Kick! Kick! “Wake up, ya damn Bockin!” Another kick dented the fine silver chest plate the man on the floor wore.
The downed man coughed as he tried to catch his breath. He looked up, green eyes flashing with rage at his mistreatment. “Release me!” The bockin demanded. He hissed in anger up at the human who so disrespected him.
“Ain’t gonna happen. Stand up.” The man tapped a wand at his belt, and the bockin snarled, but he rose to his feet. “Time for your inspection, creature. Puff your chest out and be nice, or the pain won’t stop for a year.” The human snorted. “What’s your name?”
Caught off-guard, the bockin answered before he realized the word slipped from his mouth. “Alatrev.”
“Alatrev. It’ll do.” The human entered the cell and clapped irons onto Alatrev’s wrist and neck. By the time the bockin noticed and began to growl, he was already restrained, and the human snapped a chain lead to the thick shackle about Alatrev’s neck.
Once secured, the human led Alatrev from his cell and down several winding halls to a bare room with a hole-riddled ceiling and a drain in the floor. There, the man attached the chain firmly to a hook in the ceiling before he left.
Alone, Alatrev looked around the room. He was surrounded by mirrors. His hand was restrained, and could not move more than a single hand’s length from his neck. Alatrev felt vulnerable. Uneasiness and worry slowly became irritation, and Alatrev’s once-still tail began to flicker and twitch. The tufted tip danced behind Alatrev’s legs, touching the floor only rarely as it stirred up the thin layer of dry dirt on the floor.
Eventually, the bockin began to feel an ache in his legs. He tried to walk in tiny circles, only to trip over himself. He was tired, hungry, and his feet ached in their metal armor. Alatrev snorted and continued to stand.
He was surprised to open his eyes to a man in a plain, white robe hemmed with a simple red band. The man held a candle in front of Alatrev’s eyes briefly, then moved to the bockin’s side to inspect an ear. “Overtired.” he grumbled unhappily as he peered into the long, pointed ear with a grunt. He walked behind Alatrev and began to run his hands across the bockin’s shoulders, back, arm, and shoulders. Expert eyes inspected Alatrev’s hair. “Has anyone brushed your hair for you since you arrived?”
Alatrev snorted. “Those that did learned that my tail is a weapon.”
This simple answer shocked Alatrev. The strange doctor began to deftly remove the silver breast plate, greaves, and boots. Each was set aside carefully, and Alatrev was left in his white long-backed tunic, black belt, and grey hose.
“I’m going to touch your tail. Don’t attack me with it while I’m checking for injuries.” the doctor warned. His words shocked Alatrev back to reality, and the bockin nodded slowly. The hand on his tail was gentle, but held on firmly. If the doctor had used this sort of touch anywhere else on Alatrev’s body, the bockin would have enjoyed himself. This was his tail, however. Even with the gentle touch, and the verbal reassurance, Alatrev remained tense.
“Just hurry with it. I don’t like my tail touched.”
“Almost done.” The doctor slid his hand down the short-furred length, then slowly brushed off the longer end tuft. “All done.” He released the tail. “I need to check your horns. Lean your head forward as far as you can without choking yourself.”
With a sigh, Alatrev inclined his head and waited. Unlike his tail, his horns were hard and nonsensitive. He could barely feel the doctor’s hands as the human felt their curved and spiraled lengths. His eyes slid shut as he waited. The doctor, at least, didn’t seem so horrible as the rest of the local humans.
“This will hurt for a moment. I am about to inject you with something that will help prevent disease.” The doctor’s voice sounded bored, as though this was a regular occurrence. He walked away and pulled a drawer from the wall. He carried three glass tubes, each with a needle and plunger, and each tube was filled with strange liquid. “Don’t worry. This is prevention for disease, and won’t hurt you.” he repeated as he slowly and carefully slid one of the needles into Alatrev’s wrist and slowly pushed the plunger.
Alatrev inhaled slowly. He stared at the needle inside his flesh, and his lips curled back. “I don’t like this, doctor.” he spat.
“Nobody does. You’re going somewhere that has lots of new diseases, and I would like it very much if you didn’t get sick and die there.” The doctor quickly finished the first, and began the second. Alatrev’s veins began to feel too full.
“It feels strange.”
“I know.” There was silence as the doctor finished the third and final injection. “There. That’s all.” The man looked the bockin. “Does anything ail you, save your treatment up until now?”
Alatrev thought for a moment. “No. What is your name? I would know the name of the first person who did not treat me as refuse.”
The doctor scratched his head. “I’m not allowed to share any personal information while on the job. It’s no use for you to know, besides.” He shook his head. “We’ll not meet again, unless fate is very unkind to you.”
A derisive snort was the reply. “Why is that, huh?” Alatrev stuck his jaw out stubbornly. “Why?”
“Because if you see me again, it will mean you escaped, were captured again, and I will be ordered to give you the fatal three flowers.” The doctor’s tone was emotionless, but his face was not, for the briefest moment.
“You don’t like doing that.” The horned man accused.
The doctor looked up and shrugged, expression stoic once more. “Nobody but a monster would.”
“You will tell me your name now, and I will tell you mine.”
“You already told the guard.”
“I told him only one name, of little importance.”
With a sigh, the doctor thought for a few moments. “That’s right. Names are highly important in your culture, aren’t they? Each person earns a new one as they reach milestones and achievements in life. You likely told him a less important one that has little meaning to you.”
Alatrev nodded. “Of course. I would not allow him to speak any useful name of mine.”
The doctor smiled and tilted his head thoughtfully. “The sun is bright and very dangerous, but has an even hand, and the careful remains prepared.”
“Ah. The dark can be safely wielded by those who are not useless. Stand firm, holder.”
“A powerful name.”
From the other side of a mirror, another doctor frowned. “Gabe, what the hell are you doing?”