Born in the farming village of Sagorno, the Hentani Kingdom, in 1499 AU, Ezrina is a Hentani rebel. This is her story prior to the events of Vengeance of Hope.
Ezrina never knew her biological parents; her father having been killed fighting the Bennvikans in the opening skirmishes of the second Hentani war, and her mother having died in childbirth.
The people whom Ezrina grew up referring to as her mother and father were Astokiro, Sagorno’s head priest, and his wife Vitsakona, a messenger’s daughter, who had no children of their own blood.
Given her adoptive parentage, paired with the fact that she grew up in Sagorno’s modest Hentani temple, it is hardly a surprise that from an early age, she exhibited a deeply religious fervour, attending every service that her father conducted and accompanying him on his rounds seeing to the needy.
The Second Hentani War
The second Hentani war broke out in 1500 AU, and lasted for three years. This, along with the many tales she heard of it in the time that followed, was a critical stage in Ezrina’s formative years.
The timing of this conflict would see that almost from the start, all Ezrina knew of the Bennvikans was an image that cast them as conquerors that burned homes and cut down anyone who attempted to resist them.
The fact that this sort of barbarous behaviour was typical of all warfare in that period did nothing to sap her desire for revenge. Her early childhood was a bloodbath of fire and ash, where the sight and smells of the dead and dying were commonplace.
Life under Bennvikan rule
When Ezrina was four years of age, the Hentani Kingdom finally collapsed and fell under Bennvikan governance.
It was during this imperial period that Ezrina struck up a close friendship with Jezna, a girl who lived on a farm close to Sagorno.
Jezna’s mother had been raped by a soldier during the Bennvikan invasion, and the girl’s subsequent birth has always been attributed to that event in gossiping whispers. This was only exacerbated when the woman had taken her own life, leading to Jezna being raised by her grandparents. While Jezna presumably had fewer memories of the war, and is known to have had a more forgiving attitude to the Bennvikans, this story, when paired with her own ghastly memories, appears to have only fired Ezrina’s desire for bloody revenge.
In the meantime, Ezrina and Jezna soon found that they were also oppressed by their own people. They found their relationship becoming ever closer, yet an archaic Hentani law decreed that homosexuality was punishable by death.
Ironically, life in Bennvika’s more established provinces might well have been easier for Ezrina and Jezna than it was in the western reaches of the new province of Bastalf. In other areas of Bennvika, more and more progressive attitudes to homosexuality were spreading but in many Hentani communities the old laws of the tribe were still enforced with Bennvika turning a blind eye to such things in the hope of avoiding stirring up a rebellion.
The idea that life in other provinces might have been easier appears to have been unknown to Ezrina and Jezna. In 1518 AU, when the death of Jezna’s grandfather left her in charge of the farm, her grandmother having died some time earlier, Ezrina went to live with her there. Her own adoptive parents had both passed on by this point.
However, after an all-too-brief period of the two living happily together, the rising tax levels imposed on them by the Bennvikans turned running the farm profitably into a task well beyond the capabilities of a pair of inexperienced teenagers, and when the bailiffs came demanding the overdue taxes be paid the following day, Ezrina and Jenza made their escape overnight, leaving everything behind them.
After this, they lived together for some years, high up in a tenement block in Lithrofed, working as dancers. This was their life their until their involvement in the conflict between Silrith Alfwyn and Jostan Kazabrus began.
Photo courtesy of Mathias Huysmans at Unsplash.