Shades of Amber
The War-weary Champion
I do not remember ever having parents, I mean I know that I must have but I don’t have a single memory of either of them. The first thing I remember is the dirty ally that I called home with the other boys. It was not the worst of times, it was not a great time but I lived in a mid sized trading town on the river. It was well enough off that there were scraps to be had for a little work or things that some people might misplace.
I don’t know what would have become of me but, the Winter almost undid me and at the same time it saved my life. There came, a couple years after I found my self in that dirty ally, a night in the midst of a blizzard that came in off the river that nearly killed me. I had wrapped myself in everything I had but it was still not enough to keep me from freezing. We had gathered some wood scraps and had tried to start a fire but to no avail. I remember falling into a kind of sleep and thinking that I was going to be one of the lucky ones and just let go in my sleep. But that night I dreamt of calling to the bits of wood and asking for the fire to come and make its home there. Then there was screams and shouts that dragged me from my hypothermic stupor. Both houses on either side of me were fully ablaze. I could not stop thinking about that dream, it was so much more then just a dream. It was the first time I had ever felt truly alive. I had so many questions but no one to talk to.
The next day a man found me nursing my burned shoulder sitting down the street from the charred skeletons of the half block that had burned. He just held out his hand and a small ball of fire blossomed in his palm. He closed it and with out saying a word walked away. I had to know, and he seemed like he might have some answers. So I jumped up and ran after him into the rest of my life.
He gave his name as Adonis; I did not have a name. He taught me to read and from one of my favorite books I picked out the name Dominic Giovanni. He spent several years teaching me the ways of calling on and controlling the Elements. He taught me in other things some of them even crazier than the Elements. Things about my necklace, he said that the maze was of great power and he told be that I was destined for a greatness greater than I could ever dream. But when I asked him what he meant, what sort of greatness he was talking about, he would just chuckle and say “Why are you in such a hurry to grow up? You have all the time in the world.” It seamed like such an odd thing to say but he would just laugh.
Then one year, during my forth year staying with him I came home to find some of his stuff gone. It looked like he had left in a great haste. I was confused and worried but as it turned out I did not have long to worry about it. The very next day news of war flashed through the town and while I was in the market I was grabbed by some guards. I was told that I had just volunteered to join the king’s army. Not being a big hulking brute and being able to think things through on my own I knew I would not last long in the front with some heavy shield and some dirty sword. The only was to get a better position was to reveal my powers to the captain. I should have known better, I think if it was not wartime and they were not desperate to use any weapon that they could get their hands on they probly would have hanged me for being some sort of evil. At first life was harder than it was even on the street as a kid. At least then I did not have people actively trying to suppress me while growing up on the street. That all changed the first time we had a battle. Then it was a mix of fear and respect that they looked at me with. But mostly it was fear, which was fine with me; fear was good enough for me.
There followed many battles, the war was fierce bloody and long. It ground on for the better part of eighty years. Oh there was the occasional break of a couple years at most but for the most part that was only because the armies had wiped each other out and had to be rebuilt. No one was alive at the end that was born when it started. Weird thing is that I did not seem to age, not even a day. This worried me a lot at first, I did not know why I was not aging and that made it all the more difficult to give them answers when they questioned me. But if their questions got to probing I had ways to scare them off. Fear is a very useful tool. But I could not scare off my own unanswered questions. I had no idea why I was not aging or why it was so hard for them to kill me in battle. Countless times I had received wounds that would have killed a score of lesser men only to be back on my feet in less than a week. In the end they never did anything. I was their most powerful weapon and they were willing to overlook almost anything that I did. I was even able to start rumors that I was some sort of god sent to help them fight, and even gained some ‘followers.’ I think that in the end they all died too.Most of the army died around me and was replaced several times over. I did not know where we were getting this fresh meat from but I did not think that we could keep it up for long. I noticed that where I fought we tended to win but for the most part when I was elsewhere they tended to lose. Our forces were being ground down. Our army was getting smaller and smaller. The new “recruits” are getting older and younger; this can not go on much longer. Slowly we were forced back to our mountain strongholds. And from there we were forced even farther back to our strongest most basic fortress. It was so strong that it was not really likely that they would be attacking us anytime soon. Not that they were going to be leaving us along. They were camped at the foot of the valley with us at the head in out impregnable fortress. We were fairly safe here but even with our spring and control of a large part of the valley I did not want to stay here. In a couple days I would scout them right now I am so tired from the fight to get here. I feel like I am a shell of a man right now. I sit on the battlements in the high mount ion sun. I idly play with my maze necklace and wonder “What greatness is this Adonis?!”