Milentus

Milentus was one of the longtime companions of Sariah Truthkeeper. He was her friend and protector since she was young. After escaping his homelands at a young age, he wandered the lands of the west until Beran and Lia Truthkeeper found him and took him in. He does not speak of his past, but some have put together some evidence to come up with a commonly held history.

 

History of Milentus (Myth)

The History of Milentus, Vol. 1

From his vantage point high in a nearby oak tree, Milentus found he could easily survey all of the traffic to and from the Noble Barrikan’s manor. This was the fifth assignment given him by the monastery’s High Guardsman, Daraben, and he knew it to be the most dangerous. For the first time in his 17 years, Milentus felt apprehensive. It was as if a wall had been erected between himself and the possibility of death, and that wall had been torn down when he was assigned this mission. More than that, this mission tore at the very fabric of his concsience. But it was all, he knew, a part of his training. If he survived this, there would be no more question of his worth to the monastery.

It was not that his skills were in question – he had defeated four of the five High Guards, and had even given Daraben himself a worthy fight – it was his loyalty that was on trial here. Twice already he had failed to perform the duties assigned to him. Once, when he was ordered to kill a peasant who had spoken out against the monastery’s religious crusade, and once when he had been ordered to break into the Duke Garreth’s estate and kill his only heir, a boy of 10. Looking back, Milentus knew that it was not a profound sense of morality that had restricted his actions. However, it had been the fact that these were victims rather than opponents. Neither had much of a chance to live in a hand-to-hand fight against himself, and he knew it. If he had more belief in the God he was forced to pray to nightly, then possibly he could have gone through with it, but these were terrible prices to pay in the name of a God he did not believe existed.

One might wonder why a man would even stay with a monastery that taught him to believe in a thing when he could not. One may think him a hypocrite, or a coward. But in this case, that person could not be further from the truth. Milentus’s plans were far wider in scope than the apparently obvious. His vision encompassed a lifetime. His true plan was to destroy the monastery that forced fear into the hearts of its people, using God and eternal damnation as the leather for the whip that beat them into submission. But one cannot fight a beast without an adequate weapon, and that was exactly what the monastery gave him. More accurately, that was what the monastery made him. Thus, the monastery unknowingly forged a sword that would one day take their own lives. This was a paradox that brought a sardonic smile to Milentus’s lips.

But to truely understand a man’s deepest motivations, one would have to observe the beginnings of that motivation’s manifestation. For Milentus, these roots could be traced back to his earliest memories – his infancy – and as strange as it would seem to some, he could remember it all. He could remember the way his father had looked at him as he lay in his crib… the stern eyes that shed no love or compassion. He could remember suckling his mother’s breast, and feeling the warmth beneath his head and the security of her arms. He could remember being given as a gift to the monastery on his second birthday, the day before his parents were to be hanged for treason against the church. Of course, he had not understood these events until he got older, but the memories remained nonetheless.

Sometimes, when he closed his eyes, the images of his youth came unbidden to his mind. He could remember enduring the Trial of Poison when he was three. He had been injected with enough snake poison to kill a small horse. It was a test that was endured by all those wishing to become a high priest, but never had it been tried with such a high concentration of poison, and never on one so young. What a burden this three year old child must have been.

Assuming he would die, the monks had offered him as a sacrifice to their gods. They had him strapped to the top of the Pillar of Ang, the God of Reclamation, performing a rite to give him back to the flesh from which he came, thereby freeing their souls from the bondage of murder. Tiny incisions had been made in his chest, from which every priest drank a thimble of his blood. The wounds were then left to bleed. They believed that the child’s moisture on the pillar would awaken Lord Ang, who would then come and reclaim his flesh.

But not only did their God never show, but on the second day of the ceremony, the child was still alive. And on the third day, his lungs still pumped shallow breaths. Some of the priests were pushed to their threshold of immorality. With no deliverance coming from their God, some began to worry for their souls. Arguments erupted. Some of the monks argued that the continued life of this child was the result of witchery, and that if they could not kill him with poison and ritual, then he must be killed with butchery and his parts fed to the Holy Mantis on the Hill of Manca. Others argued that he had been saved from the poison by the very God they sought to appease, and that if they disobeyed the signs, then they were surely all damned. Some even whispered that the Master God himself, Lord Lingh, had interfered.

Thrice, violence erupted among the priests, and men were hurt, but each time the anger was brought under control before anyone was killed. Finally, after the third and final outbreak, the High Priest Dirvange called for order. “This fighting must cease!” he had declared. “This child, whether he is of heaven or of hell, spawn of saint or demon, we must agree on one thing. Strength such as this could only benefit our cause.”

“Or destroy us!” one of the men had cried out. But a decision had already been made. The child would live, but under heavy scrutiny. He would never be permitted to leave the monastery, and if he did, he would be hunted down and killed. If his loyalty to the monastery or their Gods should ever come into question, he could lawfully and rightfully be killed by any priest who so ordained it. He would work for the monastery, to do their bidding – whether they asked him to play the part of mercenary, assassin, or servant – until his worth became less than his expense… and on that day, he would cease to live.

All of this he could remember clearly, though the monks could never know that a child so young would remember so much. It was not that he was particularly intelligent, but the mental conditioning he began in training soon afterward secured those memories into his mind. They had taught him how to remember, thus initiating their own doom in their attempts to train the ultimate assassin… a man who assimilated everything around him, and stored away important bits of information for future use, like a convenient escape route from the estate of a man he may have to kill years down the road, or a woman’s favorite perfume among a collection, in which he might put a poison that seeps into the skin.

And his training went far beyond that of mental tricks with which to remember things. The intention of the monastery was to make an assassin the likes of which the world had never seen, so that they could truely live up to their ambitions, and convert or destroy the wicked, thereby cleansing the unholy from their neighboring cities, and eventually from the world. Never before had they been presented the raw materials to do so, but here was a child, barely more than an infant, who had survived a particularly cruel Trial of Poison, and whose training would begin that same early year of his life. Here was their only hope.

In his first five years, he did not disappoint them. At age 7, during a sparring session, he had shocked Master LaWong?, the man directly in charge of his training, by eluding him with a feint and delivering an unseen blow to his stomach that sent him reeling to the ground. There was not a man among them, outside of the High Guardsman Daraben, who could have landed that blow, but this seven year old child was cunning. This was a trick that had not been taught to him… he had simply seen an opportunity and taken it. Of course, he had been beaten for using unorthodox techniques not prescribed by his master, but this punishment was sweetened with the knowledge that young Milentus would grow to be a man of great strength, and it was all due to the wise tutelage of the monastery.

The punishment he received for besting his master had been extremely severe. Milentus knew that Master LaWong? had been embarrassed, and that the beatings were fueled by his anger. He had seen the appraising way the other monks now looked at Master LaWong?, and he knew the fury his master must feel inside. However, LaWong? simply told him that this was all a part of his training. Of course he must be punished for using techniques of a style clearly not their own, but he must also learn to let his punishments serve as lessons in and of themselves. The lesson here: to endure severe pain.

Three days of torture transformed Milentus’s body into a mass of blood and scar tissue. Blood oozed freely from lacerations caused by various instruments of torture… instruments formerly meant only for the unholy. His face had become a caricature of lumps and bruises, with blood streaming from eyes, nose, and lips. The soles of his feet housed hundreds of tiny shards of glass. Yet he walked from the dungeon on his own two feet, guiding them with the one eye that remained open along the seemingly elongated path leading toward his quarters, where he was allowed to sleep for 8 hours before he was awoken to have the glass removed from his feet. The training was resumed as soon as those wounds were bandaged.

A week later, the Trial of the Elements began. A small group of monks in training were herded into various parts of the world for more specialized training. Of course, none were so young as Milentus, but the fate of the party that none had suspected, was that he was also the only person who would return, aside from the magical bird that would accompany the party to act as witness to the events. The bird had been created, for occasions such as this, by the High Priest’s assistant, a wizard named Virilan, who had formerly worked for the king himself. Why risk their own lives to oversee the training of youths when they could watch them from the distant safety of the monastery?

The belief established within the Holy Doctrine was that exposure to the most extreme of the elements, and the ability to acheive a relaxed calm within those elements, gave a man control, and therefore power, over those elements. In simple terms, a man raised in the desert, forced to struggle with a lack of water as a daily routine, would not be surprised and panic at the realization that his supply of water had run out. Therefore, among men not so well adapted, he would be the most likely to survive. So Milentus and his party were sent to the depths of the desert wastelands below Jaldur to fast for three days, and to meditate on their waterless state of being. They were sent to climb the icy Mountains of Frostburn without the burden of cloaks or furs, to meditate on the endurance of cold.

In those mountains, there was one in particular that garnished a wondrous cliff of enormous height, dropping into a frozen lake below. Here, they were to jump from the top of the cliff into the icy waters below, in order to gain mastery over heights. The trick was to throw a boulder over the edge, so that it would crash through the ice below, leaving a hole through which they must aim their landing. Of course, at this height, not only was there the real possibility of them getting crushed by the water itself, or of getting trapped under the ice and drowning, but a breeze could blow them off course, smashing them into the unbroken portion of the ice. One must maintain a meditative state, even in his descent, so that he would have the capacity to think clearly, free from panic or excitement. In this state of mind, a man could feasibly guide his own path, making subtle adjustments to the positioning of his body in order to navigate a course straight into the center of the hole created by the boulder. Upon entry into the water, the mind’s first reaction would be panic at the sudden sting of freezing water. If one were to swim up and touch ice rather than air, he must remain calm enough to think his way out. Milentus now knew that this was not just a training mission, but a means with which to weed out the weak. Looking down from the edge of this cliff, he knew immediately that not many, if any, of his party would survive the plunge to those icy depths.

Without a second though, Milentus remembered, he had leaped, and within his meditative shell, it was as if the world had faded away for a moment, leaving him alone – embraced within an eternity that was in turn encapsuled within the reality of just a brief moment. Time stretched endlessly, and within that time, realization… an epiphany. More than that, an epiphany comprised of hundreds of epiphanies. Most importantly, the God of which the High Priest taught was, in fact, not a god at all, but merely an idea created with which to rule, by striking fear into the hearts of men with tales of eternal damnation. Their god was nothing more than an imaginary being who had made the monastery fortunes in tithes and offerings. The signs were all there, one just need add up the facts. It was not that Milentus suddenly believed there were no gods, he just knew that no God would act as their Lord Lingh did… fearful, spiteful, jealous, vengeful, greedy, covetous, gluttonous. All of those sins that would get Milentus beaten could be seen in every supposed action of the God he was taught to fear, and were even apparent within the teachings. Sayings such as “Worship none but thy Lord Lingh, but worship him wholely”, “Follow my word or follow mine enemies into hell, felled by the sword of my minions”, and “Give to me everything, so that you may receive salvation entire!” all spoke of weakness and hypocrisy.

And this one fact led to many other realizations, like an infection spreading through Milentus’s awakening mind. The priests did not lead mankind toward Enlightenment as their teachings suggested, but rather toward darkness and servitude. And this meant that the strength of his Masters was actually their weakness. He had figured out long ago that the monastery planned to kill him eventually, but what harm could a mind veiled under religious mystification do to a mind truely enlightened? It was at that moment that Milentus had decided that he would put an end to the monastery’s power, and demystify the High Priest in the eyes of the people. But he knew that he was not yet ready for such a challenge. He would survive this test, and any other test they forced him to endure, in order to continue his training. And at such point that he knew he was ready, he would act.

And then came the pain. A thousand needles stabbed at his flesh, and he felt his limbs convulse, but with one deep inhalation, his wavering meditative shell solidified, and the pain became a distant hum. Looking up calmly through the water, he judged the angle of the light reflecting from the bubble trail he had made, and estimated where the hole in the ice would be. When he surfaced, he immediately felt the heavy wind, and looking in the direction it blew, he saw three bloody lumps floating in new cracks in the ice. In two places, he could see flesh colored lumps beneath the ice. The only witness he had left was the magical bird, which then swooped down to land on his shoulder, and squawked as if to say, “You still have six tests left.”

Returning to the monastery a year later had been difficult. It was one thing to endure pain at the hands of his master, a man who is much older and wiser than himself, and who is in the favor of the Gods themselves. It was another matter entirely to let himself be beaten by men he knew he could take in a one-on-one fight, were less enlightened than himself, and committed so many crimes in the name of a false deity. But every time he thought to break his cover, he simply reminded himself of the future, of the day when all of his training would bear fruit, and he would decorate their sacred alter with the head of the High Priest. With this, he could bear the cruellest of punishments.

This all left only one empty hole… a hole that still stood between himself and complete enlightenment. A man needs spirituality for strength, to act as a pivotal point from which all other things grow. Without a deity with which to ground himself, he could easily become lost, and the lines seperating his judgment from the animal within him would become blurred. His life could quickly be reduced to meaningless blunder.

At first, he decided he would worship himself as God of All He Surveyed. But, realizing he wasn’t perfect, and that the animal within him that religion was meant to subdue was a part of his being, he decided on the best god for him… and it was simply the perfect Him, a Milentus without flaw or error. The ultimate archetype of the God Milentus. And it occurred to him that this was what it truely meant to have a God; what religion truely was meant to provide. One must find their own image of a perfect self, and then invoke that image in their own actions. True religion was to envision a perfect being, and then make every attempt to act as that being. Such were the laws of interpretation and evaluation. For him, God was the ultimate fighter, fighting for the right to choose ones own path, and the same for all mankind. Afterall, was this not why he sought to destroy the monastery? Every man should be free to envision their own god.

Milentus’s new-found fighter-god, combined with his cause and duty, manifested itself in Milentus’s attitude from that day forth. He went into training more eager than he had ever been. He looked for any excuse to practice his skills against real opponents. At the age of eleven, his skills had earned him legendary status. Fighters came from far and wide to test the abilities of the famous child-fighter, and he accepted every challenge eagerly. In most fights, Milentus was victorious. On rare occasions, when a particularly seasoned fighter came, he may lose, but never without leaving a nice bruise on his opponent to take with them, and never without earning that person’s utmost respect. And as his skills improved, those defeats became fewer. Even his own masters began to fear their sparring sessions.

At the age of 13, the High Guardsman Daraben was the only Master that Milentus could not defeat in a one-on-one fight. The priests and guards both had become fearful of the beast they had created. Not only could he fight like a demon, using a new self-developed technique in every fight, but there were occasions that small bits of heresy escaped his young lips. Here was a boy, they knew, who thought for himself, not for the good of the monastery. Talk of his demise began to arise once again, but the High Guardsman, feeling sympathy for the child who was the only monk to give him any challenge, came up with a plan. It was time to start sending him into the field, to join the crusade in the name of Lord Lingh.

And thus it began. This was to be the most torturous grief Milentus would endure in his years at the monastery, to kill in the name of a false deity. In his first missions, he was ordered to kill stragglers who came to town making jokes about the rigidness of the city, and the way the Duke so obviously bent to the will of the High Priest. These men had been fighters, so it had been easy to pick a fight and pretend he did what he did for the sake of the challenge. But the third mission, just a year later, had not been much of a challenge at all, and that fact weighed heavily on his conscience. He had told his master that he did not enjoy killing the defenseless, but it had only made things worse. Just a year later, to curb his conscience, they decided to make him face his duties head-on. His next assignment had been to kill a peasant, at which he had failed. And again he failed when he was ordered to kill the Duke’s 10 year old son.

It was with this that his thoughts came back to the present – the mission at hand. He knew that if he failed this time, that he would be relieved of his place at the monastery. His training would end, his cause would end, and his life would end. But this was a mission he knew he could not complete. He had been ordered to infiltrate the heavily guarded estate of the Noble Barrikan, get into the bedroom on the top floor, and stab the Noble’s pregnant wife in the stomach. For whatever distorted political reason the High Priest had ordained it, they viewed the child in the Lady’s stomach as a threat… and all threats must be destroyed.

For the first time in his life, he could not decide on a course of action. If he failed the mission, then all of these years of training were for nothing. He knew he was not ready to defeat the monastery. They would kill him, and they would enjoy it. Not only that, but they would believe themselves justified, thereby only strengthening their religious convictions. He would become an example to the people of what happens to the unholy. However, if he committed this crime, then everything he stood for would become as nothing, just vapors in the wind. Years of training turned meaningless, and the conviction lost to defeat the monastery… for if this were done, he would be no better than the priests.

There was only one thing he could do, it occurred to him, as painful as it was to admit. He had to run and hope he was not caught. If he escaped with his life, then he could train elsewhere, fighting real opponents… giving and accepting real challenges. He could brave real adventures, and make real friends.

And when he was ready, he would come back.