Worthy By Deed Alone: Part 1
My father taught me a lesson long ago. As he stood over my bruised and battered form after sword training one day. “Son,” he said to me, “men are not worthy of merit, honor, or respect, by birth. All men must be worthy by deed, or nothing else matters. “
As a boy of only eight summers, I didn’t understand what he meant. We were nobles, born into wealth and respect. NO matter my deeds I would be respected for my station. Foolish thoughts of a foolish child. All of my perceptions would change as I came to face the tragedy and fear that existed in our world.
For twelve more years, I studied and trained under my father. Once called “Emperor’s Friend” or “Blade Bringer,” he never settled for less than perfection. But his tale is not my tale. No matter how perfect your form is, or precise your attention to detail. No one can run from tragedy and pain.
At twenty, noblemen are required to serve four years in military service. I entered my service with gusto and fire in my belly. To my annoyance and frustration, we were at peace with our neighbors. But, peace never lasts. At the end of my fourth year in service, I received an extension. War was coming, and all able bodied men were called upon to fight.
I served at the battle of La’ Amigan, Du’Guevor, and Montue Panai. Earning distinguishment for valor, competence, and bravery in the field. I was high on my accolades, and my father even wrote me a letter of congratulations. Life was everything I had wanted it to be, and more.
Then dawned the day of battle at Fortress Bonguerre Fitte, and dawned the day we were routed by an ambushing force. Again dawned the day I all but lost the use of my right leg. Crushed under the hooves of my general’s mount as he fled.
Surgeons set my bones, salved my wounds, but held no hope that I would walk normal again. I was crippled. My bright, bright future dashed to the ashes in a moment. I could not return to my father, to see his disappointment and shame. Limping into the adjutant office at night. Forged the papers that marked me as fallen in the field. This way, my father can have some honor for his failure of a son.
I tore off my nobleman coat and arms. I donned a soldier’s jacket and pants. In the early morning, I ate with the wounded and walked from the camp with the returning maimed and crippled. I would live put my years in pain and remorse.
For a time, I limped and hobbled from town to town, city to hamlet. Begging, asking for alms, my soldier’s pension barely enough to keep my fed. That first winter, I nearly died, but I was saved by the kindness of a bitter mother who had lost her sons to war.
I traveled long but avoided my home in the foothills of Juvvion. From the capital of Follise to the backwater city of Kernkanko on the border of our nation and the wild lands to the north. My journey came to an end. Here I would settle, beg, work if I could find it. Then, one day, I would die, as nameless and unimportant as the day I arrived.