Young Arrigo Covi never dreamed in eleven years of life that he would want to leave Goshen, at least at first. Arrigo's mother had a voice of a birdsong, reminding him of the black capped cidmiths in the winter that would perch in the old park near Gristman Square. Her melodies were soothing and sometimes when she sang or hummed a tune she would gently run her fingers through his hair, usually putting him to sleep. He loved her for this and many other things.
Arrigo's father was a temperamental man, prone to fits of shouting. He worked at the docks in the Horseshoe District of the city. It was a hard job, Arrigo's mum told him with her soft green eyes; she pleaded with the boy to be quiet and let father yell. While yelling at his mother, Arrigo tried to leave the kitchen, but his father would yell at him to stay and 'Listen to what I have to tell your mother.' Your father is stern with us because he loves us, she would say in her birdsong voice. But his father would be angry with him because Arrigo would never stand up to the other children that hurt him.
Even among humanity's children can be found the cruelest of souls. At school Arrigo was derided for being small and quiet. Folco and Eryk especially would catcall him, calling him mongrelboy (named after the elusive mongrelfolk that supposedly dwelled in the sewers beneath the city) and other names. It was the bigger boys Tadei and Bekter that had fists like hammers, feet like rocks. They left his eyes black and his legs bruised.
Arrigo feared retaliating, there was something about violence that felt so terrible, it was like tasting soap when he was caught swearing. But the boys kept beating him, and Arrigo's father kept shouting. Arrigo's anger, humiliation and frustration was a sickness. It was a stomach ache, it was a black, cold fire in his mind, threatening to burn out his soul. When the namecalling became too much, Arrigo would scream and cry, shrieking like he was being burned alive. The teacher at school would remove him from the play yard during recess, leaving him sobbing in the corner of the classroom.
The occasional outbursts at school kept Arrigo's cold fire at bay. His father would reignite it at home, encouraging him to solve the humiliation with a fist. Arrigo didn't like his hands as hammers, he used his hands to draw with the charcoal sticks in the classroom. He would draw the far away Mareskod Mountains or the strange stalagmites of the Golden Caverns just outside Goshen. As he drew, he tried to feel he was actually in these places, looking at the great snow covered peaks of the mountains or being blinded from the brilliance of the fabled luminium crystals. His father couldn't understand, and the screaming came on and on, like rain in a thunderstorm.
During the summers, the children would swim in the river near the Spire of Bones. The children were oblivious to the artefact's dire reputation. Arrigo was able to hold his breath the longest due to repeated dunkings by Tadei. Once even Bekter convinced Tadei to let Arrigo up for air for fear of drowning; the name tadpole's bastard was added to the list of epithets thrown the boy's way.
The black fire was building within Arrigo, and when he saw a trio of kittens sipping water from a cistern in the alley behind Hinter Street, it burned him at last. He grabbed one of the small, mewing youngsters, the white and black one, caressing its fur. His right hand crept up its neck, fingers gently tapping as they went. The fingers wrapped around the kittens neck, slowly Arrigo squeezed. The kitten's mews became wheezes, there was a crunch, the kitten hit the cobblestones with a wet sounding thump. Arrigo picked up another; two lay dead before his fire was spent.
Arrigo cried aloud that night for the first time in a long while, even his mother's singing couldn't calm his shattered soul. He couldn't tell her what he had done, his introspective revelations accenting his wracked cries. His father came in then, beating Arrigo into silence. “Since you're too lazy to speak to us about what's making you cry I'll give you cause to weep boy!” After the boy quieted down, muffling his sobs with his pillow, he daydreamed of floating down the Cefron River, legs hanging lazily over a river barge, watching the waters flow past Old Grimy Kneebones Bridge. No tormentors or dead kittens were there to haunt him. He slept peacefully. Arrigo awoke to another day of harassment, continuing into nightfall, his father once again screaming at his mother in the kitchen.
Black capped cidminth- small bird very similar to our modern black capped chicadee