Libby O'Malley had lived alone in Cambry since the death of her husband Mitchell many years before. It was with some surprise, then, that she observed a baby in a basket
on her porch
, as these sorts of things are not usually left to old widows
. She studied the basket and its oddly noiseless occupant for some time before picking up the bundle and carrying it into the house. What an odd gift
, she thought, searching the baby's swaddling for a note of some sort, didn't foundlings
usually come with some sort of note explicating their names and origins? She found nothing but an unhealthy looking baby boy with wide, blue eyes. In fact, she was so taken with his eyes that she almost failed to notice his tail and stubby horns
. Gwythyr be damned
, she thought, a tiefling baby!
Well, Libby had always wanted a child to raise and call her own, but with Mitchell long dead, she hadn't thought it very likely. Here was her chance; perhaps not an ideal first child, this part demon thing, but her child nonetheless, she supposed. It had been a day, and there hadn't been a sound from the child, and Libby worried that there might be something amiss with his hearing, but he seemed to absorb the whole of his environment despite his stillness. With great expectations for his intelligence, and great hopes for his future, she dubbed him Padraig.
Padraig O'Malley was raised as Libby's own son, and she told her neighbours that he had been the child of her unfortunately late young niece. She expended no small effort hiding his semi-demonic appearance from her neighbours in the village. The last thing she needed was half of Cambry deciding that she had been consorting with fiends. Years passed in this fashion, with Padraig growing older, stronger, and taller; wiser and healthier. Libby was pleased to have his company as she got on in years, and his help in the fields was immeasurable. Surely a woman of her age would not have been able to do the work this young man could do. He took up painting in the evenings, sitting out upon the fences and creating fantastic scenes of things that might be, somewhere in the world. Libby had never seen places and people such as Padraig created in charcoal and ochre, and she hung the best of them in their small home, letting the images ease her mind when she was concerned, for surely a world that could create scenes like this could not be all bad, and hence, neither could her little fiendling. Sometimes she still worried that someday that heritage would start to show in more noticeable ways -- ways that wouldn't be disguised by clever clothing.
As Padraig grew into manhood, there were no indications that he would manifest fiendish behaviours, although discord seemed to follow in his wake. It wasn't particularly his fault, insofar as there wasn't a damned thing he could do to fix it, and so he let it be, content to paint in the evening air and ignore the giggling girls from the village who would gather to watch him work. Despite his moderately odd manner of dress, Padraig was a very handsome young man, and even at this late date, retained the hypnotic gaze that had so inspired his foster mother. The village girls thought that he would be the ideal sort of boy to bring home to their parents, and eventually marry. Each and one, they fantasized about living in Libby's quaint little house with this wonderful example of charm, breeding, and talent. Somehow, they never noticed that Padraig's only comments to them were that he was not ideal, they blocked his light, and that they should all pike off because he didn't like walking all the way back to the house to pay his repects to good Saint John.
Padraig went on in this fashion for quite some time, always keeping his back to the girls who tempted him nearly into madness. It wasn't that he didn't like the attention, or that he didn't like the girls -- Gwythyr knows, Padraig loved girls -- but he had to drive them away, or they would lead him not only into temptation, but very likely his own death. If they only knew, he thought, they'd run screaming to the council to have me stoned. The girls knew none of this, and suspected he would marry after Libby had breathed her last; perhaps it was true.
There is only so much abuse the human body can endure in one lifetime, and at last Libby was laid to her final rest. Padraig had her buried in Cambry's lone cemetary, alongside generations of other O'Malleys, and returned to the house in a black humour. He no longer had Libby's honour to concern him, if he chose to reveal his nature, but he did not want to tarnish her reputation. In his misery at the cemetary, he had nearly rent his clothes and wept, but his tail kept him from a proper display of grief. Would it always be like this? Was it possible that the village of Cambry knew his heart well enough to overlook his appearance? Gwythyr be damned if Padraig knew the answer. He would put on a stew, he decided, and take a good, long nap. Or so he thought, when he heard a knock at the door. It was not the timorous knock of a fellow mourner, it was brash, bold and almost ... joyful. A traveller perhaps? Padraig wasn't sure he could handle a wanderer at this point, never mind a band of them, but the chaos awoke in his breast, and thrust into the discordant ripple, he opened the door...