Heroes of Citaria: Suler Tumureldi (ME 2834-2882)

Suler Tumureldi was born Suler Massareldi, third son of one of the most prominent generals among the shakna-rir empire.  Even as a young man, Suler was studious and disciplined, with a thirst for history.  Considered by some – particularly his siblings – to have been a consummate daydreamer, he was nonetheless a sharp mind and a formidable foe in contests of wit or athleticism.  It is said that by the time he reached his teens, the young Suler was able to best his father regularly at chess, and gained a reputation among the royal court for his patience and planning when playing the game.

Trained up extensively in martial combat and tactics, he served a tour with the empire’s ranger corps, called the Order of the Western Star, when he was only sixteen years of age.  It was during this tour of duty that he started to build a reputation as a blademaster.  He shortly became the best sword-fighter among his squad, and eventually began dueling and besting all of the other rangers among the corps.  At the age of eighteen, Suler was entered into an invitational fighting tournament in the port city of Awlsaber, where he bested six other warriors in a sixty-four man tournament to become the grand champion.

What confused his father, among many others, was that Suler fought with a particular style that was nothing like those of his many trainers, including his father.  Suler never directly spoke of who- or wherever he learned his intricate style from, only dropping hints about various dreams and visions he’d had.  While some considered him slightly mad, there was no denying the effectiveness of his style, a primarily defensive set of routines that tended to frustrate and stymie his opponents until they made a mistake.

Despite a somewhat fearsome reputation on account of his prowess, Suler remained a quiet man who was just as happy spending his time with his head in a book as pacing the floor of the arena demonstrating his skill with the scimitars.  Though often thought of as a large and imposing man, Suler stood only about 5’8″ (1.73m), and was lean but not very muscular.  His style was one of speed and sinuous, graceful strikes that came from odd angles in an unorthodox manner.

It was Suler’s every-man appearance, soft-spoken nature, and good sportsmanship even in consideration of his incredible chess-playing skills that eventually drew the attention of the young queen.  Yesara Tumureldi was said to have been a gifted chess player herself, and if the historical archives of the shakna-rir remain free of embellishment, she wagered a night in her bed if the young Massareldi could best her – not just draw against, but best her – at chess.  The records show that, after several draws, Suler did best the young queen, but that he politely refused her wager.

The queen took a liking to the young man, first installing him to the post of weapons master at the age of twenty-two, a rare honor.  The two spent many a night playing chess and discussing their favorite books, and it wasn’t long before the queen offered Suler a night in her bed without the requirement of besting her at the game.  Shortly after, Suler was announced as her mate, and then they were wed in the early summer.  Suler took his wife’s surname, as is customary among the matriarchal shakna-rir, and thus his name became what he is best known as today: Suler Tumureldi.

Princess Gwendolyn Tumureldi was born just a short eighteen months later, and the empire knew peace and prosperity for several years under its happy monarch.  However, as can be quite common in the empires of the shakna-rir, jealousy and unrest began to boil among the nobility.  Yesara was killed in an accident several years later when the horses pulling her carriage panicked and the vehicle was overturned.  Many speculated that it was an elaborate assassination, but Suler was unwilling to enact vengeance with no proof.  He did, however, enact a more subtle plan of “revenge.”

Suler Tumureldi declared himself the first king of the shakna-rir, an unprecedented move among the matriarchal society.  He swore before all the people, and his father as the First General, that he would abdicate the throne on the day his daughter turned 18 years of age, and issued a standing order to his father that he was to be removed by force if he didn’t do so.  With this oath, and with his popularity among the people, Suler was allowed to hold the throne for twelve years, rendering any alleged assassination plot against his wife to have been of no use.

Suler’s reign continued the peace and prosperity the empire had known under his wife, and he taught their daughter to have the same love of books and dreams as he did.  He raised her up as a princess from the time she was a toddler, and she became well-loved by the people just as her mother was.

The only “scandal” during Suler’s reign was his relationship with a young terra-dracon demonhunter, none other than Karian Vanador.  The people were fearful that Karian would marry the king and end up usurping the princess’ throne.  Suler eventually took Kari as his mistress – not his mate – while training her in his fighting style, and the people were further placated when they found out that Kari could not bear children.  All told, Suler’s relationship with Kari was good for him, and Kari was well-loved by the princess while living in the palace.

After Kari left to get back to her career, Suler was never really the same again.  He was still studious, well-spoken, and devoted to the welfare of his people and the raising of his daughter, but there was little question that he had loved Kari truly and deeply.  He continued his reign as the best sword-fighter in the empire and beyond, as far as anyone who came to test his skills was concerned.  But where the art of martial combat had once been his passion, after Kari left, it became more of a way to pass the time.

When Gwendolyn reached the age of 18, Suler abdicated the throne to her as promised, and chose to serve the empire as a member of the Order of the Western Star again.  After a couple of years among the ranger corps, Suler disappeared while on a mission in the northern forests.  No trace of him was ever found, no records in any of the nearby cities or towns to let anyone know where he’d been or where he was going.  Some believed he tried to track down Karian Vanador again, but there was no evidence that such was the case.

And so the life of the only king in the history of the shakna-rir people came to a close, and he became a legend among shakna-rir and foreigners alike.

Up next, the legendary Turik Jalar…

Serpents Rising Due Out in June!

Book 3, Serpents Rising, is due out in June; hopefully on the 1st of the month.  Here is the back cover blurb, along with a WIP sketch of the cover image:

After barely escaping an attempt on her life, veteran demonhunter Karian Vanador must root out infiltrators within her own Order.

At the same time, she is presented with a unique opportunity: infiltrate the very realm of the demon kings to bring back a possible defector. With a family to consider, and the risk of inciting a war between two worlds, Kari must decide: is the life of a syrinthian priestess worth the risk?

If she goes, she will be tested to the limits of her courage, wits, and faith to navigate safely through the schemes of the demon kings. If she succeeds, she may bring back someone that can tip the balance, but if she fails, she will leave more than a widower and a motherless child behind. With the help of allies new and old, can Kari outwit and outmaneuver beings that are thousands of years old? And what other secrets will she uncover that could possibly shatter every truth she’s ever known?

Joe Book 3 Cover Progress

Keep an eye out here or on social media for the release announcement.