|This article, Abzu 'Samakr, was written by Ahalosniper. Please do not edit this fiction without the writer's permission.|
Kaidon of Summerkeep
DATE OF BIRTH
- "Kaidons and beggars, we all must eat."
- ―One of Clan Samakr's proverbs Abzu fondly referred to.
Abzu 'Samakr, recognized by the titles Kaidon of the Summerkeep, the Last Thremaleon, and later Kaidon of the Cellars behind his back, was a Thel 'Vadam's Swords of Sanghelios, seeing the rebellious Arbiter as Sanghelios' best hope for peace. It was in 'Vadam's service Abzu was stationed in the attached to the Ranak Fleet, with the hope he would make for a good ambassador to his peoples' former enemy.noble who succeeded his uncle to become kaidon of the Tarkhal River Delta and master of the House of Samakr on . Hobbled early in the , Abzu returned to his homeworld to oversee production of food to supply the crusade, only to find it plagued by criminals and worse problems growing as the holy war overshadowed them. Setting himself in opposition to the popular political mood, Abzu upheld his House's reputation for charity even as he made powerful enemies among the other clans, and was unprepared when civil war came to Sanghelios in the aftermath of the . With his family dead and his heirs lost to the war, Abzu took those who would still follow him and pledged himself to
The Next Kaidon
- "When first blood is drawn, the 'Samakr begin planting."
- ―Another 'Samakr proverb Abzu learned in his youth.
Abzu was born decades before first contact between the Covenant and humanity into the venerable House of Samakr on Sanghelios, joining the creche of young warriors being raised in their clan's stronghold, the Summerkeep. While counted among the few clans able to claim a lineage stretching back to the earliest ages—a history the young Abzu was compelled to study extensively—the Samakr were not revered for their fighting prowess, but their great generosity. No less than five times in their history, Sanghelios was spared from widespread and devastating famines thanks to the Samakr whose kaidons, in the aftermath of great wars which would go on to become the basis of legends, gave freely to all sides from the bountiful harvests of their lands in the Tarkhal River Delta. They were also proud to have leveraged this charity for often peace, withholding aid from clans who refused to end bloodshed when a war was clearly won. It was this legacy he seemed destined to carry on. Thus, when the promising young warrior was found ridiculing sons of the peasant farmers who contributed to the Samakrs' wealth, he was sharply reprimanded by the elders who'd placed their hopes in him. After working the fields alongside them for some months, Abzu returned to Summerkeep much a humbler adolescent.
His newfound maturity impressed the Samakrs' elder council, as did his progress as a warrior in training. Two decades into his life, Abzu was among the soldiers pledged to the Covenant during the Jiralhanae War of Conversion in 2492, and acquitted himself honorably enough to have earned the rank ofby the time the war was over, earning the veteran's name of Abzu 'Samakree. On behalf of his clan, Abzu coordinated extensively with logistical elements to maintain chains of supply and proved equally apt in understanding the clan's key economic prowess after returning to Sanghelios. Knowing how important this made alliances to their clan, Abzu eventually ceded to them his right to choose a mate, agreeing to a marriage the elders arranged to a daughter of the House of Ranak, who were in need of allies as a war between clans ignited. Despite his misgivings, Abzu not only fulfilled his obligations in wedding Saavri 'Ranak, but honored his duties to her as a husband to ensure she was never wanting. So it was that, when the old Kaidon passed away in 2524, the council elected Abzu to become the next successor to the Line of the Thremaleons, the dynasty which had led the Samakr since the First Age of Conversion. He proved a promising negotiator early in assuming the responsibilities entrusted to him, but only a year into his kaidonship would come an unexpected call to arms; the discovery of humankind, and the beginnings of the .
While his clan were primarily responsible for supplying the Covenant armies, as a warrior and kaidon, honor demanded Abzu answer the call with all forces available to him, and was commissioned in the Covenant Army as a Field Master. Leaving Saavri to supervise their clan as the mistress of Summerkeep and look after those too young to serve, including a son of their own, now, Abzu departed to wage war in a distant edge of Covenant territory. What he found on Attilus, and Bassadonus., despite being a competent commander, was a most frustrating enemy in humans, who frequently outmaneuvered his stronger warriors and superior technology. As a result, Abzu was soon overseeing logistical battalions primarily made up of worker Unggoy. While it brought him no honor, Abzu did make progress in better assimilating members of the last species the Covenant had assimilated: the Jiralhanae. Since their War of Conversion, relations between Sangheili and Jiralhanae had remained tense in every theater they met, but by indulging the Jiralhanae's passion for extremes in war, feast, and drink, Abzu was one of few Sangheili commanders to make bonds with their fellow soldiers of the Covenant, among them Parthius,
His time serving the Covenant in their crusade of extermination, however, would come to a sudden end in 2530, when an explosive detonated by a human Marine tore off Abzu's leg. Though his life was saved thanks to the actions of Attilus' pack, they took him on Attilus' order to a battlefield doctor, who replaced the leg with a makeshift prosthetic grafted hastily into place. When Abzu regained consciousness, he found himself shamefully hobbled by the ill-fitted machine, and pronounced unfit to fight upon returning to his superiors in such a disgraceful state. With a heavy heart, Abzu returned alone to his home on Sanghelios.
The Wars at Home
A Kaidon in Name Only
- "My wife may have resented when I went to war, but she never forgave me for coming back."
- ―Abzu found an atypically wry humor to be his only recourse against the state he found Sanghelios in.
Almost as soon as he'd set foot on his homeworld, Abzu began to notice troubling signs of decline in the quality of life and institutions of Sanghelios. Great monuments crafted in ages past, preserved since time immemorial, now showed signs of neglect, and places of worship and commerce stood empty. City guardsmen demanded tolls in exchange for passage, and on the road to his home province, Abzu and his escorts found aburned out and left behind by bandit attack, an unthinkable occurrence when he had left home. Plagued with questions, Abzu reached the Summerkeep and was met by a subdued reception, hastened through a side entrance and brought directly to Saavri. Asking her of the province's state of affairs, Saavri informed him the entire planet was devoting itself to supporting the Covenant's holy war, and the few fit warriors left on Sanghelios were needed to guard the vital shipments of food the Tarkhal Delta produced. When Abzu voiced his concerns, his wife pointed out the Samakr were carrying on his lineage's grand tradition by gifting all their harvest to the Covenant, and in return were given credit which far exceeded what the keep's coffers had ever held. Saavri made clear she intended to continue doing so, and finding those members of the elder council who hadn't gone to war unwilling to support a crippled kaidon over the keep mistress who'd brought them such wealth, Abzu settled into a distinctly uncomfortable position.
Increasingly frustrated by the contempt he received over the unsightly prosthetic and infirmity it made up for, Abzu soon decided not to become a prisoner in his own keep. Despite the protests of his council, Abzu began making inspection tours of his province and those surrounding, making his injury widely known—a matter which paled in comparison to the maladies which he found had taken hold. Peasant farmers on the lands of every keep were ordered to surrender their crops for the war, left to either starve or be executed by zealot groups as heretics. The warriors not called to war for the Covenant either let resentment overtake their honor or had none to begin with and exploited the very villages they were tasked with protecting. Examples of both would turn to banditry as a means of survival. Finding the very farm he had worked on in his youth in such a situation greatly dismayed Abzu, who began bringing what small relief packages he could acquire to the settlements he visited. Not long after he began this practice, however, a band of desperate Sangheili ambushed his Revenant on an empty road, killing his bodyguard and beating and mocking the maimed kaidon before stealing the very supplies he meant to give them.
Returned to the Summerkeep the following day, Abzu was tended to by Saavri herself, who implored her husband to accept the new way of things. Her pity, however, provoked him to reject such resignation, resolving instead he needed to look at a larger picture to fight Sanghelios' deterioration.
A Brief Age of Heroes
For several weeks, Abzu languished in thought, feigning meditation and prayer as he avoided his councilors and assessed his position. Often, he would entertain his nephews in the keep's warrior creche, including his son Joru, with the legends of the Sangheili's famed heroes, from warrior-kings to lowly honorable warriors. In time, he came to realize while he no longer had control of the harvests his clan traded upon, there were certain traditional rights he held as kaidon which could be invoked without restriction, and inspired by the tales he'd been telling the children, devised a plan around them. Abzu sent out an open invitation for the services of mercenaries, scandalizing his clan who saw no need to take up such a distasteful practice. When the vagrant sellswords and discharged veterans—some of whom Abzu was aware had turned to banditry—arrived, however, the kaidon demanded each be treated as a guest, showing them the same hospitality extended to members of nobility. After a lavish banquet had been served to them, many of whom had scarcely eaten in weeks, Abzu offered the unconventional terms of his contract: each willing would receive a wooden token bearing the Samakr crest, and in a month's time, he would hold another such feast open only to those who returned bearing the tokens. Any found in his lands without their crest would be put to death.
Naturally, many dismissed such risk for so little reward and took their leave. But to those who remained, Abzu revealed a further trait of the tokens: the elders of any village owing loyalty to the Samakr would be required to provide food and lodgings to a bearer of such a token for no more than a fortnight. Several dozen warriors accepted his proposal, and after a night in the keep, they were sent on their way unaware of the Thremaleon's larger intentions. Those who bore the tokens remained mostly within the Tarkhal Delta, taking advantage of the lodgings they provided in villages throughout the province and easily able to return when the time came. What Abzu had not told them, however, was the villages' elders would take possession of their tokens as long as they stayed and held the authority to revoke them. Desperate to keep them, the sellswords and mercenaries were suddenly motivated to comport themselves with the honor befitting a Sangheili of the warrior class, and stand in the defense of those offered them a livelihood—those who did not swiftly lost their tokens and fled the province. The system was not without flaw; some warriors fell in attempting to protect the villages from bandits or native predators, and in one case a warrior murdered an elder who refused to return his token, but this warrior was in turn hunted down and killed by another of the token holders.
By the appointed time of the next feast, Abzu's plan had been proven a success. Sangheili who might have otherwise turned idle weapons to ill use returned to the Summerkeep boasting loudly of heroic deeds, all in service of the province's common people. Those who were tempted to predate upon their kin had been discouraged, and many more hopeful mercenaries attended Abzu's feasts in hopes of swearing fealty to his conditions. Many of these wandering protectors would go on to be hailed heroes for their deeds both on Sanghelios and beyond, gaining respectability and experience in service to Abzu's realm. All of this had been accomplished for as little as a few meals, which the villagers could legally withhold from the sums sent to the clan, and hospitality.
A Household's Ire
While Abzu's schemes brought prosperity to his people, their consequences were less well-received in the House of Samakr. Though the losses his charity incurred were hardly significant, their association with mercenaries hurt the House's reputation among other noble clans, an important factor in the Samakr's power and one the clan's elders were distraught to see their kaidon pay so little heed to. The creche of young warriors the Summerkeep hosted began to grow smaller as allied clans recalled their sons sent to be fostered with the Samakr, and a long-entertained proposal of marriage between Joru and a daughter of the House of Deris was suddenly rejected. Contrary to his councilors' beliefs, Abzu was far from blind to these trends, but in 2540, his attentions were drawn elsewhere as his son came of age for military service. Inspired by Abzu's own tales, Joru was eager to fulfill his duty as the son of a noble house by joining the Covenant Army, but was surprised by his father's attempts to dissuade him from immediately entering military service. When Joru would not be convinced, he looked to Saavri for help, but after years of having her counsel ignored Saavri scolded her husband for forgetting his place as kaidon and allowed Joru to enlist with her support.
Abzu's wounds had yet to heal from her chastisement when only a year later, a messenger arrived bearing tragic news: the Samakr Cohort of the Dervan Legion had been wiped out in entirety. From all surviving accounts, the warriors of the Samakr had been engaged by, and perished bravely in the combat. It was even said Joru, though a young warrior, had fallen in engaging one of their foes in person, a death more honorable than most his age could reasonably expect. Though told to give thanks for granting his son such glory, after the messenger had left Abzu flew into a frenzy of rage and grief, and when Saavri attempted to calm him, he cast the blame for their child's death on her for sending him to war. Though he later realized he spoke in anger and apologized, it made permanent the rift which had grown between them since his return from war. As hostility filled his household, Abzu found his only comfort to be food and drink, becoming a wretched figure of contempt to his clan as his appetite and his maimed leg contributed to his growth out of fighting shape.
The following years would prove a poor time to grow lax. With their longstanding allies abandoning them and their own military forces gone, the fertile Tarkhal River Delta and its House's accumulated wealth made a tempting prize for the minor clans vying for position as the distant holy war changed fortunes every day. The catalyst came in 2545, as one of the Samakrs' eastern neighbors, the House of Noghrun, made the easy claim that mercenaries in the Samakr's employ had burned a village loyal to their clan and as such were justified in annexing part of the Tarkhal territory. The Samakr maintained their innocence, but without a standing army could not repel the Noghrun House Guard's occupation. Saavri first petitioned the Covenant for aid, pointing out their loss of farmland would reduce the provisions they could contribute, but received only the token response of an envoy sent to beg the Noghrun's pardon, as the Noghrun still had soldiers fighting in the Covenant's war. Among their age-old allies, the Samakr likewise found none willing to intervene—for all they knew, the Noghrun were in the right. Abzu had already dispatched agents to learn the truth of the attack, but when they brought forth evidence of the Noghrun's deception, he also learned the promises of his supposed friends had been empty, as none were willing to bind themselves to a failing clan.
In helpless frustration, Abzu withdrew to his keep and there seemed consigned to remain as his realm was carved up among its neighbors in the following years, railing against the nobility's lack of honor. In ranting, however, it eventually occurred to him that if the other clans would not abide by the demands of honor, then they need not bind him. Acting for the first in a very long time as a kaidon in the eyes of many of his councilors, Abzu came before the council and demanded access to a steep portion of the Samakr's treasury as was his right to fortify the clan for war, claiming he would find an army since they could not muster their own. Expecting he would indenture the Samakr as a vassal to another great house, which by then seemed the best option remaining, a majority of the council favored him, and Abzu left with a number of his wandering mercenaries for protection, leaving the clan's warriors to guard the keep. When the Noghrun next marched further into Samakr territory, they were surprised to be met in the field by an army of Jiralhanae, Kig-Yar, and Unggoy soldiers, led by Abzu and his mercenaries. In the ensuing battle, the Noghrun were turned back and pursued over the following weeks until eventually being driven from Samakr lands entirely, without claiming so much as a single victory over the alien sellswords.
Abzu had sought out the Jiralhanae Bassadonus, Chieftain of the Ghulgruk Pack and a comrade of Abzu's on Harvest, and issued him a bribe to lend Abzu a portion of his pack, in addition to a legion of Unggoy under his command. With the services of a Kig-Yar pirate to transport the force, Abzu had returned to the Tarkhal River Delta with a formidable army at his back, and within the year had driven out all rivals and restored the Samakr's undisputed borders. But despite his military success, Abzu had broken unspoken exclusionist traditions which had stood almost since the Covenant's founding by bringing the lesser races to Sanghelios. Worse, he had marched an army made of them into battle against his own kin and defeated them, the scandal of which brought the enmity of every clan on the homeworld. No other clan, former ally or rival, would engage them in trade or negotiation, and some acted against their interests in the Covenant, bringing down the rewards their tithed harvests brought. In the Summerkeep itself, the members of his clan blamed him for the House's decline behind his back, unable reproach him for winning a war which took back their home, but plainly resenting it. A few short months after his final victory, an attempt was made on his life by assassins, from which Abzu was saved by Jiralhanae soldiers. Though no proof of their sender ever came to light, it was Abzu's suspicion Saavri had been the one to employ them.
The Blooding Years
The Covenant's Wake
- "In ages of doubt, find faith in your strengths. And a 'Samakr's strength is his charity."
- ―Abzu holds to proverbs in tumultuous times.
Unknown to any at the time, the squabbles of clans and kaidons were about to be rendered meaningless as all Sanghelios' way of life was overthrown. In late 2552, the assassination of theprompted the , uplifting the Jiralhanae to replace the Sangheili as the preeminent race in the Covenant. The reactions to this act were all the pretext needed by the to brand the Sangheili traitors and begin a purge of their species, throwing the Covenant into the . Sanghelios was paralyzed by the crisis, with kaidons arguing for both war and negotiation with the Hierarch. Each day, many expected a Jiralhanae fleet to arrive and begin a planetary assault. While other keeps had since followed the example of the Samakrs' success by employing alien mercenaries, Abzu's use of Jiralhanae made them a target as tensions rose, and he reluctantly dismissed his borrowed army to return to Bassadonus' side. While the Samakr still effectively employed many experienced Sangheili warriors, they were few in number and bore only the weapons and armor they could afford for themselves—scarcely a match for any equipped military.
Though the feared Jiralhanae invasion never came, the news to arrive in the following weeks of the Covenant's destruction made for disarray. Planet-wide institutions fell apart without Covenant administration or funding, causing breakdowns in chains of supply for entire populations, and communication channels failing left many states isolated. This included the Tarkhal River Delta, whose supply agreements with the Covenant offworld had previously kept them safe, but the Samakr had in truth fared relatively well. Neighboring states were more severely impacted by food shortages and the loss of contact with family offworld serving the Covenant, turning their attention inward. Soon, however, Abzu knew their problems would drive them to look on bountiful and undefended Tarkhal, and looked to make allies. In defiance of the keep elders, who sought to horde their wealth of food amid the uncertainty, Abzu made a gift of a quarter of the Summerkeep's grain store to their former enemies in the capital of Noghrun State, alleviating the unrest which had led to food riots there. Abzu's triumphant return as a balm against famine like his ancestors was undercut, however, when the long-reigning nobility in Noghrun were massacred by afor infidelity, and the new government invaded the Tarkhal River Delta immediately.
Besieged and humiliated, Abzu was barred from council meetings as the elders he'd long antagonized were proven right. Learning of their discussions through a youth to whom he'd once entertained with stories, Abzu was unsurprised to hear the council were considering drastic measures: revoking Abzu's status as kaidon, shaming their bloodline by denouncing one of their own instead of another failed assassination, ending the venerable Line of the Thremaleons with him. Saavri would lead their submission to another clan, installing one of their sons as the new kaidon. Seeing he had only a brief window to act, Abzu made a last, desperate gamble to ensure the Tarkhal Delta's sovereignty and journeyed out of the state before a meeting for his revocation could be gathered. Abzu sought out an honored warrior newly-returned to Sanghelios whose radical proposals made him as unpopular as Abzu in some circles:. The famed Arbiter had lost standing as the hero of the Great Schism by dictating unpopular reforms, and now stood on the verge of a civil war with dissenting factions. Seeing in Thel the potential for a leader almost as great as he was a warrior, Abzu pledged the Summerkeep as a vassal to the State of Vadam in his capacity as its kaidon, formally joining the Samakr Clan to the .
- "I must confess, I loathe the moniker. Swords are the last thing Sanghelios needs in the new age."
Despite his clan's outrage at having submitted them to another without their consent, the pledge would quickly prove a mutually beneficial alliance. The nascent Swords of Sanghelios had desperate need of a food source like the Tarkhal Delta, and immediately dispatched an army of Human-Covenant War veterans to secure it, pushing the Abiding Truth-backed Noghrun from the state. Fair, if less than optimal, compensation was given for the goods the Samakr devoted to the Swords' cause, and its few remaining warriors were given positions of power overseeing their lines of supply. The scandal of surrendering the clan's autonomy to another, however, was a straw beyond the last the elders were willing to give Abzu. In a private session, the council—unable to depose or exile him now that he'd become their link to the Swords—revoked his kaidonship in all but name. All responsibilities he held as kaidon were transferred to Saavri as keep mistress, and no child he had yet to bear would be considered by the council for kaidonship, effectively ending the venerable Line of the Thremaleon. Saavri would be the Samakr Clan's representative to the Swords', and the elders would manage the Tarkhal River Delta's affairs directly.
With his privileges stripped, tying his hands to prevent further meaningful intervention, Abzu did his uncles in the council perhaps the greatest favor to them of his reign: left the Summerkeep. Knowing his position could not have been maintained indefinitely at odds with his council, Abzu accepted he would be of the most use to the people of his state and his world elsewhere. Joining the Arbiter's court headquartered at, Abzu served among Thel's courtiers as a liaison to the Samakr and occasional adviser. His disfigured leg and portly stature, however, combined with his unusual garrulousness for a kaidon made him an unpopular companion at court, despite Thel's own regard for the kaidon's willing support. With few friends to speak of, Abzu filled much of his time with food and especially drink, earning him the nickname "Kaidon of the Cellars" from the House Vadam attendants he imposed upon. After seeing his unhappiness and learning of the camaraderie he had once shared with the antagonistic Jiralhanae in the days of the Covenant, it was Thel himself who recommended Abzu serve the Swords in an altogether different capacity: as an emissary to the .
The Imperial War
- Main article: RP:Imperium
Personality and Traits
- "Be glad, they said, for my son had found glory in death against an adversary of worth. I wept all the same. After all the legends of his forefathers, there would be no more 'Samakrees to carry their deeds into the next age."
- ―Abzu admits shame in grieving for his son's death.
Where Sangheili culture was typically elegant and restrained, Abzu embraced excess and could be quick to find friends or foes as a result. His fondness for peasants'-brewed beer over the wines enjoyed by his fellow aristocrats was well-known, and contributed to his equally famous stature, but his dismaying gusto would only further endear him to the common folk of Sanghelios who most often benefited from his charity. Abzu cared deeply for the struggles of the powerless, and after the loss of his son's creche did not hesitate in spending his wealth to ease their suffering. In his brief stints as a commander, he forbid the direct killing of civilians, though he did not object to the glassings in which they died en masse.