Just over forty- five years ago, the king of the realm was expecting his first-born son. The king was a religious and well-respected man in the noble society. He was a tall broad man with dark black hair tied into a neat ponytail that hung just below his shoulders. He had a strong face and bore a claw shaped scar across his left cheek that had come from a bear, whilst he was hunting in the nearby forest. His majestic velvet garment fitted to perfection, giving him a defined shape.
The king stepped outside his astonishing palace, into the largest, greenest garden, which had beautiful vibrant flowerbeds either side of the marble steps. The smell of freshly cut grass filling his nostrils, his pale blue eyes sparkling in the sunlight, the sound of crisp leaves crunching as people tread heavily passed the autumn trees.
King Balder began down the large stone steps that led to the garden, he strolled across to the pond; and sat gracefully onto the wooden bench beside the small pond. The pond was a greenish blue, with amazing fish splashing about and swimming franticly. Balder spread himself out and put his head in his hands. When an elegant, and yet familiar female voice spoke “You look terrible, what is it?” Balder raised his head and scooted over to let the woman sit down. She sat gently down beside him. Finally, he spoke “I don’t know what to do anymore, what if our unborn son shows no respect to his people and what if he grows up thinking differently from us, what if-”
“Then he will be his own person, all we can do is guide him, but ultimately he has a choice, we can’t choose his path for him”. Balder looked into the pond and sighed “Your right, your always right, anyway shouldn’t you be resting” she laughed and whispered, “Resting won’t help anybody and besides you need my help to keep you from going insane”. Balder turned and placed his hand softly on her stomach and whispered, “You will be here soon, may you be safely brought into this world”. Balder helped the woman up and guided her up the steps, then sauntered over to the massive metal gate that protected the palace.
Four heavily armed guards escorted the king to the Market of Argon, the busiest place in Argon; the market was teeming with people applying their trade. The king always enjoyed looking at what merchants had to offer, especially if it had anything to do with hunting.
Balder enjoyed hunting even though a bear had clawed his face, it never bothered him, he enjoyed hiking up the rocky mountainside, though the thick wooden branches of the sycamores and the sunlight peering through their stretched out limbs. It calmed him. Like all his stress just evaporates into thin air.
Balder wandered around the market square viewing some interesting antiques. He noticed a gold embroidered silk blanket with small gemstones around the stitching; it was elegant and rather pretty. Balder approached the nervous merchant and spoke softly to try to calm the man down “Excuse me, how much for this blanket?” The merchant gulped and removed a small napkin from his coat pocket and wiped the sweat beads from his forehead, then turned to the king “For you milord, you can have it for no charge”. The king replied in a persuasive tone “But I must pay something for it, it is of a marvellous craft, how about thirty Argas, will that do?”
“But milord” The king raised his eyebrow “But of course milord, that is very generous of you, thank you”. Balder turned and paced out of the market, closely followed by his guards, he travelled north back up to the palace, but was greeted by an unexpected surprise. A servant holding what looked like a bundle of linen. Balder turned pale and had an expression of horror written across his face, the servant dressed in common cotton clothing walked calmly over to him and handed over the bundle of linen and inside wrapped up in all the linen was a tiny baby with a few strands of dark ebony coloured hair. The baby’s eyes were a deep crimson. Balder stared blankly at the baby and then glimpsed over to the servant who was smiling and laughing , the servant still laughing at Balder’s reaction spoke questionably “You seem shocked milord?” The king looked up and responded “Well she wasn’t due till next month, where is she?” The servant’s face dropped into a sadden expression. Balder looked puzzled by her reaction, she choked on her words as if they were gas filling her lungs and throat, “milord, I bare bad news about the queen”. Balder’s face darken and dropped, he screamed, “What happened!” The servant flinched and took a step back, stammering, “I-i am so s-sorry, milord but she, passed away just after the child was born”. Balder sunk to his knees and sobbed, looking down at the child, “He has his mother’s eyes, those beautiful deep crimson eyes”, the servant approached Balder slowly and cautiously bent down and put her hand on his shoulder. She whispered into his ear “milord, everything will be fine, look at your son, he will need you and you will need him”, he turned and faced her; she handed him a small napkin and helped him to his feet and carefully seeing if the baby was well. She spoke softly “He’s beautiful, what are you going to name him”, Balder smiled “He is Barerin, named after my favourite animal, the bear. It symbolises strength”. The servant strolled over to the king and leaned in and muttered “Nice to meet you Barerin”, the servant curtsied and spoke with a more business-like manner “milord, I should get back to work”. Balder spoke “Of course, sorry I didn’t mean to distract you”; the servant curtsied again and walked off to the west of the garden. Balder was left with the child, looking into his son’s eyes, a tear rolled down the side of his cheek, the furious gusts of wind hit his face and made the tear streak cold. He rubbed his cheek; he then ran into the palace and paced up the large golden staircase, until he reached his bedroom. He peered inside and walked slowly over to the dressing table, where a brush laid next to the mirror. He looked at the mirror, then picked up the brush and stared attentively at it, then placed it back onto the table. He then looked over at the coffee table beside the bed and lumbered over, there was a gem encrusted photo frame, and the picture was of the king and queen on a bench in a park. He stroked the picture of his wife and paced out of the room, he continued down the narrow corridor until he reached the nursery. He placed the baby into the handmade cot and took out the embroidered blanket from the large bag that the merchant gave him and placed it gently on him tucking him in. Balder stroked Barerin’s forehead and staggered out of the room, Balder’s eyes were heavy. He was exhausted. Balder dragged his feet along the corridor until he reached his room. He removed his clothing and put on his grey silk pyjamas and crawled into his side of the double bed, he gazed at the empty space beside him, he then placed his hand on the pillow, it felt cold, and it smelled of her fragrant perfume. He lay there all night staring up at the ceiling and thinking about all the things that had transpired, he gained a son, but lost a wife. He slowly drifted off to sleep.
Next morning the sun beamed through the blinds, leaving streaks of light in the dark room, the birds chirping as they flew past the window. Balder sat up and stretched his arms. He jumped off the bed and tread clumsily over to the mirror and looked into it and sighed heavily then travelled over to the bathroom and placed the wooden plug in the hole whilst running the bath. He then reached for the towel and dropped it beside the bath. He removed his pyjamas and climbed into the warm soapy water. He sank into the water and rested for twenty minutes. He then removed the plug, and stepped out of the bath, grabbed the towel, dried himself off and got dressed.
He ran past the servants, picked up baby Barerin, and hugged him close to his chest. Balder placed his index finger into Barerin’s tiny hand, he grabbed it tightly and did not let go, Balder smiled and laughed.
Years past, the leaves of the trees had fallen, a young boy dressed in fine velvet clothing was raking the leaves into piles, when Balder called to him, and “Barerin make sure you get all the leaves son”. The boy turned around and shouted back “Ok, father, but why can’t you get the servants to do it, it’s what they get paid for?”
“No Barerin, I am trying to teach you independence and responsibility, you need to show respect to those who care for our home, our home is their home”
“Fine father, I understand”
“Good boy, your mother would have been so proud of you”, Barerin continued to rake, once all the leaves were in piles he threw them into a bag and run up the stone steps but stopped outside his father’s study. He knocked softly, but when he didn’t get a reply he knocked a little harder, a rough voice spoke “come in”. Barerin turned the brass doorknob and walked inside. There sitting in a wooden chair was his father. Barerin shuffled nervously and stuttered “F-father, c-could you take me h-hunting next time you go” Balder raised an eyebrow and looked questionably at his son
“Why would you want to go hunting? I thought you didn’t like the idea of hunting animals for sport”
“Y-yes father, b-but I have never been, so I don’t know what it’s like to hunt and I think it’s a chance to spend more time together, because you are usually too busy with ruling to spend time with me”
“Yes I have been quite busy, I don’t know…ok sure, I will teach you to hunt” Barerin smiled with enthusiasm, Balder looked into his son’s crimson eyes and remembered his wife talking to him about Barerin being his own person. Balder muttered “you have your mother’s eyes”, Barerin rolled his eyes and replied, “I know you keep telling me, “I have my mother’s eyes and your hair”
“I know, but it’s hard for me to think your mother not being able to see you grow up”
“Yes, I know father, what was she like”
“She had the most beautiful crimson eyes and long chestnut brown hair that nearly reached to the floor; she was gentle spirit and believed in second chances, she would often help out at the market which made her happy, she had the most breath-taking smile you could ever see, one look and it’d cheer everyone up”
“She sounds…great, it’s a shame I never got to meet her, but I have a question”
“Yes, what is it”
“If you had a choice to redo everything, and if you knew that if mother had me, she would die, would to save her and let me die”
“Barerin’s that’s not fair”
“I know, but…I just to make sure you wanted me”
“Your mother made sure they saved you, even if it killed her”
“You’re not answering my question,” Barerin asked harshly.
Balder sighed “At first, when she died I thought about it, if you had died instead of her, but when I saw you, I knew I couldn’t let you go either” Barerin smiled and run over to his father and hugged him, Balder hesitated and then hugged back.
“Now, Barerin why don’t you go and check on the horses outside the stable”
“good lad, now off you go” Barerin sprinted out of his father’s study like he was being chased by a boar , Balder muttered under his breath “ that kid could run for miles without stopping”, Balder shook his head and continued working.
Barerin dashed through the garden until he reached the metal gate and tugged on the iron latch that locked the gate, it took all his strength to open it, but a figure overshadowed the young boy. Barerin cringed and a loud deep voice spoke “what are you doing young prince” Barerin turned slowly around and looked up at the huge man behind him, Barerin gulped and muttered “father asked-
“Speak up lad”
Barerin spoke louder “Father asked me to tend to the horses outside the stables”
“Then I suppose I should accompany you”
“You don’t have too”
“Nonsense, your father would have my head if I didn’t, come along lad”, Barerin stepped behind the man, who opened the Iron Gate with ease, Barerin raced beside the man and struggled to keep up with him, until they reached the stables. They were old and worn, outside the stables were three horses, one with brown skin and a blonde mane, another with white skin and a blonde mane and a black skinned horse with white mane, they looked amazing. They stood gracefully grazing on the nearby grass.
Barerin went over to the stable shelf and pulled out a brush, he then moved carefully over to the horses and brushed their manes, he could barely reach them. Once brushed he travelled back over to the stable and placed the brush back in its rightful place then picked up the shovel underneath it and put on an apron and wellington boots. He then walked into the stable but was met by a repulsive and foul smelling odour coming from inside. It did not smell as if it was a horse stable but smelt worse than a sewer. Barerin pushed the stable door open and walked calmly inside, he then unlocked one of the horse pens and found something he was not expecting. He gasped at the sight of a mutilated corpse, the corpse had maggots crawling inside the gaping wound on his chest, flies swarmed the remains, and the rats were tearing at the flesh, the smell was repugnant and revolting. He could taste the foulness in his mouth and yet he reacted strangely towards it, he did not scream nor cried he just stood there, as if he did not know emotion. He turned and started shovelling piles of manure and straw over the body, then shovelled the rest into the bag kept for cleaning the stables; once it was done Barerin removed the apron and boots. He paced over to the man and spoke “it’s done, we can go” the man stood up and walked the boy home. The man locked the gate and Barerin bolted up to his room, he sat there for ages, thinking.
Ten years had passed, Barerin was in his teens, and a man dressed in a brown cotton long coat and black trousers walked into Balder’s study. Balder approached the man and shook the man’s hand “greetings doctor, did you… assess him” the doctor sat on the chair in front of Balder and spoke quietly “yes milord I have, but it’s not good news I am afraid”
“What… how serious is it, what is wrong with my son”
“It’s incredibly serious milord, he is not quite right in the head”
“What are you saying?”
“Milord, I…believe your son may have schizophrenia and narcissistic personality disorder, he seems to act out and reacts badly with people”
“This isn’t possible my son, isn’t a monster”
“No he isn’t, not yet, has your son ever gone through a traumatic event that may have triggered this”
“His mother died…but that can’t be it because she died giving birth to him and I don’t…wait I remember a time when he was very young about nine or ten. I sent him to clean the stables, he came home and he has acted strangely ever since. About a week after that, we found mutilated remains of an old friend mine”
“Do you think he saw the corpse?”
“I… don’t know, maybe, but I didn’t think it had anything to do with him”
“Hmm… your son may also in time become a psychopath”
“No, isn’t there anything we can do to prevent that”
“Well… there is something, but-
“But... It is highly experimental“
“What is it?”
“It’s a combination of electric shock therapy, Sleep deprivation and water torture”
“Oh my god, that’s a bit extreme”
“Sometimes extreme measures have to be taken, to prevent others from hurting or even killing people. Is that what you want…your son killing and torturing innocent people?”
“No, I don’t want that”
“Good, I will set everything up; it will take some time to get everything ready”
“Fine” the doctor walked out the room and strolled out of the palace, were Barerin sat quietly on a bench, the doctor looked over to him and Barerin shot a cold calculated glance at him as if to say, I am coming for you, the doctor studied him as he left and thought that Barerin’s glance even froze his soul.
Over the two weeks, the doctor visited Barerin daily to see how he acted around others, Barerin acted as the doctor predicted, the doctor returned to Balder and explained, “I am truly sorry milord, it is as I suspected. Barerin is very troubled young man”. Balder paced up and down his study he sighed and finally spoke with an uneasy tone “ok, ok do what you must to help my son”
“Of course milord, send him to me” the doctor left the room and passed Barerin on the way; they exchanged looks and continued out of the palace. Barerin entered his father’s study and spoke with an emotionless tone “Father, why is the doctor still here, is there something wrong”. Balder turned and faced his son “Nothing’s wrong son, but I want you to go with the doctor for a while”
“Why father, did I… do something wrong”
“No, you didn’t”
“But why must I go then”
“Because, you need help”
“Why, do I need help?”
“Please Barerin; I need you to trust me”
“Of course father”. Barerin paced out of the study, Balder thought for a moment and muttered under his breath “That’s not my son, not anymore”.
Barerin entered the doctor’s laboratory, the doctor called over to him and Barerin gasped at the sight of a large metal chair attached to lots of wires. Barerin looked questionably at the doctor; the doctor spoke with a wicked tone “This is for you”
“I don’t understand”
“You will, in time, now lad get in the chair”
“No, my father won’t abide by this”
“He already knows, who you think asked me to do it”
“No you’re lying”
“Oh child, I’m not, there is something broken in you, and you need to be fixed”
“No please, I don’t want this”. The doctor grabbed him. Barerin tried to squirm out of the doctors grasp, but he was too tight, the doctor strapped Barerin into the chair and turned on the machine. Barerin screamed in pain as the volts of electricity surged through his body, it felt like every bone, organ and muscle was on fire, tears ran down Barerin’s face and into his mouth, it tasted bitter and salty. Barerin continued to scream and scream, the doctor chuckled at Barerin’s pain, when it was finally over Barerin was weak and fainted. When he woke, he thought he was dead and that it was all a terrible dream, then the doctor approached and leaned over, but then he noticed he was chained to a different machine. Barerin struggled against the thick iron shackles around his hands and legs, he also noticed he was laying down and a large tube was above him, the doctor whispered directly into Barerin’s ear “You see that, that is full of water, but only one drop will fall at a time, I call it water torture”. Barerin whimpered at the thought of more agony. The doctor slowly turned the wheel that released the water, the doctor walked back up the laboratory stairs and bellowed back to Barerin “I will be back later; I have dinner with your father to speak about your treatment, see you soon”. The doctor flicked the light switch off and the room fell dark, all was silent, only Barerin’s snivelling could be heard as the water slowly dripped onto Barerin’s forehead, drip, drip, drip, Barerin continued to struggle, but it was useless. Hours passed and Barerin was beginning to lose hope, the doctor returned and placed two matchsticks between Barerin’s eyelids to prevent them from closing, Barerin roared, “I’ll kill you” the doctor strolled back upstairs laughing. Barerin was so tired, he wanted the doctor to kill him, just to end it all now and he could not take much more of the torment.
Weeks turned into months, months turned into years, Barerin had endured three years of endless torture, day in, day out. One day the doctor forgot to tie the chains around one of his hands as tight as the others, Barerin had waited so long for the doctor to slip up. When the doctor left to inform Balder of the improvement of Barerin’s state of mind Barerin squeezed his hand free of the shackle, and then worked on the other hand, but it was too tight. Barerin noticed a hammer on the side of the table, Barerin tried to reach for it, but it was too far away, Barerin crawled over as far as he could and lifted his right leg to knock it down. The first time he could not reach it but he thought I can’t give up now, and then tried again, he dragged his foot across the hammer, the hammer fell thunderously to the ground. He then picked it up and began smashing the shackles, thinking they were the doctor’s head, it took some time to break free and when he did, he was overcome with joy. When he tried to stand, he wobbled and fell but he got back up and edged himself across to the stairs, he kept the hammer in his back pocket to defend himself. He dragged his numbed body up the stairs and outside the door, he knew the doctor would be back shortly to check on his ‘pet’.
Barerin continued to drag his body behind a small cabin not far from the doctor’s lab, he tried to regain feeling in his legs, but it was taking too long. He heard a person approach, he was praying it wasn’t the doctor, but a woman with long curly blonde hair and sapphire blue eyes appeared, she was holding a tree branch. She looked stunned by the man lying in front of her. Barerin spoke weakly “I am sorry, I need some help”, the woman stood still, Barerin spoke pleadingly “Please, I have been held captive by a mad doctor who has tortured me for the last three years, my name is Barerin, and I am the prince”. She gasped and whispered, “You’re the king’s son, and my name is Isabelle”
“Nice to meet you Isabelle”
“Likewise, now let’s get you inside” Isabelle rushed over to Barerin and helped him into the cabin, she put the large clay stove on and checked his wounds, she mumbled at the sight of the bruises and cuts, she chopped some vegetables and threw them into the bubbling pot, then returned to bandaging him.
Barerin began telling her what had happened to him over the last three years with the doctor, an expression of disgust shot across her face she replied “Why would your father do that to you”
“I don’t think my father knew what exactly was going to happen, but when I find that monster I am going to end him”
“Ok, your bandaged up, now be careful”, Barerin stood up and thanked her “Hopefully we will meet again…Isabelle”
“You too” Barerin run though the village as fast as he could holding the hammer in his hand, Barerin marched into his father’s study , both the doctor and Balder had shock written across their faces. Barerin marched up to the doctor who was wrenching. Barerin bawled “You evil fiend, I will kill you for what you did to me” the doctor stammered, “I-ii w-was trying to h-help you”
“Help me, you tortured me, you broke me, i wished i was dead because of you” Balder spoke in a serious tone “Barerin put down the hammer, son”
“Don’t call me son, you knew”
“I didn’t know what he was going to do. I just thought he could help you and make you well again” Barerin took a step forward towards the doctor; he began smashing the doctor Balder shouted “No son stop this”. Nevertheless, it was too late. The doctor’s now mangled body lay silently on the floor, the blood oozing from him as if he was a fountain. Barerin looked down at his bloodied hands that shook viciously. Balder bent down beside his son and muttered “nobody has to know about this, ok son, I will get the most trusted servants to clean this mess up” Barerin looked at his father. Balder helped him up and called the servants. Balder guided Barerin to the bathroom and run the tap, the water felt cool against the burning sensation of his hands, Barerin watched as the blood was washed away.
It took a while for Barerin to get back to his normal life but something else about him changed, he no longer showed servants and village folk respect, he would just spoke to them in an atrocious manner and ignored them. Balder was still worried about him, he never knew his son was capable of murder, Barerin kept in touch with Isabelle and years later got married. Four years after the incident in the palace, the king passed away, who was wrecked with grief and guilt over what happen, and he died knowing his son was a monster and a murderer. Barerin became emperor at first people liked the idea, because he was the son of a great man, but Barerin was nothing like his fathers, this is only the beginning of the end, the new emperor Barerin rules with an iron fist and a steel sword; a new era of fear has begun. The realm now looks to the rebels to end Barerin’s tyranny and put an end to the wars he has created. This is their story.