Ninety years ago there was a powerful and respected chieftain of our people. I believe you all know of whom I speak. She believed that our people should be free – free like our ancestors, free to do as we pleased and go where we would – not tethered to the grass like horses. With clever allies and powerful warriors, this chieftain led an uprising against the dogs who live in Shirakh, and though she did not win, she struck utter terror into the Shirahki. They hunted down and her family. They struck the uprising from the records. The Shirakhi forbid us from ever speaking her name again. And then they tried to forget. To forget!
But we are not Shirakhi. We Wathia never forgot.
When I was growing up in Tuva township, I saw myself how the Shirakhi treated us. How they treated my father, my mother, my brothers, cast down into the dirt and made to bow at their feet. And when my elder brother would not bow, they struck him with a rod until he fell. He still cannot walk, and the priest who struck him now retires, fat and happy on our labor.
My parents were the leaders of our village, and this is the respect they showed us. When my mother fell ill five years ago, we sent them silver for a doctor. They sent none, and she died. When my father died last year, when he fell in their fields, my brothers tell me they never even moved to save him. They just saw him fall… and left him there. They care less for us than we do for a goat.
We have been trampled too long. They have grown strong on our hard work too long. And now, now I have the power to change things.
When we come of age, we take new names. So I take a new name now. My name is Dasun no longer. My name is Kala.
Do you fear that I speak it? Do you worry that they will hear me? Then let them hear: I am Kala. Let our allies know: I am Kala. Let the Shirakhi tremble in their fine stone houses, and wonder whether the hands that quarried and carried that stone, that died to bring them such wealth, whether those hands will crawl from beneath their beds while they sleep!
Do you see the light that comes from my brow now? This is the Light of Kala!
Kala our warleader lives again in me, and I will sleep no longer, waiting for freedom. We will find our allies again. We will train in the very fields that our enemy gave to us. We will tear down the gates of Shirakh, and we will have our freedom.
Kala is young, perhaps twenty years old. She is thin and smooth-skinned, with wide-set black eyes and dark sepia skin. Her hair has a reddish tinge not uncommon near the Pole of Fire. She wears large jewelry, especially earrings, which she removes before battle. When she speaks at major events, her voice echoes across the landscape, calling the attention of all who hear her.
Her clothing is typically minimal – a short skirt and torso wrap in Wathia colors. When she goes into battle, she wears the many-colored beaded armor that was common here before the Shirakhi came to power.
Proud, intense, and furious. Kala is the very embodiment of “mad as hell and not going to take it any more.” She’s not unreasonable, but she is quite driven, and inclined to steamroll problems rather than going around them. She knows that time is not on her side, and would rather cut a knot than take the time to unravel it.
Kala often seems like she is in a bit of a trance. Crowds are typically inspired by this; individuals are more often disconcerted. Her eyes focus on the distance. She speaks as if history is watching her. She comes out of this for her family and closest allies, but even then, one has the feeling that she is
Intimacies: It’s time to tear down the walls of Shirakh (defining), I heed the guidance of the first Kala (major), I cannot do this alone (major), I value my remaining family (major), There are no bystanders
Having grown up in the fields, Kala is strong and tough, if not very quick. She learned much about the Wathia-land from her parents before they died, and from her other relatives afterward. Her greatest strength, though, is her connection with others. When she speaks to a crowd, they feel as if she is talking directly to them one-on-one. When she meets people for the secret gatherings of the uprising, her voice and poise command instant respect. There is no doubt in her people’s minds that she is the old warleader returned.
Kala is a Zenith-caste Solar, with War as her supernal ability. When it’s time to go to battle, Kala the Returned hears the voice of the previous Kala whispering in her ear. The old warlord’s tactical knowledge combines with Kala’s own charisma to make her forces practically unstoppable. They do not rout. They do not fear. Every minor victory spurs them forward. Each warrior fights like ten. Those who abandon her opponent’s forces find themselves fighting on Kala’s side more often than not. Her training regimen strengthens her soldiers, letting them ignore fatigue and hunger. When one approach fails, her quick wit and their precise training enable lightning-fast changes in strategy.
Always at the forefront of a fight, Kala does not hide her Solar nature. Her anima blazes, instilling awe in her foes and inspiring her own troops. Her essence flows into her compatriots, reminding those who see them of her. Her messengers sometimes even speak with her voice. She relies primarily on intimidation to keep herself safe in a fight. Occasionally the Unconquered has been known to turn back blows aimed at her and arrows that would otherwise strike home. She fights with a steel-tipped spear and a tall shield.
- Nemiath, an old friend who is in the Cult of the Illuminated. Secretive, productive, addict.
- Tepha, another clan chieftain. Furtive, quarrelsome, steadfast.
- Jverosh, a distant uncle and advisor. Affectionate, grandiose, reliable.
- Ssokonser, her day-servant. Gullible, attentive, hesitant.
- How much of Kala’s behavior is who she was as Dasun, and how much is the memories and fighting spirit of the old warlord? Does she regret this balance?
- How much of an army has Kala gathered so far? How much was done in secret, and how much in the open?