>> Zeke, age of 9, and Johan, age of 39 <<
"Are we not friends?" he asked his friend of 3 years, who looked like the embodiment of tragedy, but acted as a father to him.
“Of course- and if you were to die I would never forgive myself.”
The young boy laughed merrily up at the older man, “My death wouldn’t be your fault.”
Tears brimmed in the older man’s eyes- aged by tragedy and hard decisions. A man of 42 thinking like a man of 80. Oh, how cruel the world is.
“It’ll always be my fault.”
“Sir, should I go fetch the wood?”
“No, stay close. We should have enough wood to tide us over for the weekend.”
Run!! Run far far away!
“Should I warn the animals away?”
“Y-yes. Do so.”
“Alright! Mr. Johan, why are you crying?”
Don’t hold my hand.
I don’t deserve comfort.
The place where the young boy of only 10 and the older man of 42 resided was hidden away from civilization. On the side of a luscious mountain- tucked under a cave and converted into a living space.
Johan had met ‘Zeke’ short for Ezekiel when the boy was only 6. On contraire to Zeke’s beliefs- it wasn’t a chance meeting. It was perfectly organized to be that way. Johan had been waiting for Ezekiel to lose control of his ability. Of his power. He was waiting for the young boy to be kicked out by his family- people were so predictable..
He was waiting under High Majesty’s orders.
Orders to determine whether or not the boy was a threat- and depending on his research, the boy would train at the castle or die before 16.
A year later Johan had declared the boy 'powerful but not a threat’ and ‘easily influenced. His Majesty, ordered the indebted man to train and live with the young boy. Telling him to observe the ‘being’ with its innocence still intact.
Johan followed his orders, if only to preserve his life.
Johan has always been a relatively selfish man, even in his youth. He never had anything to love. Everything he wanted was torn cruelly from his hands. So he fought the world viciously, morals forgotten. He had early on in his life figured that morals only gave your enemy something to use against you. They only hindered your chances at survival.
He didn’t make an effort to get attached.
He didn’t have to- somehow the mischievous bright-eyes boy had wormed a way into his cold isolated heart.
Zeke, however, loved Johan the second Johan had given the small boy his jacket. Never once had a stranger shown him kindness. So he did everything to be worthy of it. He trained and harnessed his power, he ate without complaining, and he followed Johan around like a lost puppy.
Looking for a morsel of affection.
But now… it looked like Mr. Johan needed it. So timidly he slipped his hand into the older mans- if anything it made the man cry harder.
So, hesitantly Zeke tuned into his gift. Humans were always harder to access than animals. Animals' minds are neat and oftentimes simple and primal. Humans had webs of crossing thoughts, concepts, ideas, morals secrets.
But he has been practising, so he closed his eyes tightly and tried to reach for his mentor's mind.
I don’t want to lose everything again.
I don’t want to die.
“Sir,“ his voice quivered, “are you going to die.”
“Then why do you have death on your mind?”
Seeing such innocent concern in the boys eyes brought another wave of sorrow through his body.
Morals are hindrances- so why does he want to hide the young boy away and run off to another kingdom?
Because, Johan realized with a sinking heart, this isn’t about morals. It was never about morals. He had stopped worrying about morals a long time before, this was about love.
Because sometime this year or the year before even, Johan had come to love Zeke like a son. A son he never wanted but couldn’t help but love. How can you not love him?
He was Good- in a way that didn’t cast shame on you but made you want to be Good too.
His nose twitched. He could smell it, gunfire. Scaring wild life away- so that it cannot come to Zeke’s aid.
You will forgive me one day.
I don’t want to lose everything again.
And I won’t
I don’t want to die.
Too bad, innit?
A decision made.
Broad strong body shaking he pulled the thin brunet boy into his arms, burying his face in the crook of Zeke’s neck, “I love you like a son- now run. Run far. Run and don’t come back. Escape this wretched excuse of a kingdom and tell n-no one about your gifts. Ya hear?”
“W-what?” Zeke stumbled, overwhelmed. He froze hearing the hard running of soldiers- of the King’s men. “What about you? What’s happening?”
Big brown eyes blinked up at him, he shut his grey eyes tightly.
“I’ve made a mistake long ago- and you are not to suffer for it.”
Johan was already stuffing a bag with provisions, clothes and money. His face as stony as his eyes.
“I- can’t leave you.”
“If you value my life, you will” Johan barked roughly, slapping the bag to the boys back and rushing him out the door “Don’t turn back.”
“I-I, will you be okay?”
Grey eyes, scraggly beard and knotted hair. Bags under his red-rimmed eyes and a rosy nose. He unsheathed his sword, “If I were you i’d be more concerned about the other guys. Now run!”
Before the boy could start running the door was slammed shut in his face.
Slammed shut a second time by a different father- but this time it was to protect him. He closed his eyes and called for the hardest, fiercest animals. Called and pleaded with them to come to his help.
They were on the way.
Meanwhile… Zeke needed to know what was happening. He crawled to the side of the house, where there was no cave wall to his back and only green plains. Peering in the musty window he saw three heavily armed soldiers corner Mr. Johan. Three different blades to his throat.
6 soldiers lay dead on the wooden floor.
He tried to communicate to his father, Help is on the way.
“Where is the boy?” The tallest one hissed, a girl with striking ginger hair pulled back in a tight bun “Speak-”
“He is dead. Killed himself talking to a ravenous lion.”
The one closest to his father hissed, “Liar.”
“That is the truth.”
The lady in charge smiled cruelly, “Well then… you still killed the King’s soldiers. 6 of them. When you could've just admitted to the kid being killed by your incompetence.”
Zeke’s father swallowed, throat brushing one of the blades, “I was caught off guard. I grovel for your forgiveness-”
“The boy was ours to kill. He was the King’s to slaughter. You should die. But you have also committed treason- you should suffer” she smiled sweetly “then die”.
In a quick flick of the wrist, his father’s eyes were spurting blood. The eye itself plopping on his lap. A howl pierced through the air. But it wasn't a wolf- it was his father’s agonized screams.
Johans last eye caught him, pressed to the window, crying. His eye widened and he could hear his thoughts perfectly clear without having to read them; Run.
But Zeke couldn’t, he was rooted to the spot.
He watched, a silent scream being torn from his lips as his father was dismembered. The only limb fully attached was his head. They slit his throat. The cruel soldiers laughed blades crimson with his father's blood. They couldn't hear his silent gasps due to the whistling of the wind- but they soon saw him.
Crying, gasping, screaming silently.
Their eyes sharpened and they raised their blades, prepared to kill him through glass and wood-
But, but, his silent screams weren’t silent.
No, the screams of pure agony, of pure terror were ringing in the ears of every animal in the forest. All meters from reaching him.
So as the cruel fighters raised their blades to destroy him, once and for all. A final scream of unadulterated fear resonated through the head of the wildlife. The lady, with her blade to Zeke’s heart was impaled by a ram's blunt horns, as it tore through armor and flesh. The two men flanking her each defeated by a black bear and a mountain lion. Roaring with the same anguish, the child of 10 felt.
Innocent eyes no longer innocent.
Clean hands tainted with blood.
Heart hardened to stone.
That night the boy cradled his father's bloody head, sobbing. Crying. Wailing. And the ferocious animals ignored one another in favor of protecting their prince.
The true heir to the throne.
>> Ezekiel, age of 28 <<
“Prince Hadayan, I challenge you to a duel to the death.”
The Prince was 42, the same age his father was when he died, how poetic.
“On what grounds, little boy?” The cruel prince asked, inky hair sliding on his forehead, onyx eyes gleaming. He was perched on a throne, guards flaking him. An audience surrounds them, closing them in like a rink.
“On the grounds that I am the rightful heir to the throne- and you have kept my chair warm long enough.”
The Prince froze, taking in the man in his strong broad power stance. Light brown eyes sharp as glass, and tousled mahogany hair tied into braids.
He looked remarkably like the late King- the one with the power to meddle with minds.
That’s because I'm his son, his blood. Not like you, you bastard.
Ezekiel grinned, “Recognize me, brother?”
The crowd gasped, and the Prince’s eyes flashed dangerously.
He rose from his throne, “Have this imposter executed for wasting my time!”
Guards rushed forward, but bears tore through from all sides of the town market, holding the guards back. Accidentally killing a few.
A lion lounged near the throne and Ezekiel tsked disapprovingly, “That’s not very smart, brother. Leaving yourself exposed for the kill.”
The Prince clenched his jaw to keep from trembling.
“Now… would you like to hear my tragic backstory? Or should I just kill you?”