"A warrior's greatest weapon is patience. Watch your enemies. Watch your allies. When you know the strengths and weaknesses of both, you will be victorious."The Sunriders of Caer Thalion are a fairly new addition to its military. What started as a small group of like-minded warriors who strangely chose to follow the advice of a young but skilled new-blood quickly grew into an elite fighting force when that same young new-blood almost single-handedly saved the Crown Prince from coastal pirates seeking to capture and ransom him. When the Thali King and Queen heard that such a young warrior was responsible for their only son's return, they heaped praises on him, calling him Zefrak'ai, or "blessed in the eyes of Zefrak". The young warrior was offered immense reward, yet all he wanted was to help create a group of warriors specially trained to traverse and protect the desert. The King and Queen saw no harm in this, and so the young warrior and the ones who had followed him began what is arguably the best fighting force on Dálnaes.
Unlike standard Thali legions, the Sul'ri have less than 100 members. They are separated into groups of five, called guroks. Each gurok has a leader - called a guroku - who is responsible for his brothers while on patrols. The guroku is also held partially responsible for his brothers' actions should they act out or cause trouble.
Next above the gurokus are the lytaks. In normal legions, there are two other ranks between lytaks and regulars, but because the Sul'ri are so few and organized into smaller groups, there is no need for those ranks. The lytaks take charge of handing out orders and making sure the men are not shirking their duties. In the absence of the kurdan, the lytaks work together to lead the Sul'ri. Currently, the Sul'ri has two lytaks: Q'yran et'Nadak and Rinachi et'Kival. Both men are completely devoted to the Sul'ri and their kurdan, and were among the original group of men who started the Sul'ri.
The final and highest rank among the Sul'ri is the kurdan. This rank is equal to the other kurdans who serve in Caer Thalion's army, though the kurdan of the Sul'ri does not serve a specific kimanji. Rather, he takes orders directly from the jarul or the monarchy themselves. Currently, the Sul'ri are led by the same young new-blood who saved the Prince, a kumajai warrior named Lucius Ysa'bahk Va'lar.
The Sul'ri as an official organization is less than ten years old. At the age of thirteen, a young kumajai named Lucius Ysa'bahk chose to join the kingdom's army in Durleik. As a bastard, he had spent his childhood scorned by his fellow clansmen, and sought a new life and reputation in the city.
Sadly, Lucius faced similar scorn in the army, not only for being a bastard but for also being a kumajai. Determined to at least complete his training and serve the required five years, he endured the others' torments and focused on honing his skill. Unfortunately for his fellow warriors-in-training, there was something to be said for the warriors of the Y'dak. Lucius' preferred style of fighting was with a strange, two-bladed staff that he wielded as effortlessly as a sword. His sparring partners began hating him not so much for his lineage, but for the fact that they couldn't seem to beat him in combat. Even groups of them couldn't get past the defense his unique weapon gave him. This revelation restored his sense of self and gave him the courage to continue his training, which he completed in less than a year - a record time.
Once past training, Lucius found he had to prove himself almost entirely from the beginning. Now he was among not just other boys, but fully trained warriors, some of whom had been serving in the army for a decade or more. Though they'd heard of his reputation for being unbeatable in a fight, they took his status as a bastard to a new level of torment. Discouraged, Lucius took to training on his own, choosing to suffer his officer's lash rather than endure the mistreatment from his "brothers".
Everything changed when another warrior, Q'yran et'Nadak, followed Lucius one evening to see where he went. Unlike the others in their legion, he was curious about this boy who could beat even the best of them. And he was intrigued by the boy's weapon, and wanted to learn how to use it himself. Upon discovering he was followed, Lucius immediately struck out in anger, almost skewering Q'yran through the stomach. After a brief fight, in which Q'yran got a first-hand look at the boy's skill, Q'yran explained that he wanted to learn how to fight the way Lucius did. Lucius was reluctant, for much of his technique was taught to him in secret by his clan's naku. He turned Q'yran away, and went back to training in solitude.
But he could not stop Q'yran from following and watching him. Since Q'yran simply observed silently, Lucius couldn't justify striking out at him. Nor could he seem to shake the older warrior's interest. After a month of this, Q'yran brought another with him: Rinachi et'Kival. Rinachi was equally awed by the boy's skill, though a little more reluctant to turn away from traditional weapons. However, he and Q'yran were good friends, and they could both see that if they learned how to fight like Lucius did, they would be better warriors for it, and thus serve their kingdom with greater honor. Eventually, Lucius got sick of them watching and challenged them to bring their own glaive - what he called his weapon - and he would teach them. Since he knew such a weapon was only used by his clan, he assumed they would give up. His stalkers did not return for the next three nights, and he continued training in peace. On the fourth night, however, not only did Q'yran and Rinachi return, but they brought two others with them as well: Tarnğal, a young, stoic warrior from the jungle in the south, and Farlak, a seasoned veteran. All four of them carried a newly crafted glaive. Perplexed but also determined to keep his word, Lucius began showing them the way of his clan.
Over the course of his first year of service, the five of them became close friends and a force to be reckoned with among their fellows. Others inquired about learning this new fighting style, but they couldn't get past Lucius' bastard status, so he refused to teach them. His officers tried to force him to use other weapons, but he proved just as skilled with those. He could ride a horse as though born on one, and even managed to track and capture one of the ferocious and deadly saresh, which he began riding as though it was no different than a horse. By the time he finished two years of service, he was known throughout Caer Thalion's active military.
It wasn't until halfway through his third year of service, however, that he truly began to gain acceptance from his peers. In a desperate grab for wealth and power, desert raiders managed to kidnap Prince Idru et'Wakala. Legions were sent out left and right to search the desert and recover him. The raiders, however, knew the desert well and managed to avoid all attempts to rescue the Prince, demanding a huge ransom and a substantial chunk of territory for his safe return. After almost half a year of failure, the King and Queen began preparing the money and documents that would establish the requested land as free of Thali rule. Angry that they were giving in to the na'kumaj, Lucius gathered his four friends and led them into the desert himself. With some help from the kumajai and using the tracking methods he knew from growing up in the Y'dak's harsh sands, he found the raiders' hiding place. Under cover of darkness, he and his followers waited while his faithful saresh, Torsak, drew the raiders out of their camp. They then infiltrated the camp, subdued the raiders on guard, and freed the Prince. Upon their return to the city, Lucius' officers immediate sought to cast him out for "abandoning his duty", but Prince Idru demanded Lucius be taken before the King and Queen for a reward. The King and Queen were overjoyed at their son's safe return and amazed that a group of five men managed to do what whole legions could not. They offered Lucius anything he wanted, and he asked to be made equal to his fellow warriors and given the freedom to train others who held honor and duty above all else, even bloodlines. All too happy to do as requested, the King declared Lucius to be Zefrak'ai, or "blessed in the eyes of Zefrak", and bestowed upon him the name Va'lar, meaning "of divine valor and strength". He was also granted the rank of kurdan, and given leave to choose warriors to train as he saw fit.
Though his extreme jump in rank caused outrage among many warriors, others flocked to his new calling, eager to learn how he did the impossible. Many were turned away, for Lucius could see that their hearts were set on bettering themselves for their own gain, not for the honor of the kingdom. But some were accepted into his trusted group, and he trained them as carefully as he had trained his friends. They too, helped train newcomers, and within another year, their number had reached thirty men, and the Sul'ri were born.