Headed by a Snake
13 Bucke
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Headed by a Snake
Author :CouchSurfingDragon
© Wuxiaworld

13 Bucke

Tycon led Guard Captain Varen and two other guardsmen through the manor and eventually to a lifted portcullis.

"This..." Varen stared in shock, his mouth agape, "They told me the iron gate was sealed! The chain it's connected to-- it's obviously broken!"

Tycon looked towards the open gate so Varen wouldn't see him rolling his eyes, "And you believed that, Mister Varen? Trust your subordinates, but verify. You can clearly see that the visible chain is wholly unrelated to the door mechanism."

In fact, Tycon had only realized it after bypassing the portcullis in his snake form, but Varen didn't need to know that.

Varen could find no argument, "P-perhaps I had been too eager to deny such unsavory rumors, Sir."

Some time earlier, Tycon had resuscitated the old Guard Captain. The latter had awoken with a splitting headache and had to be gently recapitulated of the situation. Tycon was fairly certain the old man had irrecoverable brain damage, and if the effects weren't yet apparent, they'd advance quickly, in respect to the man's advanced age. But that was a problem for Future-Varen. Present-Varen remained useful, still.

Tycon had assigned Wroe to help in treating the wounded. His androgynous likeability and charm would do much to appease the simple-minded guards into accepting Tycon's hostile takeover. He sent Dragan to recover Baron Tavor. As long as Tavor came back alive, Tycon didn't particularly mind the condition of the target.

The group of four had finally come across the dungeon cells and the subsequent stench of decomposing flesh.

"By the gods, the smell..." Varen retched.

Tycon glanced into the cells and began to coldly summarize. "Yes, the rotting corpses within are of children, mostly between ages 7 to 11, with the oldest being the young girl in the second to farthest cell on the left."

"This is monstrous…" "We've been working for this--this villain?" The guards were unable to hide their disgust, spitting upon the stone dungeon tile and sharing their 'I should have known's.

Had Tycon not opted to use his own manpower to capture the Baron, he was certain the guards would have led a mob of angry townsfolk to burn the man alive on a stake. Though Tycon found the prospective thought of torches and pitchforks amusing, the Crown wouldn't be nearly as amused. After all, an organized collective of citizens rising up to brutally murder a nobleman would be a cause for concern among the higher echelons of nobility, irrespective of the circumstances.

Tycon stopped in front of one of the old-wooded cell doors. With a strong rear kick, the door flew open, revealing a young, dirty-blonde boy, no more than 10 years of age, hanging by his wrists from manacles.

The guards rushed in, while Tycon walked steadily into the room, glaring at the young boy, Bucket. Bucket shivered in fear, tears running down the cheeks of his dirt-covered face.

"Look how scared he is!" "It's quite alright, young man, we'll get you out of here."

Tycon didn't take his eyes off of Bucket, "Mister Varen, order your men to find the keys and release this boy. He is my charge."

Bucket shivered with the way Tycon phrased his statements. He knew he had fucked up.

The Baron had been taken away and was to be held by the Adventurer's Guild until further ruling could be delivered. Tycon was confident he wouldn't have a good ending, due to the number and the quality of witnesses, not to mention how everyone seemed to fear Tycon's noble backing.

Tycon had commandeered the Tavor Manor and dismissed the guards for the evening, ensuring them that he'd handle the financial takeover of the estate in the morning. Relieved that they'd keep their jobs, they left without complaint, promising to return on the morrow.

Tycon did not inform them of their impending pay cuts.

'How can they claim to be good guards when a mere group of four attacked their base and captured their charge? Outrageous.

Tycon relaxed on a chair in the cozy fire-warmed living area of the manor. Paintings of past generations adorned the walls, looking down solemnly at the unwelcome golden-eyed intruder. There were plenty of tables and seating. It was quite nice.

Bucket sat on a chair opposite of him, wrapped in a blanket and holding a still-steaming bowl of porridge. The boy's ears were slightly pointed, hinting at his non-human heritage.

"Bucket," Tycon spoke sternly, "Have you eaten?"

The boy stared into the soup bowl, "N-no, Sir."

"I advise you to eat. It will recover some of your fatigue from today and will grant you strength for our activities tomorrow."

The boy continued staring into his soup bowl for a time.

"I'm… not hungry," he finally mumbled.

It was obvious to Tycon that the boy was at his limits of fatigue and hunger. Still, Tycon sat patiently, watching. The boy was dreaming if he thought he could win a waiting game against him.

"I'm not hungry, Sir," Bucket said, looking up and speaking with a bit more volume.

Tycon smiled in response, "Whether you eat or not, we will talk, afterward."

Under Tycon's unmoving gaze, the boy succumbed to his advice. He picked up the wooden soup spoon and began to eat. Quickly and voraciously, he finished the child-sized portion of porridge and placed the bowl politely on the table.

"...Thank you for the meal," Bucket said in a quiet voice.

Tycon nodded in approval.

"Y-you…" Bucket began. Tears began to form at the corners of his eyes.

"Go ahead."

"You guys left me."

Tiny streams of tears silently ran down the boy's face. Tycon remained unmoved.

"You were taken."

"B-by an adult!"

"Bucket," Tycon's voice remained cold and impassive.

"Y-yes?" the child sniffed.

"Did you fight?"

"What?" Bucket was stunned. "No, she was an--"

"An adult, yes. So you didn't fight."

"N-no, but--"

"Bucket, I just need answers for now. After my inquiries, you will be given a chance for a rebuttal."

"Y… yes, Sir."

"Did you fight?"

"No, Sir, I couldn't."

"Did you yell for help?"

"Y-yes, Sir. No one c--"

"Did you struggle against your kidnapper?"

"Yes, Sir, I--"

"Did you kick?"

"...No, Sir."

"Did you bite?"

"...N-no, Sir. I didn't."

Tycon steepled his fingers and leaned forward in the high-back chair.

"Young man, anyone in Guild Invictus can be captured by the enemy. You were captured. You did not fight back or struggle to the best of your ability. It sounds like you had resigned to your fate and waited for someone, anyone, to save you."

"N-no, b-but I… I--"

Tycon's voice took on a darker tone, interrupting Bucket's mewling sobs, "That is not how we operate, young man..."

The boy continued sob quietly, but Tycon kept on... "As soon as we leave town, you will begin a new training regimen."

The boy looked up, his puffy, teary-eyed face and sandy-brown hair looking miserable in the living room torchlight, "Are-- are you finally going to teach me how to fight?"

Tycon resisted the urge to roll his eyes, "It is not a reward, young man. But you will need basic skills if you are to One: defend yourself and Two: Participate in the defense of the Guild…

Tycon stood up and leaned over the table to accentuate his final point, "But this incident will not be repeated, do you understand me?"

Bucket wiped his eyes with his filthy coat sleeve, trying to hold his excitement. "Yes, Sir!"

"Now, do you have any issues or questions?"

"No, Sir!" Bucket responded heartily.

Tycon reached his hand over to pat the boy on the head-- but decided against it. Instead, he pointed to one of the room doors. "You can sleep in that room over there. But before that, go get me Mister Wroe."

"Y-yes, Sir! I'm going!"

'The boy's a bit simple-minded,' Tycon thought, 'but concerning his age, this is permissible… Unlike the others.'

The boy pushed himself forward in the chair in order to allow his feet to touch the ground. Then he rushed off, an exemplar of youthful exuberance.

Tycon hoped he'd keep his energy when they began their training.
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