The Bell has rung. Manuel knew that it would happen one day. Manuel knew that when he swore his oath this would come. Manuel knew that if he wanted to rise through the ranks and change the world, he would have to do this. Still, the ringing of the bell struck him with terror. His hands shook as he got up and grabbed his sword.
Commoners weren’t supposed to be in the army, he had to fight like hell to join. None of his peers had tried, the rumors and their cowardice coalesced into a rationalization that it wasn’t worth it. For Manuel it was different. His whole childhood was spent being trampled on by nobles and their immorality. The things they had taken from him and his friends, the things they had done, it made him shudder.
What made him shudder more was his desire. He didn’t hate the nobles. No, in fact, he looked up to them. They had the power to exert their will, they were free, and he was not. When he was young he had ran through a field at night, the tall dewy grass caressing him as the moonlight cleansed his sins. The chilled night air filled his lungs. At the center of the field was another boy, laid back, staring up at the stars. He started speaking without looking to Manuel:
“You know that people like you are not allowed to be in places like this,”
“I don’t care,” Manuel replied,
“Neither do I,” the boy replied, “I can tell you understand what it is I’m feeling, you feel the same, right?”
“Yes, free,” the boy rubbed his hair, “They will come looking for you soon, but, one day we will meet again, in this same field, the only two men to understand what it means to be free,”
Manuel nodded and ran off.
The Bell stopped ringing and Manuel walked into the courtyard. The guards stood side by side, with Manuel’s mother kneeling inbetween them. Shadowy, authoritarian, figures watched from all sides. Manuel’s mother whispered:
“It’s okay, it’s okay,” between her sobs.
Manuel closed his eyes and sighed. The yoke was heavy on his shoulder, and yet he could feel the blades of grass, the white glow of the moonlight. He opened his eyes and cast off the yoke, his sword ready in his hands. He could feel the boy smile at him, as he lunged his sword.
The shadowy figures applauded, almost in shock. Manuel stared at his dead mother. Freedom, he was one step closer.