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December 25, 2013
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The Paladins Gift by silver-dragonetsu The Paladins Gift by silver-dragonetsu
Illustration Points for Coden

Story Points for Alexis and Coden
Words: Sil = 5552 ; Kosu = 4191

Darting through the streets,  a young man wove between obstacles in a race against himself. Running from a trio of boys nearly his own age, and just and filthy and scrappy as himself, if not bigger and slightly older. And between himself and them....He was just a little bit more....bloody.  Smears of pink and red painted beneath his crooked little nose and  a shirt half torn from his torso with scratches from inhuman tools used to do it.
No one seemed to take much care to stop the four boys, though. Neither the three who screeched and mocked from mere yards away that they would break the smaller ones fingers and arms and legs when they caught him. Nor would they seem to want to care to stop the younger boy on the run from them, with his bloodied up and hurting disposition. If anything, some would seem to clear a path, if only to stay out of the way of these vicious little street urchins. Who tussled more than once when they'd catch up to the younger part; who'd kick and bite and spring away in desperation to lose his pursuers. Bounding over crates and hazardously through workmen.

He'd only lose them at last in the meeting of a busy street, Where he'd risk being run over by throwing himself under the wheels of a cart and snatch the axles to let himself be dragged for several blocks, before letting go when it'd turn onto a less busy street.

Rolling sideways and hugging himself, the young man would scramble to hide himself into a closed up corner behind a pile of crates nearest an alley. Where he'd stifle the want to cry as he cradled the added scraps and bruises from his messy escape, hands cupping an awful gash below his knee that bled so profusely, it only looked worse than what it was.

An elf walked down the busy street, carrying a small case with him on his side. Having been teaching at the local university on a new medical procedure as a guest speaker... he should have been given a taxi to get back to his hotel. But... the idea of that seemed terribly boring. Instead, he had decided to walk it, wanting to see the hustle and bustle of the new city. It wasn't that far anyway, just a mile up the street or so.

The man hummed a little to himself, hands in his pockets as he just took everything in. Wrinkling his nose slightly as one of the less fun city smells hit his nose, but he soon passed it.

The man pondered as he walked about a new research position he had been offered by the hospital he worked at, not sure if he should take it or not... It'd be a good raise in pay, but from what he heard it'd take him out of downtown, which he wasn't as fond of... maybe he could find a local garage for his single prop...

As the man pondered, he blinked as he saw a cart went past him, with the most unusual passenger underneath. He saw a young boy roll out from under the cart a block or so ahead of him, then run off into the alleyway. He glanced around, he was sure that other people had seen it, but no one stopped? Not a one?

Walking up ahead, the man turned to look in the alley curiously, honestly not expecting the kid to still be there. Though he could hear the rushed breathing, the stifling of sobs. He glanced around again, truly no one would come? He supposed... he wasn't on the best side of town right now... maybe this was a lot more common than where he lived in Griffas...

Turning into the alleyway, the young man would probably hear the other's footsteps, his black boots hitting the stone street until he came up to the child, looked him over, and knelt down, "I can help, if you want me to" ^_^

Alerted by the clack of boots, the boys hand flew to his side to scramble for a weapon. A rock, a stick—His fingers would wrap firm around a broken slate from a  busted up crate, and he would hold it tightly as the stranger approached him, having every intent of using it if the man gave him reason to.

Much to his surprise, the pretty blonde man would only smile in a friendly way he didn't trust and offer to help. The hurt little boy inside him would want for that smile to be true, but smiles were hard to trust in the world he lived in. So he'd only curl away and leer suspiciously at him.

“Don't need no help from no girly lookin' rich men. Ahm Jus' fine,” He'd deem, wiping the crusting blood from his face with a cringe.

He should have expected the boy not to trust him... he remembered that from when he was working with the paladins... though then he had a uniform that somewhat radiated 'trust me!'

"I may look like a girly rich man... but what you should consider more important is that I'm a doctor, and it looks like you need one" He said, pulling out a handkerchief from his pocket and offered it to the little boy. ^_^

'Doctor' wouldn't appear to set any better off with him than 'rich man'. Staring incredulously at the handkerchief, the child ignored it and stare harder a the stranger. “No way yer a doctor. Doctors don't give a squat,” he'd snarl, wiping bloody icor from his arm to his pant leg. Of which was torn and bloody as it were.

“Don't need no stupid doctor no how. I can take care of myself just fine!” As if to prove as much, He pulled at the tear in his pant leg until managing to rip off the whole legging at the knee. He'd tear this in half, using his teeth, and messily bind it over the gash in his leg. Wincing with stifled pain and tying off a knot that wouldn't last long once he got moving around again.

"Then you haven't met the right doctors...and if you do it that way, you'll not need a doctor anymore, you'll need a grave digger" he said, fiddling through his bag, pulling out a few things he'd need. "And will you do the same for your nose? Or do you want it to stay crooked all your life?" He asked. ^_^

“G-grave digger?” Though daunted by the thought, he'd scoff disbelievingly. “You're just saying that. It's only a scratch! It'll be fine like it is--”His nose he'd seem less concerned for. Tenderly touching the crooked appendage. Lots of kids in his gang got broken noses. All he had to do was jerk it right and it'd—He attempted to push his nose sideways, as if that's all it took, but cringed and decided against it, stifling a slew of sailor-esque complaints.

"It's a scratch today.... tomorrow it will be infected... then fever, sepsis, then gravedigger" the man said, as he watched the boy. "How about this... You don't want me to treat you... how about I show you what to do... so then you can do it yourself if... this happens again" ^_^

He hadn't any clue what sepsis was, but it sure as hell didn't sound fun. Though he didn't know how a little cut could get all infected and kill him either, he wasn't so sure he wanted to wait and find out. With slightly wide eyes, the young boy nodded with hesitant eagerness. Better to learn from a proclaimed doctor than to learn it the hard way.

"Good... first we start with the nose... its best to treat such things before too long, or it'll swell up and then you're stuck" He said, holding out the handkerchief, "Blow your nose into that, it'll hurt, but it'll help make things easier for you" He said.

"Now, do like I do, alright?" He said, after the boy was done, making a triangle with his hands, his fingers held up against each other. "From here, you place it up at the top of your nose, and take a deep breath in through your mouth." He said, doing what he said and waited for the boy to follow him. "When breathing out, bring your palms together till your hands are molded snuggly around your nose... I know it hurts, but it'll be better soon"

"From there... drag your hands down towards your chin as straight as you can manage..." He said, watching the boy to make sure he was following his directions. ^_^

He'd follow the instructions, skeptical at first but gradually heeding the mans words. First blowing his nose off all the dribbly, gooey gunk of blood and snot, choking back a startled sob at the dizzying pain that came all too abruptly.And then looking rather sickly at the disgusting mess in his hands. dropping the rag immediately, He cringed and made quite the array of faces. It tingled something fierce now, but he dare not touch his face just yet. Even when instructed to.

Though after a while of cringing and complaining, He made the shape with his hands, attempted to mimic the elfs gestures. Pouting all the while and making ever more the an array of discomfort and timidity. "Auuugh, This doesn't feel better at all! I just feel ridiculous!", The boy whined, eyes smarting and toes curling.

"This won't make it feel better right away... you broke it after all... its so that it can heal right, which isn't just going to make your face stay... not crooked, if you don't do this, it could mess up your breathing and your eyes, depending on how badly you broke it, now do it like this" He said, making the gesture again, showing him how to push his nose back into place. ^_^

"What!?" His felt felt fucked up enough, he didn't want it to get worse! He could only just imagine it--He eyes all bulgy and his nose swelled up all huge so he couldn't breath---  "I didn't break it myself!", he'd complain in defense of himself as he copied the man. "Those Assanines from the Gretto Gro--owowow--!!!" He snapped hands away and cupped his nose tenderly. Yelling frustratedly with a nasally tone. "I can't do it! It hurts too much! It's there a better way!?" Q` n Q

"That may be so, but you need to be able to deal with this in case it happens again... unless you have magic, you'll need to know how to fix yourself if you've been hurt... It'll probably be more than those other boys know... right?" He asked, "After this we'll find you some things to help ease the pain, alright?" He said, making the motion with his own nose yet again. ^_^

He really didn't know if it /was/ more than those other boys knew, but boy, could he imagine the looks on their stupid faces when he came back around with a fixed nose tomorrow. "Probably just think some crack like you did it for me--", he grumbled, having half a mind to make the elf do it for him at all. Steeling his nerves, though, He cradled his nose in his fingers again and took a deep breath and tried again.

Eyes squeezed half shut and gritting his teeth, the young boy tried again. This time bearing through the pain and simply applying more pressure, as if that'd make it hurt less. Which it didn't, of course. Hellz, he just wanted it over with, though. Growling frustratedly, He cussed and jerked real fast and--Snap-op!

Yelping, he jerked his hands back and shivered. Cussing something mighty fowl as his hands hung in the air around his face. "Son ovva bitchin whoremonger! Augh?!"

The elf seemed satisfied, even as the young boy continued to curse. Sitting on the street like the child, he went through his bag, and pulled out a bottle of water and glanced around for something to use, sighing a little as he just pulled off his cravat and wetted it, offering it to the boy to wipe his face off, "Clean up with this, we'll work on your leg next" ^_^

Blinking back smarting tears, the boy stare blankly at the Cravat as it was dangled in front of him. He'd hesitate taking the thing, his face still being sore. Though would promptly obey, not wanting to be a sticky, stinking mess of blood all day, even if it probably would look intimidating.

As he washed his face, layers of not only blood but thick black muck and grime would get scrubbed away. Steadily revealing a much softer and cleaner skin tone than what he would first appear to be. Tenderly sniffing as he cleaned his face, He hesitantly handed back the cravat, now tinted in colors of black and brown and red.

The man accepted it only to wet an unused side, and after simply ripping off the bandage fail, started to wipe the blood away from the boy's leg.

"You're looking much better now, it'll feel sore for a while, but it'll be back to normal soon enough" He chirped, dabbing away the blood.

"When you get a cut like this, the first thing you need to do is clean it... you don't want dirt or anything in it, it'll just make it hurt worse in the long run and could cause it to get infected" He said. Pulling out a small bottle, he wetted a small piece of cotton. He always kept a little emergency kit on him... just in case.

"You will probably only have access to water.... which is fine... but there are better things... such as alcohol... not sure how easy it is for a kid your age to get some... but you don't need much... and it also helps ease the pain of a wound" He said, motioning to the bottle he had, "alcohol or something like this... it'll sting when it makes contact... but the sting is how you know its working... think of it as killing off all the bad things that could get you sick" He said, dabbing said cotton ball on the gash. ^_^

He wasn't at all pleased with the elfs sudden grabbiness, scowling at the man for freely touching him and fussing as he pleased. It made him nervous. Though after a time of watching him like a hawk, the kid would calm again and listen intently. His hand fumbling to find his wooden slat at his side and grip it tightly...just in case. Wincing and fussing at the sting and burn of the alcohol as it made contact. "You sure talk like 'em but ya don't act like 'em---Tch-ow! Watch it, that stings!" Lashing at the mans hand, he tried to cover the wound and pull away. "You sure yer a doctor?"

"I certainly hope I'm one, otherwise I don't think the hospital would let me in and then I'd be out of a job" The man teased.

"Sorry, I did warn you... but I assure you it helps" He said, letting the kid pull his hand away, though with his other hand he shooed the other hand from the wound, "If you keep touching it I'll have to keep cleaning it, so just wait a moment, alright?"

The man paused in his work, digging through his bag, as he didn't want his hand whapped again. Pulling out a bag of confections that he was given by one of the staff at the university, he offered the boy a wrapped up piece of chocolate, before taking one for himself, "That's for being good so far, I'll give you some more at the end... deal?" ^_^

Without him having taken one for himself, the boy might have been just as distrustive of the candy as he was of the man. Though after the chocolate was eaten first by the doctor, probably to assure him it was safe, the boy snatched the candy rather eagerly. Allowing himself to to be distract by the sweets while the other worked. It would probably help that he hadn't eaten in a while either. Barely bothering to peel away all of the wrapper as He sowed down on the sweet. "Deal," He'd mumbled with his mouthful, already letting the candy melt on his tongue and lure him into contentment.

Making a point to enjoy the chocolate while the boy was looking up at him with those suspicious eyes, he grinned as the kid seemed to take a moment to enjoy the treat. Pulling out the bandages, the man would explain how to clean and dress cuts, before starting to wrap the bandage, and offering the wrappings for the boy to finish it. ^_^

Gladly taking the loose ends, the boy followed the same path the healer had. Wrapping them not quite so neatly around as the other hand, but better than what could have been expected. As he tied off a rather crude knot, he'd seem terribly proud of himself, despite what little he'd done.

A moment later, as he was stretching his leg to look over the handy work, He'd bristle and get the widest eyed look yet that afternoon. Steely blue eyes glimmering with child like awe before swallowing and proclaiming with delight,"--Caramel!"

The man nodded, pleased with the boy's work, "Now, you'll be able to do this next time right? You had the right idea with the cloth... but try to make sure its somewhat clean" He said a bit sheepishly.

Nodding, though not entirely listening, He thrust his hand out at the elf with expectancy for something.

The man rolled his eyes a little, setting the promised candy in his hand. Looking him over, he noticed the boy was covered with a lot more bruises and cuts than he'd like to see on ANYONE. "...Bruises... usually just take time to fix... may I?" The man asked, drawing a little rune on his hand. ^_^

In the middle of popping the candy in his mouth, he paused to shiver and stare at the rune in the man's hand. There was a look of disdain for the magic, but he'd nod as he popped the chocolate in his mouth. Suckling on the candy as he propped himself up to sit more comfortably on one of the the many crates around him. "...So how come yer so nice?", he'd casually ask, kicking his foot against the crate in that way that kids often did to occupy themselves. "S'not like it's gunna get you anythin'. "

The elf pondered a good answer, as he held his hand out over the kid's scrapes and bruises, healing them and going on, "...Hmm... not sure, I suppose I've always been like this... It doesn't sit well with me if people need help and I don't do something about it... Used to be a paladin before I became a doctor..." The man said, hand casually going into his pocket to pull out a little pocket knife, showing the boy the emblem, "I wanted to help people then, still do now" ^_^

He'd like to argue that he didn't need any help, but was quiet as the man revealed a dinky little pocket knife from his coat. For a moment, he seemed in awe of the neat little thing as he reached to pick it up. Only to scowl with a lack of impression. "What a dinky, useless knife....Wadda they give you that fer? Pal'din dont use blade fer healin'. Gunna open yer mail with it?"

"...I suppose I could use that... but its not really meant to be a weapon as much as it's a tool" He said, "I've used it to make kindling for a fire, cut bandages, open cans, cut rope... it's only a weapon in the last resort... you should use your mind over muscle if you can... especially if you seem to end up on the losing end of fights" The man chirped, finishing his work, and standing up, "I know it'd be foolish of me to point you in the direction of an orphanage... maybe we can get some food in you though? I'll get you anything you want?" He asked with a smile, and offered his hand to help the boy up. ^_^

"Oh...." He hadn't thought of that. Of all the uses for a little thing as a pocket knife---he couldn't count on both his hands how often he coulda used a tool like that for every day life. Especially cutting purses for gold to eat.

Speaking of, He stare at the hand hovering in his face, then the smiling man above him. He'd let him this close for this long and nothing had happened yet. And the every promise of food left his stomach growling with want. "Sure...okay..." He didn't seem to really buy it, but he'd play along any how. Maybe if he stuck close, he'd pick a pretty penny or two off the man.
Including the pocket knife, making note of which pocket it was in as he picked himself up, ignoring the hand meant to help. Probably should have used it though---his freshly bandaged leg was still tender and he gimped slightly on it.

The man still held his hand out if the boy wanted it, though the other gestured out of the alleyway, "I'm afraid I'm not a local to the area... what's a good place to eat around here? Pick anywhere you wanted to go" He said, willing to either help the boy or just walk behind him and let him lead the way. ^_^

There were several places to choose from. Several fancy shops and restaurants that any starving boy would want for in his situation. Cafe's and bakeries; hell, he could have even tried the local brewery for a spot of beer and ale, if the man would let him. Though of all places he could think to want to go it'd be, "The gutter!"

Grabbing the elfs wrist with a cemented nod, he went to the edge of the alley way and peeeeeked out with caution before gimping out into the street.

The man let himself get led along, looking around at the neighborhood, the boy, the shops, not exactly sure what this 'gutter' is. ^_^

"We've been talking this long, if it's alright to ask, what is your name?" ^_^

Leading the man down the street, he went back towards the busier lane he'd come running from and watched the carts hobble back and forth in careful study. Also while looking cautiously along the streets as if expecting someone. "No one can seems to say it right, so they's all call me Aiden....."

Abruptly darting into the street at a break between carriages, the boy tugged the blonde after a buggy going left. At which point he loosed the mans hand to hop onto the ledge on the back of the vehicle, where luggage was often stowed. Setting to the far side, he pat the seat and beackon the elf to follow."Com'on!"

When the boy broke off, the man blinked, not sure where he was going, stepping after him, until he saw what he was doing... what he expected him to do. Part of him knew that it probably wasn't a good idea... but that other part of him urged him on, that liked little escapades like this.

Following after the boy, he managed to get on the seat with a little less ease as the boy, who probably did this all the time, but managed on anyway, ducking his head to avoid being seen, "You have an interesting way to get around Aiden" ^_^;;

"Yeah, well, it's quicker'n walkin. That's fer sure." He seemed to beam rather proudly at the notion, though kicked his feet like it wasn't such a big deal. "Hey, you never said your name. Fairs fair. Cough it up," he urged, leaning near the man, enticing him with conversation while he crept his fingers near the mans pocket.

"That's perfectly fair to ask" The man said, fishing out another candy to hand the kid, and he plopped another in his mouth, "It's ----, I'm in town today to teach a bunch of doctors how to start someone's heart if it stops... its strange teaching people who look like they could be your grandfather" The man said, chuckling a little to himself, "So... do you have a home to go to? Or are you on your own?" He asked, looking the kid over from where he sat. ^_^

As the man fetched another candy, he jerked his fingers back and carefully accepted the chocolate as if up to nothing. "----? ....That's a funny name...", He mutter initially, popping the candy in his mouth without pause. He'd really quite the sweet tooth.
"Course not," Aiden replied bitterly, scowling the other way. "I don't need no'un else besides. I get fine on mah own.... I gots my gang to watch my bakc ifn' I need it."

"Where were they today?" The man asked innocently, giving the boy another candy when he seemed to finish the one he had been given before. Hoping that they weren't caught... it'd be a little hard to explain why HE was sneaking around on a carriage like this... kids could get away with that. ^_^

"Ambushed--", He remarked coldly, enacting the visage of a tiny soldier on the war front. "Them Grotto boys was peddling on 'r turf again," he explained, as if ---- should know all about it. "Finnegahn caught im snooping 'round our end a the market, cutting off our boys' purses and laying all the blame on us when summins got caught. Simmons got tired o' it so's we proclaimed a dual fer right to the market devide! Them dirty rotten yellow bellied bastards gone and done us all wrong though. Up an pulled a fast'un and beat us out a house n home! It weren't rigth, I says. They's all just a bunch a older greedy bullheads dun pickin on the smaller gangs, grabbing up all the turf. Thinks themselves tuff shits, they did."

He paused, eyes lighting up at the proffered candy. Licking away remnants of caramel on his lips, he unwrapped the new one and fondly had the second. His war-esque tone smoldering with childlike delight at the sugary thing on his tongue. Of which he promptly bit in half to get straight at the caramel center, licking the hollow empty, rather than waste his time savoring it when ----'s pocket were stuffed with the things.

"Starting over's a bitch and them asshats took over are whole apartment and booted out all the lil' kids, even. Summa us tried to take it back, but...It didn' end so hot........"

The man nodded and listened intently, as if every word were news from the war front. The man pondered over the child's words, "...If they're using their size and age against the little groups one by one, with no regards to the little kids... would your gang be willing to join up with some of the other smaller ones? If you work together, you can use numbers and brains to get your territory back, and have less fighting between them... don't know if it'd be possible if you don't like the other groups though..." The man said, musing some ideas out loud. Figuring he'd probably be ignored anyway. ^_^

"Not many o'us gets a long real well. Though it's a kinda muni.. Moody… Moochial? We all gots our corners and we sticks to 'em. Don't poke me, I don't poke you, ya know?" At this, he promptly jabbed the blonde in his side. "Though them Gotto boys been makin ever'un suffer some. I don't doubt if'n suma the others it'd help, if only t' get them bitches off 'er backs." Raising his eyes as the buggy turned a corner, Aiden gestured ---- to follow as he hopped of his seat. Skipping back towards the main drag to continue following the flow of traffic they'd been with. "That's the gutter up there. Best eats in all a Westy," He'd assure, gesturing to a rather dank and foreboding looking inn that would perhaps have rightfully  earned it's name.

The elf nodded at the boy, "You wouldn't have to stay together forever... just to show them that you won't take their bullying anymore" He said, hopping off with Aiden, looking around at where they were.... it would be fun finding his hotel at this rate.

Looking up at inn, the man hoped that the boy was right. It was true that a lot of good restaurants were hidden away... though they usually at least tried to make their building look like it wasn't centuries old. Gesturing for the boy to go ahead of him, he'd follow after, though he'd reach out to open the door for him to go inside. ^_^

"Course not. Though I bet if we did it, there'd be a hellz of an alleegense." Though a little wary at first, as if he didn't fit in with the grizzly setting, Aiden dipped inside and looked precariously about the tavern. Much like he did on the streets, as if constantly keeping his eye out.

The inside was nothing special, just as was the outside. Though it was at least clean, if not filled with mercenaries and military men. And the air was filled with a most appetizing smell of the various dishes that went around at each table.

Hungering at the sights and smells, Aidens stomach would give him all the confidence he would need to freely stride into the building. Waltzing eagerly to the bar, upon spotting a pair of open seats, to eagerly climb onto a stool. He no sooner than grinned and beckoned his elven company to join him, smiling rather happily at his catch--as what child didn't love sitting at the bar on such awesomely high stool seats?--when a looming figure would appear behind the bar while the boys back was turned and promptly plucked him from his chair as if he were naught but a kitten.

"You again!? Didn't I teach you proper the last time you was around?", the bulking krility of a man grumbled, holding a rather terrified if not feisty Aiden by his scruff.

Swallowing down a yelp, The boy squirmed and flailed and kicked. "Hey! Pummidown you great Bull-headed bastard! I'm a payin' customer!!!", He complained, making a failed swing at the giant, whom only scoffed in his face.

"An' since when'd a grubby little street rat like you e'er afford anythin?", The man barked irritably, to which Aiden promptly pointed out the elf. And to whom the great giant of horned krility would stare at expectantly with ridicule and suspicion.

The elf looked on as the huuuuge man came over, and picked up the little boy up into the air. Holding his hands up innocently when he looked over at him, "You don't have to worry, I told him I'd cover his tab... We won't cause any trouble I promise…would you please put him down?" He tried to assure him, not wanting to be thrown out of a place... or cause a fight... given all of the people there... given he could handle himself... but he'd rather not if he didn't have to. ^_^;;

It would take a few moments for the man to process that and believe it. Though as he seemed appeased by the Elfs nature would drop Aiden back upon his stool, nearly causing him to capsize. "Mind your pocket, son. He'd sooner rob you blind of your charity than thank you for it," The oxen man uttered, Then eyed Aiden with a steely glower the elf would become quite familiar with in later years.  "And you--mind your manners...and your fingers. Catch you sneaking ale again and I'll lock ya in the brewer."

Clinging to the counter, Aiden stared widely at the Ox's threat for all of a moment before making a dirty face at him. The man would ignore the boy...mostly, to beckon the elf with a prompt but weary 'What kin I get ya?'.

"Don't worry, I'm a bit more used to such things than he'd probably like" He said, smiling up at the ox man, glancing around until finding a board, and gesturing to it, "I'll have your special for the day... and some hot water" He chirped, then gestured at the boy, "And whatever he wants... sans ale" He said, gesturing for Aiden to order whatever his heart desired. ^_^

The Krility nodded at the elf, then looked to Aiden. Who was gawking at the  menu with uncertainty. He was allowed what ever he wanted, but......he wanted everything! Even knowing that he couldn't have possibly stomached it all if he wanted. Needless to say, having such a choice was rather overwhelming, once it was literally lain in front of him. Flustered and uncertain, he simply blurted that he wanted what ---- was having and left it at that with a firm nod. Laughing softly at Aiden, the Oxen man went off to make their drink and stir up their meals.

The elf smiled a little bit as the kid was just overwhelmed with all of the choices offered to him, finding it rather cute. Watching him sit at the high chair like he was so pleased to be here... It broke his heart a little to realize that he probably didn't get to do this often... much less get a proper meal every day.... and he was just one of thousands of kids in this city that were in that position... If it were a matter of just one kid... but he couldn't take in every kid he found... he learned that before, it was... better if he just got them a good start.

Shaking his head of such thoughts, he looked back at the boy, and smiled down at him, "Do you come here often? It seemed the chef knew you" ^_^

"No.....Sort of....", Aiden mumbled cheekily, twiddling his fingers and watching the Ox pace the kitchen through the little peep hole. "On occasion..........It's really good. the food. Shame he wastes his left overs on dirty squirrelcats....." = ^ =

"They need food too" He said, pondering something, "Maybe, he'll give you some of the leftovers if you help him out?" The man asked, not sure if he had tried or not.

Aiden bristled at the very idea. "No way! I'd sooner eat the cats! Nyan-nyan-nayn~!" Making faces, he mimed eating said creatures and mocking spit sideways. "He's big and he's mean and he's ugly and smells like a cow!"  XP

"You know, it's talk like that that causes him to roughhouse on you like he was before" He teased. He wondered if there was truth behind the boy's words or if he was just blowing steam as little boys would.

"Where else do you go around here?" The elf asked, trying to steeeeer the conversation away from the monstrously tall man. ^_^

"Well /someones/ gotta put him in his place. Mhmm-Mhmmm!"He'd nod matter of factly, but then drop the subject as it was changed. No sooner, just the same. The oxen man was leering out the kitchen window at them.

"Where else? Whaddya mean where else?" It was an obvious question, but that suspicion would come back strong. Aiden looking upon his elven friend with distasteful wonder. "Why's it matter...ya gunna stalk me later like some kiddy snatcher? I thought you was kinda weird fer a doctor...."

The elf blinked, "What?! No... nononononooo... I just... don't know the town very well yet, I'm here for a few days, I didn't know what there was to do.... All I was told about was the art and naval museums and.... to be honest those sound boring" The man said, waving away the accusation as well as he could.

"I may be a doctor... but I'm not THAT old" He said with a sheepish grin ^_^;;;

He didn't how age had anything to do with it, but seemed partly content with the man's defence. Mostly. He was pretty sure the elf wasn't that kinda bad guy. He was goofy, yeah but...He just didn't have that feel like some creepers did.....He was just really weirdly nice. And...it was kinda nice....but abnormal.

"Yeah...Okay...", He'd chide, lilting his head in regard. "Well...I guess there's places. The park gots lotsa neat stuff goin' on sometimes....and the beach is okay." He really wouldn't know what to tell the man. As long as he'd lived there, he didn't do very much but run aroudn places normal people didn't normal visit. "Yer a Pal'din, yeah? ....Maybe...There's a church? You pal'din like stuff like that, yeah? There's a reall big one, with painted windows an music all the time."

The elf nodded, taking in what the kid said. He would talk with him for a few minutes over this and that. Trying to encourage the child along, and even giving him a few stories of himself when he would go on adventures. Though one thing did stick in his mind, the kid was given a rotten set of cards in life... giving him things would only help for the short run...

"...You said before you're in a group of other boys... what do you do that makes you important in their group?" ^_^

There wasn't much for him to tell, but He'd rummage up olf and buried memories of childhood placed he liked to visit. The memorials in the park, Old sky-way paths on rooftops where soldiers used to patrol on daily basis years ago, and a really neat hill where you could get the perfect view of the parade deck and see the Army men practicing drills. And other various places, though many of which would somehow have one connection of another to...the military. When he couldn't think of anything else, that wouldn't relate too closely to his gang or their usual hang outs, the boy instead listened to to the elfs random stories, partly intrigued by his lifes ventures. He'd never been beyond the city before, and it intrigued him what was beyond his childhood home. Venturing very far was a scary thought, though. He knew stuff here. The city, the people, the routines; beyond it was unfamiliar territory.

"Huh? Me? I'm a scavenger," He deemed a bit proudly, though there was little strength in it. Like he wanted to be something bigger than that. "--I fight too, though. We ain't gots a lotta guards," He said carefully, realizing a little late that he was talking more than he should.

Amid their talking, a waiter would come round with the duo's plates. Heaping platters of warm, fried rice and vegetables with mix of seafood piled on the side. A platter nearly befitting a man of the Oxen's size than anyone else. A small teapot was served between them with sugar and milk if they wanted.

His eyes going as wide as the plate, if that was even possible, Aiden hesitated not at all to eat it. Picking finger-fulls of rice and scarfing it down with fat and buttery shrimp tails. Ignorant to the use of spoons or forks; things obviously not avaliable in his daily life.
Between mouthfuls of savory fish and shrimp, the boy would rudely gabber on about his shared duties. How they all did one thing, but traded and practiced others incase someone got sick or...disappeared.

The man noted how so much of the child's life revolved around the military... even at such a young age... it seemed so strange to him. He supposed it was the country... He would hear of the skirmishes... but it was always... not here... not home... somewhere else. Here it was just daily life. He wondered if most of the children on the streets ended up just being rounded up into the services... it'd be much easier to say they were giving them some sort of purpose than trying to go to children with families that cared for them...

Thanking the man when he brought the food over, he blinked at just how much food there was. There'd be no way he could eat it all. Figuring he could just give it to the child later, he worked to make the tea, and poured some out for the two of them. Using the utensils he was given... unlike the boy, he probably knew how to more of them than the child had probably even heard of. Listening to the child as he talked of scavenging, and duties they shared.

"....Do many children disappear?" He asked, seeming a little bit worried... was it just life on the streets? Or something else?
His eating would slow, but only a little, when asked of the disappearances. Gulping hard to clear his mouth and forcing down the lump of food with the tea that the man would graciously serve. Of course blanching at the bitter, herbal taste and going back to water it down with milk and sugar as he replied. "Not really... Just on occasion. Sometimes it's cuz we get caught making trouble and put back in the orphans houses. Mosa times we jus bust out....other times they stya...cuz it's hard..."

He'd stare at his cup dropping lump after lump of sugar cubes into his glass, frowning as if it'd never be sweet enough no matter how many he added. "Orphans houses...theys alright...for the food and stuff.... Nice havin a bed too...but the fake families ain't worth it. Any kids it'd tell ya that. j'mental faces and pretend parents...treat us like toys. The elfs and halflin's is the lucky ones--they're young ferever an gots more time to bother waitin on the rigth ones. S'all jut dissapointments, though. waistes a times nots." Grumbling quietly with a discomfort for the topic, He lifted his cup and gulped down his tea, which was nearly just sugar and milk by quantity.

Clapping it down after extinguishing the whole glass, leaving a thick milky syrup at the bottom, the boy wiped away the stache left upon his lip and sighed like a grown man who'd just popped back a heavy cup of burdens and sorrows. "Haa--But if it ain't that, It's the creepers. They's ain't worth a mention tho'. Dirty filthy creepers...Sometimes..they just move. It's better when they just move. Better know'n they found a nother gang or better place to stoop."

The elf sipped on his tea as the young boy talked, feeling terribly sad over the child's predicament. But.... no... he couldn't just take him home. He's not from this country, he'd have all sorts of paperwork to attempt to work out... much less the child probably wouldn't be interested, given his opinion on people adopting them. That and... he couldn't adopt them ALL... it just... wasn't possible.

"...Well... If the orphanages and the like aren't a good option... then I suppose the best thing you can do is make yourself into something that keeps you alive and gives you a better chance of making it in the world. You'd probably laugh at me if I said something about school..." He said, sliding his half eaten plate towards the boy.

"But I don't mean that.... not really.... You've got something inside... you don't have to tell me about it... but you have something inside that'd make you special... practice it, hone it till you're an expert... don't just spend your time scavenging... become the most important one in your gang... from there... when you grow up, you'll be able to go anywhere you want with that" He said, finishing off his tea.

"...After I pay... we can get you some things from a little store I saw down the street... you need some new clothes after the scrap you were in... if that's alright" ^_^

Though he didn't seem to be listening or paying any mind at all to the elfs rambling, eyes glued to the plate in front of him, He'd be silently absorbing every word as he consumed his meal. To any other kid, to him even, it was just another useless adult giving them the talk of 'greatness'. A speech they didn't need. That applied only to the 'good' kids that really cared about going anywhere significant. Though it meant something to Aiden. Sparked the deep carnal need to survive his cruel world. The want to rise above it and conquer it with his own two hands. Maybe not in the way his companion would have meant....but it was an encouragement none the less.

Pushing aside his cleared plate, and accepting the leftovers pushed at him, Aiden feebly picked at a half eaten piece of fried fish, using it to scoop up rice and eat with purpose. He was so terribly full by this point, but he would need all the energy his starved body could take.

"You know, mister....If you keep bein' nice like this t' people....and they'll walk all over ya." He appreciated, if not questioned, ----'s good will. Though maybe he worried just a little. There simply weren't many people of his kind in the world any more. It was hard not to doubt him or be skeptical.

"That may be true, but I'm willing to risk it" The man chirped, smiling at him, before motioning to the waiter, asking for a special to go, and gave him the money needed to cover the three meals, "Do you want anything else?"

He was getting more food?  The boy had barely finished the leftovers off the elfs plate. Though he didn't question it too much, and just shook his head. THe elf was already thrusting so much at him, He didn't dare ask for more, incase he expected something in lei for it later.

The elf would soon get the boxed up food, and gave the man a tip, before gesturing for the boy to lead the way out. "It may be a bit cold later.... but it should still taste alright..." The man said more to himself as they went outside. Leading him down the street to a store that sold things for adventurers.

It was similar to a general store, though some of the gear was for more serious ventures and trips... The man figured that the stuff one might need while living in the woods might work just fine in an urban setting. Opening the door for the boy to go inside, the man watched him for a moment, "No pocketing anything... if you need something, tell me, alright? If we don't have issues... you'll get the rest of the candy from before" He said with a smile, though there was a hiiiint of a warning as well. Letting the boy go as he wanted, following after. Picking up a decent backpack, and started throwing items he thought might be useful inside. ^_^

Aiden was hesitant to enter the shop. Both on account of the mans warning and the means of being bought anything. Let alone being given the choice to pick out what he wanted, if he even dared. His pockets were already full of pilfered sugar cubes he'd snatched before they left the tavern; grabbed when the man’s back was turned and while sugaring his tea. There was little chance he wouldn't try pilfering something while he was in the store. Hellz, He'd probably get the stink eye from the store clerk the minute he walked in anyway, so why bother keeping his fingers to himself to begin with?

Tugging uncomfortably at his ratted shirt, Aiden shuffled into the store. Picking at a clod of dirt on his arm as he inched past the front counter, trying to ignore the wary clerk and making a dirty face at them when receiving the expected watchful stare. Walking more briskly along and trying to ignore and evade the shadow that'd soon be following him around while he picked up random items to look at with disinterest. Often watching his elven 'friend' to see what he was stuffing in that bag and baulking it how expensive some of it look. Though mostly watching to see if /he/ was watching as sticky fingers played temptingly over a really nice looking pocket knife on display. Of which would conveniently disappear, even when he'd set it down and walk away, hands mostly kept in his pockets. Eyes looking everywhere, and mouth kept tightly shut, besides the occasional. "I dont need that" or "It's too expensive" and "Can I wait outside", of which would be his favorite, it seemed.

The elf tossed in items as the child worried and complained, ignoring the questions of price and the like.... it wasn't like he was getting the MOST expensive things in the store... just... things he thought were useful. Soap... toothbrush and comb... maybe the kid could get something to make his hair look a little bit better on occasion... Can opener and small mess kit... flint and steel, tarp, several balls of twine, miniature first aid kit... needle and thread... packet of gels...

The man was tossing in some food when he paused, having kept an eye on the child as he went... As the boy walked away from the display, a finger settled on his head, "I said if you wanted something... all you needed to do was ask" He chirped, holding his hand out to the boy, silently asking him for the pilfered knife. ^_^

Jerking away from the finger as quickly as it was placed there, Aiden ruffled his hair and glowered between hand and smile. Denying that he'd taken anything, He turned to walk away with a scoff. "I don't want anything. You're the one who brought me here," he growled, stuffing his hand stubbornly back into his pocket while turning to walk away. "This is stupid. I'm going back outside. The clerk keeps giving me looks. You can just give me the bag when you're done, or not at all, I don't care."

The man's hand settled on the boy's shoulder before he could get too far. Kneeling down so that he was eye to eye with the young man.

"....I think you do care... you just don't trust me enough... to want to think that someone would go out of their way for you. I assure you, I mean no ill intent… I never did" He said, setting the bag down onto the floor next to them.

"Remember what I was saying before? About improving yourself? How the world out there is rough... but how you can find something inside to help you survive it all? This... this is my way of trying to help you with all that. You can do whatever you want with it... use them, sell them, trade them, share with the other boys... toss it in the street... it'll come of some use to someone... There's not much I can do to help you with bettering yourself... that's all inside" He said, gesturing a little to his own heart.

"It's just my way to help tilt the odds in your favor... in one way or another... so... will you give the knife back?" He asked again, holding out his hand. ^_^

At the touch of the hand Aiden jerked to pull away, but there was a firm, gentleness there that kept him cemented in place. There was that /smile/ again. But it wasn't so high above him anymore. It was right there. In front of him. Not speaking down like he knew so well, but in front of him; speaking at...no.../to/ him. It was a whole different perspective than he was used to.

He wasn't sure he liked it. It was too friendly. Too nice and honest and made him feel just all sorts of wrong inside. Made him feel like the naughty little kid that he was. It felt..../familiar/. He couldn't help but clutch guiltily at his shirt tails, scowling hard at the man to cover it up. To hide the weakness he felt slipping up. And at the mans touch when he pointed at his chest, Aiden jerked back warily, afraid he'd feel the tightness that was building up beneath it.

He never felt so guilty for anything before. Not for a long, long time. He refused to show it though. Even when the man brought up his empty hand expectantly, Aiden just scowled harder at him like he was stupid and insane and just outright insulting. Clicking his teeth madly, the boy shoved his hand in his pocket and slammed the knife down on the shelf besides him as he jerked away again. "Take the stupid thing! I don't need it anyway! It's ugly and heavy and don't even cut!" Smacking away the elfs hand, he lurched back a step and pointed accusingly with a mad, glimmering well in his eyes. "An' stop smiling! It's not real! Quit acting like ya give a damn! Normal people don't care! I'd die in the 'morrow n' the world'd go on like I'da never a'zisted! Stupid pal'din...you can't fix it! It's al'ready broken! So why waste it? So's you kin feel better 'bout yerself!? You make me sick!!! I HATE YOU!"

"Feel perfectly free to hate me" The man said, smile still there, still gentle. The boy looked terribly angry at him, but his hands... his eyes... he knew he touched a nerve... a fragile little thing that... while he was sorry it hurt the boy as it did... sometimes a wake up call was necessary... he knew that well enough...

"I do care, even if you don't believe me. And I think there is something in you that is special... and that this world is full of bad, hateful, untrustworthy people that would like no better than to smash that down in the mud. But I know that people can overcome such things, if not... I wouldn't be here myself... You may think you're broken... but really... that just means that you've got the chance to put the pieces together into something stronger than the first time around."

Reaching into his pocket, the man's fingers hesitated for a brief moment, before clenching onto the little metal knife, and offering it to the boy, "...Thank you for putting the knife back... it is true... it is a rather ugly knife" He said slightly teasingly.

"You can see a star carved into the side... it was given to me when I first joined the order... and as the stars above, given to us by the owl Nascha to guide our way.... may it help guide you on your path" He said, setting it in the boy's hand, and standing up, going past him and up to the counter.

"...I got you some clothes in the bag as well... They're a little big... but I figured you'd grow into them" He said, ignoring the look the store owner was giving him as he counted out some coins to pay him with.

Why wasn't this man deterred? Why didn't he just get mad right back? Why didn't he just give up!? A few nasty comments and rude gestures and most people just walked away. This one though. He was just outright pleasant. Fixed him up. Bought him food. Listened to what he had to say like it really mattered and meant something. And his smile...His smile was so painfully real. Not even those stubborn fathers of the church were so kind and forgiving...

Aiden just didn't know what to do with it. It'd only been a couple of hours since he first met the man and He'd all but broken down his guard and filled him with....hell, he didn't even know /what/ this was. This weird ache in his chest that made his eyes burn hot and his nose tingle numb. He wasn't supposed to be this easy to break. He had /practice/ at that. Years of it!

Angry and confused, Aiden wiped furiously at his eyes, gripping the knife firmly in his palm. He was overwhelmed. So terribly overwhelmed. With something he couldn't explain. Overcome with unexplainable grief and frustration, Aiden spun around to bolt for the door, shoving at the elf and barking a foreign but angry word at him as he passed.

Finishing the transaction, the man was about to give the bag to the boy when he was pushed a bit, the young man fleeing from the store. Blinking for a moment, he went after him, still in rather good shape for his current job. As the boy snuck onto a carriage, he went after a few steps, before stopping.... and throwing the backpack towards him, and waving. ^_^

No sooner had he seemed to flop down on the back of the moving vehicle and make himself comfortable did the massive and heavy backpack come soaring through the crowd. He'd manage to catch it, mostly on part that the heavy thing smacked him square in the nose, eliciting a loud yelp from the lad, but he'd wring an arm and a leg awkwardly around it as the other arm latched onto the rungs of the cart to keep from falling off. Then cast an angry eye into the crowd until spotting that smiling face waving from afar, steadily vanishing as the throes of human bodies merged and crossed his path. Aiden had half a mind to drop the bag in the muddy street, but the well in his chest burst open, and he could but sob an angry, muted sound as he clung to the selfless gift.

"Fine! I'll Do it! I'll be the greatest! I'll rule this city one day, just you wait and see!! I'll show them all, ----!!!"

And the child's voice steadily faded into a muted sound over the bustle of the city. The name on his tongue lost to a deafening silence as Coden abruptly stirred from a long and dreary slumber. Vibrant, steel blue eyes flashing across the ceiling of his room, though steadily fading into darkness as the memory slipped from his mental grasp. Covering his confused and blackening eyes with a heavy arm, Coden sighed, ".....what a strange dream......"
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:iconjahzz:
Jahzz Featured By Owner Jan 3, 2014
lays down in feels
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:iconkosumosu:
Kosumosu Featured By Owner Dec 31, 2013  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Bahadur: *doesn't remember this as much as chibi Coden does... It's his... Tuesday* ^_^

I know I say this all the time, but your stuff is awesome, there's no way I would have gotten that first pose right AT ALL
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:iconsilver-dragonetsu:
silver-dragonetsu Featured By Owner Dec 31, 2013  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Heh, Personally I don't think I got the first pose quite right myself. I always have this particular image in my head, though it never turns out just the way I think it.
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:iconkosumosu:
Kosumosu Featured By Owner Dec 31, 2013  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Well... from an outsider looking in's perspective... It seems to look nice, but I know how that feels :huggle:
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:iconyoukai-meimi:
Youkai-Meimi Featured By Owner Dec 26, 2013  Hobbyist Artist
Wow some insight >w< Lovely story~
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:iconxakriuth:
Xakriuth Featured By Owner Dec 25, 2013
:iconiloveyouplz:
this is so amazing

i freaking love it so much
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