Blood Promise

Longer Summary: A simple order: shoot anyone who tries to run.

Yet in the light of a night where the very sky burned with revolution, Nathaniel Montgomery felt his hand freeze on the trigger, staring down the barrel of a gun at the boy who would change his life forever.

Revolution. The ideals that would change a failing Democracy into a thriving Oligarchy. Nathaniel's faith in the revolution is unquestionable, until the day he meets Joshua Engdahl, the young soldier who lost everything, and yet gained nonetheless.

His reward for bravery was freedom, but Joshua longs to find the siblings he lost in the revolution - he longs to find the girl he vowed to marry, but was forced to leave behind. Yet now he's trapped, bound by a blood promise forged on the eve of his parents' deaths.

All Joshua wants to do is go home. All Nathaniel wants is to believe in something other than bloodshed.

Together, they might just get their wish.

After the fall of democracy in Demestris, the new Oligarchy stands poised to take it's place. Two soldiers bound by fate and blood attempt to navigate a new society they barely understand.

Author's Note: This is my entry for June 2012 Camp NaNoWriMo. It's set in the same universe as "Unspoken" - The Demestrian Oligarchy - but takes place roughly 300 years earlier, during a time of political turmoil. It was written as a companion piece for "The Space Between" which can be read on my LJ (but not on Fictionpress). That being said, you do not need to read any other story in the Oligarchy to understand "Blood Promise". There's a few shout-outs to the other stories (like the appearance of both Esther Ciamonton and Mark Priadan in this chapter), but nothing major that would subtract from the enjoyment of this story. Be aware, however, that this IS a Camp NaNo entry, which means it will most likely contain spelling errors, grammar mistakes, a few head scratching plot holes. My apologies for that!

Warnings (in order of story prominence): Blackmail, abusive relationships, language, violence, underage sexuality (always non-graphic), emotional and physical abuse, issues of consent including non-con. - If you wish to know anymore about any of these warnings, please PM me and I will try to describe as much as possible the circumstances and extent of each warning. I cannot predict everyone's triggers, but if a chapter contains a scene that I believe might be reasonably triggering, I will mark it at the beginning of the chapter.


The night sky burned with the sound of war. A silent war until now, only tonight had it burst forth in awful noise, raising to the skies a cry of the innocent, of the ones who had no part or voice. In the silent shaded grove, Nathaniel Montgomery heard that cry, louder than the thump of his own heart, and he stared down the barrel of his gun at a boy at least eight years his junior, barefoot in the trees. Defiance burned in those eyes.

"Simple orders." The general said, passing over the file. Nathaniel picked it up.

"Why me?"

The general stared at him, the same expression Nathaniel remembered from a child, when the man before him had been not just a commanding officer, but a father. It was the look of a man displeased.


Nathaniel froze. "Is there some question about mine? I have always served the military faithfully. I believe in what William Dartey is trying to achieve. I believe in his revolution."

The general nodded. "Good." He said. "Here's your chance to prove it.

"Shoot anyone who tries to run."

Nathaniel whispered the orders under his breath; steeled himself to pull the trigger. The boy watched him, unmoving. Nathaniel hesitated.

"Why did you run?" He asked, against his better judgment.

The boy said, "I have to find my sister. She ran too. I have to bring her home."

"She's dead." It was true. Nathaniel wasn't the only one with these orders. He wasn't the only one with loyalty to prove.

"Yes, she probably is." The boy replied.

"Then why run?" Nathaniel repeated. He told himself he believed in Dartey's revolution. He believed in the world Dartey was trying to create – one where those who were incapable of taking care of themselves would not be a burden on society; one where the government didn't have to worry about poverty and crime.

He just…

He didn't believe in killing kids.

The boy didn't answer, and that, Nathaniel supposed, was answer enough. He closed his eyes and pulled the trigger. The shot rang out in the silence.

The sky that night was on fire, as a revolution burned through Demestris.


Chapter One: Joshua

"You did good work." General Montgomery said. It was early morning, and Nathaniel's eyes burned from a lack of sleep. Two days since the revolution and he hadn't once been able to manage more than an hour of peaceful rest.

Did I? "Thank you, sir." He forced himself to remain at attention. Decorum was of utmost importance. Decorum gave the illusion of power, the appearance of competence. Decorum gave authority, and offered deference to those whose authority exceeded his own.

The general slid two tan folders across his desk towards Nathaniel, who glanced down at them briefly. "Your new assignments."

Nathaniel nodded and picked up the first folder. He opened to the first page, surprised to see a familiar face appear in the photograph clipped to the first pages of a dossier.

"Joshua Engdahl comes to us with recommendations from William Dartey himself as one of the Twelve Children. Dartey has decided that you are the best candidate for mentoring him. Dartey has high expectations of him – and of you as well." The general explained. Nathaniel nodded, and flipped through the information.

Sixteen years old… illegitimate son of Jacob Engdahl… mother was Noreyan; died two weeks prior… fluent in both Noreyan and Alsempri… trained as a mechanic's assistant in Noreya….

Dartey was nothing if not efficient.

Nathaniel blinked once at the profile before setting it aside. He'd worry about his new protégé later. He picked up the second one. It didn't have a picture attached. The title read, "Proposal for Northern Kilmeny Training Center."

"What is this?" Nathaniel asked, scanning the contents of the carefully typed document quickly.

"Your orders, Major." The general replied. "All the new slaves need training. Dartey has decided the military is best equipped to handle that task."

Nathaniel startled. All those scared children, so newly orphaned. They were the reason Nathaniel already couldn't sleep at night.

"They're young." Nathaniel said. "How much training could they possibly need?"

"Not much." General Montgomery admitted. "It's society that needs time to adjust. The government is in shambles after the arrests of over twenty old politicians and their families. Dartey has had his advisors in meetings day and night. Only the military is stable right now while Dartey works to organize the new nobility and reassure the commons that they are not, in fact, his next target."

The last sentence was spoken wryly, a certain amount of irony afforded by a man who had, perhaps, experienced similar fears.

Nathaniel nodded and set the second folder on top of the first. "Will that be all, sir?"

The general nodded. "Yes, Major. I would, however, ask that you take a copy of Engdahl's dossier to Colonel Priadan. He's in charge of the Twelve Children and needs a copy for his records. Go and meet his new son while you're there." The general held up the file in question, which Nathaniel accepted with his head cocked to the side.

Colonel Priadan was a spritely officer barely five years Nathaniel's senior. Sadly, he'd never married, though Nathaniel had never quite been able to discern why – a lack of interest, perhaps. Nathaniel shouldn't have been too surprised that Dartey had chosen the Colonel as a likely candidate for the adoption of one of the Twelve Children.

"Yes sir." Nathaniel said, and then waited another moment. "Am I getting a younger brother soon?" He asked.

The general shook his head, a small affectionate smile playing at the corners of his mouth. "No. Two sons give me enough headaches as is. I hardly need a third."

Nathaniel nodded, took the papers, and left.


Colonel Priadan's office was temporarily located in the top floor of the officer's barracks at Reaston Air Base. The reason being that the Twelve Children (who were, as the name implied, twelve children ranging between the ages of seven and fifteen) were located there until their new families came to collect them. In the interim, a small group of officers were looking after them.

Nathaniel had not had a reason to go near the officer's barracks in the last week or so, and as such he'd never come in contact with any of William Dartery's chosen children. He wasn't sure what he expected, but the silence that greeted him as he pushed open door to the upper floor was not it. The soldier at the reception desk merely nodded to him as he passed and Nathaniel found himself wandering down the silent corridor towards Priadan's office. The door to the rooms were open – the beds made with military precision, despite the signs that children lived there – small toys and smaller shoes.

Priadan was in the room furthest down the hall, the door open and occupied not just by him, but by a small handful of the children. The oldest was female, unlike the rest who were boys ranging from seven to twelve. They were engaged in some game in the corner, speaking in low whispers while Priadan worked. The colonel glanced up when he saw Nathaniel enter.

"Major, good morning to you."

"And to you, Colonel sir." Nathaniel greeted. Formalities dispensed, he handed over the copy of Engdahl's dossier. "The general bid me to bring this to you. It seems there's a thirteenth child."

"An omen, to be sure." Priadan noted as he accepted the folder and glanced at it briefly. "Engdahl, huh? I thought they'd decided not to adopt."

"I suppose there came a need for them to revise that decision." Nathaniel told him plainly. He hadn't given the situation any real thought. "Clever cover story, though, given Lord Engdahl's proclivities in his youth."

"We all have our indiscretions." Priadan acquiesced. "Still, he will be our oldest child. No wonder Dartey wants him in the military – none of the other places are quite ready for these children's skills yet."

"So it's true that Dartey has preplanned the lives of these children?" Nathaniel asked. He'd heard rumors, but it was preposterous to think that one man could possibly chart the future of such young children.

"As much as any man can," Priadan admitted. "Who knows how natural inclinations may change with time or family influence. My own, Dartey hopes, will follow my example and join the military." He smiled at the thought.

"With luck Dartey is correct, then." Nathaniel said, mostly because it seemed to be the acceptable thing to say. "Which one will be yours?"

"Mark." Priadan said, and one of the boys – the eldest of them over in the corner – turned to look at the two soldiers. Nathaniel nodded in his direction and the boy turned away to respond to something the girl had whispered lowly in his ear. Nathaniel looked away, but his curiosity was piqued.

"What of the girl? Did Dartey predict that she would marry, or some such?"

The colonel smiled at the joke. "Esther's a clever girl." He admitted. "She's quite brilliant; she passed all our aptitude tests with flying colors. Dartey himself has expressed interest in adopting her. She might be the heir to legacy, one day."

Nathaniel raised an eyebrow at that, not sure of what to make of that little piece of information. The colonel said, "They truly are remarkable children. I'm beginning to see why Dartey chose them."


After dropping off the dossier with Priadan, Nathaniel's next task of the day was to meet his new protégé. He wasn't looking forward to this conversation. The barracks where Joshua Engdahl was staying were just up the road from Priadan's office, in the enlisted quarters.

Nathaniel nodded to the sentry at the door, who let him pass without a question. Out of respect for the occupant of the room, Nathaniel knocked on Joshua's door first before pushing it open. The boy was curled up on one of the bunks, his nose buried in a book. He sat up and put the book aside when Nathaniel entered.

For a moment, they just stared at each other. The boy was short for his age, almost scrawny if not for the whipcord muscles that bulged underneath his borrowed uniform fatigues. Maybe at one time he'd been more stocky, but revolution certainly hadn't been kind to him. Nathaniel dropped his dossier on the bed beside him.

"Joshua Engdahl." Nathaniel said. "The bastard son of one of Dartey's trusted lords. Your mother just passed away in Noreya and it is your father's wishes that you become a cadet in the Demestrian Military."

The boy looked startled. "That's not my –" He began, but Nathaniel cut him off.

"You speak both Noryan and Alsempri fluently, and were being trained as a mechanic's assistant in Noreya until your mother's death. However, now that you are here in Demestris you will be trained as an officer in the military and may one day lead a force of men of your own. Your loyalty to the Oligarchy, therefore, must be unquestionable. Is that understood?"

Nathaniel met the boy's brown eyes as he stared back at him, the same small amount of defiance Nathaniel recalled from two days ago still alight somewhere deep within them. Finally, the boy sighed and glanced aside. "Yes."

"The proper way to address a superior officer is 'Yes, sir.'"

Again, that defiance as the boy ground his teeth. Nathaniel just watched him, well aware that there was nothing for the boy to do but submit. Still, he reminded him, "There's still room in the slave pens for one more."

It was enough that they boy's expression changed from one of defiance to one of horror. "Yes, sir." He said, the perfect picture of submission. Nathaniel nodded in satisfaction.

"Good. Now, since it seems Dartey's idea of a joke was to make me your commanding officer and mentor, you and I are going to be spending a lot of time together over the next two years. My name is Major Nathaniel Montgomery. You may call me Major Montgomery or sir. I will be in charge of your officer training and your responsibilities. That means I will control when you wake, exercise, eat, shit, or sleep for the next two years. Unless you like running laps non-stop until you collapse, I suggest you don't annoy me. Is that clear?"

The boy nodded once, his face a perfectly blank mask that hid away all his emotions. Nathaniel didn't need to read his face to know what the boy likely felt – confusion, anger, a little bit of fear and defiance – but he didn't care what the boy felt so long as he obeyed orders.

Cadet Joshua Engdahl spoke in a low, clear voice which betrayed nothing of his true feelings. "Yes, sir."