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The Mistakes of Youth

Maybe its just my mind, the guilt of my past, I don't know. I know only that I grow tired of this game. Seemingly endless fights and battles. When I was young, I believed nothing could stop me. Maybe I was right, youth had a power, like none other I can remember, over me. It drove me to success, it kindled the fire that led my soul. They say evil is a powerful thing. But evil is easily conquered, and that was my downfall. Ahh...the memories. I can still remember my first death, my first teacher, my first head....

***

"Hold!" the order came down the lines. Everyone halted, looking around, searching for any trouble that might come. A tall lengthy man, stood up in his stirrups. His blond hair bond in a ponytail, and his green eyes searching the forest. He was one the lieutenants in Ha'shumar's army. It was whispered among the men that he would take over after Ha'shumar. Of course if any of the other lieutenants had any say over it, Lieutenant Melan would not be in the army. The brass young man was a brave, heartless, and cunning fighter. But the others believed he would lead the army to its destruction. He was to ambitious they believed, but the men, well the men admired him. He was not afraid of anyone, or anything. Many believed he was better than Ha'shumar himself!

"Why are we holding?...We waste time!" complained the Lieutenant. " We could be in Athens by now. What is Ha'shumar waiting for?" He spun his horse about, and kicked it into a gallop. He was headed for Ha'shumar.

"We make camp here tonight.." Ha'shumar said to his Lieutenants. "We will break camp come Dawn."

"Why?...If we march on tonight we can be at Athens!," complained the youngest lieutenant, "I say we march on. We are only a mile away!...We can attack tonight if we march on!"

"Melan, my boy, our men are tired. And we have come not to war, but to speak of peace between Sparta and Athens...If we are to make peace, then me must not march as if we are on the attack!"

"Peace?...Athens and Sparta will never have peace. Its against our better judgment, if you ask me, this pathetic agreement is a waste of our time."

"Melan, You might be a good general, if your ambition doesn't get you killed."

"Sir, You were a good general till you got too old." With that the young, ambitious lieutenant bowed his head, and took his leave.

***

... In the past, ambition was the driving force for many upstarts. For one could only succeed if one had enough ambition. I had that ambition, I had enough ambition to cover the world it seemed at times. I didn't understand the meaning of peace back then. Only war, I lived and breathed war. It was in a way, My life force. Of course, Ha'shumar was right. He told me, once before he died, that 'Your Ambition will be your downfall. For you have a evil heart, and evil can not, for all its power, win in the end.'

Of course, in my heyday, that meant little to nothing to me. And those words, in a way, fueled me, gave me purpose. I was going to prove Ha'shumar wrong, but in the end I guess I only proved him right.

***

The night sky blanketed the earth. The stars and moon being the only source of light. In the shadows the predator stalked its pray. "I will be back in a short time. I have a meeting with the Athenians." Ha'shumar's said, from inside his tent.

"What of Melan?..." one of his lieutenants asked.

"I will speak with him when I return...Keep the men quiet, and make sure they are all fed. The last thing we need is for them to get into a fight. And someone find Melan for me, tell him I wish to speak with him upon my return." With that, the older man stalked out of the tent and mounted his steed.

As Ha'shumar rode out of camp, he felt the buzz. He sighed and pulled up on the reins of his horse.

"Melan" he said, "Come on out my boy, I know your there."

"Of course you know I'm here" came a response. Out of the shadows, stepped, a fine and handsome young man. He bowed slightly and drew his sword.

"You're getting too old Ha'shumar. It's time someone replaced you"

Ha'shumar sighed again, and dismounted.. "Melan, what are you doing?...Are you challenging me? Is this the thanks I get for teaching you, for training you?... Others would not have been so kind."

"Oh do not think I am not grateful Ha'shumar.. In fact" he said, his voice calm and smooth. "I am very grateful to you. But is it not a teacher's greatest joy when the pupil can best them?"

"A teacher is always joyful when their pupil can best them, but do you think you are a master?.. Ha!, My boy you still have much to learn. True you have skill with the sword. But you can not win with steel alone!"

***

That was the greatest testament of youth's stupidity. I had so much to learn from Ha'shumar, but my own ambition had blinded me. By a sheer miracle I survived for centuries. I lived on for four thousand years. And I regret killing Ha'shumar now. Seeing he still had so much to teach me, but youth will be youth. And a warlord will be a warlord. Which I had become.

***

Melan come ridding hard back to camp. He dismounted, staggered and fell to his knees. "They Killed him!..." he stammered..."They Killed him!" His voiced was ragged, and his hands trembled. His cloak turn and tattered, and torn. His legs were coated in mud, and he had lost his sword somewhere.

"What?" one of the lieutenants asked, as he came out of the tent. "Who killed who?...what are you babbling about now?"

Melan staggered to his feet, and grabbed the man by his shirt. "The Athenian's, they killed him. They killed Ha'shumar....They didn't even give him a chance..."

The others had now assembled outside, and helped pull Melan off of the fellow.

"Calm yourself, boy" he said, wrenching Melan off. " What do you mean they killed him? What were you doing out there in the first place?"

Taking a few breaths, and stepping back, Melan tried to calm himself. "I had a bad feeling about this meeting. So I decided to tag along, at a distance, to keep watch. I, I...I was just standing there. Then they" he took breath, and a calm of sorts seemingly came over him. " They cut him down. He hadn't even a chance to draw his sword." He straightened , his fiery green eyes pierced the souls of all he looked upon.

"We must have revenge on Athens!" he called out to those men around him. The news (planted news) of Ha'shumar's death echoed through the ranks followed by cries for revenge.

"We Must destroy Athens!" some cried, others "Athens must pay!" Melan smiled, as he mounted his steed. He was now general, and the men pledged their allegiance to him.

He called once more out..."Athens has brought this upon itself. We sought peace, but they want war. And war is what they shall have!" A chorus of cheers erupted, as the men took up their arms.

***

Fact upon fact leads to truth, and truth leads to knowledge, and knowledge leads to wisdom, which in turn leads right back to fact. Of course we don't know this when we are young. And if we had, well we wouldn't have done many things. Youth is an excuse you use far too often to justify our mistakes. And we will wish to forgot much if not all our past. Well, maybe we wouldn't want to forget everything....

***

They marched on to Athens that night, and come dawn the city was ablaze. Melan smiled, he had won this day. He had taken over the army, destroyed Athens, and started a war worthy of Ares.

"We had no resistance Sir. They fell easily" one of the men reported.

"Good.. very good. We have done well and Tonight we shall feast!" he said, raising his sword in victory.

The Athenians, though beaten, found a new leader. A woman, strong and determined to drive away the Spartans.

"The Spartans have come here, claiming we have killed their leader in cold blood. They follow a leader who is cold and heartless. We must destroy him!" her voice called out.

The chorus of cheers was her answer. She would lead her people against this great enemy. She would destroy this monster of lies. She had to, for if she failed this creature would reek havoc across the lands.

Melan heard them long before he saw them come. He and his men were prepared for this skirmish and laid in wait for the Athenians. But he had underestimated and he was over run. He called his men to rally, but a woman, their leader, attacked him first.

"So you are the monster you falsely accuses my people of murder." she stated bluntly.

"You know me...But I do not know you. What is your name?" He asked, calmly.

"I am known as Ka'tina" she said.

Battle raged on around them but they seemed oblivious to it. He was mesmerized by her, and he could not explain why. Then she lunged at him, holding her sword carelessly, her balance all wrong. It was easy enough to disarm her, and push her to the ground. But he could not bring himself to kill her.

His hesitation was her opening, she grabbed the sword of a fallen soldier and ran Melan through. He drop his sword, eye wide, mouth gape, and fell to his knees. She stood quickly, looked him in the eyes, and kicked him over.

"Victory for Athens!..." she cried, and charged off into the battle.

The battle was over by noon. The fields were covered in blood, and the Spartan army had withdrawn. Their leaders were slain, and their morale was shot. The Athenians searched the fields for their own, burning the dead Spartans. It was a grave day, indeed.

Melan took in a breath of air as he woke. At first he couldn't remember where he was, but then he did. And one image stuck in his mind. The image of the Athenian girl, her auburn hair, brown eyes, fair skin, and plush lips. Had she survived? He didn't know, but he knew he had lost this day. But he smiled in spite of himself. He had lost this day...But he had an entirety in which he could try again.

***

So its a fact, one day we all grow up. It sometimes takes some longer than others though. I grew up, eventually, after many years of reeking havoc. Well 400 years to be exact. War soon become old to me, and new wonders stepped before me. One in particular. Now in a way I guess I knew from the moment I first saw her, that I loved her. She had haunted my dreams for those 400 years. She was a reminder of what I was. But I will never forgot the joy I felt in my heart when I saw her again. She was so beautiful, so unchanged, so unforgiving.

***

"Why should I forgive you?...You killed my family and burned my home. You were, are, and always will be a cold hearted, monster!" Ka'tina said, tears rolling down her face. "I HATE YOU!"

Melan, kneeling, sat there begging her forgiveness. "For what I have done I am truly sorry. I can not bring them back, Though I wish I could. But I...I.."

"You what?...Love me?. So you have said." she spat upon him, "But I spit upon you, Melan. You are a sorry excuse for a man, and not worth the effort it would take to forgive you."

"Then, if you can not find it within your heart to forgive me, take my head" he said. If he bluffed she could not tell. He held out his sword for her, and she took it slowly. She raised the sword, the then brought it down. But she could not bring herself to kill him. For that she hated him, she also loved him.

***

So its not exactly the smartest way of proving ones love. Its more like suicide, because it really didn't matter how I felt about her. But how she felt about me. It had be a guess, and a prayer, that she truly loved me. At least somewhere in her heart that she loved me. Of course it took many years for our relationship to truly form. We had many things to work out, our past mainly. I swore my heart to her, and promised to leave war a thing of my past. And that way we lived happily, for years up years. The centuries passed, and the times changed. But we cared not, all that mattered to us was that the sun and moon rose everyday on que. But happiness can not last, no matter what you do to preserve it.

***

A young man ran up a hill in the rain, he was breathing hard and tears stained his face.

"Melan!...Melan!" the young man yelled running through a house. "Melan where are you!"

"I'm here.. I'm here. Calm, Jason, what is the matter?" Melan asked.

"Its Ka'tina, They..."the younger man, shook his head. "I tried to stop him, but I couldn't. He killed her Melan. He took her head."

Melan took Jason by the arms and shook him. "Who killed her Jason...who?"

"I..I don't know. He said..." The younger man, broke into sobs.

"What did he say Jason?.. What did he Say!?" the elder asked, shacking the younger harder.

"He said his name was..." Jason took a ragged breath.." He said his name was Anthony."

***

OK, so what does one do when they find out their love has been murdered, their student hunted down and chased all the way to your front door. You are one of two things. 1) Outraged and blinded to reality. and all you can think of is revenge. or 2) You fall into a depression so deep you care not if you live any more. Or you, somehow, though unsure as to how, fall into both categories. Now it was the year of the Black plague when my dear Ka'tina died. She died at the hands of Anthony, a rather ambitious student of mine. Anthony was both my greatest success, and my greatest failure. He was much like I was when I was that young. I had been that ambitious when I took Ha'shumar's head. And here now I was face with the same problem Ha'shumar had faced. How strange it seems when you look at yourself in a mirror. Only I stood in the stead of Ha'shumar and Anthony stood in my place. But, the question was...'would it turn out the same way?'.

***

"So...You came to face me finally old man?" Anthony said, his voice deep. Almost a rumble. "tell me Melan...Are you ready to die?" Anthony stood facing a river, the sun was high in the sky. It was slightly overcast.

"What does it matter?...I'm not going to be dying tonight Anthony." Melan said, stepping out of the shadows, his sword drawn.

"Brave words for a dying man. I'm sure going to miss you teach." Anthony said, turning to face Melan. "I almost hate to Kill you."

"I bet...." the elder said.

With that the battle began and raged on into the night and long to the early morning hours.

***

OK I believe it safe enough to say that, the true test of a man's strength is not how well he fights, but how well he thinks on his feet. I had defeated Anthony, taken his head and won the day. But I had lost my will to live. Jason, my last student, went on his way. As I understand it he lived for a long time. But now I have lived for a whole of 4,000 years. Some 500 of that I have lived after the death of my beloved Ka'tina. And now I face my greatest challenge ... 'the will to live'.

A buzz came, and Melan put down his pen. He looked up and around, then grabbed his sword. He headed for the door and out into the alley.

"What do you want?" Melan asked, sword held at mid waist. The two men stood in a dark ally way, it was raining. He could barely make out the form in the dark, and all he could see was the glint of light off the blade of the sword.

"I want your head..." a rough voice replied.

"Do you now?....Well then, you'll have to come and get it." Melan said, calm and ready for the fight.

"I think I will" the voice said, and the figure stepped out of the shadows. He was tall, with blond hair. He had a beard, and wore a black trench coat. He also had a horrid scar at his throat.

"Who are you?" Melan asked, taking a fighting stance.

"My name is not important,...Just that you're going to die" The man attacked with no farther words.

The battle was long and hard, the seasoned immortal was winning, but this enemy of his was like none other he had fought before. The other produced a dagger, and stabbed the unsuspecting defender. Melan fell to his knees, looking in dismay at the dagger that pierced his heart. The other in a coarse voice said one thing before taking Melan's head.

"There can be only one.."


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