When the group of Non refugees approached The Baron about creating their own village, he’d gently rebuffed the idea for some time. It had seemed a foolish notion, as they risked discovery and execution at the hands of Kierkegaard, the grand dictator. The Non had followed him anyway, and, eventually, he’d given in.
When The Baron found the valley and determined it to be an excellent hiding place, he’d felt a faint sparkle of enthusiasm for the idea of a village. He suddenly understood how someone so low on the food chain as Dragomir could want to create a settlement of his own. The parallel in their two roles made The Baron feel a little closer to his former subordinate, and that made him glad.
When The Baron helped lay down the foundation of the first house in the village, a house the rest of the Non insisted be his, he’d enjoyed the pain of exertion. Despite wandering the world for a millennium he’d not engaged in intense physical labour that often, and the pain from hammering nails and sawing logs felt good on his flabby arms. For the first time, he loved the idea of a village.
And when The Baron felt the harsh pinch of bristling werewolf fur through his cloak, irritating the skin beneath, he knew that his village was finished. He grieved for his people before fretting for himself, and that, he realized, meant that his soul was not wholly beyond redemption. Though the thing pinning him to his chair and holding him aloft would argue otherwise.
“Dr… Driscol,” The Baron grunted, struggling to speak through an absence of breath. “I… ah… he sent… you… you guys…?”
“Sure did, boss,” Cedric said to The Baron’s right, his husky voice flat but satisfied. “Be happy he wants ya back. Or not. Take it either way. Doesn’t matter a fuck to us.”
The chair dropped, but Freak did not relinquish its grip on The Baron, and soon he was pressed hard into its grotesque form, dangling against two of the thing’s four legs. Driscol’s hot breath warmed the top of The Baron’s bald head, and The Baron wondered if the man hated him enough to try and gnaw through his skull.
Eve watched, passively seated. Her expression didn’t crack once.
She saw him coming, The Baron thought. She must have. She was watching the rear of the cabin. She knew they’d come in while I was away… she watched them sneak up on my chair… and she didn’t say a damned thing.
“Stand up,” Bernard barked, though his voice trembled. “Or we rip ‘im apart.”
Eve remained seated, unflinching, eyes now on Bernard. She seldom blinked.
“Uh…” Bernard quavered, the temporary bravado in his country boy tone instantly breaking. “Please?”
“She doesn’t give a fuck ‘bout you, Bernard, so shut up,” Cedric said dryly. “Bet she’ll follow us all the same, though, if we try ’t leave. Ain’t that right, kid?”
No response. Eve’s eyes flicked to Cedric, but she didn’t move from her chair until Freak was slowly edging out of sight, towards the bedroom. So deprived of breath that he was virtually unable to speak, The Baron noticed with dulled anger that Freak had torn a hole in his bedroom wall to get into the cabin.
No wonder it’s so cold in here, he thought, vision faltering. Or maybe that’s the lack of blood to my brain. It could be either. My god, I can’t even begin to use my powers…
Stepping noisily out into the leaves behind The Baron’s cabin, the man himself shuddering painfully in the thing’s grip, Freak weaved clumsily through the pines and back into the forest. The Baron wasn’t aware of any conversation in the meantime, but since his consciousness kept fading in and out, he realized he wasn’t the best judge of such things. Wondering how Freak had quietly ripped a hole in his home’s wall kept The Baron’s fading faculties preoccupied enough.
Eve followed, nimble, light, and almost soundless. She held a parcel, tucked tightly beneath one arm.
A half hour later - or an hour, or two, or ten, or, hell, maybe a day, The Baron couldn’t really tell - Freak finally released its grip on The Baron. He spilled out onto the ground, gulping in lungfuls of air, head buzzing with pain. He coughed and gagged, vomiting up his dull breakfast at a pair of massive Non feet. Something above him tittered, amused, and he recognized the laugh well enough.
“H… h… hell… hello… Em… Em…” The Baron tried to choke out a strong greeting, but he couldn’t manage it.
The laughter rose, almost a shriek. “Kick him, Blue, kick him!”
The Baron tried to raise his head, but his vision was immediately eclipsed by rubbery force as something enormous booted him in the side. He knew it was a relatively gentle attack, given the Non’s mass, but he howled and rolled regardless, smacking hard into a half-buried, mossy log. The Baron clutched at his sides and his back, his rear arms stinging with the pain of the collision.
“Tie him up!” the tittering voice commanded. “And snap his fingers! So long as he can issue no commands, we are in no immediate danger! I want her peaceful on the trip back to clear ground!”
The Baron attempted to resist, but his body was wracked with too much pain. The sensation only intensified as, one by one, Freak broke each of his fingers. It was a slow, excruciating process, and he passed out after the third snap.
By the time the first of the Non villagers awoke, called to consciousness by the faint screams of her elder, the forest surrounding the village was already on fire.