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Rated: ASR · Draft · Sci-fi · #657405
Background pre-dating the story of Danielle of the changelings. (not in vivid detail)
The Changelings have, throughout history, been a rare breed. Their kind, enslaved by the already powerful Empire of Metamorphs. Over millennia their numbers grew, but little could be done to free themselves. While Metamorphs could change by a simple discipline of will. A Changeling requires a stimulus to cause their change. Even when such a stimulus occurred, rare and difficult was the training and focus required to control that change.

One Changeling, born in the Earth Year 294 AD, was named Torren of the line of Saral. Torren turned against his people's oppressors, rising in defiance of the Metamorph Empire. Until those days, no human had known of the Changelings and Metamorphs, save from a scattered few stories of monsters, among them the werewolf, the vampire and the witch. Since those days it has become custom and law that the populous of Earth never be allowed to know. The first war between Metamorph and Human had taught the value of secrecy, for though the Metamorphs were advanced well beyond the humans, having forged steel and discovered gunpowder as early as 300 BC, they were greatly outnumbered by their more common enemy, the humans.

Both sides suffered greatly in that war. The Metamorphs lost thousands. A single metamorph fell for every 70 humans destroyed, but a war of attrition would lead to the death of the Metamorphs. Ultimately, hundreds of Metamorphs, and uncounted changelings were sacrificed to end that war, by letting the few humans who would survive believe they had destroyed all of the monsters. Little knowing that Metamorph spies then walked amidst them.

Torren of Saral with a small following of a dozen Changeling Defenders, challenged the Metamorph Baron Ithian to a duel for the Changeling slaves in his custody. Normally, a Changeling would be slain outright for such audacity. Many Changelings had begun to see Torren as the Noble Leader foretold generations ago in secret prophecy. The Metamorphs took this Changeling 'Noble' as a grand jest. To prevent an uprising of his slaves, Ithian agreed to meet the challenger in single combat, for to have him slain would make him a martyr.

Perhaps he would have been better off that way. In the battle which ensued, Torren defeated Ithian, and his Defenders, as he called them, stormed the Keep of Drelia deep in the English Channel. This was a disgrace to Ithian, and to the entire Metamorph Empire, for never before had a Changeling in single combat defeated a Metamorph. It goes without saying that the subsequent destruction of a Metamorph Outpost, and the sending of the vanquished survivors to report of their defeat enraged the counselors of the Emperor.

Baron Ithian of Drelia was stripped of title, and spent some twenty seven years to regain the Emperor's permission to return. At which time, he rallied the counselors of the Empire to support the extermination of the entire Changeling race. With overwhelming support from the nobility and his counselors, The Emperor decreed that Duke Thomax of Relin (located deep inside what became known to humanity as Russia) would undertake this task as a blood quest.
For ninety years, Duke Thomax pursued this quest with modest results, by the standards of the Empire. During the first 27 years prior to Ithian's return to favor, Torren's following grew from 3 Metamorphs (considered traitors by their kin) and 12 Changelings to mighty seventeen thousand (17,000) Changelings. The most prominent of these within the newfound Changeling Empire, secreted away in Scotland and in several aquatic city-states, was Torren's friend and advisor Kelidrin Seryntel, who had served the Metamorph Vizier and Counselor Altarac. This Changeling was unique, in that the other Changelings were all young by comparison. Not a single Changeling in the Empire was more than 300 years old, except for Kelidrin. He never divulged the year of his birth, but it was known he was at least elder by a century.

Under Thomax's quest many hundreds of Changelings and one of the three city-states of the Changeling Empire were destroyed. In time, Duke Thomax was in a position to challenge for the title of Arch-Duke. To do so would require his fullest dedication, and so, his first born son, Danakros, who was without title of his own, was named as his successor in the blood quest.

For one without title, the greatest sign of respect and power is to be the bearer of a blood quest. Danakros had proven himself as an Imperial Enforcer. Impressing his commanders by taking the Enforcers' ruthless and relentless pursuit beyond their expectations. He left the Enforcers to pursue his father's blood quest. In the early days of Danakros's induction into the quest, the threat to the new Changeling Empire was realized. In the next fifteen years, the remaining City-States of the Changeling were destroyed. Their capital was devastated and the remaining followers of Torren were again to live as fugitives. Danakros took many risks, cold, calculated and ruthless, to insure his quest would be successful.

Some 60 years after the destruction of the Changeling Capital, Torren himself fell before the power of Danakros. Having so well performed his duties, Danakros was then permitted to Challenge the Enforcer's Overseer for his choice of Duties within the Imperial Enforcers. Any command he wanted would be his, but if the Overseer disapproved, Danakros would have to best him in combat.

Danakros chose to challenged and defeated the Overseer, for his command. Danakros was then named Overseer by Imperial Decree over the Enforcers. In time, this position permitted Danakros to challenge for the title of Baron, and thus his nobility was assured. As Overseer of the Enforcers, he further increased the rigorous, often fatal, training the Enforcers endured. Less than 1 in 15 recruits would succeed in training. Of the remaining 14, usually at least 7 were killed by the new training. Almost 40% of the current Enforcers failed when pitted against their new requirements, and of them 1 in 4 perished.

Danakros defended his title of Overseer against 24 challengers, of whom only one survived. Challenges are oft fought until one party concedes defeat, but Danakros's ruthlessness in combat more often than not killed his opponents before they could consider surrender. As a noble, he has been challenged only twice. Each time his opponents were slain.

Although Danakros destroyed Torren, the Changelings were still present. Many went into hiding, hunted throughout the decades and centuries to come, until it was believed all had been destroyed. One of the few survivors was the wife of Torren, married under Changeling law, documents secreted away with the most trusted of advisors. To this wife, was born an heir to Torren's legacy. A child whom she protected and hid as long as she could.

The child was hidden in a land called America. Buried in a deep slumber for centuries. Her mother was destroyed only days after she was hidden. Centuries later, the earth gave up her secret. The child was found, alive but with no memories. The child was found to be in good health, and was eventually placed with a caring family, adopted and treated as their own. She was called Danielle, and may be the last hope of the Changelings' vengeance, freedom, and survival.

The only link to her past is a small simple medallion, which had been crafted to record her life. That journal, is what you have before you.
© Copyright 2003 Scott Luinstra (randalin at Writing.Com). All rights reserved.
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