A New Light in the Age of Sorrows
Zenith Caste Solar Exalt
Rahal was born to a poor family in the southern city of Paragon. He hated the city from an early age, finding its enforced tranquility lifeless and cold. His parents, in particular, were both incredibly paranoid people, constantly watching their own words and actions (as well as Rahal’s) to make sure they were doing nothing to violate the oaths they had sworn. Rahal thought it was no way to live, but his parents quickly shushed him whenever he tried to talk to them about it.
His parents were both employed by a plush downtown hotel that catered to visiting dignitaries. Rahal would sometimes follow his parents to work and hide in the hotel so that he could listen in on the foreigners’ conversations. He was fascinated by how freely they spoke and by how jubilant they all seemed.
He was forced to swear his own oath to the city when he was 14. He had always dreamed of being able to get out of the city some day, but after taking the oath he knew that he never could. He got a job at the hotel, but the place didn’t hold the same excitement as it did before. Now it was a constant reminder of what he would never have. For a while after that, Rahal became sullen and depressed.
Then he became angry. Times were hard, and his family was struggling to make ends meet (as were most of his neighbors’ and coworkers’ families). He looked around the extravagant hotel and wondered why these travelers, who already had such joyful lives, were enjoying such lavish accommodations while its employees had nothing. He kept these thoughts to himself for a while, but one cold winter night, he finally snapped. His family barely had enough money to feed themselves, so he went to the hotel’s kitchens and began loading food onto a cart with the intention of distributing it to all the impoverished people in his neighborhood. The mark of his citizenship began throbbing, causing him searing pain, but he ignored it and kept working. Several of his coworkers heard the activity in the kitchens and came in to see what was happening. They told Rahal to stop, that it wasn’t worth the consequences of violating the oath. Rahal turned to them and said that he felt it was worth it. All of the emotion, all of the passion he had been repressing for all of this time seemed to come to the surface all at once, as he told his friends why he had to do this, that life in Paragon was not as ideal as the authorities claimed, that the people here were not truly living, that they were not truly all that different from the guests at the hotel except for where they were born. He told them that he had always dreamed that life could be better, and that it was time to stop dreaming and start actually making it happen. He paused in his speech, and noticed that his friends were all staring at him, wide-eyed and awestruck. He noticed that the pain from his mark of citizenship had vanished, and that the room was suddenly bathed in a light as brilliant as the noonday sun. He heard a voice whispering in his ear: “You have always longed for a better world, my child. Now it is time for you to make it so.”
Rahal was barely able to take it all in when a group of magistrates burst into the room. He fought them off with a strength he never knew he had. He stepped outside in time to see a group of dragon-bloods coming down the alley. He knew at once that the Wyld Hunt was coming for him. He didn’t quite understand it – the light he felt, and could still feel burning from the new mark on his forehead, was not demonic. He was sure of that. And still the Hunt was coming for him. Before he could think of a plan, a cloaked figure stepped out of the shadows, took his arm, and told him that if he wanted to survive the night, he should come with her. She spirited him away, darting through side streets and alleys that Rahal had never seen before. They made their way through the city and out into the countryside. Rahal’s mysterious benefactor explained that he had become one of the Solar Exalted, and told him about a place he could go, a training camp, where he could learn about himself and his new found abilities. Feeling he had few options at this point, he decided to go with this woman. He would receive her training and become strong, he thought as he looked back over the city he had grown up in, then one day, once he was strong enough to truly change things, he would return to Paragon.