The Silver Tower Chronicles Adventures in other worlds, other times, and other realities

17Oct/12Off

Enzi’s Irregulars #0016

“Much like your story, I need to give you the tale of who my people are,” Enzi stated, “The Feergrus have a long history, but our current civilization started because of our religion. The majority embraced the three deities. Rakar is the deity of all that is good in life. Yet this did not make for a perfect deity. One could be consumed by the good and forget all the terrible things of the world. The second deity was Chasar. He presided over pain, suffering, and war. Among our people he is thought of as the deity representing the harsh realities of life and death. Each of those two deities had their place. The third is Nazzer. He brings balance to our beliefs.”

“He is considered to be the structure by which the Feergrus live. It is the will of his priests that designed how our society lived. A society that was to understand the world's pain through Chasar and bring it healing through Rakar. The priests decided then that society would be divided by its purpose. Thus began the creation of the castes. The soldiers of our nation belong to one such caste, and it falls under the power of the commander of the army. This man is Karrum Tamb, a man who leads all the generals of Feergrus and reports directly to the leader of all of Feergrus. This all falls under the purview of the deity Chasar.”

“Another caste are the merchants. Their purpose is to spread the power of Feergrus. They fall under the purview of Rakar. This group is controlled by the Executor of Feergrus, a man called Devis Lane. The most powerful caste is, as would be expected in our theocracy, the priesthood. They are controlled by the followers of Nazzer. Above them sits the very leader of Feergrus himself, Lord Glanar Dale. This a simplification, as even in each caste there are varying levels of power. Beyond those higher castes are also the lower castes, servants, slaves, or worse.”

“This system was seen as a fair way for people to fit into their place. To give each a purpose and a place where they could rise to the limit of their ability. It may have even worked at first, but like all things time can corrupt any idea. When one person gains power, they often seek to keep it at any cost. Thus came the powerful families of Feergrus. Several families grew in power as they found positions of great power and made sure that others of their family were given preferential treatment. Soon our caste system became a way to keep the weak in their low caste while those of the higher castes reaped the benefits.”

“This was the culture I was born into,” Enzi sighed, “My family was one of the more powerful ones. You will find a Cala in nearly every high office. Most of us actually did the hard work and effort to be worthy of those positions. This high level of competence made us targets. Our decisions were often second guessed by those who hoped we would make a mistake. Such pressure merely made my tactical decisions sharper. It made me look for plots against me. This ever sharpening focus is what brought me to my ultimate revelation.”

“I could finally see the big picture. It did not make sense at first because I could not comprehend the scale of it all. The plan was beyond enormous. It was subtle and slow, meant to slip by the notice of those with short lives. This plan had been going on for hundreds, perhaps even thousands of years. Such patience is nearly beyond the comprehension of most humans. It pointed me to a horrible conclusion about my country. While I love my family and my people, I saw that the direction of our country was being subtly directed. Our leaders had manipulated us for their own greater goal.”

“The ultimate goal is for all of Doulairen to fall under the control of the theocracy. At first I wondered if that was so terrible. Yet I saw something else hidden deep within the plan. It was a complete disregard for life of any kind. Our people had been chosen because of convenience. We had been nearly ready to destroy ourselves in a civil war between a powerful group called the Ahk and those of our people without power. The church had come and given power to fight the Ahk necromancers. Much of this history we had been taught, but there was much that did not make sense to me.”

“I began to dig deeper. I found our history teaching had been manipulated. I learned a shocking truth. The man who had brought the teachings of the church to my ancient ancestors was Lord Glanar Dale himself, along with his aides Devis Lane and Karrum Tamb. These three were not human at all. Their skill at hiding their immortality was impressive. The indoctrination of our children in their schools helped some, while they used the caste system to separate children from their families as much as they could. They made it something a parent wanted. A chance for their children to join the priesthood. It was open to all castes that could prove themselves worthy.”

“The most powerful and well educated families made sure it was their children who were taken. At least as much as possible. It was why our leaders had let the caste system turn into the shambles it is now. It was the perfect way to keep information from being shared and their secret from growing well known. Yet now I had discovered their secret. I was not sure what to do with the information. That decision was quickly made for me. The spread of our people across the lands by Devis Lane was not only for us to spread the word of our religion, but also to gather information.”

“My research had not gone unnoticed. I am not sure when I was first discovered or how long I had been under surveillance. However in the end, Devis Lane himself had watched as I pieced together their history piece by piece. He had watched on purpose. He had wanted to see how I did it. He wanted to make sure it would be harder for anyone else to learn. He also wanted to see just how good I was. Most of all, however, he wanted to see my reaction when I discovered the truth. He congratulated me on my endeavor.”

“He told me that he had never expected a mind such as mine to exist among the humans. We had a discussion about the direction of the country and of the human condition. The more he spoke, the more I understood that my people were just a means to an end for Lord Glanar Dale. Devis Lane's skills were greater than mine. He read my reaction perfectly. He saw my growing disgust. He knew that he had lost me. Yet he also had great power over me.”

“He had the power to make my family suffer,” Enzi said with a deep sadness, “Yet he offered me a chance to escape unharmed. He said all I had to do was beat him in a fight. If I lost, I would be dead and no longer a threat to Feergrus. If I won then Devis Lane would be slain and my family would be safe. I was perhaps the greatest warriors that had even been in the Feergrus military and I was still in my prime, if perhaps on the edge of being too old.”

“I had no choice. I accepted.”

“How did you beat him?” Ritter asked.

Enzi laughed, though it was bitter and dark, “Beat him? I was not even a challenge for him. I watched as my attacks did nothing. The warriors of Feergrus often learn a way to call upon the power of our panthers. Some can take the form of a panther for combat or surveillance. With training, one can even take a form that is a hybrid of human form and panther. It was this power I used against Devis Lane. My claws could not penetrate his skin.”

“He transformed as well. His form was similar to the hybrid form I had taken, except his form seemed inhuman to me. I am not sure what it was. Our fight continued, but it quickly became obvious that he was toying with me. He slashed the hamstring in my leg. I could not hold my hybrid form any longer and I collapsed. We were near the top of one of the many towers that spiral throughout Feergrus. He threw me through the stained glass window and I plummeted to the ground far below. For me, everything went dark.”

“That I awoke at all was a miracle. My leg had been healed, as well as my other wounds. It had been magical healing that had saved my life. My body had been taken to the local Temple of Nazzer. It was to have been used as a corpse for the ranks of the undead used for menial labor. Yet one of the acolytes had been a Cala. He recognized me and saw that I was not yet dead. I had been stolen away and healed by the greatest of our healers. They had already heard tales that I had been slain.”

“Yet there were a great many hints that my death had been dishonorable. Things had suddenly become very hard for the Cala family. They saved my life, but wanted nothing more to do with me. My very presence could bring them more pain. I could not levy that cost upon them. I fled Feergrus, using all of my skill to disappear. I knew I could not do anything about the three that led Feergrus from inside. They had too much control. So I eventually decided the only thing I could do was to help the world to become a stronger place. A world that could stand up to the machinations of the leaders of Feergrus. A world that could one day free my people.”

“That explains a lot,” Ritter stated with a look of understanding, “My own people need an outside force to help them see the destruction we have ahead of us. Sometimes it is hard to see the problem if you are too close to it.”

Enzi nodded, “Then we are but two who hope to change the world by our actions.”

Ritter chuckled, “By action, by word, or by both.”

The dark skinned human merely nodded.

“So how do you tell people of the creatures that usurped your government?” the Halz asked.

“I don't,” Enzi replied, “If my family knew, they would be targeted. Devis would find out. He is far more resourceful than I could have ever imagined. For many years I disappeared. I had been disheartened by my defeat and originally saw no way I could do anything to stop the evil that I saw. I mentioned I had eventually came to my decision of how to help. Eventually in this case had taken nearly two decades. This means less to you than to a human.”

“By this time I had largely been forgotten by most in Feergrus. My family had slowly worked to regain the trust of the leaders of Feergrus. I began work to build the small mercenary work I have here today.”

“Humans have such short memories then,” Ritter replied, “Do you think any will recognize you or report of your existence?”

“That is not something I have to worry about,” Enzi replied with a slight touch of anxiety, “Devis Lane discovered me some time ago. He decided to let me live and continue my work. He certainly has his own purpose for that. He knows the story of what he actually is has been kept safe. I tell it to you now as I expect that Devis will not always decide that I am so harmless. He will not regard you as any threat as he expects no human would believe anything you say.”

“True enough sometimes,” the Halz replied with a touch of merriment, “Your kind often has little trust in those who are different. Devis might underestimate the relationship between the Halz and the Nuvroc.”

“Even that relationship is strained as the years pass,” Enzi's yellow eyes spoke of determination, “Yet it is stronger than any bond the Feergrus have made with the Nuvroc. They have little use for superstition there and religion does not fit them well.”

“Logic and science often makes one disregard superstition as merely a fool's fancy. However, your people wield real power.”

“Even that power is no different than the magic found in other lands,” Enzi replied, “Their training in how to use magic allows them to access their power in a way that can not be seen by Magehunters or other mages. The religion had been specifically designed to control the populace. That is the greatest secret of thee three deities. I suspect a few of the most powerful hierophants of the religion may even know the truth. I doubt I am the only one who knows the secret. My reaction to their evil sealed my doom. There are many who would accept such lies as necessary to reach the very heights of power.”

“Greed can be a powerful motivator,” the Halz agreed, “My own story spoke of that.”

Enzi nodded, “It is too bad that we have such evils to share.”

“I'll keep your secrets,” Ritter said, “Hopefully what we have learned today will make us both ready for whatever may come.”

Enzi raised up his waterskin for a drink and nodded, “To whatever may come!”

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