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Chapter 8


A New Home

The son of Areta is sent to the military barracks – Cadets forged through cruelties and hardships – Three schools of the military – A boy having two different natures – A boy with an unconquerable will draws from his mother’s teachings – Rising through the ranks – Seti-Kahn inquires of his son, and grows fearful – Cruel intentions of Seti-Kahn

 

1  Now in the city of Rio Cassalia did the son of Areta go strongly bound and guarded unto the military barracks of A’Kontay, to spend the years of his youth in the academies of war and valor;

2  Being made to endure, with fierce determination, such hardships as would fall upon him; to fill the very depth of him with a most bitter resolve filled with forbearance and fortitude.

3  For in the military schools of the empire was there inflicted upon every cadet a dreadful abundance of pain, torture, hardship, cruelty and study; forcing that each cadet should find cause in themselves to endure and not surrender.

4  For it was most firmly believed by those in command that such hardships and cruelties would cull from the strong the weak and inadequate.

5  Securing for the Emperor the bravest and brightest from out of all the sons of nobility, selecting those only which would serve the empire with most faithful diligence, to become the officers of command within the military.

6  For such hardships as befell every cadet, even these would forge within the heart a fire both hot and cold; making each cadet indifferent to such pains and cruelties as would fall upon them from time to time.

7  Building in them a warrior both hard and callous to the sufferings of those weaker than themselves, teaching them while in their youth, to hate with violent fury when called upon to war.

8  Having in themselves no mercy or compassion, being devoid of softness or kind regard; being taught by those above them to torture and kill with wild and cruel abandon.

9  Being trained through constant study and practice to master the arts of war, whereby they might subdue the enemies of the state, to obey without question such commands as their superiors might give;

10  To become in themselves most strongly bound by dreadful duty, to honor the state above all else; being bathed from their youth in blood and iron, and constant toil; to establish most firmly the will of the Emperor in all things.

11  But of those sons of the nobility which proved themselves weak and unable to endure the rigors of their schooling, these then were sent to the institutes of science and technology; to serve the empire through such skills as they might master.

12  And if it should be that the sons of the nobility should fail even in this thing, then were they sent to toil in endless labor within the farms and factories of the empire.

13  To lose for themselves forever, both place and honor; being stripped of every privilege, to become in themselves as men both low and common, and unworthy of consideration.

14  Now within the borders of every nation, country and province within the empire was there established in the cities, the several schools and academies of the military.

15  And first and foremost was there established the military academies wherein the nobility might send their sons; being hopeful that they might prove themselves worthy of some future command, to become in the fullness of their manhood, the generals and admirals of the empire;

16  To gather to themselves through service and valor, a place of honor and privilege, having their names enrolled as men of power, securing for themselves the confidence of the Emperor.

17  And second unto the first was the military academies of all secondary officers and commanders, being reserved and maintained for the sons of all secondary officers within the several branches of the military, as well as receiving into their barracks the sons of all scientists, technicians, and men of commerce and trade.

18  For such young men as did graduate from these secondary academies, even they did become as permanent cadre in command of all common troops and soldiers, being made to serve and obey the imperial officers of the military with fervor and anxious zeal.

19  Winning for themselves through dreadful obedience, and years of constant service, both rank and privilege, to earn for themselves in their old age, a small farm where they might live in peace throughout the remainder of their days.

20  And least of all the military schools was that which was set aside for the sons of low and common men; for the sons of such men sought most eagerly to escape the drudgery and misery of their life by giving service to the empire; to become in themselves the soldiers of war and death.

21  Being hopeful that by such service they might forget the slavery of their fathers, to stand above the members of their class with cruel disdain, being dressed and polished as soldiers of the empire.

22  Now unto the first order of military schools was the son of Areta sent; for his father was Seti-Kahn, even the Supreme Commander of all military forces.

23  And there was the boy made to learn the history of the empire and of war; being schooled most firmly in math, language, battle tactics and strategy, weaponry and psychology.

24  Yet from the beginning of the son’s schooling did the commanders and centurions of the academy look upon him in puzzlement and wonder; for he had been clearly raised by the softness of his mother’s teachings.

25  But yet did he beat into submission, men of war and valor in defense of the woman which bore him; striking with dreadful fury against those which sought to harm her.

26  For this cause did men of war see in the son two different natures, each being in opposition against the other; for one nature was of war and fierceness, which all could clearly see was given him by his father.

27  While yet the other nature was one of gentle quietness and kind regard, which they saw most clearly as the corruption of the mother which had hidden him away.

28  Thus was it agreed upon to break in pieces the soft and gentle nature of the boy; to force into ascendancy that fearsome rage which would make of the boy a great and mighty warrior which would rain death and havoc upon such enemies as might arise against the empire.

29  And so there fell upon the son of Areta a harsh and cruel regimen, causing that he should be most constantly humiliated and reproached by all those which were set above him.

30  Being scorned and taunted by the other boys of his class; while yet the cadre of instructors which taught him, did heap upon him an excess of learning and duties; causing that the boy should be tied to the whipping post once a week for punishment.

31  And not this only, for once a month would the boy be thrown into the barracks of the upper classmen, permitting that they should beat and rape him, striving through their cruelties to build in the boy a fierce and hateful rage.

32  Yet the boy, in his mind, would not be broken; for three times a day would he speak to himself the prayer which his mother gave him, to strengthen himself against the rigors of the day.

33  And seeing that the boy would not be broken, those which would force upon him a crueler self-image, even these would cause the boy to sleep at night in the open compound; being made to endure the heat and cold and rain of all the elements which would beat down upon him.

34  But through the passing of the years, the son of Areta continued to endure and bear with calm grace, the hardships which pressed against him; remembering in gentle reflections the words and deeds of his mother.

35  Drawing from the substance of all her teachings, a firm resolve; to become in his person both strong and cunning, being guarded from despair by an indomitable will which could not be broken or made to yield.

36  Thus did the boy, taking thought concerning the issues of his life within the military, consider most thoughtfully the things which he should do, for he had determined that he would prove first and foremost above all his classmates in the achievement of excellence and mastery.

37  For this cause did the son take upon himself the most noble of bearing; to master with anxious zeal all those things which his instructors would teach; being ever diligent to treat both students and cadre with a firm respect and strong regard.

38  And in the passing of the years did there grow within the barracks a grudging respect for the son of Seti-Kahn; for he could not be broken, neither could any pain or harshness deter him from his chosen course.

39  For in all areas of military training did the son stand head and shoulders above all the rest; and there ceased to fall upon him, the cruelties and torments of years past.

40  And the sons of the noblemen, seeing in the son of Seti-Kahn the beginnings of some future greatness, even they did begin, most carefully, to ally themselves to stand beside him.

41  Yet did the son of Areta continue in solitary fashion, to build most carefully the attributes of leadership and greatness; to mingle with others when called upon, but to stand apart and alone when needed.

42  Giving to all a grave and respectful word; to encourage among his peers some greater effort in attaining unto a greatness of their own.

43  And not this only, for the son of Areta did love to laugh and jest with gentle humor; and all those which before had tormented him with cruelty and harshness, even these would roar with laughter at the jesting of the son.

44  Thus did many of the greatest and most powerful of the noblemen’s sons see in the son of Seti-Kahn, an advantage for themselves; and they did begin to ally themselves beside him in a firm but respectful camaraderie.

45  For in the fifth year of the boy’s training did Seti-Kahn begin to inquire of his son, for the father was made aware of him; hearing in the words of others a grudging admiration and certain envy for the boy which shined so brightly within the ranks of his peers.

46  So it was determined by the father that he should go and see for himself the son of his loins; that he might know with some forewarning whether or not the son should prove a danger to Seti-Kahn in the years ahead.

47  For in the world of First Man did men of power keep a watchful eye upon their sons; being fearful and suspicious lest a son should reach up in treachery and deceit to bring the father down into ruin, whereby he might seize for himself, the place and honor of the father before him.

48  For there were many offices within the empire which did pass from father to son; for it was believed most firmly, that the greatness of the father would pass into the genes of all his sons.

49  And unto that son which would prove himself stronger and more treacherous than all the rest, even he would seize for himself the honors of his father; to put to death the very father which cast him forth into life.

50  By such means was the Emperor assured that there would stand in service unto the state only those which proved most brave and cunning, to secure for the empire an absolute dominion in the affairs of men.

51  Thus did the Supreme Commander of all Drakonia go to the military barracks of A’Kontay; and there did he view with watchful eye, the efforts of the son in all his courses and training.

52  And Seti-Kahn did question the commanders and instructors of his son; and each one did speak most firmly of the boy’s prowess in all those things which the academy taught;

53  Speaking most firmly and without hesitation of the boy’s skill in the science of war and weaponry, as well as his mastery of all other subjects which would prove beneficial in the schooling of an imperial officer of the empire.

54  But Seti-Kahn grew inwardly fearful of the son, lest his greatness in the years to come prove greater than the achievements of the father;

55  And Seti-Kahn spoke unto the commander of the whole academy, saying: “Have you purged from out of the boy, the teachings and corruptions of the mother?”

56  And the commander answered, saying: “My Lord, there is a strength in the boy which cannot be broken; for we have used every cruelty which the law permits.”

57  And hearing this, Seti-Kahn pondered deeply; for he feared the son of Areta and he wished to be rid of him altogether. Thus did the father devise a cruelty greater than every other, which would break in pieces the son of his loins, if it so be that there should be any weakness hidden within him.

58  For the father was determined that the son should destroy himself. Thus did the father determine that upon the boy’s graduation would it be required of him that he should kill his mother; to prove before the house of all his guests his loyalty and obedience to the empire.

59  And if the boy should refuse, which thing Seti-Kahn most strongly believed, then would the father be justified in killing the son which would dishonor his house through disobedience.

60  Thus did Seti-Kahn set forth the means by which he might rid himself of that son which would prove greater than himself, and thereby secure both his place and honor before the Emperor.

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