Siya Neijar: Shining Flame of Destiny

It came to pass that when the sun Priestess Lahti of the Tashari Empire was undergoing the sacred rites of initiation, a lone vision quest in the open desert, to her appeared a pillar of flame. She embraced it as a sign of divine blessing, and it told her that from their union a child would be born who would bring unprecedented glory to the Empire. Lahti returned to the temple bearing the good news, and the other priestesses were overjoyed, convinced this would be a daughter of untold power, destined to become an Aratsu. But Siyanna was not the only deity of fire. Yugashii, the timeless, formless god of war also wielded the power of this element. And so, much to the Priestesses' surprise, the child born was not female but male.

The ruling Aratsu was confused whether to treat this as an ill omen, but a divine blessing could not be irreverently cast aside. The boy was named Neijar, meaning Flame of Destiny, and raised in the extravagant Palace of the Sun with countless servants at his beck and call. Even so, he was held in awe and feared by all, never finding a shred of intimacy from his caretakers. His own mother denied the fact that he was her son, telling him instead that he was the child of Siyanna. Whether it was out of humility before her goddess or out of shame from bearing a male he could never tell. He knew his divine parent was not Siyanna, but Yugashii warned him never to tell this to anyone.

Neijar was guided by his father through dreams, his mind forged in the god's fire to be as swift and sharp as tempered steel, unstained by love or hate. Yugashii taught his son that the greatest strength was an empty mind, and the greatest weakness was distraction. He constantly warned against the dangers of emotional attachment, saying it was a sweet poison that eroded the mind and weakened resolve. He illustrated this through the story of a warrior who lost a duel, which made the warrior realize the root of his failure. The warrior went home and killed his beloved wife and children, then returned and challenged his opponent again, and this time he won. “But what did he win?” Neijar would ask, at which his father would only smirk and tell him that one day he would understand.

Neijar could hold a knife before he learned to walk, and by the tender age of nine had a commanding presence strong enough to make even a female think twice before telling him what to do. The Priestesses wasted no time in enrolling him in the Empire's military where his talents were put to good use. Neijar excelled in every aspect of the martial arts, baffling teachers and fellow students alike with his amazing prowess. Yet always he lived in the shadow of contempt, his life a constant struggle to live up to two impossible and opposing standards: of being the daughter of a goddess of life, and of being the son of a god of war. His mental conditioning under Yugashii had drilled out of him all sensitivity and emotion, and had driven them all into a bottomless well deep in his psyche, leaving behind a conscious mind as crisp and clear as the air on the highest mountain – the intellectual vantage point from which he surveyed the world.

As he grew into his teens, it became evident that his martial skills were not the only extraordinary thing about him. His flawless beauty turned the head of every woman as he walked past. But Neijar's head turned for no one, and this made the men cower in fear. Though his eyes burned like fire, his heart was cold as ice. He was a ruthless, arrogant, vain, flamboyant peacock who enjoyed his position and would strike down any other male that threatened to take it from him. He wore spotless white robes, bright ribbons streamed from the handles of his twin swords, and his knee-length black hair wafted behind him in the wind. Effortlessly this god-child rose through the army ranks, becoming the youngest Chief Commander of the entire Tashari military at the age of twenty-one.

Neijar led countless soldiers into battle, and picked the finest among them to be part of his elite fighting force called the Mahajari, or Immortal Flames. His armies swept past the Empire's existing borders like wildfire, annihilating all opposition. Yugashii's favor made it so that he never knew defeat. He ushered in a great era of prosperity and expansion for the Tashari Empire. He created and defended trade routes which brought more goods and resources, he probed the thick jungles of the Annukai and fought back the undead. He brought the Tashari Empire to its hedonistic peak, and its people rejoiced and basked in their abundant wealth. They bestowed upon Neijar the revered title of Siya, derived from Siyanna's own name and previously reserved only for the head Priestesses. It meant Shining, and thus the Shining Flame of Destiny became the guiding light for the entire nation.

Many warriors came from the world over to challenge Siya Neijar, and he always emerged victorious. But one day, a barbarian from the frozen northern steppes came to see him. His name was Aruwana, and his whole life was dedicated to battle. "All the way in Tundra we hear tales of the Ice King who rules the Ocean of Fire," he said, "Now that I see you in the flesh, it is a wonder you do not melt away. Wearing dresses and growing out your hair will never make you the equal of a woman! No amount of white silks could wash away the blood on your hands! For such is the curse of man: able to destroy life but never to create it. We are both men. We fight because we don't know any other way, but so be it, let us settle this like men. I have trained long and hard to defeat you, for only then will I prove you wrong."

         Neijar took one look at the warrior and could only laugh. Aruwana was covered in scars and bruises, while he himself was never wounded. Nevertheless, he never turned down a duel, and decided to humor the foreign barbarian. They crossed blades and engaged in a short skirmish where the foreigner took much physical punishment but, to everyone's amazement, Aruwana managed to take off a slight lock of Neijar's hair. At this Neijar stood back and smiled, for nobody had ever managed to so much as scratch him. He lunged into the fight again, this time taking the duel seriously. Although Aruwana was then easily defeated, Neijar was highly impressed and offered to personally train him as well as have him join the Mahajari. The honorable barbarian was now filled with the greatest of respect for Neijar, and happily accepted his generous offers.

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Copyright © 2003 by Yumeni All rights reserved.
Revised: 12 May 2010 07:47:48 -0400 .