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Oh, Worm? (Or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Gravedigger)

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Your name is Charun Krojib, and you’re in love with a decompositionist.

Also known as a gravedigger.

You first saw him out in the pastures just beyond Skylla’s hoofbeast ranch. Overalls, gloves, that was it. Digging something, not related to gardening as you do, because he dug on infertile soil. Everywhere he seemed to walk, there was a sheer lack of life.

Being an olive blood, you’re on the higher end of the lowblood spectrum, but still a lowblood—-and the digging troll you watched that morning outside Skylla’s ranch was a lowblood too.

Olive. Rust.

He’s quiet and looks his part in the dead ends of the pasture. He’s much taller than he looked out in the distance; you’re used to short rustbloods. However he doesn’t really indimitate you, he doesn’t even pay attention when you walk towards him, stuck in a loop of digging holes and not really doing much else.

“What ya doing?”

You hope you didn’t spook him. On the contrary, he slowly looks at you and blinks.

He has the saddest face of any troll you’d seen in your six sweeps. His eyes alone told an entire story of their own—dark and tired-looking, filled with perhaps sweeps of grueling and depressing work, whatever he did. Did he even sleep?

“I’m digging. Obviously.”

Even his voice is sad. Now you just feel bad for him. You look away from his face and scour the ground. The dirt under your feet is as dry and dead as his voice is. How morbidly fitting.

“What are you digging? This soil isn’t suitable for plant life. I would know, I’m a gardener.”

The rustblood starts to smile, to your surprise. His large, blunt buck teeth seem to take over his bottom lip and creates a slight lisp in his speech.

Somehow, you find that cute.

He smiles, “Oh, my job doesn’t involve life. It involves the dead,” he points over to a pile you had evidently overlooked earlier—-a stinky, dark pile of whatever the hell it was.

Suddenly, you come to a dreadful realization. Maybe you found yourself in the wrong place at the wrong time, but there was no way such a sad looking troll could do any harm.

“I bury the dead.”

You blink, not believing what you hear, “I’m sorry, what?”

Trolls don’t bury their dead. At least not normally. It’s considered a waste of time, it’s easier to leave them out in the open, cheaper, et cetera. You never really paid attention to that stuff as a gardener. Your job is bringing plant matter to life, not dealing with the dead.

The rustblood sighs, but his mood doesn’t falter, “Yeah. I know it’s not common practice. But, you see, I feel that there has to be something to do other than leave dead bodies around. Not only do they look gross and smell bad, but it feels disrespectful to me.”

You don’t agree, but nod anyway to let him continue.

“Anyway,” he drops his shovel and starts walking towards the pile of corpses that he evidently collected, “some of these have been rotting for weeks. Sometimes I bury just the bones, too.”

You follow him with hesistation, pulling up your bandana to cover your mouth and nose. You’re not even sure if you could stomach dead bodies, so how could he?

Amazingly, he looks around and picks up one of the corpses without any moment of pause, and starts walking towards the hole he made.

You don’t even want to begin describing the stench and appearance of the corpse, you can only wonder how the troll handles this, and how he doesn’t get horribly sick from it.

He starts the burial, putting dirt atop the corpse until it’s completely obscured, and he marks the mound with a small grave.

“To this goldblood whose name we don’t know, but whose friends may remember,” he says.

“You go through all that? And you don’t...feel icky about it?”

He wipes off some rot on his overalls and shrugs, “You said you were a gardener, yeah? I don’t think it’s so different from digging up plants and such. Or pulling out weeds. It just involves other trolls instead.”

Well, you do eat worms, so you can’t exactly judge him on that comparison. Even though you clean the worms beforehand.

You still think he’s kind of cute even after what you just saw. Something about his demeanor. You sit and watch as he continues burying the corpses, and by the end of the night he’s done.

You want to know more about him.

“I want to know more about you.”

He smiles at you—-damn it, what an inviting smile he has—-and introduces himself as Fozzer Velyes.

“I’m Charun. Last name Krojib. I’m a gardener and a bit of an artist. I just find things and tack them on to make art.”

“I’d like to see your art. All I really do is dig, carry, and bury. I’ve gotten used to it. Tedious, but what else can I do?”

You think about what other jobs Fozzer could possibly have. He’s nothing like the Diemen, the oblong meat product vendor. Too tall, too lanky and haggard looking to be Diemen.

Maybe like Tyzias, even though she is somewhat beyond your reach in terms of caste. Tired, gives off a dark energy, but can be nice. Except Tyzias has a sarcastic and judging attitude to her.

He couldn’t even be a gardener if he is all about death. A gardener works to bring life to their plants, and to support other life forms including trolls. That’s your job. The only thing you do with the dead is weeding out weeds and dead plants.

“You could...teach?”

Maybe not, but you really don’t have other ideas.

He chuckles, “Teach what? About the stages of decomposition, maybe. That’s all I really know. To bury corpses. I’ve been doing it for a long time.”

There is an awkward silence before you ask him another question, “And where do you live? I’m sure you have a hive, even if it’s a cave like mine.”

“I usually just wander. Sometimes I set up a little shack like the one over there,” he points towards a makeshift hive, “—and stay for a couple days before moving on.”

You like the way he sets up his plans.

“And what do you eat? I won’t judge, I mean, I eat worms.”

“I just take whatever I can get. I’ll go into town and grab one of those oblong meat products. You know, the little rustblood who sells them. He’s pretty charming.”

“You know Diemen?”

“Ah, I don’t know too many people unless they’ve left a mark on me. I probably know more about the dead than the living.”

That makes you think, you want to see his face better. You want to ask what makes him so sad, even if the answer is obvious.

Or you let him answer it to you on his own. It’s late and you would have to head back home, but you want to know even more about Fozzer. He’s that captivating.

Next thing you know, the two of you are in a little shack with a recuperacoon, a heater, a carpet, and not much else.

You are resting by the carpet floor, inadvertently you lean towards him as he fiddled around with some twine.

He’s really not good looking by any standards,
even troll standards. But he is, to you, cute. You have no idea why you think that.

Greasy, slick black hair, eyes deeply set in his face, worn out features, and a sad smile. You ignore the fact he doesn’t have eyebrows. Those buck teeth. You have a slight underbite, so you understand how it feels to have prominent teeth. He smells bad. Does he ever wash?

Meanwhile, you’ve been called quite attractive by others. Funny how it works that way. But looks don’t entirely matter, you think. It would be easy for someone to assume Fozzer as being a creep or such, when in reality he’s a damn decent person.

A much better person than Amisia, that’s for sure.

“I talk to the dead, too. It’s not as fun as it sounds. It sort of...sucks away at your soul sometimes. The dead are miserable.”

You understand now. Those eyes have communicated with agonized spirits of the dead. It makes sense now.

“I try to make them less miserable by giving them proper burials. Other trolls think I’m scary, a freak, and creepy. My face might look frightening, but I’m not a bad guy. I’m glad you looked past that.”

“You’re welcome,” you say, lost in his eyes already.

“I like you, Charun. You’re one of the few to really pay attention to me. Not many do. Some throw rocks at me.”

“...I like you too, Fozzer.”

Your name is Charun Krojib. You’re in love with Fozzer Velyes