I rolled my eyes. “I hardly think the entire world will end. People will find a way to move on after the society crumbles and the war ends.” I shifted my stance. “Or are you telling me that you believe this is the only way to live?”
Beltrov looked me up and down, debating what to say to change my mind. He couldn’t; I had already decided on my future, and none of it involved him or the outlaws.
“If you don’t save us, no one will,” he whispered, his voice pleading. Now he was trying to prey on my emotions. Everything he had said since I had met him had been a lie—a manipulation in attempts to get me to complete his dirty work.
“Look. You can wield the sword, so can I. Who cares if it glows blue when I hold it? There’s no difference. It’s still a sword. No magic, just a blue light.” I sighed, shaking my head. “I’m not doing this. I don’t want to risk my life for a future I don’t believe in.” I wasn’t playing the reluctant hero card, because I wasn’t a hero. I hated this whole thing—the war, the society, the outlaws. I wouldn’t take part in any of it.
“Maybe,” I said, gazing into his gray eyes dulled from years of battle. “Maybe you should join me instead, ever think of that?”
He barked out a laugh. “On a farm. In the middle of the woods.”
I nodded. “It’s much safer than… this.” I gestured to the hollowed out shells of buildings around us. Debris littered the ground. The society was collapsing, thanks to the outlaws. And if I didn’t get my hands on some seeds fast, food would go soon after. “I’d rather not starve to death.”
“We’ve been working towards this our whole lives!” Beltrov exclaimed, kicking at a rock in the ground with disgust written across his face. He gestured wildly, as if that would clue me in on some secret I didn’t already know. “How can you walk away from this?!”
I jabbed a finger into his chest, getting so close to his face that he had to look me in the eyes. I growled, “You’ve been working towards this. You decided that you needed to find me, the chosen one. But look, Beltrov, while I’m flattered by this... prophecy, I will not risk my life. I will not be part of your war.” I shook my head. “This is not life, but destruction.”
“It’s a means to an end.”
“You say that, but I think my method works better.” I shrugged, glancing towards the mountain peaks in the distance. A two day walk, three tops, and I’d find the little, isolated village. I’d find peace. I’d live. Why couldn’t Beltrov see that? “Look, if you win the war, you can come find me in the mountains with the villagers.” I stood on my tip toes and kissed his cheek. “Good luck, Beltrov. Maybe we shall meet again.”
“Jude…” His voice barely came out as a whisper. I pressed my eyes closed and turned away from the ruined city. “But you have the sword’s power... We need you.”
“A blue glowing sword is hardly a reason to stay.” I marched out of the city, refusing to glance back. I feared if I did, I would give into the pitifully sad expression on Beltrov’s face and join his unending war against the society.
I love YA books, as a reader and a writer. Still, there are some tropes that deserve to become real. While these stories are still fiction, they provide an alternative, possibly more realistic, version of scenes from stories we love.