Fuck me, could you get any more pathetic?
It said a lot about his mental state that even with his physical form bleeding out and falling part under him, Kasoria's mind was still hale enough to grind out a few choice insults. Hard to blame it, though. He'd have much the same thoughts if he was on the outside looking in. There he was, fingers inches away from grasping his blade, ready to smote these too-sincere bastards emerging through the shadows... and when it came down to it, he could barely get his fingers around the handle before his strength failed him entirely.
He grumbled and groaned and listened as if from the bottom of a lake as they discussed how best to carry him. To carry him
. As if he were some cripple, some invalid
, some child
to be supported! But was there any sharp retort or sharper retaliation? Of course now. He let stronger hands than his own slide under his arms and ankles and suddenly he was weightless, jostled from side to side as he floated over sand and dirt and stared up into a cloud sky.
“He ain’t my friend.”
There was a dry chuckle from the half-dead man. Like wind through old parchment. A smile came with it, bleak and bloody and without much humor.
"Aye... miss yuz too, boy..."
There was nothing but pain for him now. Deep and brutal and bright, or shallow and throbbing and dull. These were his two options. When he lay on the filthy table (which was what he assumed the flat-ish surface to be), Kasoria was indulged by the latter. A slow, seeping ache that spoke of blood loss and bruises. People moved around him, only one voice familiar. Smells of rotting meat and sea water and brine. Eyes that didn't really work anymore caught fragments of impossible sights. Giant webs and great toothed spears. Lumbering giants and howling monsters beyond the thin walls.
This was relaxation, though, compared to the alternative. When he heard a washcloth being rung out, water dappling into a bowl, and the cloth was pressed to him-
Kasoria found the strength to stiffen and squirm and howl as only a man near death could. The grievous cuts about him screamed up from his very flesh alongside his lips. He gripped the sides of the table and felt wood creak under his hands... but not break. Too weak for that. Too old. Too battered. His eyes flickered and wood became stone became old enemies and new hatred and-
"What is it, Kas? What're youse hidin' from us?" CRACK "Fuck me, that looks nasty. Sure y'don't wanna chat? Hmm?" CRACK "You will fuckin' talk, you fuckin' leech-" CRACK
“You owe me. Don’t forget.”
New words. From an old voice. The dungeon vanished with another spear of pain into his side. Kasoria managed to look down and saw the gash in his side, edges white now with blood loss. Fuck's sake, he was barely bleeding anymore. But the boy was still tending to it, jamming the cloth in there with all the brutal, ruthless skill of a battlefield healer or back-alley doctor. Again there was that rustling sound, a little wetter now, ending when Kasoria's head flopped down rather painfully onto the table.
"Yeah... I ain't... fergotten..."
He awoke to screams and blinding light and burning hair. Great
, was his first thought. Now I'm fucking hallucinating.
That idea was destroyed the moment he opened his eyes, and saw chaos unfolding before him. Finn was hollering with a knife in his shoulder, blood spreading across the fabric of his shirt and the sight of it, the smell, the amalgamation of metal and blood was enough to shear away the fancies and frailty of his sleep. The boy's attacker was flailing on the floor, smoking, screeching, flesh seared like a steak in some places, scorched hairless in others. Kasoria managed to prop himself up onto one elbow before the boy-
-scrambled onto his feet, staggered forward, slipped and-
-Erwinn crashed into his tumbling feet, only half-comprehending him as he tried to get the last of the flames out, bowling the boy over, Finn reaching out for something, anything-
-which happened to be Kasoria's cocked elbow, yanking him down to the floor with them. For a brief moment they writhed there, three collections of variously abused limbs and torsos, trying to figure out what was to happen next. Fates be Fucking Praised, it was Kasoria that seemed to reach a conclusion first. He'd barely had a break or two of sleep, but that seemed to have been enough. His wounds were cleaned, if not dressed. His body was slowly, painfully reknitting itself. He was trials, even seasons away from his old self... but his mind was clear.
Clear enough to snap back into those animal instincts that had served him well for so long. Enough to pin Erwinn with a gaze and-
-decide right there what to do about it.
Erwinn bellowed in outrage as the sack of bones and dried blood rolled over and atop him like a trash-smeared mannequin. He was almost to his feet and groping for his knife when the old man half-tackled him back down, hands stronger than they had any right to be gripping his own. On his back, filthy human refuse straddling him, Erwinn snarled and grabbed a handful of hip, digging his fingers into that wound-
-rewarded with a scream like a dying animal, Kasoria's head thrown back and then the scream became wet and ugly and-
Fuck it. Use what comes.
-Kasoria's head snapped back down and with an ungodly screech Erwinn's head was drenched in a boiling soup of bile, blood, stomach acid, and digested gruel that had previously resided in Kasoria's guts. His innards were battered and abused as much as the rest of him; this fresh volley of agony was all the impetus his body needed to purge the nausea he'd been nurturing for breaks. Only this was Kasoria, feeling such a way. A man who knew how to turn any advantage. So when the white hot nails and shards assailed him, fingers biting and ripping into his wound and the sickening kiss of bile bubbled at the back of his throat-
-the Raggedy Man saw an opportunity. Let out his pain until it became a gargle. Then threw his gaze back down and drenched his enemy in every foulness his stomach could spew up.
Erwinn's words were a perfect reflection of him thoughts: chaotic, panicked, disgusted, barely in control. Everything burned and stank. His nostrils, his sinuses, his eyes, under his lids, his mouth, the back of his throat. Even the pores of his skin seemed infected and cauterized by this stinking miasma, and he wasn't thinking at all about fighting back-
-unlike Kasoria, who was never one to waste an opening. He didn't even bother to wipe his puke-drooling mouth before rearing up-
-and putting as much of his upper body as he could behind a forearm to Erwinn's throat. The body snatcher's eyes bulged open, hideous and comical in his fresh mask of vacated stomach contents. He started to choke as his throat stopped working, pawing at Kasoria-
-at the thing above him with burning eyes, lips curled back so far they were practically gone, revealing snarling teeth curtained by wet, stinking hair-
There was a grunt like nothing human in this world, as Kasoria reached back again and smashed a fist into Edwinn's nose. He pulled it back and the moment his face was exposed again-
-his left came down instead, breaking what was left of that organ, smashing it deeper into Edwinn's face. The man was already passing out, eyes going fuzzy, grip loosening-
Kasoria wasn't listening. Never had listened to that word, anyway. Mayhap there was a world where Edwinn had, in fact, been protecting him from Finn. Maybe the boy was making a move on his sleeping form, settling a debt from long ago that Kasoria had almost forgotten about. But thinking wasn't his forte in that moment. He was every inch the feral thing that Finn loved remembering him as, all stinking clothes and beastly manners. Beneath and below and lesser
than him in all ways.
Every crack and smack of knuckles on bone and flesh came with a wet sound like meat being tenderized. Edwinn stopped trying to talk. Stopped twitching, after a while. Stopped doing anything after half a bit or so of steady, heavy, remorseless pounding. Kasoria's chest heaved and he gasped and gaped above the ruins of the man's face. Teeth glittered like a haphazard handful of diamonds. Something gooey that used to be an eye. The suggestion of gnawed, split, sundered lips.
Kasoria spat to the side and started to rise. Looked around and turned to Finn with a face streaked and splattered with someone else's blood and bodily fluids. Now he bothered to wipe a sleeve across his face, and get to his feet, inexorable and unkillable and-
-fell right back down and threw up again. Huh. Odd. He could have sworn he hadn't been fed enough to warrant an encore. Well, live and learn.
Too much had been taken out of him to be renewed after a few breaks sleep, and what he'd just done had robbed him of that
recovery, too. Now he was on all fours and coughing next to Edwinn's carcass, deep, sucking, wet coughs that heaved spittle and blood along with air. But he stopped long enough for the two of them to hear something above the wind. A voice. Aristocratic. Commanding. Alien and unnatural in this ragtag locale.
"Edwinn," the voice said from outside; where exactly was hard to tell. "That sounded like screaming. You do
remember what I assured you the cost
would be if any japing would be attempted, hmm?"
Another voice skittered over the air like a rat across a tin roof. Obsequious, groveling, eager to please; less a servant and more a slave. Boy and Man looked at each other in the little hut. It was the other one... and he'd come back with a friend. Kasoria expended the last screed of energy he had pulling his karambit from his back... and then collapsed onto his side, breathing with a faint whistle every time his lungs filled.
"Well... yer welcome... but s'time... fer youse... t'save me again..." Then the Old Man frowned and he shook his head as best a man covered in vomit and blood and carved open and unable to walk could manage. Uncomfortably, one might say. But he'd had a few spare trills to run back what he'd seen before his eyes, and he could not let the question lie. "An' what... what mad... cunt
... taught youse