They called him an imp for his appearance. However, his name was Jake and he was no imp at all. Yes, his appearance would hint that he has something to do with those magical creatures, but Jake was a human as everyone else. Another fact that people usually got wrong was his age. Well, wouldn't you mistake him for a twelve-year-old? He wasn't tall as his peers, not even that well-built, but he was seventeen and of that he was sure. Folks in the village, where Jake lived, used to make fun of him when he dared to go to the local tavern. They refused to give him beer, saying that he is just a little boy. After some time of trying, he gave up going there. Who would like to listen to a blabbering of drunken farmers? Jake himself lived on a farm with his uncle and aunt and their older daughter. Regrettably, his aunt couldn't give birth to a boy or any other child after Melody, her daughter, was born. As for Jake's parents, it was complicated and after few attempts to ask his uncle or aunt about them, which failed, Jake gave up again.
The news ran through land with a speed of a lightning. The king was gathering an army and he accepted anyone. Not long after Jake heard about it, soldiers came to his village, recruiting men yet giving them as little information as possible. Jake's plan was to stay at the farm until the soldiers would leave. However, they came even to their house, asking if Jake's uncle would join. They said that if he wouldn't go willingly they would have to force him. It was a threat and Jake didn't want anything bad happen to the family where he grew up.
"I'll join," he tried to say evenly yet his voice trembled. The captian of the group looked him up and down and then snorted. "We don't recruit kids, boy," the soldier said and Jake had to clench his hand. How long would he have to suffer this? How many times would people mistake him for a child? Without hesitation, Jake explained that he was seventeen and not a child and that if they so desperately need men they should accept him. On that, the captin smirked. At least, Jake thought he did because the man's beard covered his lips so at the end you couldn't tell what was going on underneath. After few moments of silence when all eyes were upon Jake, the captain nodded and told Jake to meet all of them by the tavern as soon as possible. A stone set itself upon Jake's chest. So that was it. After all these years, he was going to leave the village, get trained as a soldier, probably go to war and maybe get killed. He swallowed heavily and at first didn't hear Melody who was telling him that he went mad. That other men would make fun of him and that the training would surely kill him before he would go to war. Paying her, aunt and uncle no attention, Jake went to his room and packed his things. Noone tried to stop him afterwards when he was walking out of the door.
Melody was right because it all began on the way to the royal castle. Men were looking at him and making jokes about him. Jake tried to avoid those people but it was hard when you were surrounded by thousands and they were all pretty much the same. True enough, some men were too depressed that they had to leave, so they didn't pay attention to him. With those Jake marched. Once at the castle, each one of them were given a bed, new clothes and orders.
After the first week, Jake thought he wouldn't be able to make it through. His body was bruised, his muscles hurt like never before and on top of that men were still making fun of him. True enough, it reduced once he had a traning fight with a men twice his size. They both had fake swords. Jake's opponent advantage was his height and strenght whereas Jake's only advantage was his height. Being smaller made him able to sneak past taller men. That's what he did during the fight. He attacked only when he got behind the man and there he poked him in the back with his fake weapon. Even though, it didn't bring him a victory, Jake was relieved that he didn't obtain any additional bruises because his opponent soon gave up exclaiming that he was not in training to chase a mouse. At that point Jake grimaced. However, he noticed how the soldier that supervised them was looking at Jake with interest. It made him feel uneasy. At the end of the week then, the same soldier came to him.
"You're coming with me now," he said simply and didn't let Jake to ask anything. Did Jake do something against the rules? Where they about to exclude him from army for his appearance? What would he do? He wouldn't be able to go back to the village if the second was true. But instead of walking towards the castle, the soldier took him away from it, towards the training grounds that were deserted by that time. Jake swallowed, trying to think what was going on.
"Wait here. He will come any minute now. You will do as he says. Anything he says. Did you understand?" the soldier hunched down in order to look into Jake's eyes. His gaze was firm and Jake couldn't help but felt miserable and scared. He noded his head and stuttered the usual reply: "S-sir, yes s-sir." At that point, the soldier just shook his head and left Jake standing alone in the middle of the training grounds. Who was he? What was he going to do with Jake? Jake turned around trying to see anyone approaching. A feeling of unease grew within him.