Reforging The Broken
Chapter One, The Soul is Broken.
Upon opening his eyes, he was met with nothing but darkness. His backside felt numb as the ground beneath him continuously infected him with its cold embrace. He couldn even feel the rocks which stabbed into his backside like knives, just dull enough to not pierce the sad excuse for a tunic he wore. Outside of his tent where he lay, the wind howled throughout the empty land, as if crying out in its loneliness. His mouth felt dry and parched. He had been deprived of water for two days now . . . or was it three?
He couldn remember, but that didn matter. He had things to do.
Yes, thats right. Thats why his body had woken him up just now, because it understood the dire consequences if he could not fulfill his duty to the master. He had been chosen to become his next personal servant. If he failed at the simplest task of getting up in the morning on time, then the master would surely take notice. And once the master noticed his folly, there would be no hope left. His life would end the moment he took one wrong step. Many others had been chosen before him, all never seen again. This thought alone made him shudder from within, shivering from the very depths of his soul. It was different from the shivers you get from being cold; this shiver was born from fear.
Rising to his feet, his body groaned in protest. His knee felt like they had rusted over, his back spasmed, and his arms felt like noodles. For a moment, he fantasized about falling to the ground and resting for a few minutes . . . but thats all it was. Just a fantasy. He staggered through the dark room towards the exit of his tent, stumbling over other slaves that belonged to his master.
Once outside, he was met with a brighter scene. The sun was just barely poking out over the mountains, not yet giving the world its full luminance. In the early morning light, he could see the vast, empty plains that made up the majority of the northern side of the Asteron Kingdom. They extended out as far as his eye could see, the rolling hills like a green ocean of grass occasionally spotted with a small tree or large boulder. It was a lonely sight.
As the breeze swept by, it stole the little warmth he had left. His ragged tunic did little to help. He shivered and wrapped his arms around himself in an attempt to keep warm. However, it was for naught. Despite all his efforts, the cold still seeped into him. It was like someone was slowly stabbing his whole body with dozens of icicles. It was so bitterly frigid outside that it almost burned.
He would have gone back inside long ago if not for the fact that he was waiting for someone. Every slave tent had a overseer, a guard per say. This person was the one that would take him to the master, however, he was nowhere to be seen. Not knowing the way himself, nor wanting the punishment of leaving the slave tent unattended, he simply waited. After a few minutes, he felt the ground underneath him vibrate slightly in the rhythmic pattern of a horse. Upon turning around, he saw a rider approaching him from a few hundred feet away, riding down from a nearby hill.
After a quick minute, the rider arrived in front of him.
”Come on, lets get moving. ” The rider ordered in a harsh tone, his eyes filled with annoyance as he extended his hand to the slave boy beneath him. The boy hastily spit out a reply and grabbed the riders hand, hoisting himself up onto the back of the horse.
”Yes sir. ”
After a few minutes of riding, they came to the top of the hill. They were greeted with the sight of a half dozen tents, much larger and sturdier than the one from which he came from. They were surrounded by several guards wearing heavy armor and equipped with swords. Each of these men carried a large shield upon their backs, each emblazoned with an intricate design of a red rose. Although they lacked mounts, they looked much deadlier than the rider who escorted him.
They were led by a tall, muscular man who had to have stood near seven feet. His skin was tanned from years spent outdoors, like he had lived off of hard labor his whole life. A scar ran along the length of his forehead, likely from some unfortunate incident during battle.
”Off you go! ”
Without warning, the rider threw the boy to the ground. With a dull thud, the slave boy had the wind knocked out of him. For a moment, he struggled to breathe. While the slave boy writhed around on the ground in agony, the seven foot tall warrior called out to the rider guarding the slave boy, his voice sounding rough like gravel.
”Any trouble? ”
Without missing a beat, the rider responded. ”No sir. Slave tent 3 had no problems. ”
The muscular man nodded, and then looked at the slave boy on the ground.
”You know what you
e supposed to do? ”
The boy answered as he finally took a breath of air, returning to his feet. ”Yes, I am to serve the master for the day. ”
The man looked at the boy and squinted his eyes. He didn look very happy.
After a brief pause and a moment of thought, the boy continued.
”And . . . it is an honor to be chosen to serve him personally. ”
The boys tone was deadpan, his eyes glazed over. He meant nothing of what he said. The man frowned slightly, then turned to the horseman.
”Tell me something, does this look like someone who feels honored? ”
The rider smirked, knowing what was about to happen. ”No, not at all. He doesn look a bit grateful to be handed such a task. ”
The man turned back to look at the slave boy. ”Thats exactly what I thought. ”
Before the boy could even react, the man backhanded the boy across the cheek, leaving the young boy reeling once more. Without a word, the man grabbed the collar of the boys tunic, yanking him closer to his face.
”Im going to do you a big favor and give you some advice. Dozens of people with better acting skills than you have been killed for even looking at the master wrong. Pull a face like that in front of him, and youll find your head on a pike by morning. Do you understand? ”
The boy just grunted in response, his cheek still stinging.
The man released his hold, then turned back to the horseman. ”Go back to your station and report to me if anything happens. ”
He then turned to the boy. ”Get up. ”
Still dazed, the boy did as he was told. His legs felt weak after the blow to his cheek. However, he knew better than to complain. With a slight limp, he walked behind the man and the horse, heading deeper into the center camp.
A few moments later, the pair had reached the largest tent in the center camp. It was painted a midnight black, with the image of a red rose repeated constantly across it. At the entrance, two guards stepped aside to allow the man entrance, while the boy followed him inside. The man then bowed, his movements smooth and precise.
”I have arrived, Lord Sessair. ”
At the other side of the room, a man sat in a wooden chair, painted red and black. He held his chin in his right hand, his uncaring gray eyes focused on nothing in particular. His black hair looked wild, unkempt, and dirty; a rarity for a noble. His body was tall and skinny, but also lean and dangerous, like a starved wolf. He wore all black clothing with gray accents, as well as a ruby red cloak draped over his chair. As he stared into nothing, he rubbed the cloak between his index finger and thumb as if he was bored.
”Have you picked a replacement? ”
There was little emotion in the lords words, only unending apathy could be picked up from his tone of voice. The man replied without hesitation.
”Yes, he is ready and waiting for his turn to perform his duties. ”
Lord Sessair looked down at the boy, his expression unchanging.
”Good enough. Return to your post, Ivan. ”
The muscular man bowed deeply before leaving. Sessair turned to the boy, and asked him a question with a bored tone of voice.
”Do you have a name? ”
”Yes. My name is *****. ”
Sessair looked at the boy and thought for a moment before responding.
”No, I don like that name . . . your new name is now Servant. ”
Servant blinked in confusion.
”Sir, I don understand . . . ”
”Whats wrong? Don you like it? ”
His voice had grown colder with each passing moment. Now, Sessair spoke with a low, menacing tone. Servant remembered Ivans advice and hastily tried to make up for his mistake.
”Forgive me sir, I misunderstood. Its a wonderful name. ”
Silence filled the room, broken only by the sound of the wind outside. The air seemed to grow tense with each breath he took. In his mind, he could feel his heart beating rapidly, as if it wanted to escape through every opening of his body. Sessair then stood and rapidly approached the boy. In a flash, Sessairs expression changed into one of murderous rage.
”You dirty, idiotic, mud-blooded vermin. You think you can lie to me? ”
Servants head was suddenly forced into the ground. He wouldn have been able to react if he wanted to, Sessair was that fast.
Tears welled up inside Servants eyes as the pain assaulted his mind. His nose began bleeding everywhere, horribly disfigured and mangled as it had been unable to bear the weight of his master. Every time his master adjusted his weight, it seemed like lightning itself would course through his entire being, causing him to twitch.
It was a horrible experience, but he knew he couldn protest or cry out in pain. If he did, there was no telling what might happen. Thus, he kept silent, silently enduring the torture.
After what seemed like hours of torture, the master took his foot off of Servants head. For a moment, Servant felt relief inside his chest, but it did not last long.
”Not only are you incapable of performing the simplest tasks, but you also have the impudence to ruin my new rug with your blood? Is there no end to your incompetence? ”
Servant put his forehead to the ground and pleaded with everything he had.
”I will not make that mistake again, master! I may be a stupid, weak slave, but I will not make the same mistake again. Please, forgive me! ”
His master did not answer. Instead, he unsheathed the sword at his waist, filling the air with the sound of a snake hiss. Servant closed his eyes, and waited for the inevitable. He was afraid . . . very, very afraid. He felt his stomach churning, a mixture of bile and fear filling his mouth. The master crouched down and brought the edge of the blade to his throat. Then, he whispered to Servant.
”Do you think I am a fool? ”
Servant didn respond. He simply stared into the ground, hoping beyond hope that his master wouldn kill him.
”Servant, you just lied to me again, didn you? I can see it in your eyes. You hate me. You think its my fault that the carpet is ruined. ”
Servant shook his head, his face still pressed against the ground.
”No master, I wo- Arhg! ”
Servant tried to lie again, but the master slammed the flat of the blade against Servants temple, making him see double for a moment. Then, he put the tip of the blade onto Servants chest, and began to slowly drive it in.
”Tell me the truth. ”
Servant closed his eyes and felt hot, salty tears run down his face again. The pain was unbearable. His head pounded, his nose felt numb, his limbs weak, and now his chest began to scream out signals of pain. Feeling that his death was near, Servant would speak his mind.
”I HATE YOU! I HATE YOU! I HATE YOU! ”
He screamed the words as loud as he could, over and over, roaring them at his abuser like a mad beast. He reached upwards with his hands, grabbing onto the blade even as they tore through his hands. The master stopped with the sword, which had reached Servants sternum by now. Servant met his gaze, and realized something. He was smiling, but the smile held no warmth.
”You actually told the truth . . . Hahahahaha! That marvelous look of desperation, that hatred . . . finally, someone is willing to tell me how they really feel! All those other servants wouldn stop lying to my face, even as I threatened them with death . . . but you, YOU are different! ”
The master then took the blade out of the boys chest and sheathed it before yelling.
Within a few moments, that huge muscled warrior appeared inside the tent. For a moment, he gazed at Servants broken figure on the ground. I
”Shall I arrange a replacement for you, my lord? ”
The master replied with a sick joy in his voice. ”No. Hes perfect. This one still has some life left inside him. You did well by bringing him to me. ”
Then, the master began to laugh. Ivan looked confused. He had never seen his master express so much emotion before.
”I don understand, my lord. ”
”If they are too obedient, its boring. I don want a servant to do my bidding. I want a Servant to rebel against me. I want him to fight, struggle, and have hope in his eyes. I want someone with a strong spirit . . . so that I can watch it shatter into a thousand pieces. ”
Ivan felt his heart skip a beat when he heard those words. In his mind, he began to wonder if the master he served was even human . . . but he needed the money Sessair paid him. If this is what it takes, then so be it.
”I do not understand why, but if it is what you desire, it shall be done, my lord. ”
”Good. Now, prepare me some tools for torture, and give Servant here a few healing potions. If he dies before Ive fully broken him, Ill dock your pay for a full year. I shall return once Ive had lunch, make sure hes awake by then. ”
As soon as he finished speaking, the master turned away and left. Ivan stood there for a moment, stunned to his core. Never before, in his six months serving as Sessairs personal guard, had he witnessed this depth of cruelty. His cast his gaze down to the small, broken slave boy who was just barely awake, and whispered his condolences before leaving to do his masters bidding.
A few hours later, Servant awoke. His back still felt that same cold earth as usual, and for a moment, he thought everything had been a dream. As he became fully aware of himself, he noticed that his wounds had disappeared. His chest wound had closed up, and his limbs felt like they could have power put into them. His nose felt a little crooked and bent in a strange way, but it didn hurt. This was the best he had felt in months. A glimmer of hope started to appear within his heart. Maybe things would get better from here . . . maybe.
Upon looking around, he found himself in a small tent, just large enough for a few people to sleep in. In an effort
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