It's been a long time

Since food has tasted this good,

Even if it was cooked by my baby brother.

It's been a long time

Since I've eaten outside,

But this feels better

Than being in my palace.

My palace is so confining,

But in these open woods,

My spirit feels free.

I feel like I can soar anywhere I please.

I never had this feeling in my palace.

There was always a roof and walls

To stop me from soaring anywhere far.

Back at my palace,

People did not recognize me by my face

As much as they recognized me

By my royal red robes.

I am used to being stared at,

Having grown up in that confining environment,

But it is nice to be away from all the prying eyes.

If I draw my hood up,

I can walk anywhere I please

Without anyone giving me a second glance.

After all, who had ever heard

Of the Lord Rahl himself

Walking around in rags?

I'm in a foreign, filthy body,

And I'm sharing a meal with my sworn enemy;

But I could care less.

For the first time in many years, too many years,

I am free.

I have forgotten what it feels like

To be truly alive.

I have spent most of my life in a living body;

But my soul had been dead,

For I had given my soul to the Keeper

When I agreed to kill for him

In exchange for having the power

To rule the world.

I was young, foolish, and scared.

Prophecy said that the Seeker

Would one day kill me,

And I needed a way to protect myself.

I turned to the Keeper for help

Because I knew that I could not count

On anyone else,

Not even my own father.

I knew that increasing my power

Would give me a blanket of security,

A feeling of safety,

But in my frightened, desperate youth,

I did not stop to think

Of the horrible consequences.

I knew that the Keeper

Would demand a price

For the help that he would give me.

After all, you cannot expect to kill yourself

And then be allowed to return

To the world of the living

Without some price being paid.

There must be a balance

Between life and death.

If this balance is damaged,

The world would definitely fall into a chaos

From which it could never hope

To recover from.

Yes, balance is definitely important.

For a life to be returned,

Another life must be taken.

I agreed to become a baneling,

The very first baneling.

In exchange for my power of security,

I would deliver every day

A soul to the Keeper.

I would kill for the Keeper,

So that I could live.

I really was a fool in my youth.

I didn't stop to think

About how hard being a baneling would be.

In my eagerness to protect myself

Against the Seeker,

I foolishly thought that being a baneling

Would be was anything but easy.

Killing was hard for me at first.

To take another life damages you forever.

However, as time past, I became numb,

Numb to all the death and to all the destruction

That I had caused;

And I did it just because

I wanted to be able to live in safety.

Being a baneling was like

Having an overwhelming, raging, flooding rush,

A rush that could not be denied,

Even though that intense rush

Was not one of enjoyment.

To kill became an unpleasant thrill

But still a thrill nevertheless.

I could feel my heart beating faster, my pulse racing,

And my breathing becoming heavier

Whenever I felt my body beginning to decay,

And I knew that I had to kill quickly

If I wanted to remain in the world of the living.

I definitely didn't want to return to the underworld.

I may had killed myself,

But I didn't do it because I had sought death.

I only did it because I had sought life.

Food did not taste the same

After I became a baneling.

Food filled my body up,

But my soul was left unsatisfied.

My soul only hungered for death.

Only by taking another life

Could my soul find fulfillment,

But that fulfillment only lasted a day.

My soul, my dead soul which belonged to the Keeper,

Smelled death, breathed death,

Sought death, demanded death.

The pleasures of the flesh

Left my body feeling good,

But the feeling was only temporary.

My soul had hunger,

And that hunger was not for sex.

No, that hunger was for death

And for death alone.

I was in torment.

I had to kill every day in order to live,

But I was not truly living.

Instead, I was living in a state of deadness.

There was no joy and no pleasure in life

That could leave me satisfied for long.

My soul did not want the joys and the pleasures of life.

All my soul wanted was death and more death.

Death burned and blazed in my eyes.

Death pounded and raged in my heart.

Death flowed and rushed through my blood.

Death was my very essence.

I became the very embodiment of Death.

I have no idea how many souls

I delivered to the Keeper.

I had to stop counting

Not long after I became a baneling,

Or I would have fallen prey

To complete and utter despair.

I would have given in to death myself,

And then what would have been the point

In making a deal with the Keeper

In the first place?

All the agony that I subjected myself to

And all the agony that I subjected on others

Would have then been a waste of time

And a waste of lives, too many lives.

I had to become numb and unfeeling.

I could not afford to have a conscience.

I could not have killed all the people that I did

If I had not allowed myself

To become such an uncaring monster.

I had only wanted to live,

But Death was the one

Who was my companion.

In exchange for life, I lost my humanity.

I forgot what it meant to be human.

My third death was my salvation.

I was dead,

But I didn't have to kill anymore.

I no longer had to panic

If I couldn't find someone to kill.

I was dead, but I was not yet free.

The Keeper had used me.

First, I killed myself for the Keeper.

Then, I killed others for him.

I gave the Keeper everything,

But he gave me nothing in return,

Nothing if you don't count my third death.

I wanted to be free of the Keeper,

Of the one who I had once viewed as a father.

My real father had betrayed me by using the Seeker.

Then, the Keeper, my second father, did the same thing.

I had devoted my life to the Keeper, all for nothing.

I definitely was not going to spend eternity

With the treacherous, manipulative Keeper.

He hurt me, and I was going to hurt him in return.

Plus, I was also going to get what I really wanted,

What I had always wanted.

I was going to live,

But I wasn't going to live in a state of deadness.

Instead, I was finally going to live in a state of aliveness.

It's been too long

Since I've been able to enjoy

The simple joys and pleasures of life,

But now my soul no longer hungers for death.

My living soul can now live within my living body

Without the requirement of a daily sacrifice.

Life has always been what truly mattered to me,

And now I can finally truly embrace life

Because for the first time in many years, too many years,

I am alive, truly alive.