The scar on his cheek burned like a fiery brand each time he stepped outside the protection of a building or the shadowed narrowness of an alley. As he passed folks in the street or negotiated the jostling crowds in the marketplace, he kept his own gaze fixed ahead of him, but he couldn't help but catch, from the corner of his eye, how the casually amiable glances from his new neighbours caught on the cross cut into the flesh beneath his right eye. Then, inevitably, their eyes averted, cutting away sharply to the ground or the side, to anywhere and anything in hope of not attracting his attention.
Bodies turned from him with the faces, shoulders hunching in a physical recoil he could never not see. People drew in on themselves, stepping aside or back to give him unwanted, unneeded space. If a child were in his path, it would be drawn quickly away, hidden behind adults stiff with unease who pretended not to notice him as he pretended not to feel their tangible fear.
While he always walked amongst them with empty hands, it was as though he were brandishing the executioner's sword, blood dripping from it onto the cobblestones to mark the path behind him with a vivid red trail.
With each glance that froze on his face before the inevitable recoil, the instinctive flinch, the cross felt newborn. Pain flared as though Annora the Witch were marking him anew each time for all to know him. The sun itself seemed to dance on his bare skin, its rays pricking fire hotter than the knife's edge that had cut him. He'd learnt quickly not to try to meet any stranger's eyes in this new home of his, but he couldn't escape the tension that stank of revulsion dogging his steps. Each glance seemed to flay the skin from the scar and leave it newly raw; a drop of sweat on his face felt like blood rolling from his eye.
Muscles relaxing, stiffness seeping away, he sighed as Toran's tongue trailed across his cheek towards his waiting mouth, feeling whole again and himself, Wilkin Brattle: man, friend, mourner, lover.
Not Gawain Maddox, God's Punisher, the dealer of death.