The blood of the Elemental Dragons runs through nearly every human being in Creation. In most people, it is dilute, and the dragons sleep. Sometimes, though, a coincidence of parentage can exalt even the lowest-born citizen.
Nakotch Tala was born in a tiny village in the deep East, nestled in the borderlands of the Wyld. The stress of childbirth activated the power in her blood. Her daughter Detla was miraculously spared while the hut where Tala gave birth burned to ash. Tala’s lover was terrified. He wouldn’t approach her, and ran off into the woods. A few weeks later the Fair Folk arrived. They had heard the rumors that he spread: their ancient foe, here and vulnerable. They offered Tala a chance: let them kill her, and they would raise her daughter as a queen. She refused, and the chase began. They followed her through the jungle. She carried her child on her back, guided by instinct and the power of the dragons. Five long years she raised her child on fear and adrenaline and love.
She eventually found solace in the kingdom of Rhadaster. The king there saw the potential of a dragon-blooded advisor, even one so uncultured… and perhaps he dreamed of dragon-blooded grandchildren as well. Tala was just glad to finally have a chance to rest, and to have friends and guardians for her daughter.
Unfortunately, it was not to be. She was still pursued. Detla, now nearly grown, paid the price, exalting in a flare of sorcerous power but falling in the process. Tala picked up her child once again and took her toward the Pearl of the Realm, where V’neef Kharavi‘s skill at medicine was legendary. Along the way there was an ambush. Kharavi defended herself and Detla as best she could, but she fell in the battle. She never drew breath again.
An uncertain time later, her body fell through the bottom a burning funeral barge and drifted toward the bottom of Tchatlop Lake. There, the Pelagials, ancient sea-dwelling enemies of the Solar Realm, had come seeking opportunity against a world in upheaval. They collected her body and reanimated it through ancient rituals of dark power. Her fiery blood was inverted, replaced with their dark ichor. Her memories were hidden away. When she was ready, she was sent to spy upon V’neef Kharavi and work towards the destruction of the Pearl.
The Pelagials, born from eggs in the thousands, would not have understood what it meant that Tala’s child was still the Pearl. (Not that they knew.) They didn’t realize that Tala’s memories would return, in painful fits and starts, when she saw Detla. Their cold hearts had no empathy when she told them of how she would do anything to meet with her child again – but they knew that they had lost a servant. They stripped her of the artifacts they had given her and turned her out on the other side of the lake.
Since then she has walked back to the Pearl step by step. She waits and watches V’neef Kharavi. She sees the person her daughter has become. She fears that she will be seen as a monster and a traitor to Creation. She may be right.
Tala has light brown skin, both darkened by life in the sun and made paler by her death and burial. She wears brown robes with a hood that covers her forehead. Her eyes are dark. Her voice is hoarse and strained. When Tala’s essence flows freely her skin displays a pattern of cracks and burns, like a strange and delicate mandala. Red veins pulse behind her skin, but blue light bleeds into the world around her. The effect is somewhat garish.
Detla’s father was much taller and darker than Tala – her daughter doesn’t look much like her, except in their eyes and their rare smiles.
Hesitant, secretive, and independent. Tala despairs over her present form, and keeps to the shadows because of it. She speaks quietly, and may run if she is forced into the light. At the same time, she craves contact with her daughter, and has effectively been stalking her for the past few weeks. She’s desperate to fill the hole in her life. On the other hand, her fears of others’ reaction and of her own strange nature are holding her back. She’ll almost act, and then pull back, risking discovery and accomplishing nothing. She sometimes retreats to the lake to weep beneath the waves, but her resolve cannot be broken, and she always returns with renewed intent.
Intimacies: “Nothing will keep me from my daughter” (Defining), “The Fair Folk” (Defining, Negative), “I am done serving others” (Major), “The Pelagials and their cause” (Major, Negative), “The royal family of Rhadaster” (Positive), “I am a monster”
Tala was once a fire-aspected Dragon-Blood. After her resurrection, she has retained her immunity to fire, but her bodily fluids were drained and replaced. The power of the dragons no longer flows through her. Now she is one of the Liminal Exalted, blood-aspected – and that blood is not human.
She remembers growing up in the wilderness; she can still hunt and forage. She remembers raising her child; she knows how to soothe people or make them angry. She needed to hide from predators; she can hide from those who are keeping a watch for interlopers. She was surrounded by the Wyld and the Fair Folk; she recognizes the signs of their approach and knows what kinds of dangers they bring with them. The Pelagials encouraged her quiet hunting skills and enhanced them with sorcery. They gave her certain gifts, to make her better able to live in their world – she can breathe water as easily as air – but her primary power comes from her status as a Liminal.
As a blood-aspect, Tala can detect living beings and their emotional state. She can push and pull on their blood in a figurative manner. This can enhance their existing emotions, calm them, or transform them by altering their target or imagined cause. For instance, a merchant angry with her husband for his extravagant spending might be made more or less angry, to be angry at her business partner rather than her husband, or to shift her anger to her husband’s attitude rather than his spending habits. On a different front, creatures who are attracted or repelled by supernatural purity can easily be fooled by her talents. She can walk amongst hungry ghosts without being noticed, or pass the guardians of Yu-Shan as if her soul were perfect. This allows her to slough mental influence as well, enhancing or repressing her spiritual purity until the influence seems but a drop against the ocean. There can be consequences to such actions: emotional resonances and backlashes that last for weeks.
Should Tala be assaulted, she can call her own blood/ichor to her defense. She can slick her skin to squirm out of grapples, or create tough scabs that absorb impacts and deflect blades. She can encapsulate poisons and diseases, expelling them her body or saving them for later use. If she has enough essence, she can heal herself, but the resulting display is both highly visible and exhausting, so she reserves it for times when she can be alone and hidden. She can retaliate by hurling her ichor at her foes in hardened shards. Those who have poisoned her will find the venom returning to them this way. She can also simply shove against her foes, throwing them back – or flinging herself, if she is not so well-braced.
- Eighteen Fathoms Deep, the Pelagial who directed her when she was a spy. Rational, austere, piercing.
- V’neef Tenar, a groundskeeper at The Manor, who has seen Tala’s shadowy form lurking in the gardens. Glum, honest, respectful.
- Fifty-three Jaws Open, the deposed Pelagial who had selected her as a test subject. Restless, rebellious, hedonistic.
- Wondrous News, the Raksha who threatened Tala’s life in the first place. Glorious, assertive, resentful.
- Tala knows she was replaced. How much does she know about Sapphire Light?
- The botched Pelagial ritual that turned Tala from Dragon-Blood to Liminal – would it be repeatable? What dread price did it exact on its caster?
- Would the power from the dragon lines restore Tala to full life? If so, how might she be stealing it?
- Many Liminals end up with a soul that was not theirs. How did Tala keep hers? Did she even keep it? Is there yet another set of memories waiting within her?