Juri, the Cheat

Background

What is it like to live without regret?

For many years Juri looked on at other people and regretted her own state. She wished that she were taller when she saw a lanky rich woman, or shorter when she saw a petite young girl in love. She wished to be smarter when she was tricked, or more foolish when she saw someone kindly take pity on an oaf. The voice of the songstress, the silence of the hunter, arm of the woodsman, the sickly legs of the well-loved ancient. Juri lamented all that she had and wanted for that which she did not.

She stole. She cheated. From her own perspective, she had nothing. No mother, any more. No father, ever. Just a rotten sister who was nearly as bad as she. If she took that which was not hers, well, she deserved something, and by her actions this was hers now.

When Argent and Juri left their homes, Juri was sure that the northeast would bring them the things they had always wanted. At the very least, seeing new faces meant that she met people who didn’t realize all the good things they had, and how easily they could be taken. Eventually she began to find a fair amount of glee in what she was doing. She didn’t just cheat and steal because she needed to; she did it because she loved it.

You can’t go around ruining peoples’ days all the time, but by the dragons Juri tries. She often poses as a plain village woman, of varying age. She’ll do this to play mean tricks on people, like telling them that harmonicas call deer, or that fish love it when you stomp around. She’ll also use the classic spirit trick of appearing before visitors as a despicable crone and testing their hospitality. Such legends are so common across Creation that Juri can get away with nearly anything. She has taken travelers’ belongings, even their horses, from right in front of them without retaliation. By the time they realize she’s not a local goddess, she’s long gone, laughing all the way home.

Juri would like to tell you what it’s like to have no regrets. If she continues this way, perhaps some day she will be able to.

Appearance

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Juri has the same cream-colored skin as her sister, but well-coiffed auburn hair instead of Argent’s blue-white. Her eye is a brilliant blue. She wears heavier dresses in dark colors, with pastel ruffles. She paints her forehead golden and dyes her lips red.

Juri currently has just a single eye. Her other one is in Argent’s head after Juri lost at gambling and couldn’t cheat her way out. This, more than anything, keeps people from realizing that she and Argent are twins.

Demeanor

Scornful, brash, and argumentative. Juri is a risk-taker, both in her personal life and in her gambling. She regularly refers to her “magical luck.” Argent rolls her eyes at this, but Juri has completely convinced the natives of Brown Ford that she is a supernatural entity. She accepts gifts without giving thanks. She is suspicious and superstitious herself, just like the villagers who follow her. She has her cult browbeat the spirits of the Glen into doing as she says.

Juri openly scorns her sister. She says that Argent “puts on airs” and pretends to be more righteous and mighty than she is. She doesn’t even use her real name! Juri won’t undercut Argent to her face (at least not in front of others), but she’ll definitely badmouth her sister to her cult.

For all her callous nature, Juri misses her mama just as much as Argent does. When she speaks with the spirits, she swears them to secrecy before asking after her long-lost owner. Otherwise they might tell the others how a tear ran down from her eye. No need to ruin her tough image.

Juri’s deepest fear is that Argent might disappear some day, the way Mama did.

Intimacies: I miss my mama (defining), I deserve everything (defining), Argent is all I have left (major), Argent is a stuck-up bitch (major), Take everything you have time to take.

Capabilities

Juri is a passable gambler, but she wins far more often than others of her skill. She’s not supernaturally lucky – she just cheats. She cheats very, very well. No one can follow her hands. She can tell when someone else is cheating, and isn’t afraid to call them out for it. She can even tell when someone’s about to pull an underhanded trick in a fight, like disarming or distracting or throwing sand in someone’s eyes. Those tricks won’t work very well against her.

Though cursed to see the ugly truth about herself, Juri always knew that she was hurting others with her pranks. Now she can tell who to prank even better. She can find even the ghosts of the dead and wheedle them into foolishness with the living.

Juri’s cult does not worship as fervently as Argent’s. Instead, they are a more practical bunch. Juri finds offerings left in secret places for her, primarily of money and drink. To be honest, they’re less of a cult and more of a particularly religious thieves’ guild. The local spirits obey Juri because their own worshippers are intimidated by hers. Juri uses her magical sight to find out where these spirits hate one another, or fear one another, and then leans on that until she gets what she wants.

Like Argent, Juri uses blackmail and the heavenly hierarchy to get the local spirits to do as she demands. Rather than calling the spirits outright, she sets up deals wherein her health is a condition of the deal. Those who attack her or even insult her will find the world itself turning against them. The more danger she’s in, the harder ghosts, spirits, and elementals will work to protect her.

Supporting Characters

  • Yonda Lackhand, the leader of Juri’s cult. Watchful, frugal, adaptable.
  • Uthrin Greyeyes, who called Juri a foul witch in public. Pushy, outspoken, deceased.
  • Kithra Miller, Uthrin’s daughter, who is building a conspiracy against Juri. Angry, honorable, realistic.
  • Valthoth Courier, who wants in on Juri’s scam. Prim, hardworking, resourceful.

Questions

  • What’s Juri’s final goal? Wealth? Control of the valley? More?
  • How far will Juri go to gain power here?
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Argent, the Gambler

Background

The village discovered by Ishowo and her band is not the only place that humans live in the Glen. A constellation of hamlets is scattered across the valley. In some of these, the more superstitious villagers have come to revere a pair of odd beings with strange powers. Argent and Juri have built a tiny empire amongst these settlements.

Many years ago Argent lived with her twin sister Juri in a hut along a mighty river. The two of them were mocked by the people who lived near them, though they did not know it at first. They had few skills that would make them a living, so they lived on gambling. A few obols here, some quarters there, enough to buy rice and meat. Argent tried to run a gambling house herself, but Juri couldn’t cook, and Argent couldn’t bring the people in, and it was a disaster. People would treat them nicely to their faces and laugh behind their backs. The twin failures.

What really made Argent feel awful was when the others came through. Those who looked as she and her sister did, with jointed limb and painted face. The same villagers who looked down on the twins respected these newcomers. That was what made Argent realize that it wasn’t their bodies that brought shame on them. It was their actions. She became bitter.

After much arguing – which is how they made every decision – the two of them left the riverside town and traveled to the northeast. Downriver things were dangerous: dragons and magic, hardship and slavery. The headwaters of the river promised new people who had never heard of them, never learned to hate them. Argent thought it was the safest bet.

The two of them kept moving from village to village. They became better at their games. Smarter. Craftier. Trickier. Eventually they came to Pinedeep, where Ramia and Ivy lived, and proceeded to bamboozle the folk there out of nearly everything they owned.

That was when they truly began to pay for their poor behavior. They are by no means done.

Appearance

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Argent has cream-colored skin and yellow eyes. She puts a purple blush on her face, between the silver paint that covers her forehead, jaws, and neck. Her hair is platinum blonde with a blue tint in the back. She wears low-cut blue dresses with silver bells and silver trim. She has a handful of brightly-colored, ostentatious hairpieces that she rotates through. Her feet are often bare, as she demands that the spirits clear stick and stones from her path.

Currently, Argent has three eyes, having won one of them from Juri in a game of cards. The two of them had more ordinary forms many years ago, but Ramia cursed them for their bad behavior. Tired of seeing the villagers be victimized, Ramia wished that Argent and Juri could “see the truth about themselves.” Now they can trade eyes – and ears as well. They are a bit scared of what might happen if they wagered anything else in their games. There is only so much of oneself that one is willing to lose, after all.

Demeanor

Calculating, manipulative, and cutthroat. Argent conceals much of this behind her poker face. She’ll act kind towards her cult, imperious toward visitors to Brown Ford, and dismissive toward anyone in power. If you’ve got a skill, Argent thinks it’s not all that great. If you put a lot of work into something, Argent says, “Well, at least you tried.” If she’s talking to you at all, it’s because she thinks she can gain more advantage that way than by pointedly ignoring you.

Argent is fed up with her sister, and especially with Juri’s effect on her own reputation. Argent wants to be recognized for her brilliance. She’s skilled! She’s intelligent! She’s a smooth-talker! But no, all that people see about her is that she’s strongarming people with her supernatural powers, just like her sister Juri. Just another low-class thief. Well, Argent is sick and tired of that.

Argent and her sister deeply miss the giantess for whom they were made. They never talk about it in public, but between each other they talk about the wonderful old days when they had love and joy and purpose. They call her “mama” and they’d do anything to find her again. When they talk to the spirits, they ask after the giants, hoping to hear some hint of where they might have gone and when they might return.

Intimacies: I miss my mama (defining), People deserve to lose what they can’t hold (defining), Juri is all I have left (major), Juri really pisses me off (major), I deserve to be worshipped

Capabilities

Argent is a brilliant and skilled gambler. She knows the odds for every hand or toss in every game. She’s also adept at counting cards and spotting cheats. This leads to no end of argument with Juri, who insists that Argent is falsely accusing her and is just a sore loser. (It doesn’t help that Argent is, indeed, a sore loser.)

Ramia’s “curse” actually turned out to be a blessing for Argent and Juri. They can see the truth about each other (which is so distasteful that they ignore it), but they can also see the truth about many other things. They can see spirits, ghosts, and Raksha. They can see into the hearts of the people, making it easier to manipulate and blackmail them.

Argent’s cult funnels prayers and essence to her every day. It is also quite widespread, having branches in Pinedeep as well as the larger townships like Stonewall. Argent traded shares of this essence (fairly useless to her) to some of the weaker local spirits, allowing them to upset the balance of the spirit court and gain the power they always wanted. In return, they order their servitors to obey Argent, lest she choke off the flow of essence and return them to their former sorry state. Argent can command the spirits to carry her in the air, to point things out to her, to make the ground shake or the wind blow. The Glen’s plentiful nature spirits carry her about on a litter that seems to float about a foot off the ground. Everything she can do depends on what spirits are actually nearby and able to hear her, so Argent is careful to have the spirits whisper to her which of their friends are nearby and what they might do.

Supporting Characters

  • Jona Barnland, the leader of Argent’s cult. Intrepid, stoic, cutthroat.
  • Erdlin Lackwise, who keeps challenging Argent to games in an effort to win his money back. Desparate, compulsive, lazy.
  • Vestia Shoemaker, who suspects that Argent’s “magical powers” are a sham. Observant, jaded, crabby.
  • Koku Snaretyer, who is looking for someone who can beat Argent and “take her down a peg.” Inventive, coquettish, snob.

Questions

  • Maska would hate Argent’s tactics with the local spirits, but also be taken aback by seeing someone else using his own social tactics. How will he react when he meets Argent?

Ivy, Strange Elemental

Background

Ivy is a creature of magic. There is nothing quite like her in the world.

Once she was an earth elemental. She groomed the land around wild plants, piling up the good and fertile earth so that the wood could grow from it. Perhaps you have seen her tiny piles of earth around newly-sprouted trees or crops. She existed this way for timeless ages.

Then she was poisoned.

Ramia found Ivy dying of the poison that coursed through her veins. She could not be cured – not as she was. Ivy was desperate, feeling that her story had just begun, and agreed to anything that might save her. To accomplish this, Ramia merged her with an air elemental who had tired of existence. Now the two are one. Ramia was separated from the flow of Creation’s elemental essence and born as a new being.

Or perhaps she was a doll and Ramia found her and cleaned her off. Ramia says both of these things are true. Ivy thinks that’s a little ridiculous.

Ivy is still trying to find out about herself. Currently she lives with Ramia. She doesn’t need to eat, just a little sunlight and water once in a while, so she’s a fairly unobtrusive roommate. Everything about human existence (she’s convinced she’s human now) is new to her.

Visitors to Ramia’s spirit house will see Ramia herself, meditating, four-armed and purple; Ivy floating through the air or wading knee-deep through solid earth, pushing things along or playing with random household objects; and a dozen hand-sized mannikins of rope, wood, or stone climbing all over the furniture. Growing up in such a strange environment has made Ivy a little strange herself – not that she needed any help with that.

Appearance

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Most of the time, Ivy looks like a small winged sprite. Orange veins course up her pale wings. Her hair is so red that it’s almost purple. Red-orange spots trace across her cheeks and upper nose, larger than freckles. Her skin is pale white. She doesn’t wear shoes.

However, Ivy is not limited to her air elemental appearance. She can alter her size by drawing on her earthen nature, becoming a massive, eight-foot-tall version of herself made of dirt and pink granite, or she can draw on the element of air to shrink and float. She is comfortable at both sizes and anything between.

Ivy loves colorful gauzy dresses and hair bangles. Luckily for her, her clothing and jewelry scale with her when she changes size. Mari will no doubt be looking for a way to monetize that.

Demeanor

Slow, watchful, and introverted. Ivy retains much of her personality from when she was an earth elemental. After her transformation she has become somewhat more open to change and compromise than most people. She can hold aside her judgment and ponder things from a multitude of angles. This makes her seem quiet and slow, when really she enjoys being a prankster. Some things do come from the air elemental side, after all.

Once Ivy does make up her mind about something, she’s unlikely to change it. Luckily the only people she currently holds grudges against are Argent and Juri. The two of them have been lying and cheating their way to riches in Chestnut Ford, and have even managed to bamboozle the local spirit court. Ivy would love to see them get their comeuppance.

Ivy may no longer be a true elemental, but she still cares a great deal about the land here. If there were to be war between Ishowo and Salome, it would be very destructive. Many trees would be cut down. Cliffs might be blasted to create avalanches. Ivy will be very cross with anyone who tries to start a fight.

Intimacies: The Glen must stay safe (defining), Argent and Juri are rotten people (major), Learn everything about the world (major), The people of the glen are also good I guess, Consider all the angles before acting.

Capabilities

Ivy has aspects of both earth and air. She can call on either of these as occasions require. She can grow large and powerful, or shrink to the size of a mouse. Her smaller forms draw on the element of air, and can fly smoothly and effortlessly. Her larger forms can swim through the ground without a trace of their passage. Ishowo is quite interested in using Ivy as a scout when Salome’s forces come marching – she should be able to get into nearly any area without being noticed.

Ivy has a few other elemental talents as well. She’s not able to dematerialize, but she can flow through small openings as air or walk straight through stone walls. She can hide things underground, or call up deposits of a particular metal. She can raise or calm the winds, hide perfectly in snow, and lower the local temperature. Those are about the limits of her ability, though. She won’t be creating earthen bridges or calling up a tornado.

When pressed into a fight, Ivy’s primary tactic is to float up high as her air-self, grow into her earth-self, and drop on an enemy. She then reconstitutes from the ground, and reduces herself to fly up and attack again. She can also grow up to a tremendous size and swat at her enemies, though she is so slow in that form that she is mostly useful against buildings and siege equipment (not that she’s ever seen a catapult). She’s not particularly accurate with any attack, to be honest, but she at least has the element of surprise on her side.

Ivy is friendly enough, but knows so little about basic human life that she can’t help but making some social gaffes. Luckily none of these have ended in disaster yet. The locals just think that she’s unbearably rude.

Supporting Characters

  • Fissure, an earth elemental who claims to have known her in the old days. Calm, gruff, impolite.
  • Weldo Cornhusker, who calls her an abomination and wants her turned out. Impudent, boring, competent.
  • Calnan Sower, who thinks she might be able to help with his farm. Cheerful, talkative, tenacious.
  • Wilona Plowerschild, who is fascinated by Ivy. Curious, slack-jawed, faithful.

Questions

  • Who poisoned Ivy? Where was she at the time, and what was she doing?
  • Would Ivy fight Ishowo rather than see the villages go to war? Does she realize how much worse it would be for the villagers if Salome won?

Ramia, the Shaman

Background

A young giant drops her doll in the forest. Her parents call for her, she runs to them. The doll is remembered hours later, in tears; too far away to go back and recover it. Tremendous leaves cover it and seasons pass. The Wyld flows in and ebbs out, and the modern age comes. The doll awakens.

Ramia has lived in Pinedeep for many years. The villagers know her well, or at least recognize her well and call on her skills often. As a shaman she is a dual being: part earth, part spirit. Specifically, the earth is dollmaker’s clay. She lives in a spirit house with the hybrid elemental Ivy. She knows that she grew up in the Northeast as a strange orphan daughter, taken in by parents who never knew what to make of her. She knows that she saved Ivy from a death by poisoning nearly a decade ago. She also knows that she is a doll, who awoke into consciousness just a few years ago with these stories already fully enshrined in her mind. To Ramia, both of these are true. Both happened, both are valid. Ramia is comfortable with contradiction.

Recently Ishowo and her band entered Pinedeep (or perhaps were created from nothing on its edge). Ramia recognized them immediately (she had never seen them before). This was a moment she had foreseen from the moment she awakened. She witnessed the disagreement between Salome and Ishowo, and came to speak with the band after Salome stormed off (did that happen before or after they were created?). Ramia remembered Salome (she had never met her), and knew (she guessed from Salome’s anger) how she would raise an army to kill the villagers here. She impressed on Ishowo how important these people were to her, and offered to help her if she could keep the glen from coming to violence. Ishowo agreed.

Now Ramia acts as local expert and spiritual mentor to Ishowo’s people. She does them favors – mending cracks, pointing out influential people – and in return, perhaps they will handle a few of the things that bother her as well. For instance, a pair of strange sisters have set up in another nearby village, Chestnut Ford, and are manipulating the people and spirits there. Ramia would love if someone could tell them to knock it off. Most important, though, is that they work to end the strife with Salome before it becomes unmanageable. Ramia wants no wars here.

Appearance

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Ramia’s skin is stained purple all over from years of applying hallucinogenic mushroom paste to her body. She claims that it is also because she is made of a particular type of clay. She often draws patterns on her body to attract the attention of spirits. Her eyes are a bright orange, her hair a bright white. Purple sheep’s horns grow through the hair. To cap it all off, she has four arms.

As if the rest of her appearance weren’t unusual enough, Ramia has a small foot-long dragon-shaped pet, which curls up in the hood of her cloak when she leaves the house.

Demeanor

Smiling, enigmatic, and a little disconnected. Ramia often appears to be daydreaming, even if she’s listening very intently. Once again, both of these things may be true. She pays attention to both the real world and the spirit world. She’s not so much drifting and dreaming as switching between sight and second sight. She’s nervous about missing something and failing to understand the world around her.

Ramia helps others and plans for the future because she’s quite nervous about it. She was abandoned at a young age in both of her stories. She craves stability. For that reason, Ramia is very protective of this land and its people. She feels connected to it, and suspects that her local upbringing and her long time covered by the leaves of the Glen’s trees gave her an affinity for this place. Anyone who threatens the people here will face her anger. Those who help defend the people are taken under her wing.

Intimacies: Help mortals and spirits coexist (defining), Ivy still needs my help (major), The glen and its people are my responsibility (major), Argent and Juri need to get lost (major), We are all both spirit and flesh

Capabilities

Ramia’s primary skills are as a shaman. She applies a paste of psychoactive mushrooms to her skin, which allows her to see and interact with spirits. Most of her work is with smaller and weaker spirits such as elementals, forest sprites, and the short-lived spirits born of strong emotions. These ephemeral beings are often eager to prolong their existences. Ramia crafts tiny homunculi for them which house and protect their essence as they stumble around the world. They can speak to others, fetch objects, carry messages, and generally do what one might expect a living doll to do. (Siean will find the fractal nature of this situation amusing, if she ever meets Ramia.)

More rarely, Ramia strikes bargains with ghosts, small gods, and more powerful elementals. If their goals align with hers (or at least aren’t repugnant to her), she’ll help them as long as they help her. Her anxiety about working with powerful spirits is well-earned, however, and she does this only rarely.

Ramia’s shamanic talent is instinctual, but that doesn’t mean that she didn’t have to learn a lot to use it properly. She knows the names of hundreds of local spirits, and is familiar with the hierarchy of Yu-Shan. She studies herbs and botanical extracts, to better act as the local healer. Ramia’s also good at connecting those who know with those who need to learn. She makes sure that Margery has a steady flow of stories; that Maska meets the elder men who will help him grow up a little; that Koyo finds responsible people and Ishowo begins to see more than just people in need in her life.

In a fight, Ramia depends on her homunculi. (She has four arms, but she isn’t exactly a trained grappler.) The dolls can swarm opponents and drag them down, or distract them, or tear at important parts. They’re often quite tough, made of strong rope and twine. She keeps a few that are made of sharper things – glass or an old set of knives – in case someone might really try to hurt her.

Supporting Characters

  • Elaida Stonecarver, the only one in the valley, who makes some of her granite dolls. Argumentative, gullible, respectful.
  • Benton Weaver, who provides Ramia with rope and twine. Aspiring, hard-working, bossy.
  • Oliaea Forager, who encounters Ramia looking for mushrooms from time to time. Humble, careful, secretive.
  • Quan Mason, who is perhaps a little too interested in Ramia. Obsessive, capricious, self-conscious.

Questions

  • Where did Ramia’s pet dragon come from? Is it connected to Sia and Mari’s mother? Is it part-elemental? Perhaps a castoff from the Wyld? Is it just a lizard?

Maska, the Wolf Lord

Background

What people know about the gods is not always true.

In one village, it is known that Maska, the evil Wolf Lord, tries endlessly to kill Elita the Monarch Deer, protector of the world and kind benefactor to its people. In another, Maska is a trickster who pulls people away from those they love, while Elita teaches them the stories of togetherness and support. In still others, Maska is a dangerous hero, he who would face the armies of the Fair Folk while peaceful but frightened Elita runs away to hide. People simplify the world, and project their own feelings onto the gods, and remember jokes that their grandmother told them as if they were truth.

In truth, Elita and Maska are brother and sister. Yes, they fought from time to time, as any siblings would, but they worked together to protect their people and teach them to survive as best they could. Was Maska a bit of a joker? Was Elita too cautious for her own good? Maska tells it that way, at least – but they were family, and they loved one another.

It came as painful news to Maska, then, that Elita lay injured in the forest. A sparrow-spirit told him, and he rushed to her side as the blood dripped from her. Maska saw that Elita was weakened and needed every scrap of power she could get. He also knew that Elita shared her power with her priests. Taking Boral as a priestess, as was destined the next day, would cost her dearly. The only way Maska saw to prevent Elita’s death was to take Boral as his own priestess. Elita passed her debt to Maska, and he fainted from the strain.

When he woke up, Elita was gone. Maska sought her, but could not find her, not in the heavenly city nor in the woods of his people. He sought out Boral, but she rejected him as a tormentor and adversary. He eventually found Ishowo and her people, and joined them to defend the villages of the Glen, on the condition that they would help him find the deer goddess when all was done. He would prefer to seek Elita out on his own, but knows that Boral is his responsibility too. He is too stubborn to leave her on her own.

Appearance

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Maska wears very dramatic clothing: black, high-collared robes that flare around his wolf feet, dark necklaces with large stones, blush for his cheeks and kohl for his large green eyes. People often don’t notice his wolflike hands and feet. His hair is brown with reddish tones. His skin is pale white, and he wears his robes open to emphasize his bare chest.

Demeanor

Boisterous, funny, often sarcastic, Maska is a natural leader. He tried to take leadership of the group by downplaying Ishowo’s skills, and found himself instantly put straight by everyone around him. Ishowo has overlooked his previous asinine behavior because she needs Maska’s initiative and drive right now. She can’t trust Mari the coward or Sia the opportunist to train these villagers. Koyo isn’t bright enough, Margery isn’t strong enough, Ramia’s too nervous and Ivy’s too alien. Ishowo delegates some leadership to Maska because he’s the only one for the job. He’s not used to being trusted – who gives a wolf a job? – but something within him wants to step up to any challenge.

He’s also conflicted. His instincts tell him two different things at once. Save my priestess. Save my sister. Teach these people. Test these people. Life is all a joke. This is all deadly serious. I am just a toy. I am a god. Sometimes he’s even more lost than Boral is. Of course, most of that is his own fault, and he finds that bitterly funny as well.

More than anything, Maska is stubborn. Once he decides that something needs to be done, he’ll try one thing after another to get it done. This tenacity can make him predictable and easily manipulated, but like most trickster gods, he doesn’t take lightly to people manipulating him. It’s bad for the rep.

Intimacies: My sister Elita must be found (defining), Teach my people (defining), You can’t tell me what to do (major), Boral is my responsibility now (major), Everyone needs to loosen up.

Capabilities

As a wolf, Maska is a natural pack hunter. He’ll circle around to strike from behind, nip to distract, grab axe hafts and run away with them, distract people when they’re about to be shot. As much as he’s a diva at home, in combat he’s the ultimate team player.

Maska has a great deal of natural charisma. The villagers enjoy hanging out with him in the chilly evenings as he tells stories around a campfire. He can’t command the instant attention that Ishowo or Margery can, but he forms strong bonds quickly.

Though he is a god, and technically a spirit, Maska lives most of his life in physical form. He loves the feeling of the wind on his face and the ground beneath his feet too much to live as pure spirit. He can still dematerialize, but it takes him great effort.

Maska is particularly good at reading people: knowing what their limits are, what the best way is to approach them, how to get them to trust him.

Supporting Characters

  • Reto Wolfhand, his distant priest. Animated, professional, philanthropic.
  • Enily Rosemaryhand, a would-be worshipper here in the valley. Fretful, alert, goal-oriented.
  • Kewin Herdhand, who doesn’t trust Maska. Petty, forceful, pretentious.
  • Petros Trapperschild, a young child who calls Maska “Puppy!” Loud, fearless, energetic.

Questions

  • What do other gods and spirits think of Maska?
  • Is he really a god, or does he just think he is?

Boral, Wolf Priestess

Background

Boral lived in a village not too far southwest of the Glen. There she was trained to be a priestess of the Monarch Deer, a goddess whom locals saw as the protector of the villages. They would offer solemn prayers when her chosen people (the caribou) walked through, and would eat rabbit and fish and vegetables rather than hunt the sacred animals. When one died, they would not eat it, but burned it as a sacrifice to the Fire Dragon, Lord of Blessed Warmth. Meanwhile, the Wolf Lord was vilified as a raider, an ally of bandits and betrayer of the herd. Boral’s people rarely hunted wolves, but would throw stones at them to cast them out of the village.

Some time ago there was a fight between the Monarch Deer and the Wolf Lord, as there occasionally must be. This time the Wolf Lord was the victor. He claimed his prize: Boral’s service. Instead of becoming a priestess of the deer goddess, she became an unwilling servant of the wolf god on the very eve of her final tests. Her hands and feet were changed. Her teeth sharpened. Her eyes changed color. Her old masters shied away from her, and young children threw stones at her in the streets. She ran from her lands, only to find that everyone else thought she had been tainted by the Wyld.

Eventually the Wolf Lord presented himself to her, and explained more of what had happened. (See Maska’s description for more.) He offered to take her on as a priestess. She rejected the trickster god, fleeing into the forest. There she eventually she ran into Ishowo’s band, only to discover that Maska was already there, already an ally of theirs.

Boral broke down crying from frustration. Margery, kind-hearted, took her in and took care of her. She now works with the rest of Ishowo’s group, but refuses to speak with Maska. She doesn’t know what to do, and has nowhere else to go.

Appearance

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Boral has pale skin and narrow, yellow eyes. Her grey hair has traces of other colors. Margery has taken up a small collection from the villagers and supplied her with a few richly colored robes. A necklace with a small antler marks her love for the Monarch Deer.

As she falls more firmly under Maska’s spiritual influence, Boral’s hands are growing more wolf-like, her nails becoming short claws, her wrists refusing to turn normally. Her teeth are likewise sharpening and changing. She tries to hide these things by keeping her hands in her long sleeves and keeping her mouth closed. There’s no hiding her feet, though, nor her digitigrade legs.

Demeanor

Boral is still fairly young, and this shows in her emotions and her reactions. She’s hurt. She’s lost. She doesn’t understand her change; doesn’t even know about the battle between the gods. She has no idea what to do with her paw-like hands. She can’t wear shoes any more. It’s incredibly frustrating to her. What really drives her to despair is that the trickster god of her people is a respected friend to all the people here. Boral feels like everything she learned was a lie.

Boral often retreats into herself, and it takes a fair amount of work for people to break her out of that. When she does come out of her shell, Boral is well-meaning, compassionate, and strong-willed. She may be lost, but she still wants to help others. She’ll even start telling them the story of the wolves and the deer… but she tends to just trail off partway through with a “…never mind.” She’d rather focus on what she can do to help rather than getting lost in her own head again. The rest of the team tries their best to encourage her and put her at the forefront, hoping that being important will help her move on.

She is secretly horrified that the Pinedeep natives eat caribou on a regular basis.

Intimacies: Elita the Deer Goddess is my patron (defining), Margery is kind and deserves help (major), My life is ruined (major), Maska is not to be trusted (major), Maska is to be respected (major), I just want to go home

Capabilities

Boral’s training as a priestess focused on learning the traditional songs and dances of her people. She learned to scribe the ancient symbols, to chant the syllables of honor and worship, to recite the lineage of the ancestors from the first days forward.

Sadly, all of that avails her practically nothing. None of the songs and dances are efficacious prayers here. No one reads the ancient symbols – they’re not Old Realm; they’re just one of a thousand local languages used across the borderlands of Creation. She stumbles often and is accident-prone. Ishowo keeps her out of any potential battles lest she fall and be trampled. She never learned to farm, to craft, or to fight. In the dangerous modern age, Boral has very few useful skills.

What she does have is a fair amount of tenacity and a well-trained memory. She knows how to treat people with respect. There’s a woman with a good heart waiting to come out of this whole mess. When she finally overcomes her current state or learns to live with it, she’ll have a lot of raw potential to work with. Until then, she’s a liability.

Supporting Characters

  • Deta Ruri, her trainer in the priesthood. Tolerant, opinionated, ostentatious.
  • Gein Hoestherow, who brings Boral extra food from his farm. Tough, nurturing, vague.
  • Ondokobathi, the god of Pinedeep, who is fascinated by Boral. Simple, unfocused, large.
  • Rudo Horncarver, who thinks that Boral might be dangerous. Pensive, finicky, weird.

Questions

  • If Elita is found, will Boral ever be able to change back to what she “should” have been?
  • Have Argent and Juri run into Elita? How would they treat a wounded goddess?

Margery, the Mother

Background

Margery doesn’t believe her own story.

The story goes that she was an old giant who remained behind when the rest left. Her heart was still in the glen, in the beautiful valley where she grew up. When the others moved on, she remained. Margery went into a deep sleep and woke up hundreds of years later – and instead of being older, she was younger and smaller.

But Margery remembers what she was made for. She was crafted as a final gift to a young giantess, to commemorate her mother’s passing. Margery remembers being held and wept over. She remembers the anguish of a young woman no longer a girl. The giantess was reminded of what she had lost, and she could neither bear Margery’s sight nor put her down. Eventually the giants did leave the glen, and Margery remembers being placed into a box. What happened after that, she does not know.

Regardless of the truth of the story, meeting Ishowo and the others was like waking from a dream. Margery has traveled Creation (or at least a little of it), and met all manner of wonderful individuals: the rabbit knight and the lost faun, the dragon’s daughters and the strange twins. She found people to whom she could be a wonderful mother. Despite her misgivings about her own origins, Margery has taken Ishowo’s team under her wing. Koyokoyo’s big sad eyes suckered her in at once. She tries to make sure that everyone’s needs are met, which can be difficult with such a diverse group. Some adults, after all, still need a little help once in a while.

She’s also the first to approach outsiders. The rest of the team never quite got the knack of putting people at ease. The fact that no one in the group is more calming than a twelve-foot-tall green woman is an interesting statement about both Margery and the rest of them.

Appearance

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Margery is nearly twelve feet tall, with pale green skin. She is often mistaken for a giantess herself. She has hazel eyes with thin eyebrows. Her face is highly expressive, but when resting, she often looks concerned. Her long brown hair flows straight save for a few stray hairs that keep getting in her face.

She wears dresses of simple but well-made material, with white ruffles and embroidery. She wears a golden necklace with a single purple gemstone at the end. She remembers that stone being part of a crown once, but she doesn’t tell anyone. Why bring up things that are so far past.

Though there is no one here who would know it, Margery is the spitting image of an ancient queen of the giants.

Demeanor

Caring, peaceful, and motherly. Margery is the sort of person who makes you feel that they want to hear how you really are, joys and sorrows and all. She’s a very good listener and loves having visitors.

Margery can’t see people in need without lending a hand. She and Koyo are the team’s conscience. Koyo is more idealistic, Margery is more grounded and reasonable, but both of them care greatly for others. She makes sure there’s food, ensures that arrows get replaced, and generally takes over when important things are forgotten. She’s a little tired of it at the moment. She doesn’t intend to bring it up with Ishowo until the current crisis is over, but she’d very much appreciate anyone who lends a hand.

Margery and Ramia disagree on the nature of their people. Margery knows that she’s a doll, and that the others are too. Ramia thinks that they are dolls, but that they are also living human beings – that both are true at once. Margery won’t contradict Ramia openly, rather saying that everyone will need to make up their own minds as to the truth.

Intimacies: Take care of those who are close to you (defining), Ishowo and her band are the closest I have to family (major), The people of the Glen deserve protection (major), Ramia is deluded

Capabilities

Margery is sweet and understanding and communicates well. She’s just the right combination of striking and kindly to overturn others’ expectations. She keeps good eye contact, speaks warmly and firmly, and makes it clear that she’s not there to cause trouble. (On the rare occasions when she lies, no one suspects.) People still run sometimes, of course. Creation is dangerous, and she’s… well, much more so than the others, she’s clearly not human. But she’s very good at getting people to come back.

When Ishowo’s band is home in Pinedeep, Margery is generally the centerpoint. She’s good at organizing people, remembering names and faces, and multi-tasking. Since she’s been stuck at home, she’s been asking for books and stories from anyone who has time to talk. With no real historians in the area, Margery probably knows more about the Glen at this point than anyone else. She’d love to get out and walk its trails before winter comes. She’s also curious as to where the giants went, and who’s responsible for these rumors about cults and thieves’ guilds starting up in this little valley.

Despite her size, Margery is a non-combatant. She’s fragile, and easily broken. She has small fractures that run near her joints from overtaxing her strength. Ramia thinks she may be able to repair them. Until then, Margery effectively has arthritis. The others watch out for her carefully. When she goes to visit the humans, the others make sure that she is accompanied. She stays out of fights. Most of the time she stays in her oversized house and lets others come to her when they want her help. When she’s not at home, she’s usually down by the river.

Supporting Characters

  • Bjorn Woodchopper, who has taken a shine to this immense maiden. Stammering, inquisitive, generous.
  • Oleg Laddermaker, whose father owned the house where Margery stays. Tired, doubtful, helpful.
  • Bela Farmerschild, who brings Margery water every day. Defiant, melodramatic, caring.
  • Getre Layabout, a member of Juri’s cult who is relaying information about Margery and “her” band of odd characters. Demanding, disillusioned, threatening.

Questions

  • If Margery’s joints were repaired, would she want to join Ishowo in battle?