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Emondford, Northwestern Denion

On the northwestern side of The Grandwood and on the banks of the Vis River lies the township of Emondford.  Almost seventy percent of the population is made up of itinerant hunters and trappers.  Merchant caravans carry exotic furs and salted meats south, to the Jewel Cities of Denion’s coast, and some as far as the port cities of the Falias.

Emondford was the site that Baler intended to initiate Patrin into the bloody business of raiding, thieving, and killing.  But, Gil had other plans.  The cruel knife fighter resented Baler for forcing him to ‘care’ for Patrin during those early years, and he saw a chance to vent his anger by murdering Patrin and leaving his body to burn.

Garret, the Warden …

A veteran soldier in Denion’s army, Garret was appointed by King Yulin as the Sergeant Warden over his oldest son and heir, Prince Galin.  Possessed of a soldier’s single-mindedness and his own practical nature, Garret was a strong influence in the prince’s life.

We know by ‘old man’ Patrin’s diary entries that Garret had a son named Tellen, who drowned sometime after his passing.  His grandson, Hefft, fell into Patrin’s care and left with him on his final mission, but was later abandoned in Portis Doha because Patrin didn’t believe he was strong enough to face the challenges ahead.  Though, it is possible that Patrin did this in consideration of Hefft’s young son, whom was traveling with them and hadn’t fared well on the long journey south through the Grandwood.

Garret appears to be have been a simple soldier, with nothing notable beyond his skill as a swordsman.  It is not know why King Yulin specifically chose him to be Galin’s guardian, but there is some speculation that they were former acquaintances.  Because of his age it is possible that Garret was involved in the Second Boar War, but we do not know the dates of his service and in his diary Patrin never provides much detail on Garret’s life prior to meeting him.

During younger Prince Halin’s bid for the throne Garret proved his loyalty to be incorruptible.  He was with Galin during the entirety of his exile, and remained with him once they returned in secret to Denion and became a conspirator to place him back on the throne.  We have Patrin’s diary notes showing that he was trained by Garret in swordsmanship, and while it’s never implicitly stated it seems obvious that he trained Xadik and others that Galin found useful.  He is also a skilled woodsman, often teaching Patrin about surviving in the wilderness.

Author’s note: I’ve always seen Garret as being more moral than Galin, but his devotion to the prince and his loyalty to the now dead King Yulin will always win over his better judgement.

Xadik, the farmer …

Not much is know about Xadik’s life prior to Greater Things than Thou.  He was the son of a poor farmer, and while Patrin’s narration is never precise his family farm was somewhere on the north side of the Grandwood, probably near Woodpoint.  It’s not certain when he became part of Galin’s network of agents in Northern Denion, but it’s reasonable to assume he was recruited prior to Garret’s rescue of Patrin at Emondford.  We know that he was at Idra’s home in the Grandwood previous to Patrin’s stay.

Xadik’s first appearance is in Whitefield, where Patrin meets him on Elsina’s estate.  His cybernetic package makes him incredibly strong and durable and Galin has sent him to be Patrin’s ’secondman’, or shieldman, for the final portion of his mission.  He was present with Patrin at Brenit, and at the palace wall.

As there was no reasonable way for Serin to include Xadik in Patrin’s summons to the tower his role was relegated to ensuring that Patrin would be able to escape from the palace, and continue on out of the city.  This proved disastrous.

Patrin, faced with the Sentinels, the sixteen traditional guardsmen of the King, was sorely pressed to complete his mission.  In a desperate attempt to ensure Patrin’s survival, Xadik single-handedly withstood Asaul and his men at the palace’s sally port.

Xadik was a large part of Patrin’s life in those early years as Galin’s agents in securing the kingdom.  Their’s was a friendship that transcended the ‘job’ and in reflection as he writes he laments Xadik’s eventual death.  At some point we know that Patrin visits Xadik’s farm, where he finds it long abandoned and fallen to ruin.  This maybe the reason he titles the second volume of his story All Things Ruin.

Brenit, Northeastern Denion

Several days ride northeast of Whitefield lies the town of Brenit. It is a land of flowing green hills and pastel skies. Further east is the short, heavily wooded mountain range of the Pikes, the boundary between Denion and the Yeoman States.

Brenit is the hereditary domain of Elsina’s maid, Lena, where she is referred to as ‘the young Lady Lena’. Lena’s father, Sir Brenit is famous for breeding horses. Patrin’s steed, Patience, is Brenit bred.

While in Elsina’s care in Whitefield, Patrin was once charged with escorting Lena to Brenit for a family visit that ended in brutal tragedy

Woodpoint, Northern Denion

A small lumber town on the northern edge of the Grandwood, Woodpoint is situated about a day’s ride from Galin’s hidden cabin.  It was a point of interest on Galin’s maps and he was sure to teach Patrin its location and brief history.

No information was irrelevant to Patrin, who would have thought nothing of learning about such an insignificant settlement.  This was in large part due to the setting and ambience that Galin fostered when in Patrin’s company.  Patrin enjoyed his tutelage and never questioned why he was being taught geography and history.

When Galin’s plans later manifest it becomes evident why he taught those particular skills to Patrin.  At sixteen years of age he is sent across the country to deliver special messages to Galin’s supporters and fellow conspirators.  Woodpoint is the first stop along that path.

Patrin of Orlon (maybe)

Galin and Garret speculate that Patrin is from the Orlon region, as the settlement of Orlon itself is too large for Baler to have sacked and kidnapped the then very young Patrin.  As Greater Thing than Thou opens, it becomes evident that the truth of Patrin’s origins lie some seventy years in the past.  He is an old man now, writing about events that took place decades ago.

Patrin’s narrative doesn’t give us any new insight into the human condition, or some grand scheme of life.  Neither he nor the people around him, or the situations that occur in his lifetime, reveal anything we do not already know.  Instead we are shown things we can readily identify with.  Patrin is relatable, he has been through the same things you have.

As the primary protagonist, Patrin delivers his story from the first person.  We see, hear, and experience everything from his worldview.  From the moment he is kidnapped by Baler’s men- because he has no earlier memory- and on through the years as he meets Galin … holds hands with Lena … fights side by side with Xadik … until all of them eventually leave him and at the end of his life he is left with one purpose, one last mission to fulfill.

The Patrin we see here has grown fearful, paranoid.  It may be that he had similar traits growing up in his hometown, perhaps he always this way.  But, I think the more likely scenario is that he developed his paranoia as a means of survival in the camp.  Baler’s men are the rough sort, conniving thieves and brutal bandits.  It would have been necessary, particularly in those early years, for him to develop a heightened sense of awareness.  It is a miracle of character that he came out of the camp so unlike them.  We generally adopt the mores and values of the people we run with, but not Patrin.  When next we find him at Galin’s secret cabin in the Grandwood, he is just an abused boy.  Fearful and paranoid, of course, but not cruel nor spiteful.

Patrin’s experience with Galin justifies the paranoia he developed in Baler’s camp.  It is his frequent lament that the world is out to get him, that there is no good in it.

At the beginning of their relationship Galin is his friend.  They drink tea in the evenings on the front porch of the cabin, listening to the forest sounds and watching the sun sink behind the tree branches.  Patrin also practices swordsmanship with Galin’s warden, a salt of the earth ex-military man named Garret.  If anyone is honest, it has to Garret … surely.

Galin’s plot matures, sending Patrin across the country and eventually to the seat of the kingdom itself- Whitefield.  The things he faced while in Galin’s care has hardened him emotionally.  He was treated cruelly in Baler’s camp, then came to freedom- if not paradise- at Galin’s cabin, and then it was taken away.  Where would that leave you?  It leaves Patrin jaded, and with an edge of bitterness.  What trust he had in Galin has been sapped.  He has become a pawn in the exiled prince’s plan to retake the throne.

Arriving at the palace’s west tower, Patrin is ready to complete his mission and break the yoke of loyalty that Galin has placed around his neck … but the task ahead will prove difficult, even for a cybernetically enhanced assassin.  In the closing paragraph Patrin is no better off then than when we found him.  Xadik presumed dead, and even his faithful steed, Patience, in peril.

As he considers his final words in the story of those early years, the old man Patrin, reflects on the meaning of home: “In my mind I always go back to that time after Emondford. Doing chores with Garret … his calm and steady presence … tea with Galin early in the morning on the front porch of the cabin.  Those few months, spent with them in simple innocence were the most precious to me.  Over the years, off and on, I’ve hidden myself from the world back here at Galin’s cabin, but I can never seem to recreate those feelings … that peace.”

Harmony Book 1: The Rhine

Thursday, December 27, 2018

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The Rhine

   Gerhard Shultz, the first elected governor of Mars, wants what’s best for his people …

   The colony depends on Earth businesses for goods, but Earth is run by an imperialistic United Nations whose regulations and sanctions are overbearing.

   Increasing tensions are only exacerbated by suspicious pirate attacks in the Belt. It is rumored the attacks are the work of the Free Mars Now grassroots movement or privateers paid by the Martian government in defiance of the UN. Recent victims of a pirate attack, Mat and his crew aboard the Sadie, discover evidence that could prove the rumors true.

   With the UN squeezing the colony for every dime they can get, and Shultz looking to better the Martian situation, there are deals to be made. No one knows that better than Apex Mining’s CEO, Alexandria Reinhardt, whose Board of Directors has ordered her to sell their ore to the Martians despite a UN embargo. Her plans are more ambitious than simply ignoring government decrees, though.

   Will the Free Mars Now movement find a way to release the colony from their 100-year lease to Earth? Can Shultz find a way to work with Earth companies without angering their government? Does Mat possess enough evidence to prove Mars’ disloyalty? And … in the past what happens when you push a distant colony too far?

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