Feschia, The Messenger

Background

Let me tell you the good news.

You’re afraid, I can tell. You’ve heard the rumors? It’s all right. It’s a scary time. But there is hope, and I am her messenger. I, who grew up here with you. You remember me from before, yes? How I would run messages to Meteth Township, and from there to Tuva? What if I told you I came from all the way from Shirakh — today! — in just a few hours.

I was changed the night of the Shirakh fireball. And things are going to change for us, too.

When I was carrying messages I had to look like a trader, or a herder, in case the Shirakhi stopped me. They would ask me my business, and I had to have a story ready about my lost cattle. I would think about my little girls. My husband lives in Meteth. We have two. Two little angels. It scared me to death to think what would happen to them if I was caught.

I carried some silver, too, just in case. How many of us carry silver in our daily lives? In case a soldier can be bought? We just think of it as the cost of living. Not even doing business. Just living.

We are going to change that. Kala is going to change that. Come on! Stop looking for soldiers every time someone says that name! I’ve seen her. She’s amazing. And she and I aren’t the only Chosen on our side. We can win this. We can win back the land that was taken from our ancestors, and stop carrying silver so we can bribe soldiers just to live our lives.

I’m afraid of war, too. I can die, just like you can. But I can’t let my fear stop me. This is our freedom. Our children need this.

Appearance

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Feschia’s broad smile is unforgettable and unmistakable. It wins the hearts of children and elders alike. She is laden with beaded armbands and necklaces that clack softly when she moves. She shaves her head. Her eyes are dark brown; her skin even darker. She typically wears a grey skirt and a shoulder-wrap in natural colors (greens and browns). She used to carry a leather messenger bag, but no longer requires it.

Demeanor

Happy. Feschia can be fierce, she can be kind, and she can be inspiring, but her most common emotion in these dark times is a joy that spreads to all around her. When she’s carrying messages she loves putting children on her shoulders and giving them a ride around the village. She’ll take the time to help an elder reach something off a high shelf or cross a busy street.

This isn’t to say that Feschia can’t be serious. In Kala’s war councils she’s studious and respectful. However, she’s also the first person to break out a huge grin when it looks like a plan will succeed. She enjoys some of Tamosh’s jokes, but does sort of worry that he’s going to go too far some day.

Intimacies: The people of the Wathia-land (defining), My family (defining), Bring hope (defining), Trust my companions (major), The Shirakhi have already lost.

Capabilities

Feschia always enjoyed running, and built up a marathoner’s stamina. She would carry messages twenty miles a day. When she was younger she would climb trees and swim in the rivers too, and to be honest she still enjoys those things. Her exuberance and smile make it hard not to open up to her. She has a great sense of humor. Her memory isn’t the best, though – her mother jokes that she became a messenger because she always had to carry a scroll for herself.

Since the night of the meteor, Feschia has felt the power of the sun flowing through her. She’s a Night caste solar, with Athletics as her supernal ability. For short periods of time she can lift wagons, wrestle wild animals, or tear armor from an opponent’s body. She can leap over walls, grab birds from the air, and catch arrows. However, where she really shines (pardon the pun) is in her beloved run. At her normal pace she never needs to stop – not that she runs at that pace much any more. She can out-sprint a cheetah, and cross more distance in a day than a crane in flight. The fatigue does eventually catch up with her.

In her travels Feschia also learned to hunt, with a small bow and blunted arrows knocking birds from the sky. When she reached back to ready that bow last week, she instead drew forth a longbow of solid gold and five red-fletched golden arrows that always return to her quiver. She can put these into Elsewhere when she chooses. Her agility, her precision at range, and her ability to take aim in the blink of an eye make it very difficult to close with her in combat.

Supporting Characters

  • Shelali, her mother. Warm-hearted, perseverant, focused.
  • Ahadath, another messenger with whom she used to trade stories. Polite, alert, wishy-washy.
  • Jurit, a ghost who is tracking her movements for Laughter in Chains. Grouchy, hardy, grieving.
  • Blows Five Ways, a god of the wind who is becoming jealous of her speed. Argumentative, resourceful, rash.

Questions

  • Has Feschia thought to hide her family yet?
  • Feschia is very optimistic; how does she feel working with more cynical sorts like Tamosh and Zirana

Katavi, High-Class Assassin

Background

Don’t worry, don’t be scared. I’m not a soldier. I’m not here to hurt you.

Shall I tell you a story? Very well. Not long ago, there lived the quietest young woman in the kingdom. She was a scribe in the halls of royalty. She was unappreciated; so used to being unseen and unheard that she almost vanished from the world forever. But underneath her silence, she knew she was smart and beautiful and strong. She was growing, you see. Once she was big enough – on the inside – she could become what she was meant to be, and everyone would see what she saw inside herself. It all grew from a little seed… called confidence.

Here, have some water. There you go. Come on out; don’t be afraid. If I were here to kill you you’d already be dead.

Hahahaha! Oh, the look on your face right now. Come out from that bed, you foolish woman. I don’t give a damn if you’re sleeping with my prince. He does so love his “royal prerogative”, especially since Xerith took it away from him.

He and I have a little game, you see. Oh, not like that, and who are you to be a prude. The game is this: I help him anger his scandalously young stepmother, and he helps me free of the Silent Knives. I’m sure someone told you that we Knives have a pecking order? Well, it’s a lie. Every one of us is at the bottom. If I don’t get out now, my entire life will be “Yes, Grandfather” and “As you command” until the green sun comes to burn us all to ash.

But he – oh, my Visho is a man of ambition, I can tell you that. If I hitch my star to his, if I help fix a few problems here and there, he’ll be emperor and I’ll be anything I damn well please. And in the meantime, I get to enjoy what you just enjoyed. He does have plenty of energy, doesn’t he.

Now put on your damn clothes and go away. You’ll start feeling cold once you get outside. If you’re lucky you’ll make it back to your family before the poison really kicks in. Be glad you get to say goodbye.

Appearance

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Long, strong arms. Red lips. Brown skin with reddish undertones. Hair pulled in tight on the sides and left wild above her head. A look of danger in eyes the color of dark steel. Katavi is beautiful and striking.

Katavi typically wears simple but elegant clothing in black or white. She often wears jewelry that she took from her previous targets. The Silent Knives are powerful enough in Shirakh that they can operate openly, and she does little to hide what she is.

Demeanor

Haughty and mercurial. Katavi takes on different personas as her whims suit her, and those whims shift every few minutes. Sometimes she will pretend to be innocent or childlike. Other times she’ll be harsh and sarcastic. This keeps her opponents and detractors off-balance.

Her years of work as an assassin have somewhat unbalanced her. Nevertheless, Katavi is fully in control of her apparent mood swings. She’s calculating, but not cold. Instead, she funnels the heat of her anger toward her one-time masters and dreams of what she will do once she defeats them.

Intimacies: I will destroy those who controlled me (defining), Prince Visho is a means to an end (major), Keep them off balance (major), Love for Prince Visho

Capabilities

Katavi spent most of her early life washing clothing and houses. She became a scribe when one of the nobles noticed that she had learned to read on her own and purchased her inborn indenture. She learned penmanship, diligence, and how to stay quiet and avoid bruises. Eventually she came into the employ of a quiet benefactor of the Silent Knives, who recommended her to them. They trained her in the knife and the garotte, the veil and the slipper. She knows poisons and their counter-agents well. She often has a bit of firesand on her in case a distraction is needed.

As an assassin she already fought more with stealth than with force of arms. With her Night-caste essence flowing through her, she is capable of unbelievable feats of secrecy. She cannot vanish from observation, but if her opponent turns around, or even blinks, she will be gone. Even alert guards will mistake her for a pot or a pillar. Her foe’s gaze sweeps the room; she drops from above and buries her knife in his back. She can even draw in her anima, turn it inside-out, and wrap the dark inner covering around herself. Stealth is her supernal ability.

Her mastery of the thrown knife aids her greatly here. She can impart the subtlest of spins that sends a blade slinging around walls or pillars. She knows how to aim for the throat, to silence, or the eyes, to blind, or the knee, to cripple. When attacked, she leaps out of the fray and behind cover, never to be seen again… save by her victim’s ghost.

Supporting Characters

  • Khedit, “grandmother” of the Silent Knives. Mysterious, domineering, intolerant.
  • Velas, sister to the woman whom she killed in the story above. Nimble, artistic, dreamer.
  • Orwith, an investigator chosen by the Queen to remove the Silent Knives from the city. Eccentric, noble, unforgiving.
  • Soewif, a blind servant in the palace who will recognize her by her perfume. Efficient, outgoing, patriotic.

Questions

  • At what point will Katavi’s ambition outweigh her affection for Visho?
  • Has Katavi told anyone in her organization what she has become?

Zirana, The Trader

Background

So. You want me to supply your army. Let me speak to you of trust.

When I was young I never felt at home in my own skin. The things that were expected of me felt strange. My fellows must have sensed my worry, for I had few friends and was considered strange. Without a home in my heart, I felt little connection to house and family. Perhaps that was why I became a trader.

I traveled the south, from the Lap to Kirighast. In the lands of the Tri-Khan I saw a glass city, with wealth and beauty that put Shirakh to shame. In Urim I found a caste system that would make ours look fluid in comparison. Amongst the Delzahn, I found a people who may be our distant cousins, from a time long ago. I also found the Dereth – but that is a story for another time.

I have seen wealth and poverty more extreme than any here. I have seen tyrants who make this new queen look like a benevolent mother. You think we Wathia have hit rock bottom; we haven’t. You think the Shirakhi wield ultimate power; they do not.

So I trust your words. I know that you believe them. But I do not trust your gnosis – your understanding of the world – for I know it to be false. I see your confusion. You may have heard that I was meek, easily cowed by physical might. The night of the meteor gave me confidence. I will not take back what I have said.

I will not take your silver. I will not bring you swords of iron as the Shirakhi have. No, instead I will bring you spear-heads of good, sharp steel, and I will do it for free. But you must make me your advisor, and your teacher. You are headed down a path where even victory can lead to tyranny.

For you to gain my trust, you must give me yours.

Appearance

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Zirana is tall, nearly six feet. She has narrow brown eyes and a cleft chin. She keeps her long black hair braided under a head-scarf. She eschews typical makeup in favor of simple face-painting from distant lands. Her sepia-brown skin is darkened by her many travels. Her eyes are just beginning to show wrinkle lines.

When about her duties, Zirana wears multicolored robes, and drapes herself with extensive jewelry. All of these are signifiers of her status as a merchant. At home, she tends to wear less jewelry, but still enjoys the bright robes.

Demeanor

Bold and direct, but canny. Zirana knows her place, but deliberately sets her foot outside the boundaries that others would draw for her. She’s not rude, but she refuses to be silent when there are important things to say. She code-shifts easily when dealing with different organizations. She’s commanding with her own people, and deferential with harsh rulers like the Shirakhi. (She’s still finding the proper footing on which to speak with Kala.)

Zirana has seen violence and its effects on both those who fight and those who suffer by association. She would rather bankroll the war than fight in it, and would rather write political tracts than see a war. She will do her best to help Kala’s army win through intimidation and show-of-force rather than battle. If it comes to open warfare, Zirana would work to bolster her side or undermine the enemy rather than being on the front lines.

Capabilities

Zirana is an experienced trader. She has social ties in every city along the Southern coast. With a strong will, clear mind, and clever wit, she runs a highly profitable organization free from in-fighting. With her constant travelling, most of this happens via letter.

All this was before she became an Eclipse-caste Solar. Zirana’s supernal ability is Bureaucracy. She can navigate state officials just fine, but her real expertise is in commercial matters. Red tape evaporates under her gently guiding hand. She can predict booms and busts for distant ports. On a personal level, she’s a wicked negotiator. She can bend the greed of others toward her wares, and drive the hardest of bargains. Her honor makes her hesitate in this, however. She has no desire to leave broken households and bankrupt cities behind her.

In addition to Zirana’s mercantile skills, she’s a phenomenal writer. Different audiences will each feel that they she is writing to their secret heart with a different message. She can write secrets in such a way that no reader could give them away. She can also copy the writing of others flawlessly. All of these are skills that she expects to put to good use during the coming war.

Zirana would prefer to be a non-combatant. She knows enough to defend herself with a scimitar and has worn lamellar on a few occasions, but has no desire to test her newfound demigod status in battle. Instead, she’ll leap from a ship’s deck up to its riggings, or jump backward past her bodyguards, and avoid her assailants instead.

Supporting Characters

  • Wixesh, who keeps her books. Stately, curious, decisive.
  • Hevalith, who arranges her schedule. Likeable, macho, succinct.
  • Siusetah, her caravan leader. Demanding, melodramatic, thankful.
  • Foriath, a smuggler she knows in the area. Disillusioned, narrow-minded, inquisitive.

Questions

  • What range of businesses is Zirana comfortable with? What would she refuse to trade in?
  • What will Zirana do if Kala goes off the rails? Would she organize against her?

Ruan, The Prince’s Bodyguard

Background

My Beloved Padathera,

I am amazed to hear your story. There is so much that I did not know. How can I say no to your request?

My childhood was very different from yours. I was the sixth son of a merchant family. My parents were prosperous, but it was clear that I would never inherit. I had, I am sad to say, no head for money, nor patience for it, but I could dance well, and do calligraphy. One of the familial viziers suggested that I might have a talent for swordsmanship. As it turned out, he was right.

I learned the style known as the Single Point. (I remember more of it now than they ever taught me was possible.) And because my parents’ money was not to be ill-spent, when my training was complete I became a bodyguard myself. My charge was as precious to me as yours is to our kingdom: it was my eldest brother. Therefore, my shame is as deep as you can imagine.

I failed to protect him. An assassin’s dart found him, and he died as the poison coursed through his veins. Though I killed the swine responsible, and our family lost no coin, I lost the man I had looked up to since my eyes could see. My heart was broken.

When the palace offered to hire me at half the usual rate, my parents assented. They knew they would receive no better offer for one in such disgrace as myself. That I was then assigned to the prince was a great surprise to me, though I suppose the men-at-arms could not assign a noble’s son like myself to the harem as you had been.

I have spent many a day with the prince, and my opinion of him rose and fell much as yours did. He is petulant, and unkind, and imagines that he should have been king. Nor is he quiet with these insistences. (I hope you will remember to burn this letter.) Still, he is my ward. My skill will be his safety, and my life and honor will protect his, as the oaths say. Now, more than ever, I have the skill to do what I once could not.

There my tale ends, coming to the present day. If it please you, tell me next – where would you travel, if our queen did release you?

Your love,

Ruan

Appearance

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Ruan wears a black gi with white and silver trim. It’s not what he trained in, but it’s the look that Prince Visho ordered for him. He has short-crimped black hair, cut short, and a short-trimmed beard. Ruan’s brown eyes have just a touch of orange from his southern heritage. His voice is deep and even.

Demeanor

Humble, watchful, and eloquent. Ruan was much changed by the death of his brother. In some ways he hasn’t quite recovered yet. He used to be more confident, perhaps even a little boastful. Now he tries to live up to what he should have been.

This is made difficult by his relationship with his charge. Ruan knows that Prince Visho is an awful man. He’s seen what the prince does, how he treats others. Ruan hopes that his example will change the prince’s mind. His fear (entirely justified) is that the prince is too haughty and full of himself to notice others, even those who are right next to him. Visho considers Ruan horribly naive; Ruan knows it.

Intimacies: I will not fail my charge again (defining), My family’s honor (major), I love Padathera (major), Carry yourself with dignity.

Capabilities

Ruan embodies all the best things that Prince Visho thinks about himself. He’s strong, graceful, suave, and composed. He’s disciplined. He’s not quick-thinking or cunning the way Visho is, but he’s intelligent. Most importantly, he gained his skills through of hard work.

Ruan knows a little about the merchant business because of his family, but most of his time has been spent on more physical pursuits. The swordsman who trained Ruan taught him Single Point Shining Into the Void. Now that he’s a Zenith-caste Solar, Ruan is blindingly fast, cutting deep with his blade. He parries so confidently and speedily that his foes lose their balance. Those who watch him fight will swear that he strikes twice for each strike of his opponents. He’s still uncovering the hidden depths of the style that are in his teacher’s mysterious instructions. He’s also wondering who his teacher really was.

However, Martial Arts is not Ruan’s supernal ability – it’s Resistance. He’s immune to poison and disease. His body can absorb prodigious amounts of punishment. When he has a chance to catch his breath, his wounds literally close in seconds. Bludgeons bounce off his skin; knives are blunted; arrows stick briefly then fall to the ground. He doesn’t yet realize that he could walk out of a firedust explosion with even his gi intact.

Supporting Characters

  • Soweth, Ruan’s mother, a famous and respected merchant. Disciplined, chivalrous, intimidating.
  • Exshelo, Ruan’s elder brother, who wishes Ruan would treat himself better. Relaxed, instinctual, businesslike.
  • Yefthen, who takes over from Ruan to guard Visho as he sleeps. Experienced, irritable, courteous.
  • Ceeasthis, a palace servant with a crush on Padathera. Jealous, sneaky, squeamish.

Questions

  • How far is Ruan’s family from Shirakh?
  • Who besides Padathera knows that Ruan has exalted? Has he told Visho yet?

A’tha, The Explorer

Background

Please. Hear me. You know what it’s like to lose your father. Don’t make me lose mine.

I was born here in the Wathia-lands, like you. I grew up in Fefa, to the south. Despite our people’s oppression, my family was happy. We were farther from Shirakh, and the Shirakhi only came to our village to collect taxes. They were not our constant jailors, as I know they are with you.

My leg was like this when I was born. I learned to read early – it was the only way I could see the world. My parents knew an inventor in the village, though, and he built these leg-crutches for me when I was growing up, so I could work the fields and walk the cows to market. But I wasn’t a good child. As soon as I could walk, I wanted to run. I went everywhere. I spent hours in the hills to the south, finding things left over from the Shogunate. I sold some for tax money; traded others for stories about what else was in the hills. I tried to earn my keep.

One day when I came home my father was on the floor! He had fallen, and did not wake for three days. Mother explained, when she came back from the field, that he had been in poor health. He was getting worse. He didn’t want to tell me because he was worried I would stay home. Mother couldn’t afford a doctor – and you, of all people, know that even silver does not guarantee a visit from a Shirakhi doctor. I have seen him waste away in just a few weeks.

Then the meteor came. And yes, I was changed. I went to see the crater myself, but it was empty, and I could not stay to learn more.

There are stories of an ancient manse in the southern hills. A place where a brilliant surgeon lived during the Shogunate, a Wood-aspect who poured her magic into the trees there. They say that the dates from these trees can cure any illness. This is my only hope. It may only be rumor, but I must try.

I cannot help you now. I cannot. But help me find this place, help me save my father, and I will stand by you against the Shirakhi. Whatever the cost.

Appearance

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A’tha is surrounded by encouragement from her village. Her hair is caked with incnse and red-pink mud, a treatment promised by local healers to keep away her father’s wasting sickness. She wears dozens of bead necklaces made by her aunts and uncles, to reminder her of their faith in her.

A’tha’s face shows the strain of her current situation. Her dark brown eyes are weary. Her young face is becoming worn by lack of sleep. Her skin, normally a moderate reddish brown, is darkening from all her time spent in the sun. Her clothing is becoming tattered. Her right leg is a prosthesis from the knee down.

Demeanor

Focused, determined, and desperate. A’tha has a sharp mind that soaks in facts. Her snap decisions are better than most people’s careful thinking. It’s impossible to see her as unemotional in this time of need, but she’s decidedly a rational thinker. She’ll weigh the options and choose the path that has the highest chance of success.

Behind all this, A’tha feels incredibly guilty. She is slowly coming apart at the seams under the pressure of finding a cure for her father. She wishes that she had stayed home and worked the farm instead of spending weeks at a time in the southern hills. Perhaps then she would have noticed… but it is too late for that now. She pushes the guilt aside and works to find a cure. At this point she’d even accept help from the Shirakhi.

Intimacies: Family comes first (defining), See the world (major), The city of Shirakh is a poison (major), Only fools rush in.

Capabilities

A’tha’s youth gave her intellect; her adolescence gave her strength and endurance. Walking with a crutch required greater stamina, so she built up to it. She’s a little awkward, both physically and socially. She knows how to find food and shelter in the wilderness, and how to navigate. Her knowledge of the Wathia-lands is encyclopedic – if she hasn’t been somewhere, she’s met someone who has. She’s also learned how to build her own prosthetics, though they’re not quite as good as the ones the inventor makes.

When the meteor fell, Atha’a became one of the Twilight caste. Lore is her supernal ability. She breathes in knowledge and breathes out wisdom. The study of old ruins and tomes replenishes her. (This makes her inability to find a cure all the more frustrating.) She was always interested in languages; now she’s a mathematician to boot. Artifacts open to reveal her their secrets. Buildings practically tell her how they’re laid out. Where other Solars might have their past incarnations whispering the knowledge of ancient times into their minds, A’tha gains knowledge from the world itself.

A’tha isn’t above picking up a few “dirty tricks” to make her exploration easier. She can walk through doors, open locks with a touch, and slip out of both handcuffs and tight spaces. She can feel the click of a trap mechanism and hear the hiss of poison gas entering a room. She’s sort of a jack of all trades when it comes to exploration.

A’tha carries a boomerang for hunting, and a longknife that she can use for self-defense. She parries well. Her skin hardens against assaults. She’s not a trained warrior, but she’d be deadly leading a group of insurgents into the castle.

Supporting Characters

  • Osthes, who smuggled books to her parents when she was young. Bossy, industrious, discrete.
  • Eixafel, the inventor of her prosthesis – imprisoned by the Shirakhi. Austere, hilarious, insightful.
  • Yesesh, a hermit she met in the hills. Hedonistic, boastful, carefree.
  • Ivriash, the village healer. Calm, cautious, incompetent.

Questions

  • Would A’tha trust an outsider to heal her father?
  • How much has A’tha pushed herself? Is she close to falling apart, either mentally or physically?

Prince Visho

Background

My story? Oh, mostly what you’d expect, I suppose. Nursemaids, hard tutors… soft women. You knew my father, of course. Everyone did. Wato. “The Wise.” The old fool always had somewhere else to be than with his family. An hour for the merchants, a blow for me. Until mother died. Loss can be so motivating.

Then, of course, it was suddenly about family. But with me? No. No, of course not. With her. With Xerith. Yes, slap an X on that name and suddenly that twat became royalty. She’s younger than I am. Do you know what that feels like? To know that your father’s a lech and your new mother was literally a whore? You were in the harem; you of all people know I could have bedded her there myself and no one would have batted an eye. Worse, she’ll probably outlive me. She’ll remain on the throne the entire time, now that father is gone.

All the time I spent, treating with nobles, making promises, accepting oaths, preparing for when I would need to rule – she’s done none of that. Suddenly, put her on a chair and all the nobles can’t be bothered to remember their oaths. What they promised to me, they give to her.

It’s not worth trying to poison her, of course. She has a food tester – heh, well, a new one, now. And her bodyguard, though I think I might be able to turn her if I tried, is but the last in many circles of defense. My father may not have been wise, but he was clever, and he loved her oh so much. I heard about it endlessly you know. I did hire an assassin once, but there was no point in it. Oh, she’s still around. It aggravates Xerith so to know that I’m having an affair with one of the Silent Knives.

The night of the meteor, though – now that was something else. Something I had never felt before. You’ve heard rumors that Xerith is Anathema? Oh, it’s true. And so am I.

No, don’t run. You’re safe in here. Just as long as you stay with me. I promise nothing bad will happen to you. You’re not the one keeping me from the throne. And even then – perhaps the whore can keep my throne a bit longer. She wants to build an empire? Fine. The larger it is, the more I can take from her.

Now come to bed. I brought you here for a reason.

Appearance

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Most of the people who meet Visho remember his gaze the most. His black eyes are intense, accentuated by a thin, stunning face and peaked eyebrows. He wears his black hair cut close in the royal fashion. His skin is a sepia brown.

Visho’s clothing is exceptionally well-tailored, made anew to fit him each season. He gives away the older pieces to the poor. He carries a simple steel blade. A gleaming suit of steel plate armor stands quietly gathering dust in his training room. He has no intention of going to war himself – and yet, he may need to wear it soon.

Demeanor

Everyone agrees that Visho is an ass. No one says it to his face. He’s ruthless and cunning, but at the same time everyone in a position of power knows that he’s the same petulant brat he was at thirteen. The main difference is that back then, he had outbursts of anger in public. Now his whole life is one subdued tantrum – and he has a personal militia to back it up.

Most of what Visho accomplishes is done via intimidation. Many of his father’s spies are more than happy to take his money, and he knows secrets about many of the city’s rich and powerful that they would prefer remained secret. So someone is dragged out into the street to be executed by Visho’s soldiers, denying their involvement in a matter they swear they knew nothing about… perhaps they’re being honest, but no one can afford to call his bluff.

Intimacies: The throne should be mine (defining), The adoration of the Shirakhi people (major), Katavi will be my beloved queen (major), No forgiveness (major), Ask for nothing.

Capabilities

Visho was gifted with a lithe body, sharp mind, and handsome face – and, of course, princehood of an entire city-state. He’s parlayed all that into a city-within-the-city that he owns, a network of informants, spies, merchants, and soldiers that are more loyal to him than to the crown. (It’s never enough for him.)

With his exaltation as a Night caste, all of that has been firmly locked down. Xerith may have taken more direct power, but he expanded his into the less savory parts of the city. Socialize is Visho’s supernal attribute. Everything he suggests just sounds so reasonable now – at least when he initially says it. He sows doubt and discord. Anyone who argues against him finds that they’ve talked themselves into pariah status. He finds it difficult to move directly against Xerith, but easier to outmaneuver her

All this is made the easier now that he can see into his allies’ souls and find out just what it is they want from him. He finds it trivial to string together scraps of information into blackmail material. His old vizier’s advice on the duties of the investigator finally make sense! If only he had gained some introspection along the way.

If it comes to a fight, Prince Visho has been trained by several exasperated tutors in the sword and bow. He has learned enough to acquit himself well. In addition, his bodyguard Ruan is always there beside him.

Supporting Characters

  • Aria, his latest concubine. Pretty, agreeable, protective.
  • Jalex, the leader of his troops. Ambitious, punctual, receptive.
  • Kelsha, who handles his money for him. Greedy, anxious, refined.
  • Iuweth, his main informant amongst the Wathia. Apprehensive, haughty, restless.

Questions

  • Would Visho work with someone who opposed the Queen? If so, how deeply would he enter into a conspiracy against her?
  • Would Visho work with the Dragon-Blooded if they promised him the kingdom?

Tamosh, The Herdsman

Background

Oh, you’re worried they’re going to put me away before the revolt comes? Why – because I’m some dirty, stupid, cheating, Wathia cow-fucker who can’t hold his money or his liquor? I may have been out in the sun too long, but you, my friend, you don’t know the half of it.

Yes, I am a cheat. I play cards against the Shirakhi guards every night. They leave thinking that one of them won everything and blew it all before morning. When I sell cattle, I count them out change and they end up owing me more.

Am I a thief? I steal cattle from one woman’s pens at night, chisel the leg-irons off, and sell them to her cousin just to see them fight. Then I paint the iron and sell it, too. If you’re Wathia and you want to buy an iron ward that looks like clay, I’m the only man for seventy miles. I’m not just a thief, I’m a fucking rich thief.

Am I stupid? Please. Who comes away with the money here. I don’t even keep the silver. You can owe me. Except for Shirakhi. They can pay cash. The revolt has been happening this whole time.

I saw how my grandparents were when I grew up. They said life had beaten them down. Life, nothing. The Shirakhi beat them down. What I do, I do for their ghosts, so they can have what they earned.

The night the star fell, I learned… so much. So many ways to make the Shirakhi pay. Things I never would even have thought of before. You want me to join you before they catch me? I tell you I cannot. Fucking. Wait.

The Shirahki can go ahead and tell me that I’m uneducated, I’m untrustworthy, I’m violent. They made me this way. Let them cross the damned street when they see me.

I’m coming for them. I’m going to be the devil they tell their children about.

Appearance

tamosh-500

Tamosh’s face is very expressive, showing those emotions he chooses to portray. Thin brown eyes constantly scrutinize the world. His neck is thin, and a bead necklace conceals a scar from when a soldier strangled him nearly to death as a young man. His black hair curls tight to his head. His skin is a dark brown with reddish undertones, commonplace in this region.

He dresses in layers, partially because he is usually outside in the cold nights, but also to hide the things he steals. His clothing is usually bright reds, blues, and purples. He typically has several necklaces, including some with copper-plated iron charms.

Demeanor

Tamosh puts on an act around the Shirakhi. He’s the foolish herdsman, or the lost drunkard, or the trader who just loves those Shirakhi buyers. His first priority is to be forgettable. The Shirakhi usually do forget him. In those moments, he’s just another stereotype to them. Respectful; troublesome, but not worth bothering with.

When he’s most truly relaxed is when he lets people see his innate suspicion: eyeing everyone around him, speaking freely, showing the disrespect he carries inside. Those who see the transition may get a bit of whiplash as he goes from happy, friendly, and joking to serious and angry.

In his dealings with spirits, Tamosh is still a bit new. He recognizes that he can’t just pull one over on a weather lord or the queen of the grains, so he tries to show true respect there. However, he’s still running the game. He’s likely to write checks he can’t cash.

Intimacies: Fuck the Shirakhi (defining), Separate fools from their money (major), Don’t let assholes get to you (major), They’re all assholes.

Capabilities

Tamosh is a smooth-talking, handsome devil who lies as easily as he walks. He’s run every sort of scam there is and is looking forward to inventing a few more. He’s not a Night caste, though – he’s Twilight.  He’s a quick-thinking jack of all trades, having picked up a little bit of twenty different trades in his time.

With Larceny as his supernal ability, Tamosh is a nightmare for the Shirakhi security forces. No one thinks he’s suspicious. Locks and doors can still give him trouble, but not people. Evidence simply disappears around him. Not only can he steal things that he can’t even touch, his victims forget they ever owned what he steals. Above all else, he is a criminal mastermind. Memories from previous lives point out where his plans might fail, and suggest alternatives he never considered.

Unexpectedly, Tamosh also became a shaman on the night of the meteor. The language of the Old Realm sprang into his head unbidden. He can see spirits, talk to them, call them to manifest, make bargains with them, and even strike them. He doesn’t know where this came from, and he doesn’t trust it, but he’ll still use it. For him, spirits are just another means to the end of the Shirakhi.

Tamosh fights bare-handed. He strikes first, but most often seeks to disarm his opponent. The instant embarrassment of drawing one’s sword and having it taken away has ended many a fight in his favor.

Supporting Characters

  • Selejer, a fellow grifter in Shirakh. Envious, unsympathetic, odd.
  • Hevath the younger, the Shirakhi blacksmith who handles the iron for him. Optimistic, verbose, pious.
  • Six Sides to Suffering, a spirit of salt that is bound to his anima. Foul-mouthed, focused, pained.
  • Shaladeth, a Shirakhi captain trying to chase him down. Adaptable, professional, fussy.

Questions

  • Where does Tamosh draw the line? Who would he hesitate to hurt in his quest for revenge?
  • What sorts of deals does Tamosh offer the spirits he talks to?