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The Secret History of Sun County: Solanthos

Solanthos is presented in Sun County as a rigid prude with a possible tendency towards little boys. Between us we came up with a few ideas that put him in a much more favourable light.

To start with, it appears that Solanthos lacked the advantages of money and influence possessed by most of the other characters in the plot. ("Solanthos is an ignorant, prudish dirt farmer ill-suited to rule peoples of the Sun." Armemnon, p.7) He also dyes his hair, which hints of some outland blood.

What Solanthos does have going for him is very high moral standards, very strong will-power, and a determination to work his way up from the bottom. His devotion to his country and his God is total, ignoring what the cost might be to others or to himself. I suspect he secretly envies Invictus's easy assumption that all will be well: Solanthos has learned that things only go well if you go out of your way to make them do so. He has a lot in common with Vega, even if their alliance in later years is an uneasy one.

The little problem Solanthos seems to have with his personal life is one we think we have an explanation for. To summarise, he is under normal circumstances incapable of fathering children. Underage readers had better skip this bit - the rest of you, carry on!

As a young militia-man, Solanthos was a remarkably handsome man (APP 16). While out on duty in one of the wilder border areas, a local young lady fell in love with him. Solanthos, seeking even then to emulate Yelmalio in everything, ignored her and her increasingly desperate attempts to attract his attention. Shortly after his file left the area, she committed suicide.

Later on, now a half-file leader, he returned to the area. At this point the ghost of the young woman re-appeared as a succubus. The file leader, the only person to whom he might have turned for help, was unapproachable and snobbish. Solanthos was unaware of the nature of the assault upon him, but some inner voice told him it was evil and must be resisted. The succubus attacked him in his sleep and he rarely attained more than a semi-waking state so the attacks seemed like dreams. Shame and repression prevented him from discussing such sexual matters with any authorities who might have understood it and helped him. So the contest was between the wiles of the succubus and the will of Solanthos. Each night the succubus pushed its advances a little further. Eventually it even managed to seduce him into entering it, but he never yielded his seed. Finally after endless nights of fruitless effort the succubus began to weaken and the battle turned in Solanthos' favour. It could no longer maintain its illusions and it began to appear as a hideous and hungry hag. Finally it could not overcome his will at all and he pinned it to the ground with his iron spear.

In the course of the struggle Solanthos called up much magical protection. (Not the formal game type.) Many of his celibacy geasa are related to this: he earned those honours from this struggle.

The combined psychological and magical fallout was to leave him permanently impaired in his relations with women. He distrusts and fears all women to some degree. (A nagging suspicion that they are after his 'precious bodily fluids' and that they want to 'deplete his essence'.) He has been conditioned to resist the release of seed with women. As the moment of climax approaches his subconscious resistance rises until he loses his erection. This is all linked to the succubus which attacked using the ultimate feminine image, he is not so impaired with men. He may not actually be gay, but he is so frustrated with women that he must seek his sexual release with men.

He is capable with the nymph Kinope so he can fulfil the requirements of that ritual marriage (though this was not obvious until the experiment was made!). She, as a water deity, is obviously not trying to steal his bodily fluids, and due to her relationship with the Cleansed One it is clear that her essence is pure and no threat to him. Also, the ritual marriage produces a state of awe rather than passion in the Sun Count, so his resistance doesn't tend to kick in. The Erotocomatose Lucidity spell would not help him, but rather would backfire completely. The stronger his desire gets, the stronger his subconscious resistance gets. He might actually find the encounter pleasurable under EL but he still would not give up his seed, the best he might achieve would be a dry run.

This whole story actually puts Sol in a good light for a change. His incapacity is not a personality flaw but a wound taken in battle with the forces of evil. His rigid standards of honour and behaviour are cast in a more favourable light: it was those unwavering standards that allowed him to prevail. He holds people to a high standard because he himself has resisted the ultimate temptation.

He could probably be cured by appropriate psychological counselling, but where could he get that in Sun County even if he could bring himself to seek help on such a personal topic?

The location of this encounter has been deliberately left unspecified: the only person who knows is Solanthos, and he isn't telling. But if you want a description of of what the place looks like, I'd suggest reading Tennyson's "Lady of Shalott".

"On either side the river lie
Long fields of barley and of rye, .."

"...For leagues no other tree did mark
The level waste, the rounding grey."

By 1610 Solanthos was the Light Captain in Pavis. His hard work had got him closer to the top than anyone might have imagined possible. But the life-style of a Light Son required more money than he possessed, and influence would be needed for any further advances. It was time to look for a rich wife. Penta, as an innocent and obviously harmless Voria priestess, did not scare him the way many women would, and her father's rigid honour matched his own. It was the perfect match.