1. Early Years

Inglorion’s Theme Song: Adam Ant, Marrying the Gunner’s Daughter

Inglorion’s child name was Fabius. He did not have a last name.

His early memories are simple, and more concern a feeling than actual events. He knows that there was an orphanage before he was introduced to the Shelawn household at age five. He knows that he worked in the stables until he was eight. Those are facts, though, not events — not proper memories.

He remembers being bad — not that he committed any special childhood sins or incurred any particular punishment, either at the orphanage or the stables. Instead, he remembers a strong, pervasive sense that he was bad — that he embodied wickedness and culpability. Kindly grownups would shake their heads and turn away from him, murmur that it was a pity — such a beautiful, clever child — but those eyes…

He knew that the evil within him emanated from his eyes, his gaze. He had few chances to study himself in a mirror, but the problem is clear enough in shop windows and still water. Elven eyes range from brown to green to blue, through to the prized violet of certain high elven bloodlines. His eyes are wrong because they’re colorless — the irises have the metallic sheen of mercury or silver. They’re brilliant, luminous, and utterly pale. As a child, he felt an extraordinary drive to see and study himself in a mirror, simply so that he could look into his own eyes, and see the horrid, uncanny effect that others described.

His eyes are bad for other reasons. He struggles to tell colors apart — he can perceive red and orange, and yellow a bit, but green, blue and purple are indistinguishable, muddy. He’s confused and dazed by sunlight. Bright days are a torment to him — if he’s in full sunlight for more than an hour or two, his eyes become bloodshot, his head pounds, he becomes giddy and sick. 

Inglorion knows that then, as Fabius, he was often isolated, left to a world of pain and daydreams. In the orphanage, he couldn’t run and play. At the stables, he was sick more often than not. He stayed inside when he could, but he couldn’t really be comfortable there because he makes horses restless. They shy from him, nip him, lash out suddenly. Even the docile draft horses have always been skittish in his presence, and the master’s prize chestnut plunges and rears if he enters its stall.

This is how Fabius knew that he was wrong. Even with carrots, sugar and apples in his pockets, horses hate him. Adults see his eyes and turn away. He can’t do the things that other children do easily. He’s small, too, even for an elf — short, fine-boned. Clearly there’s something wrong with the way he’s made — he’s not diseased, precisely, but he’s cursed, malformed.

Things improved a bit when he turned eight. He was permitted to leave the stables and work in the gardens instead. Before, adults always treated Fabius as if he were stupid at best or willfully bad at worst. The head groom always thought he was lazy, a shirker — no one has that many headaches. And besides, horses can tell when a fellow is up to no good. The head gardener, Collatinus, a grizzled old army officer, observes Fabius carefully — no one has bothered before — and sees that, far from being willful or rebellious, he’s shy and painfully eager to please. When Fabius says he can’t do something, the gardener accepts his explanation and moves on, lets Fabius find things he can do. He lets Fabius work in the early mornings and after dark, and lets him retreat to a dark corner when the sun is at its height.

After a time, Collatinus realizes that the boy can’t tell colors apart, but he sees with great precision and detail in the dark. It seems that he even has a bit of echolocation — certainly he has an uncanny sense for how unseen creatures move. Fabius knows when animals transit through the garden and why; he learns to construct traps for snails and moles, and lures in ladybugs and praying mantises. He’s also surprisingly quick, and strong for his size — so much so that Collatinus teaches him to shoot and throw a dagger. Perhaps because he has little else to do, Fabius becomes adept at both, and pesters Collatinus to teach him more. Soon they’re sparring with short swords. Most of Inglorion’s actual memories date from this happier time. 

As he turns 12, 13, 14, Fabius becomes obsessed with a quality he doesn’t have: Brute strength. He’s quick, smart, lithe, has excellent technique, learns moves quickly and practices diligently, but it torments Fabius that he’s limited to fighting with light weapons, he can’t wear heavy armor, he’s small and easily injured. Inglorion remembers this as the beginning of a long period — decades, really — of constant pain and injury. He trains fanatically, is injured repeatedly, and becomes convinced that the only way to become stronger is to sprain, strain or break each part of himself, hoping that somehow the healed whole will be strong enough.

At 15 his role changes again. He moves from the gardens to the house, where he will be a footman. The work will be lighter, he’ll be indoors, and, the gardener thinks, perhaps he’ll learn some manners and think less about fighting. Collatinus can tell that something is burning within Fabius — he’s become moody, complains that everything nauseates him, has started refusing to eat. He’s always been a funny creature, and perhaps being plunged into a busy household will even him out a bit, hold him steady.

Certainly he comes to better understand the nature of his own evil. Fabius has always known somehow that the master of the house, Tereus Shelawn, is his father. It was hard to grasp what that meant when he didn’t know the facts of life, and when he only observed family life from afar. He’s thrust into proximity with the family, if not into intimacy, and soon he knows Tereus and his wife, Lavinia, as only a servant can. It’s common knowledge in the household that he’s Tereus’ bastard. He realizes that his very existence pains Tereus and Lavinia. 

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