written for Goldenlake's Military Week

He struggles.

Evin is not Army. He does not march in formation with others; he does not fight the big battles. He is not Navy; he could not live on the angry sea. He is Player-turned-Rider, darting through forests on ponies chasing bandits and iron machines.

He rises through the structure of the Riders (not the ranks, that is an Army term and they are made from different men) in a way that makes him think someone out there is looking out for him, speaking prayers with his name on them for the god of war. A silly boy who knows useless tricks is far from a fighter.

Eventually it happens: he is a Commander, level with Raoul and the haMinch and all the other men trusted with keeping their country safe, level with those who hold true power and have a code of conduct to go with it.

Evin welcomes this advance, he does, because Commander Buri deserves her happiness and her curly-haired children, but the knot in his stomach get tighter and the ties on his body get tighter as his life becomes the Riders, and the Riders become his life. He is a model for others, he is a model for the rest of them.

Here is his problem: a Commander is not supposed to be with knights; knights are to ride with the Own. A Commander is not to cavort with knights, is not to meet them in shadowed corridors and behind closed doors. Faleron does not welcome the change, but Faleron swore fealty to the realm, not to a group: Faleron can operate by himself.

Evin is not Army, not Navy, not Own. He is Player-turned-Rider, and now he is a Rider straight down to his bone.

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