5: The Walkins Boy


Granny Hewitt, head of the Hewitt family came to Potter’s Run on a stormy day. Back then she’d just been a girl, a young woman by the name of Patricia Orman. Chased out of town by her father’s enemies in her former hometown. Chased out by family disputes that spilled over into sect disputes that eventually led to spilt blood.

She’d make it to the small dead end town with naught but  the clothes on her back and what little she could carry in her carpet bag.

Fighting off a few raiders, would be-rapists, and self-important idiots with troublesome amounts of political pull, along the way.

Despite being on her own and only being fifteen, she would manage to use what little funds she had to start up the town’s one general store.

Making a home for herself in a boony made up of a handful of dirt farmers, scavengers and people like her, who’d barely survived being on the losing end of similar factional conflicts in the wider world.

All of them too scrappy to die from the terrible conditions but too tired, weak, and dispirited to try to go any further than where they’d ended up.

She’d eventually marry a man, named Henry Hewitt. A decent enough fellow with a head thick enough to break rocks with but was still smart enough to know when to get out of his wife’s way.

Together they’d raise six children and those six children would raise children.

This was how the Hewitt clan would be founded, raised on principles of good business sense, doing what one has to do to stay alive and retaining one’s human decency despite inhumane conditions.

Their numbers and relative wealth being enough to name them as one of Potter’s Run’s founding families.

That principle of decency and humanity, was the reason that she never tolerated bullying amongst her boys and why her boys didn’t tolerate their children bullying others.

This was why when most of the town was scorning the Walkinses kid, the woe-begotten, flea covered brat of an angry drug addict and some poor girl who either ran or was sold off, the Hewitt family would occasionally call the boy into their shop.

Usually offering him something small to fill his stomach, or somewhere dry to sleep on the times when both his father and the weather seemed to be on a tear.

Letting him pay the favors, with small errands and minor chores.

It wasn’t any great kindness; it was just them being less hard than most of Potter’s Run’s other folks.

Darren Hewitt, was one of the Hewitt boys, one of those kids who’d grown up half-heartedly telling the other town kids to knock it off when they were enjoying that most common of pastimes, the kick-the-shit-out-of-the-Walkins-kid game.

Tall, strong, and broadly built like his Grandpappy was, there was talk of him possibly becoming a leveller one day. Accumulating enough magic energy that separate ordinary men from the heroes and legends of Agartha.

Honestly, even if he could only make it past level three by his next birthday, it’d still be enough for him to join the town defenders. Protecting the town from monsters and helping in their raids.

“Darren dear, be a good boy and go help your cousins.”

“Yes, mee-mah. R-, Right away.” he said, the pitch of his voice hitching slightly with pubescent squeak.

Darren currently stood by his grandmother, trailing her, along with six of his older cousins and a few of his uncles. The rest of the town and most of the other Hewitts had gone to their homes to clean up and recover.

They and their grandmother were going around assessing the general damage that had been done to the town, both during the coup and after when….”he” hit.

To put it plainly, it looked like a storm hit. It looked like one of those big dust devils that the town was supposed to be warded to keep out, had cut right through Potter’s Run. Tearing apart the streets and pulling up the cobblestones of the town’s one real road. Flattening houses and whatever or whoever else was in its…his…wake.

Granny Hewitt took it all in with eyes that were tired, set in a face that was wrinkled, set on bones, that were still startlingly strong for someone of her years. With a calm and steady hand, she leads and would  continue to lead the town’s recovery, with the one other surviving town leader, former Mayor Haversham.

She eyed her great-grandchild Darren watching as he helped his kin, with the moving and hauling of rubble and bodies. Silently approving as he turned green but still managed to keep down his mid-evening meal.

It was bad to waste food like that, by needlessly throwing it up…but besides that, it showed promise. Promise that should be nurtured something that she’d see to once all this was over.

Perhaps even mentioning it a little sooner to his parents, just in case she forgot, because she “was” getting on in years.

She looked at the lined up bodies that lay on the ground and she looked at all that a few pounds of mithril had wrought and found her thoughts drifting.

No one needed to die today. At least not this many people. At least not Potter’s Run people. No amount of money made all this worth it, and yet beasts died for food and men died for wealth and that was just the way of the world.

Her thoughts drifted again, turning  towards a certain scowling man who’d been left in the town storehouse, because he’d die, drowning in his own blood if he tried to leave it and because no one could find the key to the damn slave collars yet.

She and many others  were starting to suspect that that fool Chesterfield bought the collars without buying keys. Never intending to let them go, except maybe to some slaver dealer. The poor bastard in the storehouse, likely would never see daylight again, if that was the case.

Which made it all the more fortuitous that, that peculiar and unfortunately little boy, had, had the strange change that he had.

Suddenly losing that meek frightened look he’d used to wear all around. That goofy lopsided grin the boy always wore turning into something more sure of itself.

The boy broke the collars and then a silvery green light came from his palms and from eyes and from his mouth, to heal sick and injured. And then he was gone.

There was no telling where the change came from, no speaking to the hows or whys. And no guessing where the boy went.

The folk in the region might have had stories about men suddenly being inhabited by spirits and the saints of legend, but those were just stories.

“Food, Water, Money and Blood….Those are four things that a man will be a fool not to look after if he doesn’t want to come a bad end.”

“Yes, Mee-Mah…” said a chorus of young voices. That startled the old woman from her thoughts.

She’d likely been thinking aloud again, a bad habit of hers that she’d had since she was young, but in the Hewitt clan, at least for the younger folk who didn’t know any better any word that came from her lips might as well have been gospel.

She frowned shaking her head and then forgot about the mysterious boy and his unfortunate father.

Her great-grandson Darren, came forwards with a load of bricks held in his sturdy arms, a faintly thoughtful look on his face.

“Uncle Sam said to tell you that we’re all good and this side of town, Mee-Mah.”

“Mhm…Then I guess we’re done for the day then. Tomorrow we can come and see what we can recover from the houses…waste not, want not and all that.” said Granny Hewitt.

“Yes, granny. Um…” said the boy. Hesitating, a bit before deciding to go off and get rid of burden in his arms while keeping the one in his head to himself.

The old woman stopped him with a sharp look and a grunt.

“Well spit it out boy I ain’t gonna live forever.”

The boy gave the old woman the same, slightly skeptical look all her family members gave her when she said that, as if they all suspected otherwise.

As if they were all sure that so long as the world had a Hewitt clan, there would always be a Granny Hewitt.

“Um…okay, well….so do you think we’ll ever see “him” again.” said Darren. His words revealing that his thoughts hadn’t been far off from his grandmother’s.

Which was likely the case for many of the town’s folk. A lot of “them” would think it with a tiny bit of fear, but the Hewitts and those who like them, never went out of their way to make the poor boy’s life even more terrible thought it more with a bit, of curiosity.

Granny Hewitt looked up at the brightening sky, with a look of consideration.

“Mhm…hard to say. But in this old woman’s opinion, I’ve seen a lot of folk come through Potter’s Run and I’ve seen a lot of folk leave it. When it comes to Potter’s Run folk, in the few times that they’ve left they generally come back at least to visit. And that boy is Potter’s Run folk…If’n he doesn’t die out there, I expect we’ll see him again…one day.”

Darren frowned, not sure how he felt about that.

The Walkins boy was an unknown and the sounds that the townsfolk had, had to listen before he’d returned to free them all, had been ghastly to  hear.

A tragically operatic combination of screaming, gunfire, swearing and bellows like no “human” could ever make.

Still in the end the boy just nodded, taking the old woman’s words as fact. Taking the fact of the monster-boy’s possible return with the same stoic-ness that Potter’s Run folk used to face all of life’s little trials.

A man could make plans but sometimes the game was already in the gods’ hands. There was no point in worrying about what couldn’t really be prepared for.

“Yes, Mee-mah.”

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