart from my body or bit out my throat. It would be finally over.
The day passed. I raised up from my resting place and paced the floor. I was more agitated as time went on. I wanted it to be over with. My knives suddenly offended me. They took his hand from him. They started the offense. I couldn't have them near me again. I didn't want to fight him. I wanted to die with the least amount of struggle. It was time to end it. I gathered up all my knives in my arms and hurried out the door. I had to bury them far away from me. I didn't want to miss him either. So, I carried them some feet from my home and dug a hole in the snow and threw them in. I threw the snow and ice back into place. I didn't feel the cold of the ice. I didn't even notice the warmth when I entered the house again.
I paced the floor the hours after I had returned. What if he had been to the house while I was gone? What if he had lost his nerve? What would I do then? Could I starve myself to death like I had originally planned? No food was to be had in the house. I did not have the will or the courage to steal from the humans again. I would starve. I knew it this time. It would be a slow painful death. I shook my head. I knew he would be back for his vengeance. It was what I would do.
These thoughts carried on for three days. I sat up on my mat and cried for awhile in frustration. Yet, I began to accept my fate. If he didn't come, I would go back to my lonely routine. I didn't deserve the companionship anyway. I laid down on my mat to sleep on that third day. My dreams were cold and restless. Why did I have to hurt him? He was good to me. Tears flowed down my raw cheeks. I fell back into a tormented sleep where the accusations and cold bombarded me. The fire had to have gone out in the fireplace. I was not inclined to revive it. Maybe I would freeze to death. I was determined not to move again.
The frosty air wrapped around my shivering body. The door slammed. Blood and Alteng's scent filled the air. A slight smile crossed my lips. He had come at last. I forced myself not to move . . . not to react . . .not to breathe. He moved forward. He breath was jagged and came in gasps. His cold fingers entwined in my hair. He pulled me up by it. He shook me in violence. My eyes opened against my will. My body still remained relaxed.
A frigid cold metal touched my throat. By the point and the gap I could tell it was a hook. He pressed the sharpened end into my throat. Cool blood trickled down to my collarbone. Pain accompanied my shivers now. It would soon be over. No matter how bad I wanted to remain calm, my body tensed up.
"I tried," I heard his voice in my ears. "Father wanted me to stay with you. He wanted me to take care of you. I don't think he knew what a monster you are. You have marked me twice. I don't know how I will survive among our people much less find a mate. No more. You must die."
His hesitation and trembling told me his fear. I could have argued. I could have pleaded for my life. He might have broke. I might have went with him to steal from the humans. But, this was what I wanted. It is what I had truly wanted since Michael's death. I remained silent and as motionless as possible. The hook moved away. Despair struck me. For a moment I thought I had failed again. He was going to set me free and flee. Then the hook fell on me with full force, cutting flesh and muscle.
It hurt at first. Fear. I choked with the metallic taste of my blood. I couldn't breathe. It seemed like forever before everything stopped. It was over. It was the end.
A/N: This is the end of Part I. There are two more parts to this story. For those that have read parts of Bane of Rendsberg, you know Olivier's fate. This story was actually written before Bane. This is the second story of five. Bane was the third. This story was a bit of a back story in as far as Alteng was introduced at the end of the first story, and Olivier was merely mentioned but not an active character.
This story was written for several reasons. I was told in a class that you cannot have a story that the narrator dies in it. Olivier is the narrator and he died, so there!! There were other things as well, but that was the main one.