Buzzards, Hawks and Ravens
(Account of Six Friend's Life in the "Dark" Age)
The New Brother
Bastian decided to go for the outhouse, the out-outhouse, the tree bog. The family had two outhouses, a two-holer at the postern, and a one-holer behind the barn in the garden. The big one had poop holes for two and despite this commodity it was occupied nearly all day round. Bastian preferred the tree bog in the garden behind the barn. This was the place he could contemplate important questions and hardly ever had someone tried to rip him out of his dreams because he had to do a crap.
The trousers at his ankles, his bare bum fondled by the soft, sweeping spring wind, he let his thoughts flow freely. Yesterday evening he had picked up a completely exhausted strange boy at the front door of his grand-aunts house, in the night he kept him warm in his bed and now he had made him his brother, the brother he was longing for all this long time...
Today a new brother was born to him. They had to celebrate this birthday. Bastian liked to celebrate birthdays. His mother always prepared something special, like a fruit cake and a mug full of foaming honey milk and they all danced around the table singing: "God send you ten year ago, to make us happy and proud" ... or five year ago, or twelve years ago , just what ever the period was which had passed since the birthday child's birth.
But now there was a serious problem. Bastian didn't know how old Ruwen was. He was shortish like a 6 year old and so lean; he was just skin and bones. Spooning him in bed Bastian was able to count every single rib of Ruwen. Was he six, or eight, or already ten? That actually did not matter for the moment. Ruwen was born to him today, just today! But what is the lower number to one? Was it nil, like in a game ending with nil to five? Could he just sing: "God send you nil years ago to make me happy and proud?" No he couldn't.
Finally he decided for: "God send you today to make me happy and proud!"
The second problem was the birthday present. Mother surely wouldn't prepare cake and milk today and actually he wanted to give Ruwen a present of his own, a very personal present. He recounted all his treasures. He owned dozens of feathers, big ones of hawks and buzzards and small shiny ones of jaybirds and white ones of geese. But he owned more precious treasures also, like the piece of broken brown glass, very handy during the last solar eclipse, two precious stones, a white one with the red veins and the dark grey one dotted all over with golden flakes. He was sure the flakes were pure gold. But his father just laughed at him calling it fool's gold. What a stupid father he had!
There also was that piece of parchment he found at the Christmas market last year. It had those funny drawings, his aunt called letters. Most of these letters were in black. Not so the first one. It was much bigger than the other. It was in red and blue and gold and it framed a small face. His grand-aunt called it a J and told him the writing started with the word Jesus!
His mother got really scared when he showed her the parchment and ordered him to throw it away immediately! But naturally he couldn't obey such a foolish order. Last, not least, he had an antler of a young roebuck. It was sharp as a spine but without any furcations, two fingers long. It was a handy weapon.
Sitting in the tree bog thinking of the antler he got a stiffy. His little prick got hard like it was when he entered the bog. Usually he started to wank to relief himself but today this got him the idea for the third birthday present. He had to teach Ruwen how to wank, how to obtain this perfect comforting feeling.
Bastian was initiated into wanking by the twins about one and half years ago. On a sunny afternoon, he hurried into the big outhouse because he was scared to shit his trousers. Tearing open the door he was greeted by a heavy spray of spunk. Geroldt and Bendrich had celebrated one of their wanking competitions: who was the first to come; who could shoot the greater distance; who could hit the knothole in the door!
Bastian became the involuntary victim of their sport and was covered with spunk all over. He screamed bloody murder and the faces of his brothers turned red like beetroots.
They hushed him. "Please do not to squeal to mother! Please!" They said in unison.
"No! I will tell mama and papa. You played with your wee-wee's! That's a sin! I tell!"
"Oh please, Bastian, please don't squeal to mother and father! Don't be a killjoy!" pleaded Geroldt.
And Bendrich proposed. "It's so funny to do that! You will like it! We will teach you tonight! We promise!"
The twins were perfect teachers and more than successful! Bastian turned out to be an eager and very gifted student. Now the three boys often had fun together and Bastian discovered the source of the aroma steaming out of his brother's bed in the morning.
Bastian decided to save his wank as the best of his presents for Ruwen. He fetched the parchment and the antler from his treasury and decorated both on the small chest in the boy's bedroom. He waited hidden behind the canopy bed, at first patiently, then impatiently, then with rising grudge and finally he started a search.
Meanwhile Ruwen had been given a tour through the entire farm by the twins. Wrenching him loose Bastian towed his reluctant new brother to the birthday display, started a ring a ring a roses singing at the top of his voice "God send you today to make me happy and proud! Ruwen my brother, I love you!"
Ruwen was overwhelmed! His eyes watered and he started to cry out of joy.
Bastian woke up. He felt cold. He missed the warm body of Ruwen. Was his new brother gone? Sure not, because the light dent in mattress in front of him was still warmish from his small friend's body. He searched the dimly lit room with his eyes. Over there was the bed of the twins. Both were breathing lightly. Then, to the left at the bed-head he realized a small frame someone sobbing desperately.
Crouching at the bed-head was a shivering Ruwen, arms tightly folded around the pulled up knees; with open eyes staring into the nothingness. Bastian crawled towards him, pulling the blanket along and tried to wrap the shivering boy into it.
The slight touch of Bastian's hands evoked a dramatic answer. Ruwen started to scream at full blast. Bastian tried to hush him, but he couldn't stop the screaming. The dreadful shrieks aroused the twins first, then the other family members. Muriel, Bastian's mother, came rushing up the steep stair-case. All four gathered around Ruwen, talking soothingly to the shivering boy, trying to calm him down. The screaming persisted till everybody was trembling in the cold night air.
Suddenly the shrieking horror subsided. Ruwen's panic attack ceased and Bastian was able to cover the trembling boy with the blanket. With chattering teeth everyone went to sleep again.
Early next morning the twins took up their daily chores bleary-eyed. The smaller boys slept late to recover from the nightly terror. Bastian tried to question Ruwen about the attack, but he didn't remember anything. All family members felled sympathy for Ruwen and treated him kindly, only Klas's face was sulky. The provost was still not convinced he had decided right to adopt Ruwen.
The panic attack recurred next night even more intense. Ruwen crouched trembling at the bed-head again, unapproachable, lost in another world:
His hooded eyes were seeing blazing houses; his closed ears were hearing the scrunches of collapsing churches, houses and barns; his lungs were aching from the acrid smoke and the reek of burned flesh.
The assault of the small city had lasted already for more than half a year. This night the assaulters flooded into the finally conquered city and started raiding churches, monasteries and houses. Only the small castle on the hill-top was still not taken by the assault. As the morning light broke clouds of smoke hovered over the city. Ruwen observed soldiers in strange uniforms spread in front of the pub on the other side of the small square. He crossed his fingers, he wanted them dead, but they were just drunk.
Then all blood trained out f his brain. A bleeding body was nailed eagle-spread onto the gate of the inn, the corpse of the inn-keeper, the corpse of his father's friend. Ruwen was terrified, he trembled. He didn't dare to leave the house of his parents to find out if he could help the man.
At noon a squad of raiding soldiers broke through the well-bolted door of their house, one of the most aristocratic houses surrounding the square. The cursing raiders invaded all rooms, searched the kitchen, the basement, the stables. Ruwen was terrified. He crouched in a corner behind his bed trembling. His little sister Eileen was clinging to the leg of their pale mother crying. The old grey-haired maid trembled haggardly clutching to her deaf husband. No strong hand was present to defend Ruwen, Eileen, their mother and the old servants. Ruwen wished his father was present, his strong father. He was lieutenant in the small army of defenders. He supposed his father was still alive defending the besieged castle. He couldn't image his hero in captivity or even worse, dead.
Greedy young soldiers, all about twenty years old, stormed through the rooms and broke every chest, every cabinet, turned over tables, chairs and beds. Ruwen tried to escape, but they caught him at the backdoor and smashed his head against the wall.
He and the others had to line up in the parlour, face against the wall, threatened with swords and daggers. They were grilled about hidden treasures.
Then one of the soldiers found the dress uniform of Ruwen's father ducked away in a chest. At knife point he demanded to be taken immediately to the hiding place of the lieutenant.
"He has left days ago, he is not here, nobody knows were he is at the moment; maybe in the castle or chained in custody, maybe he is dead!" Ruwen's mother trembled; little Eileen cried.
The assailants got angry. "Where is the money, where is the gold, where are the pearls. Get us our prize immediately or we will torture you, slaughter you like pigs!"
To enforce the threats one of them started to tear Ruwen's mothers beautiful hair and a dark raider stabbed the old servant merciless with his sharp dagger. Blood trickled from the deaf man's neck. He was shaking like a leaf. With gestures he tried to explain to the soldiers that there were neither hidden goods, nor gold, nor an army officer in the house.
Ruwen attacked the dark raider. In lack of a weapon he kicked him. The raider turned around, shook him violently, "You little bastard, do you want me to split your brain. Stop this you fool. If you want an early grave come with us, become a soldier."
Then he turned back to the servant to threaten him again. The old man soiled himself and fainted. His wife threw herself over him and began to yell uncontrolled.
Just in this moment another party of soldiers stormed into the house guided by a young lieutenant. "Get out of here, you bastards. This house is confiscated. No marauding here! It's the king's property! Fuck off, now!"
The quartering saved the life of the deaf servant.
"Clean up the mess" the lieutenant ordered Ruwen's mother in a harsh voice, "Get the bleeding man out off here and together with this insane hag!" pointing to the wailing maid. Turning suddenly soft, he seized my little sister, patted her hair and smiled. "Don't you cry baby, I got a lovely small sister and a younger brother, just like you two!"
For the next days Eileen, Ruwen and his mother were safe, but they had to be content living in a small servant's room. To Ruwen's surprise the young lieutenant took a special liking to him. In the evening after service he invited Ruwen to his room, feed him cookies, and let him try sweet wine and tried to talk to him. At first Ruwen stayed reluctant and anxious.
Therefore the lieutenant took to tickle the boy to ease the situation. He tickled Ruwen all over, especially his bum and belly, "Hey boy, you like it! You are giggling! I know you would like it from my small brother. Did your father tickle you at these spots also?" Ruwen didn't answer but he relaxed and began to trust the foreign soldier.
They became friends and to his great pleasure the lieutenant allowed Ruwen to ride his precious stallion named Blacky. One evening he even asked Ruwen to spend the night with him. "You don't have to spend the night in a crowed room. You can stay in my room. My bed is big enough for both of us and I will tickle you till you fall asleep."
Ruwen was proud to have a big friend and would have loved to do be with all day long even at night. But as he asked his mother for permission she declined to his big disappointment a frown upon her face.
Two Days later Ruwen found his mother crying hysterical. He tried to calm her; in vain. He tried to question her; no answer. He shook her, he begged her to tell him the reason. "Please mother tell me wants wrong? Has something happened to Eileen? Is she missing?"
Finally his mother answered, "Your father is dead, killed, slaughtered by these pitiless enemies! They captured him and his troops during an attempt to break the siege of the castle. They butchered him; they chopped his head off and displayed it to the beleaguered as a last warning."
Ruwen was in shock. He trembled and cried. He was in despair. When his big friend, the lieutenant, came back from patrol he attacked him desperately and beat him with fists. "Why did you kill my father? You are bad! I hate you!"
Ruwen's family or what was left of it was expelled straight away from their home. They had to leave with nothing more than the clothes on their back. They were thrown into an overcrowded, heavily guarded camp outside the city walls set up for the victims of the great blast.
Ruwen felt terrible. He felt hopeless. He was not used to live in dirt and filth, not used to get only a weak soup each day, not to foul water for drinking and only one stinking latrine for all the victims of war.
The days were grim and bad, the nights a nightmare. Small gangs of raiders entered the camp at nightfall to collect their toll of sex. Not only young women, even old one were carried off and raped pitiless by whole gangs.
The women tried to hide from the soldiers by smothering with filthy blankets and by hole up under small children or grey haired, wrinkled women. In one of those terrible nights marauders broke into the shed where Ruwen's mother was living with both children. The soldiers knew the tricks and snatched Ruwen's mother out of the hideaway. Ruwen started pleading with the raiders. But they just kicked him out of the way. He got desperate, he got furious, but he couldn't help his mother. He had to take care of his screaming sister.
After a seemingly never-ending time his mother came back in despair; her clothes torn, her abdomen covered with blood, broken-hearted. Trembling she slumped onto the bed and fainted.
Ruwen's decided they had to leave the prison camp without any delay. He had to find a means of transport at all costs. He needed a cart, a carriage, a horse, what so ever. His heart told him to steal Blacky, the fierce stallion of the young lieutenant. At first he hesitated, he didn't want to steal from a friend. But his friend had betrayed him. He had not prevented the murdering of his father, the deportation to the camp and not the raping of his mother. Ruwen did know, Blacky trusted him and the stallion was fast and strong. It could carry his mother and his little sister to a safer place.
Ruwen slipped out of the camp. This was easy at night, as the guards were mostly drunk or hunting for women. Sneaking through the remains of burned down houses and deserted gardens he made it to his former home and broke the lock of the stable. Blacky was sleeping. Some batting and whispering aroused the horse. It recognized Ruwen's scent, shook his head and started nibbling his ear. The dark horse whined muted and followed him down the main road to the camp.
Ruwen was lucky. The gate was unguarded. At the shed he helped his mother to mount the horse. He tied Eileen to her back and left the camp before the break of dawn. Totally exhausted, tired out and without any food they took off through the Dark Wood for more than five days till finally they reached the small village.
Ruwen opened his eyes. His eyes focused on the rising sun. He wasn't aware if the terrible memory had only crossed his mind or if he had told all the nightmarish incidents to Bastian, the twins and his new mother. They seem to know everything now. He could guess this by the reaction of Bastian. His new brother held him tight, rocked him like a baby and batted his shoulders. The twins, these big lads, were blowing their noses and were trying to hide their tears. His new mother was sobbing.
The warm embrace of Bastian relaxed Ruwen. The boys curled together under the blanket and drifted off into a long and quiet sleep. The healing sleep of Ruwen was interrupted in the evening by Aliah and a refreshing potation. The Wise Woman had prepared a soothing brew out of flowers and sweet herbs.
Later on Eileen arrived, a beaming and happy Eileen between two blond big boys holding her hands. The older one of the Miller boys carried a sweet cake of white flour and yellow honey, the smaller some apples. The three took a seat on the bed also and the five children started a resurrection party. Later the twins joined in.
Ruwen commenced his healing sleep the following night. At dawn Bastian sported a morning stiffy as usual. He remembered the third birthdays present for Ruwen. He decided to be very careful because he wanted to make it a real great present for Ruwen and not to bad experience. His new brother was still asleep. Cautiously he started to feel him up. Oh gosh, did his little brother have a nice pecker. It was hard like a wood and pointing straight up to the navel. He started to stroke it gentle, up and down, up and down his little hand moved.
The birthday boy opened his eyes in surprised and full of curiosity. He started to giggle. "What are you doing? That's mine not yours, get your hands off!"
"Do you like my third birthday present? It's something special. It's just for you! Please, do me also, if you like! It's a great pleasure."
Bastian took Ruwen's small hand and places it on his pecker. Ruwen got the point immediately and after a short time of busy stroking both boys started breathing deeply. Afterwards they relaxed for a short time and started the truly first day in their live as an inseparable pair of brothers.
Bastian took Ruwen for a tour through the village. They started at the church, visited Eileen at her new home, toured the black smith, the cooper and the wainwright and finally went to see Bastian's great-aunt Aliah.
The white haired, crooked lady with her cane frightened Ruwen at first. As a child the maid had told him stories of fairy godmothers, of evil fairies and gruel witches. Aliah looked like a godmother. Was she a good one or an evil one? She had rescued him from going to a monastery therefore he reckoned she was a good one. But he had to be careful! At first he hid behind his big new brother, but soon the behaviour of Bastian towards the old aunt made him feel comfortable.
Aliah was curious also. Was this really the boy she had dreamed of? Would this skinny, dark haired, shy boy be gifted and determined enough to be come a physician and healer?
Both checked each other carefully. Then she made her move. She took the hand of Ruwen and guided him into her "holy cabinet", the small room in which she kept all the items essential for her vocation as a wise women and midwife. In contrast to Bastian, who always got meek and quiet in this room, Ruwen got excited and opened up. He beamed; he stepped forward and marvelled the items on the shelves and at the drawer. He sniffled for the herbs, checked the bottles with potions and inspected the medical tools, the mortars, the jars.
He rushed over to the heavy, leather bound volume on the drawer. He didn't touch it at first. He looked back to Aliah asking excitedly, "Can I open the book, Aunty? Can I study it?"
The midwife was glad. She was sure her dream was coming true, the dream of a new healer.
In the morning Ruwen had received his third birthday present. The second birthday present, the antler, he took along at the tour through the village. For Ruwen this antler was dagger, a dangerous dagger, a deadly weapon to keep all enemies in check. He gave it a trial by threatening a big yellow cat, a mangy dog and a big, hairy boar. He was fully satisfied by its deterrent effect.
Back home, the last present had to be examined still. Bastian unrolled the parchment.
"Look at this nice drawing. What a beautiful portrait of a boy and the colours, gold and red and blue and green! How they are sparkling! Do you see the black character surrounding the drawing and the small black types? My mother thinks it's a spell, it may be bewitched. She ordered me to destroy."
"No, you can't! The big character is a J and the small ones are e and s and u and s again; that's JESUS. That's sure not a cantrip, may its part of a gospel!"
"Can you really read? I can't, not my father, nor my mother. Only Aliah and the parish priest are able to decipher characters. Please read it to me Ruwen!"
Now Ruwen beamed with bride. He did know something that no one else of his new brothers could do, he could read.
Well, at the age of 8 he was not fluent, but he tried and he did better than ever before. He started reading very slowly:
"Jesus was horsing around with his cousin Zenon on top of a two story house. Zenon fell of the roof and died. Zenon's the parents cried and accused Jesus "You did throw him down!" Jesus answered "I didn't knock him over the edge" But they didn't stop menacing Jesus. Hence Jesus jumped from the roof. "Zenon" he called, "rise and tell me, did I throw you down from the roof?" And Zenon rose immediately "No, Master, you did not thrown me down, you revived me."
Bastian was beaming. Now had a brother who wasn't only cute and brave, but also a scholar and he, Bastian, was right to keep the parchment!
The evening came with a spring thunderstorm. A short but heavy rain washed away the dust from the leaves and the reek from the muckheaps. The air smelled of flowers. Village guards were about to block the gates in the ring wall with piles of thorns. Just at the last moment two tired mercs arrived on horseback identified by the yellow-red emblems as messengers of the Prince-Bishop of Trescrossing.
Bastian's father was happy; the long awaited answer was at hand. About a year ago Klas had petitioned his Eminence Patric Micheal of Xantia to grant a market day to Cumberville. This market should be held for three consecutive days in late September to celebrate Michael's day.
Full of expectation nearly all villagers gathered at the big linden tree, while the messengers were welcomed and entertained to a hefty meal at Klas's home. The provost took the rolled up parchment with its heavy seals out of its wrapping and showed to the crowd.
"Hey provost, what does the document read? Did the Prince-Bishop grant us all our requests? Can we carry out the big market? Read the document to us!"
Klas got nervous, he couldn't read, nobody could read with exception of the parish priest and Aliah and both were away. Klas's face turned red. He raised the document over his head again.
"Look! It's a great document a beautiful parchment. The Prince-Bishop sure grated all the privileges we wanted!"
He waved the document; he felt downcast and began to feel really low. He was not able to read the words to his subjects.
Somebody picked on his trousers. He looked down, "Back off! That's not the day for you little idiots! Get you gone, both of you!"
"But father, Ruwen can read the parchment! He reads better than the parish priest! Give it to him, quick!"
Klas hesitated, reluctantly bending down to Ruwen he asked, "Really?"
His new son nodded proudly. He took the parchment and started to read, at first slow-going and with a stammer, but after he got used to the characters in a loud and clear voice.
"I, Patric Micheal of Xantia, Prince-Bishop of Trescrossing and only responsible to God the Almighty and our Emperor Henryk grant in the name of the Lord to Cumbervill the privilege of a three day market in Septem..."
The voice of Ruwen was drowned by the cheers of the people. He tried to read on, but in vain, his voice was just not strong enough.
Klas picked up Ruwen, placed him on his shoulders smiling proudly, "I didn't anticipate getting such a bright and brave son when I adopted you scrawny bird three days ago!"
After the big celebration cuddling together under the warm blanket Bastian asked Ruwen "Will you teach me how to read these black scribbles?"
"Sure, you are teaching me how to use my stiffy and I teach you who to read and hold a pen! Good night, my new brother."
I would like to express a special thank to Anthony and Paul for doing a great job by correcting all the wrong expressions and the punctuation used by a non native English writer.
Comments, reviews, questions and complaints are welcomed. Please send them to firstname.lastname@example.org. And I would like to add, thanks for reading.
Copyright Notice - Copyright © Mai 2007
The author copyrights this story and retains all rights. This work may not be duplicated in any form – physical, electronic, audio, or otherwise – without the author's expressed permission. All applicable copyright laws apply.