The Darker Depths
Ever the Pupil
Parneu was never allowed to look in the mirror. It was unnecessary, they said, for him to crowd his mind with an image of himself. It is only recently that he has noticed his brown hair, now that he has let it grow long. He ties in a band as it lays down his back. And so too does he understand that his skin is not only ivory along his hands and legs, but is the color of his face too, cupping his brilliantly green eyes deeply into his skull. As a Maenad, Parneu is taller than most humans and halflings he sees, and his muscles are toned, if unpronounced. He either wears his embroidered court clothing, or comfortable travel wear of leather or cloth.
When he was twelve, Parneu was told that his mother had moved on, and to remove her from his mind. He went from living in a small village with other Maenads who cared little for politics, enveloped in his mother’s love and the idea of a legendary father in absentia, to the court of Tipa. The day after his twelfth birthday, he was fetched by a detachment of guards from the Lord of Stars’ own retinue. He was bid to come with them, if he wanted to meet his father. Leaving his mother behind, he went with them, over the rivers and through the long, arched plains, his questions falling on ignorant and apathetic ears.
When he arrived in the capital of Tipa, Dual Winds, he was quickly outfitted with blue clothing, embroidered with silver thread that might have been shaved from stars. His hair was sheared from his head, and he was made to wait. He waited for many long days, pacing the large, empty rooms in the palace he had been given, passing the time idly, and starting to wish for home. Eventually, he received a summons, and met a man professing to be his father in the Moonlit Terrace that overlooked the palace grounds.
His excitement to meet his father was quickly tempered by the chill of his father’s personality. This was not a man to bond with, but a man to impress. His father asked him if he was interested in making his father proud, and Parneu nodded eagerly. His father told him to return to his rooms and wait for the Lord of Stars.
In three days he was summoned, and the Lord of Stars informed him how the human kingdom had long had a relationship with his Maenad village, although it was only with one member every generation. The Lord informed Parneu that he was to be trained to succeed his father as court Psion, and that he should put his old life behind him. The next day he met his teacher, the man who his father had succeeded, and thus his training began.
Day in and day out he trained. His teacher sought to rewire him like a machine, fine-tune him so that he only thought of things that he needed to. He was not to think of things beside what he ate, the exercise he needed to get, the court rules he needed to memorize, and the mental exercises he needed to go through each day.
Study. Eat. Run. Learn. Sleep. These became the five points of his existence. His teacher wanted his mind to become a womb, perfectly prepared, and empty aside from newly induced functions, so that he would be ready for the higher learning it would eventually undergo. He learned to make noises appear where no noises were. He learned how to destroy a man’s mind.
When people met him, he was nothing more than his teacher’s pupil. The meaning of his presence was the hope of his future in serving the realm. Only the future was allowed to be dreamed of. The past was not to exist in his mind, the present existed only to support the few things he needed to know.
Once he was trained, he was summoned before his father, his teacher, and the Lord of Stars. It was time for him to experience the world, to build its information into his mental crucible. He was not to explore for himself, but so that he could become a worthy vessel to serve the Tipan court. He was still the student, and he was to return an advanced student, but nothing more, they informed him. They bid him set off, and learn what he could. Parneu could almost detect a hint of affection in his father’s voice as he told him not to get himself killed, since replacing him would be quite the inconvenience.
With his apparent freedom, Parneu has begun to wish for more than his simple usefulness to the crown. He seeks to be irreplaceable, but also to distance himself from his keepers, if not the training itself. It is not only he can be of use to others after all— there are also others that he also make use of.