Life in Concilia, the capital of the Ekklesian Empire, was very hard unless you belonged to one of the privileged priestly castes that ran Ekklesia.
Unfortunately for De la Cruz he was not one of these chosen few, in fact he was born into one of the darkest and most dangerous neighbourhoods in Concilia where the most disadvantaged lived and where it was hard to adhere to the "perfect society" imposed on all citizens by the high priests of the Ekklesian government. Here De la Cruz grew up fighting to survive in this cruel society. His only way out was to one day follow in his missing father's footsteps and enlist in the Ekklesian legions. These legions were in constant need of new recruits as Ekklesia was constantly at war with the rest of the free nations, Telnofia being one of them and who resisted all attempts by the Ekklisian regime to impose their religious control on them. All he knew of his father was from the stories his mother Lilia had told him and from the machetes that his father had left behind before going away to war. De la Cruz, from an early age, gained a certain notoriety using these machetes to earn a living from small clandestine games that were held in the alleys of Concilia. Over time, his obvious skill with a machete became widely recognised and enhanced his reputation as a highly respected expert shooter and duellist.
When he came of age, De la Cruz knew that in order to enlist in the Ekklesian army, he would have to pass the entrance trial that was held every year for new recruits. These trials were so arduous and dangerous that only a few managed to survive, never mind actually make it into the ranks of the army. An additional requirement was that he needed a priest's blessing, since the priests influence was everywhere in Ekklesian society, including in the military ranks. Luckily, the blessing was a simple bureaucratic role and easy to fake, which he was able to do with the help of Celcio, a friend of his father.
On the day of the trial, De la Cruz went to the barracks where the tests were due to take place. On arrival, after delivering the blessing, De la Cruz, accompanied by a large number of applicants, entered a huge room filled with countless weapons. This is where the trial would take place and be observed by the priests and the army commanders who would select only the very best recruits.
All applicants were stationed in position until an alarm sounded and the trial began. De la Cruz knew he would survive the trial and hopefully pass the ordeal if he stayed calm and utilised all the skills he had learned on the streets of his hometown. One by one, the recruits began to fall, some died while others were seriously injured. Finally the alarm rang once more, by which time, very few, along with De la Cruz, were left standing.
Having survived the test, De la Cruz thought, in addition to the other selected recruits, he would be taken away and assigned to one of the training battalions for a period of two years. However, one of the priests who had witnessed his performance from the stands, took him aside to talk to him. The priest who introduced himself as Zahir Orios, a high priest of the Ekklesio government and inquisitorial commissioner of the Ekklesian forces, informed him that due to his impressive performance, he had been chosen as a candidate for the elite forces.
Thus began his long period of training in the arts of stealth, subterfuge, and tracking, which along with his exceptional skill with his father's machetes, transformed him into the best and most famous assassin that the Ekklesian special-forces had at that time. An assassin of such repute that he struck fear into anybody who dared to shun the Ekklesian religion and who played a key part in helping the Ekklesian regime maintain its control. During this long period of progression from recruit to specialist assassin De la Cruz never gave up looking for his father or trying to find out what had happened to him.
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