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Baläg Loperian (BAL-ag Low-PER-ee-an)

Heir to Sixth Chosen House Loperian

Written by J. L. Gryphon


Ambient sounds courtesy of tosha73 and EminYILDIRIM

Greetings to those below. I am Death, though Azrael is the name I will always choose. Today we will discuss Baläg Loperian, an assassin who is, despite all the broken pieces in the world around him, inexplicably happy. No, he’s not funny in the head, though many have accused him of this.
In fact, it is not uncommon for Baläg's on-off lover, Ilitha Reiyiss, to refer to him as “simple, happy Baläg.” Baläg, of course, takes this all in stride. Why he is this way, and if there is indeed something wrong with him, after all, I will attempt to explore. First, though, the basics.
 
“Goddesses can like cookies, too.”  
—Baläg Loperian
 

Special Abilities


Wraith-Step

by mohamed Hassan from Pixabay

Since Baläg was trained as an assassin, he can of course employ the wraith-step. This is the impossibly fast running employed as a fighting tactic by Sicarius assassins. The ability is only possible for Zurrinaih elves, which is why only Zurrinaih elves are ever made Sicarius assassins. Training every single muscle, a Zurrinaih can learn to perform quick flashes of speed that can almost render them invisible. To finish off what pure speed cannot, they employ long cloaks made from vapor silk that reflect light and allow them to better blend with the elements. They use them in a manner similar to a magician’s disappearing act. But while this might sound impressive, I will warn you it is incredibly dangerous. This is because, in order to perform the wraith-step, a Zurrinaih must trigger a zadrel.  

Triggering Zadrels

 

by Gordon Johnson from Pixabay

  While wraith-step is a trained ability, triggering zadrels is a natural ability born in all Zurrinaih elves, assassins or not. It is simply the assassins who take the most advantage of it. The word zadrel means “lightning” in the Zishlyn language. And that is exactly what it feels like. A zadrel is the initial adrenaline rush a Sicarius assassin needs to enter the wraith-step. An assassin will trigger a zadrel by activating the voluntary adrenal gland inside their head. Once activated, their eyes, even the sclera, jolt pitch black for a split second. A current of extra energy will strike through their body, allowing them their initial burst of speed. This is the dangerous part because it puts great strain on the heart. For this reason, great discipline is emphasized when learning the technique. If a Zurrinaih becomes addicted to triggering zadrels, they can suffer a heart attack or the much worse Black Blood Disease. Ilitha’s mother, for example, is one who has found herself in such a state. Fortunately for Baläg, though, he has never been all that impressed by this rush of power. From everything I’ve observed of him, while he seems at least decently skilled at controlling it, rather than use it in the first place, he’d much rather just . . . relax.  

Family


 
Baalath Loperian
Onnissah Loperian
  This is perhaps, in no small part, due to the attitude of his entire family, his entire family being his mother and . . . well, his mother, Onnissah Loperian. You see, on the day of Baläg's birth, his father, Baalath Loperian, was killed by some fleeing Sithuwaye he had been contracted to hunt in a last-minute, emergency message. He got to hold infant Baläg. Just once.  
“Oh! You look so much like your father, bless his dead soul.”
 
—Onnissah Loperian
  She truly did love Baalath, evidenced by the fact she has never remarried despite the political advantages it would offer her. I don’t think she can bring herself to, truth be told. Still, despite all the tragedy and hardship that has befallen her, Onnissah maintains an equally odd and happy attitude. Perhaps that is the reason behind House Loperian’s sigil. It is a single red rose with a bead of blood dripping off one of its thorns. The House words beneath it read:  
"Look for the Rose in the Thorns"
  Maybe that’s what Onnissah did. What she taught her son to do.  

Personal History


Why Is Baläg?

 
“If you think we do not understand the full weight of what we are about to do, then you are a bigger fool than they say you are, Raider Loperian.”
 
—Ajayzil Jaxinar to Baläg
 

by mohamed Hassan from Pixabay

  Why is Baläg?” is the first question most people ask when they meet him, and it’s because, as I said, Baläg is happy. But I suppose this is an oversimplification. What I and most everyone else means by “happy” is that Baläg is . . . well-adjusted, normal. Dare I say healthy? But he’s also an assassin, and being well-adjusted, normal, and healthy are not typically associated with such a lifestyle, especially if one is a Sicarius assassin, something Baläg definitely is. How did he do it, then? How does he continue to do it? That, I can confidently say, is thanks to two people. His mother, Onnissah, and then Jezryn Sulissurn, who showed up later (as he is wont to do).  

Who Is Baläg?

 
“He was an odd sort, what with his dyed white hair and happy attitude, as if somehow he had dodged the uglier aspects of an assassin’s life. Most blamed his mother for that. Lady Nomarch Onnissah Loperian lived in a world all of her own, and he didn’t doubt being raised by such an eccentric person would make anyone a little odd. Still, he wondered if he envied Baläg. At least Onnissah seemed to care about her son.”
 
—Jezryn Sulissurn observing Baläg
 

by Goran Horvat from Pixabay

  Who is Baläg?” is probably the better question to ask on the road to explaining him. The answer can be found in his home life, and by that I mean . . . he had one. Unlike other assassin children, Baläg's childhood actually was a childhood. Or at least, it was as much as Onnissah could make it. Of course Baläg needed to attend Sicarius to keep House Loperian alive, but that wasn’t going to stop Onnissah from protecting her son from its harsher realities. For example, despite the rules of Sicarius dictating an initiate should not have contact with their family until after their Initiation Ceremony at the age of thirteen, Onnissah insisted Baläg return home at the end of each day.   Onnissah, the one Zurrinaih in the Veldriss’s’ world crazy enough to treat Sicarius like a day school. Or should I say sane enough? Hmph.   The reason for this was that, while Onnissah herself never attended Sicarius, she knew how the youngest initiates were treated thanks to her husband’s stories. Before his death, Baalath told her how the initiates thirteen and under were forced to sleep in the Sicarius catacombs to “remind them of the constant threat of death.” I am Death, and even I find this notion disturbing. Apparently poor Baalath had nightmares of the place for years even after he passed his Initiation Ceremony and gained the privilege of ascending to the regular dormitories. Onnissah was determined her son would not share in her husband’s torture. Her son was going to sleep in his own bed no matter how many people tried to tell her he shouldn’t.   So it was, starting from age seven, that Baläg would go to . . . “assassin school” . . . as Onnissah called it, then come home to freshly-baked cookies, his mother’s warmest hug, and a bed that lacked even one dagger under its pillow. I imagine this was something of a culture shock each day for Baläg considering that, if Sicarius did have cookies, they would probably be poisoned. The notion of having pillows to even hide a dagger beneath is laughable. And don’t get me started on hugs. Sicarius would sooner strangle you. But I think that, despite the oddity of it all, this switch day after day was the thing that saved Baläg. However jarring it most likely was, at least he had a pillow. At least he knew what it was like to be hugged without needing to fear what it meant.   Then again, while Onnissah’s efforts did shield him to some extent, they also, potentially, were the thing that ruined him.  

What Baläg Could Have Been

 
“She supposed he was unique, what with that dyed white hair and inexplicable ability to be happy, but even though he was heir to the sixth and last of the Chosen Houses, Ilitha was sure Baläg would have been killed before ever graduating Sicarius were it not for his alliance with Jezryn.”
 
—Ilitha Reiyiss thinking about Baläg
 

by J. L. Gryphon via Artbreeder
  A problem I mentioned before in my tour I will address again here. Onnissah renamed her castle “Belladonna” because she thought it sounded more pleasant. Except this is an island ruled by assassins and the goddess they worship. “Nice” isn’t a top priority. Which is why, in Baläg's case, for all her good intentions, Onnissah may have robbed Baläg the edge he needed in order to survive this broken world. To be an assassin means many things. Quite simply, they cannot be happy, which is why, I think, Sicarius whipped him. True, Sicarius whips all its initiates, but the important distinction is they never whip hard enough to break the skin. It is only meant to teach an initiate to tolerate pain. With Baläg, though, they hurt him. An ugly web of scars consumes his back. Onnissah can’t bare to look at them. She blames herself, of course.   This is also why, today, most people sneer at Baläg. He’s a joke, and everyone knows it. To his credit, Baläg shrugs off most people’s scorn, and he is still well-liked amidst all this if only because he is fun at parties. But no one takes him seriously. Most even claim he would have been dead years ago had he not managed to attain his advantageous alliance with Jezryn Sulissurn, who just so happens to be the son of Helios, the king of assassins. No one knows how Baläg managed it, or why Jezryn continues to humor him even to this day, but it is a widely held belief that Baläg's continued survival is only due to him forever clinging to Jezryn’s coattails.   But, if I may offer my own opinion, I don’t think this is entirely true. After all, he didn’t meet Jezryn until he was fourteen, which means he survived all by himself and passed his Initiation Ceremony with seemingly no allies to speak of. Some of the most successful assassins in history cannot boast such a thing. And even after he became known as Jezryn’s faithful shadow, Jezryn was two years older than him. When Jezryn graduated, Baläg was once again left alone in Sicarius for two whole years before he graduated himself. With Jezryn gone, of course an even larger target would have been placed on his back, but Baläg lived. Then he graduated. Then he was promoted by the Veldriss herself not once, but twice. He is a raider-class now, just one rank below Jezryn.   Do you know what this tells me? It tells me we should all be very grateful to Onnissah for instilling the kindness and love in him that she did, scars and all. Because while most everyone believes she robbed him of his edge, I don’t think that’s true at all. I think it’s just been tempered, and thanks to Onnissah, it only rears its head when, like his mother after her husband died, he’s backed into a corner. When that happens, Baläg becomes someone who is still happy, but not nearly as simple. I think, had Onnissah not guided him the way she did, and had he not found a friend in Jezryn, he might have become an assassin more feared than even Helios. Except, in Baläg's case, he would have superseded Helios by becoming an all-encompassing monster.   I think we should all be relieved this never happened. So bless Onnissah, I say, who remains his devoted mother. Bless Jezryn, who became his friend in a place that could never understand such a thing. And bless Baläg, too—a boy, now a man, who survived a broken world that tried its hardest to ruin him. Tried and failed.   And so with that, I’m glad to report that, no, there is nothing wrong with him. Baläg is happy, and that’s perfectly fine.
   

             
Signed your contented narrator,   Azrael the Star of Death

   

Book Information


  To learn more, hop on over to the books page OR hop on over to the teaser and get a sneak peek of Chapter 1! For more articles like this one, have a peek at my Worldbuilding Journal and explore Orosta.  

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Image by J. L. Gryphon via Artbreeder
Alignment
Chaotic Good
Species
Elf
Ethnicity
Other Ethnicities/Cultures
Honorary & Occupational Titles
Current
  • Lord Balâg of Sixth Chosen House Loperian
  • Raider Loperian
Former
  • Hunter Loperian
  • Watcher Loperian
  • Initiate Loperian
Currently Held Titles
Date of Birth
The Month of Chal, Day 33, 14965 NS
Year of Birth
14965 36 Years old
Birthplace
Castle Belladonna
Children
Current Residence
Castle Belladonna
Gender
Male
Eyes
Olive green
Hair
Dirty blond (dyed white)
Skin Tone/Pigmentation
Pale gray
Height
6'0"
Aligned Organization
Known Languages
  • Zishlyn (1st – fluent)
  • Orostian (2nd – fluent)
  • Sithuli (3rd – fluent)
  • Lingua (4th – passing)

Family Tree


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