Count Julan of the Lunar Coders
by Michael O’Brien, originally published in Strangers in Prax (1994)
Left on the steps of a Foundling Home in Good Shore with a note bearing his name, Julan’s upbringing as an orphan was made more comfortable by the large anonymous benefaction that came with his cradle. He received a nobleman’s education and, more importantly, a solid grounding in Lunar virtues from the Teelo Norri sisters. Julan’s benefactor, the nuns reasoned, must be someone of rank and privelege who might wish to claim his son again one day. The nuns did not want this mysterious person to find their child to have been brought up an illiterate oaf.
Nothing was heard from the benefactor again until Julan reached maturity, when a paid commission into the Heartlands Army was delivered to him. As a young tribune, Julan was one of the few Lunar soldiers to personally excel at the disastrous Building Wall Battle of 1605, and he went on to attain Sword status during the troubles of Starbrow’s Rebellion in 1613. As a Sword of Yanafal Tarnils, Julan saw that he had probably risen as far as he could. Even an orphan can rise through the army ranks with enough ability, but Julan’s further progression in Lunar circles was stymied because of his lack of family connections and wealth. Frustrated, he hung around the edges of Lunar high society for several years, until he caught the eye of Appius Luxius and was recruited into the Coders. Here Julan found an outlet for his ambitions and, his energy rekindled, he threw himself wholeheartedly into the job. His charisma and leadership qualities soon shone through, and he was promoted to lead the Coders.
Recently, Julan was made a Count of the Imperial Bath, merely a courtesy title, but one that has nevertheless assisted him in his dealings with high Lunar officials.
Julan is unaware of the identity of his mysterious benefactor, whose last overt act was to send him his iron scimitar, on the day of his induction as a Sword of Yanafal Tarnils.
Julan strives hard to fit the mold of the Yanafal Tarnils rune lord: just, chivalrous, brave, and honorable. This has been at the expense of his sense of humor, although he is known to lighten up somewhat when off-duty and relaxed. Julan’s unusual upbringing has given him many aristocratic virtues, but little of the snobbery or arrogance that sometimes comes with rank. He exhibits genuine friendship to decent people of all classes, though he treats those he considers base or dishonorable with polite, icy disdain.
The Lunar Coders
The Lunar Coders are special agents of the Lunar Empire, dispatched by the Emperor on sensitive political missions in the Provinces. They directly serve the Overseer of the Lunar Provinces, Appius Luxius, and through him the Red Emperor. Responsible for matters of provincial security, Appius perceived a need for a select group of special agents to take decisive, overt action on intelligence affecting the security and stability of the Lunar Provinces and the Empire’s conquests in the South. Upon receiving his Emperor’s blessing, Appius gathered together the Empire’s finest as the agents known as the Coders.
The Coders are a model of decency and civilized behavior. They are not chaotics, and conscientiously avoid that aspect of the Lunar way. They always work in the open, and wear distinctive red cloaks announcing their status. Currently, there are five members of the Coders: Count Julan; Princess Anderida, a Lunar noblewoman and priestess of the Seven Mothers; Nose Ring, a criminal reformed through the trials and punishments of the Danfive Xaron cult; Eslas the Tracker, an outcast from Pent; and Maculus the Monitor, a Lunar sorcerer.
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