Nathaniel Essay, Research Paper
I remember how it all started. It’s been so long now I can’t remember the when’s but I remember how as if it was branded into my mind. I was out tending the fields at the time. I was only 10 but what could I do? My father was sick someone had to do the job and my sister and mother had enough work in the house. Suddenly, I heard an odd rumbling. I looked around but the sky was clear, I’d never heard such a sound before in my life. Off in the distant a silhouette could be made out, at first small but slowly extending like one giant shadow. I squinted, trying to find out what it was coming to our small town. Suddenly I heard someone yell “it’s them! The King’s Horde!”I could hear them running some to pick up anything to fight with, others to hide. I stood there, frozen. I had heard stories of them before but never imagined they were real. An army said to be almost inhuman in strength and power, unbeatable, unmerciful, absolutely evil. I felt someone grab my arm tightly. As I look to the person I recognize my childhood sweetheart, Amanda. She pulls me to my house I can still hear her voice, full of fear yell “Nate! What are you doing do you want to get killed?” Once inside the walls shielded the sound, I ran to my father’s room. He lay there in bed, so frail, so weak, struggling to breathe. Hard to believe he once was a strong, powerful man, a man of the land. It almost seemed like he died the day he fell ill and this was just a shell without a soul. As I took his hand I heard the sound grow louder and the door crash down. I stood quickly, a man in red armor charged in, I witnessed him behead my mother and sister. Amanda slipped under him and ran off I heard her yell to me “I will find you Nate! Don’t worry about me!” Little did I know she was the least of my worries. I picked up my dad’s axe. I never could use it, he made me a smaller one but I kept that one in my room so it was all I had. I swung it clumsily and missed. Then a pain shot up my arm and as I look down among the puddle of my mom and sister’s own blood was my left hand. I screamed in pain and fell to my knees still struggling to hit him with that axe. The man red just stepped on my other hand and effortlessly held it there. I looked up at him, not with fear, or pleadingly but with hatred. He looked down at me for a moment, his whole face covered by that helmet, only his eyes visible. He raised his sword; tightly I closed my eyes awaiting the same fate as my family, unfortunately for me, that was not to be. I heard a cold unfeeling voice speak to me “You are brave, I’ll give you that. You will come with me as an apprentice.” He grabbed my hand and dragged me out of my home, I struggled, trying to get away from him but he was too strong and I was only a boy. I was tied up; my hand bound to prevent infection, and placed on a wagon to be taken to my new “home”.
His home was bigger than anything I could have imagined, a towering castle surrounded by a town and fields where workers tilled the soil, it made me think of what I had just lost. Finally the wagon stopped in front of two huge doors, slowly they opened and I was brought inside. I could see servants busily working. Once the wagon stopped one of them helped me down and took me to the castle’s doctor to have my hand treated, once that was done I was taken to my new room. I remember lying on that bed, staring at the roof, images and sounds of what had happened still running through my head. Slowly a restless sleep came over me…
I woke up the next morning to light streaming through the window. Outside I could hear birds singing and the sound of people getting to their respective jobs. I chuckled sourly, things seemed deceptively right in the world. Like the planet itself was ignorant of the collapse of my world my hopes and my happiness and the clockwork of time marched on unscathed. I was disturbed from my musings by a knock on the door. “C… Come in., I stuttered in such a childlike manner I wanted to crawl under my bed and die. A servant walked in, “Good morning. Today you start.” I looked at him uneasily; he looked like a shell, a soulless body. “Start what?” I said, a bit more emboldened by the servant’s weak appearance. “You’re training of course. Today you start as Lord Malik’s apprentice.” I stood up slowly and glanced out the window briefly looking at troops training in the art of fighting and even farther, outside the castle walls the farmers tending their fields, my thoughts drifted again to my childhood home. “Sir? Sir. You are supposed to go to breakfast immediately.” I snapped out of my thoughts and looked at him, suddenly I felt shocked by his appearance in comparison to those outside the castle. “Yes, I’m on my way. And please, call me Nathaniel.” The servant just shook his head and left quietly. I looked in the closet and found a variety of well-crafted clothes. I picked some at random and got dressed quickly. I walked out of the room to find the servant waiting. “This way.” In the darkness of the hall he almost seemed to fade into the shadows as he led me to the dining room. I entered a large room with a long table in the middle capable of sitting maybe 40 people. Over it there were two huge beautifully crafted crystal chandeliers. The tablecloth was obviously made of silk but back then I had never seen such an exquisite material. The utensils were gold and there were more than I ever knew existed. Even the plates had gold rims around them. The walls were decorated with paintings of war scenes except for the one behind the head of the table which was of a dark, unfeeling man, wearing a jeweled gold crown. He wore a large expensive looking ring with the royal seal the army that stormed my town had on their flags. I whispered under my breath “the King”. “Correct.” A familiar voice boomed. I finally noticed the man sitting at the head of the table, the one who killed my family. I charged at him, my rage deafening when my eyes beheld an amazing sight. He disappeared, into nothingness. Suddenly a flash of white and I was struck with a searing pain on the back of my head as I collapsed to the floor. I rolled on my back and looked up to see him, floating above me holding his sword up handle point down. He sheathed his sword back and let out a little half smile. “Don’t ever do that again boy. The only reason you’re alive is by my good graces. Next time I won’t go so easy.” I stood up slowly, still reeling from the impact. “Just kill me, like you did my family.” Before I knew it I was on the floor again the whole right side of my face throbbing in pain. “Make no mistake boy. Your bravery got you here, don’t think it will get you out. You love to learn to serve our King, nothing more.” I stood up again almost falling over again as I do. “Now eat, you train in one hour.” And so began my hell on earth…
It had been 2 months since my “training” started t would be more accurate to call it torture. I was getting better though. Only got beaten three or four times a day. The wounds had healed into scars; I was given a special shield I could use with my left arm so I wouldn’t be at a disadvantage. I was starting to get some respect from Lord Malik. I was out on a walk, I had finally gathered enough time without messing up to be allowed about 15 minutes outdoors and was at the fields, remembering my family. I was deep in my thoughts when a light whisper interrupted me. “Nate… Nate….” I looked around but saw no one. “Nate…. Nate….” I followed the sound of the voice until I saw a slight silhouette of a person among the crops. The figure stood quickly, “A… Amanda? You made it out of the village alive?” She laughed and hugged me. “Well I hope so or else I’d be worried about why I am here!” I laughed and hugged her tightly. “I told you I’d find you!” I laughed happily, happiness; I had forgotten what it felt like. I held her in my arms and just laughed. “Yes you did, you did!” Suddenly I heard the church bell signaling the time. “I have to go. But I’ll behave and get more time with you. We’ll meet here. Ok?” She kissed me… My first kiss, that’s when I knew I loved her, my first love… After a hasty goodbye I hurried back so I wouldn’t have my walk privileges revoked on the way there I laughed lightly at myself, I was only 10 after all. How could I know what love is? I didn’t know, but I knew I never felt for anyone what I felt for her. That night I dreamt of her. My first night since arriving in Hades’ Den that I hadn’t had nightmares. For the next four years I trained hard and played the part of the good little soldier, for her, for us. I thought I might actually be happy. Just train enough, run away with her, make a life for ourselves, it seemed so possible. But “my king” had other plans…. It happened on a cloudy day. Amanda and I had walked to a lake in a forest for a picnic. We were sitting on the shore, smiling, happy. Out of nowhere troops surrounded us, they grabbed her and took her away from me, I was taken before “my lord”. He was in the armor, the one he wore when he killed my family. He walked up to me an odd smirk on his face. “You know our King doesn’t allow us to have anyone but him, no loved ones at all. Why did you break the rule boy?” I looked up at him. “For love.” Naturally he backhanded me. “Don’t talk to me that way! Take him to the courtyard! It’s almost time!” I was pulled roughly to the courtyard where a guillotine had been set up. I was sat down in a chair by the throne where “my lord” sat shortly after. I watched in horror as Amanda was brought out, tied up, beaten, her clothes torn by whip’s lashes, she looked at me sadly and mouthed the words “I love you” before she was placed on the machine. I stood up and screamed “NOOO! Please don’t! I’ll never see her again I swear!” My response was a punch to the stomach and a shove back into my chair. I closed my eyes tightly and mouthed to her “I love you too” I heard the sound of the blade being released followed by the sound of a head falling into a basket. I was pulled of the chair and thrown into my room where I stayed, crying, all night.
Six years I spent training, learning. Burying my mind in my studies and exercises so I would not remember her or my family. I learned that the king makes his generals immortal and grants them powers, I finally understood why he was always able to hit me before I even had a chance to see it coming. At age 20 I had risen the ranks in “my lord’s” army and had gained his trust. Then on that fateful afternoon I was called to “my lord’s” presence, I was brought into a room I’ve never been to before. At the very end there was a throne, Malik was standing before it, the walls were decorated with curtain embroidered with his seal and above the throne a banner hung carrying the royal insignia. I slowly walked towards him as I got closer he stepped aside and behind him sat a man. He was oddly familiar and struggled to remember who he was until I saw the ring with the same symbol on it. The King, he wanted to see me. Malik pushed me to my knees and held me there. I looked at the king hatefully but he just smiled as if oblivious to my contempt for him. Finally he spoke “you’ve performed well in your duties. I hear you’ve become quite a fighter despite your impediment. It’s time for you to reap the benefits of your hard work.” He stood and floated over to me. I glared at him. He chuckled at me, held up his hand. It was glowing with a strange black energy. I felt him touch my shoulder and then something entered me. I felt my body filled with the odd energy and I panicked. I could not speak, or move anymore but in my mind I was screaming. I knew what was happening. I would become one of his generals. Bound by magick to his will. A glorified slave. My body trembled with the new energy as he let go of me. My mind filled with knowledge of past and present. I could see the greatest wars, I could hears the lost souls of the dead. I could hear great thinkers trying to find the meaning of life. I stood slowly and knew what had to be done, what was meant to be. Malik had lost a battle. I was to kill him and doom him to an afterlife on this earth. He was clueless of it. I chuckled. I had my chance, revenge at last. I turned to my former lord and quickly appeared behind him. I plunged my fists through his back and tore out his heart. I could see everything in the room, behind me, above me, I saw his face contort in terror, I saw him gaze at my King pitiful and mouth the words “Why my King?” He fell to the ground as I dropped his heart. He floated closer to him and said without emotion. “No one fails me.” I looked at my king. I remember asking myself why I called him that. I knew the answer though. It was his spell. I unsheathed my sword and slashed at him but as I did was paralyzed with pain, expected. I learned about this. But hope remained. He laughed and disappeared in a pillar of flame and I was alone. I kneeled by Malik’s body. I knew what to do. I cut off his left hand and placed it on my arm. The first time was so scary. I saw my wound reopen. My veins reached out to the hand as if craving it like a drug. They attached themselves to the hand’s veins and pulled it to my arm, then the skin blended seamlessly with the hand’s. I was whole again in body. But not in soul. Never in soul. I held out my hand and my former lord’s body burst into flame. I was no longer Nathaniel. I knew what name my King had chosen for me. I was Lord Keegan. I let out a pained sigh and floated over to the throne. I sat there and witness the symbols in the room change to a new one. One I knew symbolized my new name, my new identity. My new life as a general for the soulless beast who called himself a king.