Eat Your Feet

Title: Eat Your Feet
Time Period: August 7th, 135 A.E.
Characters Appearing:

Summary: Dorian escapes a horrifying fate only to receive judgment from the man that helped drive off the terror.


The smell of salt and iron cloys in the air at any hour of the day, but the sun seems to bring it about richer with its meagre warmth. In defiance of the sky's colour, the water pressing against the Dornie waterfront is a murky mix of blues, greens and browns, and plays house for the fishing boats tied off, some in use and some destitute. Seabirds collide into jutting rocks and the edge of the steep wall that divides land and sea, the town and residential buildings so close to the water's edge that it is as if the buildings themselves are dug into the loch. Concrete and cobble stone is painted white or left grey, rooftops of overlapping tiles and blue beneath the sun, filthy gray under cloud cover.

This place does not see the activity of the harbour or the peace of lengthier beaches, but it's a quite meeting of calmer loch waters and the coastal town edging up to its threshold to greet returning sailors or even foreign strangers. At night, it's a place of stillness, with the sound of the water and wind off the wilder wet adding tone and texture to its atmosphere.

The sea at sunset is one of the most beautiful sights there is, and Dorian seems to be deliberately taking it all in. While he gnaws on a piece of plain, stale bread, he watches one seabird as it glides, dives, skims the water, and comes up victorious with a fish. His eyes stay glued to the bird for the whole performance.

As more and more of the sun disappears beneath the horizon, the clouds seem to move across the sky as if chasing it. What was a clear, blue day is becoming a starless night. This creates a beauty of pinks, oranges and purples over the sea; reflected off of its rippling surface to make a distorted mirror of the beauty above. It is the kind of sunset that painters always wish for when they're outside copying a vista more mundane, and the kind lovers claim to be a sign of their mutual destiny.

When the sun is gone completely and the color drains from the clouds, they are left dark and foreboding. The hint of light still spilling over the distant horizon only compares by contrast to make the incoming night seem more oppressive. It is with this last vestige of light, however, that one can see something move across a pier. What it is was not clear in the shadows of the docked ship beside and clouds above, but it couldn't have been bigger than a large dog.

Dorian watches things for so long, it is dark and cool before he realizes it. Pulling his cloak around him, he blinks at the darkness that has gathered, and slowly stands up. Shadows, however, catch his eye and he frowns, peering into the dark.

As Dorian's pupils adjust from tiny and staring off at the setting sun to wide and soaking in what little light the incoming night has to offer, it is movement that catches them. The movement of a crate waddling down the gangplank from the ship to the pier as if on its own. It is a medium-sized crate. One man could carry it on his own, but he would have to be quite long-limbed and strong to manage two. Beneath it, however, only two tiny feet can be seen. They might be mistaken for a monkey's if monkeys had long, sharp toenails and shaved their feet. Someone… or rather something maybe as little as a foot tall is carrying it away from the ship with posture so stooped over it can't be seen from the knee-up thanks to the girth of the crate.

Dorian draws his head back slightly at first, but then curiosity quickly gets the better of him and he tilts his head, leaning forward a little in hopes of seeing better.

The crate, or rather whatever carries it, continues on its waddling way until it reaches the far edge of the pier. Stopping there, it wobbles around as if being shifted until it is pushed into the water with a quiet, animalistic grunt of effort immediately followed by the Plop! of hitting the water and sinking beneath its surface. Whatever is in that crate is dense enough to pull it under despite the buoyancy of the hollow wood.

No longer covered, the creature that straightens up on the pier is finally visible, even if only barely in the shadows. It is about eighteen inches (forty-six centimeters) tall, and wears a dirty, patched red coat that covers it from knee to neck. A long, thin rat-like tail extends out of a slit up the back and wiggles in the night air as if of its own accord. Its hands, like its feet, are monkey-like yet hairless, and each digit is tipped by a nail that looks as if it's been sharpened. It has a face like a camel and a monkey bred it, but a long, gray beard spills from its lower jaw. A red stovepipe hat tops its head.

The creature puts both hands on its lower back and stretches its neck as if recovering from the load, and as it does so, it turns its face towards Dorian… and looks right at him with beady black eyes.

Dorian makes a revolted face at the sight of the creature and starts to backpedal, taking slow steps backward in the direction of the town.

The creature takes a few steps forward for every one Dorian takes back, seeming calm even though discovered. An ugly, flat-toothed smile spreads on its face during this, and it removes its hat as if it is about to bow in greeting. This does not happen.

Instead, the creature reaches into its hat and removes a piece of gnarled wood from it that is at least time-and-a-half as long as the hat itself. The wood is rounded and thick at one end and narrow where it is held; a rough cudgel.

A quiet, wheezing whisper of a laugh begins to emit from the creature as it moves towards Dorian.

Dorian curses and turns his back, setting into a flat-out run back toward civilization. He looks downright scared.

The wheezing grows more excited behind Dorian as he accelerates, but sounds more distant with each second of running. By the time a hundred feet or so has been travelled, the noise has gone from distant to completely gone. Perhaps the creature is gone, as well.

Dorian comes to a stop, eyes wide to take in all available light. He looks over each shoulder, then turns to see whether anything is behind him, dreading what may be there.

Behind Dorian, there is nothing but the waterfront, the shadow of the ship behind it and a number of pallets stacked up nearby that has been unloaded from it. His own footsteps in the rocky sand are the only ones that are seen. There is no trace at all of the creature to show it even existed.

There is only the warning sound of a quick shuffling of steps from Dorian's right to announce the creature before it wheezes a raspy, "Got you!" It leaps through the air, covering distance a fit human would be hard-pressed to do, and swings its cudgel down at Dorian's head with both hands. Somehow, its hat remains firmly in place atop its head.

Dorian gasps, startled right out of his own skin. He does an adept but desperate roll to one side to escape the blow, then rolls right up onto his feet. All he can do is start running again.

The creature soars right over Dorian; blow missing close enough that the whooof! can be heard with ease by the startled man. The creature in the red coat and hat lands on a curled tail instead of its feet, and springs off of that as if that shoelace-thin limb has as much power as a snake's body. It bounds after Dorian with a series of wild huffs, wheezes, cut-off chuckles and taunts bubbling quietly from its throat: "Break your knees!" "Eat your feet!"

There is only one other sound of activity in the area. It is the echoing sound of wood being chopped by an axe a few hundred feet away.

"Christ have mercy," Dorian is mumbling to himself, but when he hears a sound, any sound, he jumps at the chance to shout, "HELP!" at the top of his lungs.

The fearful mumbling makes the excited wheezing of the creature that much more frantic. It sounds manic and as if it is licking its camel-like lips as it repeats, "Eat your feet! Eat your feet!" While Dorian's shout for help causes the sounds of chopping to stop, it also causes the creature to make a renewed effort at bringing its prey down. The cudgel is thrown at Dorian's legs with a horizontal spin in attempt to trip him up.

Dorian is running for all he's worth, so he has no idea that the cudgel's even been thrown his way. It trips him and he tumbles, trying to get up immediately, but losing precious ground in the struggle. "Oh, dear God," he mutters.

As soon as Dorian tumbles down into the ground, the ravenous creature lands nearby. Pebbles and bits of sand and dirt spray onto Dorian from the skidding landing, and he can see the fallen cudgel scooped up by that clawed, fur-lacking monkey hand in a blur before the impossibly fast and strong creature leaps again… and lands hard enough on his back to knock the air from his lungs.

The distant sound of someone sprinting in Dorian's direction might not be heard over the happy little chant the creature on Dorian's back wheezes out in its bubbling whisper of a voice:"Break your knees!" It swings the cudgel down into the back of one of fallen man's knees hard as it says this. "Tender meat!" It reverses the motion of the weapon to strike him hard in the muscle between his spine and his right shoulder blade. "Grow more teeth!" The creature's voice grows and distorts as if its mouth just grew to twice its already broad size. "Eat your feet!"

Dorian grunts as he is bereft of breath, and he wheezes out a quiet yelp as he's beaten with the cudgel in the leg and back. There's not much he can do to get away, so he reaches to try to get hold of the club and at least impede the beating somewhat.

While probably not wealthy, this young man certainly has a sense of style. He is mostly dressed in the sort of ordinary homespun clothing that is within the purchasing or fashioning capability of regular people, but on top of all of this, he wears a rather unusal garment. A cape or cloak of sorts, it is stitched together crazy-quilt style out of small scraps of antique fabrics, likely salvaged from various ruins. Mass-produced prints, metallics, and brights with various degrees of fading dominate. Most of the material is synthetic, as that is what has tended to survive. Some celestial shapes like stars and moons have been cut out and appliqued on top. It doesn't look like the garment took much particular skill to make, but getting the materials could not have been easy.

The man himself is early-twenties, with a straight, sharp nose and strawberry blond hair. He's got blue eyes, and a somewhat triangular jaw that is cleanshaven. His body appears relatively lean, but strong all over. He wears a knife on his belt that is not of the best make, but sufficient for peeling fruit or shaving.

Managing to grab the cudgel as it swings towards his neck in what may have been an attempt at a fatal blow, Dorian quickly discovers the short creature is at least as strong as he is. It yanks at the cudgel and groans with its now much more monstrous voice, but is unable to pry it from the desperate grasp of the fallen man. After a second yank and failure, it gives up. Releasing the cudgel to Dorian's grasp, the creature scampers down his left leg and grabs his boot; digging its claws into leather and lace, and easily ripping it from his foot in a mere moment.

Footsteps are coming closer in a hurry. In the failing light, a man can be seen running towards Dorian. He has an axe for chopping wood in his left hand and a saber in his right. He's several seconds away, but even that short of time may be too long.

Dorian kicks with the other foot, aiming for an eye if he can stay far enough away from the mouth in the meantime. "Please!" he calls to the figure he can see not far away, unable to form a more detailed or coherent request than that.

The kick misses the eyes but manages to dislodge the creature. It leaps right back onto Dorian's ankle with a passion. Its claws dig into his flesh as it grips. Its warm breath can be felt as its tongue slicks the side of his foot. It seems oblivious to the man Dorian calls out to and opens its mouth impossibly wide as if it is about to eat that foot whole.

It stops as the running man shouts from only twenty feet away and approaching fast, "I'll roast you on a spit, motherfucker!"

This causes the creature to pause as it turns its distorted head to look at the incoming Blake.

Dorian takes that opportunity to aim another hard kick at the creature's head, sneering with detestation as he does so, though he's still scared out of his mind. "Kill it!" he shouts, though it's hard to tell whether he's encouraging his savior or himself.

"I think I can manag-" Blake's snarky, overconfident reply is cut off as the creature leaps ten feet at him without a running start. The axe is swung down reflexively as the saber is raised to block his face. The axe gets dropped as the creature's mouth bites Blake's vambrace with teeth that manage to pierce the hardened leather. "Ah! Fuck!" Not willing to swing his sword at his own wrist at this point, he instead frantically swings his arm around to attempt to dislodge the creature. Like a weasle clamped down on something, it swings around but doesn't let go.

Dorian is left on the ground with foot-long cudgel in hand and one foot bare.

Dorian gets up and grabs the cudgel. He may run when he's being chased, but it's much easier to attack the creature when he's got a weapon and it's got its teeth clamped around something else. He isn't really experienced with clubs, but they're pretty user-friendly. He takes a swing at the creature's spine.

The creature is growling into the bracer and clawing at it in blind seeking of laces to remove it as it did Dorian's shoe. Blake is shouting "Fuck! Ass!" It doesn't seem like his swinging is going to succeed if it hasn't already, but he continues to try. When Dorian swings the club at the creature, it isn't intentional that Blake swings the creature at the club. The resulting blow, however, is solid. The creature falls to the ground with a dog-like yelp, hat still in place on its head, and goes bounding off towards the beach at a rate that no mundane human could even hope to follow. Blake begins to sprint after it anyways.

"Wait!" Dorian calls, blinking after Blake. "Don't leave me!" Anxious as he is that there might be more awful things out there, he's not running /toward/ it. Instead he goes hunting his boot, if the creature didn't already eat it.

The shoe is still present, but the laces look as if someone took three razors up them and severed them with ease; the sharpness of those claws proven there as well as in Dorian's ankle.

Blake ignores the plea, but slows to a stop after he sees the creature dive into the water in the distance and is still a huge distance from the shore. He shakes his head, sheathing his sword and making his way back towards Dorian. When he gets closer he asks with an upset expression and caustic words, "What the fuck was that thing?" Only then does he start to unstrap the (thankfully laceless) bracer on his left wrist.

"You're asking me?" Dorian wonders, scowling as he looks down at his boot. He flops down to a sitting position to look down at his injuries. He particularly rubs the back of his leg. Now that the adrenaline is wearing off, the pain is more keen. "It hurts," he complains.

As Blake removes the hardened leather protection from his wrist, he finds how lucky he is to be wearing such thick bracers; the creature's blunt teeth marked him but fell just short of drawing blood. He drops the somewhat ruined piece of armor and sits down heavily beside Dorian. He shakes his head as he rubs at his wrist. "That… thing had jaws that would 'ave snapped my hand right off if it didn't have all that leather in its way."

After a few seconds of silence and no sign at all about the sympathy "It get its fuckin' teeth in ya?" he asks objectively and finally looks over at Dorian's face to examine the man. "You're lookin' pale. Feelin' poisoned?"

"I don't know," Dorian says. "What does being poisoned feel like?" He pulls up the leg of his trousers to show where he got shredded a bit by the claws. "Talons, I think, not teeth," he answers dully, but he's still a bit in shock from the encounter.

Blake shrugs in response, then stops rubbing his wrist to place his hands flat out behind him and to the sides; leaning back. "Fuck if I know. Dizzy? Ill? Maybe that fucker just scared the color off your face. Canno' say I blame ya." He leans a little to look down at the wound. "Either way, you should get that shit washed out good. Heard many a story about the venom of monsters and fairies. Who fuckin' knows what's true or not? Can you walk?" He looks back towards the water and presses his lips thin as if having a thought he finds unpleasant.

"I think so," Dorian answers about his ability to walk, "Though if it's lamed me, I might as well die." He is perhaps being a little dramatic, but that might be forgiven in a victim of a recent monster attack. He carefully gets up to his feet, though he keeps his weight in his uninjured leg. He holds his boot in his hand. "You saved my life, I suppose."

"If it had lamed ya, believe me, you wouldn't be able to stand up right now." Blake shakes his head in exasperation. "I know we have guards walkin' around with rifles on their shoulders half the time in half the posts around town, but you fuckin' dandies that don't wear armor or carry a weapon sure make it easy on the things that slip through, aye?" He stands, scoops up his bracer and then walks over to retrieve his axe. "Sit down a minute," he casually demands. He continues in a displeased mutter. "Vambrace is already fuckin' ruined. Might as well use it to give that leg some support. Fuck. You're lucky I was down here cuttin' some wood for someone…."

"Don't be ridiculous," Dorian says, easily sitting down without putting any weight at all on his injured leg, which is a nifty move in itself. "Even if I could afford armor, I wouldn't be able to do anything in it."

Dorian carefully sits down again, keeping his injured leg off the ground as he does so. "I have to admit that I was," he agrees about being lucky. "I'd give you a reward if I had anything to give."

Blake lifts an eyebrow and glances at Dorian as he kneels down over the man's leg. "Wouldn't accept a reward, but are you fuckin' tellin' me ya don't carry a weapon and you are a broke fucker? Bad combination in Dorie, aye?" While the rescuer has very thin wrists for his musculature, there are long enough straps on the bracer to compensate. He isn't gentle in the slightest as he slides the piece of armor under Dorian's leg and begins to strap it tight, but he doesn't go out of his way to hurt him despite the opportunity.

"One influences the other, don't you think?" Dorian returns. "Weapons cost money." He frowns down at the rough ministrations to his leg, but he doesn't complain. It seems he can deal with pain even if he's not adequately equipped to dish it out. "But I've survived this long."

"Aye. Though most the poor fuckheads in town work at the factory, and most them that have worked there long enough have a firearm. At least the ones that are permitted to go this far away." Blake glances over towards Dorian's right and asks, "What's that there?" It's a distraction, however, as the very moment after he asks the question, he yanks the straps quite tight and knots them up. "That should keep it from swellin' up too bad." The man stands, ensures his sword is in its scabbard, and then scoops off his axe like he's going to leave without another word.

"I'd rather eat grass than work at the—ow!" Dorian complains, swiveling his head to turn upon Blake the look of indignant reproach that might come from a cat that's just been shot by a water pistol. But when he realizes the source and reason for the pain, his anger subsides, and he just gives a little nod. But when his savior stands up, he quickly requests, "Wait. What's your name?"

That brief look of anger slides off Blake like water slides off a duck; like butter slides off a hot knife; like blood slides off a swinging sword. He either is used to angering others or he's very good at hiding his reaction to such things. Instead of answering the question, he comments with lowered eyelids, "If ya ate grass I'd be cuttin' a steak off your arse about now." After a second he adds, "Blake Esho. You? …And what the fuck do you do for a livin'?"

Dorian gets up on his feet, careful but capable of doing it himself. "Dorian," he answers. "And I'm meant to be an entertainer, although it isn't easy…"

Blake looks towards the water and scans it thoroughly once more as Dorian is answering. When he looks back, he hoists his axe up onto his right shoulder and cracks his neck with a quick bend of his head to the left. "Entertainer? …Are you another shameful whore? Met a few girls at the Dovetail that like to call themselves shite like that." He isn't ashamed of his direct question at all.

"No," Dorian answers calmly enough, not taking offense at what could be a very offensive question. "I don't intend to be. I believe I have a much higher calling than that. But you shouldn't be so unkind about whores. They serve a purpose and they are able to survive."

"Of course they serve a fuckin' purpose," Blake says with a roll of his eyes that some would also take offense at. "They suck the cocks o' those that can't get a person to open wide and go down without somethin' to trade for it." Clearly, he doesn't care if he offends someone. "What I was gettin' at is what kind of entertainer you are. Do you play a tune or make puppets fight each other or what?"

"Exactly," Dorian answers. "And a lot of those men would make a lot more trouble if they didn't get their cocks sucked now and again." He shrugs his shoulders. "I think dance is the most important thing," he says, lifting his chin just a fraction in case mockery is incoming. "Although I am certainly not above telling a story, or doing whatever else it takes to enlighten people and remind them of the beauty in the world." There is a sense that he is aware that he is opening himself up to the possibility of being mocked or scorned, and so he takes on an almost haughty manner to counter the danger.

Blake blinks at Dorian's answer. He doesn't judge at all. Instead, he stares at Dorian incredulously like he believes the man to be lying. "So… how the fuck do you make a livin'? Go to the nicer houses in town and offer to dance and tell stories in exchange for food?" He exhales through his nose and shakes his head, but it isn't dismissive as much as a nigh-silent disagreement with something stated. "Wait. Wait." He holds up his free hand as if Dorian is in a hurry to answer him. "I agree that whores keep things peaceful - well, more peaceful - around here, but are ya fuckin' tellin' me that you think this world is beautiful? This world that just tried to eat your face?"

Dorian shrugs his shoulders, not bothering to answer Blake's first question, since he finds another more pressing question immediately. He nods. "I do," he says. "I believe it is beautiful. And also that it could be much, much moreso if people remembered the need for it to be. He glances off toward the docks from which he ran. "Even frightening things can have a certain aesthetic value."

Blake's response is to look up at the sky with a truly confounded expression as if he is questioning some higher power. "Why is every fucker I save from gettin' gnawed on a fuckin' numpty?" He lowers his head back down as he raises a finger like he's remembered something. "Ah; that's right. Nearly forgot." He looks pointedly at Dorian and opines with a condescending expression, "'cause everyone in their right mind knows it's survival o' the fittest in this fucked up, ugly world. Good luck with your beauty-sharin', Dorian." He shakes his head as he turns towards the north and begins to walk off.

"One need not be ugly to be fit," Dorian shoots back, and, ensuring that he's got everything and all his body parts, he turns back toward town.