The butler, old yet strong, carried the weight of his religion alone. In years’ time, the writings, stories, scars, will die with him. But, for now, he “enjoys” the company of his child charge, a runt of an eight-year-old Boy child with the soul of someone much older in His tiny body.
The butler watched the small Boy run ahead, bare feet kicking up sand and dust as they left a town, carrying small jewels, donated trinkets, and a few small sacks of gold as thanks for the tiny Boy gracing their streets. The old man shifted the heavy bags on his shoulder and picked up his tired walk into a brisk pace, trying to keep up with the Boy.
For nearly 40 years, the butler kept watch over the Boy, never have seen Him grow an inch taller over time. The Boy looked back at the old man and stopped when they were miles away from the town.
“HOY! Hurry up, ya old bastard! I’m thirsty!”
The old man sneered and rolled his eyes but heeded the command, turning his brisk walk into a jog. The Child walked up to him as the butler dropped one of the bags, tiny arm digging deep into the sack, bottles clanking and clinking against each other before He pulled out a small bottle, full of dark red liquid inside.
The Boy pulled the cork out of the bottle and took a deep swig, gasping for air ten seconds later, the bottle nearly depleted.
“I’m so glad you hurried it up, those bandits have been after us since we left town.”
“I heard them, Your Holiness.”
“I really wish you’d stop calling me th–“
The sound of a dozen horses made their way to their ears as a cloud of dust came up behind them over the horizon. The child wiped his mouth, handing the bottle to the butler.
“You may finish the bottle after I win this battle. Hand me my headpiece,” the small boy said with the voice of a king who had seen his 100th battle, hand out to his yeoman.
The butler stared at the hand in awe, the tiny hand casting an aura of elder majesty that only a man such as he would be able to see and understand. The Holiness he stood near made his heart sore with pride, as He was the one that chose this old man to watch over Him during the last of his days, his religious beliefs moving on to anything and nothing in the Void that awaited him, that hovered around Him.
The butler snapped out of his star-stuckness when an arrow whispered past his ear. He dropped the other bag he had, pulling out a large, polished fossil of a triceratops skull. It was decorated with scorch marks, deep scratches, and old blood. The butler handed the heavy thing over to the Boy with two hands. The Boy took it easily with one, carefully placing His head in the skull, eyes peeking out through a gap between the ancient front teeth.
The alcohol made His toes wiggles, His fingers twitch as His dark eyes turned into the Void, the thing that started his life to just merge with His in death. As the many stars and galaxies shifted around in His eyes, the butler fell to his knees and wept as he remembered.
He remembered the blood on the stairs to the monastery he called home. He remembered the faces of his murdered brothers, mouths open, dying once more as the rain drowned them. He remembered seeing the eyes of the Void, staring back at him, telling him of the betrayal his brothers had done in the name of the Void, how he was now blessed and cursed with being the only one to hold onto to this knowledge until death He remembered floating in the blackness of the Void, feeling Her fingers against his throat as She choked him, as She left the mark of isolation on his neck.
He clawed at his neck through his tears, watching the Boy grow into His headpiece. With each hoof that pressed into the ground, the Boy grew taller and wider, His frail body turning into something of unchecked strength and bravado. It seemed that way, anyway. The Boy still stood small and frail but the ancient god that lived in that body, stood larger than life, towering over the now frightened horses. They threw off their riders and ran off in any direction away from the annoyed God that stood before them.
Light on His feet, the boy charged towards the riders, screaming into the skull that stayed steady on His head. As He slid to a halt, He tossed the skull in front, goring one of the riders through the chest with one of the horns. The aura swept its giant hand across the back of one of the riders, sending them flying through the air. The last rider was frozen, staring at the Boy as He pulled the skull out of their companion with ease. The Boy moved His eyes towards the rider, the Void staring back. The rider took in their last breath of air before their soul slowly leaked out of their mouth as if they were drooling. The Child stepped towards the dead, pulling the soul out of the rider’s mouth, the grey worm thrashing about before going still. The Boy lifted the worm above His head and opened His mouth, long fingers of inky blackness reaching up from His belly and snatching the worm before disappearing back into His throat. He pulled the soul from the rider with the hole in their chest, tossing it into a small vial on His hip.
As the Boy turned back to the butler, He smiled at him, the butler praying in the language that only he knew.
“I told you, I’d–“
An arrow soared into the butler’s chest, the last breath escaping his lips, the last tear falling onto his cheek. The Boy turned around, the rider He had slapped limping towards Him, notching another arrow.
Rage washed over the Boy, the usual Void that sparkled in His eyes turned into a haze of red of He started to chant the words He had heard the butler say before. After 40 years, He knew all 245 chants that the old man sang and hummed. He knew all the meanings and phrases that the crotchety old man would say when he was angry. He knew just what to say to rip the head off the rider’s body with one word.
The Boy walked over to the twitching head, watching the brown soul wriggling its way out of the raw throat of the rider before stepping on it repeatedly. The Boy screamed and cried. He kicked the head as if it were a child’s ball, damning the Void inside of Him for breaking their deal. He could hear Her laugh. He walked over to the butler, still kneeling in prayer, in servitude to Him, eyes wide open but staring at nothing. The Boy sniffled and started to sob once more, wailing like the child He was, losing the guardian He thought He was guarding. The Boy sat across from him and finished the prayer the butler had started. As the last phrase left His lips, the butler started to glow, a blue light spreading over him like fire. The Boy stared in awe, tears once again falling down his face.
The wind picked up as the blue glow left the butler’s body, turning the physical being into ash. The light hovered over the Boy, dancing between His fingers and limbs before thrusting itself into His heart. The Boy grunted and choked, clutching his chest with His hands before collapsing onto the ground. The Boy’s body started to twitch and toss itself about before the tiny chest exploded, gore raining down from the heaves as the Man stood in the corpse of the Boy. He looked at His hands, looked at His legs. After 40 years, He had finally grown. He dug through their former stuff, finding clothes that only the butler could fit and finding them comfortable.
He looked back at the mess of His growth, fixing the heavy bags on His shoulders and carrying on His journey, holding His guardian’s knowledge and faith as He promised the Void, carrying His own skull with His free hand.