Status: this is an INCOMPLETE FIRST DRAFT, and has only undergone minor edits. if something seems weird just leave it be


The Leg

Pulling the supply carts was difficult and grueling work that left your hands red and raw for days after. Mobreigh had known what he had signed up for, everyone in the entire expedition got a turn on the carts unless they were literally a kid. He believed the cutoff for it was thirteen.
He’d missed it by two years, so he gripped one of the wooden rods that stuck out of the side of the cart and pushed with all his might as he walked. There were five others pushing with him, two in front of him, and the other three on the other side of the cart. At least all six of them were straining together. At least Mobreigh wasn’t the only one who was sweating bullets from the hard work. Out of the six, only two were grown men. One was a woman Mobreigh didn’t recognize, though he’d heard she was in charge of something around here. The other two were just kids like him.
And they all heaved, the cart trundling along over the rough forest floor. Mobreigh wasn’t even sure he’d gotten used to the dirt yet. It acted strange under his soles, squishing down. He felt like he was going to sink into it any minute now.
The cart stopped dead, pitching Mobreigh forward over his bar. One of the wheels had gotten stuck on something sticking out of the ground. The woman in front of him bent down, trying to pull the wheel over, and cursed. They’d have to dig up whatever it was that was stopping it. She sighed and called for a halt, stopping the other wagons to make sure they wouldn’t go on without them.
They’d have to dig with their bare hands. Mobreigh knelt down under the cart itself, as he was the only one small enough to fit there. Something vaguely L-shaped and wooden jutted out of the ground, and had firmly hooked on to the wheel. He dug his hands into the earth prying the dry dirt away from the piece of wood. It had obviously been polished once, but years of enduring the weather and the natural order of decay had worn its surface down and dried it out.
He hit the bend of the L, and continued on. It went past his reach, and he stuck a hand out from under the cart, signaling someone to help him. One of the girls from the other side of the cart knelt down, bending to see him under the cart.
She had reddish brown hair cut short and round brown eyes. Mobreigh thought he could see some freckles on her face. “What’s going on?” she asked.
Her voice was annoyingly high. Mobreigh ground his teeth. “It’s bigger than I thought. I need you to help me dig,” he said, gesturing to where his reach had ended. The piece of wood was still firmly lodged in the ground.
The girl frowned, but did as he said, gingerly picking through the dirt and rocks. It took her longer than Mobreigh had hoped to get going. He figured it would be best to leave her alone and return to digging out the heel of the L, which still sat at least an inch deep. When he had it unconvered, he finally realized what it was.
“It’s a leg!” he said, startled.
“What? Ew!” someone said. But not the girl digging next to him. Her reaction seemed quite the opposite, in fact. Her eyes lit up, her hands moved faster. Mobreigh thought he heard her mutter something to herself.
“It’s wooden,” he called out to whoever had exclaimed earlier. “A mannequin or something.”
“No,” the girl said, shaking her head. “Who would bury a mannequin out here? It’s a prosthetic.”
That made sense. And sure enough, after another short time of digging, the girl uncovered a set of leather straps, or rather what remained of them. The earth had done a good job of rotting them away. A few more handfuls of dirt, and she hit a bone. Now that the entire length of the leg was exposed, she started to work downwards, trying to clear away enough dirt so Mobreigh could pull the thing free.
And eventually he did. It was hard work, and he’d hit his head, but the leg came loose from the ground in his aching hands. He crawled out from under the cart, the clunky leg still held firmly in his hand. After he had straightened up and tried in vain to brush some of the dirt from his clothes, he set the leg down on the ground beside him. The girl took a look at it, apparently fascinated.
“Lord, how tall was this guy?” she asked, mostly to herself.
Mobreigh had no idea what she meant. “What do you mean?” he asked her.
“See here,” she started in that terribly high voice of hers. “This prosthetic doesn’t have a knee joint, which means the wearer’s knee was still intact. Assuming that, this means whatever remained of his lower leg rested in here,” she said, indicating a hollow, uneven socket at the top. It even had a bit of old, dirty cloth stuffed in it. Mobreigh knew little about these things but he assumed it would’ve cushioned the fit a little bit.
“And that means this guy was huge,” the girl finished. She was right. Considering it was a leg only from the knee down, it definitely reached far above Mobreigh’s own.
What kind of monster of a guy had this been? He’d certainly seen some shit, for sure. But seeing that length gave Mobreigh an idea. “Can I- can I keep this?” he asked no one in particular. The adults shrugged their consent. The girl gave him a rueful look as if she’d wanted to ask for it herself, but well, Mobreigh had gotten there first.
Sucks to suck.
He opened his backpack and shoved it in as far as he could. It was far too long for it, and it looked comical having a wooden foot sticking out of his bag, but it would work for now. Until he had a decent sling devised for it.
Mobreigh was now far more heavily armed than he had been.
Or, well. Legged, he supposed. It felt good.
But all good feelings must come to an end, he thought grimly as he reassumed his position to pull the cart. The woman in front of him called the all clear for the others to start moving again as well, and they began pushing again with all their might. Mobreigh thought he could muster more than before.