Campaign of the Month: January 2022
Lakes of Blood and Ash
Akhet: Husani, Foundation of Fire and Earth
The candles flicker madly in the cold, wet air of Champoor. There is a smell of moldering wood, even in a domicile on this well heeled street. All the events of recent days threaten to slip like drying river silt between my fingers. The temple taught me how to hold my thoughts fierce enough to resist the grinding sand of ages, now is the time.
I was born in and grew up in the walled port-city of the Horns of Ahlat, a sprawling metropolis of decadence and squalor. My parents were poor but always knew how much to put aside for the pharaohs’ tax collector. Still, each year they grew older and I grew larger and hungrier, it was ever harder to make ends meet. It was like their prayers had been delivered when the Shai Cult began to put out a call for promising youths in our city. Though they dared not hope I would be accepted into their privileged and educated ranks.
At the anointed time, my parents took me off to the priests, standing on the docks before impressive barges flying the ziggurat emblazoned livery of the Shai. My parents had drilled me relentlessly for that day in maths and taken me on long walks to inspect and study the architecture of the Horns. Many of the children who came were from more blessed families, ties to the trading families, knowing how to read and having tutors. We were given compasses and maths tables and given tasks to build bridges and towers, the strongest or tallest earning glowing marks. I don’t know how I did it, but my parents’ efforts bore fruit and I narrowly earned a place on the final roster.
That was the last I saw of my parents. Within moments of the final roles being called, we were taken onto the barges and slowly poled east along the Smak’Qadam and then for weeks south, down what I knew at the time to be Cattle Lake and finally to Mother’s Lake with the capital, Inbu-Hedj, upon it. It was there where I became the man I am today. The priests taught us rigorously in scholarly topics like math and history. Later we were divided by further testing and I learned architecture and engineering.
I proved myself one of the brighter emerging minds coming up through the ranks of my discipline within the cult. Cult elders took note of me and my future began to be planned, my person invited to hear and understand the planning and direction of cult business. My studies did not end, but touched upon the heavenly circles of geometry, trigonometry, and calculus. My days were filled with attending to master masons’ every whim, but afforded me the opportunity to see them putting their skills to the test. The cult wanted to ensure that if such resources were to be invested in me that I understood the pressures that the faces of the cult must face. They did this by showing me the pride of the masters, the craft they held firmly, and I had my place in that – removing such earthly concerns from these men who brushed the stars.
Yet, the older priest counseled me to be careful as I placed one stone above the next. The Dragon circled overhead and it did not suffer walls. Akhet had not been destroyed in the Wyld Wars, it had survived and held scraps of what came before. Five pharaohs, shoguns, had lived and ruled in Akhet before the Empress came, each leading a shogunate greater than the last. She destroyed all of that. Dismantled and scattered the scholars and their knowledge, took away their technology to fill her own troves, and killed or stole away their blood closest to the elements.
The Fishmonger Pharaoh did not give me a chance, like an earthquake he turned over stones and called down the eye of the Dragons and soon after their circling became a descent. The Shai told me what would follow. My brothers helped me escape that closing noose, that road was covered with blood and regrets. At the end of it, the purse of the Shai was opened to buy me passage, me and me alone, through Garm’s Gate and into Prasad. Here the Dragons roamed and roosted too, seeming no different than the ones I had fled. The last words my brothers gave me, ‘Go, go to Champoor, hide in the shadows and rain and garb yourself in secrets. Till we meet again…be safe.’
Years have passed now, away from the cult, laying low to avoid garnering any attention while working menial jobs to make ends meet. I worry my skills dull without stone to test them against. My brothers bid me wait, but what if they return and I am rusted and useless? The fire burns within me, the light seeking to escape and reveal itself, and hands ache to move mountains and redirect rivers. My soul aches as I betray my brothers, but I do it for them, I must hone my skills if we are ever to drive the Dragons from our lands.
Age – 23 (Exalted at 18)
What was your family life like? Raised by both parents at a young age before being indicted into the cult.
Where are you from? Horns of Ahlat, Akhet and later Inbu-Hedj, Akhet
How has power changed you? Husani’s exaltation has turned him into a genius polymath, that along with training the some crafts and geomancy has potentially turned him into a potent, engineer, architect, and craftsman to leave a mark upon the age.
What do you think of mortals? To be honest I’m not sure if Husani even realizes what he is, but he would probably treat them the same as before he exalted.
What motivates you to be a hero? Ideals – Husani wishes for the world to be better, more is provided to the people and an age of prosperity could begin again, but he knows this is a long road and he must be patient.
Who or what do you worship? WIP