That’s what the man said.
Momma started weeping. He came over and handed me dad’s sword. He said “your father fought bravely son. He died with honor!”
He died. The man said it so calmly. I don’t understand. It’s been 3 days since that man was here. Momma’s just been drinking and crying. I told momma I was hungry but she just looked right through me. “Momma please?” I said. She saw me this time. Her face twisted. She got angry and shouted “Go away!” and slapped my face. I’m sorry momma, I thought as I went to my bed and lay down.
“Go away! You’re just a burden!” She shouted as she struck me again. I fell down. “I’m sorry momma! I just wanted to help.” She sat down and started to drink and sob. “You look just like your father. By the gods why do you have to look like your father.” I was slinking back to bed. Why does it matter if I look like daddy? It’s not my fault. I’m sorry momma I didn’t mean to upset you again, I thought as I drifted into troubled sleep.
“Momma! Momma! Look!” I shouted holding up the bread and meat the butcher had given me. He said he heard about daddy and that I could work sweeping his shop for some food. Momma just got mad again. She swatted the food out of my hands and hit me again. “Why couldn’t you get more booze! Something good we’re almost out of it!” I felt the tears burning my eyes. “Oh you’re crying now!? Not when you find out your father died but when I yell at you!?” She kicked me on the floor. “I’m sorry momma! I’m sorry, I’ll do better!” “Get out!” She cried. I ran from the house. I ran far away.
I don’t remember how long I ran but it was night before I stopped. I was on the edge of Vandregon land. I found an alley to sleep in that night. I wept again. It was cold. I was hungry. I had a fitful night’s sleep. I woke with the sun. I decided to leave the kingdom. I wanted away from her and their memories. I fought the tears for so long, but it was futile and the tears came. I wept and I walked.
It was night again before I stopped walking. I had just reached our neighboring kingdom. I recognized the colors. Blue and green. I slept in another alley. More hunger and another fitful night. I woke with the sun again. I still felt too close. I walked again. I walked until I reached the coast. I needed food. I begged and begged different shops to let me work for food when finally an old man said he would feed me if I would help him unload some shipping vessels. I eagerly agreed. I worked with him for several years. It was the week after my tenth birthday. A ship pulled into the docks. I had seen it a couple times before but usually when it docked my master told me to go inside, but this time he told me to stay.
I saw a man get off the ship with such an air about him that only meant he must have been the captain. No one on the docks would look him in the eye and everyone tried to avoid him, except for my master. He greeted the captain with a hearty smile and a great handshake. “Bart! By the gods it’s been forever since you’ve pulled into port! How have your travels been?” The captain gave out a loud and jolly laugh “Mathias! They have been most excellent! I have plenty of spoils that need unloading if you don’t mind.” He ended his sentence with a jolly smile and a wink. My master sent me with the captain right away to help unload. “By the gods! You sure are an eager young lad!” The captain said after the last of his cargo was unloaded. “I sure could use a young man like yourself aboard me ship. What d’ya say?”
“I-I….don’t know if my master would allow it….” I responded, crushing my own dreams before they were realized.
“Leave that old codger to me. I’ve know Mathias for quite some time.” He said with a wink. My hopes grew slightly.
I set out with my new master the very next morning! I was to be his cabin boy. He said it was like an apprentice. I would learn his trade. His name was Captain Black Bart De La Roja. He was a jolly old man. He called himself a “free merchant” but I knew it was piracy. I didn’t care. I felt free. After joining his crew I hadn’t had a single nightmare of my mother or father. It was freeing and exciting. A few months after joining we found someone floating on some driftwood out at sea.
It was a girl. She was just a year older than I was. Her name was Miranda and she was the daughter of a servant traveling aboard a ship that had been attacked and sunk. We took her in and Bart made her a cabin girl along with me. He taught us well. Showing us how to raid other ships and defend our own from attack. We trained hard and fast. Ten years seemed to fly by. But it was then that a ship raid went wrong.
She’s dead! That’s all I could think. I saw the captain of the other ship run her through. I charged him and caught him off guard. I was able to run him through the chest. Miranda lay there on the ground bleeding fast. “No! Don’t die! Please?” I cried out to her. I didn’t want to lose her. My mind raced back to my parent whom I had not thought of in years. “Please!? Dear gods no! I don’t want you to die!” She’s dead I thought.
“Morty, It’s okay. I’m sorry about before…”
“No don’t. It’s okay. Just don’t die…”
“I’m sorry…about that…too….” I could feel her last breath escape her body.
“NO!” I sobbed and held her body close. I brought her out to our ship after the captain had finished the battle by showing the crew their dead captain. She’s dead.
I couldn’t stay aboard and asked the captain to let me go at the next port. I found home in a small merchant port with a small crew of cut throats and pick pockets. After gaining a small name in the underworld I found a backer to buy in on a ship with me by the name of Bridge. I promised her some percentage of each cut but as soon as the ship was done I ran off to a small village known as Oarsmeet. I had my crew start spreading rumors about me, saying my mind was slipping. That I had witnessed my own death several times. I’m dead. Or who I was before. I wish to no longer be weak. If I had been stronger I could have gone with my father. My mother would not have hated me. I could have saved Miranda. I sailed around making quite the name for myself over the next few years. It was only when the undead were knocking on our gates that some navy personnel actually asked for help from me and my ship. We barely escaped in time.
We somehow found the new continent and helped them create a village. We fought some terrible monsters that came from the woods. I even helped a war effort by moving supplies but that was when I first discovered a taste of true power. I’m dead. And I’m reborn. I now know I was wrong. If I had had the power I needed I would have not needed my father or mother nor would I have been hurt by them. I would not have needed Miranda or anyone else in my life. How could I have been so weak? People are only a weakness! Strength and power are all that is needed. The mother promised me power for helping her. She will give it to me.
I tried to find her more but her voice stayed silent. Even in the swamp she remained silent. But what spoke up was a man who came forth and proved to be my bastard son. I thought him dimwitted and useless but when he said he was a shipwright, I found a use for him. I found a slave for myself as well. She has served me well thus far and only proved more useful.
That bitch Bridge managed to find me! She wanted to collect her debt but I never had any intention of paying her. So when the fighting broke out I cornered her. She’s dead. Her screams still bring me joy. I took her scalp for a prize. Thank the mother she’s dead. Her crew was easy enough to stomp out. How weak humans are and how easily they are snuffed out. Life is nothing but a joke in the eyes of the gods.
Praise to the mother! She has finally sent me a messenger. They call him the red eyed Syndar. He has opened my eyes more and more to the mothers plans. He has given me a taste of the power the mother has promised me. I want more! I must grow stronger! He says the Syndar are the key. That’s why he could use my bastard. I have another I can use. I’m alive. I’m truly alive!
I will give her to the mother. She will die to open her eyes! “Stop” I shout as the others surround us. The preacher-man works at his ritual as they attack. We are overwhelmed. I’m dying!? No! I’m bleeding. I’m dragged near the outpost. “Why!?” Is all they are shouting at me. They do not understand how weak they all are. Lineth screams for me. They somehow saved her. But she seems to have been awoken. I know not what happened to the preacher-man. I hear my bastard somewhere but I hear the mother. She is louder. She says “Crawl away,” so I do as she bids. I heave myself towards the swamp. As I am crawling I hear her screaming for me. I hear them struggle with her. I am in the swamp, still bleeding and still crawling. I hear rustling and Lineth runs out to me. She helps carry me farther into the swamp. We rest and she tries to quell the torrent of blood flowing from me.
I hear more rustling and all I see are red eyes.