Breaker of Chains
We reach the edge of the treeline on the other side of the forest. An eden outpost stands less than thirty meters away, the buildings tall and angular like black spires. We kneel, using the thick shrubs and densely packed trees as cover. Fraeia eyes the area, listening in and analyzing every possibility. Had the outpost been taken or was it still under eden control? "How are we doing this?" I ask. They turn to me with a look of frustration. "I don't know. We could run for it but the area is too…" they pause as if searching for the word, "...too wide." "Wide?" I ask. I hear the sounds of engines revving, a droning whine carried on the wind. Fraeia points to something in the sky above us. I look and see a Dhitol transport, its steel body stout and round. It lands outside the outpost. Fraeia hunkers down low enough not to be seen and raises their rifle. I, however, practically kiss the dirt. When they look at me, they try to stifle their laughter. "When training in reconnaissance, they tell us to become one with our surroundings." They look back to the outpost with a wide grin. "You do it better than me. Well done." "This is a bad time for jokes, don't you think?" I ask. They shrug, "If I die here, I'd like it to be with a smile." They nudge my side with their foot, "I'm not joking. I'm surprised you haven't blended with the planet by now." They turn back to the outpost and the smile disappears. They stand straight up, visible to anyone who bothered to look. "Duri Surtra," they whisper. Breaker of Chains. I lift up just enough to see. Dhitol soldiers march down the ramp of the transport, followed by a human, the man we've been searching for, Daniel Haddock. Beside haddock is a Dhitol that stands taller than the others at ten feet. Its hair is grey, hinting at its age. Despite how old it is, it stood tall and strong. It's armor shines in the fading light of the Breach, decorated with honors beyond counting. It doesn't take long for me to put the pieces together. This is admiral Yur Lolitec (your lullteece), the one behind the assault on the Breach. Why was he here? Looking at him makes me shudder. The reason isn't made clear until my eyes really start to adjust. My eyes see symmetry, perfect symmetry in the old creature's form. Nature is rarely this elegant. This one was different. The grey hair, the bat like visage, it was all a lie. The genetic modification to humanity gave us a unique little quirk that other species lack. If you know what to look for, you can spot them easily, no matter what species they appear as. This is not a Dhitol officer. Admiral Yur is an eden.
The Lebha, or eden to us humans, are even more enigmatic than I previously thought. You hear about them when growing up on Safeharbor, beautiful warrior women that can kill you with a napkin if you say something out of line. This is a bit of a stereotype. They can appear as any species, and any gender. The eden see gender, species, and even sexuality the same way we look at ethnicity and taste in music. We only know them as a biologically female species because the matriarchal eden are the ones who actually deal with us, and they appear as female members of any given species. There are males as well, and I'd wager others that likely break the mold of what biological sex and gender can be. That brings us to Admiral Yur, The Breaker of Chains. The term "Duri Surtra" is used as a derogatory slur among the Lebha, but some wear it as a badge of honor. The breakers of chains seek to thwart the spread of the lebhan faith. They're considered mad, driven insane upon succumbing to "The Loop." They're the closest thing to criminals the eden have.
There are those among the lebhan who succumb to a mental illness. This illness, The Loop, puts them in a frightful position. They reject the teaching of the lebhan faith, which alone would be perfectly fine, but they also seek to change it, to break it and circumvent The Loop. I don't fully understand what The Loop even is, but something about it causes anger and violent outbursts in those afflicted who cannot overcome it. According to Fraeia, the breakers of chains refuse to accept truth. In Fraeia's own words, "The loop is inevitable. The breakers of chains succumb to the loop and then seek an escape. They find none. They are like trapped animals, unable to be stopped due to the nature of the loop but also unable to succeed in their goals for the same reason. It's a horrible way to live."
Saints and Sinners
The war saints of the eden are one side of a coin. The breakers of chains are their antithesis. These lebhan are just as powerful, just as touched by divinity. They possess ancient relics of their own, powerful weapons beyond comprehension, and they are far more willing to use them. They operate in the shadows, orchestrating schemes of grand design. It is likely that the Dhitol-leva trade war is entirely their doing. The eden regard them with general indifference unless they actively create problems, however. There's nothing that can really be done about them, and nothing the breakers can do that would achieve their goal of escape. The loop, whatever it is, sounds terrifying. What can be so horrifying that death is the only way out? Why not just take it upon yourself? That's where eden culture gets more confusing.
The eden revere death in all its forms, but entropy is the main idea. Given how long they live, it would make sense. What's interesting is how this fact demands a reverence for life. To them, the meaning of life is to die. The eden see life as a fundamental force of entropy, and as such, one should live their life until their time comes. Suicide among the eden is nearly nonexistent, even for the breakers of chains. The eden see no need for it. On a long enough timeline, we all die. Why hurry? This touches on their understanding of entropy. In Fraeia's words, "Entropy is the only true constant in the universe. Life is entropic by its very nature. When we first took to the stars, we found proof of this in just how common life is in the galaxy. It's unmistakable; an irrefutable fact. Life is embedded in how the universe functions. It's part of the clockwork. Life exists to die, to hasten the death of existence itself."
This gives a distinct flavour to Eden that up to these point (at least of what I have read so far) appeared to be almost automatic destruction machines... It makes them more interesting and complex...
R. Dylon Elder
Thanks so much! Im glad it adds more depth to them. Sorry for the layout issues. An older tab was open and saved and now I can't edit it cause World Ember is over. It shall be fixed.
This article has a really nice style. Its simple, but delivers the text so well. Also, love the ending! Leaves me with a lot of questions, and trust me, I want to find the answers haha. Great work!
Waaaait I'm sorry what?! Now that was a twist I did not expect! Somehow I missed the Eden could be several species (curse you memory!), god damn I am surprised. (Does that mean that Argus is basically trying to become an Eden?)
R. Dylon Elder
ohhh yesss! technically humans only really deal with one of many cultural grounds among the eden: the matriarchy. Also, yes and no. Argus is going to be attempting training for one of the highest positions but not exactly to be an eden.
Ok that makes sense! If my memory serves there have been no article about the lebhan right, only the Eden Matriarchs? (speaking of I should re-read it) and thats interesting! I wonder what motivated the Eden to accept a non-eden amongst their ranks (unless that happens often?)
R. Dylon Elder
Not as a species no, but that changes this season. It's in the works! The matriarchy loves other species. The Eden have some extreme standard and when someone from another species rises to the challenge and succeeds it's a HUGE honor for both. It doesnt happen often, but often enough to be known of.
Oooh, so Yur Lolitec wasn't a regular Dhitol admiral :o The Edens are very interesting, being so perfect and united on the outside but having flaws like the breakers of chains in their own kind.
Garrett Grace Lewis
Very very very very interesting things going on here. Every religion has its apostates, and boy oh boy if you've got an apostate character in store they are probably going to be a new favorite of mine. I just...really connect with those, what can I say? The loop is becoming a bigger and bigger mystery, now, I wonder if it's one that'll be revealed in time? An aside, why "it" in regards to Dhitol's people whenever they come up? Is that the most common pronoun they go by? Is there something to that at all?
"The war saints of the eden are one side of a coin. The breakers of chains are their antithesis. These lebhan are just as powerful, just as touched by divinity. They possess ancient relics of their own, powerful weapons beyond comprehension, and they are far more willing to use them." Well this sounds like a final boss if there ever was one. Also, hi. I'm not dead.
R. Dylon Elder
Definitely. Lol also yes! It's great to hear from you. Life's been pretty busy as of late. I hope life's treating you well.