I once believed that a boy's eyes were born pure, clear of cruelty and malice. That it is life that teaches one to hate, to strike out at others through anger and fear.
Yet when I looked into the eyes of Gaius Sentari, I found no anger. I found no hatred. I read no tales of injustice inflicted upon youthful innocence. Saw no walls built by suffering and sorrow.
Instead, I was regarded as a merchant might regard beasts of burden at a market. By Governor Sentari, my countrymen and I were counted, weighed, and allocated. This man to the mines. This woman to the mills. This child to the streets of Sarn to be worked and flogged until the day his blood would drain into the sewers of that wretched city.
And those that resisted, those that asked to be treated as anything other than animals, were skinned and butchered, with an even dozen of their kin.
Fear not the man who lusts. Fear not the man who hates. Fear the man who feels nothing at all.
The colours and banners of a hundred clans, scattered like the wildflowers of spring across the meadows of Glargarryn. Thousands of men and women, starving, poor, armed with rusted hatchets and hunting bows, looking across that field, with the courage of desperation, at the imperial legion arrayed against them.
Soldiers gleaming in bronze and steel. Trained and hardened men. Their polished shields forming a wall of discipline and determination against the advances of my motley rabble.
"I sing, I rant, I rave," I said to them, "but today, clansmen, my sword is my voice!"
We crashed against that legion like waves upon a cliff. Time and time again they repelled us. The green meadows became brown and red with the mud of toil and the blood of war.
Yet what is a slave to do? Suffer the lingering death of mine and mill, or offer the gift of your life to your people in one bright and glorious moment?
For the men and women who followed me into battle, the choice was a simple one.
Three Ezomytes fell for every Eternal and still the courage of my people tore down that polished wall, severed the strong arm of the Empire with a rusted, woodman's hatchet.
Gaius Sentari ran for his wretched life.
I called to the Greatwolf to aid me, to give me the scent of that fleeing fox. Though the hunt was swift, I took the time to ensure that Gaius felt some small measure of the suffering he had inflicted before I answered his plea for mercy.
I stood with the Army of Purity and looked upon the mighty walls of Sarn. I fought against Chitus and his Gemling aberrations. I watched the strongest of our army, Ezomyte, Maraketh, Karui and Templar, struck down by creatures born of thaumaturgy.
It will take more than strong men and women to defeat Chitus, for this is no longer a war of mud and blood. We face monsters, and to defeat them, we need some monsters of our own.
Here I stand, amongst these stones. Here I lay my gifts of blood and song, of flesh and fire. Here I call out to the First Ones, beasts of legend, terrors of our dreams. Here I howl to the Greatwolf himself.
Should he answer, I am ready to pay the price that I know he will ask. It is no more than a man should do for his family. It is no more than a king should do for his people.
The Greatwolf has forced me to forget who I was... and has taught me to be so much more.
A man becomes a king so that he may protect the people of the day. A man becomes a god so that he may protect the people of all the days to come.
And so the endless hunt begins.
The fervour of the First Ones remains, bound by the druids into fetishes of tooth and bone, skin and claw. I know where these potent talismans have been strewn. I have their scent.
And so the endless hunt begins.
I shall pursue the thieves of our ancient heritage. I shall wrest our First Ones from the clutching and the corrupted lest they feed and grow fecund on power not their own. Power I must have, must wield, in the name of all that is Ezomyr to come.