1711-1727: The Early Years

Sune Alykinder Rhynn Venk was born in 1711 in the country of Tok, in the mountainous city-state of Skar. The Sune clan was one of the wealthiest in all of Tok, though they could not claim nobility in the First Families of that nation.

His grandfather’s grandfather had established a small airship repair stall in Skar that had grown into the largest airship manufacturer on the eastern continent. Sune Industries was preeminent among the airship builders of Skar, who were the finest in Tok and arguably in the world. Sune Industries was also the financier of choice for the largest and most daring projects of Tok, and other nations when the alliances and war allowed it. The city-state of Skar occupied 6 peaks in the Svarld Mountains and at the time of Alykinder’s birth had a population of close to one million. Like all of Skar’s sons Alykinder grew up comfortable in treacherous terrain and proved quite adept at piloting the dirigibles and balloons that Skar’s citizens used to travel from peak to peak.

Alykinder’s path in life seemed settled when he was born—he would be raised with the intent to continue the family line of business, and perhaps he would be the first to raise the Sune to nobility. But Alykinder dreamed of being a soldier and it appeared that from the beginning, Alykinder knew what he wanted, and it was not to be an airship baron.

This played poorly with his family. He was a mediocre student, and showed little aptitude or interest in business. He and his father were often involved in heated arguments about his prospects until a week before his 16th birthday, he left his parents a note, hitched a ride on a downstream aircargo and by his 16th birthday was in Bul Maren, capital of Tok. He enlisted under a false name and was in basic training two days later.

1727-1730: The Pre-War Years

It didn’t take long once training started for Alykinder and his training yawdryls to realize the slight, bookish fellow would never have the constitution or fortitude to be a Tokish rhyfler. They did recognize his exceptional intelligence and problem solving skills and he was quickly shipped downriver to Fort Till and there found his new home in the Corp of Engineers. It seems that around this time Alykinder dropped his nom de guerre and began using his real name.

Not a lot about his time in Fort Till is known. Alykinder’s records as a recruit are lost, and most of his graduating class was later killed at Goana Creek. It is, however, where he first met and made a lasting impression on then-Syrnol Chot, commander of the Engineering School. Alykinder had two rare talents among the Quar—he was a creative thinker and a born conciliator. He could sooth over problems between two feuding comrades, and he could sort out more efficient ways to perform various engineering tasks.

After graduating basic and engineering schools, Alykinder’s first two years in the field were spent along the southern border with the 33rd Regiment of Tok and later the 10th Tok Guards. He spent a fairly leisurely time on the southern border learning his craft and staying out of trouble. Alykinder’s records from this time are filled full of glowing reviews of the young enlisted quar. By the end of his two year rotation, he was well on his way to making is-Caerten.

He was involved briefly in the siege of Spir Tul when that city-state attempted to secede in 1729 but spent most of that 6 month battle packing demolition charges for the sappers and keeping his head down during the incessant bombardment. His role there has since been exaggerated by many, but never by Alykinder himself nor any of his inner circle.

Photo most likely taken by Alykinder himself during an exercise sometime in early 1729 along the Tok southern border. Traffic along the Goryc Way can be seen above. (Courtesy Royal Museum of Toulz)

In early 1730 Lower Barro finally, after several years of threats, crossed their southern border through the Miran Gap and into Tok in army strength. By a week into the invasion the Barroese armies were 13 miles in and had taken Wiss, Brackle and the Port of Holn and had moved a further 3 divisions into the area and had started to fortify their lines. Political negotiations had begun, and it appeared that Lower Barro would end the war with a significant increase in territory. The 10th Tok Guards, and Alykinder with them, were stripped from the southern border and sent north.

syl-Caenerol Losta was commander in the north and fighting a desperate holding action while waiting on reinforcements from the south. The Tokish navy had managed to blockade Holn but Barroese supplies were still pouring over the border. Losta held and when reinforcements started arriving he wasted no time in putting them to use. His basic plan was to use his new southern troops, unfamiliar with the land, to besiege Holn and thereby cut the Port off from land resupply. Losta would then take a detachment of light infantry units and plug Miran Gap, cutting the Barroese supply lines. Armored units would grind the Barroese out of Wiss and Brackle and would then turn them towards Holn. Losta hoped to relieve the besiegers there within 10 days.

Yawdryl Alykinder arrived with the rest of the 10th Tok Guards on an unseasonably stormy night. Flashes of lightning were mixed with the muzzle flashes of the first siege guns that had moved up to fire on Holn.

Next: Part Two: Holn