Bones were a lot easier to break apart than he had thought. One could not be too forceful with them, or too direct, lest they simply crack at the surface. There was no denying that, with enough blunt force, one could achieve full destruction… but Vito was not strong enough for that. He was better off finding the right angles and joints, according to the odd wisdom and experience of Jakob and Esau, and doing what he could from there. “Angles and joints at all the right points,” or something close to that, but heavily slurred to the point that he was only assuming that that was what had been said.
Jakob had said to do the legs first. In reality, he meant the feet. Pale and gaunt and dirty, Vito had struggled at first to even look at them. When he had to touch them, it was all he could do not to throw up again. He asked himself what made them any different from the hands – just as dirty and bony and cold as the feet – and he tried to tell himself that they were just the same. Shorter fingers connected to a longer palm. Hands at the ends of two legs, that was all they were. One by one, the brothers stood above him and directed him as he dealt with each toe. One by one, they broke. One by one, he learned how to tear a scream from a dying man’s throat.
Too hard he pulled them. Too slow. Esau was loud as he called out the mistakes of the struggling youth; his brother was quiet and calculated in response. Try it in one foul swoop, kid, like this– and Jakob knelt down beside him to show him exactly what he meant. Quick. Jakob was quick, and confident, and Vito wished to be the same. All of that skill, hidden away in such a quiet, disgraceful mold of a man. He hated it.
From the bruised and broken feet, he was directed upward and over the legs. At some point the heretic’s throat ran dry of its screams and shouts, and left nothing but a faint scratching groan that eventually descended into silence. The other men seated to his sides remained quiet throughout the torturous endeavor, something that had confused Vito at first until Esau provided explanation:
“Theyyy knows not’a screech like ‘im,” and he pointed to the unconscious heretic, “elsewise they wanna gets poked toooo!”
Reasonable. Vito agreed that it was perfectly reasonable, and carried on as they directed him, though his clothes stuck to his body with sweat and his stomach ached from the smells. He had long ago thrown up the last of whatever had remained in his stomach, but it did not stop the dry heaves of his skinny form when he could not help but gag. His methods were far from graceful, and farther still from efficient, but they were, at the very least, effective. Legs, and arms, and ribs – what he could not break, he bruised, and his swollen fists were the evidence of his painful inexperience.
Muddy collections of silvery-blue scattered beneath his skin where he earned bruises across his own form. It was not until a deep, burning pain in his thumb stole his attention that he paused from his lesson.
“Fuck,” he said first, and then his voice raised to a shout as he held onto the injured thumb. “Fuck! I broke it!”
“Lemme sssseee,” Esau pushed his brother out of the way to come closer. Vito turned away from him, holding his hands out of reach. “No! Do not touch it. Just tell me what to do.”
He could practically feel the older man’s confusion radiating off of him. Scratching at his chin, the twitchy human replied, “weeeell… could wrap it, ‘f ya want.”
Oh, it was painful. It hurt so much that he could almost imagine crying.
“Show me how to do that,” Vito demanded, still turned away from Esau.
“I looook like a doctor t’ you?”
Well what the fuck had he suggested it for, then? A strangled sound escaped Vito’s throat, a mixture of anger and pain. He held a little tighter to his hand, but it lessened the pain for only a moment, before it flooded back into the broken thumb. Shaking his head, the youth kicked at the centermost heretic’s chair. He wanted to continue. He did not want to deal with a stupid broken thumb, not when he was not sure that he would be able to return soon. It was risky enough visiting now, and many breaks had passed since he had told Tribunal Adelina that he would be leaving to run errands.
“I have to go.” His voice shook, and the deep green of his eyes lightened into a gem-toned azure blue. What would Adelina say, when she saw him like this? Disheveled and sweaty and injured – but she was the only one that would fix it for him, he was certain of that. Vito took a deep breath, shut his eyes for a trill, and then turned back around to face the humans.
He bowed his head. He never did that. He was only too embarrassed to do anything else.
Quickly stepping past them, Vito added, “I will return. When I can. Find another favor to ask of me – anything, I will do it. Just bring me back and teach me more.”
It sounded desperate. It was desperate. It was exactly why he did not look back at them again, but kept his azure gaze forward and his silver-dusted, pointed ears held high. It was a dangerous promise to make with such men; it was one that he had already made before, and would surely make again. Vito let go of his injured hand to cling to the railing instead, if only to pull himself faster up the stairs and out of the dark and dismal cellar.
He would learn. He would improve. He would force himself to.