Kiri of Denzik, Chosen of the Hunt

Background

Kiri grew up on the city-ship of Denzik. She was a fisher-woman, using spear and harpoon to catch the swift-swimming giant gar. Her daring made her a local hero. Many are the times this young woman was hauled out of the water, coughing up salt but victorious, with her knife buried behind a fish’s head.

When Denzik left the northern Inland Sea, it picked up a tagalong: a group of Fair Folk. They picked off outlying craft, and seduced people into jumping into the sea at night. They fancied themselves hunters. Zeraata, Western Goddess of the Hunt, took great offense. She sought a champion to defeat them, and chose Kiri. Before long the Fair Folk retreated, deciding to take their chances with easier prey.

They didn’t realize yet that they didn’t have that option. Kiri harried them to a barren rock in the sea and pinned them to the ground with cold iron, to be picked at by the gulls.

For the past twenty years Kiri has kept the holy hunt free from corruption. So long as she seeks out dishonest and degenerate hunters, she doesn’t age – and she is quite zealous about her job. From unscrupulous bounty hunters in Skullstone to vice-ridden investigators on the Blessed Isle, Kiri has tracked down dozens of whom Zeraata would disapprove. Her favorite method is by depriving them of their prey. When the hunt is unjust, she stops the hunter by force. When the hunt is just but the hunter corrupt, she finishes the quarry herself and deprives the hunter of the reward.

Recently she has made her home in Wu Jian, where currents bring many distasteful elements together. A band of mercenaries and bounty hunters known as the Red Teeth hunted for pay and fame, which is not considered unholy by Zeraata – but they released their catch if they paid, and sometimes by sheer incompetence. Kiri confronted their master Nikau, who tried to assault her. She wounded him and escaped rather than face his pack of mongrels alone.

For a time she led the Red Teeth. They approached her in Nikau’s absence, seeking the leader they lacked. She has tried to reform them, or at least to focus them into a weapon for Zeraata, but even the greatest blacksmith cannot work with clay, and Kiri was never trained to lead. They followed her for her power alone until she fled from a fight with a dynast named Peleps Rithra. (Not all Dragon-Blooded are easy to spot, she now knows, nor are they grateful when you kill their prey.) Then she felt them begin to turn against her as they had Nikau. She took a few that were more loyal and sailed to the West.

Those soldiers now lie at the bottom of the ocean. The ship was caught in a storm north of Athanor. Red lightning struck the mast. Kiri alone survived – and she knows that she is now both hunter and prey.

Appearance

Kiri of Wu Jian 500

Kiri’s family is originally from the North, and she has the typical pale skin and blonde hair of the northerners. She typically wears heavy eyeblack to keep the sun from her eyes, and light clothing to allow her greater mobility. She has jewelry taken from some of her quarries. Whether she is hunting or not, she is never far from her spear, the Last Leaf of Fall, a simple and light amalgam of black and white jade.

Demeanor

Kiri was chosen to uphold the True Hunt. Damn the thrill – the important part is the quarry and its capture. She is blunt and pragmatic. She doesn’t brag to her targets or waste time talking to them. She is polite to others, but distantly, and without much conviction. Matters that could distract her from her work are put aside. Those who might aid her are accepted without long consideration and without truly making them into friends. Even those who have worked with her before rarely know where she went between the hunts.

And yet, there is a part of her that does thrill to the hunt – that feels a fierce, almost joyous rush of adrenaline when her goddess selects a target for her and the chase begins. Zeraata does not approve of this, but she keeps her tongue silent. Kiri has been her best ally in centuries.

Intimacies: “All quarries are mine” (Defining), “Nikau and his mercenaries defile the hunt” (Major, Negative), “I hate being cooped up” (Negative), “I will become powerful enough for the big game”

Capabilities

Kiri can swim and climb with the best of them. She is fast and accurate with both spear and knife. Years and years of practice have honed these skills to perfection. She is comfortable with a bow, but not an expert. Her native language is Wavetongue, but she also speaks a smattering of Low Realm, Firetongue, and Skytongue – just enough to get by in any port where Denzik might make landfall. She is comfortable with maps and charts. Since many of her targets hide in ancient manses, she can also recognize the most common of First Age glyphs, such as those for danger. She doesn’t give or take orders very well.

Once she has chosen her quarry (or been given it by Zeraata), Kiri can follow it to the ends of Creation and beyond. The same way that a migrating bird knows its path, she knows how to find her target. Once the prey is cornered, unfortunately, her essence gives her little advantage in a fight, so she sets traps and snares to even the odds. If she is wounded, she heals incredibly quickly – bones reform overnight and bruises heal in minutes. Kiri takes full advantage of this, fighting to maneuver an opponent into a trap, and then escaping to heal while their wounds fester.

The Last Leaf of Fall was created at the height of the Shogunate. Its simple appearance conceals a powerful set of elemental evocations. One allows Kiri to fight without impairment in inclement or hazardous environments – even underwater. Another surrounds her with a tempest of wind that deflects arrows and other projectiles. The third calls to the water within her targets, making their wounds bleed profusely. The last (that she knows of) makes the spear immensely heavy, trapping her opponent as she slams its head through their foot. When she connects with this strike, she leaves the spear in place to impair her opponent while she draws her knives and slices into their back.

Supporting Characters

  • Zeraata, Western Goddess of the Hunt. Righteous, decisive, shameless.
  • Aarostrometi, a god-blood whom Kiri caught and imprisoned years ago, and who wants revenge. Blustering, apologetic, compulsive.

Questions

  • What exactly does Zeraata consider “holy” when it comes to the hunt?
  • Where did Kiri find the Last Leaf? Did she take it from someone she was hunting? If so, who?

Turning Wind, Mad Prophet

Background

Many years ago, in the south of Creation, a god of futures faced a creature from the Demon City that devoured possibility and turned destinies into ash. Knowing that its end was upon it, the god chose a favored servant who could stand against the beast. Turning Wind drew his second breath that day as his patron empowered him with both his own godly essence and the borrowed glory of the Unconquered Sun.

For his assistance against the foes of Creation, Turning Wind was ill-rewarded. Yes, he saw his opponent’s moves before they acted, the strike of the claws before they swung… but he saw too much. It overwhelmed him. Turning Wind sought to return his power, but the one who had chosen him was gone. When he tried to kill himself, he met a fellow prophet, sent from the stars, who refused to let him die. Angered by the gods and their servants, Turning Wind roamed Creation for years, attempting to escape his destiny as it followed him relentlessly.

Turning Wind found himself perpetually entangled in the weave of fate and the matters of the Chosen. From the Dragon-Blooded he learned why his existence was needed. Their indolence and arrogance carved out a place for him as a defender of Creation’s tapestry. From the Chosen of the Moon he learned the term “The Scum of Heaven” for those who hounded him.

Eventually Turning Wind came to Slumber’s Grasp, just after the death of Prince Selno. There, on the mountaintops, he discovered a truth that the Sidereals had kept from him: that the Wyld was beyond the reach of fate. His visions calmed. Here in the chaos, his mind was free. He sat there for as long as his body would last, hoping to die saner than he had lived. His last sight was a strong young woman bending down to lift his body and carry him off the mountain. Anvil Loves the Forge had rescued him and brought him to the castle of ancient King Thenor.

This was a watershed moment in Turning Wind’s life. He found himself unexpectedly grateful for Anvil, despite her nature, as well as for the family that showed him such concern. Seeing that Anvil hid her gifts, he did so as well, becoming a “wise advisor” to the family that never realized he could truly see the future. To the rest of the valley he is The Mad Prophet. To the ruling family, he is Uncle Wind. Well, sometimes “Crazy Uncle Wind.”

Turning Wind still spends much of his time on the peaks near Slumber’s Grasp, where the Wyld blows mad and free and his waking dreams are quieted. There may be a time when he abandons himself to the ecstasies of chaos, but for now, he still has the willpower to drag himself back to the castle, and back to those who care for him.

Appearance

Turning Wind 500

Turning Wind looks to be in his sixties, with a wrinkle-creased face and dark reddish-brown skin. He has a long grey beard and moustache, with long dark hair in dreadlocks to his shoulders. He wears loose-fitting robes. He rarely bathes unless he is traveling to the castle.

Demeanor

When he returns from the Wyld, Wind is good-natured, even-keeled, crafty, and insightful. He is a delight to be around. As he spends more time in Creation, his mind wanders. His insights are no less keen, but he becomes distractible and bleary-eyed. Once he has been outside the Wyld for a month or more, he is ill-tempered and unfocused. He snaps at people who are not present. He often pushes others away, sometimes emotionally, sometimes physically. Since Wind does not like others to see him this way any more, he tends to spend no more than two weeks at the castle. Sometimes the Wyld recharges his mind quickly; sometimes slowly.

Intimacies: “The Wyld offers me release” (Defining) “My responsibilities are finished” (Major), “The Scum of Heaven” (Negative), “Anvil Loves the Forge” (Positive), “The Royal Family” (Positive)

Capabilities

Turning Wind is an experienced traveler. He can ride, sail, and backpack his way through inclement weather and poor terrain. He can make simple poultices and bind broken bones. He speaks a variety of languages, though he can’t quite shake his coastal accent. He is an excellent dancer and a terrible chef. Wind is personable when his mind is clear, but has no strong force of personality to back up his words.

Wind’s attachment to fate gives him the ability to see the future as it specifically pertains to him and the things he personally can influence. He sees chains of causation and threads of influence: do this, and that may happen. Do not, and another thing will come to pass. Choices that are closer to the now appear to him more frequently. He finds himself continually forced to make and re-make decisions that other people will not be faced with for days. This constant mental pressure wears down his willpower. Threads of destiny also protect him in a variety of ways, from causing unease and discomfort that keeps the Fair Folk at bay to making him accidentally spill a poisoned drink. There is truly no such thing as luck in his life. All things are tied to the grand purpose of fate.

As a trained martial artist, Turning Wind’s abilities are greatly enhanced by his prophetic gifts. He practices an unarmed style called Heaven’s Wheel, which utilizes joint locks, throws, and circular motions both large and small. His essence flows through his techniques, allowing him to evade attacks before they are thrown, hurl opponents great distances, and even redirect an opponent’s attack. He knows a series of cripplingly painful joint locks that are effective against supernatural beings and automata. In the Wyld, however, he is unable to perceive the future. He is so used to using his visions while fighting that he could be easily overcome there.

Supporting Characters

  • Shimmering Threads Unfurled, the god of destiny who originally chose him. Deceased.
  • Sigrid, a guard who thinks he’s a fraud. Sly, judgmental, blabbermouth.
  • Roopa, who tries to get Wind to discuss his past, sometimes successfully. Intimidating, considerate, industrious.
  • Henri, who knows where he dwells in the Wyld. Smiling, cautious, addicted.

Questions

  • What do the Sidereals know about Turning Wind that they aren’t telling him?
  • Does Turning Wind know that Silent Feather is here? If so, does he know why?