Oswald the Farmer awoke to the sound of his wife’s voice.
Gruffly shaking away hours of sleepy fatigue, not to mention a horrible pain in his back, Oswald yawned. He’d been dreaming of the old days, back in Villeinville, when he was still a whole person: two arms, two legs, and a manhood that could satisfy any woman. Though he would never admit as much to anyone, he missed those days rather fiercely. That’s why he slept so much - the best times always came in dreams.
“Os? You awake? Come on, lazy, up and at ‘em.”
Grunting a few curses, Oswald opened one eye. He’d expected to see a courtyard surrounded in carts, the same thing he’d been forced to view for the past four months, and his estimation was not incorrect. He was also not surprised to see his wife, gorgeous as ever in her plain cottons and simple bonnet. What he did not expect was the sight of his son standing beside her, as dopey-looking as ever.
“Look who it is, hon!” Martha hugged Dragomir. “He’s back! He came back!”
Oswald smacked his lips, repressing any urge to greet Dragomir with kindness. Ya be nice ’n they get a fat head in no time. “Well, fuck me, look who came crawlin’ back. Get tired of those pansies in the west, boy?”
Dragomir nodded, but said nothing. The smoothness of the motion surprised Oswald; it was so unlike his gangly, uncoordinated son to display any kind of controlled movement. Dragomir was normally a mess of limbs, prone to accidents and constantly on an unerring path towards fucking everything up. It made Oswald immediately suspicious.
“Huh.” Oswald frowned. “Well, we’ve been doin’ peachy since ya fucked off. Can ya tell? Little goblin bastards took my legs. You beat the shit out of ‘em for me?”
“He did.” Martha beamed, hugging her son all the more tightly. “He was so fantastic, Os. I’m so proud. You would be too, if you’d seen ‘im.”
Dragomir shrugged. “Wasn’t that much, ma. I had help.”
“Yeah, bet you did.” Unleashing a long, unapologetic fart, Oswald shifted in his heavy restraints. The cuff around his waist had long chafed his skin, though he refused to so much as wince. “Get me outta here, will ya? I’m tired of bein’ the prettiest ol’ thing in this shitty square. I wanna have a nap in a real bed.”
Dragomir bit his lip. “Er, I’ll have to go get some help, dad. Maybe Fynn - “
The blast of noise caught all three family members off guard, though Dragomir in particular seemed to freeze up. The abrupt rigidity of his arms and legs struck Oswald as more interesting than the noise itself - though that changed when the source of the noise bounded into view, careening across the square and knocking Dragomir off his feet.
“MR. LIBBY!” the shaggy man cried, hands raised into the air. He was nude from the waist up, his torso covered in criss-crossing scars. “WHERE DO THEY SELL BOOTS HERE?! I NEEEEEED BOOOOOOOTS!”
“God DAMMIT, Traveller!” Clutching his head, Dragomir scowled fiercely at the new arrival. “I dunno! Go look for a fucking tanner! Or a shoemaker! Or… something! JUST GET OUT OF - “
It was too late, though. Traveller was already on one knee in front of Dragomir’s mother, introducing himself in grandiose fashion. Though initially tutting at the man’s weird behaviour, Martha seemed to warm to Traveller quickly, blushing a little as he roughly kissed her hand.
“You hafta introduce me to this babe, Mr. Libby!” Traveller continued kissing, though the frequency of the kisses slowed gradually. “I would love… to… actually, no, I wouldn’t wanna do that, for some reason. Why is that? Hey, I like your bonnet! Where can I buy a bonnet here?”
Dragomir attempted to drag Traveller away from his mother, but the gesture was little use. Soon Traveller had lifted Martha into the air and was swinging her around crazily, as though playing with a newly-found puppy. She squealed, cried, and laughed, demanding he put her down - but not sounding all that convincing. Dragomir battered at Traveller’s legs with his fists, face as white as a cloud.
Oswald the Farmer was a pervy man. He knew it, his wife knew it, the women he hit on really knew it… just about everybody knew it. But he loved his wife more than anything, and Oswald never took kindly to strangers manhandling his lady love. Arms or no arms, legs or no legs, he would normally resolve to beat the shit out of anyone who touched Martha in such a manner on his watch.
But… not this time. For some reason, Oswald just didn’t mind. And this odd little fact, this strange truth, perplexed him into silence. He didn’t yell at Traveller; he didn’t laugh at his wife’s jolly misfortune; he didn’t even repeat his demand to be removed from his embarrassing public pedestal. He just… watched.
Eventually, after extracting a promise from Dragomir that he’d receive a new pair of boots at the earliest convenience, Traveller set Martha down. He gave her a big hug, then, turning, he flashed his one, happy eye on Oswald.
Then he frowned.
Traveller scratched his head. “You’re… kind of a jerk, aren’t you?”
Oswald furrowed his brows. “Damned of a way to introduce yourself, ya fuckin’ hobo. Get a haircut.”
“But I like long hair. It goes with my long everything else.”
Oswald let a few beats pass. Then, smiling a little, he chortled. “Heh. That’s pretty dirty. Maybe you’re not so bad.”
“I know, right?” Traveller waved his hands in the air again. “I think I’m pretty awesome, whoever I am!”
With a bit of coaxing, Traveller snapped the restraints off of Oswald - one-handed, no less - and carried the quadruple-amputee back to his farm, his first visit to the place in months. He and Traveller bantered back and forth in crude fashion while Martha followed, laughing at their terrible jokes. They fit together with startling precision… though there always seemed to be an empty spot beside Martha. Room for one more.
Dragomir did not fill that spot. It didn’t belong to him. He followed at a distance, watching, doing his best to hold back vomit and tears.