Zhan tl Soran
Mandaturi Fallen Knight
Description- At first glance,Zhan tl Soran does not seem to be a man of great consequence. A slender man of less than towering height and narrow shoulders,he could easily be mistaken for a down on the heels tavern keep or scribe. All in all,a rather unassuming man to watch. But the keen observer who decides that this man is indeed worth a second look,will notice that he is no ordinary commoner.
Close examination of his face would this away. Unlike most of the lower castes with their coarse features and almost bovine like faces,Soran's pinched,pointed visage is dominated by his broad,slightly hooked nose and the two keen and intelligent,if somewhat predatory brown eyes,that are framed by perfectly arched eye brows. Though not a handsome face by any means,it is certainly a distinguished,distinctive one that some would find appealing. And others unsettling.
This is a man that most people simply do feel comfortable with. With good reason. Cold and aloof,Soran mostly keeps to himself,muttering away to people that only he can see,in hushed and strained undertones that any sane indidvidual would recognize as the symptoms of barely suppressed insanity. When immersed in this,he is oblivious to all else,and can be sometimes seen with an expression on his face that approaches joy.All those who know him,are aware that this is when the madness has him in it's grips,for that is when he begins to cackle in his hoarse,husky voice and sing praises to the Shades of all his Ancestors,almost as if he can see them standing infront of him,ready to bless their desecendent. His accquintinces think he is ''not here'' or ''half-dead''. It means that though he is yet of the living,he might as well be with the dead,given that his devotion to the Ancestors has metamorphosized into a dangerous obssesion. A man to be avoided indeed.
Background- Soran was born the only male heir of a powerful noble family of the province of Huilan,in the year 3689. Having despaired of ever producing a male child,his parents were overjoyed. Rushing their infant son to the temple,they had the priest bless him and give him his name of Saran which meant ''One that Shines''. This was done on the advice of a temple astrologer who assured them that the little one would do much to make his Ancestors proud.
From the start,he proved to be a quiet reserved young man who took great pleasure in concentrating on his goal of achieving excellence in all the fields of his studies that his tutors subjected him to,much to the suprise of his peers. By the time he turned fifteen,he had already amassed a knowledge of history and common law comparable to that of most of the courtiers who frequented the court of the Grandee Kostaan,greatly delighting his parents who could see that his keen intellect would bring him great success in the future. As for his skill with the sword,he was so adroit that it would not have been much of an effort for him to defeat and disarm thrice his number of fellow trainees in the art of swordmanship.
All in all,he was pretty much the perfect son. Or he would have been,had it not been for the existence of those voices..
Those cursed voices. They had always been there,ever since he could remember. Constantly whispering all kinds of debased,perverted thoughts into his head and urging him to carrying them out,until his very mind screamed for release. But release never came and when their nagging became too painful to ignore and suppress,he would find himself crawling out his bed in the dead of night,and sneaking his silent way to the seemingly never ending row of coops where the poultry reared to feed the household was kept. Ad there,huddled in among the filthy straw,he would grab a foul and slowly strangle it,hating himself for the almost orgasmic wave of pleasure that would consume his body as the unfortunate bird thrashed in his hands,fighting it's desperate battle for survival..
He never revealed this dreadful seceret to everyone,escaping detection through the greatest caution and discretion. He could not afford to. If anyone ever found about this,the grand plans he had grown up nurturing,would be nought. For that reason,this knowledge would die with him.
When he turned twenty in the year 3689,he joined the armies of Grandee Kostaan with the interest of accquirng the prestige that would provide him with a firm foundation for the future in politics that in all likelihood,awaited him once he completed his term of service. It soon became clear to the superior generals that young Soran was an adept commander,staging some of the most daring ambushes on enemy legions anyone had ever seen in living history. His biggest victory came in the fourth month of the year 3695,when he completely wiped out the rouge armies of the rebel lord Horat tl Ferghan. It was his greatest accomplishment yet,and one that caught the attention of the most powerful man in Huilan,the Grandee Kostaan himself .
For the past six years,the Grandee had increasingly been captivated by the phenomenal victories of the determined young commander who threw himself into the fray with his bravest soldiers,often staring death in the face as his men battled foes that more than often,vastly outnumbered them. Now with the triumphant culmination of Soran's tireless attempts to prove himself to the senior generals. Now the time had finally come for him to be rewarded for his immense talent and bravery. So it was that the night after the destruction of Ferghan's forces,Soran was invited to dine with the Grandee and his assembled high generals. Overawed by the great honor bestowed on him,Soran turned up in his best and thanked the Grandee Kostaan profusely for inviting a low ranking officer like him. Moved by the almost excessive modesty of a man that had so much to be proud of,the Grandee warmed to him even more. It wasn't long before they were conversing away like a jolly uncle and his favorite nephew,greatly provoking the ire of the generals who resented the intrusion of this overly ambitious young pup into their cosseted little circle.
To no one's surprise,Soran moved up quickly through the ranks to become the Grandee's favorite general throughout the next nine years that passed. The tremedous personal rapport he had established with Grandee Kostaan that night,had served him very well. It also helped matters that he soon became famous for delivering more sparkling victories to the Grandee than any of the other generals who had far more experience under their belts.
All this while,the voices remained as powerful and strong as ever,never ceasing in their torment of Soran. But they could be sated temporarily,and so they were,with the lives of every unfortunate camp whore Soran invited to share his bed. He regretted their needless deaths of course,but his sanity had to come before everything else,or at least what was left of it. It was paramount that the dark cravings in him not intefere with his ability to carry out his function as one of the Grandee's most favoured generals. Satisfied that he had seen to it that the voices were prevented from destroying his grand ambitions,he saw to it that the enourmous amount of good will the Grandee had towards him continued to flourish.
What a fool he was,to underestimate the power those vicious little urgings had over him. When he least expected it,disaster struck.
On the night of the Grandee's fiftieth birthday,the high lord threw a lavish function to celebrate it. Soran was invited to it along with the rest of Grandee Kostaan's generals. Ahh,how esctatic he felt! There would be so many powerful,influential people there at the feast,people whose good graces he could worm his way into. Truly,it was a golden opportunity for him to cast his net far and wide,adding a few more big names to his already subsantial army of contacts and well wishers.
And so he turned up at the banquet,dressed in robes of the finest gold embroidered silks and accompanied by a honor guard so large,it was second only to that of the Grandee himself. A little ostentatious he supposed,but it was important that Kostaan's distinguished guests note that he was a rising star in the opulent world of Hiulan's social elite. He was not disappointed. Dozens of important and respected personalities among the Granadee's well wishers rushed forward to shake his hand,eager to meet the most popular soldier in Hiulan,among them the head of the royal treasury of Hiulan and the chief magistrate. Most gratifying indeed.
As the night progressed,the guests begun to become increasingly debauched,throwing good grace and dining formality to the wind,as they drank greedily from the ever present silver plates of wine held ready by some flunky. Somewhat to his own surprise,Soran found himself joining them. Normally a man who never drank in important company for fear of blunting his ever present edge of caution and cunning,he nevethless found himself seduced by the infectious mood of indulgence and revelry that seemed to pervade the considerable length of the vast hall.
As he reached for his sixth goblet of strong wine,Soran chuckled as the Grandee passed out and slumped onto the table in the middle of a conversation with another reveler. It was clear that Kostaan had had one drop too many. Still chuckling,he drunkenly waved to a couple of the Grandee's servants to carry their comatose master to his quarters. Occupied in watching them scurry off to Kostaan's bed chamber,all the while struggling to support the ample frame of their master,he was somewhat suprised when someone tapped him lightly on the shoulder. Suggishly he turned his head. There behind him,was the easily the most beautiful woman he had ever seen. Clad in an elegant gown that did very little to hide her stunning curves,she regarded him with a an unmistakably wonton look with eyes the color of the purest jade,slightly shaking her head to flick an errant strand of gleaming raven back hair that intefered with her vision. In a low,sensual voice,she told him who she was. Her name was Xihail,and she was none other than the daughter of the Grandee Kostaan himself. And she was eager to ''sample his favorite general. He had no need cause at all to worry about accomadating her request. Her father would not awake till well into the next day and by then,their little redezvous would be well over.
It dimly occurred to Soran that deflowering his mentor's daughter was what most would consider immoral,but he shrugged it off. Surely,the Grandee owed him a little something for all the long years of unflagging service he,Soran had put in for his Excellency. With this smug thought lingering in his head,he allowed her slender hand to grasp his callused one and lead him to a unused store room located at the rear of the Grandee's vast palace. That was the last thing his conscious mind recalled,before they swept in from nowhere and seized control of his very mind.
When Soran came to,she was cold and stiff in his arms. Her once lustrous green eyes were now glazed with the void of the dead. The ugly purple bruises on her throat bore silent testimony as to the cause of her death. By the Ancestors,what had he done now?! There was no mistakening it. She was clearly dead. And by his hands. The hated,depraved part of him that he had tried to contain for so long,had chosen his most vulnerable moment to lash out. And now here he was,holding his most lovely victim yet,one who was none other than the only daughter of his patron,the Grandee. He couldn't have picked a worse man to wrong.It wouldn't be long before he joined the Ancestors now. He was lost,doomed,all his grand plans for the future condemned to die a painful death along with him.
Soran begun to sob brokenly,with the wretchedness of a man who knows that he has lost everything. Then he heard it,in mid sob. An old man's voice,haunting and aged,yet resonant with great power. Someone else was in the room with him. ''Do not weep,oh son of the Zhan.'' The blood in his veins turning to ice,he spun around to face the unseen intruder. And collapsed to his knees,as he saw an old man with a long,untamed beard that reached to his chest,seated in a cross legged position as he floated above the ground as effortlessly as any spectre. But this was no pitiful slot soul,doomed to hover forever between this world and the next. No,a soft golden glow emanated from it,a shimmering haze redolent of great might mingled with gentle wisdom.
''Do not fear me,my son'' the apparition spoke once again. ''A victim of a foul curse laid on you at birth by those envious of your greatness,you have been. But they will never succeed in their vile intention to destroy you,for I have been sent by the other Ancestors to guide you to the undying glory and fate that has decreed you shall enjoy. You are the one who shall rule over a domain that will make the Aspect-Emperor's empire seem tiny by comparision. Mighty warriors will come to assist you in this undertaking,and with their aid,you shall be invincible.''
Overcome,Soran prostated himself before the Ancestor. ''Have you come down to guide me,Grand Sire? Tell me what to do. This is my greatest hour of need and only you can help me carry out my true destiny''. ''Indeed,I have,my son.'' Ancestor answered. ''With my guidance,nothing will be impossible. But for now,you must flee the wrath of the Grandee. Now,when all slumber. Remember when you are lost and close to despair,that I will always be there to watch over you,shielding you from all that would seek to do you harm, and offering you hope for the struggles ahead. Never forget that''. And with those words,he vanished.
So it was that Soran fled into the embrace of the empty night,reaching the borders of the nearest neighboring province just as the household of Grandee Kostaan slowly and painfully awoke into activity. Now many years later,he wanders the wild lands outside the borders of the empire,serving a purpose whose mysterious end not even he can see,all the while guided by the shade of this mysterious Ancestor.
Family Curse - ''May the power of the Ancestors shield me from evil.''