For my school I get a short story published!!!! I decided to go with Nathan's story and worked super hard. In the end I got super high praise from my teacher!!! I'm so proud X3
I decided you all should read it now! Please enjoy!
To Become a Man
“Oh! You didn’t tell me you had a daughter!” the woman said with surprise.
The child’s face grew hot and he looked down at his feet.
His mother tried not to laugh. “No, this is actually my son, Nathan,” she said.
The woman blinked. “Son? Oh! So sorry! He’s a very beautiful boy.”
Nathan’s mother did laugh this time. “Isn’t he?” she said running a hand through her son’s hair.
Nathan couldn’t bear to look up. He really did look rather girly. Long beautiful eyelashes that framed his lovely crystal blue eyes. His silky white hair was growing slightly long and curved along his face, making him look even more like a girl. His slight and delicate figure didn’t help.
“Nate!” a voice called.
Nathan lifted his head and looked over his shoulder. A small smile grew on his face. “Nii-san!” he said, rushing over to his older brother.
Kao was far older then Nathan. At least ten years older in fact. He didn’t treat Nathan like he was a younger pest though. In fact, they were the best of buds. “Hey squirt!” he said with a wide grin. “I wondered where you went. We were going hunting today, remember?”
Nathan looked very excited, but then his smile faded. “Mother said I’m not old enough….” he pouted. He glanced back at his mother, hoping for a reaction, but found her still deep in a conversation.
Kao sighed rubbing his chin. “Oh… she did?” He looked thoughtful. “How’s this, we’ll go fishing instead.”
Nathan wrinkled his nose. “That’s boring!” he insisted.
“Nonsense!” Kao said. “It’s hunting training.”
This caught Nathan’s attention. “Training?”
Kao nodded. “To be a hunter you must have the patience of a fisherman. Think you’re up for it?”
Suddenly liking this idea very much, Nathan nodded vigorously. Kao looked pleased and took Nathan’s hand in his, leading him back to their house to grab their supplies.
Nathan swung his legs off the edge of the dock, quietly waiting for a fish. He glanced over to Kao who had a peaceful smile on his face. Nathan was slightly jealous of his brother. Kao had white hair with a hint of grey to it. Though, it was a surprisingly natural grey, unlike the kind that comes with time. It was rather long, way past his shoulders and he often kept it in a low pony tail. He also sported attractive turquois eyes and an elegant face. With all these fine features one would think he’d look fairly feminine as well, but instead he wore them quite well and still retained his manly posture. Nathan wished he could say the same.
“Something eating you?” Kao asked his younger brother.
Nathan glared at the water. “I hate looking like a little girl,” he muttered. “Yesterday, Izzy told me I look so much like a girl that I should just wear a dress and act like one.” His lip trembled.
Kao straightened up to a more comfortable position and looked at Nathan seriously. “It’s true; you’re a very girly boy.”
Kao’s words stung and Nathan could hardly suck back the tears any longer.
“But I’m going to make you into a man.”
Nathan blinked and looked up to his older brother. “What…?”
Kao still looked serious. “One day we’ll have to play our part in the war going on outside the walls of the Peacelands. Both you and I will have to be strong.”
Nathan looked nervous. “But...”
Kao put a firm hand on his shoulder. “For now we’ll work on giving you a manlier appearance, sound good?”
Nathan nodded, liking that idea. Suddenly he received a large jerk, nearly sending him into the lake.
Kao grabbed his waist and held him tight. “Quick! Pull it in!”
Nathan felt his blood pumping with excitement. He’d caught one! Together they yanked it in. A monster of a fish! Over two feet long! Nathan wanted that proud moment to last forever. The next hour was a blur of congratulations from anyone who passed. His mother looked completely shocked when they brought it home. More than anything Nathan wanted to show his father. He was on his way to being a man! He just knew it.
“I’m home” a deep voice called. A tall man with dark hair walked in.
“Hello dear!” Nathan’s mother called from the small kitchen.
Nathan’s father was very tall with a well-built body. His ever scowling face was rough and scarred, giving off a very intimidating atmosphere when he was in the room. It was quite clear that the boys got their looks from their mother. He kissed his wife’s forehead and went to wash up.
Nathan raced after him. “Father! Father! You wouldn’t believe what happened today!” he bubbled.
“Not now,” his father grumbled, washing his hands in the bathroom sink.
Nathan clamped his mouth shut and waited in the hall, rocking on his heels. He couldn’t wait to tell his father all about his fish.
His father splashed some water on his face and finish cleaning. He took a step out of the room and winced in pain. Carefully he bent down on one knee and pulled back his pant leg, revealing a metal leg. He massaged what was left of his real thigh before slipping his pant leg back down. He’d lost his leg in the war and barely managed to keep his life. Because of his wounds he would never get to fight again, so he settled with making weapons and sending them to the city.
He limped back into the kitchen and sat down at the table.
Nathan sat down, still looking excited. “Father, I…”
His father cut him off. “Not now,” he said again. He looked over to Kao. “Have you been practicing your skills? Have you mastered ice yet?” he demanded.
Kao glanced over to Nathan spotting his younger brothers disappointed look. “I have been sir, my progress is coming at a steady pace,” he said.
Their father looked pleased. “Show me what you’ve learned, then!”
Kao sighed, but got up from his seat. Concentrating, he slowly created a marvellous sword made completely from ice. Nathan loved it when Kao preformed his power. He was so graceful and talented.
Quickly, Kao forced the ice to suddenly shift into an ice snake. To everyone’s surprise it lifted its head and actually hissed. Kao quickly melted it and dissipated the water.
His father and mother looked stunned. “You can do that much?” his father said. “Kao, I’m very impressed. I’ve never heard of anyone able to control ice that can make it come alive like that!”
Kao rubbed the back of his neck and sat down. “Really?” He said.
Nathan saw the proud look on his father’s face as he looked at Kao. Kao would always be his father’s favourite. Nathan looked down at his lap. His father never looked at him that way.
Kao saw Nathan’s disappointed look. “Father!” he said. “You should see what Nathan caught today.”
“Hmm?” Their father said, looking slightly interested.
With the spotlight on himself Nathan eagerly got out of his seat and rushed to the counter where his fish sat waiting to be chopped up and served. “Look! I caught this fish!” he said with excitement.
His father slowly got up to see. At first he was quiet, then he gently set down a hand on Nathan’s shoulder. “Impressive,” he said with a slight smile, “this is a very good catch.”
Nathan bathed in his father’s words of praise, his eyes shining with pure joy. His father had actually just praised him! He’d done well!
There was a loud rap at the door.
“Come in!” Nathan’s mother called.
A small girl rushed in with a stack of letters, her green wiry hair sticking out everywhere. “Mail! Boy! You guys get an awful lot!” she exclaimed.
Nathan’s mother smiled. “Thank you Izzy.”
Izzy smiled wide, proving she was missing several teeth. She then looked over to Nathan with a smirk. “Still wearing boy’s clothes? I thought you’d be wearing a dress by now.”
Nathan’s face turned bright red and he spotted the displeased look on his father’s face.
Izzy went on. “You can borrow one of mine if you need to,” she teased. She laughed rudely before quickly rushing out of the house.
Nathan bit his lip, feeling tears beginning to escape. Not in front of his father! Just after he’d finally praised him too! Nathan couldn’t take it any longer and rushed out of the room.
He heard his father’s loud sigh as he sat down to look through the letters. “He really is too feminine for a boy.”
Nathan was crushed. He slammed the door to his bedroom and threw himself onto his bed. Unable to hold them back any longer, he cried into his pillow. After a while he heard the door open and close as someone entered. “Go away Kao, I don’t want to talk to you,” Nathan said loudly into his pillow so his brother would hear him.
“It’s me,” a soft voice said.
Nathan lifted his face to see his mother instead. She really was the essence of beauty: long glorious snow white hair, deep, never ending navy blue eyes and skin so fair some wondered if she was an angel.
“Mama?” Nathan sniffled.
Gracefully she sat on the edge of his bed massaging his back slowly. “I went and talked with Izzy’s mother,” she told him softly.
Nathan tried to wipe away the tears, but they were only replaced with more. “I can’t stand the teasing anymore,” he bawled as he sat up.
His mother pulled him in close and hugged him. “Shhh, it’s alright,” she promised.
Nathan cried in her arms until he’d calmed down enough to go back to the dinner table. The entire meal he stared down past his plate and didn’t dare look up at his father. As soon as the meal had ended, he escaped out the front door. At first he planned to run out into the rolling hills and maybe hide somewhere for a bit. Maybe he’d even run away. But then he remembered how much he’d miss his mother, brother and even his father. He sat down on the deck, looking out at the beautiful country, trying to forget his troubles. He was nearly in tears again when Kao sat down beside him.
Kao saw Nathan’s red blurry eyes; his face looked hard. “You know what?” he said. “Maybe you should take Izzy’s offer and get a dress.”
Nathan felt crushed by his older brother’s words. He stared at him with wide eyes for a moment before he burst into sobs.
Kao didn’t look at his younger brother, but continued to look out over the rolling hills. “This is why everyone thinks you’re a girl,” he said. “Because you act like one!”
Nathan bit back another sob starting at a pebble on the ground, willing himself to stop crying. “D-do not,” he whimpered.
Kao sighed. “Sometimes it’s fine to cry,” he said, “but that’s all you ever do now! Someone says something mean, you burst into tears. The situation gets a little too tough, you run off and hide.”
Kao’s words were painfully true. “I-I can’t help it!” Nathan hiccupped.
Kao finally looked over to Nathan. “You’ve got to learn to toughen up,” he insisted. “When you learn to do that I promise you you’ll get the respect you deserve.”
Nathan slowly looked up. “I will…?”
Kao nodded. “I talked with mother. Early tomorrow morning I’m taking you hunting.” Kao got to his feet and started to go back in, but he paused. “You know… it makes me upset when people tease you. I don’t want you feeling upset all the time.”
Nathan felt rather surprised. His brother really was concerned for him. He looked back at the rolling hills and the fluffy clouds slowly moving through the blue sky. Somewhere out there was a war and, like his brother said, he needed to toughen up. Biting his lip and straightening, he made a silent vow to never cry again.
“Nate,” a voice whispered.
Nathan groaned and rolled over.
“Hey squirt!” the voice said a little louder.
Nathan opened an eye to see Kao bending over him. “Don’t call me squirt,” he muttered sleepily.
Kao smirked. “Hey, I’m your older brother; I have to have some sort of nickname for you that you find annoying.”
Nathan frowned and slowly sat up, rubbing the sleep from his eyes. “The suns not even up yet…” he commented, looking out their bedroom window.
Kao slipped on a fresh, dark green shirt. “The early bird gets the worm,” he quoted.
Nathan rolled his eyes and slipped on some clean clothes. The two packed their bags and Kao picked out a couple weapons from the cabinet before they quietly tip toed out the door.
“To the forest?” Nathan asked.
Kao smiled. “Of course.”
They quickly began to make their trek through the village and along the dirt road. Finally they got further and further into the country side until only one house could be seen for several miles. “I see the forest!” Nathan exclaimed.
Kao nodded, also spotting the tree line. “I wonder if Athia is home,” he murmured looking at the lone house. He stopped. “Let’s go visit her quickly,” he said.
Nathan shook his head. “It’s way too early! She’ll be asleep,” he said quickly, wanting to get hunting as soon as possible.
Kao looked amused. “You just don’t want to see her because you think she’s boring.”
Nathan scraped his foot in the dirt. “But she is! All she ever does is tell really long stories.”
Kao laughed. “Oh come on! I love her stories!” He looked a bit serious. “Don’t forget, a lot of those stories are about our history and our future,” he reminded Nathan.
“It’s weird how she can see the past, present and future,” Nathan muttered.
Kao rolled his eyes. “She only sees the future sometimes and only if the Great King permits,” he said.
Nathan thought up another idea to dissuade his brother. “What happened to the early bird catches the worm?” he demanded.
Kao sighed, finally giving in. “Oh, all right,” he muttered, “let’s go.”
They started to walk again, but as they drew closer to the forest, they surprisingly spotted Athia standing at the tree line. She smiled as they got closer. “There you two are,” she said.
Kao picked up the pace and hurried over to her. “What are you doing here?” he asked.
Nathan sighed and didn’t look up, knowing she’d try to engage him into a conversation if he looked at her.
A cool breeze blew through the trees and made Athia’s long grey hair blow. She was an elderly lady who was frail and wrinkled, yet she still maintained her majestic look. She looked sad. “I have something to tell you, Kao,” she said softly.
Kao cocked his head curiously. “What is it?”
She walked over and whispered in his ear. Slowly his eyes widened, and by the time she was finished he looked stunned and even a bit frightened. “I shall….” He murmured.
Nathan watched his brother with concern, unsure of what just happened.
Athia gently touched Nathan’s hair. “Be strong,” she whispered, “for ill winds blow.”
Nathan didn’t know what she meant and respectfully stayed quiet instead.
It took Kao a couple minutes to relax and look back to Nathan. “Shall we keep moving?” he asked.
Nathan slowly nodded and together they entered the forest.
For the first few hours of early daylight, Kao showed Nathan the traps and weapons they’d be using. He gave his little brother only quick instructions, so they could get right to work. At first, Nathan was rather convinced that there were no animals in the forest other than the melodious birds. Finally he saw a tiny furry creature scuttle out of the brush. Its massive ears stayed high in the air, alert for any sounds. Its hairless legs were short, but it moved at a rather quick pace, searching for food.
Nathan had been so excited by the idea that hunting sounded very manly, he’d forgotten the whole concept of hunting. A horrible whoosh and squeal echoed through the forest as the creature stepped into the trap. It was yanked into the air by its legs with a thin rope and only got one cry of fear before Kao sent an arrow into its head. Nathan covered his mouth to hold back the yelp. It was definitely dead. Slowly he came out of hiding with Kao staring at the hanging creature with large eyes.
Kao looked disappointed by Nathan’s reaction. “Don’t feel bad,” he said. “This is just the natural order of things.” He gently scooped it into a large satchel hanging from his side.
Nathan stared at the small puddle of blood on the forest floor. He knew it all happened so fast the creature probably didn’t feel a thing, but his heart still ached. “I don’t like killing…” he whispered.
Kao paused, looking sad. “I don’t either….” He straightened. “We got to eat something,” he pointed out. “Unless you want to stick to mother’s salad dinners.”
Nathan suddenly wondered if he should consider becoming a leaf eater.
They continued hunting, though Nathan seemed less and less into it. He didn’t feel manly at all. Just cruel. By the time the day ended Nathan was staring off into the camp fire not really wanting to talk.
Kao ran a hand through his hair. “Sorry…” he said gently. “I can see how much you hate this…”
Nathan looked up, but didn’t say anything.
Kao chewed on a cooked chunk of meat. “You’ll starve if you don’t eat, though.”
Nathan shrugged. “I’m not hungry.”
Kao rolled his eyes. “I know you are,” he said. “The Great King gave us the creatures to eat; it’s not sinful to eat them.”
Nathan’s brow furrowed. “Nii-san… Will you one day have to kill when you’re on the battlefield too?”
Kao was about to take another bite, but stopped. He set it down slightly. “Yes… it’s a war… I don’t get many choices…”
Nathan hugged his knees. “What’s the point of killing anyway? I might one day be able to understand killing animals… but other people…”
Kao couldn’t answer and they both stared silently into the fire. Finally Kao spoke up. “Better have this by you while you sleep,” he said, holding out a little sheathed knife.
Nathan blinked. “Why would I need this?” he asked.
Kao looked around carefully. “There are other creatures in this forest then the ones we’re hunting…”
Nathan swallowed. “W-will we be ok?”
Kao smiled. “Of course, I’m right here.”
Nathan didn’t sleep much that night and twisted and turned nervously. When he did, he had a terrible nightmare of a large tiger like creature chasing him all through the forest. It was constantly on his heels and would take a swipe at his head every time it got close enough. He finally awoke with a start.
Kao was cleaning up camp and looked up to Nathan. “You okay?”
Nathan quickly nodded and wiped a bit of sweat away from his forehead. He got himself busy helping Kao to clean up so he would forget the dream.
Kao finished ensuring there wasn’t a trace of their campfire and looked back to his younger brother. “Want to just go home?” he asked.
Nathan looked thoughtful. “No,” he said finally. “I’ll keep going.”
Kao smiled slightly and gave Nathan’s hair a little tousle. “Let’s move on then,” he said.
Nathan did his very best to not feel bad for the little critters, reminding himself over and over again that they were needed for food. By the end of the day he had even bravely borrowed his brother’s bow and attempted to shoot a tall one with long legs. He missed just short of his mark, though, and it disappointingly got away.
Daylight was fading again and Kao wanted to get just a bit more hunting done before they slept. “Stay on this side of the clearing,” Kao whispered. “I’ll go to the other and we’ll corner the next animal to enter.
Nathan nodded stiffly and watch Kao disappear into the brush. Obediently, he stayed completely still and scanned the clearing for any movement. Time ticked by slowly and he tried to ward off the feeling of sleepiness. Fishing, he reminded himself. With fishing you have to be patient.
There was a snap behind him and Nathan turned around quickly brandishing his little knife. What made the noise was no animal though. It was a young man, no older then Kao, who looked surprised to see Nathan. He held a large sword, which Nathan quickly noticed was dripping with blood. He also had the most horrible blood red eyes. Nathan had heard the horrible tales about such beings. They were called Mind Crushers and they had the ability to mentally grab someone’s mind and destroy it. Most referred to them as monsters. Killers without feelings. They were the ones who’d started the war.
With a quick movement the Mind Crusher snarled and leapt at Nathan. Nathan screamed, rolling out of the way. He tried to get to his feet, but a firm hand grabbed his leg and yanked him back down again. The Mind Crusher leapt atop Nathan, positioning his sword to kill him quickly. Nathan screamed again trying to struggle away. The blade came down and Nathan managed to move out of the way just in time. The blade still left a deep gash in Nathan’s cheek though and he wailed in agony.
Kao suddenly came rushing over slugging the Mind Crusher with all his might. “Nathan!” he cried. “Are you alright?!”
Nathan sat up, shaking. He touched his bleeding cheek. “M-Mind crusher,” he stuttered. He only knew the name from the terrible stories his father would tell and recognized it’s iconic blood red eyes.
Seeing that Nathan was mostly all right, Kao turned his attention back to their attacker and threw a spear of ice at him. The Mind Crusher was startled to see another one and he just barely managed to block with his sword, cutting the spear out of his way.
“How did you get past the walls?” Kao demanded.
The Mind Crusher got back to his feet and snarled, “I’m not telling you scum!”
Kao launched himself at the young man with a roar, tossing little knives of ice. The Mind Crusher dodged them and his eyes widened, sending a burst of red light from them. Kao created a wall of ice in front of his own eyes, repelling the attack. Their battle was furious, both prepared to kill. Nathan watched from the side, still feeling shocked and terrified.
Without warning the Mind Crusher feinted using his horrible power with his eyes again and instead slashed out at Kao. Kao, unprepared for this used his arms and a thin layer of ice to protect himself. He cried out in agony as the blade dug in deep, drawing blood. The Mind Crusher kicked Kao to the dirt and lifted his blade to deal out the final blow.
Without thinking Nathan reached to his side and grabbed his knife hurtling it at the attacker. The Mind Crusher gasped in pain and sauntered back, Nathan’s knife deep in his chest. Nathan’s eyes somehow grew wider and he shook. The young man collapsed, dead. Nathan fell to his knees in shock.
Kao managed to get up looking over to Nathan in surprise. Tears suddenly rolled down his cheeks and he sobbed. “Thank the King. You’re alive.” He stumbled over to Nathan and threw his arms around him sobbing into his shoulder. “You’re alive,” he said again.
Nathan had never seen his brother cry before. He felt so many emotions at once that he began to cry as well.
Nathan winced as his mother carefully finished sewing and bandaging his cheek back together. It stung horribly, but Nathan bravely bit his lip and didn’t make a sound.
His mother still looked worried. After she heard the whole story of what had happened she’d nearly fainted.
Kao was already bandaged up and outside talking with their Father.
“Mother…?” Nathan asked.
She looked up from the basket of bandages. “Yes?”
Nathan looked serious. “I understand why people kill each other now,” he said.
She stopped what she was doing. “You were wondering about that?”
She cleared her throat. “What do you think then?”
Nathan smiled ever so slightly. “To protect those they love.”
His mother looked heartbroken instead of proud and her eyes brimmed with tears. “Oh, Nathan,” she murmured softly.
Nathan felt confused, unsure of why she was upset.
Kao came back in gently bending down by Nathan. “Doing ok?”
Nathan nodded. “I’m fine,” he insisted.
Kao sighed. “Good, father’s going to tell someone about the attack. Hopefully we can fix the breach.”
Nathan nodded. “I’m just glad it’s over,” he said.
Kao looked over Nathan curiously. “You know, you were very brave last night,” he said.
Nathan smiled slightly. “Thanks.”
The door suddenly burst open and Izzy rushed in. “Letter from the army!” she cried holding it out to Kao.
Kao blinked and slowly took it. He swallowed nervously, knowing what it was for.
Izzy looked over to Nathan with a smirk, but it quickly vanished. Nathan didn’t look like the same girly boy she’d known just a couple days ago. He still had mostly the same appearance, but his eyes were so much harder and grown up. She quickly turned around and left without saying a word.
“I’ve sent word,” their father called from the entry way, nearly tripping on Izzy on his way in. He spotted the letter Kao was holding. “What’s that?”
Kao swallowed. “They changed the age limit… I’m qualified to be a warrior… according to the conscription I’ve got to go,” he said hoarsely.
Nathan looked shocked. “W-what…?”
Kao passed the letter to his father. “They expect me in a week… I’ll need to leave as soon as possible.”
Their father normally would have worn a proud look, but after nearly losing his sons once this hit him hard. He suddenly realized what it would mean to lose them. Slowly he sat down staring at the letter. “Then… you’ll have to go.”
“Oh Kao!” Their mother cried throwing her arms around him. “No! You can’t go!”
Nathan didn’t say a word. His fists tightened and he looked down at the floorboards.
“I-I’ll go pack…” Kao whispered. He gently pulled his mother off him and stiffly walked to his room.
The thought of Kao leaving to war hung heavily on the small family’s shoulders and the house was deathly quiet other than their mother’s sobs as she sat on the floor.
Nathan finally forced himself to move to his mother’s side giving her a small hug.
She sniffled and looked up to him with a weak laugh. “Wasn’t it only a couple days ago that you were the one crying in my arms?” she said.
Nathan gave her a tiny smile back.
Kao finally came out his room with a pack on his back and a sword attached to his side. He looked around sadly at his family. “I’m packed….” his words trailed off.
Their mother rushed over and hugged him again. “Please, please stay safe!” She begged. “You have to write every day!” she began to cry again.
Kao held her tight I his arms. “I will, I promise,” he told her.
She slowly let go and stepped back so their father could limp over. He gripped his eldest son tightly in a manly hug. “Finish this war,” he told him.
Kao gave a nod when he released him. “Yes sir.”
Nathan didn’t say anything again he stood off to the side glaring at the floor. It wasn’t fair. His brother was supposed to stay with him for at least another year! Kao kneeled down beside him gripping his shoulders. “Nate…” he said.
Nathan slowly looked up.
“Take care of mother and father,” he ordered. “You’ve grown up; I know you can do it.”
Nathan bit his lip, trying to be brave. “Y-you still have to teach me to be a man,” he said.
Kao tried to smile, but it looked like he might cry. “You can do it,” he managed. “I think father will help now too.”
Nathan looked back down at the floor.
Kao pulled his brother into a hug. “I’m going to miss you so much,” he whispered.
A tear slipped down Nathan’s cheek. “Me too…” He squeezed him back tightly.
Kao released him suddenly and got to his feet heading for the door. “Bye,” he croaked before quickly leaving. He couldn’t bear anymore long goodbyes.
Nathan’s shoulders shook as he sobbed.
They never received even one letter from Kao. Instead they got a letter from his battalion leader saying he was killed in battle and his body wasn’t even recovered. The skirmish he was in was rumored to be one of the most grizzly, with only five survivors out of the three hundred.
Nathan’s family mourned Kao with much sorrow, but Nathan never cried. He couldn’t ever bring himself to believe his brother was actually dead. Even on the day of his brother’s funeral he only stared blankly at the gravestone they’d erected in his memory.
After the death of his eldest son, Nathan’s father worked hard to train Nathan, preparing him for the horrors of war he would soon face…
On a mountain top the young man could see everything. From the Peacelands, to the great kingdom. His focus was on the Peacelands though. “I’ll be waiting little brother,” he whispered softly.
Athia’s words had saved his life on the battlefield. “You’ll die in your first battle,” she’d whispered to him. “Go to the mountains, you’ll need to wait for your little brother there. You still play a big part in his future.”
The wind blew through Kao’s long whitish grey hair and a tear trickled down his cheek. “I’ll be waiting,” he murmured again.