On the fourth day of the seventh month, in the midst of the worst storm the country had seen in years, a baby boy was born in the tiny village of Agrinas. His mother died only minutes after childbirth. She barely had the strength to look at her son, but when he opened big blue eyes to stare back at her, she managed a sincere, joyous smile. "My boy," she whispered. "My little boy." Her gaze met that of her husband one final time, and her smile grew, but also saddened. "Our little boy."
And then she was gone.
The father gathered his baby to his chest, looking down at the oddly silent child. "Our little boy," he repeated gravely. The child grasped his finger and squeezed, and a toothless grin spread across that face. The man couldn't help but smile back. "Our little boy."
Though the father raised his son just the same as the other children in the village, the boy always seemed a bit strange. By the time he was six years old, he was just about five feet tall. At the age of twelve, he had already surpassed six feet. At first, this was nothing but helpful for the rest of the townsfolk. The smith had him pumping bellows, the old widow asked him to chop wood, the farmers requested his help in moving stubborn mules. His naturally strong body became even stronger, until he could actually lift the blacksmith's anvil and carry it across town without once stopping to rest.
But of course, there came a time when the boy's unnatural growth stopped being useful, and began to arouse suspicion among his fellows. On the eve of his fifteenth birthday, just as his height was about to reach seven feet, the boy was surrounded by a group of children his age. Though none of them were nearly as tall as he was, he shrank back from them. He was not an idiot. He knew what they were there for.
The last one stuck, and they continued to jeer it at him as they drew closer and closer. He curled into himself as best he could, whispering pleas for them to stop. No one listened. The first thing to hit him was a rock, a smooth stone picked from the ground that glanced off his cheek. He cried out in pain, and as if that was the signal for them to continue, they all fell upon him. Blurred faces of his assailants flashed before his eyes. His body was being pummeled from all sides. His heartbeat rang in his ears.
When the villagers were finally drawn by the screams, they found the boy kneeling in the middle of the circle of children. His face was buried in his hands. His attackers lay sprawled around him, clutching at their heads and limbs, sobbing through their bloodied lips. As the villagers ran around him, gathering their injured children into their arms, the boy rocked back and forth, muffling his whimpers with his palms. Blood- blood that wasn't his, the others had only managed to bruise him- stained his fingers. The shouting around him grew louder. One of the children was not moving or crying, no matter how much his wailing mother shook him.
The child was buried two days later. The boy and his father were not granted the right to attend the funeral.
"What am I?" the boy asked his father desperately.
The man gathered him as close as he could. "My son," he whispered. "You're my son."
But the boy pulled away. "How can I be your son? Look at me!" He held out his hands. They were raw and sore, having been scrubbed clean over and over again, yet he could still see the bloodstains. "I'm a monster."
The father simply shook his head, eyes wide and sad behind the glass of his spectacles, and gently grasped his son's tattered hands, holding them close. That day, the two of them gathered up whatever belongings they could carry and disappeared into the woods. The villagers did not search for them, but every man, woman, and child kept a wary eye on the ever-shifting shadows at the forest's edge.
Years passed, and there formed a cautious truce between the people of Agrinas and the family in the woods. That is, until two travelers ventured into the town. They claimed to have been sent there by the king himself. The boy- though he wasn't really a boy anymore, he was a man- watched them from under the cover of the forest. They looked similar to the old priest, dressed in draping robes and wooden sandals, but the chains they wore around their necks were unfamiliar to him. The villagers welcomed them with open arms, and for a few days, all was peaceful.
It happened almost silently. Not even the closest town knew about what had transpired, until it was far too late. A wandering merchant, who had traveled that way many times before and who knew the people of Agrinas quite well, was the first to come across the remains of the town. He could barely speak of the horrors he saw there, among the fires and rubble and broken bodies, but his babbled account traveled quickly through the land.
Agrinas was destroyed. The dead littered the ground, shredded into so many pieces that you could no longer tell if the bodies had been human. What buildings still stood creaked and shuddered within the roaring flames that consumed them. The scent of decay smoldered in the air. And, on the other side of the inferno, a demon man, dripping with dark blood, stood and watched it all. His eyes, the merchant claimed, were black and stormy as thunderclouds, his teeth sharp as knives. He had stared at the merchant with fury etched into his very being, and the merchant had fled for his life.
Though the neighboring townsfolk came immediately to douse the fires and bury what remained of the dead, carrying their sharpest weapons against the monster the merchant had seen, the demon man was nowhere to be seen. No one dared to check the surrounding forest. Had they done so, they might have come across the gutted remains of a small cottage, and beside it a small grave on which was planted a single, delicate flower.
But the people of Agrinas were gone, and with them went the memory of the boy named Alfred.
A/N- And there you have it- a new beginning. It's not much different than the last one, I know, but the differences are there, and they're important. This version of the story is going to be a lot darker than the previous one. Things are going to change, hopefully for the better.
Thank you so much for all the supportive comments, you guys. You're all amazing, and I promise you, I'm not going to waste this second chance you're giving me. I hope you'll enjoy this version of Prometheus Rising as much as you did the last one.
Also, I've started up a little Tumblr page for this story, in order to help myself manage the absolutely amazing fanart some of you have drawn me. Feel free to check it out if you want, and also to leave me some comments, questions, or critiques. I'm open to whatever you want to throw at me.
http: / prometheus-rising. tumblr. com/ (Take out the spaces.)
Thanks again for everything!