That's all I've wanted, my whole life, ever since I was born, almost naked, only wrapped in rags. I squinted into my mother's eyes, and I thought I could see love there. I thought she would never betray me.
How wrong I was. I grew quickly, ever the tomboy. I drew my first sword when I was fifteen years, and promptly killed my first deer. My brother Lyceus was jealous because though he was younger, he felt that he should be the one to kill the deer. And here was his older, but smaller and weakling (so he thought) sister, almost effortlessly striking down a doe with a mere sword. My mother was appalled when she found out. She begged me not to use a weapon again. I wondered why she seemed so frightened. But I obeyed her wishes.
To an extent. I practiced the sword only at night. I can't really explain to you how I learned it in the first place. It just felt natural, like I had always known how to use it, but simply forgot.
One fateful day, however, I had show my strength again. When I was eighteen years, the soldiers came, led by a warlord named Cortese. They attacked the village, and would have burned it the ground, if Lyceus and I hadn't intervened. We roused the villagers, and together, they fought off the raiders.
My brother was murdered. I felt such rage enter my heart, like nothing I had ever experienced. They had to pay! With murder in my heart, and sadness in my mind, I killed the man I saw strike my brother down. I won my first battle that day, but I was never the same. The men's metal masks haunted my dreams, and my mother blamed me for Lyceus' death. I ran away from the village, and gathered an army with my wits and my charm.
Well, the rest is history. I destroyed many lives with my anger and my hatred for humanity. Hercules changed me, and I wandered the countryside for many months until I came upon the small village of Poteidia.
It was there I met Gabrielle, who would, in later years, become my soulmate and my lover. Oh, at the beginning she was so infuriating! I saved her village from slavers, and what thanks did I get? A little, piddling girl following me everywhere, unasked and unwanted! I don't know when I stopped thinking of her as a nuisance, and began to consider her a friend. But whatever it was, it was there. I couldn't run away from it. I was so wracked with guilt and shame; it was like a physical pain. When I screamed into the night, cursing the stars for my birth, it was Gabrielle who comforted me and soothed me back to sleep. She who kissed my forehead and murmured, "Sleep, darling. Sleep, love."
Maybe it was then, maybe it was when I realized that I was finally, unconditionally loved.
Then she almost died on me.
"She is not dead-- I wouldn't let her. Come on, Gabrielle, wake up. Come on, wake up. Come on, wake up. You're scaring me. Wake up. Wake up. Gabrielle, breathe. Come on. Come on, breathe, breathe. Maybe she just needs air. I need to get some air in her lungs. Come on, breathe!" That day I first realized how much I cared for Gabrielle, how much she meant to me.
"Get out of my way! You don't know anything! Don't you listen to him. Come on, I know you're in there-- prove it. You can show him. Come on. Wake up and breathe. You never ran from anything in your whole life. Come on, fight!" Fight, damn you! Fight! - I watched the scene all over again, from outside my body, and I felt all the anguish and desperation all over again.
"No. No-- Come on, Gabrielle. Come on. Come on. Don't leave me. Don't you leave me! Don't leave me! Don't leave me! Wake up! Wake up! Wake up!" And she came back to me.
Such a funny word. It changes its definition every few years. But of one thing I am certain, now that I am facing death, for the last time.
I did not die unloved.
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