Rudi's Story 07 - Where Rudi Struggles with Ethics and Morality

Hunched at the opening of his tent, Rudi picked at his dinner, tossing the odd bit to both his new raven friend and Thlayli the wolf. The days had gone from damp and chill to warm and dry though the clouds still lingered. He chewed his lower lip when he wasn’t eating the bits of boar, turning over recent events in his mind, trying to look at them from a different perspective. His time with the party hadn’t gone the way he’d dreamed it would when he was young and stabbing at hay bales. They were far from the group of dangerous and dashing adventurers he pictured he would be with when he was younger. Instead they were a disparate, rag tag group of adventurers that seemed to barely get along. And with each encounter, things were getting more confused, and more complicated. But he was a long way from the farm and New Dawn Valley. Hiding wasn’t an option. “You obviously don’t know him, but there was this kid, right?” He addressed the two animals, the trustees of his past. They looked back at him, one twitching and tilting it’s head spastically, the other laying down and staring expectantly. He wasn’t looking for an answer, but talking out loud helped him work these situations out. Who else did he have? “His name was Devin, and he was the only one around smaller than me. Well, not smaller because he was a human still, but you know. He was always sick, and scrawny, and only came out when he wasn’t having one of his spells. That left only me most the time.” He ground his boot heel into the ground as he dredged the memory back to the surface. “This one day, there I was, talking to the cows because they’re the only ones that listened most days. I looked one way, and saw Devin coming one way. I looked the other, and there was stupid Raf and his stupid friends coming the other way. I know I’ve mentioned Raf before, he was that bully that that picked on everyone else in town. He left to become an adventurer a couple months before I did, actually. Hopefully he just got eaten by a stupid big tick.” He spit as he thought about his gap toothed, pimply face, trying to get the sudden bad taste out of his mouth.

“I did the only thing I could to protect myself: I turned to Devin, and started making fun of him shambling down the road like some sorta zombie wearing that big, goofy straw hat. I mean, it was hard at first, because obviously he didn’t like it. But by the time I got to imitating him it got easier to ignore him crying, his lip trembling, and trying to walk away.” He spit on the ground again, the bad taste getting worse for some reason. “The others thought it was great, and honestly, I did too. Because they were on my side, and it was like I was one of them. But then I couldn’t think of anything else, and they stopped laughing, so I hit him. He fell over, and his hat flew off, and I made a big jump and landed on top of it. Crushed it flat.” His appetite was gone, so he threw the rest of the meat to Thlayli.
“Bad! Rudi! Bad!" The raven crowed, and Rudi glared. The raven was rooting around where Thlayli had snatched up the last bit of meet, scratching at the ground with one of his or her talons. He didn’t know where it had come from, or why it had attached itself to him, but he could feel a growing connection between them.
“I mean, I might have taken it all a bit far, but what else could I’ve done? I didn’t want to get totally pounded anyways.” He stared up at the cloudy, dusk sky as he thought about the question, but brushed it off before he answered. He hadn’t thought about this in awhile, not since he stopped blaming Devin for all the trouble he’d gotten into because of it. He regretted even thinking about it now, but he still had time before his watch with Hydrastis and kept on. “Raf thought it was hilarious, at least at first. He stilled punched me. Just once, enough to make me fall right in front of Devin’s pale, crying face. Then he kicked dirt in our faces and everything got all blurry, and he was gone.I stumbled home, away from Devin’s wailing and towards home where I could wash out my eyes. My father was already mad about me shirking my chores, and was even madder when Devin’s father came around and hit him, then my father hit me, and then doubled my chores.”
“Rudi! Food!" The raven cawed.
“You ate enough, you pig. I wonder if you could even fly again after all that.” He said, but his heart wasn’t in it. “My father blamed Barril and Lessys for everything you know. Saying I was spending too much time running off to learn useless shit like fighting, when I should be learning to farm. He said they were filling my head with nonsense, and he’d set it straight on my shoulders, or break my neck trying. He was always a turd like that. Me? I blamed Devin and Raf. If both of them had just buggered off and stayed away from me, none of it would’ve happened.”
The silence stretched on, with both animals getting impatient now that the food had run out. He could hear the commotion in the camp picking up since dinner had finished, and they’d all set about their nightly routines. Cassius’ whetstone, the soft neighing of the horses hobbled on a patch of grass with his stallion looking over them.
“If you want your wounds cleaned then get the fuck over here!” Glod shouted, and soon after could hear Pirec’s yelps as Glod redressed the Thylacine wounds.
“My socks, sir, can you please tend to them?” Faderean pleaded, and could hear Sear groan. It was weird. not the butler asking the sorcerer to clean his socks regularly with a cantrip. More that he’d gotten used to all of it, that it was feeling normal.
“I finally managed to sneak off to see them again, and I thought I was going to learn something incredible since it’d been a month away. Maybe some new moves with the trident. Or some fun magic fact. Instead all they did was lecture me. ‘You can’t go around picking on people weaker than you Rudi,’ Barril said. ‘You’re stronger than you think, Rudi, you need to use that strength to protect, not harm,” Lessys said. “Rudi, we know taking the right path can often be the harder one, but the other often leads to isolation and ruin,’ and blah blah blah. They said that that was probably the most important lesson of all and to ‘get on home.’ I thought it was some load of bullshit. No one else thought that way in town. I mean, my father always said if it wasn’t nailed down, people would walk away with it soon as you weren’t looking. Then he’d go and steal tools, seed, whatever from the neighbors. Or Raf and his friends, how they’d always pick on me. That’s how it is. Or was, right?” Hydrastis was the first to prove him wrong, then Cassius. He was picking up on different things as he went, that maybe it wasn’t all bad. And maybe he should have hit Raf instead. It couldn’t have ended that much worse for him then it usually did, and then he wouldn’t feel this way.
“So anyways, to make a long story short, Devin died. So it doesn’t matter. It’s hard to stay mad at someone who’s dead I guess. And eventually Raf left to go adventuring. And really I’m not there anymore either. But this is kind of like that, right? Giving the kobold’s a chance to fit in? Saving the trapped thylacine?” The two animals looked at him, waiting for more food before filtering away, and leaving him with his thoughts.
I thought I’d do whatever it took to get rich, he thought. But then he found out being robbed was pretty awful. Plus, living this way I’ve already seen more gold then I’ve ever seen in my life.
Then there were the kobolds. They were stupid, but what was wrong with Mikmek splashing around in the reflecting pool and eating all the fish? Or wild animals running around and getting wild? It’s not like they were hurting anyone.
He went back to when he was seriously hurt by Tickleback almost eating him, and thought it was pretty terrible. I wasn’t scared. Obviously. No, but I mean, it hurt like hell, and I didn’t want to be eaten.
So why shouldn’t we kill the wolves or the Thylacines? They were trying to eat Faderean, Pirec and the others. Then he thought about how he’d act in a cage, and he’d probably be pretty riled and desperate too, especially when it looks like dinner starts raining from the sky. What’s wrong wild animals running around and getting wild? It’s not like they were hurting anyone, they just wanted out. And Thlayli was unconscious, why kill something that’s not so bad when we don’t have to, right? Still, it didn’t sit right with him. They killed the mites when they were unconscious that one time, so what made them different…?
Well, for starters, they were nasty, and all of them were trying to kill us from the start…
“Rudi! Our watch begins.” Hydrastis called behind him. He grabbed his trident stabbing the ground and hoisting himself to his feet. He paused, asking himself one last question. Why shouldn’t we help Abagabub or whatever his name is with the evil Baguurt frog men like we did with the sootscales? What’s the worst that could happen, they turn on us? He walked towards the heart of the camp, where his friend stood and grinned. Well, we’ll kill them first, and then we can at least say we tried.

Rudi's Story 07 - Where Rudi Struggles with Ethics and Morality

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