The Past

Maretus Varovelo is a defector from the military in Tevinter, and while he doesn’t shout it every time he enters a room, he does nothing to deny the fact, either.

soporati born near Marothius on 18 Pluitanis in 2000TE (or 18 Guardian, 9:06 Dragon in the South), Maretus trained from a young age in the martial arts until he surpassed many of his elders in several disciplines. He had no family to speak of, either having run from them or been abandoned by their absence or death, he never does say. Some days he isn’t sure he even remembers what the truth is, but it matters little, for it was in the past and he can do nothing about it now.

But, due to showing a talent for juggling differing forms of martial arts and a greater discipline than many others his age, he was awarded a fine education by being sent to Perivantium to study in other areas–history, humanities, music, writing, art. He shows a particular preference and aptitude for the latter two in addition to his time training in both hand-to-hand and weapons combat, and a sharp eye for both tactics and logistics.

It is obvious to his young, sharp mind that he is being groomed to move up the ranks to those of the high officers, Legator Legarem, or Imperium Legarem even – leader of several Legions within the whole of the entire Tevinter Legionnaire–when he is of age.

Maretus is not without his reservations, but the prospect of continuing an education and growing comfortable in knowing his role and knowing he excels at being good at his role prevails over his internal misgivings about what he dislikes most about his homeland.

At the age of 15 in 2015TE (or 9:21 Dragon in the South), he is granted his first position of repute within the Perivantium Legion–Descata, or ‘camp commander’, meaning he organizes and oversees and is responsible for a small encampment of 10 men. It is an easy first post for him, focusing more on day to day minutiae and how well he handles that on top of his own continuing training.

Two years pass, and a few days after his 17th birthday he is promoted to Impraetor, ‘guard commander’ which is the same job but with a group of encampments, rather than a single one. He is responsible for ten Descata running their own camps and reporting to him, and making sure they get all they need done in a timely frame while also reporting to his commanding officer all the while.

To Maretus, it’s paper-pushing and boring, but he gets half again his normal pay, and so bears it. It’s really the next year, after his 18th birthday in 2018TE (9:24 Dragon) that he starts to be truly noticed.

Three months after he celebrates his 18th summer, Maretus receives a letter bearing a seal he’s never seen before. The contents are a formal letter of promotion to Atarastem, or the aide to a commanding officer. Up until now, he has been solely among the ranks, closer to the infantrymen and even the cavalry and their dracolisk or elephant mounts than commanding officers, who plan the strategies and set them into motion–what he would consider more of a interesting challenge than making sure all the bedrolls in each camp got rolled up when they needed to and rations were distributed fairly and equally.

He serves Almatius Judecia, a Preimius Espartum–commanding officer–closely as his aide for six months, knowing for the last two that he is under scrutiny. What he doesn’t know is what for–he worries he is not performing as well as expected, or that his less than pleasant demeanor has finally caught up to bite him in the ass, and as such prepares himself for punishment. What he gets instead is a startling promotion.

Even without working with extra care and precision those last two months as Atarastem, the quality and efficiency of Maretus’ work and the sharp clarity of his insight brings Maretus to be of great interest to his superiors. Almatius invites him to his quarters one evening without prior notice, where three other Preimius Espartii, two Legator Legarei (Legion Commanders), and not only an Imperial Legarem, but also a Magister of the Imperium await him. Sure that he is to be severely disciplined for something, Maretus waits and misses when they tell him he has been highly recommended by Almatius, and endorsed by the other Preimius Espartii present, and was now considered ready to join their ranks. Almatius has to repeat it twice to him before it finally sinks in.

He serves a year as Preimius Espartum, taking on teaching advanced martial lessons and drills on top of his regular responsibilities, and discovers he enjoys teaching–and that he is good at it, much to his surprise.

When he is invited to a commendation ceremony where only a handful of other Preimius Espartii and he are the lowest ranking officers, the realization hits that none of his performance has ever gone unnoticed, and his suspicions from years ago are confirmed that he was–and is–being groomed to take all the necessary steps as high as he could go as soporati.

And that, of course, is a sobering thought, one that he hasn’t found much time for amid such a quick succession of promotions.

The thought doesn’t diminish again, like it did in the past, but lingers like a shadow behind him through the entire ceremony, and feeling like a weight around his neck as it is announced he is promoted to Axivor Legarem of the Perivantium Legion–the second in command. It is a post for a younger legionnaire, and almost a purely political move to make formal an ascension into the Commanding Officer’s ranks.

It doesn’t vanish for the next year as he serves the Perivantium Legator Legarem, his direct superior, and it turns to ash in his mouth knowing that the Legator is old and not making much of a secret that once he retires, he intends Maretus to take his place.

For a year, he tries to convince himself to do his job, to get the work done, to take care of all the men in his responsibility now–the Perivantium is the second largest Legion in the Imperium, after all, supplying legionnaires, training, education, and supplies all to the sister Legions that all serve to hold the Nevarran border. It’s under his purview and despite all the misgivings and growing fury inside him, he will not let his legionnaires down; he will do as best he can for him, if nothing else.

But, he can’t banish what meeting after meeting with politicians and Magisters have been serving to feed the discontent within him. It does no good that his responsibilities extend beyond that of a normal Axivor’s, as his Legator prepares to retire and Maretus shoulders more and more, and he alone, more often than not, is there to strategize and represent the Perivantium Legion and all that entails.

When he is officially promoted to Perivantium Legator Legarem, he thinks, maybe things won’t be so bad now. Maybe he can even change some things.

In this case, however, time ended up changing nothing.

He can’t pretend that the increasingly troubling reports and directives and orders that cross his desk regarding recapturing of slaves, or strange troop movements, or a dozen other things aren’t there, that he is expected to carry them out efficiently and well–and without question.

What he could push back to a quiet buzz of irritation in years past to the back of his mind, now is dragged out time and again before him in every logistics meeting, in every strategic failing he sighs and has to correct somehow in the orders given down to him from politicians and Magisters. Every stack of parchments infuriates him and disgusts him more. Finally, it becomes something Maretus can no longer convince himself to ignore.

He has grown up witnessing the disparity between the classes, the mages and non-mages in Tevinter, even as far from Minrathous as he is, even as entrenched in the military as he is. He, like most soporati, has lived all his life with the resentment of the class barriers simply because some people had magic and some didn’t. Nevermind both had the same blood in their veins, both could die as easily on the point of a sword or spear or arrow tip. And the way these mages all talk about using the Legionnaire, which is overwhelmingly made up of soporati Tevenes, sickens and infuriates Maretus.

He wants no part in perpetuating the charade of the good soldier willing to die on a command, willing to send a hundred centarium encampments full of good soporatilegionnaires, on a whim of some altus or Magister or politician who knows nothing of war or life outside their detached, sheltered view of it.

Three years after officially wearing the bands of Legator Legarem, Maretus leaves a strategy meeting like he had a thousand other times, packs his things, and leaves in the gap between the graveyard watches, a five-minute gap he intentionally penned himself three months ago when roster reports were due. So used to his reports being without error, none of the handful of his superiors even caught the gap.

And so he travels south.