Quiss plans to save the world.
|Societies function and thrive through a diversity of roles and delegation of efforts. Farmers, soldiers, craftsmen, merchants... each contributes something to the whole, but co-operation needs organization and that means some form of hierarchy.|
Write a scene which shows one of the hierarchies in your world.
Kian wiped the sweat from his brow as he sat on the heavy wooden bench. It was very hot, as usual. Summertime in Bergamon could be brutal. No wind stirred the trees around the training yard. Even stripped down to nothing but his small clothes and heavy sandals, he was overheating. They were pressing him hard.
After arriving in the Keep, he had been assigned to Delta Platoon for training. Most of the trainees wash out his uncle Tam had told him. Work hard, do what your told and you will be ok. Funny, he didn't have time to get up to no good. He didn't have the energy. Apparently, he had impressed the right people, or the wrong people looking at it in a new way. He had been put into a special martial training program. Sword, axe, bow, staff, open hand striking, boxing, wrestling - he got lessons in all the disciplines. There were even a couple of exotics he could train when he completed his program.
"Kian," he heard from gates to the left of him. Looking up he saw his uncle Tam. Smiling as he stood, Kian walked over to greet him.
"Uncle Tam," Kian said as he clasped his uncle's arm. "It's good to see you."
"Tam, please," his uncle replied. "You're a Guardsman now. Duty before family here. Remember what I told you."
"I do," said Kian. "It's just that... They're keeping me isolated. I don't even see the other recruits I joined with. They work me to the bone all day. I have fallen asleep in the mess hall. The Mess Hall! I guess I am getting a little frustrated."
"I know, Kian. There are reasons. I shouldn't even be talking to you about it. You have been honored more than you realize. Keep your head up. Stay strong, persevere. The reward will be great, that's all I can say."
"But...," Kian said as his uncle held up a hand to stop him.
"No buts!" his uncle replied. "Follow the course. Excel in your studies, both martial and academic. Finish your training."
Stopping, Tam sighed. "I can say no more. Indeed, I have probably said too much already. I will not see you again for a while."
As Tam turned to leave, Kian stopped him one more time. "Can you at least tell me about Brenna and Quiss? How are they doing? The trainers tell me nothing at all."
Tam stopped and turned. Smiling he said, "Yes, I can tell you that. Brenna is exceling in her studies. She is making quite a name for herself over there." He stopped then, as if to choose his next words carefully.
"And?" Kian said. "What about Quiss?"
Looking at Kian, Tam smiled, but he looked troubled as well.
"What's going on, Tam? Is Quiss ok?"
"She is doing well, Kian. In fact, more than well. She has exceeded all expectations. But..."
"But what?" Kian asked, worriedly.
"She is progressing too rapidly. She completes her assignments early then asks for extra training, but she never asks for healing spells, or even the more potent nature spells. She is always pressing for Primal training. She keeps pushing..." Running his hand through his hair, Tam stopped.
Looking at Kian, he said. "They think she is training with a rogue mage."
"No, she wouldn't do that, Tam. She is a little too eager, but.."
"Kian, you know how she is. She has made a name for herself in the wrong way. If she keeps it up, she will be Pacified and turned over to a tradesman."
Kian nodded and lowered his head. His fears were being realized. He saw this coming, had known it since the Trials."
"I want to see her."
"You can't, Kian. Both of you are in training. Besides, if you go to her now, she might catch on. It's up to her now, boy," Tam said, "There is nothing you can do." Turning around, Tam left.
Kian training continued. He couldn't get Quiss out of his mind. He was worried, and it started affecting his performance in the training arena. Before long, the Sword Master asked to see him. Kian thought he knew what it was about.
Standing in front of the door, Kian gave his armor once last glance. After all, one did not attend a summons by the Master looking sloppy. He knocked.
"Come in, Kian." The Sword Master said from inside. Kian opened the door, walked up to the desk, and reported.
"Trainee Connolly, reporting as ordered, Sir." Kian said crisply.
"At ease, Kian. Please, sit down." Kian did so.
A measured look on his face, the Sword Master continued. "You have done well, Kian. You have surpassed every goal we have set for you. Command is in your future. You need to focus. Move beyond this funk you are in and carry on."
Kian said nothing. Sighing, the Master said, "Look Kian we all know what is bothering you. In fact, that is another reason I wanted to see you. Quiss has gone missing."
Kian jumped to his feet. "I've got to stop her," he said. "I've got to go now." Turning, he stepped toward the door.
"Hold, Soldier!" snapped the Sword Master. Kian stopped. His training finally kicking in.
"Sit," the other man said firmly. "I said sit!" The Sword Master barked when Kian didn't immediately comply.
Kian slowly took a seat. Sitting rigidly, he waited for the Master to continue.
"Look, there is nothing you can do. Quiss has been gone for three days. We know who she is with, a rogue mage, a Primal."
"Three days!" Kian exclaimed. "Why am I just finding out now?
"We just found out ourselves, Kian. Just this morning as a matter of fact. "We..."
Kian interrupted him. "Then I am postponing my training. I must go find her. I will bring her back, and I will...""
"No," the man said. "You cannot. You are in training. You may not leave. Besides, the mages have their own hunters. They will find her and bring her back one way or another."
"Enough!" roared the Sword Master. "Not only do I forbid it, but I also cannot allow it. You were raised in the country, Lad. You are not... privy to the social constraints of Keep life. There are rules. The warrior class is a noble one. Indeed, all Bergamon has now is because of us! But we are at the bottom, only given respect after we pull their bacon out of the fire. No one pays attention otherwise."
He went on as Kian listened. "It goes like this: The King of course, is at the top. Honestly, he treats us better than any other Noble. Next of course, come the ruling Gentry, nobles great and small. The council of Mages is next. They wield a large amount of power. The healers and Naturists come after, followed by the wealthiest Merchants. Soldiers and tradesmen are the lowest class here in the Keep."
"It is not..." Pausing, he considered his next word. "...acceptable to approach anyone of the higher classes without going through proper channels. You must ask, and when you do, it goes through me. I will not allow it, at least not at this time. Kian, if it gets bad, if she will not surrender, you may be called upon as a Guardsman to hunt her."
Kian rose. Seeing the question on his lips. The Sword Master said, "That is all Kian. You are dismissed.
Turning, Kian left the room.
In his bunk later that evening, Kian lay thinking in silence. What had gotten in to Quiss anyway? Why would she do this? That rogue mage had to have done something to her. Maybe he put a spell on her or something. He would find out when he found her.
Sitting up, he wondered if Brenna knew. He had not heard from her at all. Together they could find her. He knew they could. He needed to get her away from the Academy. He was sure she would come. Together they would leave the keep and start the search.
Later, just before he fell asleep, he realized it would not be easy. The Master was right. The hierarchy, the class system in the Keep presented a major barrier. He would just have to work to change it. Everyone deserved respect, no matter their station. Stablemen were needed as much as a Priest, or even an Arch Mage. The system was unfair.
Drifting off to sleep, he began to dream.
"It was dark in here, but where was here?" He could see light ahead. Following it, he realized he was in a tunnel. Walking down a slight incline, he emerged into a large cavern. Quiss was sitting there, on the other side of a fire.
"Hello, Kian, "she said. "Have you been looking for me?"
"Quiss?" He replied. "What are you doing here? What is this place?" he said as he looked around.
It is... home," Quiss said, "At least for now. I am on an important mission, Kian. A grand quest. I may need your help some day."
"Quiss, I tried to look for you. They wouldn't let me."
"I know," she replied. "Go to sleep now. We will talk again soon." With that, his dream ended.
Quiss sat quietly, contemplating what she had seen, what she had learned. The nobility would never give up its power. The people accept it like sheep. It is time for a change. Hearing a rustle behind her, she turned.
The man was tall and lean. His black cloak seemed to absorb light. It was eerie.
"Is all well," he asked, kneeling to warm his hands by the fire.
"It is," she answered. "It will be time to move soon."