“The Testimony of the Traitor Ratul” by Larry Correia
I have been called many things, like Ratul the Swift, or Ratul Without Mercy, and much later I was known as Ratul the Mad, or Ratul the Traitor. I have held many offices, most notably the rank of Master within the Protector Order, a title reserved for only the fiercest defenders of the Law. Yet that mighty office paled in importance to my illicit calling, when the Forgotten appointed me the Keeper of Names. I gave up one of the mightiest stations in the land to become a fugitive, and did so gladly, for I truly believe the gods are real.
Some say I am a fool, and all say that I am a criminal. Religion is illegal, preaching, as I have done, is punishable by death. My time will come. I embrace my fate, for they are the fools, not I. It is the world which has forgotten the truth. Soon they will be forced to remember, and it will be a most painful event.
Yes, I have been called a great many things, from heroic leader and master swordsman to fanatical rebel and despicable murderer, but young Ratul Memon dar Sarnobat was a kind-hearted child, nothing at all like the jaded killer I would become.
Those years are long distant now. I was born on the moors south of Warun, second son of a vassal house, and second sons of the first caste are commonly obligated to serve the Capitol for a period of time. It is said the houses keep their eldest close to prepare them to inherit and rule, but offer the rest of their children to the Capitol to demonstrate their total commitment to the Law. In truth, it is in the hope we can secure offices of importance within the various orders to siphon wealth and favors back to our families, but I was naïve then, and did not yet understand the hypocrisy and rot within our system.
Young Ratul dreamed of being obligated to the Historians Order to maintain the relics in the Capitol Museum, or perhaps the Archivists Order, to spend my days organizing the stacks of the Great Library, for young Ratul loved stories and books. I also had a great talent for music and dance, as did all in my house, but I was the most graceful child. Perhaps I would be best obligated to an artisan’s school, and go on to compose great plays? Maybe I would be an Architect, raising mighty monuments to the Law, or something odd and secretive like the Astronomer, tracking the moons and cataloging the sky? Regardless of where I was obligated, I looked forward to living in the magnificent Capitol, where it was said all the women were beautiful, the food was rich, and the waters pure and free of demons.
As a gangly boy with thin arms, a narrow chest, and a sensitive disposition, it never even entered my mind that I might be obligated to one of the militant orders. Only upon the flag of Great House Sarnobat is the wolf, and such a cunning predator is a fitting symbol for the family which mine was vassal to. I shall not delve into the petty house politics which resulted in my obligation going to the Protector Order, but basically, my father had given some inadvertent insult to our Thakoor. Thus it amused our leader to give me to the most infamous order of all, the brutal enforcers of the Law, where it was common for their young obligations to die in their unforgiving training program.
I recall my mother sobbing as I left our house, because she knew in her heart that her soft summer born child would fail and die miserably.
At fourteen years old—which by the way, is a little old to become a Protector acolyte—I traveled, not to the glorious and wealthy Capitol, but to the austere and miserable Hall of the Protectors, near the top of the world, high in the unforgiving mountains of Devakula, in the distant frozen south. I was despondent the entire journey there. All I knew of the Protectors were that they did nothing but pursue and execute lawbreakers. . . . That, and they were one of the few orders whose members were not allowed to wed until their obligation was fulfilled, so they lived a life of stoic solitude. At that age I was a silly romantic, so the idea of being bereft of female companionship until my obligation was done filled me with dread. My service was to last for a period of no less than ten years. And let us be honest, the odds of me surviving ten years of murderous village-burning butchery were slim as my waist.
We crossed a great many narrow bridges over deep chasms on the way to the Hall in Devakula, and I contemplated hurling myself off of every single one. Those I travelled with would surely tell my family it was an accident, for slipping on ice and falling to your doom—though ignominious—was a more honorable end that suicide. Hitting the sharp rocks would’ve been a much faster end . . .
Except it was during this journey that I found I possessed a great stubbornness, for I would not give my Thakoor the satisfaction of expiring so quickly. To the ocean with him.
Though he was the focus of my great hate at the time, honestly, I can no longer even remember my Thakoor’s face—he is as forgotten by me as the gods are to man—but that initial spark of defiance which flickered into being on a swaying bridge high in those mountains has remained with me ever since.
Decades later, that tiny spark would grow into a great roaring fire.
Later that fire would help ignite a conflagration which would threaten to burn the entire world . . . But I get ahead of myself. Gather close my children. I must tell you how I believed in those days, for I still had much to learn.
The Law required there to be three great divisions within our society, the caste that rules, the caste that wars, and the caste that works. Every man has a place. Some said that there was a fourth division, meaning those without caste, but such speech could be considered subversive, for the Law declares that the casteless are not really people at all.
The first caste is the smallest, yet obviously the most important of all whole men. They are the judges and the arbiters of the Law, the members of the various Orders of the Capitol, and the Great House families.
Each Great House has an army to defend its interests. These are the warrior caste. They are more numerous than the first, yet far fewer than the third. I thought of them as a bloodthirsty, boisterous lot, with their own odd customs and a peculiar code of honor, but they were kept in check by the Law and the will of their Great House.
The worker caste was the greatest in number, yet the simplest in direction. They exist to labor. The structure provided by the Law and the wisdom of my caste had shaped Lok into a land of industry and wealth. It was the worker who dug the coal, weaved the cloth, and grew the crops. They paid taxes to the first caste, and paid again for the warriors to defend them, but in turn they required payment for their toil and their goods, for the callous worker is often more motivated by greed than allegiance to the Law.
The castes are the great division, but there are many—perhaps innumerable—lesser divisions beyond that, for each caste had a multitude of offices and ranks, and only members of that particular caste could hope to decipher where they all stood in relation to each other. Every duty or achievement bestowed status upon the individual who held it, and status determined everything else. A miner and a banker were of the same caste, only one could sleep in a mansion and the other in a hovel, yet both would bow their head in deference to the lowliest vassal house arbiter, for he was closer to the Law.
Usually caste was determined by birth, but on rare occasions the Law might require a man to be assigned to a new caste. I’d heard of a particular worker who’d shown great strength, who the warriors had claimed, and in the opposite direction, of an inept and cowardly warrior who’d been ordered to trade his sword for a shovel. A particularly brilliant man could be promoted into the first, but a member of the first would cut his wrists in shame rather than accept the humiliation of leaving his caste.
It turned out my new order was one such place where warriors could become members of the first, albeit temporarily, for when their obligations ended they would return to their place. It was during my induction ceremony that I stood among children of the warrior caste for the first time. Every one of them, even the ones who were two or more years younger, were far bigger and stronger than I. To the Protectors, the new acolytes were all equally nothing. For the first time in my life, the status I had been born with had become utterly meaningless.
Our training began. Previously I had thought that I understood what hardship was. That had been a delusion. The Hall was as grey and stark as my house was bright and colorful. I’d lived in a land of song, but our only song in the Hall was groans of weariness and cries of sudden pain. Our instruments were wooden swords. Our drums were our sparring partner’s helms.
Over and over we were broken, physically and mentally, and constantly remade, not just with muscle and brain, but also with magic. It is said Protectors are more than man. This is true. I shall speak no further about this, for there are some vows which even the vilest traitor still holds dear.
I know now that the program is a thing of beauty. It is so cruel not because the Protectors hate their acolytes, but because we love them. Great suffering prepared us to overcome any obstacle, to face any challenge without flinching, even unto death.
The Order is not so different from the gods in that respect.
As I’d been warned, many of the acolytes perished. However, I would not be among them. For despite being the weakest of the acolytes, I was also the angriest, and in my heart was a great capacity for hate. Hate fueled me. It kept me warm through the cold nights, and every night in Devakula is cold.
At first my hate was directed at that now forgotten Thakoor, who had robbed me of my dreams of idle comfort. Then my hate shifted to the few acolytes who saw in my frail form a victim to be bullied. Tormenting me provided them a temporary distraction from their own torment. But the stupid and morally weak do not last long in the program, so after I outlived those, I needed a new outlet for my hate.
Thus I began to hate the enemies of the Law.
It was the reasoning of a bitter young man. If criminals did not exist, then there would be no need for the Protector Order. If every man kept to his assigned place and did as he was told, then those of us obligated to the militant orders would be free. When it came time for the acolytes to be given lessons in the application of the Law, I excelled, as I always pronounced unhesitating condemnation upon every infraction, and I unfailingly recommended the harshest sentence allowed.
My teachers thought it was because I was smart enough to grasp the nuances of the Law, that I was impartial and calculating as a Protector should be. This was not the case. I was filled with hate. Luckily for me, so was the Law.
It is curious that it is the softest ore which can be forged into the hardest steel. After three years of training my long limbs had turned wiry strong and my already quick mind became sharper. Most beneficially I discovered that the unconscious rhythm and grace of the dancer was not so different from the timing and agility required to master the sword.
Upon obtaining the rank of Senior Protector I went forth into the world to dispense cruel justice.
It turned out that I was rather good at it.
This was the era in which I became widely known as Ratul Without Mercy. None were as devoted as I. Wherever I was assigned, criminals became afraid. From the jungles of Gujara to the plains of Akershan, I spilled blood. I shall spare you the litany of the many sins I committed in the name of the Law. It is a long list, and we have not the hours left before dawn.
Upon my tenth year, my mandatory obligation expired. I had the choice, retire and return to the house where my service had brought them great honor, to do any of the many artistic or intellectual things I had once aspired to, have a marriage arranged for me, create my own house, and raise my heirs . . . or voluntarily continue as a Protector.
Strangely enough, this was not a difficult decision, and I remained with the Order. I’d never have a wife to love me. I would make do with the loveless company of vapid pleasure women whose names and faces were forgotten the next day. I would never have heirs. There would be no sons to carry my name. I would never have a house of my own. The only symphonies I composed were the sounds of battle and my instrument was my sword. I had forgotten how to dream, but I had not forgotten how to hate. I knew that for every criminal I’d executed there was another still in hiding, and I would not be able to rest until every last lawbreaker was dead.
For a righteous hate can be addictive as the poppy.
It was as Protector of the Law, Eleventh Year Senior, that I Ratul encountered the lawbreaker who would start me on my path of rebellion. Of the many types of criminals Protectors hunted—rebels, rapists, murderers, unlicensed wizards, smugglers of bone and black steel, and so forth—none were more hated than religious fanatics, for it was those who practiced illegal religions who were the most nefarious. The others were motivated by things most of us could understand because we’d felt glimmerings of them in our weakest moments, like greed, lust, or jealousy. But the fanatic was motivated by something inscrutable, a belief in invisible forces and imaginary beings. Such foolishness was infuriating to the Law-abiding man.
For many weeks I had searched for this particular fanatic in the hill country of Harban. There had been reports of a nameless man—probably of the worker caste—going about and preaching of gods and prophecies, trying to rouse the people to rebel. As was usual with these types he’d found some success among the casteless. I thought of the non-people as gullible, and a few of them had risen up and struck down their overseer, proclaiming their actions as “the will of the Forgotten” even as the hangman’s noose had been put around their neck.
I’d killed many such fanatics. I expected this one to be cut from the same cloth. A raving lunatic, bug eyed and foaming at the mouth, filthy and unkempt, leaping about and cursing me with the wrath of his unseen gods, but when I finally tracked down my prey, I found a calm, soft-spoken scholar instead. Not of the worker caste as alleged, but like me, born of the first. He didn’t live in a muddy cave, or a hollowed-out tree. He lived in a small but sturdy cottage, on a hill overlooking the city of Lahkshan.
Unlike most—guilty or innocent—who answer a knock at their door and discover a Protector waiting this man showed no fear. If anything, he seemed resigned, as if weary from his labor. He was just old enough to be a grandfather, no more. There was a sadness in his eyes. I remember this clearly.
“Come in, Protector,” said he without preamble.
I had no time for foolishness or a fanatic’s tricks. The cottage was humble, but big enough to conceal several enemies. He made no comment upon my drawing my sword as I followed him inside.
There was no rebel ambush waiting therein, just a cot, a pair of comfortable looking chairs, a kettle warming on the small stove, and a shelf full of actual books. That, I marveled at, because it would still be another year before the Order of Technology and Innovation approved the sale of printing presses. Only men of the wealth and status could obtain such a library in those days, and those were usually prominently displayed in a Great House, not a one room abode in the hills.
I had not even declared the charges against him, when the fanatic declared, “I am guilty of all the crimes you suspect, and probably more. I will not resist, and I accept my punishment without protest.”
“The penalty for proselytizing is death.”
He simply nodded. Even though I was about to slay him, this fanatic was so polite that I almost felt bad for not taking off my shoes before entering his home.
Curious, I went to the shelf and started checking the books. Some of them were new, approved volumes purchased from the Great Library of the Capitol, but others appeared to be ancient. I opened one of those, gently, for its binding felt as if it might crumble to dust. I skimmed a few pages, at first thinking it was a history of some kind, and instead discovered the most heinous of crimes. These were religious tomes.
They were scriptures. There was nothing more illegal in the world.
I dropped the book as if it had burned my fingers. “Saltwater!”
“Though still forbidden, these are not originals, Protector. Those rotted away long ago. These are copies of copies, handed down in secret.”
“Why would you keep such terrible things?”
“To learn about our past and our nature. The people of Lok had many different religions before the demons fell from the sky, each believing different things. I have gathered the holy books of several of those over my travels. The books disagree on more things than they agree, but all are fascinating in their own way.”
I’d seen the various rough-hewn idols of the fanatics scattered about Lok; the four-armed man, the elephant headed man and his mouse, the smiling fat man, and I’d broken each one I’d found, but I’d never before seen one of their books, because the Order of Inquisition had burned most of them long ago.
“I am curious, Protector. You’ve not yet set my home to the torch.”
“Oh, I will.”
“I know, but you hesitate. I have a feeling that you are a student of history.”
He had guessed well. “As much as the Law allows.”
“Then that is why you wait. May I ask of what house you were before joining your Order?”
I do not know why I answered truthfully, but I had never before engaged a madman in a conversation. “Sarnobat. Of the vassal house Memon.”
“Ah!” The fanatic went to the shelf and picked out a particular book. “Your people were a rare minority in old Lok. This was the holy book your ancestors used.” Upon its cover was a crescent moon and a star. I’d seen such a symbol before, in my childhood, when a farmer had unearthed an old stone, and the Inquisitors had come and smashed it to dust with hammers. He held the book out to me, like he was offering a gift, but I did not take it. Seemingly disappointed, he put the illegal tome back on the shelf. “Of course, you would not want that one anyway, Protector. That is not why you are here.”
“I’m here to execute you for violations of the Law.”
“You are here because the Forgotten wanted you to be. There were many religions before, but only one that mattered after the demons came.” He picked out a different book, bound in grey, narrower than the others. I did not accept it either, but he left it standing alone. “This one is a copy of a book written during the Age of Kings, from after the demons were driven back into the sea. The Forgotten wants you to have it.”
Genuinely baffled, I asked, “All these gods are forgotten now, so why speak of this one as it its special?”
“I did not choose him. He chose me. And now he has chosen you.”
I grew tired of this talk. The time had come. He did not so much as cringe as I raised my sword.
I could not help but ask, “Why are you not afraid?”
“Because in a dream the Forgotten showed me the man who would claim my burden and my life. Farewell, Ratul.”
I had never told the fanatic my name.
Strangely enough, I did not hate this man. I stabbed him in the heart because it was expected of me, but I did not hate him.
I would have returned quickly to my duties, but the hour was late, and a cold rain had begun to fall, so I decided to spend the night in the fanatic’s cottage and return to Lahkshan in the morning. I ate the fanatic’s dinner of curried goat, and sat in his comfortable chair, as he lay dead on his floor.
My sleep was plagued with strange dreams. I awoke with a great unease.
My eyes kept drifting back to the shelf, and that book. Not the one of my ancestors, but the strange grey one which had come after. A sick curiosity gnawed at the back of my mind. Part of me desired to read this lurid tale from the Age of Kings, an era whose records were declared mostly off limits to us. The Law was clear that I should not so much as let my eyes touch those pages, but I have already established that I was not a being of Law, but rather a being of hate.
I’d dealt with fanatics before, but I had never once been tempted to understand their superstitions beyond what I needed to know to better kill them. The Law said I should not, but my defiance said I should. I’ve fought many battles, but none were more difficult than the one I faced that night as I tried to decide between looking inside and placing it in the stove. Eventually I decided I would look briefly, and then I would burn it, so it could tempt me no more.
I lit an oil lamp and retrieved the book.
The brief glance I allowed myself stretched into hours as I read all through the night.
It was the forbidden history of our people, and all that came before. It did not read like the ramblings of madmen, or the lies of charlatans. I was pulled along, seemingly against my will, as I read of things strange, yet somehow familiar.
It struck me as true, and that was troublesome.
The book told of what had been, what was, and what would be. How we would rise, and fall, and rise, and fall again. It was in that last section, filled with dire prophecies, that I stopped, suddenly afraid, as I realized that centuries ago, this writer had been writing about me.
I speak not of generalities, or vague mumbling that could be about anyone if you squinted hard enough, but of a man without mercy, enforcer of an unjust code. Who would stab a faithful servant in the heart and then read this very book while sitting next to his cooling corpse.
Suddenly furious, I threw the book on the floor. Then I dashed the oil lamp against the wall, setting the cottage ablaze. I stormed outside . . . Only to be tempted to rush back in to try and save that damnable book. But I did not, and instead watched the cottage burn to the ground. Once I was satisfied all was ash, I walked back to Lahkshan in the dark and rain.
In the days that followed I devoted myself to the Law, and did my best to forget all that I had read. Ratul Without Mercy was the scourge of criminals everywhere. Rebels and fanatics fell to my sword.
Yet no matter how hard I worked, or how many criminals I killed, I could not shake the feeling that book had imparted to me. My dreams were haunted. If they were visions from forgotten gods, or figments of my imagination, I could not tell. I told no one, not even my closest friends in the Order, about what was troubling me.
As the years went on, I saw more distressing things, events which could be taken as signs of dire prophecies, indicators of a looming apocalypse. If the book was true, and if the prophecies were true, then drastic action had to be taken soon or man was doomed.
I had been taught that before the Law, there was only madness. That it had been created by the first judges to save Lok from the chaos that was the Age of Kings. The Law was all encompassing. All things are subject to the Law. Even the demons of hell must obey. They remain in the sea and man stays upon the land. Those who violate are guilty of trespass and will be punished.
But the Law could give me no answer. Merely voicing my concerns would have resulted in me being hung upon the Inquisitor’s Dome to cook to death beneath the sun, my flesh devoured by vultures, and my bones swept into a hole. Though my faith in the Law was shaken, my loyalty to my Order remained strong, for I loved my brothers. There is a kinship that can only be found in hardship. Yet even among them, there was none who I could confide in. To do so was to condemn them as I was condemned.
I began to question my assumptions and everything I believed. I required knowledge. Using my status as a Protector I was able to access parts of the Museum and the Great Library which were off limits to all but a select few. In secret I studied the black steel artifacts which had survived the Age of Kings. I consulted with the Historians. I learned what the Astronomers were really watching for. My desperate search across the Capitol was a grotesque version of the dreams once held by Young Ratul.
My sustaining hatred did not die, but once again shifted its aim. My fixation became the judges who had kept us from the truth for hundreds of years. I began to despise the Capitol for the things it had me and my brothers do. As I lost respect for those who wrote and interpreted the Laws, I began to delve into more forbidden areas of research.
It was in a cavern, deep beneath the world, that I met a giant. I speak not of a large man, like Protector Karno who stands a head above most, but of a true giant. Ten feet tall, with skin blue as a Dasa, who’d slept through the centuries, but had been born when kings still ruled.
The giant told me of a place in the steaming jungles of Gujara. There I sought out a legendary temple with carvings upon the wall where the last oracle of the Forgotten had prophesied of those who would be gathered to once again lead the Sons of Ramrowan in the final battle against the demons. There were three old symbols—the Priest, the Voice, and the General—representing those who must be found. Then more symbols, vague warning of some of those who would stand against the Forgotten’s chosen, such as the Crown, and the Mask, and then the Demon, the last of which surely represented the entire host of hell.
In the distant south, in the coldest winter, I waited until the ice froze enough for me to walk across the ocean without being eaten by sea demons, so that I could knock upon the impenetrable gates of Fortress. They tried to blast me to pieces with their terrible magic before I convinced them that I too was a seeker of truth. I spoke with the guru and discovered that I was not alone in preparing for the end.
Yet, doubts remained.
Despite all my quests for forbidden wisdom into the darkest corners of Lok, the truth was finally revealed to me, not by a wall in a distant jungle temple or a fantastical being, but by one of my fellow Protectors. For it was I, Ratul, twenty-five-year master of the Protector Order, who discovered the secret identify of one of our acolytes. A secret which would shake the very foundations of our society should it be revealed, for a lowly casteless had been chosen to bear the most powerful magic in the world.
It took this clear fulfillment of prophecy to finally convince me, and through conviction at last came my conversion.
The prophecies were real. The gods were real.
It took more research before I was certain that this boy was meant to be the Forgotten’s warrior. I could never tell him who he really was. To do so would be to destroy him. And selfishly, in the meantime, I did not wish to deprive the Protectors of this powerful weapon which had revitalized and strengthened our waning order.
As I tell you that tonight, I know it seems senseless that even after being converted I would still try to help the very order which has done so much harm to the faithful. They may be misguided by the Law, but the Protectors are the best of men. They do more good than harm. Though they despise me now, and they will surely take my life soon, they remain my brothers.
After that I lived two lives simultaneously, Lord Protector beneath the eyes of the Law, and rebellious criminal in the shadows. While I still have faith the gods would show the General his path, it was my duty to search for the Voice and the Priest. I carefully checked every report from my Protectors involving religious fanatics. I did everything I could short of revealing my treachery to save what worshippers I could, ordering my men elsewhere, giving faulty intelligence, or even sneaking messages to the faithful to run.
That was how I found the genealogy and secretly became the Keeper of Names.
It was twelve long years after my conversion before I found the Voice in Makao. Yes, children, a true prophet walks amongst us once again. For their safety, I will not speak here of this person’s identity, but the Voice lives, and I give you my word that the Voice is real. The Forgotten speaks to us, and he requires great things of us before we may have our reward.
Unfortunately there were witnesses to my discovery. Word of that event spread to my Order. I was required to explain my actions. Why had Ratul Without Mercy spared the life of an illegal wizard? I told the closest friend I’ve ever had the truth.
He turned his back on me.
My treachery was at last revealed, and I had to flee.
My name is worth saltwater. I am the most hated man in the history of the Protectors . . . for now.
I have hidden among the casteless and continued my search. It is here, in the borders of Great House Uttara, that I believe I have finally found the Forgotten’s High Priest. He is clever, but driven by anger and bitterness, like I once was. Yet it is his ambition which will finally free our people.
We are out of time.
Ratul had suddenly looked to the south, eyes narrowed dangerously. She knew that Ratul’s senses—augmented by the magic of the Protector Order—were far superior to anyone else present. Maybe he had smelled the smoke of the burning barracks, or the blood of warriors being shed. Perhaps he heard the screams of the dying as the casteless attacked the warriors.
“That damned fool,” Ratul muttered, sounding now like the tired old man that he was. “I must go and save his life. Farewell.”
He said that not to the mob of dirty casteless who had been clustered around him, listening intently to his story, but to her. His testimony was really intended for her alone. These casteless did not know it yet, but they would probably all be dead by morning, caught up in the bloody purge which would follow Keta’s inevitably failed rebellion.
She would live, as she always did.
Ratul rushed out the door of the shack. She got up and followed. There was a faint orange glow in the distance as the arson fires spread.
“There is a Protector there,” she warned him.
“I know. I can sense the magic in his blood.”
“Does it tell you which one?”
“No, but I suspect who it will be . . .” Ratul turned back to face her, grim. “Since my treachery was revealed, each night as I have dreamed, the Forgotten has shown me the same vision. I am wading through waist deep snow, in the mountains of Devakula, and I know that I am being pursued by a mighty predator. It is one of the great southern bears, white as the snow, powerful and proud. In the dream, there is no escape. And every night, the bear gets closer and closer. Last night, it was so near I could feel the hot breath upon my neck, and when I looked up, it had a bloody scar across its face.”
“Devedas.” She knew of him, but she knew a great many things, more even than Ratul. “Then if you go, you will surely die.”
“There was one thing I did not speak of tonight. The last prophecy in that book I read in that dead man’s cottage all those years ago, that enraged me so. It foretold my death, cut down by a man I’d love as a son, who would love me more than his own father . . . That knowledge . . . comforts me.” The condemned man smiled. “I have no hate left.”
“May the gods lift you, Ratul of many names.”
“Thank you for all of your help, Mother Dawn.”
Then Ratul went to seal his testimony with his blood.
Copyright © 2019 Larry Correia
This story is set in the world of Larry Correia's high fantasy The Saga of the Forgotten Warrior series. Larry Correia is an avid gun user and advocate, and shot on a competitive level for many years. Before becoming a full-time writer, he was a military contract accountant, and a small business accountant and manager. He is the creator of the Wall Street Journal and New York Times best-selling Monster Hunter series, with first entry Monster Hunter International, as well as urban fantasy hardboiled adventure saga the Grimnoir Chronicles, with first entry Hard Magic, and epic fantasy series The Saga of the Forgotten Warrior, with first entry Son of the Black Sword and latest entry, House of Assassins. Correia lives in Utah with his wife and family.