Eighth Grade Second Place

The Memoirs of Gareth Whitestone the Third: The Story Of a Man’s Journey and How One Copes With The Challenges of Life

What I want to be remembered for is not what I did when I was young, but what I failed to do when I was old. I will be turning the age of a century early next year as the age of three sacred numbers known as 100 yrs old. People know me because of what others write, but no one knows about what I really feel. Here, I need to tell you what I feel about being a hero, a warrior, and a leader. I dedicate this chapter of my memoirs to my grandchildren and great grandchildren. I hope you enjoy my life story, as it is nothing more than the truth itself as I remember it to the best of my ability. After all, I am a hundred years old and counting.
The beginning of my story is to learn the lesson of tragedy, as that is the first act of my life story. When I was only 10 years old, I saw my own mother being sacrificed by witches. The way she screamed made my ears bleed in pain, as they grabbed her like she was a wild beast that had been tamed. They yanked her legs, gnawed at arms, sucked her blood and then slit her throat, spilling blood all over my father’s tent before the droplets of my sweet mother’s blood from the table I was hiding in fell onto my face like a rainstorm was hailing down on me. I never screamed, not even cried, all I did was just sit under the table motionless. I watched those three witches with their laughing faces leave the tent, and in the distance I could hear the screams of a battle going which was being fought between my father, Damos, and his Brother Malcolm over who would rule over this land after Malcolm killed the oldest who shares my name. When I finally left the tent, my father was gone. He had lost, and I was alone in a world that was on fire and unrecognizable to me. I believe it was dark magic as I saw my Uncle sadistically use the blood of my mother to absorb the soul of my father. That is why I never buried their bodies, I burned them so that I could have only their memory to remember them by rather than the harsh corpses they left behind.
This was the beginning of my journey, as after I said a quick prayer for the two of them, burned their bodies, put the ashes in my lucky sack, and stole a horse from a noisy farmer. It would be thirty years before I ever came home, but at least I kept my promise. I went away into exile, and there I did what any man does when he has nothing to lose. I lived the life of a wandering knight, one not bound by rules but one bound by code. That code was a lesson my father taught me, “life is a series of challenges, never avoid challenges that are hard but avoid the ones that will make you weak.” He also said of tragedy that “it is something to learn from rather than fear, as without it, you never learn who you truly are.”
This leads to part two or the middle of my story, which is where I learned what my destiny truly is. That is when I learned to be a hero. The first thing I did when I left my home was I chose one of the three crossroads which lead to different places. One road led west to the misty mountains of Aviolla, a land full of dangers lurking in the deepest corners of the mountains where monsters lurked on all sides the same way a wolf prowls for its prey. Another led east to the sand dunes with a world full of adventure in pursuit of glory and magical places where one could learn things beyond the knowledge of ordinary people. The last road led south where a more communal conflict took place between three warring kingdoms made amongst men of courage, bravery, and honor who could command a room with just the tips of their swords and the pipes of their lips. What path did I choose? The most dangerous path of course, as I decided to head east to confront the misty mountains as my cardinal rule was to choose the challenge that was the most difficult for me to help make me strong. However, since I was still only the age of a fondling, all of them seemed difficult, so I just chose the one that seemed the easiest to get to as I had been raised in the mountains of Whitestone which was used to me. My adventures were long, tireless days of survival, as I spent nearly four years alone in darkness only with a sword to help me face what lay ahead. Some nights I was as cold as ice that my toe began to numb, and I remember times my stomach was as restless as a lion that I had to urinate on my sword just to attract food to kill and devour. It is funny how all my so-called adventure years have been romanticized to the point of parody because the songs remove me from the reality of urinating to the fantasy of kissing a maiden flower. But even though my times in the mountains were life and death for me everyday, at least it made me appreciate the few beautiful sights I saw everyday, Whenever the sun rose across the mountain top, whenever a full moon made a wolf curl next beside you, I would always smile at how lucky I am to be alive as nature became my guardian angel.
When I finally came down the mountains, I decided to take the crossroad south to join the war that had turned into a bloody struggle between three kings so that I could finally be a worthy knight even though I was only the age of a squire. I spent five years in the kingdom of Aviolian, and when I emerged I saw the horrors of war, as I saw death in the eyes for the third time; however, while the first two had been through magic and nature, this time the feeling was different. It wasn’t some higher waging war, it was just regular men killing just for killing. I emerged from the south a hero, winning the respect of many and the fear of some, and I planned to use battle knowledge one day to reclaim my home of Whitestone which I realized had become my destiny.
My next part, my very last part, shall address the horrors seen in war to be a walking encyclopedia to cover this topic of death. This is the part that I most dread, because it is one I have experienced more often than I wished I had. Death. When I came down the mountain, I no longer saw myself as a boy or man. What I saw myself as was nature’s son, as I had dedicated my entire life to the pursuit of happiness not found in people but in what we all are as primal animals. My lesson for you here is: “Never take for granted what’s given to you by others, as the greatest gifts are ones with meaning and thoughtfulness only found in people who appreciate such ideals.” I prefer to keep the ten years of womanizing and treasure hunting a myth. So, my final lessons shall be about death, and how to cope with death not just on a physical level like a battle or war, but how to accept death of people who are close to you at the hands of the forces of nature herself.
The first thing you should know about wars is that they are not won by the sword or the body, but truly by the mind and the heart. The mind is what helps you see the bigger picture of the war as you don’t see each battle as a necessary victory, you see it as a necessary evil to achieve victory. To win battles is to understand your enemies, how they feel and what they think how or when they approach situations against their favor. But what you also need to do is how to recover from defeat, as that is something you must accept is nothing more than human nature. Only retreat if you know it helps you with your goals and you only accept defeat if you plan on not making this temporary. What most kings fail to grasp is that when you lose, you don’t give up and flee. You reorganize, you plan, you keep morale high for these men and only show devotion if you do it first. However, the hardest part of war is accepting death, specifically being prepared to take and being ready to receive. When you kill, make sure you don’t lose your humanity in the process as you should know that your enemy died for what he believed in so never feel regret for the action if you know your intentions were pure. When a soldier kills a man in battle, it is because he knew it was the best chance for a fragile peace that had to be achieved from savage means. I recommend you never become a savage, never harm bystanders as they are merely observers not enemies nor friends. Treat them with civility, so at least when baker’s boy sees a man covered in blood he only sees the kind gesture of his donation of gold or a nice blanket to keep him warm. To receive death is to remember what you died for, you died because it was out of service and duty to a cause you saw as worthy.
When my only son sacrificed himself to save the rest of us so we could take back our home of Whitestone, I knew he died a proper death for his death was not in vain. Die with acceptance, never fear. My final lesson, children, is that when a love dies from natural causes, never cry nor never feel sad. Their death is a peaceful one, chosen by nature to end their pain and suffering to give them the peace they deserve after a long and fruitful life. When someone dies, keep their memories. Keep telling the stories they told when you were their age, keep passing down the things they told you. This is why I have written this all down for you so you may take my lessons to heart and mind, but I hope I will be known forever and remembered for the care I hope you will have in preserving my legacy. Death may be just that. But when I die, I am not really gone, for people will know who I was and what I did as that is what true immortality is. It is memory that makes us immortal. Without it then, we are truly dead.