Yet another installment to the tale of Oscambria. I’ve got a few more goodies (like last week’s map) related to the story to post up for some other time. If you’ve missed any of the previous Cantos click here. Enjoy.
Oscambria stood outside the leprous lands of Athins,
The place reserved for the sick and disgusting,
The outcast sons of the city.
He could see them all together,
In their own community,
And he felt a stab of pain in his heart,
A yearning to return to society.
Yet he knew in his soul that even he would not be welcomed
In their sickly dwelling places.
It’s one thing to be a leper,
But it’s quite another to be cursed.
To be cursed is to be utterly cast of from humanity,
Or at least those with any reasonable sense and a nose
Would shun the cursed.
As the sun slowly moved across the sky
Oscambria made his time by exercising.
“As a destined Hero,” said he to himself,
“I should make sure that I am fit and shapely.
I shall not wax lazy and sluggard,
But I shall instead form muscle
Enough to stay attractive, even if I’m greyed.”
And so the Hero spent his day lifting rocks and stones,
Carrying them from wheree’er he found them
To a pile someone had started and never finished.
All day, beneath the grueling sun,
Oscambria moved the stones.
He grew hungry,
But he had no food to quench himself.
So on he continued,
Even after the sun rested under the horizon,
Into the night.
The pile of rocks grew steadily,
One stone at a time,
Until they began to topple and roll down on themselves,
Which was when Oscambria decided to spread them out a bit.
The moon rose high,
Its silver and white glow bright between the Twin Planets.
Weary and exhausted,
The Hero rested on a pile of the rocks
And turned his face toward the leper colony.
He could smell a meal roasting.
He watched the wretched men dance in the glows of their fire.
He gazed up at the two planets,
Gastron, Planet of the Gods,
large, magnificent, and full of swirling colors;
and Hubus, Planet of the Dead,
smaller, pale and silvery with a tint of blue,
like the moon but only larger,
and his mind wandered.
He rubbed his aching muscles,
Trying to ignore the pain of hunger.
He began humming a tune—
“Oh Mary, Mary, Why’re You So Hairy?”
—to try and drown out rumbles from within.
Soon he was in a miserable mood, sleepy, sore, hungry,
And worst of all, alone.
The fires of the leper colony were burning low
When the Hero spied a lone wagon leaving the city
And bearing towards him.
“At last,” said he, “they come for me.”
The familiar vehicle arrived soon,
Moving stealthily through the dark,
With Koesan at the reins and Columbus by her side.
A flutter of joy sprang to his heart when he saw them,
Followed immediately by a bout of self-awareness,
Knowing full well that his stink from a day’s work
And his curse would surely affect the traders.
He wouldn’t have been surprised if they sped past him,
Leaving him stranded and open-mouthed,
But they slowed and stopped.
Koesan hopped down from the wagon and nodded to Oscambria.
In the white light of the moon
She looked made of alabaster,
Carved perfectly by a master builder’s skilled hands.
Her dark hair was up in a tight, compact style,
Held together with a band of reflective jewels,
Yet they did not compare to the alluring glint in her eyes.
“I have what you asked for,” she said quietly,
speaking through a folded cloth that covered her nose and mouth,
and moving closer to the Hero.
He winced, knowing the curse had to be awful for her.
He did not blame her for trying to block out the odor.
She tossed a bundle of clothes to him,
Turning her back to him and continuing to speak.
“Go ahead and change. I’ll not peek.”
Feeling slightly uncomfortable but awkwardly thrilled at the same time.
As a famed performer of the stage,
Skilled at acting and playing with emotions,
He’d seduced many women,
Bedding them and leaving them,
But never had he been put on the spot with a woman literally of his dreams.
“The shoes and the rat are in the wagon with Arca.
We’re on our way to Bransustopoles to pick up some more stuff
And then we’ll be heading back to Sparka.
If you’d like, you can travel with us.
The roads are usually safe,
But having more in a party looks better.
What say you?”
Oscambria’s heart flickered,
Once again excited to be spending more time with Koesan.
He was also pretty excited to have on clothes
that no longer smelled like a dead and bloodied hog.
“I say I’d love to travel,
but I don’t understand how you all haven’t left me.”
“I don’t either,” she said flatly. “Are you finished yet?”
“Aye,” said he, pitching the soiled rags onto a pile of rocks.
“Good, cause we’ve got a lot of road to cover.
Bransustopoles should take us several days.
You can ride in the wagon.”
She led him to the cart,
Which was covered for the night,
And he jumped in.
Mossossopia squealed in part delight, part horror,
When she first caught site of her master.
The galleyrat wasn’t an uncommon pet in those days,
Perhaps a bit exotic for Athins, but still familiar throughout the lands,
But Mossossopia was very large for her age.
It looked like a cross between a rat, a coyote, and a possum,
And full grown would be slightly smaller than an adult wolf.
Still relatively young, the creature looked mostly like an overly hairy rat.
“C’mere Mossy,” said the Hero,
unable to keep the excitement from his voice.
Arca shot him a glare but he didn’t mind.
With trepidation and coaxing, the animal eventually scurried over to the Hero,
Leaping up into his outstretched hands
And sniffing weakly at his hideous smell.
Arca pulled out some cloth and tied it about his face,
Not saying a word.
Frankly, he was surprised Mossy was letting him pet her,
But galleyrats have a very weak sense of smell.
The wagon started moving,
And once again Athins disappeared behind the Hero.