Prince Iainen was unusual from the first.

His mother Metsaa was the most celebrated tracker in generations and personal huntress to Queen Siipi, the great leader of perhaps the largest symph hive in the Vale. Time and again, Metsaa performed her duties well and was rewarded with the permission to deposit her young in elderly symph males, long past their breeding prime and of no use to the Sisterhood. However, during the long years of her service to the Queen, Metsaa fell in love with Siipi, and found that the queen loved her in return.

Now, despite the close kinship between the symph and the apoc, it was not possible for them to interbreed. Even if it had been, there was no way for the queen and the huntress to concieve, though they yearned for a child as a proof of their love. In the end, Siipi decided to allow Metsaa to lay an egg within her, to be its flesh-mother, with the hope that the child would inherit some of her memories and personalities. This is uncommon but not unheard-of, after all, and Siipi had already taken care with her own succession.

Metsaa protested but eventually broke down. With the strongest and most empathic apoc she could find as the father, Metsaa’s child grew within the queen, killing her softly before emerging as a child. As the lovers had hoped, the boy was an immensely talented empath and had many of his flesh-mother’s traits.

As he grew, Prince Iainen became convinced that the apoc were held back by their individuality, much as the symph were held back by their Sisterhood and long cumbersome life-cycle. He sought to reconcile the two peoples and unite them as one, with the apoc adopting the collective lifestyle of the symph and the symph abandoning their sisterhood in favor of breeding more males and therefore more children.

Alarmed, Metsaa banished her son, and his “flesh-sister” the new queen of the symph hive quietly ordered his death. But within a few years, he had returned with many followers and worked his will upon those that had wronged him, building a militant empire that stood to dominate the Vale for generations to come.

There was only one problem.

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