The islands of Wu Jian have many compounds that house the Great Houses of the Realm. Well-defended, high-walled compounds, to keep thieves out and provide a sense of luxury to those inside. However, not all the Dragon-Blooded in Wu Jian are members of a Great House. Some, in fact, are exiles.
Born to house Tepet, Nikau was secretly terrified that he would never be Chosen. He covered this with bluster, and intimidating other students. He learned to fight and to fit in with other bullies. When exaltation finally came, it was in the middle of a scuffle – someone had finally decided to fight back, and they nearly paid with their lives. He attended the House of Bells, but was dismissed for brawling with the other students. His house sent him to the Vermilion Legion, where his rising bloodlust resulted in constant discipline issues. After two seasons of polishing armor and peeling potatoes, he deserted with a dozen other like-minded soldiers. His waning fortune bought them passage to Wu Jian, where their names were unknown. There, the lot of them hired out to anyone who could turn a blind eye to their brutality. They called themselves the Red Teeth.
Over the past twenty years, the Red Teeth have made a name for themselves as mercenaries and bounty hunters. Nikau recruits skilled and brutal warriors as they come through the port to replace those who die in the line of duty. They are a hundred and twenty strong, with their own docks, barracks, and brig. Most recruits settle in under his leadership when they realize they can break the rules they want to break. Some of them end up rebelling against him, thinking that they can lead better than he. Those he either breaks or throws overboard. It’s an in-joke with his lieutenants to egg new recruits on and see how far they’ll push things before they come to an end, one way or another.
Despite his effectiveness, House Tepet (who must know by now where their son is) has never officially acknowledged him. He claims not to care.
Not long ago Jalam Bedai came to Wu Jian, and left his boat at the Teeth’s docks. The soldiers hauled it out of the water to inspect it and conduct a little idle vandalism. Jalam was easy prey for Nikau and his veterans, but he had an unexpected secret – that he was Anathema. Nikau threw him into the brig to consider what he might do with him and how he might use this new weapon. He should have expected the Solar scum to break out.
Word had spread quickly of the fight with an Anathema – of lights and the sound of avalanches. Many people came asking. He told most of them that he had slain the creature. Only one visitor knew the truth already. Kiri of Denzik, with her nose for hunts and escapes, confronted him publicly about his lies. He lashed out at her; drew his sword in rage. She calmly put a javelin through his leg.
His body healed, but he could feel that the respect of his men had been broken. Soon the Red Teeth would reject him as leader. The first assassination attempt convinced him, and he vanished in the night.
Nikau’s mind was fixated on the source of his problem: Jalam Bedai. If that little shit had never shown up at his dock, he’d still be in charge. He paid for “shadow passage” on a ship headed West, determined to hunt Jalam down. Would catching Jalam restore his position? No. Would it give him the sweet satisfaction of revenge?
He will have the chance to find out. After weeks of hunting, Nikau has come to Athanor Isle, his vessel wrecked on the shore. He will become the master here, or die trying.
Nikau has dark brown skin, black hair, and grey eyes that hint at his Tepet parentage. A massive scar runs down the right-hand side of his face. He typically wears dark leathers over chain, and wields an ornate but finely-crafted sword that he took from a bounty years ago. Without the scar he would seem about twenty-five. In reality he is closer to twice that.
Nikau comes across as angry most of the time. That perception is not entirely incorrect. While his temper is under control – mostly – he does like to make a weapon of it. He intentionally gives off the perception that he’s close to the breaking point. When people do what he wants, he backs off. He’s a very canny leader, as long as he has people who will bow down to him to some extent. Without that he becomes a bit paranoid.
He could have been a great commander and mentor. He could have been… well, none of us are what we might have been.
Intimacies: “Fear is power” (Defining), “Jalam Bedai is lawbreaking scum” (Major, Negative), “Kiri took what matters most from me” (Major, Negative), “Fellow bullies” (Positive)
For all his discipline problems, Nikau is a career soldier. When he was growing up he never cared much for all the “playtime” things he had to learn. What he focused on was war – commanding troops, wielding a sword, planning battles, trampling his enemies into the ground. He was good at it, and he enjoyed it. The rest of his education could go hang – he’d be using his caligraphy time to practice writing orders, or rehearse sword katas instead of dancing. He also has a phenomenal force of personality. He’s incredibly intense, and knows exactly how and when to push someone’s buttons. He may not be a courtly Dragon-Blood, but he can stand up against them verbally just fine.
When Nikau was first chosen, his essence flowed from him grudgingly – and so he wrestled his very exaltation into submission and forced it to do his bidding. (Figuratively, of course.) The Earth Dragon roots him when he strikes, bringing extra impact to his blade and knocking his opponents to the ground. His sword is likewise heavy when others try to batter it away and strike him. He can feel the steps of his opponents behind him, and sense the deployment of enemy troops before he sees them. His soldiers can feel this too, and his urges for them, and those who obey his commands are the deadlier for it. It empowers his cruelty as well. The Earth Dragon is at the center of all things, and Nikau can see to the center of his victims – the things that motivate them – while hiding his own center, burying his conscience, and holding fast to his convictions.
- Tobok Maran, his lieutenant in the Red Teeth, who may have set the assassin against him. Deceitful, caustic, brutal.
- Peleps Fera, who hired him some years ago and regretted it. Busy, contemplative, ambitious.
- Where did Nikau get his scar?
- If Nikau were offered the opportunity to leave, would he take it, or would he stay to finish the contest?