The Lance of Marduk

BACKSTORY - Aryawwn Casalee

Father and Mother married. I’ve been told it was a magical ceremony in the most dispassionate of tones. The region was far too unstable, rebellions and marauders and people doing whatever they could to get by, and Mother’s hand surely meant an alliance. An alliance meant protection, for all her people, with all his army. The clan was far better off than even the city after that. Father loved her. She appreciated his devotion. Less than two years later, I came to be.
Trestin was born to Mother’s dearest companion a few months before, afflicted beyond any medic’s understanding. He was supposed to die by the time I was born. He was chosen.
I grew up in a palace, regularly visiting the clan for lessons. Father wanted to raise an able heir. Mother wanted to raise a true elf, for me to remain sharp, moral, and skilled. Seeing no conflict, they both resolved to have their way. I was heavily indoctrinated among the Order. As a baseline upbringing, there were so many of us, but our numbers gradually dwindled, and classes merged between rings.
My elven friends became fewer and fewer as I grew older, my peers in the village seeing me as the half-human with a life alien to them as our lessons moved near exclusively behind the walls. There were few children behind those walls. The only exception was Trestin, raised in the palace alongside me. He constantly found his way into the libraries where Atreus practically adopted him, his father constantly by Mother’s side, his mother having died in childbirth. The old mage taught him every incantation he knew, and Trestin’s brilliant aptitude never disappointed. He and I were to be together forever, the next duo to head the state.
The Order was different. “A bridge for the divine” I believe was Farren’s exact wording. Its reach was all-encompassing, and its authority absolute. As we progressed, we became a stranger and stranger collection of unpredictable specialists. I met a half-elf boy from the outer ring, Poswi, with the most devilishly cunning schemes and a seductively smooth tongue. I’ve no idea how he got to be one among us from such a vulgar status, but it was obvious he had lived through something unimaginable out there – it was haunting. We were considered the elite. There were maybe a score of us under legal maturity sealed within the walls.
It was strict discipline and our lives were undoubtedly devout, but as years progressed, it seemed as though our duty shifted towards playing god. Alongside service and dedication, much turned to political tactics. To those in power, politics means something much more simple than to those not. It’s all about retaining power, keeping your people alive and in line. Their aid and prosperity would be contingent upon their submission. We were commanders, even trained to wield the army. With near absolute control of the city’s resources, we practically chose who lived and who died – even more true for those of us who healed. Poswi had issues here.
As I grew older, I saw less and less of Mother. I was indeed excelling, but not so as to make her proud. She seemed to cease to regard me as her precious creation, more so the embodiment of her debt. It was never my clan, never even ours, always hers. Trestin appeared to hear more of her than me. I must have been sixteen when she died. Father’s devotion to protecting the clan’s well-being waned away shortly after she passed.
I must have been eighteen when he “died.” Poswi, that is. I’ve seen him since, though neither of us would dare admit it. He heads the rebellions. He leads the sewer thugs. He betrayed the Order, so they “killed” him to all of us. With years of his leaking and slow, steady theft, he militarized enough of the outer rings to create a formidable enough force that, only a year later, the clan took their side and declared war with them against Father’s regime and the inner rings. Trestin and I remained on the inside, privy to the most sensitive information, scrutinized as though we were outsiders, until I was granted command of the healing regiment. It went south from there. I saw Poswi again. The line between friends and enemies blurs far too quickly. His glimmering blade is stained red with blood I’ll never forget.

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