Genesis Scrolls Round 3: {Whispers from Loch Valentine}

Name/Pseudoonym: {WoodhandsRay / PepeLePewPew}
Ethereum Wallet Address {0xd561ba5bdBFEA7A39bF073b7520a7273bc767131}

Whispers from Loch Valentine

Victor was a friendly kid by all accounts but strange in every way possible. He was a loner who gave most people the chills but was polite, albeit quiet, to the shopkeepers when his mother sent him out. Victor would point or nod or gesture, and it sufficed. His mother would have gone, but her compulsion to escape this world with her vapours meant she was only lucid for short and infrequent periods. Victor much preferred it when his mother was in her vapours.

For all of Victor’s ten years, his father had been fighting in a distant, seemingly perpetual war. Victor could count the weeks he’d seen him on his fingers. With his father gone, his mum barely there, and no friends, Victor kept to himself. His real friends, the insects, spiders, newts and frogs that crept and crawled around their enclosures, were his real family. They were odd, strange, quiet, and largely misunderstood - just like him. He adored how different they were from most animals as if they were imagined into existence. His favourites were his lizards, and his favourite of those was an iguana named Husk.

Victor’s mother would lay the belt across him whenever one of his friends escaped their makeshift terrariums. But the lashings were few and far between, and it was a small price to pay for friendship.

On the way home from school, a group of classmates, more strapping and boisterous than Victor, had taken up their routine torment. On any other day, Victor would keep his gaze upon the ground, absorb their blows with grace, and make it home largely unscathed. Victor thought he had accepted that he was different, that his disposition was simply nature’s way.

Maybe it was the first dusting of chin hairs and the brashness of youth, but the boys marched to a different tune on this day. There was a new venom in their words, and they chased little Victor all the way to his house. The boys descended deeper into malevolence when the door swung open, revealing his curious friends and his delirious mother. A scene Victor had managed to conceal until that moment. They called him a witch, a miscreant, and a freak. Usually impervious to the verbal attacks of the boys, their newfound vitriol was having an effect on Victor. He would never do the things they suggested. Not to his friends.

Darkness bubbled inside, ever so slightly, and Victor popped the biggest lad in the nose. The nose belonged to Mapin, who dabbed at the tiny bit of blood with a chuckle.

“Grab him,” Mapin told his henchmen.

Mapin gave the restrained boy a good walloping right there on the stoop. Victor’s friends looked on indifferently, as did his mum.

Without taking his eyes off Victor, Mapin put his hand out, and a boy handed him a rope. A second bout of darkness rumbled in Victor, but he was no match for any one boy, let alone all of them. The quintet stamped on Victor’s many-legged friends and poured the rest of them into a burlap sack. Then they bound Victor and carried him into the sunset like a boar on a spit.

Victor and his bag of friends were thrown to the ground in front of a little cave. A full moon had risen and cast ghostly light on the land and faces of his tormentors. Fear gripped Victor’s throat as he struggled to free his hands and feet. He lay in pain, agonizing about what might come next, when his eyes were drawn to the jagged mountain peak towering above. Then, suddenly, all fear drained from his body. His mind stilled. The north face of Lizard Head Peak was awash in moonlight and just as beautiful in its reflection on the lake below. It was as if the cracks and crevasses were the wrinkles of an old man smiling down on him. Then, almost as if someone were whispering right into his ear, he heard a voice.

“It’sssssss alright, boy. You won’t die here tonight.”

Delegated by master Mapin, two boys started making a fire, and two worked little Victor. When the fire roared, Victor had more bruises and fewer teeth.

All manner of insecticide and amphibicide followed. The boys and the fire cackled with each wriggling fuel. They pulled Husk out of the bag last. Victor yelled and yelled until the thick, dirty smoke choked the words from his throat. A boy pinched Victor’s nose and prepared him for the main course.

He had trouble vomiting with his hands and legs bound, but the bile was a welcome respite from the taste of char in his mouth.

When the banquet had concluded, they carried Victor to the shallow Loch Valentine, and Mapin read him unflattering last rites to rounds of laughter. Loch Valentine was a perfect circle and glowed a bright turquoise during the day but was black as ink at night. The townsfolk claimed it was made by a falling star and that a dip in daylight could purify the soul, but at night, it became a portal to another world.

Only a smattering of bubbles marked the crystalline lake when the boys turned back to town.

Victor was still conscious when he hit the lake floor, and his hands met something sharp. He wriggled and writhed against the edge, and his hands burst free. The boy exploded from the surface and gulped in precious air. He treaded for a moment in the stillness, then dove back to recover the implement of his salvation.

When he plopped on the shore, he gave the weapon a thorough examination. It was a sword with an impossibly black blade. It was different from the stout, broad steel his father carried. This one was long and thin with hundreds of minute serrations along its edge. Despite its length, it was feather-light and felt almost ethereal as he turned the corded hilt in his hands. The blade hummed through the air as Victor made a slow downward cut. Except for the scalloped gleam of its teeth and the spats of blood from Victor’s hands and wrists, the blade absorbed all light. The more he inspected, the more he felt the sword’s complete disregard for nature’s way.

He swung the sword entirely around his body, and it screeched. Victor’s skin crawled, but in a way, he welcomed it. He swung again through a handful of saplings, towering oaks that would never be.

Victor turned to a larger tree, thick as his waist and swung with animus at the innocent tree. The blade let out a deafening roar as it effortlessly passed through its trunk. The dreadful wail of the blade sent him backwards. Victor, the tree and the sword all hit the ground. Victor let go of his ringing ears and reclaimed the sword. It was unmarred by any nicks or scratches, and the pristine blade suddenly felt quite familiar in his grasp.

“Letsssssss pay those boysssss a visssit, shall we, Oh, Valentine?”

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