The mere five year old boy hopped excitedly. "This place is beautiful mommy!" Blunt, tugging on a women's arm. She was a slender girl, long black hair, and dark, ruddy colored skin.
She smiled sadly down at her son. "That's right Blunt, this is where I grew up as a little girl."
"It's so waaaaarm," Blunt said, his tone suddenly taking a whiny tone as he draped himself against his mother.
Blunt's mother chuckled. "Yes it is little one. But Port Krum is also very cold."
Blunt scrunched up his face as he began thinking, which could always had the possibility of causing trouble for his parents. "How come dad couldn't come with us?"
His mother inhaled sharply, glancing quickly over her shoulder, and then back down at him, putting up the smile again. "Well your father is about to become chief my child. He had to stay to get ready. Besides, he knows that this is simple a trip to get some special spices."
Blunt wrapped his arms around the women's legs. "I love you mommy," he said, grinning up at her. "Can we get a treat?"
Normally the girl from the east would have rolled her eyes, and reminded Blunt that she no longer fell for his manipulative little stunts to get goodies, but this time, her eyes sadden and she knelt down, hugging him tightly. "Of course child," she breathed. "I'll get you whatever you want."
Blunt didn't understand why his mother had looked so sad and, frankly, he became to distracted by the treat that followed to really ponder about it.
Blunt didn't understand when his mother suddenly had to run an 'get something' when they were about to depart back to home.
Blunt didn't understand why the ship's captain left the country of India without his mother.
But after crying, and crying through out the whole voyage, after blaming the captain, and the ship, and his mother, and himself, Blunt finally, but only a few months later, knew who really was to blame.
Blunt, now fourteen, jogged proudly down the worn dirt paths of Port Kurm's surrounding forest, heading into the main village. The teenage Viking was rather proud of his achievements that day. Grunkstomp the battle master had declared him the months finest fighter and had added an extra bound of leather around his bo staff, signifying his accomplishment. It had not been the first time Blunt had received this honor, and he always enjoyed going home to his father Tal and telling him about it.
Bragging came easily to Blunt, but he only ever did it around people he wanted to annoy or people that he knew would stroke his ego. Tal, of course, was one such person who was always happy to tell his son how talented his was. Blunt trotted up to the chief's house, seeing that it was dimly judging by the light under the door crack. He pushed it open, figuring that his father would be reading by the father like he usually did each evening. But when he stepped inside, he only saw his grandfather, scrapping the ember crusted logs with the fire poker. Blunt knew what his grandfather was capable of doing with far less lethal things than a red hot poker, and he quickly spun, heading back to the door and trying not to make any noise.
Orskaf raised his head, his eyes narrowing. "Boy," he called, his voice quite, and weak.
Blunt pretended that he didn't hear, and closed the door.
Orskaf stood violently, throwing the poker down hard onto the stone hearth, and marching over to the door, pushing it open. "Damn it boy!' he yelled. "I called for you!"
Blunt, his back facing his house, flinched, his shoulders hunching. He slowly turned around, clenching his fists. "What?" he asked moodily.
Orskaf grumbled. "Ungrateful boy," he said, working his frail jaw. "I come all this way to see you and you disrespect me so?"
"You live just up the hill," Blunt said with a scoff.
"I am your grandfather! And an elder of this village!" Orskaf said, coughing into his hand once before inhaling sharply through his nose. "And you are to treat me with respect, now...get in here boy,"
Swallowing once, Blunt walked forward carefully, stepping past Orskaf, and into the living room. He sat himself down in his father's seat, figuring it would put him between his grandfather and that still pipping hot rod.
Orskaf glared at him. "Excuse me? Are you now chief? Or in charge? Get out of that chair and let an old man rest. You've given me enough stress for one night don't you think?"
"Oh yeah," Blunt said, quirking his eyebrow as he stood, marching past him. "I can tell you're suffering." he snipped sarcastically.
Orskaf's hand came out like a lunging snake, slapping Blunt fiercely across the face once. The old man's eyes were wide and watery as he starred down his grandson. He slowly raised a finger. "Don't take that one with me," he said in a whisper. He carefully sat himself down, and Blunt thanked Odin that he ignored the poker.
Blunt rubbed his cheek lightly, taking a slow breath and just wanting to get out of the house. He hated it when his grandfather visited. "Where's dad?" he asked, his voice even.
"He had a meeting tonight on the neighboring island. Emergency call of sorts," Orskaf sniffed. "Had to leave while you were gone, and he asked me to keep an eye on you while he was away." he shifted in the chair, muttering. "Damn good thing to. Gods know what sort of vile things you get into while I'm away. I've seen you with those boys, I see the way you eye em. It's even worse with the girls you hormonal, lackadaisical little snip."
Blunt clenched his jaw. "Yeah? Well I've seen the way you eye people too. But you have a preferred age eh? What is it? Seven? Eight? Somewhere in that range."
The chair creaked ominously was Orskaf gripped the sides, slowly leaning up. "What did I tell you about speaking back?!" he hissed. "Odin has my stupid son done nothing to teach you how to hold your tongue!? You talk and talk and talk like a yammering cur without a second thought as to what consequences your words will bring upon you!"
"Hm, yeah, fascinating," Blunt mused. "Well my mother was really good about teaching me respect. Too bad there was somebody here...Orskaf...that made her feel unsafe to the point of having to escape." Blunt felt like throwing himself over a cliff. This happened every time. He knew invoking his grandfather's anger would do him no good yet he couldn't help himself from doing it, the man was to infuriating.
"How dare you call me by my first name as if you were my equal!" Orskaf howled, his voice cracking. Despite his rage, he didn't bother to get up. "You shall call me Sir, or Mr., or grandfather! But not...Orskaf!" he spat.
Blunt spread his arms. "After all that I insinuated about you got pissed because I didn't give you a title? Well, I'm just happy that you finally said your own name with as much contempt as everybody else in the village uses when speaking about you."
Orskaf flung himself from the seat with surprising speed, grabbing at Blunt's throat. Blunt had forgotten how fast the old man could be, but Orskaf had forgotten how big Blunt had gotten. With a harsh shove, Blunt used his powerful arms to knock him back into the seat, toppling it over. The teen gasped, seeing that his grandfather now lay still on the floor, curled up by the hearth. "Oh gods," he said, backing up. "Oh gods!" he took a hesitant step forward, but then stepped back. "Are you alive? Oh gods Orskaf if I've killed you dad will skin me! Please just be out cold..." he hesitated, and then a slow smile played at his face. "Are you...? Really dead?" he covered his mouth as he stifled a laugh. "Holy shit...you are dead."
Orskaf's head turned to face him, his eyes aflame.
Blunt's shoulders drooped. "Oh shit..." he breathed again, and then ran for the door.
But Orskaf's bony fingers wrapped around his shoulders, jerking him back. An open hand smacked Blunt across the head viciously numerous times, before the boy was hauled up and onto the table. Blunt gasped as the wind was knocked out of him, and then cried out again as Orskfaf took him by the ankle, and pulled him swiftly from the table. Blunt fell to the floor, and then was left there, Orskaf storming out of the house.
"You got into another fight?!" Tal said exasperatedly, starring at his son.
Blunt, now twenty, rubbed his palms over his bruised eyes. "No...dad...that's not what I said. I said, Gramps hit me across the face with a tie down rope."
Tal waved a hand. "Blunt I know what you said. But I also know the facts, you get in fights all the time with the village boys," Tal said, taking a more gentle tone. "And son there is no shame in admitting that you lost again, I have seen these occurrences with my own eyes."
"Yes!" Blunt snapped. "I get into fights. I loose. Newsflash, it doesn't bother me because the guys and I fight to blow off steam. What does bother me is getting sent to help gramps out with a ship and having him whip me with a rope thicker that my dick!"
Tal sighed heavily. "My boy must you use such vile terminology. It was probably an accident! Father must have tossed it over his shoulder, or turned around with it to fast."
"Are you even listening to yourself!?" Blunt exclaimed.
"Blunt we have been through this a hundred times. I see bruises and burns and cuts. I ask you what happened. And every time, every time, you blame my father. But we talk, and talk, and soon the same thing happens, you either march out and forget about it, or you admit that you did something foolish again."
"Because I give up!" Blunt yelled.
"Please...please don't take that tone with me son, I am trying to remain calm can you not do the same?" Tal said carefully, reaching out a placating hand. "Look, I have forgiving you for shoving and nearly killing your grandfather, I know it was an accident. Daddy was just angry when he told me what happened, I know you would never hurt him deliberately. So please, just stop trying to make him the bad guy when clearly no one was at fault."
"Why are you bringing that up?" Blunt said. "Dad...Gramps...he's been beating-"
"On my ever since I was a kid he's-"
"That's enough Blunt!"
"The reason mom isn't here anymore!"
"Enough!" Tal yelled, his face growing red as he shook his fists. He heaved a sigh, looking exhausted. "Your mother and I...fought...too much."
"I wonder who she was having a problem with," Blunt muttered as she spoke.
"And eventually she found it best to leave...it's my fault son...don't blame your grandfather. He's never done any wrong by this village." Tal finished somberly.
Blunt watched him, his face flat, and unimpressed. "Eeeyep...ok fine. Swung down off of the mast and hit my face on one of the extending beams. I fell to the floor and Orskaf was the first thing I saw when I came to. He was holing a rope, so I thought he had gotten angry over me absentmindedly spitting on the deck and cornered me against the railing and lashed me with the rope," Blunt finished dully, quirking an eyebrow at his dad.
Tal heaved a sigh. "You poor boy, I know how hitting one's head can scatter thoughts and make us come up with wild assumptions. It's alright, you are a wonderful, skilled man with a brave heart. You have nothing to be ashamed of and I love you."
Blunt rubbed his forehead. "Yeah," he said crisply. "Ok you know what, I'm gonna go see if Grunkstomp is in the battle ring, and get a workout." He walked to the door, and then sighed, lowering his head and shaking it. "I love you too dad."
"Dad?" Blunt said two years later, peeking into his room. "Dad!" he hurried in, kneeling in front of him. Tal was seated on a small stool. His face red and scrunched up, tears catching in his bushy white beard. "Dad..." Blunt breathed. "Dad what happened?"
Tal reached out, taking Blunt arms, his voice catching as he shook uncontrollably with sobs. "Y-y-your grandfather." he said in despair, and fresh set of wails erupting from his mouth as he broke down into hysterics, his face pressing into his son's shoulder. "Oh...! That horrid boy Stonegit killed him! He beat him to death with a shovel!" he cried loudly. "Oh my poor old father! He was helpless!" Tal shouted, his voice raising to a scream as his body began convulsing with the violent sobs.
Blunt quickly eased his father onto the floor, wrapping his arms around him and stroking his head. "Shh shh, oh dad...I'm so sorry."
Tal continued to cry into him, shaking his head as if the denying action would somehow make this terrible reality for him not so. "After everything I did for him, I gave him all the chances in the world! Oh how could a child like him do something so terrible to my poor daddy?!"
Normally Blunt would have countered this statement, as he had done so many times. Normally he would have stated how he believed Stonegit was innocent, and how Tal was dangerous. But now, most of all, was not the time for such words.
Blunt stayed with his father for the rest of that night.
"For the last time! I will not tolerate you even imply that Stonegit was justified in his actions when you know perfectly well that he is a murderer! Now clear your head! I'm tired of having these fights with you!"
Those were the last fighting words Blunt and his father ever exchanged. The rest were pleasant, formal, and respectful. But nothing more than that. Tal had changed ever since his father died. It had been all about Stonegit after that. Stonegit this Stonegit that. Blunt was surprised how quickly a boys simple past as a villager and a family name could become so villainized in only a mere three years. In some ways, those three years had been Blunt's best. No Orskaf meant no beatings or unprecedented attacks. But no Orskaf also meant endless lectures about how evil Stonegit was, and how irresponsible the other Elmis's were. Blunt had never been so pressured to share an opinion with his father in all his life. And now Tal, at that moment, was sailing off to another part of the Wilderwest, hoping to find his father's killer...Blunt had not been invited.
Blunt cocked his head as he watched him sail away. Thinking back on everything that led to this moment. He realized that his life...had been pretty good in his opinion. He had a great mom for five years. An awesome dad until three years ago, and he hadn't seen his grandfather everyday. He was strong, he had done well in school, felt the exhilaration of various forms of sex more than men twice his age, and had grown up on a beautiful rocky outcrop that always showed off the best sun rises.
Perhaps others would not look at his life the same way. But not may people understood Bunt. For Blunt was always the kind of man who let the good parts of life make him who he was more than the bad ever was able to.