Sky Touches Earth, God of Tribute

Background

Yu-Shan is a bureaucracy. It has scribes, accountants, lawmakers, actuaries, overseers, notaries, adjusters, assistants, advisors, supervisors, judges, advocates, censors, and investigators. Sky Touches Earth is the last of these: a celestial investigator. He is summoned when there is suspicion of a misdeed among the spirit courts of Creation.

That’s the theory, anyway. Practically speaking, he needs a summons from the acknowledged leader of a spirit court. That summons must be properly signed and counter-signed, and must pass across the desks of a half-dozen indolent officials before it reaches him. With most of Creation’s spirit courts in disarray, these summons typically never even make it to Yu-Shan in the first place. Sky Touches Earth should be phenomenally overworked. Instead, his name has become depressingly ironic over the last fifteen hundred years.

In the meantime, Sky Touches Earth has become one of those indolent officials himself, lounging in the baths of heaven and enjoying the perfect weather. His purview as God of Tribute keeps him well-fed with ambrosia and rarer treats. He needs do nothing to maintain his domain; tribute will continue to flow across Creation without his action. (This is one of the reasons he was chosen as an investigator.) Every century or so, he answers a petition, which usually involves him standing around while another god uses him as political leverage, and his skills go unused. It’s like a week-long vacation from an eternal vacation.

This time, things are different. Ten Thousand Verdant Shoots seems very serious about putting him to work, and quickly. On one hand, he suffers from the pain of the privileged – actually doing one’s job? On command? What a chore. On the other hand, there is a part of him that is slowly awakening to this task. He feels his purpose calling to him. The disruption of the dragon lines in the Pearl is a genuine mystery, one that tugs at his interest and draws out skills long atrophied by disuse. He feels like he should – he must – find the culprit.

And afterward? Punishment for the godly is a joke in Yu-Shan. Sky Touches Earth knows this as well as anyone. Whatever god caused the issue, their case will sit on the docket for years, perhaps centuries, before some undoubtedly inappropriate punishment is handed down. Yu-Shan’s bureaucracy has many things, but someone who will take responsibility is not one of them.

If he is to feel satisfaction, Sky Touches Earth may need to take that responsibility into his own hands.

Appearance

Sky Touches Earth 500

Sky Touches Earth has metallic skin, with all the wrinkles and imperfections of true human skin. Small wings sprout from behind his ears. His eyes are dark; his curling hair and his well-trimmed beard are the same steely color as his skin. He typically appears naked. Glowing cyan shapes appear across his back and arms like tattoos. His voice is soft, but cuts through all conversation. It is impossible not to hear him if he is nearby.

Demeanor

Both insolent and serious. Sky Touches Earth acts like a spoiled adolescent who has been called on to do a chore, but also like a professional detective whose nose has been drawn by a crime. Both of these things are at war within him. He has difficulty letting go of either one.

For the most part he’s quiet, speaking when spoken to or when he has a pointed question to ask. It’s hard to tell from the outside whether he’s being contemplative or petulant. He’s always formal with the more important deities, but has little patience or respect for mortals with their mayfly lives. He’s quick to let people know that they probably have better things to do than watch him work. His frustration with his own lack of talent is likely to show at some point.

Intimacies: “Tribute must flow” (Defining), “I will find the truth” (Major), “The Maiden of Secrets” (Major, Negative), “The Sidereals” (Negative), “A life of leisure” (Positive)

Capabilities

As a heavenly investigator, Sky Touches Earth knows how to examine a crime scene, profile a criminal, and ask the right questions. He can see the traces that essence leaves on the world. A taste of dirt will tell him whether mortal soldiers or undead warriors marched upon it. Scenting the wind in a burned-out grove will tell him whether the fire was set by a Dragon-Blood or a demon.

His skills are fairly amazing… but he’s a bit out of practice. A little behind the times, and somewhat rusty. He might not have known that House V’neef existed before he came here. He’s not used to juggling a dozen potential suspects in his mind any more, and has a difficult time understanding the motives of people who aren’t themselves indolent celestial officials. He can’t tell who’s watching him out of curiosity and who’s a spy.

Should someone be so foolish as to assault Sky Touches Earth while he is pursuing his duties, they will be guilty of offenses against Yu-Shan itself. He will angrily remind people of this if they threaten him. The official penalty is one day of spiritual torture for impeding his progress, seven days for striking him or interfering with his investigation, and death for anyone who discorporates him. He has the authority to suspend any or all of this sentence, if he so desires.

If he does find himself in a fight, he has plenty of power to burn in his defense. His godly senses point out weak points and likely stratagems. He fights unarmed with an ancient variant of Crane Style, allowing him to retaliate against those who would strike him. He can soar through the air gracefully, hurl his foes a great distance, and quite literally smack some sense into his opponents. He typically has detailed knowledge of those who assault him, and can use their own Intimacies against them. His opponents often come to realize the errors of their ways and beg forgiveness for their actions. He’s glad to give (or at least feign) such forgiveness… so long as his defeated foes can give him something he wants.

Supporting Characters

  • Akta Ketaxa, a spy for the King of Kindness who is following Sky closely. Indecisive, careful, insightful.
  • Whisper of Faith, a lesser spirit of truth who takes notes for Sky. Sedate, clean, sentimental.
  • Upraised Eyes, Goddess of Praise, Sky’s superior in the heavenly bureaucracy. Capricious, affectionate, lazy.
  • Igi Lotoklo, the pedicab driver who takes Sky from place to place. Polite, industrious, clumsy.

Questions

  • How badly atrophied are Sky Touches Earth’s skills? How likely is he to accuse the wrong person?
  • What if the Background section above were a lie? What if the fading tribute paid to the Scarlet Empire by their satrapies is depriving Sky Touches Earth of spiritual power, and he’s decided to take the tribute for himself directly?
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One thought on “Sky Touches Earth, God of Tribute

  1. Pingback: Ten Thousand Verdant Shoots, Rice Goddess | Stranger Creations

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