Myrhiadh’s War is the only title in this series that I wrote without any planning beforehand. No plot outline exists, and the first draft (79k words) was finished in 33 days. Out of the hundreds of characters I have created over 40 years, Myrhiadh Eathain is my favorite.
“Wars are for kings and soldiers, Maeve. Life goes on.”
Myrhiadh has known wars and shifting borders her whole life. Still, her little village of Whitereach, near Zandor’s capital of Grymwalde, has rarely seen the horrors of battle firsthand. The Crown’s troops never let enemy forces approach Grymwalde. Therefore, in Myrhiadh’s opinion, Zandor’s declaration of war against Caledon and Langdon—again—is an eye-rolling nuisance, rather than a life-changing event.
Birthdate: August 17, 1584
Age at the time of this story: 18/19
Physical Characteristics: 5’4” tall; 110 lbs; golden-brown, wavy hair; green eyes
Myrhiadh is the eldest daughter of Michael and Molly Eathain. Michael, a hunter, passes away when Myrhiadh is 12, leaving her to provide for her younger sister and her mother, who is going blind. The responsibility weighs heavily on Myrhiadh, who perfects her skill with the bow and arrow so that she won’t let her family down. She soon learns that she can make far better money competing as an archer, but only in violation of Zandor's Moral Laws.
Left-handed, green-eyed, with interests and skills outside of Zandor’s "approved" accomplishments for young ladies, Myrhiadh has never felt like she fits in. But one day, the Praeceptor offers her a chance to serve the Crown directly. If she can accomplish what he asks, her family will never go hungry again.
“I never expected to serve the Crown like this. When the Praeceptor arrived with his proposal this afternoon, I was stunned. But I can do what he asks, no question.
Mama fears that I will die. It is the highest honor to die for the Crown, but now that I face the possibility, she has lost confidence in the principles she has drilled into my head for years.
She needn't worry. Only two people are going to die in this venture, and they won't be me.
Like the Praeceptor said, who's going to suspect a girl? I can ride, and I can shoot, and I can run under the noses of the entire Caledonian army without raising a single eyebrow.
Besides, I never miss. Unless I want to.”
Background Information—Zandor’s Moral Laws:
The Moral Laws became the basis for Zandorian justice in the thirteenth century. They are founded upon the Seven Failings: Avarice, Envy, Wrath, Sloth, Gluttony, Lust, and Pride. People who report offenders to authorities are rewarded monetarily. Punishment for failing to adhere to Zandor’s moral code is swift and severe, and the dungeon beneath the palace in Grymwalde is notoriously empty, for prisoners never stay long.
Many of Zandor’s strictest laws apply to women. Women are not equal to men, and they may not impersonate men to gain rank or privileges. They must adhere to strict codes of modesty in their dress and appearance. They are not permitted to ride horses or participate in gaming of any sort. In a room or at a table, they must sit in a lower place than men, and not intermingle with them socially. No physical contact is permitted outside of the marriage bedroom. Husbands sleep separately from their wives, and the act of procreation takes place in her bed so that his remains undefiled. Women are encouraged to stay at home, and if they leave the house, they should have a male escort. A woman walking down the street with a man must walk three paces behind him, never alongside.
Perfection is the ideal under the Moral Laws. Failings are to be concealed or punished. Guilt and fear are the prime motivators in striving for Zandorian perfection. In an attempt to achieve flawless, undistracted service to the Crown, colors other than grey and brown are discouraged in clothing and decor. No embellishments, extra comforts, or extravagances are permitted.
And children are taught from infancy that their highest honor in life is to die for the Crown.
The Praeceptor - Calvin Ulliac
“Lies are relative, not absolute. A successful lie depends upon the perception of those who hear it. Anything true can become a lie, and any lie can become truth if the hearer only believes it.”
For centuries, the Praeceptor has been the closest advisor to the Zandorian Crown, and the Crown’s connection to the people. The Praeceptor is the wielder of power and the enforcer of laws.
Age at the time of this story: 58
Physical Characteristics: 5’11” tall; 263 lbs; grey hair; brown eyes
Calvin Ulliac’s family possesses a unique title, one that is a tremendous source of pride for him. Since the first king of Zandor, Ulliacs have had significant influence over royalty. Calvin’s power is second only to the king, and the people fear and revere him as a man of wisdom and authority. Calvin is masterminding the war between Zandor and her neighboring nations. He is always looking for ways to gain an advantage over the enemy.
Calvin was groomed for his position at court from a young age while living on his family’s expansive estate in Grymwalde. Upon his father’s death in 1575, he moved into the palace. He took his place at the king’s side, assuming all the responsibilities and privileges that went along with his position.
Calvin is very fond of spouting Zandor’s Moral Laws and the Failings to the people, and ensuring that the laws are strictly enforced and swiftly punished. His devout devotion to Zandor’s Crown and abhorrence of the Failings are legendary among the people. He is trusted to a fault by Zandor’s loyal citizens and presents himself as their loving guide and leader.
"I will keep my mind from evil thoughts,
My lips from speaking guile,
My eyes and ears from unclean things,
My heart I shall ne'er defile.
My worth is found in Zandor's Crown,
None in myself I see,
For service I surrender true,
And sacrifice what's left of me."
“The child shall repeat the Creed daily, morning and night, from the time he can lisp the words at his mother's knee. In time, he shall learn that everything in his person must be given over in complete service to the Crown. To give his worthless life for the Crown is the highest honor to which he may attain.
The child shall learn to avoid the Seven Failings, and shall be severely punished for any indulgence of any of them after he attains the age of one year.
The child shall recite his transgressions at his father’s feet each evening, accepting without question or excuse the consequences of his shortcomings.
The child shall never steal, covet, express anger, be lazy, overindulge, nor express longing for carnal pleasures. He must never be allowed to believe that he possesses any worth outside of his service to the Crown, lest he succumb to the Failing of Pride.
And he must never, never lie.”
Next month, Part Two, where we'll take a closer look at James Grenleigh and Captain Malik!
Check out my interview with blogger Fiona Mcvie! https://wp.me/p3uv2y-75n