Character: Baden Hallstad

Baden was raised in Trentsmund, pretending to be human. For nearly 90 years his mother taught him about his people who lived far up in a hidden city in the sky. The day she attempted to bring him to their ancestral jhareth home, they were attacked. Hunters of the Eitharmos appeared and tried to get access to the hidden city as they passed through the veil. In the struggle, Ingaelin's mother was killed and he fled for his life, eventually getting passage on a ship to Jessik across the Black Ocean.

In the 10 years since, Baden has acquired training as a doctor from a prestigious colonial university. He secretly worships Iala, his people's goddess of light and life, and is now a devout Lansarus trained to heal others by channeling divine spirits. He bears the sword, armor, and shield of his ancestors, as well as a black market pistol in case the Eitharmos ever come back for him.

Character: Jagano Rema

I don’t speak often, so you’d do well to listen when I tell you who I am.

Of course, I’ve already told you, though your kind are often deaf to all but words. My soul is written in the veins across my skin. It pulses through the courseways of my body when I run the wilds; pounds in my chest, burns through lung and limb… but you should sense my purpose now, even in my stillness. It’s laden in my silence, imbued within each measured breath that I exhale.

No?

Then I will give it words, for no one knows better than I what power words hold.

I’m a Seeker.

My people look for the rare ones like me in childhood: a daughter of the clan well-grounded in herself, sturdy of mind and body, who does not forget the things she sees and hears. Cannot forget them. Her perfect memory is the Seeker’s greatest gift for her clan: a safe-house to fill up with precious things. Her self-knowledge is a steadiness against the empty hole of what our people have forgotten. The matriarchs honored these gifts in me when they chose me to learn the memory meditations. To wander. To seek out the truths of who the Gugrum used to be.

It’s my task to remember what’s been lost, and if you know anything at all about the Gugrum people, you know that we’ve lost more than most. The breaking of our nations, our centuries of servitude, and the grinding passage of the years over our backs have worn away the memories of our culture and our language: even the meaning of our people’s name.

I’ll be the one to find it again. I’m called to find the lost words. To wander from clan to clan. To search the ruined towers of the Forlorn Marches for lost records and inscriptions. My journey will likely carry me into the slave-lands of  Motta, where the captive of our kindred sweat in the dust under the lashes of men who see us only as strong arms and backs for labor.

I seek the old stories. Memories of who our people used to be. The scattered scraps that still remain of our lost language. Once I’ve heard a thing spoken aloud, I can’t forget it. I collect the old words, like bright stones on a chain, to bring back as a gift for all my people.

Anger, selfishness, the shedding of blood… the mother-clans set these things aside long ago, and the matriarchs say we are better for it. But I’ve taken these three habits up again, because I need them. I’ve descended into a world that’s far more dark and dangerous than the steady mountain villages and hunt-camps of my homeland.

My village still stands, rooted in the mountain, and I am grounded with it. It waits for my return, high in the wilds of Ba'areth. The lake draws down its stark blue from the sky: pure and blazing in the water. As blue as blood. Around it, where that blue meets the gray pebbles of the shore, stone towers rise up from the earth like great trees, connected at their roots and overrun with wildflowers. I close my eyes, and I can count the blossoms on the cherry-tree beside my mother’s door.

I’m far from home, but I’m not lost.

I’m not like you, but don’t mistake either my silence or my patience as the hallmarks of a vacant mind. I watch, and I listen, and I remember every word. 

Character: Jannick Gain

Another example character concept by Kristy Eagar, this time using the mimessarch race.

Jannick Gain

I remember a time when I was human. When I ran the boardwalks of Brindle Beach with the other children.

I think I had black hair.

I must have had a family, because I remember the house in the village. The fishing-boat rocking in the waves beside the jetty outside our door. The warm blankets of my bed. The smell of rising bread. The taste of boiled whitefish soup.

There was a girl. A sister, perhaps. Someone who used to race beside me along the packed sand at the water’s edge. Laughing. Always together, laughing.

Whomever she was, she’s nearly gone, like all the others. Another empty shape left in the fragments of my mind. Outlines without forms or faces. The fading sound of our laughter is an echo, devoid of substance or identity.

I remember the old burnt-out church just north of the village, along the waterfront, just up the cliffs from where the white stone first rises up out of the salt-marsh. We found broken statues in the courtyard behind the ruin, grotesque stone pieces buried under years of weeds. I remember the carven face my toes uncovered in the dust. The bulging eyes. The gaping shark-toothed maw. I remember running. Running over sand-covered boards that creaked under my weight. The rotten boards of a covered well, giving way beneath my feet, tumbling me downward. The sick feeling of the world dropping out from under me.

Someone screamed when I fell. Was it my sister?

I don’t remember hitting the water. But when I woke, I lay in the black murk at the bottom of the well. And yet, I hadn’t drowned. My eyes hurt in their sockets, swollen, aching in what little light reached me from above. The scales were already forming in patches over my ribs. Sharp barbs protruded from my itching spine, ran along the sides of my arms and legs, over the bare skin of my scalp. The barbs lifted to my touch as I explored them, slicing my probing fingertips.

I was screaming, then. But water filled my lungs, and it was cold and sweet and terrible. I climbed out of the black well, and ran from that ruined churchyard. I ran home.

But there was no one left.

Only their footprints, all leading downward. Towards the sea.

Already I’d forgotten them, the people I must have known. Their names and faces had all bled out of my mind down in that well. Their details seeped away, all but the edges of the holes they left behind.

I found words of power, shimmering in those holes. Words, written in the spaces of the lost – seething inside the outlines where their memories should be. I’m still afraid to speak those words.

A man from the next village found me there, crouching in the shadows. He told me they’d dredged for me. They’d sent someone on a rope down the well, but they hadn’t found me in the stifling sludge beneath the water of that dark hole. He reached for me.

But when I stepped into the light, the words stopped coming from his mouth. He made a choking noise.

He called me the drowned boy. He said I’d come back from the dead, a demon.

I hadn’t drowned. I hadn’t. But I must have been at the bottom of the well for too long, simmering in murk.

It changed me.

Men came from the next village to hunt me, but we discovered together that I’m no easy prey. Their throats taught me the new sharpness of my teeth. Their flesh taught me the new stretching wideness of my lips and jaw and throat. Their blood taught me the new hungers of my belly.

More men came, with spears. I couldn’t run. I couldn’t…

I spoke the words left written in the lost. We screamed together with those words, the men and I. No other from that village dared to hunt me again.

I keep well-cloaked now. In the shadows.

I fear the sea. It’s too sweet on my tongue. Too rich in my nostrils. I try to keep from the water, but I can’t bear to be long separated from it. From the whispered invitation the waves make against my skin. The promise of the salt inside my lungs.

I wasn’t always as I am. Someone will know how to fix this. Someone will know how to change me back.

I’ve only to hunt them out.

Character: Thessia Onforoth

Here's an example character using the daemon race, created by contributing author Kristy Eagar. Click any of the character sheet images to the right to get to a .pdf version.

THESSIA ONFOROTH

Daemon Ranger

I’ve been looking for my father. He was a stranger. A colonial by birth, they tell me, but I can’t be even sure of that. A warrior, tall and quiet. Always moving. Searching for something.  My mother died before he knew he had a child, so all my information has come from the village elders where she lived. They say my father was a tortured man, lucky only in battle. Unlucky in love. Unlucky in birthright. Unlucky in having had a daughter like me.

He came for me, but he saw the mark of a daemon on my scalp and he knew what I was. He judged me. He found me worthy of no better fate than death.

Or so I assume. What else could have led him to cast me off as he did? Why else throw a small child from a cliff into a river? An Avan priest pulled me out of the water, and brought me to one of the hidden enclaves of his order. By the grace of our Lady Mother, they healed my broken body. They raised me to be a warrior. They raised me to be strong, despite the scars that mark me, body and soul.

I’m a daemon, and they tell me that I was once called to serve Lord Daemoth, life after life. Yet the Avans also taught me to prize freedom. When the dark herald came to lead me to my destiny, I knew I had a choice. I turned away.

I make my own destiny. I won’t let the sins of my past lives define me. But I will atone for them.

Sometimes, in dreams, I catch snatches of who I used to be. I reject her. I will not be the woman I once was. If Lord Daemoth wants me, let him come and take me. I’ve chosen the goddess Ava, and I reject him.

A place waits for me, among the operatives of my order. But I’m not ready for that, not yet. I’m not sure I ever will be. I know I’m not worthy. I’m too bitter. Too angry. I remember too much of who I used to be.

I’ve left my brothers and sisters in the hidden enclaves. While I seek to do the work of Lady Ava in a world gone dark, I’ve never been an idealist. My methods are practical. Already there’s blood on my hands, and I don’t know if she approves. Can even the goddess of lost children forgive the things I’ve done? The things I think I’ve done in my past lives? I could make this whole lifetime an atonement, but in the end, I’m not certain she won’t turn her face from what I am. Just as my father did.

I try not to think about it. I try not to think of much at all. I just keep moving, staying ahead of those who hunt me, following the traces of a trail gone twenty years cold.

Does my father still live? Who was he? What was he searching for? Did he find it?

Did he regret what he did to me?

I must know. This last question, I must ask him to his face.

When I hear his answer, I will decide if I believe in justice or forgiveness. I will know my path.

Perhaps I’ll never find my father. But in following the convoluted paths of his wanderings, I've already found myself.