Just a little drabble, elaborating on Julien's reasons for his actions throughout the story. If you like this, don't miss out on the longer Julien-centric story I am planning to start soon. Reviews are much appreciated! Thanks for reading!
Purity … what's purity? Truth, Good, and Beauty. - SOUL'd OUT
I used to think I was pure. As a boy growing up in a noble family in Hearthstone, I was taught that knighthood is the ultimate form of purity. A knight must be like a saint, almost - a perfect being devoid of flaws. Honorable, courageous, virtuous, and compassionate: I was all of these. But by the end, my courage was the only thing I had left.
Compassion was the first to disappear. When I arrived in this foreign land, with its strange, rustic folk so different from the passionate and refined people of my own country, I was at first eager to learn new ways and make new friends. I was in awe of the mighty Duke Edmun, and worshiped him as a great hero to the land, the man who had slain death itself.
But the more I saw of his court, the more disillusioned I became. The knights who were pledged to protect the citizens were bullies, cowards, and thieves, little better than a band of outlaws. When I, in my shock and horror, reported them to their superiors, I was mocked and sent away like a tattling child.
I could bear it when I uncovered the smuggling rings officiated by the Duke's chamberlain, among others. I could even bear it when I discovered that many of the highest officials in the court attended a private brothel. But I could not stand to learn of my hero's true character. You may think that the Duke is a noble man. He is not. He is a lecherous old man, withered and corrupt, who sits on his throne and whiles away his hours in lustful dreams.
After that, I could not look at any man or woman in the country without wondering if they, too, were rotting inside. My pity vanished, along with my sense of justice and righteousness. They were no better than animals, so they deserved to die like animals, slaughtered for the convenience of higher beings when it suited them best.
I started to obsess over the goal of overthrowing the decaying social structure of Gransys and opening the way for the conquering armies of Hearthstone, so that they might sweep in like a purging flood from the sea and wash away the plague of filth that clung to everything I saw. But I needed money to achieve my plan, and money is not easy to come by. Salvation came at the perfect time, offering me a swollen wage in exchange for work that they could not do themselves.
And so I lied and cheated and worked in the shadows while dreaming of cleansing the world of evil. Yes, I committed murder, if you desire to know the full truth. I do not know whether the man was innocent or not, and I cared not. In my mind, he was guilty.
But then I met the Arisen, and my perception of the world started to change. I could not but respect him, a peasant from an unheard of fishing village who challenged without fear the one thing that terrified me: the Dragon. When I looked in his eyes, I saw none of the scheming that defined others. Even when rumors started circling that he had had relations with the Duke's young wife, I gave them no credit.
When that foolish girl, making a mockery of knighthood with her pretenses, confronted me, I was not glad to see the Arisen in her train. Not because I cared if he knew the truth about me, but because I had no wish to kill him. Arrogance! I would welcome the challenge, I said to him. But I was not a challenge to him. While I had been lurking around the castle, he had honed his blade sharp in defense of the people.
I was not sorry when he delivered the final blow. In that moment, the dark veil over my eyes fell away, and I realized my fatal error. I felt at peace to have fallen to such a warrior - the same knight I had once been.
I never expected to be given a second chance. But now that I have it in hand, I will not let it slip away again. I will flay every single vile deed from my soul, and perhaps one day I shall once again have earned the right to be called pure.