Sep. 14, 2017
After a few days Diero stumbled into his room to get some rest and caught a glimpse of himself in the reflection in an empty bottle. His face was barely recognizable; covered with stubble an growth, eyes almost swollen shut and blood smeared here and there form cuts in his forehead and eyebrows. He reached for the bottle but his numb fingers knocked it to the ground, leaving a smear of blood that obscured the reflection. With a heavy sigh he collapsed into bed.
The following morning Diero woke with a start as cold liquid splashed into his face. He spat and sputtered for a moment, rubbing his face and trying to figure out what was going on. As the shock wore off his cuts and eyes began to burn with a fury. He moaned and groped around the bed with his eyes shut, looking for something to wipe his face off with as the pain intensified. The cuts burned more fiercely by the second and his eyes hurt so badly he couldn’t open them.
“Who’s there?” he pleaded, still trying to dry his eyes. “What did you do to me?” A second splash hit his face and the burning increased ten-fold, forcing him to emit a scream.
“Next time I sneak in here unnoticed, you’ll be dead.” The whisper came directly next to his ear and he recognized his mentor’s voice immediately. A third splash hit his face and the burning left, leaving Diero to whimper in his bed until he could open his eyes again. From that day on he slept less soundly, always on edge and listening for any type of movement. Most nights he would place something in front of the doors and windows that would make noise if they were opened, a vase here, some ball bearings there. One morning around two the vase toppled over and he shot out of bed, holding the knife. ‘Good,’ his mentor whispered from the hallway as he shut the door and silently walked away.
The weeks passed and Diero’s strength returned, his skills had improved dramatically and the beatings were less common and less severe. His face returned to a recognizable state and his fingers became deft and nimble like they had been before. His confidence was mounting though he remained cautious, knowing his mentor could yank the rug out from under him at any moment.
“It’s time, again.” He told him one morning as they drank their breakfast ale. “This time, we do it together.” He stood up from the table abruptly and left the tavern. Diero dropped some coins on the table and scrambled to keep up. “Lets start with someone your size, this time. I know just the fellow.” The two turned down a darkened alley towards the center of town.