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raised to die

We are puppets of a bigger world, our lives are a script that plays in the heavens for the gods. Our birth to the final breath we take has been chosen. My life was set before birth, to be a sport for the rich. I was raised like cattle and slaughtered like swine. Built to be torn down, that is and was my life. For time is a stream for at the same instant as I lay here dead I have still not been born.

I could tell you about my childhood about how many hours I stayed in a field training for my death. The loneliness that consumed me as I watched my father die and the realization that will one day be me. Either the animal standing on the dead covered in blood and dirt or the dead under the beast’s foot, but I will start at the day I lost the most important thing to me - my soul.

It was a morning like no other and the arena was packed with jeering hateful animals that would only be satisfied by the blood of their ken. I stayed in a pen like a farm animal might live in, waiting for my first match. Sweat dripped from my hands dowsing the blade with its fear and dread. If I was lucky I would have died in this battle the odds were against me and the man was huge. He stood a sheer meter taller then me and carried a broad axe, my little sword and shield was nothing compared to him. His body was scarred and his skin brown from the sun, his long black hair reaching down past his shoulders. I was merely a husk of boy, yes I was strong but at the moment I saw him, my knees could buckle just from the wind.

“ Gladiators to your spots and let the fierce win this battle.” The crowd yelled at those words almost sensing the carnage that would soon take place. “ Our fathers built this as a way to thin the heard to find the strong and to let them prove them selves and let them make their unfathomable story.” The man read his script perfectly, but the fact was his people built this. The rich made them selves entertainment, sacrificing the poor and the weak. Throwing us to the dogs of humanity they built this arena to create savages not men. Men would feel the wrong all around this arena, the evil that consumes this place and that one day will consume me. “in the blue robe and armor is Jaden Cloudhelm. And in the red cage is a boy that doesn’t need a name for he will soon be dead.”

Those words hurt but he was right I was going to die for we are only husks of the soul inside us, for when the soul dies that is true death. When the battle started I was scared his hits feeling as if every cell in my body would split. Every staggering hit gave of pulse of heat, and sweat, anger. His hatred for my very existence growing by the second. He howled like the animal he was as he sensed my weakening defenses.

When you are put in a position to chose life or death you really don’t have a choice. I could feel sweat run down the nape of my neck and I felt my sanity go with it. I don’t know if it was fear, anger, or hopelessness, but when that hulk of flesh came up for his final attack. My blade was flawless as it cut through the man with out resistance. I gave my own roar maybe to scare my thoughts of what I had just done, to scare them so they wouldn’t stay on my shoulders to harden me, to refine me in to a harder more useful substance like steel. I would like to think that I did so I wouldn’t break down, but it was so much more then that. The human part of me that held the cage to the savage beast that we all have inside us, the one that now has control. The beast that I was so scared of was now cowering at my feet. He sensed his own fate, the one that lay in my hand so still and so dead like we both knew he would be.

Why I don’t know, but I toyed with him pressing the cold hard steel of my blade against his cheek. I wanted to hear him beg for the relief of death maybe so I wouldn’t feel so bad, or maybe I just wanted him to voice his helplessness because I wanted to feed on his fear, his pain, his life. I never raised my blade for the final attack instead I did something so much more cruel, I stood over him as his life bleed from his veins. I starred in to his eyes, the windows to the soul and I watched his life pass before him; his father holding him, his first day of training, his first kill, and the most important his first loss. Yes, I starred and I saw what he saw: an animal standing over him with a shark tooth grin.

When you die your memories become writing in the dirt and as you pass that threshold the wind picks up and blows the memories away and the ones that are dug deep you remember. I tried to forget so many things over my life but what I do remember was talking to the boy that would one day allow me to earn the part of me lost so long ago.

“John, I need to tell you something,” I turned around to see a young boy with warm brown eyes. I never learned his name but I did watch out for him as he grew up. “They told me to be in the fields!” the boy’s eyes began to water and he buried his head in to my chest. I was never confortable with human contact. Maybe because the only people I really interacted with were people that tried to kill me.

“I’m sorry, but the town has spoken. Maybe your life will be short and you will be spared the pain of the arena.”

“I don’t want to die! Please john people stagger at the very thought of your name. You were the one that brought a giant to his knees as a child for three years you have stayed undefeated. You can speak to them please!” the boy sobbed. The last three years I have become a god in the eyes of the swine among the arena. Before I beat Jaden I would have felt pity for the young boy but through the years I have been stripped from the shackles of humanity and I now don’t fear or pity.

“Boy I live in the arena it is a good place for good fighters and a resting place for most. I can’t stop it nor do I feel compelled to try.”

“But….”

“No! What I have said is final. Take these words to heart or take a blade to it. Train hard or give up and die.” Months pasted before I saw him again and when I did my heart dropped to my stomach.

Time is an ever-flowing river, it cannot double back, but it can repeat. Time can heal all wounds can make loss reappear; can bring hope were this is none. Yes, time can heal, but time can also make you forget; yourself, others, life, love, death, and reason.

The end of my story is my death, but also my birth. For three years I have been a murderer and I will soon meet my fate. For the gods have played my their hand and the have ripped me from my mortal flesh and brought me to the heavens.

This day I was home, in the arena I could smell the blood from the match before. It was a heavy mist in the air it painted the walls of the arena a crimson red bodies covered the floor to the point that you couldn’t see the ground. I was the final show, my life was valued at a forty to one odds. I did not know much about my opponent except that he was new his first fight would be tonight and it would also be his last.

The announcer came on, “welcome ladies and gentlemen. Gladiators to your spots and let the fierce win this battle.” I’ve heard those words so many times over the years I chuckled. The announcer continued,“ Our fathers built this as a way to thin the heard to find the strong and to let them prove them selves and let them make their unfathomable story.” I once resented those words now I almost believed them. “in the red robe and armor is John king of the dead. And in the blue robe is a boy that doesn’t need a name for he will soon be dead.” Those words sparked in my head the lethal memory flooding back causing me to trip over a body.

The bell of blood sounded and like so many other times I lunged forth running for my pray. Toward the boy with the warm brown eyes the one that cried in my arms, the one that begged me to spare him and fight for his life. I stopped half way down the arena, and he starred at me with hate in his eyes holding a spear and shield snot running down his face. His eyes told me what he was thinking “ I looked up to you and now one of us half to die. “ his eyes and heart beamed this at me, a weapon that no one has ever used in this arena.

“Attack me boy I will give you one chance.” I yelled. The crowd angry at the fact there hasn’t been blood spilt.

“ I can’t, I’m not like you!” he spat at me. The boy and I would both die if we didn’t start, the crowd would kill us if it looked like we wouldn’t.

I ran to him with my sword raised cutting the tip of his spear pressing him up against the wall. “ Fight,” I whispered in his ear, “ if you don’t we both die.”

“why, do you not like killing with out a struggle?” he said each word like venom poisoning my thoughts.

For the first time in three years I learned fear, the memories of my knees wanting to buckle, feeling every single blow, and how I felt about that beast that attacked with no mercy. “I know you’re afraid but boy it is our way of life this is what the gods want,” Even more confused at my own words.

“ That’s what you think of them, gods? They are scum why can’t you see that? Are you really that lost in this world?” the truth is I wasn’t lost in this world I was lost in my self, the pain of the realization like a knife to my ribs. I tossed the boy to the ground and bent over in pain my eyes clenched and I saw the boy I was before the arena. He stood in a vast galaxy of black darkness and he looked at me with disappointment. Deep down within me I knew what I had done was wrong and I needed to die and to spare the boy.

I opened my eyes to the crowd cheering yelling because they thought he stabbed me. I looked at him with cold eyes and said something so simple that it didn’t seem so important but it gave me my soul, “ I wont let you die.” The boy confused looked at me and shook his head. I ran to him with my sword in hand, and stabbed it next to him.

“What are you doing!” screamed the boy.

“Something I should have done the first time I came to the arena, I’m losing boy.” I grabbed his hand and put the knife from my belt in to it. “ after this run, I can only save your live once and you just saved mine,” plunging the dagger in to my ribs, knowing it would kill me because I killed so many the same way and at last I felt like the gods smiled on me and not the ones that played god.



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