A Character in the City of Mists: Order of the Watchtower campaign
Evgeniy Mura (Baku), Rift of The Baku
A tough-looking fellow, lean, muscular and well-built, with the somewhat Asian look common in eastern Russia. A bit slab-faced, but not unhandsome, with a little scarring around his eyes that doesn't really give away his one-time profession as an MMA fighter. His body, though, is marked with numerous and unusual scars, somewhat hidden by tattoos. Deep-voiced, he speaks with a noticeable Russian accent.
Evgeniy Mura only realized recently that most people do not have so many gaps in their memory. They felt natural, and they'd always been there. The gaps had never bothered him. Save one, of course - the one that changed everything. That one had been different.
For one thing, it had been the first time he had ever woken with the taste of blood on his tongue, and parts of ... something, something not human - strewn around him. The blood was splashed all over his face as well, as he had found out when he looked in the mirror. Green blood. And what had been staring back at him... The cuts had been only superficial, but who knows if he still had the bad luck? He hadn't really noticed any. And when he'd wrapped a towel around his hand, and gone back into the other room - there was nothing there. That's how the Mist worked, he'd found out.
Some time in that gap he'd become a rift, and moved to the City.
The last things he remembered before that yawning gap were joking with his trainer Maxim in his beat-up VAZ 2112 on the road to a bout in Tbilisi, and jogging out to the ring, feeling pretty confident. He'd built up a good record, the style he'd adapted from MMA training and what his father taught him was hard for people to figure out the first time, and his opponent was bigger but had the look of someone who'd spent too much time partying and not enough training.
The actual fight was lost in the gap.
Yeah, the name was a bit unusual. Russian mother and Japanese father. They had met after - he didn't know if he should call it Nomonhan or Khalkhin-Gol. Gunso (Sargeant) Hirano Mura of the Imperial Japanese Army had been captured in that battle - he'd actually spoken with Zhukov, he liked to remind people. That was before Zhukov was a famous name. Afterward, the Japanese had preferred to list their prisoners as killed, to maintain some sort of honour. At least 3000 could not return home. His father was sent to work in a camp near Vladivostok, where his mother was a nurse. They married not long after Mura was considered rehabilitated.
A couple of the places they lived before ending up in Baku were lost in the gaps. But he remembered fishing in Lake Baikal, and one little village in deep woods that seemed untouched by time. Most of his memories were about Baku. Oil city; it had a distinctive smell. It was even his nickname on the MMA circuit.
The gaps had been rare, since the big one. In the last few years he'd begun to understand the City a little, and how he'd been changed. He started the gym - he couldn't fight for money any more, lest he lose control and tear someone apart, but he could still teach. He hunted monsters. And he had been digging into that one big gap.
When he'd found that picture in the library, with that harmless tapir look, he'd had to laugh. Belatedly, he remembered that his father had even mentioned the Baku once, when he'd had a nightmare as a kid. A Baku from Baku, called Baku. Someone - someone or something - had completely changed his life as some kind of sick joke, and he had to live it. One day they would meet, and he would have some questions.
Mythos Theme: Dream-Eating Chimera (Adaptation)
The Baku (a Japanese mythological creature) is a chimera, a magical being made out of leftover parts of other animals, created to devour nightmares. In some sources it's pictured as a vaguely tapir-like thing with a trunk. Those are a little off the mark... Baku can change himself to counter the dark or phantasmal entities he encounters. Baku not only has chimerical mythos powers, he also suspects he was somehow created deliberately to emulate this namesake....
Mystery: Who created this monstrosity?
- Adapt to my prey's abilities
- Claws, horns and tentacles
- Nightmare-devouring maws
- Harder to transform in bright light
Mythos Theme: Monster Hunter (Divination)
Baku is endowed with supernatural senses that allow him to stay one step ahead of those he hunts, and an instinctive compulsion to hunt them that is difficult to resist. As far as he can tell, his 'monster-dar' is triggered by supernatural creatures that actively afflict innocent humans. It seems infallible, and whatever triggers it, he will be driven to pursue. When no monsters come his way, he will seek them out. Monster-hunting isn't really a choice for him, and he wasn't really out to save the world before, but now that he's seen some of the darker things hidden in the Mist, if he had the choice, he suspects he might do it anyway. It'd be nice to have the option, though.
Mystery: Where is my prey?
- Sniff out monsters and nightmares
- Instinctive dodge
- Predator senses
- Enter someone's dreams
- Less effective against sleepers
- Hunting compulsion
Mythos Theme: Nightmare of Nightmares (Subversion)
When Baku strikes, it's usually too late for his prey. Shapeshifting to confound detection, pouncing from a mantle of darkness, he strikes with a speed honed by instinct and vanishes back into the night. His hunts can even cross the waking world into dream.
Monsters too were driven to violence mostly by instinct. But it had to mean something that his instinct was to help others, surely?
Mystery: Am I truly different from what I hunt?
- Meld into the dark
- Pounce from the shadows
- Throw off a monster's senses
- Mistaken for a monster
Logos Theme: Brass Serpent Gym (Routine)
Those who can't, teach? Well, he still could, but it wasn't safe, especially for others. When he's not prowling the City, Baku teaches martial arts in small classes. He preferred the sound of the gym's name in Russian, but it was okay in English. His own MMA style was influenced by what his Okinawan father taught him; now he teaches it to others. He teaches young adults and adults, never children. He's holding on to his gym despite its money problems, not only because of his love for the place, but also because it's his only remaining tie to his life before awakening as a rift.
Identity: This place keeps me grounded
- Martial arts instructor
- Loyal students
- Money is always short
- Maybe it was the vodka, but one night the crows on the roof of the gym had seemed a sympathetic audience to tell his troubles to. It never clicked on him until later - what did he know about Norse myths? But Hugin, or Munin, or both were there amongst the mundane black-feathered crowd. Now Roger knew that he believed he had been created somehow by someone unknown. They hadn't really talked about it, which left a little tension, but he hadn't seemed to have told anyone else either. Discretion was a good thing for a teammate to have.
- It had been the first time he was sure someone actually saw him, through the Mist. He'd been surprised that she saw him, but her only visible reaction was a slight flinch and narrowing of the eyes. Sangfroid some called it, and quite aptly in Kara's case. That reaction made him hesitate just long enough for him to curb his instincts, despite being hot on the trail, despite her standing over a fresh body... despite those fangs. He'd seen her too. She'd smelled wrong, but not the same. And she wasn't reacting the way the creature he'd been tracking should. They'd talked rather than fought. Kara hadn't been his prey, but rather another hunter. What she'd told him about the skin-changer explained why it got away from him before: he couldn't track the thing through a body-swap. Together they'd come up with the idea to use a sting as a kind of beacon...
- He was still a little baffled by Garry. He'd never understood those Japanese cartoons, with their weird iconography. Nosebleeds and sweat drops? The old myths felt more real to him than the new ones, he guessed. But strange or not, Garry did put in the effort. Evgeniy got it from a stupid zombie movie, but Rule Number 1 : Cardio was a good rule, and Garry respected it. He wasn't sure if he had the instinct for actual fighting, but he had the build for it, and now he'd taught him some basic techniques.
Twice hunted dog things - a man-eating thing that also raided graveyards (where he first sensed it) that was his first conscious hunt, and a black dog that gave everyone on one block nightmares and was making sick people die, his most recent one. The first he tracked down to a cave nearby. His best guess is it was a Psoglav, a Serbian monster. The last he still doesn't know - seems like every culture everywhere has black dog stories. The weird thing is that both times he found himself taking a shape like a big cat with razor tentacles to fight them. He was more of a cat person than a dog person anyhow, but he felt something was happening there; he doesn't like dogs. And the last showed him his powers really did extended into dreams; he's trying to figure those out.
One of his students is Anya, a middle-aged woman training more for challenge than anything else, is the one who alerted him to the recent black dog - she mentioned her grandfather was sick and having trouble sleeping. He never actually told her anything about the incident, but he thinks maybe she's been looking at him a little different since.
One of his early students, Erik, turned out to be a lawyer, and warned him to get a liability waiver for students to sign. He's comped him on lessons for some business and legal advice since.
He's made a good impression on most of the students without really realizing it.
He hasn't had any direct threats financial-wise, but his landlord is a bit nitpicky, and has given him surprise bills for incidental damage before. Margins are tight, so any unexpected expenses or drop in income is a problem.