Many people think of lakes as peaceful and serene. This is sometimes true, when one has a pond – but vast lakes the size of Tchatlop are dangerous. Storms can rise without warning and sweep boats across the water like toys. Great serpents and stranger things swim in their depths, making crossings treacherous. Most ships on Tchatlop stay close to the shoreline, for safety, as they would on the Inland Sea.
Bakdan-O, God of the Lake, is quick to remind people of the hazards they face in his realm. He blusters like the wind that sweeps across his home. His mask – or is it his face? – frightens children and reminds adults of childhood fears. Anyone who would speak with Bakdan-O will need to bolster their courage first. He is more than just a god of the lake, more than just a force of nature. He is a god who gives to the people… and who takes away.
It is said that when water from the rivers fills and empties the lake completely, the lake god is reborn. Bakdan-O came into his power some three centuries past, young and strong. He saw the other lake-gods arguing with one another, and realized the trap that Ten Thousand Verdant Shoots had lain for them. Each wanted to become the leader of the Pearl’s spirit courts, and yet none of them could take that position with two other lakes also vying for importance. Bakdan-O tried to tell them this. Of course, each of them was nearly as fearsome and ambitious as he, and the argument went nowhere. He seethed.
He sought out other alliances, but Verdant Shoots had solidified her power well, even on his other shores. When he dragged his feet in his duties, she chastised him privately, and warned him that she could withhold the worship that flowed to him through the dragon lines. He would still receive the prayers directed at him specifically, but not a portion of those directed to the pantheon.
Recently Bakdan-O seems to have finally accepted his place. He has always done what is required of him by his position without complaining. Now he also comes to participate in the courts, not just to complain. If he still snipes at Verdant Shoots from time to time, and argues with her in public, it seems to be without the rancor that characterized his first few hundred years. Perhaps he has learned a bit of politics after all.
That will not make him less dangerous.
A terrifying, hulking male figure some eight feet tall, Bakdan-O wears a red-and-gold dragon gown with long white cuffs. His face (or perhaps his mask) is white, with symmetric black and red patterns that emphasize his eyes. His rough black beard goes nearly to the floor. His voice booms and echoes. His hat is stupendous.
Bakdan-O’s arrival is heralded by winds, and a distant sound like some strange beast howling. This is true in either of his forms: the human one described above, or a terrible waterspout that darkens the sky and tosses ships end-over-end.
Unearthly, pessimistic, and tempestuous. He frequently acts the contrarian, tearing down others’ ideas and leaving gloom and doom in their place. Bakdan-O tries to contain this to situations that deserve gravity and caution, such as warning unskilled sailors off his lake or telling people about the dangers of the underworld and its servants. He shows up for a reason, and leaves when he’s done. Unfortunately, he slips into this mode too easily if questioned about other matters. This hurts his credibility. There are many stories of people ignoring his warnings and paying the price, but just as many of the brave hero who defied him and won the day. He mopes about a bit, but not in front of others – he’ll vanish to his fortress instead.
Somehow, Bakdan-O has learned of Vatli Butterfly‘s fate. He treats her with as much kindness and positivity as he can muster, which often just means being silent. Others in the spirit courts have taken note of his behavior and are trying to decide what it means. Adach Molo (Butterfly’s guardian) is highly suspicious of Bakdan-O and his motives.
Intimacies: “I am destined for greatness” (Defining), “Ten Thousand Verdant Shoots” (Major, Negative), “My fellow lake gods” (Positive), “Sky Touches Earth” (Negative), “Vatli Butterfly will be a useful ally in the future.”
Bakdan-O does not control the lake itself. It is large enough that it has tides, but he allows one of his servitors to manage those. Its currents and hidden depths are beyond him. Instead, his power directs the weather above the lake, the migrations of fish within it, the fog above it that can conceal or reveal. Bakdan-O is not a god of water – his purview is the ways in which mortals interact with his lake.
Each time a ship leaves a harbor, Bakdan-O sees it. Every time a child swims and plays in the shallows or thrashes drowning in the weeds, he knows. He feels the flow of trade and money around his shores as if it were the wind through his beard. He has an immense amount of information at his fingertips. Based on these feelings, he will often travel across the waters and appear hovering above the lake as a warning. If he feels a great fleet or powerful vessel, he will sometimes appear simply to watch, so that he may learn who sails such things across him.
If forced into material form and driven into battle, Bakdan-O flies about on the winds, lightning blasting from his fingers. He carries no other weapon. Those who attack him must contend with an electrical aura that shocks attackers, as well as powerful wind that deflects blows. He is almost impossible to strike with ranged weapons. However, he doesn’t have the stamina for a protracted fight. If prevented from returning to his sanctum, he would be able to inflict great harm on others, but would fold after a few solid hits.
In the fog above the lake, Bakdan-O’s misty fortress floats, drifting between Creation and the spirit world. This is his sanctum, which he can move with quiet speed between the lake’s various shores. Some fishermen and sailors see it early in the morning, or in the evening as the sun’s light fades and the mist rises. No one has ever tried to assault it. It could house perhaps fifty people, were he to invite them.
- Ixapot, god of Chotla Lake, who thinks Bakdan-O is a fool. Haughty, rugged, charming.
- Xofa-teklo, god of Teklan Lake, who thinks Bakdan-O has a chance. Bitter, huffy, candid.
- Etakta, one of Bakdan-O’s servitor gods, who handles the tides and currents of the lake. Caring, retiring, selective.
- Ruda Katla, who leads a worship circle for Bakdan-O on the shore of the lake each week. Babbling, hospitable, imprudent.
- Is Bakdan-O diverting the the power from the dragon lines? If so, how is he avoiding notice, and what is he doing with it?
- Where did Bakdan-O learn about Vatli Butterfly’s fate?