House Nellens is not known for its network of connections. It is not known for its internal unity, nor for its ability to manage a hundred disparate enterprises and weld them into an economically powerful whole. These things form the strength of this House, but it is known for one thing only: being the only Great House not founded by a Dragon-Blood.
Nellens Badu grew up with mortal parents and grandparents. He never expected to be Chosen. When his power erupted at school, his family was overjoyed. (His bullies, less so.) He was rushed through training at the Spiral Academy, and given land and servants early in his life. He was adored inside his House, and scorned by other Dynasts. Remembering how he survived bullying earlier in life, he sought out alliances, and was very successful at maintaining and exploiting them.
Eventually Badu proved his worth to the other Chosen of his House. He was promoted to the West: given several islands to watch over, and a set of lucrative trade routes. His presence there also acted as a deterrent against younger Anathema and the machinations of the Fair Folk.
Badu watched over this island for decades. The trade of sugarcane, rum, and slaves ran smoothly under his watch. The savage Anathema focused their attention on the Caul, and he was left to while away his days in relative luxury.
One day emissaries from farther north visited: ghoulish folk from the Skullstone Archipelago. They asked him to turn his back on their actions as they crossed his shipping routes. Badu refused to turn traitor, generous though their offers were. They came back, each time with greater wealth – and more troops. The discussion turned violent. Badu was forced to enter the fray himself to repel the invaders.
Then, one night, one of the Solar Anathema burst through his window. The beast nearly killed him before soldiers arrived to drive the evil thing away. With so many dead in the conflict, and more “emissaries” coming soon, Nellens Badu could no longer mount a defense against Skullstone’s soldiers. He ordered his household and servants onto ships, and they fled the island at dawn.
Thanks to tight rationing, his fleet arrived in Wu Jian. There, an elder of the House formally stripped him of his holdings and his prestige, calling him a disgrace to his lineage. Badu was given a pittance, a small vessel, and five sailors, and told that he could return home once he earned the fortune he had lost. Ashamed and infuriated, Nellens Badu ordered the ship to return to the West.
A dark storm. A hidden reef. The ship, wrecked on the shore. Sailors, missing or dead. Chests, sunken or strewn about the shoreline. Nellens Badu is on Athanor Isle.
Nellens Badu is light-skinned, with thin eyes. He accentuates these with dramatic makeup and dark false eyebrows, which he mixed from local muds and plants. Atop his head is a black hat with gold trim and long gem-encrusted loops. He carries a fan, with a few spares in his belt in case someone snatches one away. He wears soft pink robes with multicolored embroidery. These will become more tattered and ridiculous as events proceed.
Calm, smooth, and commanding. Badu is like a swan – poised and graceful above, paddling like mad underneath. He’s not afraid to throw around his dynastic importance, but he’s also not looking to make enemies. In the face of this inescapable danger, Badu sees opportunity, and he’ll do anything he needs to in order to achieve it – make alliances with the Anathema, cede power to others, even apologize for “presuming” that his way is best.
Years of island living softened Badu (not that he was ever all that tough to begin with). He enjoys relaxation, soft beds, clean clothing, nice drinks, and a few concubines – preferably all at once. He’ll gladly and subtly play this up if he thinks it will help people underestimate him.
Intimacies: “My life above all” (Defining), “Jalam Bedai robbed me of my land” (Major, Negative), “The Life I Lost” (Major, Positive), “Survival over Dignity”, “I will return to my family one day”
Nellens Badu has the encyclopedic education that is typical of Dynasts – riding, calligraphy, gymnastics, music, dance, arithmetic, manners, command, the arts of war, and more. Most of the past few decades has been spent honing his administrative and mercantile skills. His social skills are as sharp as any of his kin, but he has devoted little time to martial readiness. His mind, once grown lazy in a life of luxury, is showing unexpected reserves of strength now that he has been chased across half the world and back. His essence augments his skills, letting him read motivations, organize people, calm outbursts, and plan trade routes or military assaults, all with supernatural skill.
One of his more unusual talents is as a chemist. He studied the chemical arts from a tome left behind by his predecessor on his island home, and built his own laboratory outside of his manse. With the proper reactants, he can make poultices, analyze artifacts, brew poisons, even create explosives. If nothing else, he is the most likely to build a still on the island. His essence augments this as it does his other skills, letting him work quickly, purify elements, see into the makeup of a material, and successfully replace ingredients with those that a lesser chemist might consider a flimsy excuse.
In battle he devotes himself to defense, using Dreaming Pearl Courtesan Style and his natural Air-driven evasion and agility. He darts back and forth, parrying with his fan, leaping up and away, throwing darts hand-crafted from the local trees (many of which are poisonous).
- Nellens Ekala, his wife, who is was sent to the Blessed Isle to serve as ransom for his good behavior. Proper, intelligent, hard.
- Nellens Teiras, his beloved cousin, a commander in the legions. Flamboyant, short-tempered, well-connected.
- Wehaukala, Badu’s “native” contact on the island, who knew his habits best. Gregarious, helpful, addicted.
- Badu uses poisoned darts. Did he make that poison himself, or did he kill Peleps Rithra and take her paralytic poison?
- Badu is an excellent military commander. Did any of his soldiers survive the shipwreck?