A lost boy

It is hard to be a little-minded boy in a big bovine body.

Bless his heart, Kraytol is one of the more challenging students at Uxfram primary school. Not because he possesses a mean spirit or an apathy toward learning; rather, his cranium (along with the rest of him) simply grew far faster than his brain. It is a rare pupil who cannot manage to pass through the first proper level, but that was Kraytol’s fate. I managed to get him to buy into the ruse that he was specially chosen to stay back the next year as my helper, a post for which the more compliant calves all volunteered eagerly.

Come to think of it, that may have been the first time he was chosen for something special in his whole life. Unfortunately, I suspect it may have been the last time too.

This next year, his classmates that advanced to the second grade have tormented him mercilessly during free play periods. They chant, “Cow! Cow! You’re a cow!” Kraytol never understands why everyone thought that was so funny. He doesn’t recognize that they are calling him a domesticated girl, as he seems unable to grasp that “cow” is a slang term that outsiders use disparagingly to refer to the female members of our species. As if there is no difference between us and a four-legged ruminant that eats only vegetation and cannot appreciate the savor of a good porkburger.

His denseness fails to endear him to any of the students. The ones above him see him as an object of ridicule. The ones below him seem to view him as almost a cautionary tale – a warning to heed their studies, lest they end up like him. Kraytol ends up playing alone in an isolated corner of the yard. Not even his brothers come to his aid; indeed, they go along with the jeering their own peers levy at the “stupid cow.”

Fortunately for them, Kraytol is always too far away to ever hear his brothers’ taunts.

Kraytol always thought the reason his brothers remained distant from him – both at school and at home – was that they were so much older than he was. Kraytol is now 7, and his brother Ehltor is four years (and five levels) more advanced. The eldest brother, Dohkal, is about to pass out of Uxfram with six years of life more than Kraytol. Both are merely average pupils, but compared to their younger brother, they might as well be geniuses. They have circles of friends that intermingle, and Kraytol looks up to his comparatively intellectual and socially gifted siblings, though they rarely deign to look down at him.

However, their blood runs like their mother’s rather than hot and large like their father’s, which makes today’s incident all the more embarrassing for them, I fear. It seems to be the fate of those of the old blood to have bodies whose capacities far outstrip their minds, and Kraytol is the most shining example of this that I have seen. Even as a youngling, his stature matches that of Dohkal, though his muscles make him a more formidable presence. It is a challenge to find seats that will fit him in the instruction room, and the sight of one so large sitting with peers so small only adds to the perception of Kraytol’s intellectual debility.

Nevertheless, the boy is fiercely protective of those he considers his friends, which at this point is basically limited to his brothers. He saw them being taunted by three minotaurs in Dohkal’s class after the close of instruction. These antagonistic minotaurs were pushing around his brothers mercilessly in a ring of fur, colliding Dohkal and Ehltor into each other, then taunting them when they fell down.

At that moment, Kraytol’s nostrils flared, and he charged toward the ring. Before they knew what hit them, Kraytol had thrown his shoulder into the ringleader, knocking both him and his left-hand lackey to the ground with Kraytol lying atop the leader. Kraytol viciously pummeled the leader he had so surprised, creating a hairline fracture of the leader’s muzzle before instructors arrived to pull Kraytol off. With each punch, the lackey’s head and body were driven into the dirt through the leader’s skull, rendering him helpless. The third minotaur was so aghast at this display that he ran off before the instructors arrived, terrified at what would happen should Kraytol catch his scent.

It took three instructors just to dislodge Kraytol from the pile and another two to subdue him. All the while, he screamed, “No hurt Dok! No hurt Elt!” He cared nothing for his own safety; no, he rushed headlong to protect those he loves. And he did so in a way that ensured the tormentors would be incapacitated as effectively as possible. Though this boy is slow to acquire knowledge, there is something in him that is able to put together the meager shreds of facts he acquires into a greater whole.

Perhaps the two-week detention he incurred for his wrath will be a good thing for him, as I have assigned him to my care specifically and solely. Though I have rarely felt compelled to take such a poor student under my horns, he has a good heart that needs nurturing. I want him to keep his noble intentions and not become like the bullies he put in their place. Even after all the ostracism he has endured, I believe this boy is capable of great things.

Nonetheless, I fear for the orcs that cross his path once he matures.

Uvana Prexcruw, First Level Instructor

A lost boy

Mindosia Puldren