A/N: This was an essay prompt for my English class - "Write a story on the eight words that changed your life." Of course, it was a creative writing assignment, and I didn't need to write about myself, but anyone. So I decided that HEY, I love Amarant so much, why not give him a little background? So, this is basically what I thought Amarant's like was like, and how he became a bounty hunter. It's not too good, but you can use this in case you're wondering what his background is in any of my fics. SO WHEEE.
The first thing I heard was the drums. They pounded in a rhythm I had only heard in nightmares and stories passed down from generation to generation. Now, they beat up and down the streets, loud and violent – they were beating in the rhythm of my heart, of the hearts of all my people.
I can't remember what my mother said, specifically, but it was soft and comforting, and though my father was calling for me, to join him in this showdown, this final fight that I know I've been preparing for all my life.
They came with spears, shields as tall as they were, and their faces were covered by strong steel helmets. They marched in unison, hundreds of them pouring through the mountain passage, all silent save for their feet.
They were coming for us – they were coming to take our lives away, and assimilate us into their kingdom. We had lived for a hundred years in this mountain, alone and, for all I knew, completely closed off from their kingdom. Why they wanted us to be part of them... I didn't know. I never really understood, not even later, when I learned about rivalries and grudges that lasted ages upon ages. I never understood why they came for us, when our militia was out hunting for them – didn't they know? Couldn't they go for the ones who were meant to fight?
That was my name, to them. Not Salamander, like it had been given to me, but Demon, like something that can't be stopped – that is only sated by the blood of enemies.
And for them, I would be just that.
My claws – long metal knives strapped to a leather glove – slashed through them and ripped them apart – though I was larger than them, I was less of a target for their spears than a stick. I knew how they moved; my training had been solely based on their abilities and shortcomings. I pulled them apart and separated the weaker ones from the herd; I thinned them out for the older, less able fighters. The younger children – under thirteen – were all inside, pressed against windows. The mothers stayed with their children and the women who were my age fought beside me.
One of those women was Lani. She wasn't a native to the town, but she had lived with us for a long time – long enough to treat us as her kin and our home as her own. She fought not with claws like us, but with a giant axe. I had heard rumors of her being a bounty hunter, but no one really delved into her past. From the way she was fighting, she probably had been, though. She was fast on her feet and even faster with her axe, splitting more people than I did with my claws.
We were doomed from the start to lose – they had numbers, training, and all we had was a handful or two of teenagers and old men, and a hundred women and children.
When we were beaten, they rounded up those of us fighters still living, and killed the older ones. Through the screaming we heard crackling – they lit the wooden houses we had built over the years, letting fire seep up the sides and lighting the thatched roofs. Lani was shouting at them, calling them a host of things – cowards, thieves, villains – along with some rather undignified things that only a woman like Lani would ever say.
They burned our village, but Lani and I weren't about to let it rest. We regrouped ourselves – just us two, no one was left – and fought again. This time, with no children watching and no one to protect but ourselves, we had no qualms with killing everyone in any way possible – my teeth sunk into the neck of one while my claws gutted another; Lani's axe swung in wide arcs and her only war paint was blood.
I knew the name of the kingdom before I had ever seen it – unlike the others we were fighting, Alexandria was known to be just and fair, and no one had any issues with the rulers – not even those we had just slaughtered.
So, to Alexandria is where Lani and I went. We traveled for two weeks, crossing over the stretches of land with little water or food, and only occasionally sleeping.
They were kind enough to us, but Lani soon told me of somewhere better, somewhere where my size and skin and especially my untrained manners would be better appreciated – Treno.
We went there through the Gargan Roo – an underground channel that was closed soon after we used it – and I found an easy enough job as a security guard for the auction house. Unfortunately enough, this led directly to the seventh word that changed my life.
Monkey-tailed guy with blonde hair and an infuriating way of getting out of all problems. He had stolen something, and I had thought that anyone who could get out of there without anyone catching him would be worth fighting – I had become desperate, wanting to fight anything and everything that looked strong enough. Unfortunately for me, he was plenty strong – at least, mentally. He tricked me, and managed to pin a bounty on me before leaving me without a fight and unable to stay in Treno.
Lani had long since gone back to bounty hunting, and as soon as she found out about my issue, she invited me along. We made a team – we took them down and split the profit, never worrying about manners or good or bad, just money and finding the toughest damned opponent we could. That is, she wanted the money and I wanted the fights. It worked for us.
I spent my time fighting with Lani. I don't mean fighting beside, but fighting with her – at least, petty arguments and little things like who got to finish who off. She kept calling me lizard-man – a direct stab at my name that sometimes would enrage me beyond anything. Finally, I told her that if she hated my damned name so much, why didn't she just choose one that she thought would be better?
And what she chose wasn't much better.
I changed from Salamander Coral, last survivor of the Eidechsen, the warrior who took down an entire army, to The Flaming Amarant, the bounty hunter who would fight you so long as you had a coin on your head From honor to miscreant – Eidechsen to lizard-man.
And that changed my life.