This is Part 2 of a rather long journal entry I wrote recently and decided to break into 3 parts. Part 1 provides some background information that may be helpful for understanding this and the next part. In this post I introduce 2 characters who seem to represent aspects of my psyche that need to learn to work together. I describe the current attitude my character, a healer, has toward another player’s character, a … well, severely wounded individual.
My character in my friends’ Exalted game is a shaman from a tribe that lives entirely in the trees of a dense forest. They fell to the ground (which their people think of as the ‘underworld’) during a vision quest, and were too seriously injured to climb back into the trees. While ‘in the underworld’ they were attacked by a giant owl known to carry off grown men and considered by the peoples of the region to be an omen of death. They barely survived – and Exalted, having attracted a Lunar Exaltation. They became a shapeshifter and used this ability to survive alone in the forest for years. Oh, and they hunted and killed the owl that had attacked them, taking its form – and one of its talons as a trophy.
They have lived and adventured with my friends’ characters for … probably at least a year by the time we finish our current story … mostly helping to protect and build up a particular town (that is destined to play a crucial role in the protection of Creation from the sentient formless chaos at its borders). Their world has been turned upside down by the arrival of a stranger who moved through town in disguise, briefly encountering the other players’ characters, before stumbling upon mine in the nearby woods. My character initially thought the stranger was Luna, who often appears to those who bear her Exaltation and takes many different forms. They have already encountered their patron twice; this individual inspired the same emotions they had felt during those encounters.
But then they learned that this wondrous being for whom they suddenly felt so much reverence and awe was in truth a hideous Deathknight, one who had gained their Exaltation from the Neverborn and served the Abyss. My character tried to run, but the Deathknight attacked their companion, so they had to counter. They easily knocked the stranger unconscious, but were too overwhelmed by their feelings of love and awe to kill them. Instead they carried them three miles through dense vegetation back to town. The Deathknight later expressed a desire to escape their masters and swore an oath to help defeat the enemies of Creation. (They are played by a new member of our gaming group, whom I thoroughly enjoy co-writing with.)
My character already knew about the Solar-Lunar bond and had thought a bit about what they hoped their Solar mate would be: certainly, obviously, someone with one of the freed Solar Exaltations that had NOT been stolen and corrupted … who looked okay, at least. They could think of no other explanation for why they would have the same feelings for a stranger that they have for their patron goddess, even after learning the stranger is (by the nature of their Exaltation, if not current intent) an enemy of Creation: this Deathknight MUST be their mate. They have been a bit of an emotional wreck since, though talking to two of their friends (other player characters) has helped.
The only comfort my character has at the moment is that the Deathknight said the idea of ‘reclaiming the destiny [they] would have had as a Solar’ gave them hope. The two have since had a second encounter that, while extremely awkward, went much better than the first. My character told the Deathknight about the bond between their Exaltations and, for a moment at least, the latter seemed to consider the possibility of seeking redemption!
My character wants to encourage this line of thinking, as they are determined to ‘fix’ their mate’s Exaltation, making them a Solar ‘again.’ The best way they can think of to do that is to treat this Deathknight the way they would treat the Solar mate they had hoped for – within reason, of course. Everything hinges on this: if the Deathknight gives up on this hope or dies, the Neverborn will regain that Exaltation and give it to someone else, who will use it to help destroy everything my character loves. They and every new Lunar to bear my character’s Exaltation will be bound to this destructive force for eternity, until the Deathknight is redeemed or Oblivion wins.
A shaman who singlehandedly defeated an omen of death will not allow Oblivion to win.
To be continued …