The Boy in the Ward
The day a certain boy came to the care of the Order of Paladia, a group dedicated to protecting humanity from the horrors that lurked in their collective shadow.
Well, he was more like dragged in really, by a senior hunter named Guillaume Tremaine. He had a mark on his cheek, suggesting the man had struck him.
I looked over the boy, he was with dark hair tied back with a mid-blue ribbon, sharp brown eyes, and dressed in a rather smart-looking blue suit, suggesting he’d been raised with wealth, and was clearly in a state of shock.
“What is this Guillaume?” I asked.
“The vampire we were sent after had this kid with her, he seems to think that she was his mother.”
“She was my mother you murderer!” He growled, earning another backhand from Guillaume.
“She was a monster, and monsters cannot have children!” he barked. "And if I didn't kill her, who knows how many would be consumed by her bloodlust!"
“Guillaume! I will not have you treating a child like this in front of me! Now let him go!” I said, not backing down from the man's gaze, it was something I always had, when I was dealing with children, I just found this urge in me to protect them.
“Fine, get him assessed and a file written up so we can do something about him until then!” he growled at me, releasing the child and leaving the room.
I sighed, Guilaume was an ambitious man, of that I had no doubt, but the way he handled those he perceived as in the way of said ambitions was always far too harsh, all I could do was let out a pained sigh and turn towards the boy. He was certainly handsome, somewhere between five and seven from the look of him, with long dark hair tied back with a mid-blue ribbon and brown eyes that didn't seem to hold the innocence that they should have, I couldn't help but feel bad for him, he seemed to have gone through too much already.
"What's your name?"
He was silent as I took out a salve for the bruise Guillaume had given him on the way.
"I suppose I should introduce myself first huh? My name is Sofia Renaldo, I'm one of the nurses here."
"... Damian, Damian Blake."
"Damian, I'm sorry for Guillaume, he's got his heart in the right place, he cares about people, but he's also rather cold." I said, applying the salve to his cheek before cleaning my hands in the water bowl near my desk. "Come, sit, I need to ask you a few questions so we can take some notes.""All right."
He was surprisingly eloquent for a boy his age. He gave his birthday, that he was six, soon to be seven, and was very patient when I assessed his health. He was in very good shape.
However, after I tucked him in to try and get him to rest, he started crying out in his sleep, waking up with tears in his eyes. From what he had said in his dreams, I realised the problem.
"You watched the whole thing didn't you? What Guillaume did."
Unable to speak, he just nodded, which made my heart break, even though I knew vampires to do horrible things, even when you least expected it, that was something that made me angry. No child deserved to see it, and from what I could tell, he had developed a geuine bond with the woman.
"I'll make sure that Guillaume is reprimanded for not taking you into account, don't you worry." I said, it wouldn't take long to write this report up and send it to the head of Guillaume's squad. He was right that the dead couldn't bring life into the world, but the fact that the child watched the vampire perish at such a tender age was against our rules within the Order. Our job was to protect, not destroy the mental health of the next generation.
For two weeks, he wouldn't leave my side, beyond perhaps sleeping in one of the beds in the hospital wings while I worked. "Mama says the only strangers I am allowed to trust are people who help the sick and policemen unless she or Papa introduce me." he said, though it didn't explain why he was staying with me specifically, but I didn't mind, I found myself rather protective of him.
At the end of those two weeks, a man with a striking resemblance to him arrived, dressed in finery complete with a cane.
"Oh my." Tears welled in the man's eyes as he approached the bed, "My son, I finally found you."
Damian looked bewildered, but with nothing more than a sad smile, he reached out to show the ring on his finger. The boy, eyes wide, pulled out a medallion from under his shirt. The crests were a match.
"I'm sorry, I let your mother down and darkness took advantage of that. They turned her and in her madness she took you with them when you were but a boy, I'm so glad you're safe."
Damian looked as if he wasn't sure what he wanted to say.
"My apologies sir, but I think that your wife is well and truly gone, if it is indeed the woman Damian here called Mother, he was killed before his very eyes." I told him.
The man looked shocked, "When it was explained to me vampires were real, I braced myself for this, but for it to happen with my son watching... that is too cruel," he said, before looking to the boy, "My son, you're a good boy at heart, so I'll give you a choice, you can come home with me, and we can rebuild what was lost, or you can stay here, to learn how to be strong as these brave men and women are, and defend women and children from such horrors when you become a man."
Damian's mouth opened and closed several times, as if something was going through his mind and he didn't know what to say. After a long while, he eventually spoke, "If that is what Papa wants me to do, then I shall stay and grow strong to protect people."
I smiled, such a sweet answer.
"Such a good child you are, I promise, we will never lose touch again, I'll write often and visit whenever work allows." he said, before giving a bow to me, "Miss, I thank you for looking after my son in the light of what has happened. I hear he has been difficult in recent weeks, but hopefully he'll come around."
"Oh he was more of a trouble for anyone but the nurses," I said with a bit of a nervous chuckle, "I just hope he could join the other children soon, I'm sure some new friends will be a great help."
"Indeed, make friends son, learn hard, and I'm sure you'll have a great future ahead."
"All right Papa."
It would be another week, and a lot of socialisation, before Damian Blake left our ward, ready to take the long, arduous road to becoming a huntsman. I was on shift the day that he was told he was going to his own room, turning to face me he gave a smile, "Thank you for everything Nurse Sofia, I promise to visit!" before heading out the door.