Author Topic: Once Bitten- Basile Corbeau  (Read 1017 times)

PrimetheGrime

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Once Bitten- Basile Corbeau
« on: June 15, 2021, 10:21:37 AM »
Basile Corbeau

Once Bitten


Quote
Little Snake he calls me.

How high and mighty he sees himself.

The bastard. I am no snake, but I do have fangs.

When I was little, my mother often brought me to her chambers where we would sit and talk for hours. A strong, Black rose of a woman in full bloom, beautiful to gaze upon. That is how I would describe her. So kind, so concerned for her children's wellbeing, but cross her and you would suffer her thorns.. Her wrath. She would adjust my sleeves, smooth out my vest, touch my chin with her gentle, smooth fingers and speak to me in a language that only we could share.

"Endure their cruel words, Basile. You are no Snake, you are a Raven."

She would raise my arms and flap them like wings. How I enjoyed those times. Better times. Little Marco had less time with her than I. Perhaps she saw me as the favourite son, perhaps she merely forgot, or perhaps that was because Mother thought he did not need her as much as I did.. It is not the first time I have pondered on the decisions of my Mother. How could she have ended with an unfaithful, cruel, blanketed fool of a man like father? Arranged Marriage of course. I wonder if Grandfather de Peraga knew what he was subjecting his youngest daughter to. When you have other mouths to feed back in Borca, what good is one girl unless she can be used to make the family greater? Perhaps he did not wish to think about it. My mother died when I was ten. Little Marco was not even old enough to know what had happened to her at the time. When he came looking for her, I embraced him, cradled his head and spoke to him in soothing words.

"Mother is fine, Marco. She's gone to live in a wonderous place. She will be gone for awhile, but I will be here for you, my brother."

"Basile, promise me. Promise me you will look after Marco."

I hear her voice as I hold Marco tight, I remember the evening before in her chambers. Watching her black petals wilt before my very eyes, I can not tell you what I was feeling at that moment. There was nothing. Only numbness. She succumbed slowly, no medicine would aid her. What a terrible way to die. How I wish I could have eased her suffering. Father stayed in his room, with his latest mistress.

"Promise me, Basile"

"I promise, mother."

Her words swim through my head as I clutch Marco to me. I hear the rattle of the knob as if a clumsy child were seeking entry. It slams open and there he is; Lambert.

"Did you hear the news, Little Snake? Of course you did, look at you! Pathetic. Sad because your whore mother died? I only wish it was sooner! Father made a mistake marrying that harlot and he knows it every time he looks at her foul spawn. Nothing but Borcan Snakes!"

He spits the final words like venom that he knows will hurt me. I feel my blood boil once more. My face turns crimson, I can feel myself letting go of Marco, rising, curling my fists. I throw my fist forward at the scum in front of me, and catch nothing but air. The first blow takes me in the stomach, I feel the wind expelled from my lungs as the second blow strikes me in the head and I crumple to the floor, defeated. Something warm and wet trickles down my lip, it tastes like, iron? No, it's blood. My blood. Frustrated, I lay there, the mocking laughter of my elder brother echoing the halls long after he departs. I feel the tears trickling down my cheeks, and I will them to stop. There will be no tears, no. I sob, my voice muffled against the floor so that Marco could not hear. But I could.

"I am no Snake, I'm a Raven."
« Last Edit: May 03, 2023, 06:35:32 AM by PrimetheGrime »

PrimetheGrime

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Re: Once Bitten- Basile Corbeau
« Reply #1 on: July 10, 2021, 09:48:30 AM »
Quote
There he was, standing over me again.

Of all the people to stand over me, why did it have to be him. Rogier.

Ever since I came crawling into this wretched world I have had to stomach Lambert and Rogier's cruelty. I could not possibly be seen as their brother, or half brother. No, I was an abomination in their eyes. The spawn of a Borcan Witch for little more than standing in the world of politics. They could scarcely believe that father had chosen such a wretch to be his wife. The scum. They dare to insult my mothers legacy? What gives them the right!? I feel the collar of my shirt lifted from the ground and soon come face to face with my red haired older brother. He was lankier than Lambert, but shared his penchant for cruelty. In ways, Rogier was worse than Lambert, because he was little more than his shadow, and he hated being seen in such a way. Pimply and pale, it was any wonder he didn't shrivel in the sun. I wish he did, but my wishes fall on deaf ears.

"We have to go that cesspit your ilk call a city, all because your filthy grandfather wants to see the dirt spawn his daughter created. I had other things I wanted to do with my time, snake!"

"Basile."

He hurls me to the ground, hard. I taste the blood on my lip, but I do not cry. I promised myself there would be no tears. I turn to stare him down. How did such a ugly little twerp like him ever cause me fear? It seemed an all too distant memory. I pick myself up from the floor, spitting the blood from my lip to the floor. What words I had for this cad! What insults I prepared to loose, but I bit my tongue. Father only allowed this trip at the begging of Marco. I would not ruin my little brothers day because of this stripling's jibes. No, I would bite my tongue, save my venemous prose for another day.

"That's right, walk off you little brat! Know your place in the dirt and know your betters!"

"Endure their cruel words, Basile."

He's crowing still. I stop for a moment to clench my fist, before I let it hang limp. I need not rise to his bait. He is no better. He is a fool, a buffoon, and I need only tolerate his presence a little longer. Borca awaits. It had been years since I last had gone, though back then It had been with mother and only mother. I barely remember the journey. Mother was with child, little Marco yet to be born. I don't remember the path, but I remember the house we stayed in. I remember the aging face of Raffiano de Peraga, Grandfather. His skin reminded me of old leather, but his facial hair had been wicked and styled to a sharpened point. I remember his brown eyes enveloping me, I remember him lifting me up into his strong arms. Grandson, he called me. The memory fades as I see servants approaching. They urge me towards the carriage. It seems father is done waiting and wants this trip over with. He will not spoil Marco's time, none of them will.

"Basile, promise me. Promise me you will look after Marco."

I swear it, Mother.



At last, Borca. I take in the countryside as our carriage makes it's way to Levkarest. Such lush forests and docile wildlife. I swear I can hear the gurgling trickle of water flowing into a nearby stream. a shame it's overcome with bandits and toll collectors, a shame that the lands deeper within almost seem ill and sick, perhaps from the ministrations of these bandits. Who knows what dark work they commit within those woods. Our carriage stops time and time again, each stop met with a frivolous tossing of coin to our toll collectors. Setbacks. Minor setbacks. I turn to look upon Marco, seated comfortably beside father. His big brown eyes are filled with wonder and awe. I smile. A weight is lifted off my shoulders upon seeing my brother so happy to travel to Levkarest, to see our family, not fathers and certainly not our siblings. Whatever self assumed pecking order they think to claim in Dementlieu withers to dust in these lands. In the lands of Borca, Marco and I are the ones on top.

"There it is!"

Marco's excited outburst awakens me from my brief slumber. He was correct. I could see the heart-shaped city straddling along the western banks of the Luna ahead. Thick marble walls tower over the winding road we took to enter. Aside from the initial 'tax' collection at the front gates, we found ourselves unmolested once a retainer of da Peraga appeared to guide us to the family estate, nestled within a long line of established houses. Perhaps they too were of noble blood, I thought to myself. It didn't matter. We were finally back. Now I could take in the sights of my second home, and I could do it with my brother in tow. I reunited with Grandfather. To feel his warm embrace encircle me filled me with such joy I could not even begin to describe it. Family, true family. Marco finally met Raffiano, who embraced him in turn before engulfing us both. To think that this warm and gentle man was considered one of the most feared and ruthless businessmen in Levkarest was hard to take. There was an icy greeting that followed between Father and Grandfather. There was no love lost, it was understandable why. Grandfather entertained us for the evening and I noted with a certain smugness the level of discomfort my, 'dear' brothers Rogier and Lambert were feeling. Good. Let them feel half of what they subject upon me. I welcome the change in scenary with open arms, and seek my rest shortly after.

The big day had come. We had arrived in Levkarest to recieve blessings from the torets of the grand cathedral. On the way Marco tugged on my arm, then tugged on fathers. We turned to see what had gathered so much of my exciteable brother's attention; A circus. I felt the low grumble from behind me in the form of Rogier and Lambert, electing to ignore it as I turned to Father, gauging his expressions as Marco begged Silvaine to let him see the show. He relented, striding towards the tents entrance.

"More wastes of time, what are we to see now father, dancing monkeys?"

I shot a withering look at Lambert, but he was unphased. Why would he ever fear a small brat like I, afterall? His protests were silenced as Silvaine continued towards our seats. I remember some of what the show contained; Lion tamers, dancing acrobats, and the illusionist. Ah, this is the one that captured my brothers attention. He was enrapt. I'd never seen him focus so strongly on anything before, not even when he would draw pictures whilst I worked on my art years ago. Such passion I could see in his eyes, but I was not the only one to see it. I could see the cogs in father's mind turning as he saw an opportunity for himself. Marco approached him after the show with the hopeful glint of a child, my father matched his gaze with a predatory gaze of a manipulator. I could not hear all that was said from where I stood, close to the de Peraga aide to avoid a confrontation with Lambert of Rogier, but I knew a deal being struck when I saw it.

"...You agree to dedicating yourself to your duties as a chef of the family, and I will fund this little distraction you seem so enrapt by."

And that was it, the sealing of a deal with a handshake. I smiled thinly. Pangs of jealousy, of envy arose within me. I had never recieved such attention from father, but then I was not the talent that he saw in Marco, nor was I the obedient son. I shoved the ill thoughts back into their cesspools. No, there were enough enemies in this nest to Marco without adding myself among them. Envy was unbecoming. Afterall, I was not the one in debt to Father, it was Marco.

"Basile.."

Nothing will ever happen to him. I swear it.
« Last Edit: May 03, 2023, 06:42:09 AM by PrimetheGrime »

PrimetheGrime

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Re: Once Bitten- Basile Corbeau
« Reply #2 on: October 17, 2021, 08:35:28 AM »
Quote
He was falling.

Falling and I could not stop him. I will never forget the look on his face.

I recall thinking it a stroke of luck from Ezra herself that I was let out of lessons early. My tutors would dote and crawl over Lambert and Rogier whilst I remained to the side of the room with no choice but to understand what was presented alone. But I was not new to this. It did not matter the topic; History, Literacy even the more physical practices of fencing, I knew I would need to fend for myself. It seemed even the tutors themselves could understand that worrying over me would not hasten them to favour with my father. Sycophantic insects. Bugs. Pathetic bottom feeders. Even then I could understand the divide between us and them. It was not that they were not borne of noble blood and we were, it was their lack of drive.. Ambition. Their eyes were as dull as that of a dead trouts it was any wonder they had managed to become any such form of tutor. I found myself excelling in our literacy lessons whilst my half-brothers would stumble over what seemed to be the most simple and basic of questions. I would twiddle my quill betwixt my fingers for a time, before I would let my mind wander, and draw.

"You see Basile? Even the simplest of strokes.. and you can create form from nothing."

The image of my mothers beaming smile. Ezra, how I missed that smile. Even at a young age, she saw I had an interest in art. She would regail me with the time she caught me pawing one of her unfinished artworks, staining paint all over my clothing. She took it upon herself to teach me how to see the world, and how to draw what I see, to match what is in my mind to what can be scrawled upon paper. Her attention to detail was flawless. I wonder now even if she took up the brush as I have, to forget what was required of her.. to forget, even for a moment the duty thrust upon her. My wandering mind was cut short at a sharp bark from the newest tutor. He demands I reveal my work if I have time to daydream. Buffoon. I was done twenty minutes ago. I displayed my work and took satisfaction in his chin's wobble in irritation. He sent me off, claiming my studies for the day were concluded. Perfect. I was done being cooped up in that room with my half-brothers the moment I set foot in it. I skipped down the carved stone steps of the estate and made for the worn trail that led to my little piece of quiet; the white cliffs.

To be true, they were little more than a steep hill that overlooked a beautifully blue pond. I had sat here before many times and sketched the surroundings. There was seemingly always something new to take in. A fallen tree to the side of the trail, strange rock formations that dotted the nearby rolling hills. I had brought Marco here before, though it was brief. Ever since his contract with father he has had to forgo our scenic walks in favour of his lessons. Following that his training, followed soon after by further study. At times he did not even seem to be the young joyful boy he was. At times he appeared far older than even I. One cannot help wonder at that still. I had been fortunate that neither Lambert nor Rogier had been much bothered with such scenic views. They would rather poke sticks at the local peasant boys or chase off stray cats. All the better for the peace and quiet however. Before he had shuffled off to his studies, I had seen Marco staring out at the tree by the pond with the yearning of a shackled child. It tore at my heart to see him be pulled away from it. I resolved that with this free time I had now, I would bring this tree to him in one form or another. It was the least I could do for my little brother. I settled above the cliffs that overlooked the pond, positioning myself to have the best vantage of the gnarled old oak tree that remained firmly planted beside the pond. It must have been the afternoon by the time my sketch was finished. Not perfect, no, but that would not matter once the oil paints replaced the lead outlines. I recall gazing out at the hills dreamily before my attention was caught by the unpleasant. Rogier.

What was he doing here!?

My mind worked over this problem even as the redheaded boy began wandering around the pond. He never came to this place. To my place. I spied a shaved stick in his grasp, clearly whittled by the oaf himself and my heart sunk. The previous day I had spent along with the rest of the children of the household. Ella and Marie, my elder half-sisters had established some form of guessing game whilst I played about in my sketchpad. I confess, they were the least terrible of all the first born children, but I had nothing in common with them from what I saw. I rarely saw them, their studies and duties wholly different to mine and my brother's. The time passed as the game changed. One that Rogier had demanded. Some ball game or another. I hadn't been paying much attention until he had decided my presence was too close to his drawn out lines. He marched over to me, snatching the pad from my grasp regardless of my shout of indignation. My sisters protested I recall, though their noise was little more than static as I faced down my brother. I remember him demanding I leave the area and be gone from his sight.

"Get out of here, little snake! We're playing here and the stench of you is an insult I will tolerate no longer!"

I balled my fists. It was the wrong move. I'd done exactly what Rogier was hoping I'd do. Stupid.

"Oh what's this? Going to attack me? Go on then, snake! Prove your nature!"

The fight barely lasted a second. I charged him and his leg extended forwards, boot slamming into my chest, winding me. He was taunting me, I knew that much but the ringing in my ears didn't allow me to hear it. A small mercy I suppose. He was on me in moments. I remember hazily the strikes went on for some time before the servants managed to dislodge him from me. My eyes tracked the red trickle that escaped from my lips onto the mosaic floor. In that moment I'd resolved to get him back, and I would. In the night I crept into their chambers and covered the floor surrounding his bed in a slippery substance I had bribed a servant to aquire before placing one of the training dummies he kept in his room right beside it, the wood structure exposed. It was my hope that upon leaving his bed, he'd slip into the puddle and slam into his wooden toy. Juvenile, yes, but what boy isn't at that age? I saw it as a fitting revenge and so it would do. The following morning, when I saw the pimply pale boy limp to the dinner table, I knew I had been successful. The glare the boy gave me told me it had been too successful. There would be a reckoning now, it would only be a matter of time. And now that time had come I suspected. I remained where I was, watching from the cliff edge as he began to croon my name. No, no not my name. My name is not Snake. His sinister tone made it all too clear his intent, if the stick did not.

"Where are you Snaaake? Come out and plaay~"

I just wanted to work on my art for Marco. I didn't want this- No, I don't need this! He deserved what he got. And I would not go down without a fight. Even as those thoughts crossed my mind I heard the twig snap nearby to indicate his arrival.

"Found you."

That arrogant smirk on his face, the expression of a victory he hadn't even claimed yet. It made my blood boil. I placed my pad down, standing as tall as I could muster. If he wanted to beat me, he'd do it with me standing to face him. Another foolish mistake. Rogier was older than me and taller by a foot at least, and he had range on me thanks to that accursed stick. The sharp pain I felt in my stomach and then my back concluded my harsh lesson on fighting someone with a weapon barehanded. His boot came crashing onto my hand as I attempted to scrabble away, sending a white jolt of pain through my body. I watched as he swaggered around me. Damn that infuriating smirk of his.

"This is your little hideaway, huh? Quaint. How alike to a Snake you really are, hiding up here amongst the tall grass."

A shaft of pain as I feel his boot dig into my side. Rogier continued his circling of me, until he paused, his eyes lighting up on the pad. No..

"What have we here? Oh I know, it's that pad where you draw your silly little doodles. Plan to be an artist, Snake? Don't worry, when I come of age I'll be sure to see you and your ill-bred brother destitute enough to warrant such a job."

Anger rose in me, but upon watching him pick up the pad, I began to struggle up, and was afforded another kick to my side for the trouble.

"Mm, stupid. You call this art?"

He crowed, shaking the book. I shut my eyes, waiting for his torment to end, and then I heard it. The unmistakable sound of paper being torn.

"Stop it! That's for Marco! Stop it you son of a-"

Another grunt as pain reared in my shoulder.

"It's for that half-blood brother of yours? I should have known. Stupid little snake. Your brother probably hates these as much as I do."

The tearing continued, and I could tolerate it no longer. I screamed in anger as I lept to my feet before Rogier could deliver a kick. My eyes were wild with fury as they focused on Rogier. He had left his stick in the grass after he'd decidedly won. Now here he was, tearing my sketchings. Marco's sketches. I lept at him, delivering a punch to his nose, forcing the brutes eyes to close in pain as he cupped his nose. I took the opportunity to hurl a fist towards his stomach, but his hand batted it away. He delivered a punch to my side but I ignored the pain that shot through me. Anger had replaced the pain with a surge of adrenaline and I was not going to waste it. I pressed my attack, another cross to his face, one to the side, earning several punches to my stomach for my efforts. We couldn't have been fighting for longer than a few minutes, but we were tired, bloodied and fury was etched on our faces. Rogier's own pimply face was twisted with rage. That I, a lowly Half-breed, barely above a servant would dare to strike him? He could not fathom it. He wiped blood from his nose, shouting at me.

"You-You'll pay for that you half-breed mongrel slime! I'LL KILL YOU!"

I was tired. So tired. I could barely make out his shouted threats as I tried to fight to keep myself alert. We danced closer and closer to the cliffs edge as I saw him prepare to charge at me... But no charge came. His boot misplaced his footing, and he jerked his ankle to the side. His shout of pain cut off by the shock of his teetering frame. He'd drawn too close to the edge. I watched, in horrified fascination as his shout turned to a bloodcurdling scream.. and he fell. He was falling. Falling and I could not catch him. The scream cut short by a violent twist as his body collided with the rocks below.



I could not believe what had happened. Then again, neither could Father. His face had turned a sharp shade of crimson when I was brought before him, the mangled body to the far end covered by a white sheet. I could not help but stare at it in morbid curiosity. Did it all truly happen? Did he..

"-just how did Rogier fall, Basile!? Did you do this!? Did YOU push him down that Cliff!!?"

My thoughts were cut off from the whip within my fathers voice. I vaguely make out Lamberts decries of my guilt, silenced by a swift motion of his hand. The Gendarme that stood to the side, the one that had been called to the incident stared me down. My head swam as I turned back to my father.

"No father. I..I didn't do this. He.. fell. He fell off the ledge before I could stop him."

Blood trickled down my lip as the Gendarme approached my father, murmoring quietly to him. The intensity of Silvaines gaze was unmistakable. He was barely containing his fury, yet whatever was said by the Gendarme appeared to tame the wildfire that was brewing. He dismissed the rest of the family, and I was made to recount what had occured. By the end, the authorities concluded it had been a fight between boys and one had slipped, tragically losing his life. Silvaine retreated to his chambers not soon after seeing the Gendarme off his property. I could hear him weeping in his room, hear the muffled weeping that arose from my sisters rooms. I was given a wide berth, left to my thoughts.

I had spoken true, I had not pushed Rogier, nor had I killed him. but deep in my heart, I knew.

Had he not fallen down that cliff, I would have made certain he did.
« Last Edit: May 03, 2023, 06:53:09 AM by PrimetheGrime »

PrimetheGrime

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Re: Once Bitten- Basile Corbeau
« Reply #3 on: June 14, 2022, 09:18:40 AM »
Quote
It has been weeks since Rogiers death, and so much has changed.

The household is silent. In mourning? No, no I recall the servants were fearful. Fearful of who? Of you. I dash the thought from my head. They fear a boy? That's beyond stupid. I did not kill Rogier, but they most certainly believe I did. Fine, let them. I have begun to adjust to my new sunken level of the family. Black sheep indeed. And yet, where before I would hear whispers of derision from the servants when my back was turned, or have rocks thrown at my head by Rogier and Lambert, now there is a void. A deafening, screaming silence. No one approaches me unless forced to. The servants scurry to place my food down and all but flee when their duty is done. Father refuses to see me, and Lambert? I have not been approached by that sycophantic idiot since.. Since you killed Rogier. No, I dash it from my mind. But, there can be no coincidence. The house is scared, but unwilling to confront me. I have no qualms with this, but the looks I have recieved from Lambert across the courtyard tell me everything I need to know. If I am alone, if I am vulnerable, or if I display weakness...
You will die. I cannot stay in this household any longer.

Clearly, Father has had enough of my presence altogether. He has seen fit to send me off to schooling further east. Perhaps he hopes I will simply disappear? If so he is sorely mistaken. I will leave however. It is safer for me to do so, free from the clutches of my enraged elder brother. Father didn't even bother to tell me to my face. No, a simple letter from the headman, and a carriage waiting to shove me away. I remember staring out at the manor.. My home.. Marco's..

"Basile.."

No, stop it.

"Promise me.."

I can't keep that promise if I have been sent away. I cannot!

"Promise me you'll look after Marco.."

"I CAN'T"

I slam the wall of the carriage in anguish. Torn from my home, even if it would be for my own good I could not help but think of Marco, alone with my father and scum of an elder brother. Would Lambert bring his rage to bear on him now? What would he think? Would he believe I abandoned him to Lambert?  Did you not? Damn you, begone from my head! This is nothing, I can endure it, So can Marco. I'll return for him, I will! I will take this isolation in stride. I've been sent to a village with expressive and talented artists surrounding the villas. I will make bread from this sour dough. Mother always did want me to revel in the arts, as she did, as we both shared..I know one thing however; I cannot remain helpless. Books, paints, music, none of this will protect me. So I must learn to be a warrior.

How silly I was to think I could just become a warrior.  Hah, a silly little boy playing soldier. I learnt my basics from the instructors in the village. Experienced footmen, each of them, but I was but a child attempting to learn the ways of death, with no true focus, no plan. Only fear. You should fear Lambert. He'll kill you. Enough of these thoughts. I will send word for Uncle Michaleto. Mother always said he was the swiftest and most skilled swordsmen she had witnessed. If I am to get better, then someone with a vested interest in my well being only makes sense.. I just hope he will accept the meagre payment I can give him for his troubles. I paid a merchants son to send the letter through to the postman quietly. I knew father had people watching me. There is no reason he would not. If I put a toe out of line, I would be punished, no doubt severely. But how can he punish me for what he doesn't know will happen? I smile. Michaleto will make me into a warrior. I know it.. If he accepts that is. But if he does!  I will be able to protect myself, yes, but also keep my promise to you, mother. I promised you I would protect him, and I will. With every inch of my body. I will forever be his shield to stay behind, his sword to cut back.

Uncle Michaleto wastes no time! He already drew my blood in but a few moments of meeting.. What a presence he brings! His very movements are so, snake-like, so swift and so confident, that I feel I am trapped in his penetrating gaze at all times, whether I hold a sword or speak candidly with him.

"Remember, little Nephew, if you give your opponent something to strike at, they will. If you do it on purpose, then you have saved yourself the trouble of making the first move."

It was hard to discern if he meant purely in combat or not.. but from the way his eyes followed me, I cannot help but think he meant in all things.

"Yes, yes, You know basics. How wonderful for you, Mm? Parry,Stab Block,Riposte- Blah blah blah! If you wish to fight your opponent, you can't be busy thinking of what move you will do. Parry,block,strike- No. You strike, and parry, you block, and riposte. You do so from -feeling-. From instinct. You must be able to fight without even thinking, yes? Not to worry, little Nephew, I will beat it into you, eh?"

His smile is as transfixing as the rest of his persona. Mirth, yes, but certainty as well. Boundless confidence, in his abilities, in himself.. I want that. I want everything he so effortlessly delivers.

I'm so fortunate he accepted my invitation without hesitation, but why would he? After one of our sessions, I asked him.

"No no no no, I did not come for your money, Little Nipote of mine."

He ruffles my hair with such affection, such.. care that I cannot help but tear up. If not money, why would he come? What would possess him to come from Levkarest, from Borca all the way out here for some boy he's never met, if not coin?

"I came because we are family! I love my family, Nipote. I loved my sister, and I love her children..almost as much."

He pinched his fingers together with a sly wink on his clean-shaven, roguish face.

"Do not cry little Nephew, you are on the way to a man, no? Do men cry? Not for little reasons, no. Ah, but it is no matter. I will toughen you up after I've beaten you into putty."

This man.. He knew me only as his sisters son, he'd never met me before in his life and yet he would come all this way because we are family? Family.. I smile, resting my head on his shoulder as he tussles my hair. Affection, love.. It's been.. Years. I love my uncle. I would do anything for him if he asked.

"Why is Family so important, Uncle Michaleto?"

"Ah! Now that is the right question, Little Basile! Because in this life, there is death, yes.. there is betrayal, there is love, passion even. But when it all fades, there is one thing you can count on. Your family, your famiglia. They will always be with you. And we have a large family, little nephew. Bigger than anyone in this village."

He widens his arms as far as possible, turning to me. He prods my chest

"And just as I am here for you, they will be here for you, and you are here for them. Do you understand?"

I nod, in awe of this man. I have a family, I know of course. Not my Father, or his progeny, no..Well, Ella maybe.. But Grandfather, my Cousins, my Brother. A wide family indeed. Just as Uncle Michaleto was here for me at my time of need, so too would I be there for him, and for any of our family. After all..

What is thicker than blood?
« Last Edit: February 06, 2023, 07:08:44 AM by PrimetheGrime »

PrimetheGrime

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Re: Once Bitten- Basile Corbeau
« Reply #4 on: February 06, 2023, 06:48:59 AM »
Quote
My how time flies. It seemed only yesterday I was a boy crying in my uncles arms after one of our many practices, and now I stand little more than a foot shorter than him. Yet despite my physical growth, just how much have I grown, if at all? No matter what I try, I cannot hope to match uncle Michaleto's unsurpassed confidence. My combative technique was still sloppy, lacking that discipline he had been cracking into my skull. At least, that is how I envisioned it. After I had all but turned purple from the bruises in our latest practice session, I implored upon him to tell me the secret to his unwavering certainty, his method of 'dancing' around my strikes.

"Ahaha, oh little Nipote, you are thinking far too much on this still, yes? I told you before it is not a technique, no no no. It is a -feeling-. You don't feel you are confident, yes?"

I nod, ashamed and yet he cuts me off before I can speak

"Exactly. You -feel- you are not confident, so you -are- not confident. You doubting yourself is what makes you so slow and sloppy. "

He prods me with a toothy grin.

"But, perhaps we need to build upon your confidence, mm? I'll tell you what. We'll put a pause on our sessions and we'll change direction. We'll have you strutting about like a oversexed rooster in a week, two tops."

He reached up to ruffle my hair before leaping off the wall we'd been resting on, landng gracefully on his feet like a cat, turning to me with a mischievious grin, beckoning me down with a shuffle of his fingers. And so began a different kind of training. One with far less brusies to my body, and far more to my pride. No matter, I will become like uncle Michaleto. Nothing frightens him, nothing perturbs him. He is unflappable, and I want that for myself, so I will have it. So you can no longer be afraid of 'him'? No. The thoughts are swept aside with a decisive swipe of my arm. For myself.



The lessons start small, in some cases very similar to my first steps. I learnt how to walk, to carry myself, I learnt how to talk with flair and brilliance, there were even lessons on how to attract the local girls, though Michaleto tended to prank me on more than one occasion with a piece of false advice. I asked him after one such maiden had left a firm red hand imprint on my cheek, why he would bother? Thinking it was a silly decision on his part. We had paused in our lessons, taking up the ledge we often rested upon after practice. He wiped tears from his eyes, his chuckling faded as he pushed himself off the ledge. Ever the performer, he performed a flawless somersault and landed on his feet, his arms sweeping outwards like a preening swan.

"A joke? No no no no Nephew. This is very much part of your training. You are half my sister. That makes you a part of my blood, and that is Borcan blood. We do not get played for fools, if we are paying attention. So yes, I will tinker with your training with -teeny tiny, incy wincy- misdirections to make sure you are paying attention, keep your alertness.. alert. You need only use that big brain of yours and see where the lines don't connect. An elaborate game of connect the dots, eh?"

Misdirection? Alertness? I was confused, naturally. Why would I need to learn such?

"Because the world of a Borcan is filled with treachery and plays, nipote. We learn at a young age, much muuch younger than you are now. As little ninos we learn how to read someone being duplicitous. It's a talent, eh? But yet it is a teachable talent. You must never give the game away, just as you mustn't let yourself be played. You understand this, yes? Think of your half-brother, what's his name, Leon, Leonard?"

"Lambert."

"Yes yes yes, that one. The thickset one. You told me of him before, remember? He is more clever than his idiota father, you noticed this already. And now that he has seen what you can do, or rather what you did, he will be cautious and he will play the game as his father teaches him to. So, beguiling them shouldn't be too hard, no?"

His crooked smirk was infectious, I couldn't help my lips curling at that.

"Then I am to learn to wear a mask, to look one way yet think another?"

"In a way, yes. But it is more than wearing the mask, Nipote. You need to craft it yourself. Create it from your own experiences, your trials, and wear it as plainly as you wear your own face. That is what I will try to teach you. The question is, can you do it? Can you handle it?"

His head tilted to the side, his eyes were alight with challenge, a clear provocation to goad me into taking the bait. It was very effective. How often in my life had I simply been reacting with emotion and passion? I remember by mothers words, drifting into my head like a sweet lullaby even now.

"Endure their cruel words, Basile..."

It was not simply motherly intuition, but advice. I wore my emotions too keenly upon my face. Rogier knew it, Lambert doubtless did as well. I had been playing into their hands at every turn. Michaleto had taught me these past few years how to fight, but more than that. He had taught me how to approach such a problem. To keep my emotions focused, honed onto something more precise, something I could control. Like the blade in my hand. It clicked then. If I was to become like Michaleto, if I was to become confident and unwavering, it must be me who makes that choice. Yet you are still afraid, aren't you? The voice didn't matter. None of it mattered. Focus. That was the key. I would learn everything Michaleto had to impart to me, and I would build a better me, a better Basile. My emotions were my own, and I control them.

"Ah, I know that look in your eyes little nephew. Planning to kill the boy and be reborn a man, ah? So I will ask again, can you handle it?

I saw my Uncles eyes track me as I lept off the ledge, landing on my feet. Perhaps not as gracefully as a cat, but with all the confidence of one. Michaleto's eyes glinted in the low torchlight surrounding the courtyard we were in, a hint of approval in their gaze.

"I can do it."

My uncles lips curved into a sickle-smile, wide and approving.

"That's my nephew. So!"

He clapped his hands together elaborately as was his fashion, that infectious rogueish grin ever present on his face.

"Let's see what kind of mask you will create for yourself, eh?"
« Last Edit: May 03, 2023, 07:02:58 AM by PrimetheGrime »

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Re: Once Bitten- Basile Corbeau
« Reply #5 on: May 03, 2023, 06:27:29 AM »
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It was only six months later that uncle Michaeleto introduced me to his wife, Lucia de Peraga. Unlike my uncle, Aunt Lucia was a woman of cold focus. One could not be faulted for believing she had no fire within her, but her true burning passion only became apparent when she expressed herself through her art. And it was through her that I learnt one of the greatest tricks of all. She arrived in the winter months, garbed in a black dress laced with purple, a homage to her late husband, who Uncle Michaeleto ironically slew in a duel. If the cause of his death ever bothered Aunt Lucia she never showed it. Lucia de Peraga forever wore a mask of beauty. Her olive skin masked behind the powdering of her makeup, Her long dark hair tied behind her head in a stylish bun. Dark, obsidian eyes would watch you like a hawk with a steel that could bore into your soul if you were foolish enough to say the wrong thing in her presence. In short, flawless and beautiful. Yet beneath that beauty you could sense the danger lurking beneath, the true Lucia de Peraga just below the surface. She had her own way of offering affection. When you performed well, she would clap, nod her head or on rare occasions, offer a small twitch of a smile on the corner of her mauve lips. When you performed poorly, she would be dead silent, before approaching you with a well placed backhand. You learnt quickly to perform well, and often. Through her, my talent beyond that of a spear or sword became realised.

"Tell me, Basile. Are you aware of the power within yourself?"

She asked me one day, after learning of Borca's history. I considered the question before offering any reply.

"What power do you refer to, Aunt Lucia?"

"Your emotions, my dear. Your passions. Much like my buffoon of a husband, you wear them on your sleeve. It's a bad habit to have."

I blinked in surprise. Uncle Michaeleto had spent the past few years teaching me to mask my emotions. I protested this to her, earning a tight lipped expression.

"In practice when you swing your sticks? Yes. But outside of it? You ooze with the emotions you were attempting to mask earlier. Worse still, your body projects your emotions ever more keener than your expression ever could. And that is dangerous."

"Dangerous.. I see, what should I do then, Aunt Lucia? I can't let go of my emotions. Uncle Michaeleto taught me I should feed off them to push beyond my limits!"

"And indeed you should, Basile."

She replied, her lips still deadlock tight.

"And for that reason you must control your emotions, mask them, yet use them to fuel your desires."

"Fuel my Desires? How do I manage this Aunty? What do I need to do in order to mask my emotions?"

To my relief, those mauve lips loosened, a slight twitch at the corner of her lip.

"Oh I will teach you, Basile. Because your emotions have more power than you realise, more than Michaeleto understands, I am sure."

She held up a finger to forestall my torrent of questions directed to her.

"Patience, dear one. Patience. I intend to reveal all. You have been gifted with a powerful emotional core. Not every person has such a core. I do, but I am no regular person."

The corners of her lip tugged upward in a superior grin, yet so infectious was it that I couldn't help but smile too.

"This core, when trained, practiced, honed.. will be yet another powerful tool for you to utilise and become more than you are. These emotions, when awakened will make you a conduit to human emotion. Every point on it's spectrum, from Anger to Joy will be a power you can harness in order to do extraordinary things. Magic things. Do you understand?"

"No, Aunty, I don't."

 I Admitted, Cursing my lack of understanding. She made it sound like it was something simple, innate. How could I not know it? However to my surprise a smile protruded from her usually expressionless porcelain features.

"It is good you can admit when you don't know something. You will learn quicker with such a mentality."

She settled into the high-backed chair, her dark eyes upon me.

"Strong emotion is a fuel for magic, Basile. Those who feel it's currents like you and I can bring forth wonderous and splendid things. All is required is a focus, a core, if you will. For me, I channel my artful exhibition. I paint, I dance, I write. Through what could be seen as a typical hobby, I channel my emotional desires and hone them into weapons against my enemies. Your inner being becomes a conductor for the emotions running through your body with which you can perform such acts as shielding yourself with nothing but your emotions, Imbuing the weapons Michaeleto is teaching you to wield with energy, even persuading the weaker minds around you into doing what you will."

I was intently listening, hanging on every word she said. Perhaps that is due to her magic, or more than likely it was my burning curiosity.

"Is that what you use on those around us, Aunty? Even on Michaeleto?"

An amused scoff escaped her.

"On all but Michaeleto, Basile. Your Uncle sword-dances upon command around my finger, but I don't need magic to tame him."

"Then, what?"

Her head tilted, the well tended to eyebrows rising even as he right arm arose at an angle, her fingers lightly touching her thumb in a gesture of wry self-awareness.

"My own magnetism."

A chuckle escaped me even as I looked up with adoration to my worldly Aunt.

"You will show me how I can do that too, will you not Aunt Lucia?"

She arose from the chair, her hand extended to me which I gladly took hold of as she led me into the study.

"Oh most certainly, dear one. Most certainly."

« Last Edit: May 03, 2023, 06:30:07 AM by PrimetheGrime »