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God-Blooded daughter of Makarios, the Sigil's Dreamer, Demon of the Second Circle (from "Games of Divinity")
Note: Ishira was made before the "Player's Guide" came out and has not been retconned. However, I get the impression that it would be perfectly possible to make her using the rules presented in the "Player's Guide", so I don't feel bad about it. Thus she remains exactly as originally written save for some minor numerical changes (cost to Dematerialize, etc). It should be noted that she has, effectively, the following Merits: Longevity, God-Body (10 point version), Awakened Essence, Magical Attunement, and Gatekeeper; and the following Flaw: Affected by Wards. For purposes of various things, we've given her a (post-character generation) effective Inheritance of 4.
- Cut Scenes
- Dry Boring Explanation
When the sorcerer opened his eyes upon the white citadel, surrounded by sweet-smelling blossoming apple trees, he had to remind himself that he was in a dream. The great doors, carven with beautiful branches and inlaid with green gems, soared above him, open and welcoming. A slender golden-skinned serving girl, diaphanous and mist-translucent, conducted him into the entrance-hall, whose windows cast pale green shadows upon the white walls, and through into a great skylit room centered on a sapphire table. The man he sought stood behind the glittering blue expanse, filling the room with his presence despite his slight stature and apparent youth.
The sorcerer did not show his fear, though his mouth was dry and his heart pounded. He bowed to the copper-haired man before him, and, in turn, was gestured to a tall ivory chair. "I welcome you, friend, to my hall," said the man, raising his chin; for a moment, his eyes refracted rainbows that seemed to scatter throughout the pale room.
"I accept your welcome, Lord Makarios," answered the sorcerer with ritual politeness, "and pray earnestly that our association will be a beneficial one." He resisted the urge to lick his lips nervously. It is said, he recalled, that Makarios knows just how to extract from you that which you most value, in exchange for the merest dross. It is said that he knows exactly how to behave with each of his clients, to extort from them their heart's desire.
It is said that he can get the best of anyone.
Quiet, fool, he scolded himself. You chose this meeting. Now follow through.
"So," said the demon. His voice was very clear, and very grave. "To what do I owe this honour?"
The sorcerer broke into a cold sweat. Makarios, for the barest instant, had reminded him of his father -- someone, he thought, best not considered, especially at a time like this. He swallowed. "My Lord," he said. "A small thing -- something so minute as to be worth only a moment of your notice. I wish to bargain with you for the cure to my father's madness."
"Ah," said Makarios. He smiled, and the sorcerer thought that the smile was almost -- kind. He spread his hands. "But I am no healer."
"It is said," said the sorcerer, "that there are things to be found in dreams that have long been lost to the mortal world."
"This, also," murmured Makarios, "have I heard." He turned slightly and moved to one of the vast windows; the light, filtered through apple-green glass, fell upon his noble pale features and copper hair with a strange harmony of colour.
"It is also said," continued the sorcerer, voice softening, "that in your realm, Lord Makarios, can still be found the vanished yezima, which were constructed by the rulers of the First Realm as guardians."
The demon said nothing. His gaze appeared fixed beyond the window, upon the orchards beyond.
"And I have read, Lord, that the bones of the yezima grant such strength of will and certainty of purpose that they can cure any illness of the mind or heart."
Still, Makarios did not answer.
The sorcerer paused, and waited. At last, he said, humbly, "My Lord Makarios. I have come to bargain with you for the bones of a yezima."
"Who," inquired Makarios, "is that child?"
Caught off guard, and confused, the sorcerer hesitated, then ventured, "Child, my Lord?"
"A child," said Makarios. "There is a child in my orchard. She is not a normal part of my realm, and thus, she must have wandered in from your mind -- your dreams."
Rising, the sorcerer joined the demon at the window. Through the lens of green he saw a small girl, her hair long and pale, sitting cross-legged under one of the trees. "I recognize her," he said, puzzled. "At times I dream of her. How is it that she could come here?"
"Occasionally, it happens," said Makarios. He touched the window, and the glass faded to perfect clarity. The girl sat weaving a string of fallen blossoms.
The sorcerer waited again, but Makarios's attention seemed fixed on the girl. She sat silently, head bowed, focused on the garland. "Who is she?" the demon asked at last.
"I know not," replied the sorcerer. "She merely appears, every now and then, within my dreams. Perhaps she is a memory from my childhood. -- Does her presence offend you in some way?"
"No," said Makarios. "Call her in."
"My Lord, I do not know her name."
Makarios's expression did not change, nor did he move a muscle, but suddenly the two of them were standing beside the child, out in the orchard. For the first time, the sorcerer noticed that Makarios's dream-realm had no sun; rather, the sky had its own luminescence, as if it were made of watered silk, lit from behind.
The girl looked up quietly. Her eyes were a curious colour: a sort of shimmering grey, like quicksilver.
"You trespass," Makarios told her.
Her eyes shifted to the sorcerer, then back to the demon. She appeared to consider deeply. Then she raised the garland of flowers to Makarios, as if in offering.
The demon reached to touch them, and as he did, the wreath dissolved into a flood of white moths. The child's serious mouth did not smile, but her eyes seemed to shift and lighten. Makarios watched her for another long moment.
"I have your bargain, friend," he said finally. "I will give you the bones of the yezima if you will give me this child."
The sorcerer stared down at the girl, seeing no change in her equanimity. "The girl? How?"
"I will draw her from your dreams," replied Makarios.
"It is said," said the sorcerer, and this time he could not keep the fear from his voice, "that those who consecrate their dreams to you inevitably go mad."
"Not," said Makarios gently, "inevitably."
Unsure, the sorcerer took one last look at the child who might buy his father's sanity. What kind of life am I consigning her to? he wondered, then, How can she have a life? She's a dream.
"Very well," he said. "I accept."
Some say that the gods do not dream. This is not true. What is true is that, for the most part, mortals cannot comprehend the dreams of the gods. Thus, it would be impossible to describe how the white citadel and pale-blossomed orchards appeared in the dream of Taru-Han, when she met with Makarios; but they were there, as were the green windows and silken glow of the sky.
"You have taken a great risk in inviting me here," Taru-Han, the whirlwind of smoke, told him as she swept through the entranceway like a storm. "And I take a risk in meeting you. You had better make this meeting worth my time."
"I think," said Makarios calmly, "that I shall."
"Let us come straight to it, then," Taru-Han said. "Why have you called me here? I cannot imagine anything that you can offer me."
"There are things even gods dream of," Makarios answered.
"There are gods who have domain over dreams," retorted Taru-Han. "Explain why I must consort with a demon."
"Because," said Makarios, "some of the things gods dream of are unacceptable, even to other gods. There are things that even the gods will not bring into Creation for you. -- But nothing is unacceptable to me."
If a whirlwind could be seen to think, Taru-Han could be said to appear lost in thought for a moment.
"And what do you get out of this, Sigil's Dreamer?" she asked.
"A small thing," he said, and smiled slightly. "Just a soul."
"Never!" flared Taru-Han. "Remove a soul from the sacred cycle for your delectation? No! All souls must be reborn. It is one of the greatest laws!"
"I merely wish to borrow it," said Makarios reasonably. "I will return it to you once a lifetime has passed, and at that time it may be born again."
"A lifetime," said Makarios firmly. "A lifetime which may be cut short, or lengthened, by whatever fate it is granted."
The two stood in seeming stasis, for no time truly passes in Makarios's realm.
"Very well," said Taru-Han. "I accept."
Character Background and Explanations
Ishira has extremely long, frost-white hair -- paler than the palest hair of Northerners. Her skin is also quite pale, although it doesn't necessarily seem so next to her hair. Her eyes are a sort of shifting grey, and she is quite tall, with extremely thin, delicate features and figure; it would seem to take only the barest effort to snap one of her wrists. Makarios seems to have lent a kind of "flavour" to her hair and eyes -- her white hair has the barest of coppery highlights, and her eyes have the slightest of rainbow shimmers -- but these are exceptionally difficult to notice. She is around 30 - 40 years old, and has, probably, hundreds of years of life ahead of her, though if one were to mistake her for a mortal (as happens relatively often among people who do not know her), she would look about 18 - 20.
[#History] History (Initial Writeup)
Ishira Amakari does not remember her birth. This is because she was not born. Her childhood memories consist of flashes of incoherent dreamscapes, images of the sorcerer from whose dreams she was drawn, and one single image of the first time she saw the face of Makarios, her father.
Makarios was drawn to the child when he saw her in a sorcerer's dream, and chose to grant the sorcerer's bargain in exchange for her. The sorcerer accepted, wondering what would come of it, and never discovered; though not driven mad by Makarios's ministrations, he ceased dreaming of the child and was given what he had desired. So he did his best not to consider it, never telling anyone at all about the bargain he struck for his father's mysterious cure, and has all but forgotten what transpired -- although, should he see Ishira, he could very well recognize her, even grown.
Makarios knew, however, that if he drew the girl into the world without a soul, she would be a mere construct, with no real life to her. Thus he took a great, but well-considered, chance, and bargained with Taru-Han, the Lady of Souls. He gave Taru-Han something she had long desired, and in exchange, Taru-Han secured for him a soul. This soul, Makarios crafted into Ishira, as he coaxed her forth from the sorcerer's dreams.
The process of creating Ishira was extraordinarily difficult and draining for Makarios, and he was unable to remove anything from dreams for some years afterwards as he regained his strength and capabilities. He has since fully recovered.
The child's first sight away from the realms of dream was Makarios's studio in Malfeas. His studio is white, as is his citadel in dreams, and filled with pale green and white glowstones. She spent her first year and a day in Malfeas itself, accompanied everywhere by her father's hired guardian demons and treated with grudging politeness by the serfs of the demon city. Makarios educated her himself, occasionally bringing in his sisters and brothers to help her in fields he could not (swordplay, for example). In that year and a day, however, it became evident to Makarios that the Demon City is perhaps not the best place to bring up a child, particularly not a child like Ishira, whose human soul had more of an effect on her than he had foreseen. When she tried to take care of an injured stomach bottle bug she found in the street, he decided to send her to Creation for a time.
Makarios thus arranged a third bargain, and through the dreams of his client, along with the price the client had demanded, he transported the girl into Creation.
Though Makarios himself could not join her, nevertheless he could see her often in the nights, as she slept. He arranged for the girl to be fostered at the best of the best boarding schools in Nexus -- a school which takes the children of kings and lone, outcaste Dragon-Bloods; a school which thought nothing of a quiet, reclusive young girl. There were whispers that she might be the child of "someone important" -- even a minor spirit or little god -- but none ever expanded upon these whispers, and none ever mentioned them to the child herself.
Indeed, few things were mentioned to her. The other children, all at least half-human and with relatively human backgrounds, found her unsettling, and avoided her. They called her Ishira -- "Frost" -- for her pale hair, having been given no other name. Ishira knew that she must never grant anyone her true name. For her name is Amakari -- "Daughter of Makarios": and should anyone with knowledge of the ancient tongues ever hear it, they will know her parentage.
Thus in her days Ishira studied -- writing and diplomacy and gaming, the disciplines of the elite; when she slept, she could see her father, who taught her the things that her institution could not. He taught her of the true history of the world, of the creation of the Exalted and the overthrow of the Primordials, of the subsequent overthrow of the Solars and the terror that followed. He taught her, also, that these things matter little, for the lives of mortals and even the Exalted are short, and all things wind through their cycle in time. "I spend my time expanding my empire," he told her, "and creating new objects of power, and making new trades, and learning new bits of intriguing lore. These things are important to me because that is how I am made, but I do not imagine that they will last, or even matter in ten thousand years."
Ishira therefore gained an understanding of history which, although it is by necessity incomplete, covers all of the most important events in the timeline of the world. She also gained an outlook which sees little of import in founding empires, or starting wars, or saving lives, or gaining temporal power.
And yet, although the soul which brought Ishira life and emotion had been cleaned as well as possible by Taru-Han, even Taru-Han has not the potency of Lethe. Ishira has never had any strange memories, visions or thoughts, and yet her tendencies are not as one might expect. Although she knows that saving lives are unimportant, still she finds herself moved to do it. Although she knows that wanderlust is irrelevant, still she sometimes finds herself with a desire to see the world. It is inaccurate to ascribe to her a sense of empathy or understanding of others' feelings; and yet she is unwilling to wound them. Ishira does not question this. She accepts her own emotions and virtues with serenity, understanding that it is how she was made.
She grew up as any mortal child would have, (though she started from approximately age 8 and her first year or so was spent in Malfeas), and left her boarding school at last, having remained relatively untouched by those she knew there. After the end of her time at boarding school, Ishira at last went through an extremely difficult-to-navigate dream-gate to revisit Malfeas itself. She lived there for a year and a day, staying with her father and learning even more about the Demon City and its inhabitants, before at last deciding that she was more suited to Creation and returning.
Ishira had demonstrated an aptitude for crafting jewellery even before Makarios brought her out of the dreams which made her, and so he had continued to tutor her, both in Creation (from dreams) and during her second stay with him in Malfeas. After her return to Nexus, she apprenticed herself to one of the best jewellers in Nexus; but she quickly realized that she had already outstripped him. Accordingly, she left the apprenticeship and set up her own studio, soon becoming well-known for her supernaturally-exquisite craftsmanship.
Ishira remains a crafter of jewellery of Nexus. Her reputation has spread widely enough that she now no longer even needs her own shopfront, for what need has she for business off the street? She rarely accepts commissions unless the project or payment is something intriguing or astounding (pieces of interesting lore, artifacts, favours from powerful people or supernatural beings, and really stupidly large amounts of money all count), and most of her work is done for her own satisfaction, although, like her father, she has little attachment to a work once it is finished, and few qualms about selling it.
Prior to her acquisition of a Gem of the Fair Heart (see Shataina/Artifacts), Ishira was never overcome by her passions. Now she is having more difficulty controlling herself, and she finds the sensation intriguing. Because Ishira did not "grow up" in the normal sense, being brought whole into the world at a physical age that is past the most formative years for most denizens of Creation, her understanding of emotion is quite odd. As stated before, she acts according to her Virtues because she can sense, somehow, that they indicate how she was "made" -- not, generally, because she pays any attention to the feelings that go along with them. Thus, the intensification of her emotions from the Gem has not made her likely to do irrational things -- it has simply brought her closer to the state of a normal human being; previous to her ownership of the Gem, she never believed that her emotions really mattered, whereas now she will at least take them into account.
Ishira is a very quiet woman, with a kind of stillness about her which some might call "wisdom". It is exceptionally rare for her to become angry, and far rarer for her to show it. She has never been in love, never even felt an attraction she thought was interesting enough to allow herself; if she did decide that an attraction was worth pursuing, the resultant relationship would probably be quite strange, as she would allow each stage to progress, then analyze it to death. She has no close friends and, although she will almost never make a social faux pas due to her faultless education (and artifact necklace), she still seems to have trouble making new friends. This is not because people don't like her -- they do, and many are intrigued by her. But even the most fascinating and charismatic enigma becomes boring if one never comes close to solving it, and she has such a bizarre worldview that even if someone were to draw her out (an excessively difficult thing to do), it is probable that they would have a great deal of difficulty relating to her.
If something comes up which stirs one of the Virtues Ishira doesn't quite understand (Compassion or Valour), she will act in line with it at the time if she can, and ruthlessly study herself afterwards, attempting to comprehend. She has thus also gained something of a reputation as a kind of benevolent goddess, a woman who will almost always grant help to the deserving and protect the weak.
- Mercy's Fury (5) -- as listed on my Shataina/Artifacts page; the katana was made for Ishira.
- Gem of the Fair Heart (3) -- as listed on my Shataina/Artifacts page.
- Necklace (5) -- Makarios had, in his store-room of peculiar artifacts, a prototype artifact he had picked up some two thousand years previously. It was a fine network of adamant threads, apparently meant to channel Essence, but he had never had the inclination or interest to do anything with it. When it came time, he judged, for Ishira to create her masterwork and prove herself as a great crafter (and his standards are quite high), he gave her the tiny chains of adamant and instructed her to fix them.
Ishira spent years of work repairing the necklace, which was astoundingly potent and needed comparatively little repair, and at last brought it into the form it has today. The necklace is a jewelled collar from which depends elaborate strings of more jewels (OOC note: if you've ever seen the movie "Moulin Rouge", it looks something like that wonderful necklace the Duke gives to Satine). It costs no motes to attune, and has a Hearthstone setting in the centre of the collar (about where that dip in the throat is).
Wearing the necklace gives the wearer an unconsciously noble and regal bearing, adding +2 to all social rolls.
What the necklace does best, however, is store Essence. Fifty "jewels" adorn the necklace, aside from the Hearthstone; what onlookers rarely realize is that the jewels are not fabulous tiny diamonds, but actual individual motes of Essence crystallized into shimmering tear-shaped gems. The wearer is not only capable of using these extra motes (if used, a mote-gem winks out until it is recharged), but, if she wishes, she may order the necklace to drop mote-gems into her palm, at which point she can give the mote-gems to others. They can then concentrate to absorb the mote-gems and gain their Essence. Doing this does not hurt the necklace, and it can recharge normally.
When recharging, the bearer must feed a mote to the necklace for every new mote-gem, and the necklace can only focus and create one mote-gem per hour (so, if totally drained, it will take a minimum of 50 hours to completely refill the necklace).
Note that although this necklace costs no motes to attune, it currently cannot grant an Essence pool to a being that would not normally have one (although, conceivably, it might be able to do this with still further restructuring).
- Modified Silken Armour (4) -- This Silken Armour costs 6 motes to attune and has no Fatigue Value and no Mobility Penalty. It provides 7L/5B soak. In addition, it can change its form and become any kind of clothing -- it can assume the form of a fur mantle and tough explorer's leathers as easily as that of a beautifully tailored silken ballgown; and it does not show up, even to magical examination (such as use of All-Encompassing Sorcerer's Sight), as anything more than clothing. Lastly, it provides the cleansing effect of the Collar of Dawn's Cleansing Light: the wearer never becomes dirty or disarranged, and thus never takes social penalties for such things, even if she has been wandering in the wilderness and fighting Wyld creatures for 6 months without respite.
- Guild -- Ishira sometimes deals with the Guild, although she doesn't care a whit about the organization as a whole.
Ishira's Manse is a tall (about 20 stories) white spire that glows with a strangely insubstantial shimmer; the tower almost doesn't seem as if it is solid at all. (It somewhat resembles, to those who have seen it, Makarios's dream-citadel; Makarios himself helped Ishira buy the Manse, subtly influencing the sale through his millions of contacts, and funded some of the extra money she needed to buy it at the time.) The walls are simple and undecorated, perfectly smooth to the touch; attempts to scale them automatically fail without supernatural ability. The only way in is through the front doors, which are tall half-chevrons of the same smooth white material. The windows, of which there are many in every room, are made of perfectly clear, fine glass that was enchanted long ago and is impossible to break without supernatural ability. They tend to be tall, slender, and diamond-shaped. Around the edges of the windows and doors, as well as around the top of the tower, there is exceptionally delicate detailing -- looking almost like white porcelain filigree -- in idealized, abstract shapes, resembling a stylized version of the forms one sees when one watches the clouds pass by overhead. If one turns away and looks again, or even simply watches them for a long time, the "filigree clouds" will change formations, particularly if it is a windy day.
Walking in, one is struck first by the silence: Ishira's Manse is totally silent, and a sound within an open area (which is most of them) can be heard clear across the building. One might think that this would turn the place into an echoing, cacophonous hell when filled with people, but although the sounds are clearly heard when there is no one around, the more sound is produced, the more muted it becomes -- so that if there are dozens of people shouting in the Manse, their cries become muted to an easily bearable background. Ishira herself goes barefoot inside, and her servants both speak and walk quietly.
The inside walls are tiled in pale blue and white, the tiles spiralling up in a strangely frenetic pattern, like the representation of a windstorm in colour. At first, it seems as if the entire Manse is open arches, but this is not quite true: the tower room (also the Hearthstone room), at the very top, is separated from the rest by a round door set in the ceiling. Catwalks and inside terraces spiral around the inside of the Manse, leading through the enormous arches which lead to some of the smaller rooms set in the walls, as well as leading to the door of the Hearthstone room at the very top. The arches are closed off by means of shimmering bead curtains which alternate large clear, blue and white crystals, and sound musically when disturbed. (These bead curtains can be "closed"; with the proper password, a person may pass their hand over them, speaking the word; they will lock together, preventing entry, sight, or sound from passing through that particular arch. Repeating the process loosens them again.) Both the arches and the inside windows are lined with the same strange stylized "clouds" as the outside decorations.
The only real door in the entire place leads into the Hearthstone room in the tower, which doubles as Ishira's workshop (and sometime bedroom). One walks around and around the inside until one reaches the door, formed of the same featureless shimmering white as the outside walls. The floor of the room to which it leads forms the opaque pale-blue ceiling of the rest of the Manse. Inside, the area is very large; the entire ceiling forms a skylight of the same enchanted glass used in the rest of the Manse, and there are eight diamond-shaped windows around the sides as well. The "cloud-filigree" curls and twists into room-crossing extensions from above each window, each twist of white extending towards the centre; the place they point at is where the Hearthstone, a clear crystal lens within which tiny lightnings flicker, is formed in midair (and will stay there, as it is lighter than air, until someone takes it). (This Hearthstone grants +4 to the user's Dodge Ability.)
On top of the Manse's normal protections, Ishira has also warded the Hearthstone room with alarm wards so that, when she is in there, they will trip and warn her of their presence. These wards explicitly trip when invisible beings, dematerialized beings, beings using Stealth Charms, etc, walk into the Hearthstone room.
The only way to get through the door to the Hearthstone room is to be attuned to the Manse and know the password. If the Hearthstone is not in anyone's possession, then the door stands open. (The door may also deliberately be left open, if the Hearthstone bearer wishes.) The same applies to the Manse's main front doors.
The Hearthstone bearer, by speaking the proper passwords, may also take control of the air within the Manse. She may whip it into a storm, cause it to drop to a punishingly low temperature, manipulate tiny little breezes, and so on. She cannot make the air do things that air simply cannot do -- for example, she can't use it to make her fly -- but she can do anything up to that point, such as, perhaps, allowing it to break her fall somewhat, or blowing someone clear off one of the inside terraces.
The Manse's control over air also allows anyone who knows the passwords to listen in on conversations anywhere in the Manse from anywhere in the Manse, even in rooms whose bead curtains have been sealed off (except in the Hearthstone room; only the Hearthstone bearer may listen in on conversations that are occurring in the Hearthstone room if the door is closed). Thus, a character just inside the main doors may listen to what is being said in a sealed room 20 feet away, if she knows what command to give the Manse. There is a bewildering variety of passwords for this power: three are required for each use -- one password to activate the power itself, one password to "unlock" the room one is listening in on for the purposes of this power, and one password to "unlock" the room one is listening in from for the purposes of this power. Without knowing the passwords, it is impossible to listen in on a conversation taking place in a closed room within the Manse, even if one is positioned in such a way that one might normally be able to do so (e.g., outside the door of the relevant room with a cup to one's ear).
The Hearthstone bearer may redefine any of the Manse's passwords at any time.
Detailed using my houseruled Manse Creation System
This Manse was made with 18 Manse Creation Points (16 base, plus 2 for the Notoriety Drawback). It has the following Powers: Fortress (5); Affinity Element Control (5); Passwords (3); Speakers (2); Custom Power [Wind Carries Words -- augments Affinity Element Control] (2); and Cosmetic Powers (1).
Makarios is Ishira's Mentor. The two of them are quite easy with each other, and very loyal; perhaps their bond is even that of parent and child. Ishira knows how to let Makarios know that she needs to speak with him in her dreams (see "Lucid Dreamer" under her Special Abilities). Very, very few people in Creation know that Makarios is her father; Taru-Han, if she were to meet Ishira, could probably recognize the soul as the one she traded to Makarios, and it is possible that if the sorcerer from whose dreams she was taken ever met Ishira he would recognize her as well. Otherwise, unless someone summons a demon from Malfeas specifically for the purpose of asking whether Makarios has a child, and the demon happens to know that Makarios has a daughter (not likely, but possible), or someone manages to get a person who knows of her parent to inform them (unlikely), or someone gets a lot of successes on Measure the Wind, there is essentially no way I can think of for anyone to figure out that she is Makarios's daughter without strong divinatory magic or Essence-analyzing magics (All-Encompassing Sorcerer's Sight may count, at the Storyteller's discretion, although that would probably reveal little more than a demonic taint about her Essence and a roll should probably be required). Everyone in Creation tends to assume that her supernatural parent is a little god of some kind, especially considering her kindness and generosity. (The number of people who know she's a Demon-Blood has just been getting higher in recent games, though; it's really just a matter of time before it reaches critical mass and the general public finds out.)
Ishira is ultimately loyal to her father, above everything and everyone else. She believes (correctly) that he would not deliberately harm her, and wishes only that she have the kind of life she would want. For her part, she knows that she must tread carefully, as there are those (see Recent Events, above) who might kill her if they realized that she so much as has regular contact with her father. But if Makarios asks her to do something, she will do it to the best of her ability, even if it's harmful to others; he knows her better than anyone and she trusts that he would not ask her to do something she wouldn't want to do, or that would put her in danger, without extremely good reason.
Note: In the official God-Blooded chargen rules, the background of "Mentor" has been disallowed for God-Blooded and Demon-Blooded and replaced with the background "Patron", apparently on the theory that gods and demons cannot love their children or see them as anything other than tools. Neither my GM nor I like this approach; we prefer to believe that gods and demons can love their children. Thus, Ishira has the "Mentor" background, and we consider Makarios to love her and wish her well -- and Makarios is exceptionally intelligent and good at understanding people, so there's no reason to assume that this will automatically mean that he wants to kill her "because he loves her and thinks she would like it" or some other weird contrived demon thing.
Ishira, as mentioned, is widely known as a wondrous crafter of jewellery and, also, as one who will do good for those who need help. Adding to her reputation is the fact that if she is in Nexus, she has one day per week that she devotes to healing those who come to her door (using Touch of Grace), pausing only to regain Essence; she will not heal anyone until it is his turn in line, unless they will literally die before she gets to them. She does not break this rule even for supernatural creatures, although she probably would if she were subjected to a direct threat. No one has ever broken her rules or threatened her; the service she performs is too precious.
Ishira is relatively wealthy from her famous jewellery. One might think she would have more wealth, but she accepts no money from Makarios save on loan (though her artifacts were gifts), and she spends much on magical ingredients, interesting books of lore, and other such things. One thing she is invariably interested in is bettering her crafting ability, especially if it will help her make better artifacts, and so she has a small library of such books and is often pleased to pay to acquire more.
[#LooseEnds] Loose Ends
[#Special] Special Abilities
- Lucid Dreamer -- Ishira is a lucid dreamer and can control her movements consciously within her dreams. It is also quite easy for her to remember them upon awakening. If she wishes to speak to her father, then she needs simply to navigate her way through the dreamscape to his citadel -- a process that she is practiced at, which is familiar as the walk home for her.
- Safe Dreamer -- It is quite difficult for any dream-affecting powers save those of Makarios to affect Ishira. The system for this is up to the Storyteller; the simplest way to do it is probably just to raise the DC for powers like Dreamspeak, Dreambane, etc. If someone does manage to force her to dream against her will, Ishira may, at any time, spend one Willpower point and then make a contested roll (not determined yet) against whatever is forcing her to dream. If she wins, then she wakes up; if she loses, then they may continue to force her to dream, but she may try again as many times as she wants (as long as she has the Willpower, of course).
- Makarios's Power -- If she places her father's mark upon her forehead and donates her dreams to him, Ishira suffers almost no discomfort whatsoever, although she does enjoy dreaming and generally prefers to have the experience. However, it is extremely difficult for Makarios to take anything from her dreams; the system for this is up to the Storyteller, but it is recommended that the cost to him in Essence be at least tripled, and a Willpower added. He discovered this when he made Mercy's Fury for her, and has not made anything for her since.
- Outside Fate -- At the Storyteller's discretion, Ishira may very well be outside Fate. She was, after all, made, not born, and she was created in Malfeas. This is really more of a plot hook than a power and should be carefully considered before being placed in any games, especially those with Sidereals.
Ishira speaks and reads Old Realm (this is probably the closest thing she has to a native language), High Realm, Riverspeak, and Forest-Tongue. (Houseruled Language System: Demonic Old Realm 4; Celestial Old Realm 3; Terrestrial Old Realm 2; High Realm 2; Riverspeak 3; Marukani Common Tongue 3; Marukani Traditional 2)
[#CharGen] Character Generation
Ishira was generated with 7/6/4 Attributes, 25 Abilities, and 3 favoured Abilities chosen from things we thought appropriate for a daughter of Makarios. She was given 6 starting Charms and Backgrounds as a Dragon-Blood, save for Artifact; she was also given 50 Experience Points, and was allowed to buy each level of Artifact for 1 Experience Point per level (because her father can make them at will and owns a prodigious store). This may sound overpowered, but she was created for a crossover game with a Solar PC, and she was actually decently balanced against him. She has since played in a bunch of short-term games: in the first, she learned the Charm Host of Spirits; in the second, her Lore was raised from 3 to 4, her Investigation -- Research specialty was raised from 1 to 2, and she gained her first dot of Occult -- Crafting Artifacts; in the third, she gained a dot of Temperance, going from 3 to 4; in the fourth, she learned the Art of Warding; in the fifth, she gained her first dots of Resistance, Endurance, and Survival; in the sixth, she gained her first dot of Ride; in the seventh, she bought all the languages she should have had from the start (due to the creation by my ST of a houseruled language system); in the eighth, she bought her first dot of Stealth and the Charm Dreamspeak, as well as raising her Marukani Traditional Language to 2 and her Marukani Common Tongue to 3; in the ninth, she brought her Wits from 2 to 3; in the tenth, she raised her Investigation from 0 to 1 (subsuming one dot of her formerly 2-dot Research specialty in the process); gave herself a new one-dot Specialty in Dreams (Occult); and gave herself a new one-dot Specialty in Marches (Endurance); in the eleventh, she raised her Ride from 2 to 3.
She has also gained three talismans: one which adds +1 to the DC of any material undead who wish to attack her, one which adds +1 against immaterial undead, and one which adds +1 against attempts to curse her.
Charisma: 3 (+2 from artifact necklace)
Manipulation: 2 (+2 from artifact necklace)
Appearance: 4 (+2 from artifact necklace)
Melee: 3 (Specialty: Mercy's Fury +2)
Dodge: 3 (+4 from Hearthstone)
Endurance: 1 (Specialty: Marches +1)
Linguistics: 3 (Specialty: Accent +1)
Crafts -- Jewellery: 5
Investigation: 1 (Specialty: Research +1)
Lore: 4 (Specialty: Demons and Malfeas +1)
Occult: 3 (Specialty: Crafting Artifacts +1, Dreams +1)
Artifact: 17 (Yes, that does read "seventeen".)
Connections -- Guild: 1
Manse (x2): 2
Virtues and Such
Essence Pool: 37 (25 committed to Principle of Motion , Mercy's Fury , her Silken Armour , and the Gem of the Fair Heart ; 50 stored in artifact necklace [which requires no commitment]; cost to Dematerialize is 15)
Charms and Combat
Compassion: Dreamspeak, Measure the Wind, Touch of Grace
Temperance: Host of Spirits
Valour: Creation of Perfection, Dematerialize, Principle of Motion, Uncanny Prowess
Other: the Art of Warding
Base Combat Statistics (using Mercy's Fury): Speed +14, Attack 11, Damage +7, Parry 11. [Houseruled Power Combat: Reach 4, Speed +5, Attack 12, Damage +8, Parry 11, Delay ?]
Dodge Pool: 10 [Power Combat: 12]
Soak: 7 Bashing, 8 Lethal, 7 Aggravated (modified Silken Armour, 7L/5B)
Health Levels: -0, -1, -1, -2, -2, -4, Incapacitated
Current Experience Total (Houseruled Experience System): 5
The background for these scenes is explained under "Recent Events", below.
Ascendant Willow was in his room, folding his spare robe into his backpack. He was, Ishira realized when she came to the open door, completely well; his browned arms were strong and unscarred, and he stood straight as ever. Even his long hair, so un-Immaculate, seemed full of health and life, brushed and gleaming like polished mahogany. Wood-Aspected, she recollected. Of course. He doesn't need me to heal him.
He didn't look up.
"You're leaving," she said at last.
"Yes." He finished tying his pack closed, said deliberately, "There's nothing for me here."
Ishira looked away, glancing around and then turning her gaze down to the floor. "Oh," she said. I should go and see to the last of the wounded, she thought, and felt faint at the very idea. She hadn't been so exhausted in a long time.
Pulling on his pack, Ascendant Willow walked towards her, coming to a stop where she blocked the door. Ishira stepped back to let him pass, looked up at him, then froze when, without warning, he leaned forward and kissed her.
A bolt of something like terror went straight through her. She couldn't breathe. Stunned, she realized, distantly, that no one had ever taken such a liberty with her. When he pulled back, she stared up at him like a cornered animal, her eyes wide with shock. She could not imagine what to do.
Ascendant Willow gazed down at her for a moment, then walked past her down the hall.
Wait, she thought, collecting her scattered self, no -- don't go -- "Do you have to leave now?" she asked. Her voice didn't sound like her own; it didn't obey her properly, hesitating, infinitesmally breaking. Losing composure, she suddenly understood, this is what it means .... Humiliation seared through her. This is irrational, she told herself, there's no reason for me to react like this. Stop it, Amakari.
He stopped at the top of the staircase, but didn't turn around. "My master will be expecting me at his Manse," he said.
Don't leave me, Ishira thought. Her lips burned where he had touched them. There must be something I could say.
She said nothing.
After another long moment, Ascendant Willow went softly down the stairs. She heard the inn's door close behind him.
The cool green shadows of her father's citadel were a balm to her spirit. Even in her dreams, Ishira was tired. Sitting across from him, the fabulous sapphire table between them, she finished relating the recent events and waited for his reaction.
"So," Makarios said. "A Sidereal test?"
"Yes," Ishira answered. "A man came to me after it was over and the Kite Flute had gone, while I was looking after the wounded, and passed me a note. He couldn't remember the slightest thing about the person who gave it to him." She paused, to remember it perfectly. "It said -- We have decided that you may live, for now. But we will be watching."
Makarios smiled -- not the smile he reserved for others, when, Ishira knew, he slipped through personas as easily as a fish through water, unerringly finding the best way to manipulate his buyer. Makarios, with her, was as naturally expressionless as herself, the two of them communicating through the subtlest of inflections, the tiniest of quirks in the brow or mouth. His genuine smile was the merest twitch.
"Be flattered," he said. "They did you the courtesy of a note."
Ishira nodded. "Somehow," she said, her soft voice only faintly dry, "I'm not."
Her father smiled again. "Well, you passed their test," he observed. "It would have gone hard for you if you had not. Even I might not have been able to save you."
"Yes," she said simply.
Makarios gazed past her, out into the orchard. She remembered seeing him out there for the first time, as a child, raising her hands and releasing the white blossoms to flutter around his head like a crown.
"But it hurt you," he said. "This test."
Ishira sat silently in acknowledgment. She did not hide anything from her father; she doubted that she could.
"A wound you had not taken before," he said, and sighed -- an almost-imperceptible sigh, so like her own. "I had thought that perhaps you never would."
Ishira closed her eyes, suppressing the ache, once again. That gem, she thought, almost resentfully. I would not feel this so, if it weren't for that gem in my heart. Maybe I ought to try to rid myself of it.
"My daughter," said Makarios, and Ishira opened her eyes in surprise; it was rare that he addressed her so. He reached one long-fingered, alabaster hand across the faceted table and touched hers, briefly -- so significant a gesture, it seemed to pierce her heart. "I would that I could spare you every pain. But you must have the life you wish, in freedom."
Ishira met her father's shimmering gaze and held it, treasuring the rare insight he had just granted her, as she valued every glimpse into his ancient heart. She had never before realized that his imprisonment might weigh on him; he had always seemed complacent, never expressed a single complaint about the terms of his eternal binding. In the demon city, when she saw the insane, furious rage and pain of his brothers and sisters, she had taken his silence to mean that he was satisfied with his lot. In a flash, she saw how wrong she had been.
Oh, my father, Ishira thought. If only there could be justice for what was done to you. But he himself had taught her that there was no justice.
"Dawn grows close," Makarios said quietly into the silence, "and there is one more thing you would ask of me."
Ishira considered her last few nights, the weary insomnia and sudden awakenings, and steeled herself. "I've been dreaming -- of him. The Wood Aspect."
She stopped. He nodded.
"I can take your dreams," he said. "But I cannot take only the dreams of him, Amakari. I must take them all, or none."
Ishira closed her eyes again. "I shall have to consider," she replied. Would it be worth it? she wondered.
"Then," he murmured, "I wish you a fine awakening,"
-- and her eyes opened to the grey paleness of morning.
In her recent life (i.e. since chargen), Ishira has done much as she always has: she has forged minor artifacts and pretty, useless jewellery for her customers; she has helped those in need; she has occasionally taken time off to wander around the East, indulging the predilections she's still not entirely sure she understands.
In this time she has met a number of interesting people and attracted a lot of attention (not that she didn't already have a significant reputation). The most significant things she has done are:
- She and a Zenith Caste saved the Marukan Alliance from a large necromantic behemoth thing, thereby gaining Ishira eternal favour with the Marukani and causing them to decide to allow Anathema to freely live within their borders. (Ishira herself is relatively indifferent to the Realm vs. anything; she knows the truth about the Usurpation, but it doesn't really matter to her. She'll work with Solars she finds congenial as readily as with Immaculates she finds congenial. In the war brewing between Marukan and the Realm, she'll side with Marukan, but this is more because she really likes Marukan and feels as if she's kind of a protector for the country than because she favours the Solar Exalted or hates the Realm.)
- In later dealings, attempting to find and kill an Abyssal who was working against Marukan, Ishira killed a renegade Sidereal who was working with said Abyssal. Ishira is outside Fate, and naturally the killing of a Sidereal (even an evil one) by a creature outside of Fate caught the attention of the Sidereal establishment as a whole. They observed her, noted her reputation, and decided not to kill her outright, instead testing her by creating a complicated string of events involving a summoned Zsofika the Kite Flute, a Demon-Blooded clan, and an Immaculate Wood-Aspected demon hunter. Ishira, unknowing that she was being tested, acted exactly as they expected a good human to act, and therefore they let her live.
- What the Sidereals don't know, however, is that Ishira has regular contact with her father -- they never observed her dreams. They have seen her act against some demons, but they don't comprehend her ultimate loyalty to her father. Although Ishira will work against demons when she thinks they will cause widespread horror and suffering among innocents (for example, she has prevented Octavian from coming into the world in the past at the hands of a summoner too unskilled to bind him), she treads carefully in demon politics and simply won't interfere with the vast majority of demons. In other words, Ishira wouldn't want a demon to wander around killing indiscriminately -- but she doesn't view most demons as an intrinsically bad thing, and if the Sidereal establishment were to realize that she is more pro-demon than not, they would probably kill her as soon as possible. (But she knows they're watching! And knowing is half the battle. And better yet, she's a relatively low priority; after all, even if she is outside Fate, she's just a Demon-Blood.)
- The test the Sidereals set her involved Ishira getting to know a young Wood-Aspected Immaculate demon hunter named Ascendant Willow, whom she really, really likes; but Ishira, who came into existence at the age of 8 or 10 and has never so much as kissed someone, doesn't exactly have any experience with this sort of thing, and is quite confused. He discovered her heritage through use of a Charm, and this has set him against her somewhat, although he does appreciate her somewhat in return -- he just has a lot of cognitive dissonance about it. The especially tricky part of this little angle is that his master (unbeknownst to them both) is an ancient Sidereal Immaculate-trainer, who has noted her attachment and is prepared to use it if necessary.
- Ishira managed to help Hiparkes Himself, who now has a liking for her and has publicly demonstrated his approval.
- Ascendant Willow was recently taken as a prisoner of war on a mission against Marukan; Ishira used her status and persuasive power to keep him alive and visits him occasionally, but their relationship is somewhat strained -- neither of them has any idea how to act. An Immaculate Demon-Hunter working for the Realm is, after all, necessarily going to have a strained relationship with an unImmaculate Demon-Blood who has aligned herself with a country currently at war with the Realm.
- Needs updating
Ishira is currently in Marukan, and is about to join the governing council in the role of advisor during their upcoming war against the Realm. Her current goals are, as always, to help those in need; she's also working on compiling local legends about demons, trying to determine what is known by most people (especially about her father, so that she can tell him what the common occultist thinks of him). She's also slowly and carefully gathering the exotic components she needs for her latest intended artifacts: the first is something which can hide her demon-taint to those who can observe it; the second is a relatively small item whose primary purpose is to warn her of nearby Sidereals and help her resist their magic. She is not being at all obvious about the latter -- is in fact being rather paranoid -- since she really doesn't want any Sidereals to know that she's doing it. Unfortunately, the most difficult exotic component to the Sidereal-sensing artifact is starmetal, which is virtually impossible to find; her father is keeping an eye out for her, but it's probably going to be a while before she gets her hands on any, if she ever does.
(This is all obviously not suited for every game, and if you ever want to use Ishira then you have my complete permission -- even encouragement -- to ignore her recent history.)
- Sesus Travesh and Violetta
- Fae Noble AWOL
- Makarios-Essence at the base of the mineshaft
- Anna masquerading as a slave
- Father bound (?), trying to turn her against Brass Crane
- ... through Coin (?), no longer producing visions
- Traken dead (?)
- Ascendant Willow heading south (?)
- Legion on the way
- Tanara Amakari
- Green flashy hallucinations from masque (?)
- Feeling of being watched
- Dreams / visions of betrayal
- Emerald statuette in Tanara's room
- Slaves and hobgoblins mind-controlled Makariosishly
- Brass Crane came on ahead (?)
Neat. - Quendalon
- <smile> Thanks!
The cut scenes are great. I like the way it all fits together. ^_^ -- BrokenShade
- Thanks. Rarely, I become inspired. Makarios is especially cool, I think, and I absolutely love thinking about his particular interactions.
I absolutely LOVE this passage:
The girl looked up quietly. Her eyes were a curious colour: a sort of shimmering grey, like quicksilver.
"You trespass," Makarios told her.
Her eyes shifted to the sorcerer, then back to the demon. She appeared to consider deeply. Then she raised the garland of flowers to Makarios, as if in offering.
The demon reached to touch them, and as he did, the wreath dissolved into a flood of white moths. The child's serious mouth did not smile, but her eyes seemed shift and lighten. Makarios watched her for another long moment.
Never ever ever ever change it ever. -EJGRgunner
- <grin> What, not even one word? Just a little one? I was thinking about making "quicksilver" into "mercury".
- Nope. No changes. None.
Stop it... I can see you reaching for the delete key. Knock it off. I know where you sleep. - EJGRgunner
- Nope. No changes. None.
The first bit of fiction is so neat that it must be acknowledged. Reading that was outright pleasureable. - Raindoll
- Awesome. Thank you muchly. (Although I am curious, is reading fiction often painful or something?)