The Highest Cypress and The Broken Knees

Vexx was always a curious kid, going here and there, examining things... Insects, objects, even the more complex devices, he wanted to know how it worked. I wonder how it would be if he could talk... Anyway, when he wasn't sure of what 'this or that' worked, the boy found a way to make clear to an adult that he wanted to know, the smart child. Sometimes he kept exchanging his look from he grown up to the object, from the object to the grown up, with an interrogative face, and one ear lower than other, specifically the left one; this was a sign that he was left-handed, it was a common thing that the lowered ear always followed the hand its owner used more. In other occasions, when he knew that it was safe to touch it, Vexx poked the thing unceasingly, it would be very monotonous if he doesn't poked as fast as a woodpecker; it was funny to see, mainly when the object sticked to his finger; the boy started to glare at the thing in a very funny way, but in the current days... If looks could kill... Eh! I'll be sure to never be a target for his glare.

Yep, Vexx was like any other child, and as any other child, once in a while he filled his mind with worries he shouldn't... 8 years old isn't age for a little boy to have such great responsibilities... He should play with other children, take naps on afternoons and smear his face's fur after eating sweets... Unfortunately, with all this babble of 'guardian's grandson', the boy started to confusingly feel an unnecessary heaviness upon his little shoulders, like if he had reached the moment to take his grandfather's function already.

Thinking that way, he began to make things to help people, from the simplest tasks to the more risky... Concerning the simplest part, it wasn't a bad idea, actually, it was good to see the boy being so helpful with others by his own will, young or elder. The risky part, however, that was the issue. Vexx didn't measure the do's and don'ts putting his life in dangerous situations which the environment offered menacingly; whetted objects, standing up on a chair, stoves or any other thing a boy like him shouldn't even get near.

On further consideration, the infant was rather smart and mature for his own age... What could simply look a way to be like his grandfather was, in fact, to try and prove to himself he could be a good guardian. Those acts were reaching its ending. Things grew awful and kept out of control, and Vexx began to perform requests away from adults' eyes.

It was a day which would change his life drastically forever, the little poor one.

The children around 8 to 12 years old were playing Gaelic Football near the cypress trees at the west corner of the village which their ancestors agreed to make it a field for the said sport, punching and kicking the ball here and there; Vexx was just watching, though. One moment, the ball was kicked rather strongly. Did I say rather? I meant really! And the ball got stuck between the branches of the highest cypress of the place. Oh, Vexx, what did you have on your mind? Climbing till the top of it to retrieve the stolen ball... One careful step at a time, always testing the branches' firmness, he went up, and up, and up, and the thick branches getting thinner, thinner, thinner. Some of the children just watched worriedly, curiously, amazed as the blue-eyed boy made his way to the round thing, while others were just waiting, bothering themselves or talking to each other.

When Vexx finally reached the correct height, however, the ball was still far from his grasp, so the kid decided to walk his way slowly through the thin branches, one holding him from below, another for him to grab from above. The kids at the cypress base drew in their breath as others simply ceased it at the scene. When Vexx felt that he couldn't force his way anymore, so he stretched himself out.

A baffled crack could barely be heard. The boy could touch the ball, but is was still too far for him to catch it properly; he tried to have a little impulse to slap it lightly, a small sound that only a situation like stretching excessively could make it came out of his mouth.

Another crack, this time it was audible. He looked back quickly to see how long the branch would endure, and gave his attention to the ball in an instant then, his ears slightly fallen in fear. The children started to call for him to retreat as they made some good space between them and the tree as some smaller twigs dropped to the ground, others called for him to come down, but he paid no mind; He was so close now. Vexx, glaring at it, gave another impulse up with his own weight once more, and let out a small growl while slapping the ball from the tree's grasp.

An unceasing howl of pain was easily listened by the nearby houses, making its residents jump in fright and run to their doors and windows.

The branch which was sustaining him yielded upon the child's weight and the forced impulses. Vexx fell along with it... Right on his knees. He was motionless, screaming and crying in pain, only holding his knees. No flesh opened, the bones were the matter.

With all the tumult surrounding him, it wasn't necessary for a child to claim for help. Kevin, whose house drew near was fast on his heels to see what happened, his brown hair and green tunic flowing with the wind and brown eyes aiming his objective. "Children, children, back off, please, back off!" He said loudly to be heard among all the uproar of children voices and people's murmur, pushing them gently as another adult came to the aid as well.

Kevin drew in his breath, his ears stretching to a rigid position at seeing it was Vexx laying there on the ground, obviously bruised. He didn't wait to take the boy on his arms the best way as possible to avoid himself from causing any bigger damage to the guardian's grandson. "Call Vargas, say that his grandson is at the healer's house, he's really hurt." He demanded to the remaining adult who nodded with its head yes, finally making his way to the place he mentioned with the boy holding his neck strongly, choking the wavy-haired man lightly.

Oh, no doubt Vexx wanted to scream for his grandfather now... But he couldn't... This should have been a monstruous agony for him.

…Already assisted and medicated by Gallagher, the local healer, Vexx was laying down on a simple bed with crossed straw frame and both mattress and pillow padded with intercalated layers of cotton sheet and hens' feathers, the furniture was located under a oaken window. Around him there was a counter with a few bottles and ceramic mortars on it, small hooks above it hanging from the wall were used to tie down bunches of herbs there. A closet was set beside the door, used to stock most part of already prepared medicaments and job tools; the floor was made of planks as well as the walls. There was a little counter leaning on the same wall as the bed's headboard, on it there was a religious altar used to protect and heal the ill or hurt ones, a pair of candles were lit for him.

The boy was still feeling much pain, the tears were coming profusely from his eyes, sobbing uncontrollably. Vexx shifted his head to see his knees bandaged heavily, his shoes on the floor next to him, his pants cut cirurgically, and then turned his head to the wall, putting his forearm upon his eyes. The pain, physical and emotionally were too much for him, that he thought he would never walk again…

Hearing murmurs behind the curtain called his attention making his ears perk, he could only hear a brief 'I'll talk to him', but that was all. Someone took the cream-colored curtain of light fabric out of the way; it was his grandfather. Looking at his grandfather waved emotions, and the child hid his bruised face between both of his arms, sobbing and mourning. Vargas knelt next to the bed, bit his lip and grabbed the base of his grandson's ear, pulling it backward and forward firmly and slowly, but not violently, Vexx's cry waved with the movement which his head followed. The elder looked sternly at his grandson, but his voice came calm, "Vexx, sit up." The boy shook his head widely a 'no', afraid to discover if he couldn't move his legs. "Vexx. Sit… up." Vargas repeated. Again, he just shook his head. "Just try it out, Vexx. Trust me." Appealed by the 'trust' matter, Vexx leaned himself on his elbows. He discovered it wasn't just his knees which were aching, some parts of his waist and up were aching together, but it was just muscular, after all he was still glad to know he could move them. He hesitated a moment in the process of sitting up, shutting his eyes tight and letting out a little grunt of pain, so his grandfather helped him placing his hand on his tiny back. Vexx looked at him with a blank expression, waiting for the scolding.

Vargas breathed deeply, thinking about where to start. His voice came serious and low, no traces of anger in it, "Now, did you see what happened today? I told you to stop doing dangerous things, right?" Vexx nodded at the question, and his relative continued, "Whatever is running through your little head, my grandson… Whatever it is, just stop thinking of it." Vargas lifted his right hand gently to let it rest on Vexx's head, caressing it gently, "You don't need to feel responsible for anything right now, you're just 8 years old. You have to play safely, do things which are safe for you, and I don't have a strong heart as before you know? You'll give me a heart attack one of these days, you little rascal." The old man chuckled as his voice was coming to normal, making his grandson bit his lip to avoid from chuckling too, "I was frightened already when one of the villagers came with the report. I don't even know what I'd do if it had been worse. Please, Vexx, promise me you'll stop with that." Vexx nodded to his grandfather, sniffing. Vargas, however, didn't let out a sigh of relief, because it had still something else to be told.

"Look… My boy…" Vargas voice started to give hints of worry, even him with all his years of living, was afraid of his grandson's reaction, "There're little things inside our bodies, right in front of our knees. They're a natural protection for them. We call these little things kneecaps, they not just protect the bones of our knees, but they keep our muscles of the leg connected as well." The old man gave a brief pause, "Gallagher said that your kneecaps got very injured after that fall. You may recover in a couple of weeks, but, it's very unlikely that you'll recover completely." When he saw the expression of wide eyes, gapped mouth and fallen ears on Vexx's face he promptly added. "But you'll be still able to walk, don't worry about that. He just gave some recommendations we'll have to follow from now on, okay?" He waited for his grandson response, and the child just nodded 'yes' again, "Everything is going to be okay, my boy." The elder placed his hand upon the boy's head, caressing it gently. Vexx bit his lower lip, the brows frowned. Vargas, knowing his grandson so well, asked deductively, "You want to cry, don't you? You've been through a lot." He said chuckling. The little one nodded a last 'yes', but this time it was wider, and the current expression gave way to squinted, watery eyes, and Vexx started to weep again, opening his arms to hug his grandpa, and the elder did the same to comfort the infant. It was everything the kid needed to let out all the feeling of fright he felt moments ago, it was normal.

Now, with his 22 years old, Vexx has his kneecaps recovered and walks normally, some time ago he had to stop and sit at times for they started to hurt slightly, and he couldn't do excessive movements, but he began to stop less and he endures exercises for a larger period nowadays since he got those strange Gauntlets, but he still needs to keep an eye on his knees.

You listen to this old entity's words:

Sometimes people just hear or learn their lesson when the very thing really happens… Feel glad when those near to you just learn at the first time or who knows maybe even hear your warning, because there are lots of people who don't. And be sure that you'll be among those to listen too.