The Pain- Eater: Part II

An Espresso Tale


Accipiter G. Goshawk

If you want to read the first part of this story, click here!

The next to come in was an older man, as large as an oak, and built like a brick house. He said nothing, but just sat down, and faced the Eater, staring at him.

“Let us begin then, shall we?”

The other didn’t answer, but shrugged and closed his eyes.

Distorted images…long …long…when…

“Jimmy! Come on, the Master is waiting!”

He looked at the person calling and shrugged, as he had countless times before.

“I won’t be coming,” he said grumpily, as he stared down at his fishing pole and the fly bobbing lazily in the water. “I don’t need anything that old grey-beard can give me.”

The girl behind him stuck out her tongue and left, but he paid her no mind. She would be back again tomorrow and then maybe he’d go along to the schoolhouse.

She never did.

But it didn’t matter: in the end, his life still turned out as he’d planned it. After a few false starts, he set up his own sawmill and woodworking shop, and within a few years he was the most successful artisan on this side of the Ijoford. People would come from miles around to see his carved wooden statues, and he never wanted for money again.

He didn’t regret not returning to school.

The Eater winced in pain as the bitter emotion washed over him, along with the old man’s alcohol-laden breath. As the man stood, the Eater looked him up and down, noting the signs of a harsh existence: worn shoes, torn trousers…the trappings of a beggar.

“Thank you sir,” the giant mumbled, and lumbered out, leaving the Eater wishing he’d made better choices, and that he could just put down the bottle.

A farmer came in next, guilt written all over his features.

“Will-will it hurt, master?” he asked worriedly, eyeing the Eater’s long pale fingers.

“No, not in the slightest,” he said, not mentioning that any pain was for him alone.

“And…will…that is, if you were to…ahem, obtain some information that I wouldn’t want revealed…,” the other man gabbled, his agitation causing the chair to rock.

The Eater frowned.

“I took an oath never to reveal, nor use, what I find within the minds of others. Before I take your pain from you however, I would encourage you to reconsider and possibly own up to-”

“No! No I won’t. Take it from me master, take it all” he exclaimed, his eyes bloodshot and watery.

He was walking home.

It was late and the moon wasn’t out, but he knew the path like the back of his hand and there was little to fear.

Ahead of him he spotted Garn, wandering drunkenly back to his shack, the bastard still flushed with the satisfaction of having fleeced him yet again.

“He cheats, I’m sure of it,” he muttered under his breath, creeping closer.

His hand found his knife, and as Garn stopped to lean against a tree, he snuck up behind him.

Then, he though better about it.

“What’s a little coin between friends, eh?” he thought to himself, sheathing his knife.

That night, he walked home with Garn, their friendship restored, even as they walked through the murky puddles together.

Puddles that looked almost like blood.

Guilt gripped him and he shivered at the thought of being hanged for murder. He shook himself and stared at the farmer opposite him, at his long knife and his heavy purse.

“Thank you kindly master! I’ve forgotten it all!” he crowed happily, jumping up and doing a little jig.

“Glad to have been of service,” murmured the Eater has he stared at the murderer’s receding back.-

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