In the fiction I enjoy, gaining power never comes at a price for the powerless. Stories always take place after a benevolent compromise where society has moved into some grand future unscathed by magic, psionics, or class warfare.
Any imbalance in the dynamic I’ve ever known is rarely so forgiving, with the powerful constantly seeking to insulate their riches from threat — and on those rare occasions when they don’t, the lesson learned is rarely, if ever, repeated.
On Achades magic users rose to power, standing above or beside the nobility as they climbed. When psionics began to emerge among the poor, magic users did all they could to ensure the story of the Shadowborn had a different ending than their own.
IN LEAGUE WITH SHADOWS
It was the dawn of a new age; the last of the Kendai retainers retired from the field. Recast as bodyguards; these nobleborn pledged their lives to the Hierarch of Achades. Worthy second-born sons and daughters from noble houses who were ready to give their lives without hesitation. In another time, they were Zatoichi, blind masters of the Kittani Blade.
But the Warfather hungered for more than the blood of good men.
The Shadowborn, in their ever-growing numbers, were slaves, the discarded psionic children of dispossessed commoners. The poorest of the poor. They held no land or title.
To them, combat demanded neither rules nor honor, only violence. Their strength came from being lowborn who could kill with but a thought. They flooded the world with blood, so one day, they may live free.
Their blades served only the Thrones. They were tools of war, second-class instruments executing the work of the state from the shadows. Discarded children, who would have otherwise drowned in their cribs for visiting disgrace upon their families.
Freedom was theirs for the taking, so long as they waited outside like good little dogs of war. Gorging themselves from the shadows on the table scraps of “noble men.”
AN EMPTY PURSE
This was the Hierarch’s gift. The Shadowborn could now walk openly among the people. They were still derided and hated. A subclass that generally kept to their own. But, in the mouths of the powerful, they were free. A compelling lie, much more potent than the unfortunate truth, little had changed.