Millie Eikar, the Inventor

Background

Like her ancestor Jek, Millie has the Knack. She’s been a tinkerer ever since she was small, putting together elaborate string-and-pulley systems to get food and supplies up to her workshop in her parents’ attic. She worked with tin and pliers, gears and springs. Millie built her first clock when she was five.

These days she’s a welder and an inventor. More than that, she’s a Technologist. She sees the flows of the alchemical elements and reads the essence-conduits under the ground. She and her crew specialize in larger projects: airship propellers, manse hulls, dam reinforcements. She has a few specialized clients (mostly the more prosperous Great Families and the New Empire) and turns most others away. Eikar Welding is a well-known name – if you’re rich enough.

The company could make more money if she took on more projects. Publicly, this is in case emergencies come up. Sometimes an airship crashes nearby. Sometimes there’s an automaton who needs a little work done. You never know what might happen around here.

Secretly, however, Eikar Welding is building its own airship. It will be the first new ship on the Splinter in over a hundred years. They have a tight-fitting hangar underground, invisible beneath a layer of topsoil and scrub grass. From the inside, it’s clear that the hangar’s ancient bay doors once concealed a gigantic humanoid form. Millie started building the ship on a lark, imagining she’d never finish. With some help from Janek and Tenor, though, and some ancient blueprints that Feather recovered, they’re nearly finished. It’s so close she can taste it. Millie dreams of having the wind blow through her hair and feeling the clouds on her cheeks. Sometimes she’ll stand outside the workshop, face toward the sky, eyes closed, just imagining.

Appearance

Millie Eikar 500

Millie is a middle-aged woman with pale, ruddy skin and eyes that shade from blue to brown. Her hair is dark brown. She wears it back so that it doesn’t get singed by a cutting torch or caught in a gear, but half of the time she has a welding mask on anyway. If she doesn’t have helmet-hair, it probably means she has to deal with rich customers that day. Her clothing tends toward the traditional and utilitarian.

Demeanor

Calm, pragmatic, and no-nonsense. Millie treats her employees and her cutomers very professionally and directly. She’s the same with her friends, which might be why she doesn’t have a lot of close friends. If you never saw her put the finishing touches on a project (or after a few glasses of whiskey) you might think she doesn’t have a sentimental bone in her body.

Watch her work on the airship for a few minutes, however, and you’ll see a different side of Millie. She’s a pragmatist by trade, but a dreamer by nature. Years of keeping that in check have made her a little uptight sometimes.

Intimacies: We were made to fly (defining), Don’t screw up the business (major), Protect my employees (major), Keep an eye on Janek and Tenor, Work before pleasure, Feather would make a good supervisor.
Catchphrase: Make me a deal.

Capabilities

Millie is a consummate multitasker. She can weld a seam, carry on a business conversation, and calculate stresses and strains in her head all at the same time. She’ll also spot people doing a shoddy job (or a good one) out of the corner of her eye from a hundred feet away. Her employees dread the days she’s on the floor, but they also learn a lot from her.

Physically, she’s starting to show her age. She’ll huff and puff after a set of stairs. Socially, though, she’s as sharp as ever. She’s a shrewd negotiator and drives a hard bargain.

As a Technologist, Millie focuses primarily on alchemical workings that enhance her workshop. Within a kilometer of the garage, she can call metal to her and move it about, direct electricity, open holes in the ground, and clear smoke and steam from the air with an angry shout. She knows a handful of protocols that allow her to send messages long distances, bind alchemical spirits, and enhance materials with alchemical power (such as using tiny puffs of steam to keep clothing comfortably warm, or producing ever-lubricated bearings). She learned one defensive protocol that drags weapons and projectiles magnetically down toward the ground, but hasn’t spent much time on combat-related considerations.

Connections

  • The Cynis Family, most powerful of the remaining Great Families, holds Millie’s largest contracts. Large vehicles come every month to bring more raw materials and to carry Eikar Welding’s work to the Imperial City.
  • Because of Janek, the Ragara Family has also paid Millie a fair amount of attention and offered a number of contracts. She’s taken a few of them, but is wary of their intentions.
  • With many ancient blueprints buried in ruins these days, Millie relies on Kelvan Prospecting to bring her fragments and details from long ago.

Questions

  • How will the Great Families react to Milile’s airship plan?

Fate: Leadership

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

Calcite Cathak, the Gunbinder

Background

Calcite Cathak lived in a rough-and-tumble land north of the Great Spire. After the Day of the Broken Sky, the gods were quick to return to this place – but order was not. By the time Calcite was born, bandit kingdoms were the norm. The Cathak family here retreated to a stronghold in the mountains and hunkered down. They wanted to wait out this period of unrest. No such luck.

Not until Calcite.

Calcite wouldn’t stand for it. She saw the fields burning at night. She heard the weeping of the house servants and the stories of travelers. It tugged at her, wouldn’t let her sleep at night. She kept having visions of a future overrun with death and despair. So the first time one of the robber barons rode a platoon of ragtag soldiers into the Cathak compound, she shot him dead through the eye with a makeshift pistol at three hundred yards, and slept well for the first time in years.

Her family, of course, saw in her the potential for their return to greatness. She could be the weapon at the forefront of newly raise armies. Her amazing accuracy would not be enough, but perhaps with help, she could lead them to the glory that should have been theirs.

Calcite saw the greed in their eyes. She turned it to her own purposes. She willingly helped the family technologist shape her own body into an elemental conduit. Her long clothing covers extensive tattoos that allow the six holy elements to flow over her and into objects that she holds. She even learned how to match metals with the other elements – copper with electricity, steel with smoke – creating weapons that would strike with the power of the land itself. She fought the King of Rust and his mechanical golem. She slew the Dust Empress with her flock of terror-birds, picking them off as they ran down the canyon toward her. Calcite slept better every time evil left the world, even as the nightmares began to plague her waking hours.

Then Fulmine arrived, bringing tales of inspiration and honor. Calcite left her family, but not before she and Fulmine put the fear of the gods into the local bandits. The Cathak are now on the rise in Northern Province. They might be greedy, but family was family, and Calcite hated owing a debt.

Appearance

Calcite is thin, with light brown skin and brown eyes. Her hair is black with tints of indigo. She generally does not wear makeup, but does occasionally laquer her nails black. Her expression is usually a cautious neutral.

Her clothing is generally warm and practical. She’s not much for colorful fashion – it draws the eye too much on the battlefield. She wears brown leggings and shirt, a leather overshirt, boots, and skirt, and a brown cloth jacket. She has several guns, all of which have wooden stocks and various bright metal barrels.

Demeanor

Cold and reserved, at least on the surface. Underneath, she is moved more by emotion than by pure reason. She’s good at rationalizing her actions. Guilt is a major motivator for her as well. One week she’ll come up with a logical reason to take drastic actions; the next week she’ll come up with a course of action that will mitigate the fallout. She’s relieved to be working with Fulmine, to have someone to whom she can hand responsibility.

Intimacies: No one deserves to live in fear (defining), Power is a curse (major), I kill to save lives (major), Fulmine has helped give me meaning, Stratus is too greedy,
Catchphrase: Hold onto something.

Capabilities

Most children of the Great Families were trained in dozens of skills and trades, back before the Graze. These days not everyone does that. Calcite’s branch of the family tree had essentially given that up, and especially once she turned out to be a crack shot, there was little attempt to educate her beyond what was considered necessary. Luckily, they considered things like reading and writing, politics, geography, and outdoor survival to be important for someone who would be in battle.

Calcite has primarily been a heroine – an adventurer and a monster-hunter. She’s experienced at fighting both mortal and automata opponents. If you took away her supernatural powers, she’d still be quick-witted and agile, with an eye for detail and an excellent understanding of others’ motivations.

The blood of the goddess Starsight runs through the Cathak family, allowing some of them to see the future in specific ways. For Calcite, she knows exactly where to shoot to compensate for wind and movement, and for the greatest effect with each shot. Not that she always shoots to kill – she can just as easily shoot the gun out of someone’s hand, or give them a warning shot that takes their hat off. With a bit of effort she can even see where someone’s going to move, letting her fire an undodgeable shot.

Aim isn’t always enough, though, and for those moments Calcite has extra firepower delivered by elemental conduits tattooed into her skin. Given a few hours she can build a gun that channels nearby essence into bolts of elemental power. The copper-clad lightning gun she made for Fulmine is just one example. Calcite herself has steel smoke bombs, leaden pellets that can flood a floor with oil, titanium-barreled pistols that fire a spray of jagged crystal, a tin-stocked rifle that slowly eats metal targets at a distance, and a pair of aluminum fighting pipes that she heats with the power of steam. She’s creative with her powers, but needs time to prepare them. Without her regular maintenance, these devices slowly fail.

Connections

  • Calcite’s close family has mixed feelings about her. Some feel gratitude for what she did; others are angry that she left before she could do more.
  • The Dust Empress lives on beyond death, recouping her power and drawing other angry gods to her for an attempt on Calcite’s life.

Questions

  • Where do Calcite’s nightmares come from? They started before she began killing people – are they due to an overactive conscience, or an outside influence?
  • How will Calcite’s tattoos react to elements from another world, such as those from Creation?

Fate: Death

Fulmine Cathak, the Mastermind

Background

The Great Families are in disrepute. They were on the decline even before the Day of the Broken Sky, which learned folk call The Graze. After that day, when their failure became visible in silhouette against the success of others, few showed them any respect. Several of them – Mnemon, Karal, and V’neef – are all but extinct at this point. The rest are scattered into fiefdoms, or have lost their fortunes entirely.

Fulmine aims to change that for her family. Over the past few years she’s been traveling from one province to another, finding the lost members of Cathak and making connections. Few of them remember the glory that used to be, but all of them have heard the stories. The kind of stories that make one hungry for importance. Fulmine tells tales of heroes: wise governors, valiant soldiers, clever scientists, humble farmers who reached above their station. Grand balls, jewelry, wine, love, exploration, intrigue – and most importantly, respect.

Not all of the family has reacted well to this. She’s had to flee a few places. Nevertheless, her travels are important. Everywhere she goes, someone decides to work a bit harder. Parents connect with long-lost relatives. Malcontents leave home to seek their fortunes. Once in a while she finds someone with particular talents and helps them decide how to use them. That’s how she got Calcite and Stratus on her side, and how she found the wreck of an airship and the right people to repair it.

Right now she’s turned out of her usual path. She sees chaos and destruction coming. Something bigger than herself and her family pulls her eastward across the Continent. She’s told her crew that they’re headed toward Millie Eikar’s place to give the ship a tune-up, but she knows that there’s going to be something dangerous in the way. For the first time in her life, she’s not sure what.

Appearance

Fulmine is a little taller than average, thin, with light brown skin. Her thick black hair is looped and tied up on her head, along with a pair of pilot’s goggles. Her black eyes often seem to be staring at something in the distance. Her voice is strong and steady. When she tells stories she sometimes seems lost in the past.

One of Fulmine’s cousins makes her some fairly stylish clothing in black, brown, and white, using found fabric. She wears large jewelry, including earrings, necklaces, and a compass brooch. She dyes her lips red and uses green powder around her eyes. One of Calcite’s special guns hangs at her hip.

Demeanor

Caring, confident and precise. Fulmine was raised with the high expectations that have always come for members of the Great Families. Unlike so many of the Blessed Continent’s past leaders, she was also raised with love. When she failed, no one beat her or shrieked at her. They helped her stand up, regroup, understand her mistakes, and try again.

Sometimes Fulmine falls into a trance. Her voice quavers and she loses the outside world for a few minutes. Her crew knows to protect her during this time. Many of them keep an eye on her whenever she’s nearby, just in case she’s about to collapse.

Intimacies: My family’s future will be bright (defining), Sam Eikar is the key to the future and we must be the ones to defend her (major), Our world can be improved (major), Power is a gift that should be respected (major), Stratus needs to reach for his potential, Calcite is too focused on war.
Catchphrase: Our fate is what we make it.

Capabilities

Fulmine is god-blooded, born with the future-sight that runs through certain branches of her family. She can literally plan for the unexpected. She was already intelligent and keen-eyed; future-sight makes her seem brilliant. Her strategies are without peer in the Splinter. The most important visions put her into a trance where she’s unable to react quickly and may respond to things that are happening in the future. She always remembers the details of these events… except when they involve the Component. This gap in her knowledge genuinely frightens her. She also hasn’t foreseen anything about Cyn Walker, which will make Fulmine very suspicious when they meet.

Her family training also means that she can wield a gun and a sword, sail, keep books, paint calligraphy, ride an austretch, bind wounds, and carry herself in polite society (not that there’s much of that left these days). She knows exactly what she’s capable of – all the more so for being able to see the outcome of actions. This self-confidence gives her a compelling presence.

Fulmine can’t do it all on her own, though, and her crew fills in many gaps. They’re experienced sailors, navigators, engineers, carpenters, and soldiers. They’ve already followed her to the ends of the world. Anyone looking to take over No Memory will have a hell of a fight on their hands.

Unlike Calcite, Fulmine’s future-sight is of less use in combat. It shows her key moments and sweeping overviews, not blow-by-blow details. To help make up for this, Calcite has provided Fulmine with an enchanted weapon: a gun that fires lightning. Treat this as a heavy artifact archery weapon.

Connections

  • To the extent that there is a unified Cathak Family at all in these times, it’s because of Fulmine. Some of them resent her for it, but there are many places she can turn for support.
  • Her immediate family. Fulmine cares greatly for her parents and siblings, who live near Brightness on the northwestern coast.
  • One of the few Great Families to remain united, the Cynis Family believes that Fulmine’s airship, No Memory, rightfully belongs to them. They’d like to have it back.

Questions

  • No Memory used to have a cloaking device. Is it still functional?
  • Are there any crew members aboard the ship who are sick of taking Fulmine’s orders?

Fate: Prominence

Ortho the Youngest

Background

Ortho the Youngest was the last of three clones to be decanted. In his first few days outside the cloning vat he gained the confidence and admiration of the scientists of The Right Path, then stepped aside as Heartless slaughtered them and scattered them to the winds. On that fateful day he felt truly alive.

Youngest is the most social, most talkative and manipulative of the Ortho clones. It is the plan of the Eldest that Youngest will find heroes to pursue the Component, help them find the mechanism or ritual that controls it, and then take the power for Eldest himself. Youngest jumped at the idea. His heart yearns to recapture the feeling of total control that betrayal gave him. Naturally, he’d rather end up with control over the Component himself, so if those heroes happen to discover Eldest’s hand in things a little too early, and Eldest ends up in an early grave, well, life will just be that much sweeter.

Youngest has identified two potential groups that stand between the Component and its goals. One is the trio of god-bloods led by Calcite Cathak. They are hungry for the power that would let them rebuild the Blessed Continent. The other is Millie Eikar and her band of rogue engineers. They have the technological know-how to understand the Component and potentially stop it. Youngest just needs a connection; an “in” with these groups, and he’ll have them following him to the ends of the world.

His “in” is Sam Eikar. He saw the Component turn toward this young girl – her, specifically, while it was annihilating an entire town. He saved her, gained her trust, and deposited her farther along the Component’s path, saying that he was going back to save others. He’ll come in after she’s bonded with the Cathaks and/or Millie, introduce himself as her guardian, and accompany them on their quest to find the Component’s original blueprints in the wreckage of Castle Volan.

Appearance

All the Ortho clones have light skin and hazel eyes. Their hair is brown. Their fingers are long and delicate. An optical device is strapped to their right eyes, with a variety of lenses. They have difficulty seeing straight without it.

Physically, of course, Ortho the Youngest is nearly identical to his elder clones. His clothing and accessories distinguish him somewhat. He wears white clothing (usually off-white after all his travels), including a cloak. His left ear has a fine chain across it, a little bit of jewelry that his twins lack. His hair is not quite so long.

However, the greatest difference is in he holds himself. He stands tall, looks people in the eye, and offers a firm handshake or a respectful bow. He often has a little bit of sorrow or regret in his eye. Someone who saw Eldest or Heartless would see an obvious connection between them and Youngest, but he would not be easily mistaken for one of them.

Demeanor

On the outside, he’s friendly and pleasant, with a streak of determination. Recognizing his own fragility in a dangerous world, Youngest tries to surround himself with allies. He’s the kind of person who will offer to help if he sees you cleaning a room, or ask whether you need someone to carry some of that water. He holds doors and carries tired children, but he’s not pushy about it. He responds to suspicion with “I guess I’ll just have to prove myself, then.”

When pressed on why he’s being so helpful, or when he has to explain an attack by the Heartless (who looks exactly like him, of course), Youngest admits that he has a goal that he doesn’t talk about often: defeating his clones. He gathers artifacts to prepare for an assault. (He’s actually giving them to Eldest.) He gets people out of the way of the Heartless. (He’s just using that as a way to gain trust.) When the time is right, he’ll go at them with everything he’s got. (This is true.)

Intimacies: Have the whole world wrapped around my finger (Defining), Pave the way for my brothers’ victories (major), My brothers should be working for me (major), There’s no reason to be mean.
Catchphrase: I have bad news for you.

Capabilities

Youngest is the slickest liar on the Blessed Continent. Catching him in an untruth is practically impossible – his body gives no sign. He’s a great actor. He’s also a compelling leader, exuding personal presence and visible empathy (faked though it may be). However, like his twins, he’s a bit over-specialized sometimes. He spends a lot of time on the road and has the stamina for traveling, but he’s not great in a fight. As good as he is at reading faces, he’s not that great at paying attention to his environment. He has a handle on people but not numbers.

The greatest assets that Youngest has are his connections with other people and organizations. So far he’s managed to stay fairly quiet within these groups. The folks at the top recognize and trust him, but he’s not a recognizable face for most outside the ruling class. Several of his alliances are noted below under “Connections,” but this should be considered just a sampling.

The lenses from their optical devices allow the Orthos to see dematerialized spirits and the flows of essence. If the device is knocked from their head (a difficulty 6 gambit), they will be disoriented for a round (no actions) and have great difficulty seeing straight afterward (-3 penalty on vision-related actions) until they can recover it. The lenses are made of adamant and quite sturdy.

In addition, Youngest has an advantage that lets him cover ground quickly: a Twilight Cloak. When it’s bright and sunny outside, or in the darkest hours of the night, it’s just a regular piece of clothing. For a few hours around sunrise and sunset, though, and in places where illumination is dim, it lets him step from one shadow to another. The cloak functions over a distance of about 100 feet. He can use it dozens of times in a row, stepping back and forth, making ambushes in combat or traveling many kilometers each day. He can carry one other person. If it’s damaged, it’ll be ruined, so he tries to stay out of a fight. Removing the cloak from him without damaging it would require forfeiting 5 rounds of control during a grapple.

Connections

  • The Nellens Family has been one of his major targets in the local area. Youngest has gotten their trust and even some funding from them in the past, using it to “chase away” an unknown assassin (the Heartless).
  • The warlord Nail-Eater thinks Youngest is full of shit, but has done business with him from time to time regardless, because everyone’s full of shit and he’s better than most.
  • A band of would-be do-gooders named Starsight’s Children (they’re not) keep an eye out for artifacts of the Imperial Era for Youngest. He’ll gladly take away things they consider dangerous.
  • Distributed Trading is a young but far-reaching mercantile organization, gaining wealthy members every day. Youngest has an extensive line of credit with them that many others would accept.

Questions

  • How much information is Youngest willing to give out about his twins? Does he want to betray them soon, or is he still building his power base and just running people into the jaws of death in the meantime?
  • How much has Youngest worked his way into the nascent spirit courts of the Blessed Continent? Is he as well-connected there as he is in the corporeal world?

Fate: Karma

Ortho the Heartless

Background

The Heartless was second to be decanted of the Ortho clones. When it came time for the scientists of the Right Path to be murdered, the Heartless was the one who did most of the work. The first one was the hardest. After that, the rush of it has sustained him for years.

Once the Right Path’s laboratory lay in ruins, Eldest started rebuilding and plotting. Youngest traveled to nearby settlements and learned the state of the world. The Heartless kept them both safe. Even though they were intended as saboteurs, neither of them was really suitable for the task. Not the way the Heartless was. He looked near and far for those who might prove dangerous to his twins, and ensured that they never would. He picked off leaders and scientists, demagogues and explorers, anyone who might want to seek or expand. No one ever saw him.

There are rumors, of course. The most common is that a Celestial Aion arose for a particularly nasty sky-sign – perhaps The Death Of The Highest, or Punishment Beyond Reason. The Heartless doesn’t concern himself with rumors. Let Youngest spin them into stories to keep the peasants in line. There are always more threats to be removed.

The Heartless has taken a few excursions now and then, when things seemed safe. He visits places like the Godsfall Crater, the cliffs near the Straits of Silk, and Castle Volan. These places call to him. He finds tiny fragments of the Luminous Godkiller Weapon there, minute shards that will never weather away because no spirit will touch them. He places these fragments in his right eye.

He grows ever more unstable.

It is unlikely that the Heartless will let Eldest keep ordering him around, or that he will keep protecting Youngest. He wonders what it would be like to kill someone so like himself. Until he completely goes off the rails, though, he’ll still working to Eldest’s plan.

Appearance

All the Ortho clones have light skin and hazel eyes. Their hair is brown. Their fingers are long and delicate. An optical device is strapped to their right eyes, with a variety of lenses. They have difficulty seeing straight without it.

Heartless’ body is identical to that of the other Ortho clones. His expression is more serious, his affect more flat. Unlike his twins, the optical apparatus on his right eye glows with a blue-green light. Those who once fought the Luminous Godkiller Weapon might find the color of the glow familiar.

Demeanor

The Heartess lives for fear and slaughter. It excites him and makes him feel powerful. He’s exactly the sort of murderer who will draw out a kill if it seems like it might be safe to do so. Of course, if he thinks there’s a real danger, he’ll finish someone quickly and get out. He’s not a complete fool.

If placed in a situation where he’s not in power, the Heartless will tend to laugh uncontrollably and manically.

Intimacies: I will not feel powerless again (defining), Use my brothers as long as I can (major), The joy of the hunt (major), Stay hidden (major)
Catchphrase: Your future ends here.

Capabilities

The Heartless has a body well-trained in the ways of violence. He’s fast and strong. He’s double-jointed and can escape from most bonds with ease. He’s used to pain. He’s also very observant, and has lightning-fast reactions to anything that might be perceived as danger. Outside of that fairly narrow skill-set, there’s not much going on with him. He dreams of having control over others but can’t think of what he’d actually do with it beyond making them suffer.

As a hunter, the Heartless is fairly capable in the recovering wilderness of the Blessed Continent. He can set up shelters, find food and water, and track quarry through scrub and badlands. He’s good at staying hidden in populated areas. If there are hidden places nearby – underground tunnels, back rooms, etc. – he’ll find them right away. He never loses his way.

The Heartless fights primarily with a set of knives. He’ll get up close via stealth and take people out silently, one at a time, or cut them down from a distance with a thrown blade. He’s more assassin than soldier. His elder twin provides him with poison that he applies liberally to his weapons.

The lenses from their optical devices allow the Orthos to see dematerialized spirits and the flows of essence. If the device is knocked from their head (a difficulty 6 gambit), they will be disoriented for a round (no actions) and have great difficulty seeing straight afterward (-3 penalty on vision-related actions) until they can recover it. The lenses are made of adamant and quite sturdy.

The Heartless has a fragment of the Luminous Godkiller Weapon where his right eye once was. It shines through his optical lenses. Gods and spirits of all kinds fear him instinctively and will cower or flee. Some of the essence from magic used to directly attack him is syphoned off to enhance his speed and strength. This does not affect indirect assaults (like an essence-enhanced sword blow), only attacks of pure magic (like a bolt of Solar or elemental energy, or a sorcerous assault). If the Heartless kills a person, the eye destroys their soul as they die.

Connections

  • Pale Rondeau, god of murder, watches the Heartless with great interest.
  • One of the few survivors of an encounter with the Heartless, Siobhan Ragara now attempts to hunt the hunter.

Questions

  • How cocky is the Heartless? Is it possible to lure him out, or will he just retreat to strike another day?
  • How does the Heartless feel about letting the Weapon loose again? Would he do it just to watch it in action, or would he become jealous of it?

Fate: Murder

Ortho the Eldest

Background

When the Seventh Legion fell, and Yushoto Koletta’s awful works were ended, some of her research staff refused to be part of the new order. They liked being accountable to no one and to nothing but the success of their endeavors. They hid in the deep valleys of River Isle, then moved to a floating island base, then eventually back to the Blessed Continent. They were pursued intermittently over the course of decades, but never captured. The group called itself The Right Path.

When The Right Path made landfall on the Blessed Continent, it was near the grave of Jek Eikar, well-known as a mad inventor. Since their enemies had the bloodlines of the gods, returning generation after generation to harry them, they thought it only fitting that they could make one of the greatest heroes of the Fall return to fight against the gods.

The Right Path intended that they would correct the injustice that had been done to them – by any means. They cloned Eikar three times over. The clones were each named “Ortho”. The Right Path added mechanical devices to the bodies as they grew quickly to adulthood. They made recordings of propaganda and philosophies, and played them back over and over. They hoped to turn these mad, brainwashed geniuses loose on the new rulers of River Isle and finally take revenge for what had been done to them.

Unfortunately for the scientists, Eikar’s clones enacted plans of revenge on their creators first. The Right Path’s secret base was destroyed; the scientists killed or scattered.

The clone who was decanted first took the name Ortho the Eldest. He was the most canny, the most power-hungry. It was he who suggested rebellion to the other two, who readily agreed. Once they succeeded in their coup he found records of the Weapon in The Right Path’s notebooks, and realized that he could gain more than just independence: he could gain power.

Eldest seeks to learn the secrets of the Component and control it, and thereby hold the world hostage.

Appearance

All the Ortho clones have light skin and hazel eyes. Their hair is brown. Their fingers are long and delicate. An optical device is strapped to their right eyes, with a variety of lenses. They have difficulty seeing straight without it.

Eldest’s hair is already receding from his temple, but is long enough to reach his waist. He has lines around his eyes. His premature decantation aged him a decade in minutes. That pain is his first concrete memory.

Demeanor

Thoughtful, cantankerous, and anti-social. Eldest prefers to have as much time alone as he can. Most of the time he stays in The Right Path’s laboratories, working on ways to control the Weapon once it’s rebuilt. He trusts Heartless and Youngest as his agents in the world. Well, “trust” is perhaps too strong a word.

Eldest is prone to mood swings. When he’s on his own he’s more stable, but with people around he’ll often switch from careful consideration to aggressive ranting and back. Part of him recognizes that other people don’t do that, but he just chalks that up as an advantage Youngest has that he doesn’t. He’s not interested in changing.

Intimacies: Control the Weapon and rule the world (defining), I need my brothers (major), I can’t trust my brothers (major), I prefer solitude
Catchphrase: All is part of the plan.

Capabilities

Eldest is in good shape, but he’s not an athlete. The conditioning from the clone vats won’t last him forever, and eventually he’ll become softer and weaker. He’s a social disaster, with little to no filter between his mind and his mouth. Where he really excels is in scientific tasks. He’s clever and quick-witted. He can focus on multiple tasks at once and see the connections between seemingly unrelated things.

Eldest’s paranoia keeps him in armor constantly. He wears a set of leathers reinforced with pieces of scrap metal from The Right Path’s laboratories. He can’t fight very well, but the weapons he does use are either long-range (a set of razor-edged homing disks) or exude the deadliest of poisons. The lab abounds with automata, all reprogrammed to be loyal to him first and the other Orthos second. Eldest uses them as servants and experimental assistants, but they were designed as bodyguards and combatants. He won’t hesitate to deploy them against intruders who turn hostile.

The lenses from their optical devices allow the Orthos to see dematerialized spirits and the flows of essence. If the device is knocked from their head (a difficulty 6 gambit), they will be disoriented for a round (no actions) and have great difficulty seeing straight afterward (-3 penalty on vision-related actions) until they can recover it. The lenses are made of adamant and quite sturdy.

Connections

  • The remaining scientists of The Right Path, on the run from Heartless. They’re terrified of all the Orthos, but would be able to give much useful information about their laboratory and the surrounding territory.
  • The lab automata are more intelligent than Eldest realizes, speaking with one another via invisible waves. They can’t disobey their programming or his commands, but they can still attempt to escape or communicate if the opportunity arises.

Questions

  • Eldest thinks he knows how to control the Weapon: capture Sam Eikar’s soul, put it in a jar, and lead the Weapon around by the nose. Will it work?
  • Does Eldest have a place for his brothers in his imagined new world order?
  • Eldest has access to the cloning vats. Has he restored them? Has he made more Orthos?

Fate: Betrayal