Fantasticoe 2004

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James Harris

Redeemed

 

     From under the stadium in my cell, I can hear the screams and cheers of the crowd. The entire building is shaking with excitement; I wait calmly, ready to save my people, ready to doom others. My name is Kaz Prim of the Island Xio. I stand waiting to fight, for chance to give my people citizenship. With the weight my peoples lives on my mind, I flashback to better times.

     The island of Xio was a utopia, secluded from the hustle and troubles of civilization. My race was a dark, tanned skinned people, with gray-blue eyes and hair as black as the sea at night. We were known as over the see as an athletic, attractive people. We traded with local island communities, and had heard stories of the Empire from sailors, but on the whole, all we knew was Xio and the sea. The village was nested under the warm shadow of Mt. Echo The island and the sea provided my people with all the delicious food and necessities one could ever of need. The forest was filled with lumber for our homes and fires. Sweet, yellow, pineapples, and juicy berries grew wild all over the forest. The wild roosters and pigs always made an excellent entrée. Then there was the sea, lush with resources. Right off the southern coast of the island is coral reef where the fattest lobster and crabs in the ocean walk. The reef is a wonder of life, inhabited by as many fish as there are stars in the sky. The real treasure of the Xio, or why I believe the empire came, sits at bottom of the reef in the hearts of the giant clams. Where the local pearl divers have found pearls as big as a man's fist.

     I was on the beach the day empire arrived. We're having our new years celebration on the beach, and as I was looking at a small boy staring out to the sea, and then suddenly he looked up at his father and asked, "who's that." Looking out to sea, my jaw dropped, the horizon was scattered with ships. It was the legendary fleet of the empire. The great armada swarmed our island. Realizing our fight was in vain, the Xio tribal elders signed a treaty forfeiting our lands to the empire. Calling it a treaty would be a generous word for what was signed. It was more like a contract; be slaves or die. Those of us with warrior spirits, would rather have died in combat. But not a man on that island was strong enough to deal with the idea of his family being slaughtered.

     After we signed the treaty, my people were put into bondage and forced onto ships. We were given an hour to collect only what personal belongings we could carry. On my way back to my hut, I came upon a sight no man should ever have to see. As I approached my hut, I heard a scream, I quickly ran inside to see three of sailors holding her down. She was kicking, biting, and screaming, but they were too strong for her. Just the sight of their hands on her made my blood boil. Quickly I grabbed my two blades and before filthy swine knew what was happening, blood already dripped from their bodies.

     My wife Zio was my everything, beautiful with her sapphire eyes, dark hair, and tan skin. Her dark skin was as soft as bird feathers, and her smell was a mix of flowers and the salty sandy smell of the sea. She was nurturing, resourceful, and kind. Her voice was soft and her attitude was so self-less and care-free, I'd wonder if she ever thought of her self. She was more than my love, she was my everything.

     Once her offenders ceased to breathe, I fell to her side and held her tight in my arms. She breathed slowly, I could tell her ordeal with the soldiers had taken much from her. She opened her eyes leaned up and kissed my forehead, and with her last breath she whispered "Live." I frantically asked her and begged her not to leave, sobbing "please don't die!" She had suffered and she died in my arms.

     Seeing my wife raped, then having her die in my arms, sent me into whirlwind of hate and rage. I flew from my home lusting for revenge. I walked to the boats both of my blades concealed by my sides. I tear soaked faces of my people, as I walked by, only fueled my rage more. As soon as I came close enough to the camp, I unleashed my hatred. I probably killed twenty men before they were able to restrain me. I was whipped for several hour, wondering when they would cut me down and kill me. But as the blood streamed off my back I began to feel weary, and then lost consciousness.

     I was awoken by a strong voice and the smell of sea water. As I groggily opened my eyes and painfully sat up in my tiny cell, through the iron bars I saw a well dressed officer staring right at me. "Glad to see your feeling better. I've never seen a man take a whipping like that and live." It turned out the man I was looking at was the grand admiral of the fleet of the Empire. He told me he admired the way I had handled myself in combat, and he explained that was the only reason I had been allowed to live. He got right to the point. He said he wanted to give my people a chance. He told me that what happened to my people was a small matter as far as the Empire was concerned. He then spoke of the games, held in the center of the Empire, in a city so vast it takes three days by horseback cross it. The games were a huge event. Where, heathen, slave-tribes, as they called us, were allowed to pick a representative to compete in gladiatorial combat. Victory would give citizenship to the entire race, and free them from a life of servitude. He then looked at me with a look of pity, and told me he had heard what had happened with to my wife. A scout had seen the entire course of events unknown to me. He gave his condolences, apologizing for his men's action. As walked out the door, he turned to me and said, "Use the anger and hatred from your wife's death to free your people." I was left with the entire weight of my culture's existences on my shoulders. My wounds healed on the voyage, and we arrived in the city of the Empire with one week until the games.

     The city of the Empire was a cultural melting pot. Every race and civilization that existed was represented on the streets of the city. I spent my days before the games in meditation and prayer. Thinking the of the consequences of failure in this ordeal, I wrapped my thoughts around my beautiful wife, and her painful death. I built up an aura of hate that consumed my very soul. The freedom of my people of was my only reason for existence anymore. Every ounce of passion was gathered in my heart for the great contest. I thought of nothing but blood and how I pitied the men I would face, even though they had not killed my beloved Zio, and they as well fought for their peoples freedom as I did. They did not posses my hate, I knew they would not stand a chance.

     "Combatants Ready!" I snap out of my tragic nostalgia. I nod to the man as whips open my gate, and I walk out into the stadium. The arena was roaring, the masses had come to watch the games. I stand before the great circus facing the other gladiators. The adrenaline courses through my body, every scream of the crowd bringing me closer to insanity. The sand of the arena floor already stained with the blood of warriors who's end had come to soon. Fear nor worry concerned my attention only madness and a complete hatred for those I now stared at. The seven other fighters looked fit. Some carried great swords others spears and tridents. The largest of my foes, the one I had decided to kill first, carried an enormous battle axe. I tightly grasp the hilts of my two blades, focusing my energy. These men I face seem brave and all are highly regarded warriors, but they reek of fear.

     "Commence!" The crowd exploded into an eruption of shrills and shrieks. We converged on one another with the fierceness of a Great White smelling blood. The monster of a man carrying the axe had obviously noticed me staring at him from across the arena, and is charging me at full sprint. I stand patiently until he is about thirty yards away, and then I charge. He cocks the giant cleaver over his head, thinking to split me laterally in one single blow. The giant oaf was too slow. As he began his downward swing, I sling my short blade at him, impaling him in the left side of his chest. Then in one smooth motion, I spin out from under the falling axe and around the large fool and slice his head clean off with my great blade. Quickly, I retrieve my sling, seeing that only five warriors are left, meaning someone else had killed their opponent and would be coming for me. No sooner do I notice this, then a spear grazes my ear, taking everything above the lobe clean off. Swinging around, blood dripping from the side of my face, I whip my blade at my charging attacker. The blade pierces directly through the spearman's eye-socket, dropping him in mid-stride. Screams and squeals again erupt from the crowd at the explosion of blood, driving my insane onslaught on life even further.

     I see one of the other warriors execute another member of the competition in my peripheral vision. I leave my sling blade impaled in the spearman's head. Then swiftly as my legs can carry me, I charge the victor. Our swords clash and spark, like weapons of the gods put to holy combat. My dark skinned adversary is quick with his blade and slits my upper arm and thigh. But finally, I swing my great blade with the force of a thunder crash, knocking my opponent to the ground. As he frantically scrambles to stand, I pounce on him, shredding his flesh with the serrated edge of my blade. While his crimson humor pores from his body, soaking the sandy earth, I view my final adversary. Both of us are sliced and dirty, battered in blood, sweat and sand. The crowd's enthusiasm and fanaticism peaks, and the entire arena shakes. Nothing but pure adrenaline courses through my tattered arteries. I let out a scream that even amid the chaos of crowd, is heard above all. I see the terror in the brave warrior's eyes, and I close in on him like a starved animal. I block an overhead-blow, and then quickly attack him low, slicing his Achilles tendon. He falls to ground screaming, as I slowly approach him. I put my foot on his chest sign of victory. And after confirmation from the crowd. I place my cold blade where his heart beat. I stand alone in the sand circle, screams and whistles surround me. My pulse slows and I fall to the ground loosing consciousness.

     The people of Xio were given their citizenship into the empire. Out of gratitude, I was name representative to the Empire, for the people of Xio. Some of my people went back to Xio; others remained in the great city. As for myself I stayed in the city. I felt the island held to much pain for me to return. I plan to live out my days on the east quarter of the city. I have redeemed my wife's honor by freeing my people now all that I have left to do is follow her dying request, and live.


     Acknowledgments:
     I'd like to thank the class, for struggling through my bad writing style and still giving me useful help. Thanks to Gen from the writing center for all her help