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6 [Year 499 Summer]









16 hh







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Yesterday, 04:12 PM


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"I conjure the boy I knew. Achilles, grinning as the figs blur in his hands. His green eyes laughing into mine. Catch, he says. Achilles, outlined against the sky, hanging from a branch over the river. The thick warmth of his sleepy breath against my ear. If you have to go, I will go with you. My fears forgotten in the golden harbor of his arms. The memories come, and come. She listens, staring into the grain of the stone. We are all there, goddess and mortal and the boy who was both. ― Madeline Miller"

-- -- --
There is a matter-of-fact classicalism to Zayir. After all, with his militant disposition and confident aura, when Zayir stands he is nearly statuesque. Always at attention. Always on parade. Every muscle stands out in stark relief, as if carved from marble. His athletic frame is reminiscent of the figurine statues of gods or heroes, wrought all of stone and embellished with gold.

Even his colouring of dove-white brilliant gold suggests something archaic. As an Andravida-Akhal-Teke mix, he has inherited the power of both breeds, the height of the Andravida with the stamina, toughness, and overall conformation of the Akhal-Teke. Zayir is 16 hands with clean legs and a surefooted, light-boned build. The Akhal-Teke is apparent in the refinement of his face, the slope of his shoulders, and the long back. Not to mention the metallic sheen evident in the gold of his feathers, and the cream of his body. Mostly, Zayir is dusted in gold at the tips; the tips of his feathers, his tail, his mane.

All of this is to say, quite simply, that Zayir is beautiful in a way a mortal has no right to be. He is beautiful like art is beautiful; untouchable, statuesque, articulate. Even the flaws are intentional, whether that be the delicate cording of scars that expose themselves in certain lighting. That lighting is the only thing required to expose Zayir for what he truly is. Despite his Greek beauty and his well-carved features he is one thing and one thing alone: a warrior. Zayir moves with the erect disposition of a soldier, born and bred. When he stands, it is at attention with an unwavering, stern eye. Oh, and there are those eyes.

By far, they are Zayir's most distinguishing feature. They are gold like ichor. Gold like a god's should be.

Perhaps it isn't as unnerving, then, when his blood pours out that way, too.

*Does not yet have the weapon depicted in the reference.

"We men are wretched things. ― Homer"

-- -- --

Positive: charismatic, passionate, virtuous, honorable, strategic, brave, intelligent, humorous, affectionate, sentimental, confident, natural leader

Negative: selfish, prideful, excessive, mischievous, apathetic, intense, violent, bloodthirsty, vengeful, lustful, raging, pessimistic, sometimes simpleminded

What makes a hard man? That is a question Zayir never asked myself, until he lost everything that made him who and what he was. What makes a hard man? There were always austere phrases among the battle corps, among men who make their profession war.

Travel light, freeze at night.

90 percent of suffering is self pity.

Hard men do hard things.

Go as far as you can. Then, go further.

Zayir has always been an advocate for such phrases, and he demonstrates his nearly masochistic love of challenge in everything he does. Zayir takes risks that he does not view as reckless because they are intensely, strategically calculated. He has a mind for dangerous enterprises, for life-or-death ventures, and he does not feel alive unless he is living them vivaciously.

His father called him “magnanimous,” a word meant to convey greatness of soul. Zayir has always attempted to live up to that ethos. He is noble and does noble things. He strictly believes in codes of honour, and the importance of bestowing honour.

Unfortunately, he is too close to Solis. It is not entirely his fault. Zayir’s entire life has groomed him to demonstrate pride, strength, humour, playfulness, and violence. Pride, especially, seems to be Zayir’s greatest sin. Despite himself, he is appearance-oriented and cares deeply about his status in the community as a respected, capable warrior. This has taken quite a blow with recent events, from his entombment for ten years in a time loop to his loss of magic.

With that said, Zayir is uncharacteristically insecure upon emerging from the catacombs. Only time will tell how he adapts to his new circumstances with the remainder of the Arete. His trust in the “brotherhood,” Solterra, and Solis is all severely damaged and may never be healed.

" "Was there even a cause too lost, Ever a cause that was lost too long, Or that showed with the lapse of time to vain For the generous tears of youth and song?" - Robert Frost"

-- -- --
Be strong, saith my heart; I am a soldier,

I have seen worse sights than this.

I once had a god.

I once had a country.

I once had friendships beyond measure.

I once had purpose rooted in all I did.

I once was a soldier.

But this life does not begin with this story. This life begins in the years lost in the tomb.

Imagine hell.

Now imagine it again.

That’s what I want to say, when you begin to ask me, what was it like, in the catacombs? It was a hell worse than hell. It was something you will not—you cannot—understand.

I am sure you are imagining fire, and brimstone, and Dante’s infernal layers. There is a layer of hell that is cold, some might say. But most of us never get past the shores of Acheron. This was like that; uncommitted even to our sins, we rotted in a loop of forever, of a decade, each day endless, each day a sun that did not set but also did not rise. There is purgatory; penance; torture.

Have you ever been alone with yourself, for a day?

For a week, perhaps?

What about a lifetime?

I should be dead.

But I am not.

No, I am meant to emerge unharmed and singing, as joyous as a bird coming home to nest. I am not joyous. I am Achilles as Odysseus knocked upon the gates of Hades, as he dripped blood into the underworld and summoned all us dead up to drink, to remember, yes, but I am not Achilles because when I speak it is not to say, I would rather be a herder of flocks than lord of all the dead, but instead, Let me remain dead.

But I know the ways of mortal men, and chief among them is tenacious, unabated curiosity. It is better to speak the truth now than to let it fester and abscess, as all rotten things are wont to do. (And yes, the truth is rotten). Come with me then, if you must ask. Come with me, into the land of what should be dead, and let us visit Solterra's Mad Boy-King. Let us visit the history of the people who were once my people lost, and lost again.

I suppose it is Solis’s curse, we live as we do. I suppose it is the curse of all those who love violence, and the sun, and even suffering. If one is to live by the sword, one must die by it, and sometimes the dying comes cleaved from the whole. Sometimes the dying comes slowly, over many years, not unlike a mirage on the distant horizon. Sometimes it is poisoned, insidious.


The garden is a place of otherworldly beauty. It is Lady Marcisa Arisetta’s own, kept deep within Solterra’s citadel. It is tended to, daily, by those gifted with magic, with hydrokinesis and botanokinesis, for the impossible plants crawling up the marble, and the overgrown, brilliant foliage. Lady Marcisa Arisetta stands in the shade of a pomegranate tree and admires the young foal playing in the fountain.

“Zorif, your son is lucky.”

The noble guardsman says nothing, at first. He watches Lady Marcisa Arisetta watching the boy.

“He looks Solterran,” the Lady elaborates. “That is the most important thing he can appear, in this game of petty politics. Although his mother was a slave—and yes, that will matter—no one will argue that he is touched by Solis.”

It was before they even knew his magical prowess. It was before everything. Zorif only nods.

But Lady Marcisa Arisetta is not done. “He is exactly what we need.”

The boy continues to play in the fountain, craning his neck up to watch a trio of white-winged doves fly above the stucco roof into the blazing blue sky. He is white, and gold, and borderline angelic. Zorif cannot believe he helped create such a son—they bear no similarities. He is black in a way that is absolute, and bears the cobra’s sigil, the sigil of the Arisetta Guardsmen beyond Novus in a desert full of nobility, prosperity, peace. He is struck, suddenly, by how deeply he misses his homeland and the thick river that runs through it, dictating their way of life.

He wishes he could raise his son there, instead.

“You will pledge him, then, to the Guardsmen?” Lady Marcisa Arisetta asks.

Zorif has pledged his whole life to it. He cannot object now, even when the name of the organisation changes to something foreign, something that doesn’t fit quite right in his mouth. The Arete. Ar-EH-tey. Lady Marcisa Arisetta has already shared her plans for them. It will be his son, Zayir, and Ali Hassan’s daughter— Cyrra —to lead the Arete, to establish them not as Guardsmen from the Land of Leisha but, instead, as the Arete of Solterra.

Zorif had known he would sacrifice everything to accompany Lady Marcisa Arisetta to Novus, a foreign land. He had known it would be his entire life. For some reason, however, he never thought it would mean his son’s.

After many long, quiet moments, punctuated by the coos of desert doves, Zorif answers. “Of course I will pledge him.” It is all his bloodline has ever known, service to the nobility of the Arisetta.


“It is my fault, for not watching more closely.” The instructor—Asar, one of the most skilled soldiers in the entire Solterran army—confesses. “If anyone is punished, it should be myself.”

Zayir stands behind him with his head pressed nearly against his chest.

“And what happened?” Lady Marcisa Arisetta asks. It has been months since the instructors—Asar, specifically—had gone to Horos to discuss Zayir. It had become increasingly clear Lady Marcisa Arisetta always had the final say, despite having no relation to the boy.

“It—well, it was truly a lack of attention on my part. We simply thought Zayir to be very skilled, despite his age, but—but it’s more than that. He has been Touched, by Solis and…these things manifest differently for ever magic-user. Solis seems to have given the boy a skill in…we aren’t sure yet. Combat, or violence. It was a very well-placed sparring blow and he accidentally killed a fellow Arete prospect.”

Lady Marcisa’s eyes widen, nearly imperceptibly. The boy continues to look downward but the Queen of Solterra—not Sovereign, but Queen, the wife of Havieel I—descends to grasp Zayir firmly in her telekinesis and tilt his chin up toward her. Zayir stares into her amber eyes, lined in dark, striking kohl. “Child,”she says. “There is nothing to be ashamed of, or regretful for. Solis guides us in many, mysterious ways. He has given you a gift and that is not something to fear.”

Zayir, less than. year, struggles to articulate his feelings. It had happened so quick, so brutally! They had been practicing simple drills when Asar told them to perform them at 75% capacity, hard enough to stun or hurt. When Zayir lashed out—well, the crack had been audible, and terrible, and blood had rushed from Cassandren’s nose! Asar had been quick to clear the sparring sands and a medic, always on hand, announced Cassandren dead then and there. Zayir is still reeling from it. They had been—well, they had been friends.

Yet, Lady Marcisa tells him the skill is a good one. “You should be proud, Zayir, to be touched by Solis.”


Maybe that is when Zayir learns to wear his pride like armour, like an offering, like the only thing separating him from life and death.


They tell him he doesn’t have a mother.

Lady Marcisa Arisetta and Zorif Saqr, his father. They tell him he was born from Solterra. Lady Marcisa Arisetta elaborates, always, on his creation; the sun kisses the horizon very night, she says, and that is where your father found you.

Of course it is a lie.

Of course Zayir has a mother, and she watches him grow every day. She is a slave in his father’s household, a quiet and beautiful woman renowned for her beauty and skill as a seamstress. She embroiders the silks Zayir wears around the Court with particular love, and care, as her mother from the Kek tribe once taught her. As she weaves, as she embroiders, she thinks of the clothing as family heirlooms. He will never know it was her who bore him, it was her who gave birth, it was her who loved him; but perhaps he will see it in the radiant smile she gives, or the particular care with which she tends to him, above all others.

They do not look alike, she knows. But she thinks there is a semblance of her in his eyes, the way the iris pools like ichor, the slant of the brow. She likes to think there is some of her heritage, too, in the way he flies and fights and lives with vicarious, unseemly passion.

Lady Marcisa Arisetta, however, forbade the slave from ever speaking to the boy. She has been tempted many times, of course, but it was Zorif himself who carved out her tongue And what is she to do, with no language or skills with which to write?

So she watches him.

And embroiders his fine, fine silks.

As he grows, she thinks she sees a little more of her heritage surface. Day by day it shines more vicious, more like the sun.

Perhaps Zorif should have asked what type of tribe she had descended from. Perhaps he should have paid more attention to the dam he wrought for his son. They used to call the Keks, in their prime, the People of Death. When her son becomes a reaper, she is not surprised.


Zayir is not even a man when they discover his magic is not the work of violence, but of war.

The Arisetta Guardsmen, Zorif Saqr and Ali Hassan are called back to their homeland of Leisha. It is the time when Zolin begins to reign and Lady Marcisa Arisetta is growing old, and older still. She demands they answer the call of her family and so they go. Zorif takes Zayir with him.

Zayir never sees Lady Marcisa Arisetta again. They say she died of old age, but the other Arete tell him it was not the case, that there was some sort of treachery involved. Zayir has never thought to ask too harshly, or too deeply. Some things are better left to history.

And anyway, he would not have become the man he was if not for those two years in Leisha.

Leisha was a land not so different from Solterra, if for one key variation: Leisha was much older, and the desert city rutted up against a massive river that brought with it both floods and famine. Inebu-Hedji, the capitol city of the Leishans, was under siege when the guardsmen arrived, Zayir and Cyrra—Ali’s daughter—among them.

Zayir had never seen anything like Inebu-Hedji. They called it “the White City and when they arrived via ship into the opening of Neilos, the River of Life from the sea. They sailed up the current, with a heavy wind, and into the harbour of Inebu-Hedji where they were greeted by Zayir’s distant relatives, the Arisetta Guardsmen. Inebu-Hedji had been ruled by the Arisetta family for generations, and generations. Now, war knocked at the White Gates.

The city was a dream. The Guardsmen of Inebu-Hedji greeted them with tremendous pomp and circumstance; the ruling household through a tremendous party in their honour. Girls looked coyly at Zayir, dressed as he was in fine Solterran silks. In all his time at the White City, he never saw another equine that looked similarly; there were bays, chestnuts, palominos, blacks, and roans, but no one gleaming so stunningly in white and gold, with tremendous and powerful wings.

And, of course, there was the War Zayir, Zorif, Ali, and Cyrra were brought in to fight alongside their sworn Guardsmen.

They were very different from the Arete but, while there, Zayir learned brotherhood, and violence, and strategy. His father began to notice his inherent talent did not lay only with direct combat but with the higher echelon of thought, with the strategy of conflict. He knew the ways to kill a man intimately; without any study of anatomy or swordsmanship, he could cause tremendous pain, or the wrenching of tendons and bones. To watch him on the battlefield was to watch a work of the gods.

They stayed in Inebu-Hedji just long enough for Zayir to fall in love with it.

They stayed in Inebu-Hedji just long enough for Zayir to learn how to win a war.

And then, as if waking from a dream of love and romance, of war and brutality, they returned to their sacred promise in the Solterran sands. Lady Marcisa Arisetta may have been dead, but their vows were not, and Zolin’s reign was waiting for reckoning.

If only it had gone that way.

If only Zayir had made a difference.


I will always think of him as the Prince in White. He wore fine cotton linens, opal, and ivory. He once showed me a room of elephant tusks and gloated that he had hunted each one alone. I am not sure if I believed him, but I do believe that he made me wonder if I should ever leave.

Anyways, as I say, Inebu-Hedij was a dream.

So, too, was the Prince in White. I might have loved him.

Or I might have dreamt it.


The Arete were a dead thing brought to life, to be killed again. Lady Marcisa Arisetta attempted to preserve the Solterra she knew, and the Solterra she loved. Zorif always said she possessed “the Sight,” the ability to see things before they had ever occurred. She knew Zolin would be evil. That is, perhaps, why she arranged for the Arete to be created. Zorif Saqr and Ali Hassan led the militant organisation under Havieel I and Havieel II, but it was Cyrra and Zayir cursed with Zolin’s kingship.

They knew when they returned from the City of White Walls that everything had changed. Zolin had replaced everyone within the immediate chain of command. There was the War with Denocte. And everything—yes, everything—seemed to be falling apart. Zayir grasped at threads.

But the Arete was a dead thing brought back to life.

Dead tribes, dead mythologies, half-forgotten sons and daughters. There was nothing to save. They fought, and tried to reason with Zolin—they tried everything in their power to steer Solterra back toward what Solis demanded, a warrior state, with nobility and honour and pride—

But then there were Arjun and Zakariah.

Zayir never anticipated their betrayal.


What if you entered a room, and were doomed to enter that same room forever? Every door you might open, or close, would ultimately lead back to that one room.

What if time didn’t end? It just repeated itself, forever. What if I am still in the dream, with the Prince in White, and the city around me smells like the Neilos? Perhaps the tides are changing, perhaps the water is rushing in the embankments and the fisherman go out in their long canoes past the sleeping crocodiles—

I am playing in the fountain again, and I am a child, and Lady Marcisa decides my fate before I ever had the opportunity—

The slave who made my silks is playing a game of endless hide and seek. Where my father is gone for the day, running errands, she watches me and we play about the elaborate estate my father keeps. She never speaks, but we laugh, and laugh, and laugh—

There is a dim light, an empty crib. The rising sun always looks so tired, to me. You mother was Solterra.

I feel the bones break, again and again and again, a terrible loop that seems to feed itself, a self-fulfilled prophecy. He strikes and I dodge. He strikes and I deflect. He strikes, and I use his weakness to strike back. He dies. Oh, they always die—

I am on the precipice of a great, terrifying white wall. I stare out into an endless Savannah pitted with the marks for battle, trebuchets and catapults. The entire field is ablaze, and it burns forever, until the Neilos turns black with soot.

What if you entered a room, and you never left? It was just your life, played out on an endless reel, all the things you should have said and should have did or should have changed, an eternity of it?

That is what the catacombs became, for me.


They say Arjun’s lie was different for each of us.

But when the earth shakes and the light bleeds into the darkness like a sacrifice, I am struck by a cruel sort of irony.

I don’t remember what the lie was.

I don’t remember what he had said.

Even as we crawl out into the Day, in a world that had forgotten us and a court that had betrayed us. Perhaps the lie doesn't matter. Perhaps its what happens, after, after Zakariah's time loop is broken and after Arjun's lie fades. Perhaps that's what's next. I don't recognise the Court when I see daylight for the first time in ten years.

Active & Parvus Magic

Passive Magic


Armor, Outfit, and Accessories

Zayir can be found wearing a rich auburn cloak, embroidered at the hem with golden laurels and hemming. Additionally, Zayir often wears matching golden anklets, a golden laurel crown, and sun symbols either woven into his mane or the feathers of his wings.

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