Last Breath of Winter:Characters:Mask:History

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Revision as of 08:25, 3 June 2008 by (talk) (Life 4- Mask Rent Asunder, Moonshadow Abyssal, Avenger of the Betrayed)
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Life 1- Ionus Paktrichter


Father was never a terribly well-liked man. Not that he was hated or found distasteful, mind you. He just suffered the stigma of man who brought with him unpleasant facts. The people of Whitewall seemed to be of a split mind on Father. One group seemed to think that if they could stay in his presence and become a friend or resource of sorts that it would keep them protected from his choices. The other, undoubtedly the larger faction, sought to remain invisible to my father, that he might not know their names or faces. In truth, the was no difference, for it was not my father's choice to be made- it was the duty of his station. You see, my father was Judge Hahnis Paktrichter, the Judge of Contracts, and the selector of those who were to be sacrificed for the sake of the city and the good of all.

Of course, as the son of a twelfth generation Judge, the same cloud seemed to follow me. My mother's death during childbirth only helped spread the rumors of our family (Indeed, my father's refusal to tell even me about my mother has stirred my curiosity at times.). I can remember hearing children and wives whispering as I passed- that my ancestors were actually the children of man and ghost, that food turned to ash in our mouths, that women could be rendered barren by drinking from our cups... the sort of drivel that is passed in the cold evenings when no other form of idiocy will stir the heart to sufficient warmth. In my earliest years, I must admit I carried the stories with almost a measure of pride. As I grew up, however, the cost of such an aloof distance made itself more clear.

By the most wise forethought of my father, I spent much of my youth traveling. Each spring I left for other corners of Creation- the Imperial Isle, the Haslanti League, Halta, Sijan, Lookshy... It was exciting, of course, but the greatest boon was the comfort that anonymity brought to my interactions with foreigners. I suppose it was that factor above all that created my love for travel. Travel also allowed me to become comfortable with goodbyes and conclusions, cradled in the knowledge of new beginnings over the horizon.

While most of the year was open to adventure, Winter was always spent at home with Father. Each winter I studied the peculiarities of Whitewall law, the procedures that the Judge used for selections, and any other lessons my father found appropriate.

Life 2- Judge Paktrichter

"Time to choose, son."

Life 3- Reckoner Boundless Aphelion, Chosen of Endings

And then there was Blackness.

Life 4- Mask Rent Asunder, Moonshadow Abyssal, Avenger of the Betrayed

Blackness. I remember Blackness. At first it was an oppressive inky depth that swelled and churned around me. I felt as if I was falling without descending; dark torrents whipping around, clawing at me, smothering me, blocking out everything except me and my confusion and fear. I have no idea how long I fought- as long as I had the strength, for sure. I just -knew- if I held on long enough, I could figure out an escape. I -knew- I was smarter than death. And then, it happened. I gave up. No, I did not give up. I realized that life was simply no longer an option. It was in that moment I found that peace that I had always tried to impart to those whose stories I had to end. It was oddly blissful, in truth. It was so comforting to just let go...

When I came to, I saw blackness again, but clearly different. It was the dark canopy of a starless sky, rocking softly back and forth. My ears could hear the soft, slow movement of the water that I had found myself floating in. Everything was so quiet and empty. I remembering wondering, "Is this it? Is this the afterlife?" It was serene, but not quite what I would expect. I don't know how long I spent pondering my state before the fishing boat passed by.

One of the fishermen greeted me with a probing jab from his oar. "Another through the shadowland, I suppose. What do you think, Win- Whoa!" The spectral fellow gave a start as I began climbing up the oar. A moment later I was aboard the small craft with what I resolved were the ghosts of some of the local fisherman tribe. Oddly enough, the reaction you get as a stranded living person in the sea is rather similar to what you receive in the Underworld. After a few moments, I finally croaked out,"Where am I?"

"Uuuuy, we're a bit west of the Isle of Shadows, or thereabouts." Yep, these were definitely fisherman of the Nisbloa tribes- I recognized the accent. An intriguing society... they have often been called Sharkskins due to their reverence for the creatures. The choice to move them to that totemic ideal over squids was definitely a wise choice from the Bureau. It made them far less, well, odd.

"Ah, alright then. I need to get back a port then. If you would be so kind as to give me a lift, it would definitely be appreciated." As the words left my lips, I was already preparing for a demonstration of strength. While the change of gods had given them more social graces, it has also left them with a strong predator streak. It was graceless to approach with a physical strongarm, but I did not have the time or energy to waste. As I saw the toothy grin of the oarsman cross his face as he prepared his own witty remark, I rose to take a tactical position. I assumed the Air form, though it certainly felt different at the time. I remember feeling an itch about my head and the trickle of blood down the side of my nose- a wound from before, no doubt. I was already prepared for their standard tactic. The Nisbloa fight like sharks, circling to disorient and surround their prey. I waited for them to begin the already planned dance, when they provided a unique experience, a surprise.

"Yes, my lord. Right away!"

The faces of the two had gone slack with awe as they fixated up toward me. It's amazing what being murdered and stranded in the ocean will do to wear your temper, and my head was throbbing. I snapped,"What are you looking at?!" My words hit them like a whiplash and they began scrambling to get the boat in motion. It was not a time to question when things went in your favor, so I contented myself to look out over the water for a possible destination. It was only then, when I caught my reflection against the slick inky surface of the water that I saw what these two had seen. On my head was a new caste mark, the one of an Eclipse! Only, rather than gleaming gold, it was dark and bleeding around the edges. The realization that followed buckled my knees under me. I was a monster. I was one of them.