This story sparked from a dream I had. I won't tell you all of it, but I'll dish out just the general sense of it all... I was a stranger in an odd land, a land that I knew I had been promised great things from, yet it was a land that was dark and violent and unforgiving. The rich laughed scornfully, and everyone else who didn't have money was instantly clapped in slavery's chains.
What was wrong? I wondered. Why is everything so horrible? I remember feeling scared when I got branded a slave, and then I heard whispers surround me. It's the king's fault. He did this to you - to everyone. He hates goodness. He'll do whatever he can to pull you down.
Well, now I'm sure you can imagine how one must feel in that situation. I woke up soon after, but not before I'd been befriended by a man I didn't know. I didn't want to agree to his proposition, but I knew even without him asking what he wanted me to do: sneak into the castle and put an end to all the suffering of the common people, the people held as slaves. Free them and go to whatever extreme to help them.
And of course, that extreme was... killing the king.
To say in the least, I woke up laughing at myself. What had I eaten the night before to give me such a dream? But when I chewed on it, I decided that made a great story starter. What if there was someone who'd yearned for freedom and wealth and great things, but instead fell into the dark pit of slavery? Someone who became part of a rebellion, and against his better judgement, agreed to kill for the sake of freeing others?
Well, my friends, that's where Allen came in. And this is his story.
|Because everyone loves a nice collage... and because it was easier than trying to finagle a bunch of pictures into this post.|
Orphans Perden and Allen Wolfhouse hated their childhood, and why shouldn't they? Forced to work day and night, even as young boys, and slapped with the name of their shame – the orphanage Wolfhouse. Both brothers vow to one day rid themselves of the labor they abhor, dreaming of a new life that can only be found on the Lower Home island. One day, they promise each other, that life will be theirs, and they'll have anything they could ever desire.
But on Perden's sixteenth birthday, Allen's world comes crashing down. The orphanage cannot keep the older boys, so they are turned out to fend for themselves. Only eleven, Allen is not permitted to accompany his brother. Perden hates to leave him behind, but they have no choice. He promises to work and come back for Allen when Allen is old enough, and then together they'll venture onward to a glorious new life.
Ten years later, Allen is out of the orphanage and just finishing work as a lowly farmhand to earn money for his passage over the channel. Perden never returned, never sent word, but Allen doesn't give up hope – even when he discovers that Perden crossed over to Lower Home without him. No, he'll just meet him there. Nothing could be simpler.
But that's before Allen finds Lower Home is nothing like what he imagined, before he's thrown off his ship into the hands of slavers and chains. Before he's roped into a rebellion he didn't want. Before he falls victim to a dying man's unbearable request and a madman's whims.
Is this what freedom feels like? Allen leaned dangerously over the side of the ship. The cool breeze felt refreshing on his face, and the ocean sent up droplets of water as the waves crashed against the side of the vessel. He brushed the saltwater out of his eyes and threw a smirk down into the clear, blue depths.
“Laugh all you want now,” he told the water. “Soon I'll be rich and happy, and I won't have to work another day. Then Perden and I will have nothing to worry about.”
He heard someone snort behind him and a heavy hand clamped down on his shoulder. “Now why might ye be talkin' down there? Can't hear ye none.”
Allen grimaced. The sailor's breath smelled thickly of beer. Even though the captain declared alcohol absent on the voyage, Allen supposed there were plenty of secret caches which held smuggled beer for the enjoyment of the more foolhardy crew members. But he said nothing, merely pushing the drunken sailor away. Not even his halitosis could dampen Allen's excitement for this day. Let the crew think him mad, talking to the water of the channel as he did. It mattered little to him. He stared outward, his eyes strained on the dark line just on the horizon.
“I'm coming, Perden,” he whispered. “And once I get there, we'll be a family again.”
He didn't know why his brother had made the crossing without him; why he had never tried to contact Allen at the orphanage. They had promised to come together to Lower Home, to face the new life together, but for some reason, Perden hadn't waited. It had taken Allen almost two years to finally discover the truth about his brother's whereabouts, each month passing anxiously, each night lonelier than the last. Doubts grayed the corners of Allen's mind, but he thrust them into oblivion.
Perden knew what he was doing. I'll find him in Lasarett.
The mere mention of the name sent a thrill down his spine. Lasarett. The capitol, the place where the waters stopped, the home of every dreamer whether he be twenty-one or not. As the dark smudge on the horizon steadily grew larger, Allen couldn't contain the smile that swept over his face. They'd dock that evening, and he was certain it would only take a few short hours – if that – to locate Perden.
Allen took a deep breath. Soon.