The golden-haired boy looked with wide eyes as he stood amongst new faces in an open field in the forest of Nihmakhtur. His pure green eyes had never seen faces that did not belong in his village and he had always felt safe with them for they were always cheery and full of life and forever welcoming.
But as he stood there, these new faces brought out a certain fear inside of him. He had never seen a terrifying face as Boro’s before. Boro’s vile intentions seeped through his eyes as he looked at the boy from head to toe and snorted with disgust on seeing a creature he had heard were filthy and lived on the other side of the forest river.
“Boro! Look I made a new friend in the forest.” Jerarld’s eyes sparkled.
His words gave the little boy some comfort.
“You should’ve left it where you found it Jerarld.” spat Boro.
Jerarld was a bit confused at Boro’s choice of words. “He’s not an animal Boro.”
Boro mocked a laugh and his huge body vibrated in sync with his laughter.
“Oh you innocent fool. This is what you get for living inside books all day long and rarely going out. You don’t even know there are creatures like him existing in this world. He’s from the other side of the river, boy and he and his filth belongs there.”
The green eyes looked at the faces around him laughing. But for the first time in his life, the laughter of others made his heart weak. He was scared.
“Say boy, did the animals send you here to spread the diseases you carry or were you fascinated by the people roaming here, huh?” mocked Boro as he towered upon the little one.
“I just wanted to look at the plants in the forest. I wanted to make a friend.” the green eyes turned moist as his soft voice cracked.
Boro pushed him with such force that the little boy was thrown back a great distance. Fortunately, he landed on a patch of dense grass that provided him a soft landing.
The little boy was petrified, not knowing what to do. He could not understand why this old boy was angry at him.
Boro picked him up by the collar and hissed, “You lot should have paid for the sins of your forefathers by drowning in that river you scum. My great grandfathers would have given a feast in the heavens.”
The little boy’s heart felt like bursting into little pieces any minute. His eyes were blurred with tears as a loud whimper left his soul.
“I just wanted to look at the plants.”
Boro kicked that little boy and told his tiny henchmen to do the same. Jerarld stood there in a state of shock not knowing what to do. “B-Boro, what did he do? W-why are we beating him?”
Boro signalled Jerarld to join in as he ran out of breath. “Let’s just say he was born on the wrong side of the tree. Now come on, be a man once in your life and kick it.”
Jerarld had heard about people on the wrong side of the tree in his books where they depicted them with ugly faces and gruesome bodies, equal to a monstrosity. But the little boy lying in dirt, wounded and helpless looked nowhere near those pictures. He looked nothing but pure and perfect.
“Do it Jerarld. Your mother is manlier than you for God’s sake.” Boro roared.
Jerarld moved hestantly in the boy’s direction with a guilty look in his eyes. The green eyes pleaded him for mercy as he apologised. “I’m sorry. But Boro says you’re from the other side of the tree.”
Saying that, Jerarld raised his hand to punch him when the confused green eyes shut tightly and the little boy shouted for mercy. “I just wanted to watch that plant.”
And the very next moment, the forest roared and quaked, making them forget the golden-haired brat in front of them as they feared for their lives.
The town boys looked at each other in confusion as a pair of glistening golden eyes walked towards them from the shadows. The first one to notice them was Furgeson, who wet his pants as soon as he laid eyes on the wild beast lurking in the darkness of the forest.
“Now, now boys. Looks like you barked on the wrong side of the tree. The forest has no intention of sparing you for this.” came a voice from the opposite side and the world around them fell silent.