Exalted. Dark seas of destiny
Short, lean, uniquely attractive - And very, very odd.
A small, lean young man with blue-black hair that seems perpetually wet and stormy grey eyes, there is something unmistakably alluring about Blue Lotus. For his part, he maintains an air of blissful ignorance to the effect he has on those around him. At his side is a mish-mash of pouches of varying materials and quality, though one pouch stands out amongst the rest – A pale blue silk pouch, stitched in threads woven from illicit materials and enshrouding a small, round shape.
On his back rests a simply crafted quiver and bow case, and in the case the upper limb of a horseman’s bow can be seen – though it is made of no wood known to creation, but rather a steel that seems to ever reflect the movement of the heavens. Now, too, he wears a robe – Simply crafted – of deep, twilight blue and bedecked in the meticulously collected, molted feathers of ravens. On his belt is a long, curved knife of steel with a hilt of ebony inlaid with holly wood, and he is oft seen with a staff that seems almost grown into shape, rather than sculpted – Truly, his efforts to develop a dryad’s grove at the base of the Well must be paying off.
At the start of the last five years, Blue Lotus would walk the streets, quietly talking to the citizens and discussing the needed changes, and the desired possibilities for the burgeoning island nation. After the first seasonal Concordiat, however, he has been largely out of the social spotlight in Clypsis, though the efforts of his working can be felt across the island as the geomantic flows are subtly rearranged, pacts are struck with the Elemental Courts, more sorcerers learn to summon and bargain with Elementals – rather than bind them – and the tower known as the Well of Harmonies slowly begins to blossom again. In the fifth year after the reclamation of Clypsis, he is not seen at all – even the subtle touch of his constant refining of the geomantic flows is gone, and his tower opens to none save the elementals, for the seasonal Concordiat has has hosted since the earliest days.
It all began with the water. All stories do, when you think about it. We come from water. When we die, we become water. Not all of us are born to water, though.
I was. My parents were dynasts, come to An-Teng for a retreat full of debauchery and business deals that were sure to bring more wealth to the coffers of House Cynis.
In an interesting twist, both my parents were Water-aspected, and extremely well bred. No one could be sure how we wound up with all the breeding, but all my siblings exalted – Not all as Water, but all 15 were chosen by the Dragons. My siblings have, in some way, made a name for themselves.
Naturally, it was assumed that I, too, would be chosen. A marriage was arranged and, again in a bizarre stroke of luck, my betrothed and I ACTUALLY liked each other – even to such point that as our hormones started to rise, we experimented a little bit with what those very hormones wanted us to do. Never in public, of course, but we learned a great deal about what felt –good-.
When she Exalted as a Fire, it was believed that my exaltation would be soon on her heels. Even as she was packed up and shipped off to the Realm’s finest academies, it was assumed that I was just going to be a late bloomer.
It never happened. I suppose it was inevitable, now – but at the time it was a crushing blow. My parents were so ashamed that they sold me into the priesthood of the Pale Mistress, hoping beyond hope that I would die and live no more to shame them.
Their efforts had a powerful effect – But not the one that they had hoped for. I didn’t die. I didn’t grow weak, and falter… I was instead inducted into a secret society, all made of failed children of the Dragon’s Chosen, all – on the surface – dedicated to being haruspices. We learned to read omens in intestines, to scribe the spells that helped keep the dead in the ground, and above all to read and write the multitude of languages of the world. It is from that simple start – Just plain knowledge – that my power stems.
Within a year, I had learned to decipher many of the oldest texts in the care of the priesthood, and I began to see that An-Teng wasn’t a treasured contributor to the Realm, but rather a watched, robbed slave to nobles who wanted not to see An-Teng become glorious, but rather to remain enslaved.
In learning of the past, and being inducted into the secrets of history, I learned many things. Pleasure, vice, how to manipulate and to be manipulated. And in time, how to serve the Pale Mistress directly.
My time serving my goddess was tumultuous; She asked many things of me – It was my first true understanding of how powerful a gift of raw magnetism I was born with. I am not entirely certain, but there are times when I believe I was her lover, and her whipping boy – And occasionally both at the same time. I learned the joy of the lotus, and it’s power to clear the mind of the fog of the false reality.
In time, my beloved returned – And it was clear that while she had changed, she had changed in such manner as I had – Though she was, outwardly, a loyal citizen of the Realm, she had dreams and desires to free An-Teng, or at least to bring about it’s home rule once more. We spoke, we shared passionate nights, and I even freely provided her with what knowledge I could.
That’s when it happened… when He chose me. She and I were walking quietly along the canals of the middle lands, enjoying the evening twilight when I realized she was looking at me oddly. There was something she wanted to say, but she never got to before the cries of Anathema sprang up around us. People began fleeing from us – from me, I know now – and the look of anguish on her face as she drew her daiklaive was one I will never forget. I will never forget it, because her face was awash in the lurid blues and purples of a late twilight; colors not normally cast in light.
I tried to explain, to tell her it wasn’t true, but before I could the guard came upon us – weapons out and ready for blood. I ran; what else could I do? I fled, and she – in the heat of our love – gave me just enough time by giving orders to the guard to fetch the dragonblooded garrison to escape into the streets.
I ran, as fast as I could. I stole a little punt – I’m not fond of the fact, but I needed to get away – and the canals and rivers of An-Teng were my only hope. Until I took a wrong turn. Not being born to the waterways, I was unaware that I had navigated myself into a corner until a half dozen warriors in jade loomed from the far shore of the canal, demanding my surrender.
I wasn’t about to give up – I had, after all, plans… But I fled into the sewers. I could tell that there was no escape, but I tried… I fled as fast as I could, through sludge and sewage, deeper and deeper into the bowels and to an ever increasing odor of salt spray. Ever increasing, that is, until the rubble pile. I had no where to go, and no way to escape – Until a noticed the tail of a very large sewer rat slip away behind the pile. It was tight, but I was always small, and I managed to squeeze through.
Once on the other side, the rat was watching me – I swear it knew who I was, but I cannot tell for certain. So I tossed the rat a grateful gesture and ran – my own light fading to little more than a glimmer, even as I finally cleared the end of the sewers, and out into the light of early morning.
Exhausted, I collapsed – and was caught by a young blind woman, who whispered softly in my ear even as her pale hair caressed my cheek.
I did not wake for two days – and when I did, I was in a shack with the scent of sea spray and the sound of gulls about me. My next two months were an interesting and painful time; my mistress had taken me in and was protecting me – many patrols were coming through town, and many more were chased away as the Pale Mistress walked the night, spreading her special blend of chaos and fear.
I learned, soon, that my face had been spread the length and breadth of An-Teng as anathema, and to better serve my Mistress she found me tutors – in sorcery, in medicine, in the history and ways of the world’s secrets. She never left me without a doubt that I would owe her… Nor did I ever want to forget. She had taken me in as a child, and then saved me as an adult. I owed her, and I knew it.
In my time learning and growing, I spent as much time out and moving as I could. After all, I had to practice my burgeoning skill. It was as I neared the end of my apprentice ship that my mistress came to me, and informed me she had a special surprise… for doing such good work for her, she had bought me a playmate for the evening. She brought in a nubile young panda-woman, and I could not resist… her eyes were just large enough to portray total innocence, but the way she handled herself – the way she moved and spoke conveyed so much worldly knowledge that I gave her everything she wanted… and learned from her many things I will not speak of. When she left me, she pressed a small golden coin into my hands and murmured ‘Payment, for service yet to come’ before slipping away into the night. Even then I could sense that the coin was… unique. Etched across it was an infinite array of arcane symbols, each symbol made up of increasingly more symbols in a way that beggared the imagination.
Within a week, I was on a ship – Sold off, as it were, as chattel. I was not totally left without hope; my mistress pressed into my hands an ancient bow of spare design and seemingly formed of steel that always reflected the heavens’ motions. The bow would serve me well, my Mistress told me, if only I could unlock the secrets of the sun and stars. It took me three hours on the ship, but I learned what she meant – And I was soon to need it.
A week into the voyage to Wavecrest, we made port in a small cove and took on new supplies. An elderly man there grabbed my arm, and in a fevered pitch spewed prophecy at me – I am not sure how I know it to be such, but there was a definite power in his voice that was still clear and strong, despite his blind eyes and fevered grip.
A week later, we were set upon by the Lintha. The fight was long and hard, and the crew – Pressed into service by the Pale Mistress quickly grew to… respect as well as fear me. My bow – Now called Starfallen Destiny – struck many pirates down, but the truest test of my value came when the Lintha brought their demonic ally to bear. All was lost, the crew of the ship thought, until I brought my special skills to bear… It was not easy, and by the end of the contest of wills I was nearly spent, but their demon ally was crushed – tossed back into the pits of Malfeas whence it came from.
Without much other strife, we made our way to Wavecrest and in due time, I signed on with a Tya crew.
The captain is a real hellcat – She is, in some odd way, frighteningly attractive. Perhaps it is because she is so strong willed, perhaps it is because she has thrown away the right to be called ‘woman’ so that she could sail… But we are kindred souls, in that sense; She has given up her womanhood for what she loves, and I have given up a portion of my sanity – and even my soul, I begin to think – for the right to master these forces of sorcery.
Our first months together were tumultuous – She seemed not keen on my indulging myself with lotus blossom, nor on my cavorting with nymphs and demons alike, but in due time I have proven myself a valuable ally, oft being able to call upon the spirits of wind and wave to speed our journey, or slow that of our foes.
When our ship makes it’s way to the South, I remain in direct contact with my Mistress, but it is not common – Much more often she speaks to me in my sleep, or in my lotus-induced clarity, guiding me on my journey and reminding me of our nights together…