Like all eight year old boys of Hedonian citizenry, Demacharon is taken from his mother’s arms to train in the navy, and for the next ten years he is taught discipline, and ways in which to kill more efficiently. He later moves up in rank, from a lowly oarsman to captain of his own vessel. After a number of decisive naval victories against rebelling coastal city states, Demacharon is promoted to Regent Commander of the North, at which point he is charged with the subjugation of tribal lands in the northwest. After two decades campaigning, Demacharon is permitted to take a wife, a chambermaid named Niobe. The honeymoon is short lived, however, as he is sent out again and again, either to defend a border, quell a rebellion, or expand the territories. Never in all that time does he question the rightness of his duties, for he has been taught since childhood that the glory of the empire is an absolute good, and the superiority of their way of life is to be defended at any cost. And yet, far from the One Sea, in the wild, unmapped territories, his legions meet with increased resistance. Many barbarian peoples choose death to paying tribute, fighting to the last man, woman and child. The terrible cost of victory will haunt him for the remainder of his days. Despite heavy losses, his men are unwavering in their loyalty. This may be attributed to his courage on the vanguard, and that he never accepts any comforts that the lowest in rank do not also receive. Once, as throats run dry crossing through the Great White Flat, Demacharon is forced by his men to drink at the point of a spear.
Less than half his men, a mere nine thousand of the thirty sent out, return to Hedonia after a year-long campaign to circumnavigate the globe. Half are buried along the road, having succumbed to infection, disease and hunger. In the city, however, Demacharon is heralded a hero, given a parade, lands and titles, including that of Supreme Commander. Only one man, the High Priest Urukjinn, stands above him. But the ghosts of his friends and enemies continue to haunt his dreams, and with the birth of his only child, Astor, he begins to doubt. Does he desire such a life for his son? And how can he justify the murder of barbarian children, knowing what it means to be a father? Soon after his return, five-year old Astor is killed on the beach by merquid, after which his wife, Niobe, recedes into herself, overcome by despair. Having lost the only two things that mean anything to him, Demacharon becomes disillusioned, a broken man in search of redemption.
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