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ABIDING

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He hated rules. It was a simple fact. He disliked how much they restricted him and why they always scolded him. What was wrong with bending the rules a little? Wasn't creativity supposed to be rewarded? He was pretty sure abiding petty rules in the battlefield would just get you killed!

And Axel wasn't too keen on dying.

Call it a weakness, but Axel feared death more than anything. It was why he seemed to survive; his phobia was like a safety net. Though sometimes it hindered him, making his lackeys go into battle for him. He would send millions to die in battle, before he would go himself. And even then, he was like a black cat with nine lives - he had plenty left to count.

Axel never had fond memories of Zephyrus. To many rules. 'Don't do this' and 'Don't take that!'. Not that it mattered any, since he was an orphan on the street. Rules never really applied when you were cold, wet, and hungry. And it was hell of a lot better than being in the orphanage, where all the nuns did was tell you what to do, and force feed their religion down your throat. Unless you knew the commandments, you weren't allowed to eat.

So he left. Just packed some of his personal belongings and climbed out the window.

But he wasn't alone.

A young boy - just a few years younger than him - had stopped him. He had spiky blond hair and deep blue eyes. They had met up just before the barbed wire fence. It was obvious they both wanted to leave this hellhole, and perhaps it was a good idea to work together. But Axel wouldn't have it. The minute he helped this kid, he would stick to him like gum beneath a shoe. Last thing he needed was to fend for a kid when he needed to fend for himself.

He told him to get lost, to go help himself. He walked away and started looking for a good spot to dig. But the kid was stubborn, and wouldn't leave without introducing himself.

His name was Sparkster, and he wanted to get away from the mean ladies and bullies. Axel couldn't help but feel the pure goodness radiate off of him. It was unnerving. Something so pure wouldn't last a day out in the cold, harsh streets of the City of Zephyrus.

Axel told him to go back.

Sparkster told him to go to hell.

The older opossum couldn't help but laugh. It seemed even saints had their limits. Even at this tender age, Axel always knew Sparkster was a little angel. And at that tender age, Axel still had a conscious. It wouldn't sit well with him if he just let this kid become ruined by the system.

Funny, how it seemed he had set up his future downfalls.

After digging a small tunnel under the fence, they finally escaped into the darkness of the Zephyrian woods. They were free of the rules of that accursed orphanage! No rules to listen to, no one to make them do chores they didn't want, and no being spoon fed a bible they didn't believe in! They were free to do as they please, and the entire plains and forests of this rural country was their backyard to enjoy.

Looking back at this memory, Axel wondered what would have happened if they were never founded by Mifune cooking fish beside the river. Would he and Sparkster still be friends? Or would illness eventually get to them and kill them off, like the other dozens of children sleeping in the streets...

Axel would have liked to think he would have lived on, but lived on for what? To become a slave to society? To let people boss him around and whip him if they didn't like what he did?

No. He may be a traitor, but he didn't regret anything. He was a free opossum. He could travel as far as his jetpack could take him -which was pretty far- and never be hindered by the upstandings of society.

Sparkster may have been appointed captain of the Rocket Knights, but he was still someones lapdog. King Zebulos and the princesses were his masters, and he had no choice but to obey them. Like the good little dog he was.

He had realized to late, that he should never have preserved his innocence, but squash it! That day, ten years ago, he could see the fear in Sparkster's eyes. After they were appointed knights, they were bossed around even more than when they trained as squires! They both hated it. This wasn't the lifestyle they wanted.

Axel didn't like Mifune. Mifune lied to him. Him and Sparkster. He promised them a better lifestyle, with the ability to choose for themselves. The ability to not have to rely on others and to be respected by society as brave warriors.

Mifune had tried to get them to abide the rules of society, by beating it into their heads in knight school. And it half-worked.

Axel did not plan to leave Zephyrus by himself. Sparkster was supposed to go with him. They were supposed to be free together, just like that fateful night in the orphanage. But it was too late for his companion. Mifune had brainwashed him into being a good little boy on a leash. The man had squeezed the independence and individuality right out of him! His purity was now a chain to be yanked by the King and his lackeys.

Mifune made him lose his best friend.

Mifune would pay for it dearly.

Death was being too merciful, so he cut his spine. Now he was physically as helpless as he felt for losing Sparkster. It was only fair in his mind.

After that ordeal, he left. He had struck down the leader of the Rocket Knights. One does not do so without a price. The penalty of doing such a thing was full-body amputation. Like hell was Axel going to stick around for that!

That night, Sparkster had a choice. He could leave as he had intended with his best friend, and find a new home - far, far away from Zephyrus - where they could live as they pleased. Or stay and follow in the footsteps of the man that lied to them.

In Axel's mind, he was the one who had been betrayed. Sparkster was held down by the thumb of the law. He was frightened at the idea of living on the run. He chose to stay.

Axel hated Mifune. Hated him for screwing his entire life over. So he stole something precious from him. His family secrets. Axel made it his personal mission to make Mifune Sanjulo's life as miserable as possible. The man would always remember who disabled his body and stole his family heirloom. He went from an esteemed hero, to pitied fool in all of the kingdom - defeated by a teenager wasn't something his title would live down for years to come.

Donned in his purple armor, Axel wandered outside of Zephyrus. He went to many countries and met many different races; wolves, reptiles, and even the horrific pigs. Some even decided to follow him. This was how the mercenary group, the Black Knights, were formed. Many species of animals who united under one common interest; greed.

Each one had a different definition of the word. Some wanted money, others wanted power, and a few just wanted to be free and go where the wind takes them.

For once after leaving his homeland, he was happy. His little band of misfits were far from being actual 'friends' with him, but at least he wasn't alone anymore. He would send soldiers of other armies to die in battle, but his mercenary group was far too precious to him. As precious as Sparkster was at one point.

It was a year after he left, that news on the street was, Sparkster had left the castle. The Rocket Knights were idiots. Just give them some alcohol and their tongues start to slip. Best part was, they wouldn't remember what they said, or who they said it to!

Axel took advantage of that. Often.

He was looking for him. Everyone knew that, but they didn't know the true reason for it. Sparkster didn't seek revenge, like the rumors said. He was looking for consolation. Axel was his best friend. He didn't want to meet him on the battlefield.

In the red haired opossum's mind, it was to late for that. Somewhere along those ten years, he had snapped and just wanted everyone in that damn kingdom dead. He hated everything about Zephyrus, and just wanted it gone, gone, gone!

But Sparkster spoiled his plans, and perhaps that had been a good thing. It gave Axel a reason to see Sparky again. Even if it meant hurting the one he once cared for like a brother. He didn't really care for anything anymore. He just existed, day-in and day-out.

Some nights, Axel looks up to the stars and wondered about things. What if his parents never died? Where would he be now? Would he be more socially acceptable than the street punk he turned into? Would he have met Sparkster? Would he have become a rocket knight, a traitorous mercenary, or something else entirely?

Did he really make the right decision to leave? Where would he have ended up if he stayed and just abided the rules? Would he and Sparkster still be friends? Or would fate just find another way to tear them apart?

Axel immediately shook his head. While his actions were questionable, he did know one thing. He had something Sparkster didn't; Freedom.

Sparkster could not possibly see the stars from his bedroom. The city had so many lights, it blotted out the stars. Here in the field, he could see them in their entirety. And if he wanted to, he could fly up the highest tree to see the sunset. He may have become the villain of this story, but he was happy to be living his dream of not being ruled over. Sure, people feared and respected him for all the wrong reasons, but those same peasants called him and Sparkster street trash and gutter pups. They even tried to murder them and steal the clothes off their backs numerous times.

Axel huffed. Those very same hypocrites see him lowly, but they are no better than scum beneath his boots.