Laughter in Chains

Background

Gather round you sallow shades and hear my tale! For the Neverborn speak to me and through me, and make no mistake, they call to you!

I have ever heard the voice of death. I was surrounded by it from the first days, which are in a past that none can retrieve, as lost as my name. I have always been Laughter in Chains; there was no before and it is my solemn oath to death itself that there shall be none after.

I came here on the orders of my lord, who demands the lands of the living in tribute for an eternity of faithful service unrewarded. My path was lit by the sign of the Meteor, a constellation of the world beneath reflected in the sky of Creation. What better auspice could I expect? Under such a potent sign I invaded the royal palace, prepared to strike terror into the young queen, to drive her fairly mad with fear, and thus to begin my overthrow of this land. I would drag it down, down into the service of the dead.

And yet NO! I was defeated! Roundly thrown from my path by the blade of one of the Sun’s deluded Chosen! Oh, the agony! The shame! If I had not protected myself with the ceremonial armor of the guttersnipe who dwell in this kingdom’s pathetic hovels, I might have perished there – for what little worth such perishing has for one such as myself.

In my retreat I was unpursued – safe. I found a cave, and in this cave I found the sleep of the worthy. Some of my kind have said that in sleep they do not dream. I find my dreams full and long. The voices of the Neverborn whisper through them, echoing, cajoling me, speaking to me of what might be and what must.

Oh, what a reward they promised that night.

The Neverborn have told me that, if I am clever and careful, I may gain the ear of these many Chosen that have appeared here, and that if I do, a new Deathlord may rise to shake Creation with their steps. Their voice will echo through the hills, and the gods themselves will shudder and turn from the world. And I – I will be the dark mother who brought such a thing into being. The Neverborn would shower me with rewards, and the long respect of the grave. I would be first among the chosen of Death.

I shudder to imagine the consequences of failure.

Appearance

laughter-in-chains-500

Pale skin, almost as on a corpse. A thick black stripe across thin blue eyes. An unknown character drawn in brush strokes on the forehead. Her straight brown hair is tied back with many loops of a thin silver chain.

Laughter’s armor, Flame Turned Black, is overwrought with vein-like working marks, grotesque faces, cruel spikes, and steel chains. It cackles softly at all times. When she speaks she often pauses as if waiting for an audience to react; the armor is typically silent then, and she speaks on, frustrated and annoyed. The armor can take on a myriad of sizes and forms depending on her needs, from a shirt of thin and silent scales to a massive suit of articulated plate.

Demeanor

Laughter speaks as if she were on stage. For those who are likewise dramatically inclined she can be captivating, but many people simply find her odd, or even suspect (correctly) that she is unhinged. She’ll whisper, she’ll make grand gestures, she’ll stare off into the crowd. Passers-by are typically so befuddled that they’ll assume she’s not a threat.

In fact, this is her greatest strength: that others underestimate her. She is fairly open with information, and if it’s clear that she’s not showing her full hand, well, neither do the people she talks with. Everyone assumes that once they dismiss her, she’s gone from the scene forever, when she really just moves on to the next person and spreads her poison there.

Intimacies: I must live forever (defining), Might makes right (major),

Capabilities

Laughter’s voice is bizarrely compelling. Her eyes barely move as she speaks with someone, focusing on their eyes continually as she rants and gesticulates. She is strong and graceful, though Flame Turned Black does weigh her down if she ceases her dramatic narrative. She is smart enough to create backup plans, but not always good ones. She relies on raw power and hidden allies to see her out of difficult situations.

Raw power is something she has in abundance. Laughter in Chains is of the Dusk caste, with Melee as her supernal attribute. She wields a long, thin daiklaive of moonsilver taken from the corpse of a silver-haired barbarian. With it she is fantastically well-defended – faster than the eye, colder than the wind, sharper than a teacher’s glare. She can strike all around her at once, or parry a hundred arrows. She has little raw striking power, but the sharpness of her blade more than makes up for that.

Her armor, Flame Turned Black, will defend her as well, turning blows and absorbing impacts. It is shape-shifting and self-repairing. Most impressively, it can melt or burn mortal weapons that strike it, making them less effective or harming those that strike her barehanded.

Most of Laughter’s other charms are related to ghosts: finding them, trapping them, forcing them into service, drawing power from them, making bargains with them. She can draw them into physical form or banish them until the next sunset. She doesn’t pay much attention to the study of this power, but she’s done it so much over the years that what she does know has become second nature.

Supporting Characters

  • Old Shamash, ghostly sommelier. Senile, indolent, stuffy.
  • Henetha, captain of her extensive personal guard. Imperious, cocky, pseudo-intellectual.
  • Mad Xudo, a rage-maddened and mutated ghost that she keeps in a pendant around her neck. Mindless engine of destruction.
  • Lefa, a fisherman who knows where her lair is. Simple, content, afraid.

Questions

  • Did Laughter once work for a Deathlord, or did she always take her orders directly from the Neverborn?
  • Does Laughter remember being a Solar? Who was she during the First Age?
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