Stratus Cathak, the Treasure Hunter

Background

The Godsfall Crater is, to this day, a frightening and unloved place. The clouds above part to avoid blowing over it. Batteries lose charge. Gunpowder refuses to catch. Metal rusts and oil curdles. Strange things dwell in the pit, said to be the impossible ghosts of shattered deities. Many believe that, but for the destruction of the Luminous Godkiller Weapon, this is the fate that would have befallen the entirety of the Blessed Continent.

Everyone else assumed that this place was utterly ruined beyond saving. Stratus Cathak came to find out. Young and alone, with the gift of foresight to guide him and keep him safe, he descended the walls of the crater and plumbed through the shifting maze of black stone that grew at its base. There he found black metal like none in the Splinter, bones infused with runes that pulled in light, fireproof funerary shrouds so thin they could be folded into a thimble, and still stranger things. He reasoned that anything that had survived the Holocaust of the Gods would be worth a king’s ransom.

The disappointing part is that there were no kings left who could properly ransom such things. Still, he made a small fortune selling them to traders and technologists. He assumed he’d be able to retire young – high risk, high reward. And yet he kept going back, again and again. He couldn’t stop himself. When he decided the crater was tapped out (or got scared enough of what he found), he moved on to abandoned Great Family manses, broken-down mansions of the gods on the Spire, and the ruins of the Imperial City.

He was stopping by some distant cousins to rest (and perhaps flaunt a little wealth) when he met Fulmine. She and their cousin Calcite were after an airship, of all things, and where couldn’t he go with something like that? What treasures could possibly lie beyond his reach then?

Appearance

Stratus Cathak 500

Stratus has light brown skin, brown eyes, and black hair. His face is gaunt – not underfed, but definitely thin. He tends to have dark rings under his eyes. He looks… pursued.

He dresses well, but in clothing that he’s taken from many different places. With silk, leather, cotton, and brass all at once, his eclectic look doesn’t always work. He manages to pull it off most of the time regardless. He wears earrings, and carries both goggles and a gas mask, a fact that strikes most people as odd when they notice it.

Demeanor

Stratus exudes bravado and snooty disdain. A surprisingly small amount of this is directed at the people around him. He saves most of it for the world itself. Still, he’s often unpleasant to be around. He’s the sort of person who can address you honorably and kindly and still leave you feeling like he thinks he’s superior to you. He’ll interrupt anyone and change the topic of conversation whenever he feels like it.

If there’s one thing for which he shows a healthy amount of respect, it’s how badly the world can mess you up, whether you’re careful or not. Put Stratus into a field situation and he’s immediately all about business. He also drops the snotty noble persona when he’s fast-talking his way into or out of something. He’s a good actor and impersonates others well.

Intimacies: The world owes me and it hasn’t paid up yet (defining), Don’t trust anyone who hasn’t proven themselves (major), Fulmine should stop telling stories and start making them, Calcite needs some serious help
Catchphrase: Don’t believe your eyes.

Capabilities

As an explorer and treasure hunter, Stratus knows how to handle himself in ruins. He can set up ropes, check for bad air, and read a variety of older codes. He’s athletic and has an excellent memory for places and words. He’s also good at staying still and quiet when danger comes by. His first choice is always to talk his way out of a bad situation, and he’s quite good at that. If words won’t do, he’d rather sneak than fight. He’s more proud of being clever than of being powerful.

Stratus has hauled multiple artifacts from the depths of various ruins and chasms. He has goggles with lenses that let him see spirits. When he’s going into a fight, he wears a filter breather that not only purifies the air, but helps him to respire extra essence. Most frightening (if others only knew) are a pair of earrings that he found at the bottom of Godsfall. They whisper with the Neverborn’s dark insights, words that never should have been spoken in this world.

In addition to these stolen wonders, he has a gun created for him by Calcite. It shoots a jet of scalding steam out to short range, but also creates a cloud of mist that obscures others’ vision. The steam cloud gets in Stratus’ way as well, but he has other ways to find his opponents. If he needs to he can also fight with a sword and with more traditional pistols.

Stratus’ particular version of future-sight points out opportunities for stealth and misdirection. He’ll know where a watchman is going to be looking, and how to get them to look somewhere else. He’ll know who is willing to take a bribe, and who is easy to fast-talk. It doesn’t feed him the right words to say, but he’s pretty good at that himself.

Connections

  • Several members of the Karal Family know Stratus as an honorable individual. This is part of his plan to plunder the ruins of Castle Karal for Karal Volan’s legendary blade Prowcutter.
  • The new gods. Several have come to the homes of their predecessors to find important things… missing. They’re often displeased.
  • The crew of No Memory are just about fed up with Stratus’ attitude. They’re not ready to throw him overboard, but they’d gladly leave him at the next port if they could convince Fulmine to do so.

Questions

  • How often is Stratus wearing the earrings that carry the Neverborn’s whispers? How far have they gotten with him? What secrets do they have to give?
  • What made Stratus such an ass?

Fate: Choice

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