Marco Ralien was a Slayer Dragon in the late Sixth Age. A dillatante by nature, Marco was known for his rather flamboyant personality and cunning witt. He had a rather interesting childhood that no doubt led to his various eccentricities, and was very well-liked in his time as a Slayer Dragon.
Marco was born on in A.Y. 846, on BLB-881, a System IX, Generation IV terraformed world. Though officially classified as being in Joint Space, Marco's home planet was, in fact, a Gudersnipe Foundation "total control zone". This, Marco often commented, wasn't really a problem... for anyone. "At least, anyone I ever met, personally," he would often add.
His home was in the city of Draugh, part of a resort complex that simulated a Mage Wars-era city-state and wizard tower. Marco's parents were Mage Wars re-creationists and Marco was a very willing participant from a young age. Marco was the ninth child of thirteen, seven girls and six boys; he also had a large extended family, all of whome were involved in the tourist trade and in the city facade. His father worked as an artisinal baker, while his mother was a painter. The family had a modern dwelling outside the city as well as a "day house" that was part of the living museum.
As Marco describes it: "Our actual home, located outside the 'ancient' city was downright palatial, a fourteen bedroom afair. We didn't have much of a yard to speak of, but there was a park on the corner with a public swimming pool. It was a fully modern home filled with completely normal conveniences, we were very comfortable. Because of my parents work, we were provided a house-keeping service and free access to public transport. I understand when my siblings were younger, there was even a "nanny"(as both parents worked full-time on the re-enactment). I will definitely not claim I was spoiled as a child, nor that I received perhaps as much love and affection from my parents as I would have liked, but I will still say quite firmly that I had a very good life.
"On the weekends and after school, we were encouraged to dress up in period costumes and go in to town, "playing the part" as we all called it. During the heavy tourist season, good students were even given extra time off from school to play the part. As a young boy I found it all quite wonderous and grand, I got to wear a costume and be part of a massive, never-ending, living play! As I grew older I was invited more to interact with the tourists and to assist with putting on special events, all of which I relished. Indeed, I think I enjoyed my time in the re-enactment much more than I liked the outside world.
"Our Day house? Let me speak ill of it, a moment. The parts my parents played were as common folk, they had whole stories and fake biographies about them. My father was a humble baker, my mother an artisan. In truth my father spent most of his time telling tourists about ancient bread-making techniques, while my mother comprised elaborate one-woman theatrical productions about her constant search for a new patron. She was responsible for quite a few beautiful frescos, and did many portraits, but had we trully been commoners in that era, I say to you we would not have been happy. Our "day house" as we called it, was but four rooms above my father's bakery. Four small rooms for a family of fifteen! The entire family never spent a single night in the place, it served two functions: the first was as a simple retreat, a space we could use while we were in the city. The second, well, it was open to tourists, so part of our duty was to make the place look really "lived in". I shant say I have a single complaint, but it would have been nightmarish to share that cramped space.
"For me, I had a great deal of fortune surrounding my youth. A richness of spirit and a great joy in participation in the grand re-enactment. As such, I was rewarded, and at the age of ten I was given special dispensation to attend the "Afternoon School" as we called it. It was quite an honor, you see; at noon recess I was dismissed from my regular schooling, changed into my costume, and went into the city to attend what was part-school, part re-enactment. Our only real lessons were in mathematics and physical education(two things that, let's agree, never really change), but I enjoyed learning my numbers with a slate and coal, instead of computers. It was also possible, at this school, for me to study magic.
"Magic is not-much practiced outside of the flat dimensions, but the Foundation felt our re-enactment was incomplete without it, and it was a vital part of--and dare I say, reason for--the "Afternoon School". In the Mage Wars, any youth displaying an aptitude for it would find himself whisked away to a school of wizardry at the age of ten or so, so my 'story' became how I was taken from my parents and made to study magic, to one day serve in the tower. My own little 'flair' was that I 'didn't much mind' and that 'it was very crowded at home, and I loved being here and having my own bed'. I was more than a little good at the act, and often had to break character to explain to tourists that I was not, in fact, a captive; and that I lived in a normal house and went to a normal school and that I loved my parents very dearly. It was always quite a lot of fun.
"But the magic... see, the magic was real."
Most of the students chosen to attend Draugh's "Afternoon School" were just there as actors. They were good students who were animate and willing to play a part. They were taught true magic forms, but most had no apptitude for it whatsoever. Their teacher, however, was a fully trained and powerful mage in his own right, and quickly singled out Marco, identifying him as extremely gifted.
At age sixteen, Marco abandoned his formal education entirely to focus entirely on magic. As a hobby, he took up a stick-fighting martial art, and often gave demonstrations in which he and an opponent would fight a very real pitched battle without pads. Since Marco could heal both himself and his opponents injuries, they were able to go "all out" and make the fight very real.
Journey to Arindell
At the age of twenty, Marco was convinced that he was to pursue a career as a re-enactor. His magical and martial shows were already incredibly popular, and the Foundation had been good to him as a result.
"My mother and father were always rewarded for playing the part," he recalls fondly. "Our house, our costumes, even the special attention I got. My parents weren't really 'paid' very well, but they were provided for, and so was I. I was so good at "playing the part" that I'd been rewarded my own apartment in the city and a station of some renown. The Foundation was good to me; they liked my shows so much that they offered me a chance to travel."
GATE travel was very expensive, and while most of Draugh's tourists arrived by GATE, they weren't coming from very far. Marco was offered a trip "anywhere in the Known Worlds" and chose to see Arindell. He arrived by GATE at Sun's Beacon and traveled by train. The experience was life-changing.
Marco said "I think I fell in love with the city in an instant. Its difficult to describe, but I think the moment the train came around the bend and I looked out on that city, I knew I was in love with it. Draugh was a wonderful fantasy, an exquisite re-creation, but Arindell was real."
He'd made up his mind almost immediately to stay, but still had his little vacation for that first week. "I didn't know why I was called to that city," he recalls. "Just that it was my destiny. Then it happened: on my seventh day, I met a few trainees from Valley Gale Keep. I known of the Slayer Dragons since I was a boy and could tell you everything there was about The Ten, so for me it was a treat to meet a few other youths who were preparing to join their ranks."
"And then they told me what was involved."
"I won't deny that I can be an arrogant son of a gun, but when they told me about the training they went through, their skills as fighters and mages, The Trials, all I could think was... 'well, shit, I could do any of that'. So I checked out of my hotel, carried my bags to the Keep, and began my training."
Marco completed the Trials in four years, among the fastest on record. He encountered some difficulties because he had never completed compulsory education, but besides that he was an absolute marvel, ascending the same year he completed The Trials.
Marco became a Slayer Dragon in the year A.Y. 872, the year before Hokori became Pendragon. At the time there was much speculation, as Marco had been anointed the year before Ian Riley's death, a few thought that he was to be the next Pendragon. This speculation continued for many years. Marco, however made no convictions, and freely admitted that he was never even in the running, and in fact barely even knew Ian.
"I don't mean to speak ill, but he was a sick old man," Marcus recalled. "Hokori and Balphaz stood on either side of him at my anointment ceremony, they had to lift his hands and guide him through the motions. He was bedridden the entire time I knew him; sick, dying, senile. He was a great man and I praise his every accomplishment, but for myself? I spoke to him three times during the entire time I knew him. Three real conversations, and a lot of awkward sitting beside his bed. It was always Hokori. It had been Hokori since before I ever glimpsed Arindell.
Relationship with the Foundation
Besides Hunter, it's no secret that very few Slayer Dragons had much contact with the Gudersnipe Foundation, beyond the formal diplomatic ties of the Pendragon. Marco was, of course, an exception. Interestingly, he rather kept close ties to several friends and high officials on his home-world. He said:
"While the Foundation was sad to see me go, they made no effort beyond a 'pretty please' to bring me home. Its true that quite a few resources were invested into my education, but I'd say my Foundation handlers had always had a 'win some, lose some' attitude about that. They didn't want me to leave, but respected me, and never failed to honor my rights as an individual.".