From the Z-File: Shalis

Friday, August 1, 2008 - 10:19 AM

Shalis is one of several examples of potentially-never-used characters currently sitting in my z-file. Periodically, I'll be posting some more of these people here.

Outlawed in most of the known world, blood magic is condemned for its addictive nature and the deteriorating effects it tends to have on both morals and ability. The swift and terrible power it can offer is a strong lure, however, particularly to those who have little aptitude or patience for arcane arts and sciences.

Temni and Admeia were two apprentices to a Bindsu Curator, one of those who quelled the spontaneously occurring undead in Urakh and watched over the tremendous fossil-and-bone edifice known as the Sarcophagus. Temni, like most apprentices, had been taken from a poverty-stricken home at a young age, whereas Admeia's mother had served the Curators for nearly twenty years before resigning from exhaustion and strain. The Curators have a relentless meritocracy, full of tests both intellectual and moral in order to assess who might stand as a Curator, and competition is quite fierce among the apprentices to prove themselves worth the position.

Temni had the ambition, but magic did not come easy to him. Admeia adored his ambition, having little of her own, and the two fell in love. Admeia's mother had secretly taught her the seeds of blood magic, telling Admeia to use it just enough to get ahead, and then put it aside. But Admeia, during a particularly brutal year, shared these secrets with Temni, and at first, magic seemed very simple.

Unfortunately, the headiness of power overwhelmed them, and their blood magic was discovered. They barely escaped with their lives, and ran off to hide in the deep forests of Urakh. Like most novice blood mages, they had fallen prey to the arcane lassitude of their art, and they never became great magicians.

They did, however, bear a son: Shalis.

From conception, Shalis was subjected to the ebb and flow of blood magic. From birth, his parents realized that he had inherited their arcane addiction, and in a fit of conscience, attempted to create a ritual involving a captive vampire to transfer the 'hunger' to the undead creature. Their lazy innovation worked, but only in part.

Shalis lost the hunger for blood magic, and gained a hunger for vampires.

Shalis, to the disappointment of his increasingly muddled parents, had little talent or interest in magic. He held them in contempt for their addiction, and was content to leave their fog of failed ambition and high expectations when he was fifteen. He found his way to Urakh's slouching capitol city, and learned quickly that the world was as merciless as his parents made it out to be.
He also found that he had talents beyond other young men, the foremost of which was an unusual magnetism that could inexplicably lure people to him or send them shivering in terror.

Enjoying his new sense of power, he started a ragged band of street urchins to pickpocket for him, and began a small network of allies in Urakh's stifling underworld. As he grew older, however, the unusual traits unwittingly given him by his parents became both more apparent and harder to repress. When he slew a vampire's bound servant for coin, he was compelled to glut himself on the man's blood, and instinctively realized the nature of the gnawing that he'd carried within him for years.

Not yet skilled enough to fight a true vampire, he nonetheless killed the man's master later. This event surprised both of them; it was a combination of luck and an unusual resistance to vampiric powers. When Shalis drank the vampire's blood he felt complete in a way he had never known. Unfortunately, the vampire had many allies in Urakh, and Shalis was forced to flee.
Since then, Shalis has grown in skill and talent. He wandered through Urakh's countryside for some while, tracking vampires and killing them, and eventually left Urakh because of restlessness.

Notes on Shalis:

Shalis is sarcastic and daring. He is one of those people who seem like they'd be awesome to be around in a book or movie, but in real life they aggravate everyone. He doesn't care about the opinions of others, and doesn't particularly care about anyone as a rule. Despite this, he is periodically dapper and courteous, and he can be very eloquent when it suits him; Shalis makes friends easily and drops them just as easily.

In general, Shalis trusts people to be self-serving, and that is the only way he trusts them. His own goals are simple enough: make profit in order to purchase or obtain comforts, find vampires or vampire-bound creatures to persuade them to give up their blood, and stay alive. This last has turned into a game for him, and his contempt for most people shows best when he deals with vampires. In general, Shalis prefers to find vampires, cater to their whims, and play on their arrogance. He is very careful and methodical in this process, wheedling his way into their servitude, learning as much as he can and then planning their destruction. He mocks and despises vampires for being what they are, and sneers at their sense of superiority.

Shalis has another motivation that he is not entirely aware of, however. Though his uncaring nature is quite sincere, Shalis would very much like to care about something. His ceaseless wandering is an outward sign of his restless search for someone or something to believe in, something to prove his cynical view of the world wrong at least in some small sense. He knows he's strong, and he knows he could be a hero, but he doesn't believe in anything worth fighting for except himself. Shalis is, essentially, a loner by nature, but he doesn't like it.

In the plot I wrote him for, Shalis has found some purpose in Tirilan, who is nothing like the stilted, dreadful necromancers Shalis grew up knowing in Urakh. Tirilan certainly raises undead and commands them, and he certainly is capable of foul deeds, but he comports himself as an officer and a gentleman. Shalis originally thought Tirilan's sense of courtesy was to catch foes off-guard, but he has come to realize that Tirilan is chivalrous because it is the proper way to behave. Honor is all-important to Tirilan.

Of course, Shalis also enjoys the luxury of being a companion to one who can literally summon vampires and make them do his bidding... but Tirilan's utter devotion to the coming of the Black Sun has intrigued Shalis, and the hollow within is beginning to clamor for purpose.

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