Shryke hit the ground. Laughter rung above him. "Get up." The command wasn't cruel, nor loving. It was simply an order. "The rest of you stop laughing, that is not the way of the House of Iron." Shryke extended his four arms. Pressing against the ground he stood again, grasping the pole next to him, he launched himself at the instructor again. The instructor easily parried Shryke's attacks, "War is our way of life, the peace we have with the surface dwellers is only because there is now another to fight. Those beyond our world have only borne us ill will, we must see if they are but a rogue faction or if the wider system intends only to attack us. For nearly a hundred and fifty years we have trained, the surface dwellers work on bringing us to the stars while we train to fight in them, you must be ready to fight for us, you will be the warriors that will be on the front lines." The instructor knocked Shryke to the floor once again.
50 Years Later: 768 ABY
The dozen Titans stood in a line before the pools, today was the day they would be reborn as warriors as full members of the house. One by one they submerged themselves and a thin carapace burned away, the Titans would become more muscular and their carapace would return larger than ever, a mark of adulthood and maturity. Finally only one was left, the elders once again repeated the words that preceded the submersion's of any Titan. "Dive oh young one. That you may rise warrior or prime, member of the House of Iron." Shryke stepped into the water, walking until he was fully under water. He grimaced as his carapace was stripped away burning his muscle underneath the flesh. He felt strange, his torso was elongating, his entire body growing. He stepped out of the pool, only to hear a gasp from the crowd instead of the normal cheers. Had something gone wrong? He looked down at himself. No, nothing had gone wrong, things had gone better than he could ever have imagined, he had grown two additional arms, for he was no normal Titan, he was a Prime. "We have a challenger to the Prime of Iron!" One of the elders called, and from an Iron hewed throne stepped a large Titan, Ferrak the old leader of House Iron. "Then let the rituals be followed, he will have a core cycle to prepare. Then we will fight. Let it be so." Shryke breathed deeply and drew himself up to his full height, "Let it be so."
1 Year later:769 ABY
"LET THE COMBAT BEGIN!" The elder cried, and Shryke and Ferrak began to circle each other. Shryke had spent the last standard year the equivalent of one cycle of the planets core, training for this and he knew that Ferrak had as well. Ferrak was a veteran of the second and third Terran Wars, scarred by Quadranium blades of the Paladins of the Adamite Tower, he had won his place as Prime not through a ritual combat but rather in battle after the last Prime had been killed Ferrak had avenged him, and while his age may have made him slower than he once was, time had sharpened his cunning. Shryke darted forward and slashed down with his one of his two war-axe's, Ferrak parried him and struck out with his second axe managing to force one of Ferrak's swords out of his hands. He simultaneously chopped at Ferrak with the first axe bringing it around. Ferrak, handily blocking the attack, head bashed Shryke knocking him back and unleashing a swarm of attacks from his other five arms, all armed with swords. Shryke parried to the left and countered to the right but ultimately was outmatched and one of the swords made it through, Shryke stopped his desperate defense as he felt a strange sensation in his chest, more accurately he felt a lack of sensation, he had been beaten, everything went dark around him as he crumpled to the floor.
A bird was singing. That was strange, there were no birds underground. It was a beautiful sound, was this the afterlife? Shryke was surprised, after all he had never really put much thought into his death, he hadn't done any thing in battle to accomplish himself, so rather than thinking about how he would never enter the halls of his ancestors, Shryke had done his best to ignore such thoughts. But there was a voice, Shryke heard it now. He reached out and all of a sudden the darkness cleared, he was in a metal tube, in a courtyard. He launched himself out, looking around, next to the tube. Even by surface dweller standards he was small, if Shryke had to guess probably about four and a half feet, and he was human, not one of the... Lanniks, that's what they called themselves. "So you awaken, my brothers did not think you would." the man said, "I am Elsmos, leader of the Cenidary Order of Priests. It is with great honor I welcome you to the Uchi mountain monastery." Shryke blinked and looked to examine himself, he had some sort of hibernation suit, and there was no hole in his chest, "I was dead." The man simply nodded, "Yes."
"Then why am I here?"
"That is a question we must all ask ourselves."
"I mean at the monastery."
"Oh, a man brought you here, he wanted to live out his last days in peace, and stumbled upon you during his journey here."
"But why have I not..."
"Passed on?"
"Well, when you were brought in you were as close to death as possible, with a large hole in your chest. Judging by the fact that you are a Titan and have six arms, combined with the fact that the wound matched that of a impaling. We deemed that you had most likely fallen in ritual combat attempting to best your Prime, is this correct?"
"Well, examining the wound, we found traces of Arkel Root, a fruit, in your blood, presumably ingested before your encounter."
"So I was poisoned."
"Yes. Sabotage I expect."
"I would not have expected it. Why the tube?"
"You were in it when you were found, its a stasis tube."
"How long was I in for?"
"90 Years. It is now the year 856 according to the galactic standard of the battle of Yavin."
"When was I brought in?"
"Several years ago, but you did not show significant signs of life until the last six months. Which is why I am here."
"For what?"
"To send you on your journey."
"Beyond. To the rest of the galaxy, the Cendiary priests have a secret. We have the most capable ship in the system."
"Yes, quite a capable one indeed, you see ships have become far more wide spread than they used to be, but most people cannot afford them."
"Makes sense, and why do I need to leave?"
"Because if you do not, you will only serve to harm the order of the planet, your survival could throw the houses of the Titan's into chaos. Cheating and Sabotage in ritual combat? You know better than I do that your people consider such things blasphemous. Not to mention the fact that not one house has a leader left over from when you were put into stasis, all of the old ones being veterans of the Terranian Wars and all. Besides, we will outfit you with the armor and weapons we were entrusted to give you."
"By whom?"
"The Sykagoja and the stranger."
"The Sykagoja are myths, everyone knows that the Uchi mountains are uninhabitable."
"For the most part yes."
"Care to elaborate?"
"No. All I will say is that the Sykagoja seemed very interested in you, called you their offspring."
"Would that be possible."
"Considering how dominant male Titan genetics tend to be over other species, if your mother was one of the Sykagoja, then yes."
"Wouldn't that affect me, visibly that is?"
"No, like I said Titan DNA seems to be especially vindictive in fighting for passing on its lineage."
"So when can I see the weapons?"
"Later, first you must heal."
"I already have." Shryke gestured to his chest. "There perhaps, but until you work through being killed, you cannot move on, besides the Sykagoja have requested they send with you a companion." Elsmos replied. "What is the companion for?" Shryke asked. "To teach you their ways, in order that you may be in accustom with at least one of your species."