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

zirana-500

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?
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