Exalted Of the East
Eddizamn 'The Scar'
Eddizamn sat at the far end of the large tent sipping his tea. It was late in the afternoon and the training camp was winding down after the day’s exhausting drills. Most of the soldiers in training were gathered under the large tent for dinner time, served an meager army rice meal for house Tepet’s tough recruits. Dressed in brown tunics with short cut hair, every man was brought to an equal level for training.A soldier at Eddiazmn’s table looked up from his meal and motioned with his fork as he spoke, “Hey, Eddizamn! Tell me, whats your secret to archery? You hit two arrows right next to the bullseye on the farthest target today. How did you manage that?”. Eddizamn took a long, noisy sip of his tea, then sighed, the heat from his breath making steam in the winter air.
As he inhaled to speak his response, a fellow down table with pity-able manners chimed in, “Ah its luck! Eddizamn just got lucky, that’s all!”. The man laughed for a short while, until he realized nobody else was joining him, and instead he was being met with concerned gazes at a very silent table. The attention shifted to Eddizamn as he looked up slowly from his tea, shifted his two-eyed gaze down to the man who made the comment, and let him sit uncomfortably in the silence until the man couldn’t take it anymore.“And by luck I mean he… is uhhh- Great with a bow! Yeah you gotta be great with a bow to have the luck that… I mean he… Uhh… Uhhhhh… I’m gonna go now”, the man retreated from the tent in fumbling haste, tripping as he exited the tent and the flaps grew still. Eddizamn let out a single chuckle and smirked, which let the rest of the table let loose with howls of laughter. When the laughter died down, Eddizamn took a silent sip of his tea as a man across from posed a question with a wary tone, “Eddizamn, did you hear that Kouman Xi is coming back today? He’s finished his rites”. The laughter died down and the table’s occupants returned to talking among themselves. Next to Eddizamn a soldier added, “Yeah, that’s right. They decided to have him finish training with us under General Itsraru Tepet, and assigned him as second in command”. Eddizamn paused as he remembered Kouman Xi. Eddizamn had been conscripted from a fishing community on the southern coast of the Blessed Isle, while Kouman Xi hailed from a prodigious Tepet family, known for their military lineage. Enduring the difficult training with the rest of the many recruits, Kouman Xi had proved himself a cut above the regular troop in terms of skills. However, he was arrogant and jealous of his rival Eddizamn, who was favored by the men, and General Itsraru. Both Xi and Eddizamn were clearly the most promising pupils, surpassing the other trainees and developed followings within the camp. While Xi impressed the men, Eddizamn seemed to be the favored leader and had a larger following in the camp. The two rivals were favorites to lead Scales of troops under the General, and received special personal training from the General. It was during one of these sessions that Kouman Xi surprised the entire camp, and Exalted into a Fire Aspected Dragonblood. Xi was spirited away to be welcomed formally by house Tepet and assigned his position of honor within the house. That was one month ago. Few expected Xi to come back, but he was on the way. During his absence, most of the camp had decided to ‘convert’ to follow Eddizamn, but with the news of Xi’s return as a Dragonblood, the tables might soon be turned. The air in the camp was tense, waiting with great anticipation for Xi’s return and the sparks that were about to fly. As Eddizamn was about to respond, from behind him boomed, “Hello my little underlings. I’m back from the Imperial City. How have you been?”. The chatter in the room died immediately. Eddizamn heard someone walk up straight behind him and stop. “And where is my little ‘rival’, Oh! There he is. Eddizamn, you fish scented buffoon, turn and greet me, your Co-Commander”. Eddizamn placed his tea on the table harshly, the insults to his common upbringing always sparked anger in him. Eddizamn stood up and turned around to see Xi, in an ornate jade breastplate, donning a red cloak with a broch bearing the Tepet house crest. Kouman Xi had been groomed and outfitted in all the finery of a Dynast, he no longer wore the simple brown training uniforms of the other men. Stifling a scowl, Eddizamn smiled and said, “Congratulations on your promotion, Kouman Xi Tepet. Your parents must be happy all their hard work raising you wasn’t for waste after all”. Taken aback, Kouman Xi’s face contorted in anger. The pupils of his eyes turned an elemental red and he stepped forward and shouted in Eddizamn’s face, “I am your new Co-Commander! Bow to me!”. The rest of the men in the tent began to bend to kneel, but Eddizamn maintained his upright position stared Xi down, as Kouman Xi grew more and more angry. The rest of the men had bowed down, but were now looking to Eddizamn, the last standing man, his iconic red headband trailing behind him. As Xi moved for the hilt of his Daiklave, Eddizamn interrupted, “I will recognize you only when you have completed the General’s challenge. Not before”. Gasps of surprise filled the tent, as Xi calmed and let his arms rest at his side. Despite being hotheaded, Xi still had honor. Kouman Xi chuckled, “Ahh yes the challenge. Well as you know, it will be like nothing to me, now that my Dragon blood has become apparent. Its not even worth the effort to prove to a worm such as you that-”. Eddizamn interrupted Xi with, “We will race to the arrow”. Another round of gasps escaped from the men. Xi and Eddizamn exchanged intense stares, then began to make their exits from the tent.
As the two opponents left, the rest of the men remained on bended knee, unsure what to do, until finally a few men stood up and dashed for the exit. All at once the rest of the men joined the exit and the men pushed and shoved to get out of the tent to see the champions take on the Generals challenge. Outside the tent was the snow-drenched mountain where the training camp was set up. The crowd of men followed the two distant figures as they followed a mountain path out to the challenge site. Finally they caught up and arrived at the place.A thin but magnificent waterfall, a hundred feet tall with ice cold water, and slippery stones waited. In the earliest day’s of the men’s training, the general had brought them here and fired a single arrow at the top of the waterfall, embedding it in the tough rock. General Itsraru had told the men that none of them were worthy, until they could best the waterfall and retrieve the arrow. Many had tried, including Eddizamn and Kouman Xi, but they had always fallen, down into the deep water below, arrow-less. This was the culmination of a bitter rivalry, representing their followers, birthplaces and strength of skill. Although no one else outside the camp may have understood the significance of the challenge, to the men gathered there, it meant the world to be able to grab that arrow for their own, and to see the men they respected compete for it. Eddizamn stopped before the bank of the stream, closed his eyes and said a prayer to the water dragon, who had blessed his family in their times of need back home on the coast, to grant him victory over this watery challenge. Kouman Xi removed his cloak and armor, throwing them at a pile and hopping in place, rolling his shoulders, ready for the climb. Eddizamn and Xi took their places on the opposite banks of the stream, the men crowded around as close as they could without the ice water from the waterfall splashing onto them. The bitter wind chilled everyone, but could not douse Eddizamn’s fiery resolve to prove that he is more than a commoner, that Xi’s classist rhetoric would prove false. With a mighty leap, Kouman Xi started his climb, gripping onto the slippery, smooth, cold stones that made up the side of the waterfall. Eddizamn hopped along a group of stones at the base of the waterfall and made contact with the rock-face, beginning his climb a few vital seconds after Xi. The men began to cheer and holler, encouraging the rivals to climb. Xi had a head start but began to lose his lead. Trying to find purchase on a rock far above his head, he slipped and nearly fell to the water down below. Eddizamn gained on Xi, and was slowly passing him at the half way mark to the arrow. Torrents of water pushed back both of the climbers, making their movements sluggish the entire climb. It wasn’t only a race against each other, but time, as their bodies were assaulted by dangerous amounts of cold. Xi glanced up and saw that Eddizamn had a considerable lead on him. Kouman Xi’s body flared with fiery essence and he put renewed effort into his climb, immediately he began to climb twice as fast, scaling up the side of the waterfall with ease. Eddizamn was trying his hardest to keep up, but it seemed like he had lost, although both of them were close to the arrow at the top. Kouman Xi was only a few feet from victory, when his nature backfired. The gouts of fire streaming from Xi’s body had melted the ice where he had climbed, and had caused cracks far up the waterfall to the very top. Xi glanced up to see what he failed to notice, but too late; huge blocks of ice falling from the top of the fall down on him. They smashed into him and broke his grip on the edge, sending him flying downward. He tried to grab a handhold on his way down, but it was all too slippery from the melting his anima had caused. As he fell down, Eddizamn noticed and gripped hard on the rock, bracing himself against the incoming chunks of ice. As Xi fell, his arms flailing, Eddizamn did something he didn’t realize he was going to do. Reaching out with a stretch of great effort, Eddizamn caught the hand of Kouman Xi, and held him in the air. “I’ve got you!”, Eddizamn yelled. “Don’t let g-”, Kouman Xi began to speak, but it was at that moment that Xi’s anima had backfired again, after a few seconds of gripping Eddizamn’s ice cold hand, the fire anima had begun to burn Eddizamn’s skin. Screaming with pain, Eddizamn flung Xi’s hand back, and had no choice but to watch his rival splash into the frigid waters below. Eddizamn’s palm was charred black, he had held on as long as he could, but the pain was too great. He looked back up the to top, and saw the tail of the arrow sticking out of the falls, his final goal. Aching, barley able to move from the cold and out of energy, Eddizamn heroically continued his climb, making his way to the top. Xi had swum to the bank of the stream, and was drying out naturally from his anima, he watched with mixed feelings as Eddizamn continued. The crowd of men on the ground cheered as Eddizamn reached up for the arrow, able to accomplish what none of them had done before. But just as Eddizamn’s fingers were about to close around the shaft of the arrow, a great force struck into the side of the mountain at the arrow, dislodging it, and Eddizamn, sending them both falling down to the water below. Something caught Eddizamn before he would have hit the water, and threw him onto the bank next to Xi. Rolling over from his belly down position, Eddizamn saw General Itsraru standing above him, fully armored in green jade, his long white mustache supporting the scowl on his face. “Your Dragon Blooded opponent has failed. But you must never forget that we are superior. That is why I struck you down before you claimed the prize. You must remember that you are forever low compared to us.”. Eddizamn was crushed, the General’s challenge had almost been his prize, but instead of gaining the glory, he was made a lesson of. To add to the humiliation, Xi stood up next to the general and began to speak, “Yes, you must remember your place you com-”. Using the shaft of his spear, the General swept underneath Kouman Xi’s legs and dropped him to the ground, smearing him in cold wet mud as he fell.
“And you! Now that you have the Blood of Dragons in your veins, how dare you dishonor your station and race by failing! Your failure is unacceptable!”, The General gritted his teeth as he chastised the arrogant Xi. Both Eddizamn and Kouman Xi were humbled at the feet of the great General Itsraru Tepet, while the rest of the soldiers bowed with their heads to the ground. Many lessons were learned that day.
In the years to come, the men under the General came to work in harmony. Eddizamn and Kouman Xi began to look past their differences and work together, eventually becoming good friends. They became one of the most prodigious and skilled fighting forces under the Tepet banner, marching to many victories against the Realm’s enemies. However, those who live by the sword die by the sword, and so the Generals company met their match.
Upon the battlefields outside the former free city of Thorns, the greatest battle in recent memory took place. Using advanced first age technology and the skills of many Dragon-Blooded, the forces of the Realm and Lookshy with it’s allies clashed in an epic battle, called The Battle of Mishaka. Unfortunately for Eddizamn and his friends, the Realm lost the battle.
Eddizamn came awake to the stench of war. Looking up, all around him he saw ruined and dead men. His men, blasted away by an airship that threw fire. Xi had fought courageously, taking several hits from the cannon to protect the men as they maneuvered to fight, but in the end it hadn’t been enough, and General Itsraru’s forces were entirely wiped out. Scanning the battlefield, Eddizamn saw the corpse of the General, standing upright, looking towards the enemy, charred black from being hit by the cannon, the Wood aspected General looked like the remains of a burnt out tree. Standing up slowly, Eddizamn felt a sting of pain from his chest. He had broken some ribs, his jaw was incredibly sore but otherwise he was fine. Eddizamn started walking, with no particular destination in mind. He wandered on and on, until he saw a familiar face, still contoured in pain. On the ground was Kouman Xi, fully armored in Red Jade he had earned in battle, pierced with several spears through his chest, barley alive. Eddizamn fell to his knees next to Xi, unable to speak. “How could this happen… cough I’m supposed to be an example to the men. I couldn’t even staunch this little wound”, Kouman Xi motioned slightly down to the array of spears piercing his lungs. Xi looked up slowly and said to Eddizamn, “And you… wounds at all… Hah! Well at least one of us will live, but… no, you can’t just go like that!”. With that Xi surprised Eddizamn by bringing his Daiklave to bear, slicing Eddizamn across the face with a gash, ruining his left eye. Eddizamn howled in pain. He ripped some cloth from Xi’s clothes and wrapped them around his face. “You crazy bastard! What did you do that for!?”, Eddizamn yelled in Xi’s face. Kouman Xi looked up surprised and replied, “So you can remember your place. Ha ha ha….”. With that Kouman Xi died.
After the battle, Eddizamn fled his former life with house Tepet, and became one of the Confederation of Rivers many mercenaries. His skills and lessons as a soldier is house Tepet were invaluable in setting him a cut above the others, and allowed him to draw immensly skilled warriors to his side. The loss of General Istraru’s forces in the Battle of Mishaka were one of the greatest tragedies to befall the house. In the years to come, house Tepet would take place in another major battle with the Bull of the North and also meet defeat. Many believed that the loss of the General and his troops was the beginning of Tepet’s decline.