As Kez looked into Victors eyes, something strange happened. His vision began to blur, his usually keen senses suddenly dulling and starting to fade. His legs trembled beneath him, the injured one threatening to give completely.
Fighting to keep his balance, Victor tried to focus on her face as she looked up at him, her mouth moving around a silent word. Tiny tendrils of light unfurled upwards towards him and brushed across his skin, surprisingly warm.Fear suddenly gripped him.
She reached up.
Victor felt the light travel up his face, gently caressing the gaunt contours and small scars until it reached his eyes. It was then that his vision blurred and gave up altogether, casting him into darkness. Panic filled him as he felt the rest of his senses followed suit, ebbing out of him with every thud of his wildly beating heart.
"Remember what?" he cried in confusion, only hearing his own voice as a muffled groan.
He fell, unaware of others gently guiding his body to the ground, Kez's hands under his head. Tears slipped down his numb face and soaked into his wild tufts of black hair, now cold and stiff like the fur of a dead animal.Cast into a muted world, he did not feel her hands softly hold his face.
"Victor, wake up you little rat, there's work to do"!
A sharp slap across the face woke Victor and his body leapt up before his mind could, his thin blanket falling away and onto the floor and leaving him cold and shivering. His bleary eyes focused on the huge bulky figure that loomed over him, a familiar but terrifying shadow in the faint dawn light and he felt himself step back, bare legs brushing against the prickly straw mattress he slept on.
"Pick up your blanket child, are we pigs"? the shadow growled, hand out to deliver another slap. Victor immediately gathered up his excuse for a blanket and spread it as neatly as he could on the bed. Uncle could get so angry if it wasn't neat.
"S..sorry" he managed, teeth chattering with the cold.
"Get dressed boy, its time to go"
Uncle threw some clothes in Victor's general direction then left the room, slamming the flimsy wooden door behind him. The whole room shook and Victor was left in the morning dark, shaking. Though he was used to this, his young mind knew that today was not like the others;today was different. Uncle had been restless for the past few days, pacing about, talking in hushed tones with strange people. The various and unfamiliar faces had unsettled Victor but he did not know why. Something in their eyes seemed to spell something bad, something unspeakable.
Pulling his clothes on, Victor felt his fingers brush across his prominent ribs. He hadn't eaten in days. Uncle had decided to sever his rations after what he did last week. Out of compassion for one of Uncles hungry dogs, he has loosed the chain so it could wander a little more freely, not knowing the animal would break free and kill three sheep. The beating he received for that had almost killed his eight year old body. Those sheep had been worth a week of food each and so to pay , Victor would go hungry for three weeks. Five days had passed and he was beginning to find it hard to even stand. Fear kept him going. His stomach had long since stopped rumbling, now shrunk down to nothing.
Shuffling over to wash his face by the water pitcher in the corner, he caught his reflection in the dirty mirror on the wall and was struck still. More white had grown through his jet black hair, in strange long streaks, coming from his temples and crown. Uncle had cut them out with a knife last week, but somehow they had come back, brighter than before. Victor looked around for his small hunting knife, panic filling him as he thought of his uncles reaction to this strange hair growth.
Finding it under his bed, he began to saw furiously at the tufts of white hair, pulling some of it out in his haste to be rid of it. Tears rolled down his cheeks as he worked desperately to cut them out, shaky fingers grabbing handfulls of it and tugging it up straight to slide the blade over.
When he was finished, he looked into the mirror at himself, somewhat more normal now, except for his thin and sunken face. He though he looked older than eight now, the other children he saw, golden tanned from the sun, with full faces and bright eyes. Victor's eyes were dull and dark, his skin sickly pale. Nobody liked to look at him for very long.
A series of hard thumps on the door shook Victor out of his moment and he quickly finished dressing, working on not falling over with exhaustion. He left the room to where his uncle waited for him, coat on, ready to go. Today was going to change everything, Victor could feel it. His young and tired mind tried to work out the expression on Uncle's face as they made their way out to the horses. In a strange act of charity, Uncle had saddled one for him, though he had to be lifted onto the huge animal, scrawny wasted arms unable to pull his body into the saddle.
They rode off into the approaching dawn in total silence. Victor thought the sky looked like it had been splashed with an angels blood. This thought caused his heart to turn in his chest and a deep fear settled into his bones.
An angel's blood.
Suddenly the sky seemed all too close.