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Edgar awoke to three distinct rays of sunlight that routinely penetrated through a small window directly opposite to his cramped bed. The usual overwhelming smell of his father’s fish had already begun penetrating his nostrils – although today to an even greater extent. Despite his father being nowhere in immediate eyesight, he could somehow sense his excitement as if it was emanating throughout the village and into the wooden walls of his humble home. Edgar had gone to bed especially early the night prior in order to prepare for today, a rare sight for his entire family to witness.


He knew it was a special day for his father, for a pompously rich trader from nearby Erricstead was to arrive in the afternoon. Rumored to be traveling with an abundance of supplies including gold and wine, their lowly village could not help itself from being as impatient as they were curious. He and his brothers worked tirelessly all week helping their father’s growing number of workers with the usual fishing, which had slowed in recent months due to the bitter cold temperatures having frozen large portions of the river bank.
Knowing it was imperative that he got ready quickly; Edgar decided to skip washing himself this morning, something he knew his mother would scold him for if she found out. Work, as she would so often say, “is not worth smelling like a grubby shadowcat.” On the other hand, his father would also reprimand him if he showed up late – especially today of all days – and so he made the more rational decision.


Making his way outside, he headed towards the side of their house where his family kept their various and numerous fishing supplies. He grabbed his old fishing rod he had made with the help of his father when he was but seven and a rusting barrel with names etched into its side that was likely older than even his father. Beginning to trod his way down the rather badly-maintained path leading to the docks of the village, the day seemed normal like any other. Unbeknownst to him, it would be anything but.

On his trip over to the docks, Edgar naturally observed his surroundings during his walk. He heard Lucy's mother, the girl who had been forbidden from visiting after the fire accident, mutter a scowl at him as he walked past. Although he didn't see her, he knew with utmost certainty it was her - he would never forget that obnoxiously piercing voice. Continuing past was the local blacksmith, who had changed shop locations twice just in the past year. Simply because the town blacksmith was a drunkard, he thought his shop would attract more business if he kept the "location fresh", as he put it. Never mind explaining to him that he lived in a small riverside village; he was convinced.

The smell of the fish became overwhelming as he approached the shoddy docks. As he neared the section that his father had come to own, he could hear him angrily howling like a weary direwolf at his clumsy younger brother Orus. He made sure to watch his footing as he advanced, since missing an unpatched hole could mean a broken ankle or a very painful splinter. What had happened just three short months ago to the Foral’s youngest of seven had made Edgar especially cautious, after the boy had the misfortune of playfully running through such a section of the docks. He had broken his ankle, and had a large splinter of wood half a foot long penetrate into his left leg. His mother did what she could, but the sheer amount of pain had knocked him unconscious shortly afterwards; by the time he was discovered the next morning the poor lad had lost more blood than could be recovered, meeting the Old Gods later the same day.
“How many times must I tell you, boy? Do NOT put the haddock into the barrels of whitetails! That is not what our customers want, especially today! Do you want to run me out of business!?”, his father shouted as he safely made his way into the old corroding shanty. Just as he entered, Edgar and his father made eye contact with his expression seeming to almost immediately calm, as they had always shared a close relationship.


His father’s parched lips opened for but a short time; right before he could sound out a word, the village bell began obnoxiously ringing. Edgar had never heard it before, but he instantly despised its loud incessant vibrations. He assumed it was to signal the arrival of the Erricstead merchant, though no one was to use the bell unless the village was in danger. A look of confusion came over his father as he pushed past Edgar to find out what was going on.


After a short ten seconds or so, his father hastily returned for but a moment to instruct the both of them, “Stay inside. Do not move and do not follow me, either of you!” he skittishly instructed. Edgar could not remember the last time his father appeared nervous, which in turn naturally made him very uneasy. His father would have been better off saying absolutely nothing, for the curiosity quickly became too much to bear. Soon after, a series of shrieks and rowdy yelling seemed to surround the walls of the shanty. Edgar thought to himself how it was impossible that the merchant would signal such a response from the village – the surrounding lands had always been rife with lawless brigands, but he had never imagined them venturing here. Perhaps they had caught wind of the merchant’s arrival, but how?


As he thought of the possibilities while peeking out of a slanted hole in the wall, Orus sprinted out much to Edgar’s dismay, but he knew he could not catch up to him even he wanted to. "No! Get back here!", Edgar nervously shouted at his brother. Orus was a fan of making life difficult for his brothers and father, never failing to get their mother flustered or nervous about their well-being. Edgar knew he should have been keeping a closer eye on him, but the mystery of what was happening outside was simply too pertinent to ignore.

He wanted to obey his father, but the curiosity was too much to bear. After a few minutes, he gathered up the courage to venture out. Exiting the shanty, he headed back from whence he came just moments before, giving slightly less regard to avoiding the unpatched holes in the floor.

He could not make it to the end of the docks, however, as a large man holding what looked to be some sort of club was shadily blocking his exit. Assuming he would not harm him, Edgar pleaded as he continued walking towards him, “Please excuse me sir, I need to find my father.” He said nothing in response, instead preferring to mumble a grunt, right before swinging his weapon towards Edgar. He did not expect the man to actually attack him, and with but one swing of his club his head landed harshly on the wooden surface of the dock, knocking him unconscious.


As he awoke, he noticed a raging flame in the foreground, unfamiliar faces, and realized he had been moved about half a mile from where he remembered being before having been knocked unconscious. His father was in a verbal argument with a towering stature of a man, which allowed his concern to catch up to his utter confusion. “Put my god damn fish back, you filthy thieves!” he shouted at him.
“This is what I’m going to do”, the man replied to his father. “First I’ll cut off your left arm, followed by your right, and then go down to your legs. You’re going to enjoy it just as much as your children.”


Edgar struggled to maintain consciousness, but he forced himself to stay awake. He felt like a helpless wimp; why couldn’t he have prevented this? Didn’t anyone know that these barbarians were coming? The man did as he said he would, and the sounds of his father’s groans of pain penetrated through his very soul. The shock of watching his father – the same man who had taught him everything from fishing, to hunting, to the values of manhood – being slowly and brutally killed in front of his very eyes, was simply too much to bear. He once again fell unconscious, the mental burden of what he was witnessing weighing heavily on his psyche.