The Trapped Circle
Kazu, Blasphemer Extraordinaire
Tepet Yoshinkazu, or ‘Kazu’, appears to be a 16 year old Scion of the Realm, with bright, blue eyes and black hair. A wind always moves about him, growing in intensity with his emotions, and giving him the appearance of an Air Dragonblood. He is usually dressed in the armor of a Tepet Legionaire, a standard-issue Reinforced Breastplate bearing the Mon of House Tepet on the chest, carrying a short spear and wearing a sword.
Supernal Ability: Resistance
Tepet Yoshinkazu or ‘Kazu’ was born in Realm Year 748 to a pair of Air Exalted Dynasts in the Tepet Compound, in the Imperial City, on the Blessed Isle. His parents were Tepet Kammi, a caring mother, but busy with her duties as an officer in the Tepet Legions, and Tepet Katsuro, a prodigy of sorcery, who was also an officer in the Tepet Legions. As the child of two Dragon-bloods, as well as the 7th son of a 7th son, expectations were exceedingly high for him to Exalt at the appropriate age. His childhood was typical for a child born to a Dynastic Household. He saw little of his parents, spent most of his formative years with tutors, and was enrolled in Primary School at age 9. He excelled at History and Occult studies, so was enrolled in extra tutoring in those fields, and expectations for his success grew every year.
As for Kazu himself, he was a student driven to perfection. He worked incessantly to excel at everything he did, and in all things sought to emulate the Immaculate Air Dragon, Mela. His teachers often recommended that he consider entering the Immaculate Faith as a monk, as his passion for the faith was so strong.
Sadly for Kazu, as the years went by and he did not ascend to one of Mela’s Chosen, hope and favor turned to disappointment and loss. By the time he finished Primary School at age 15, any hope of becoming a Dragon-blood was lost, and his dreams were turned to ash. His teachers pushed for him to enter the Immaculate Faith as a monk, but his parents pushed for him to enter the Legions, and so he honored their wishes, but enlisted as a common legionnaire, even forgoing the officer path he still could’ve claimed by birth. When asked why he would do such a thing, he simply said he wished no advantage that he did not earn.
A year into his service in the Legions, the Bull in the North, a Solar Anathema who was building an army out of the barbarians, Wyld-mutants and other horrors of the far North, threatened the Realm and the Pole of Air. Tepet moved to stop his threat, sending their House Legions to stop the foul creature’s evil. The legions pressed far into the North, engaging the Bull in the North’s forces wherever they could. Alas, they underestimated the Anathema and his Wyld-twisted allies, and one by one, the Legions were struck down.
Kazu fell in the battle, the last thing he remembered seeing was a wave of beast-men tearing through his Fang…
When he woke, it was in a place far more horrifying than his worst nightmares and fever-dreams. The shifting chaos all around him could only be deep within the Wyld. How he got there, he had no idea, nor could he figure out how long he had been there, assuming time even mattered in such a place. In those moments, he saw things too beautiful and terrible to comprehend, and his mind was changed in that moment. He began to understand those things, losing himself by inches, until a sphere of golden light engulfed him.
“I think you’ve seen enough,” said an echoing voice that drowned out all else. “This chaos, this madness, is Creation’s truest enemy in these dark days. So much has been lost, and the very bones of Creation crumble because of it. Now, I charge you, bring my Light into the dark places. Bring back the Creation I intended. Dark days are coming. Bring my Righteousness to the world, and my Wrath to the invaders who would seek to destroy it.” And then, more quietly, like it was not supposed to be overheard, “Perhaps the teachings of the Order will serve me for a change.”
As the voice faded, the golden sphere of light flared into a brilliance that blinded him to all else, and then slammed into him. His mind flooded with memories of a different time, of a man in golden armor, who stood as a guardian on the borders of Creation, driving back the abominations of the Raksha. Of wielding magics that enforced Creation’s Order upon the Chaos of the Wyld.
The flood of memories overwhelmed Kazu once more, and when he came to, the light was gone, and the memories faded to mere echoes. He was once again in the maddening chaos, only now, it felt distant, like it could no longer touch him, and he knew where he had to go. He turned, and started walking back toward Creation. He wasn’t entirely sure how he knew the way, he just did. Ground formed at his feet, and melted away again behind him.
The path he walked seemed long, but it was hard to say what time passed. He never crossed paths with any of the more dangerous denizens of the Wyld, but he could see eyes, watching him from the ever-changing landscape, when glimpsed in the corners of his vision. Eventually, the changes to the landscape slowed, resolving itself into the snowy wastes of the North.
Kazu continued south, the cold a distant sensation, even in this wasteland of the far North. He paid it little heed, as while he walked, he tried to piece together what had happened to him. He was very concerned that he has just been turned into an Anathema, but thinking about the whole experience, there was no part of it that implied any sort of evil or demonic power. If anything, it was quite the opposite. Everything he saw, felt and remembered from the fragments of those older memories said the power that saved him was a protector, a guardian that cared for Creation. What he could remember of the memories were even more confusing, as the one whose memories they were was dedicated even more strongly to protecting all of Creation from the things that would do it harm. The specifics were pretty much gone now, but he could recall no memory, no thought, with any evil intent.
All this warred with Kazu’s belief in the Immaculate Faith. The Anathema were evil, one and all. Demon-gods wielding powers never meant for the hands of mortal men. Only the Elemental Dragons were qualified to rule over Creation, being neither Gods nor Elementals, but transcendent entities greater than both. If he had become an Anathema, and he was sure he had, then he had to give himself over to the Wyld Hunt. Worse, he had noticed that since he returned from the Wyld, a wind had followed him everywhere, taunting him with what he could’ve been.
After some days, Kazu found a path that eventually led to a trade road. He followed the Trade Road until he reached Diamond Hearth. As the city was a part of the Haslanti League, and not an ally of the Realm, he kept his head down, and traded his services as a guard for passage on an ice ship crossing Mela’s Fangs to the south.
The ship dropped him in Icehome, and Kazu headed south into the threshold of the East, hoping to reach a Satrapy loyal to the Realm so he could turn himself over to the Wyld Hunt. Along the trade road between Icehome and Rubylak, Kazu found what he was looking for, in the form of an Immaculate Monk wandering the road with the steady calm that comes with an enlightened understanding of the faith.
Kazu bowed to the monk with deep respect as they passed one another, and the monk stopped and said with a gentle smile. “You seem troubled, my son. How may this humble one be of service to you?”
“Greetings, gentle brother,” Kazu replied, “I am Tepet Yoshinkazu, and, until recently, I was a legionnaire in the Tepet Legions. Since our defeat by the Bull of the North, things have gotten far worse for me, and I need your help.”
“Explain,” replied the monk, looking far more solemn.
Kazu then launched into an explanation of all that had transpired since he woke in the Wyld. He left nothing out, and held nothing back, including his doubts and fears about being one of the Demon-God Anathema.
“If you are truly one of the Solar Anathema, young one, then show me the mark that brands you. Just will it to be, and it will become visible.”
Kazu did as he was asked, manifesting his Caste Mark for the first time inside Creation.
“You are indeed marked as one of the Solar Anathema, the mark of the Blasphemous.”
“Then I turn myself over to your mercy, as is the will of the Immaculate Dragons,” Kasu replied, looking resigned, but determined.
“After all that has happened to you, you still hold to the true faith?” the monk asked, looking surprised.
“Of course. I have followed the teachings my whole life. Being branded a demon by the gods does not change that.”
“Interesting,” replied the monk, looking thoughtful. “Have you ever considered that this burden has been laid upon you for a reason?”
“I did not believe I had failed the Immaculate Dragons so thoroughly as to be cursed thus, but I suppose it is possible.”
The monk laughed, and then said, “That’s not quite what I meant. You’ve been marked by the Sun a one of the Solar Anathema, but your faith has not wavered. In all my years in service to the Order, I have never once heard of this happening. Perhaps the Dragons, in their Wisdom, have given you a new, and indeed difficult, path.”
“I’m not sure what you mean,” said Kazu, even more confused now.
“I think you’ve been chosen to prove out if the Anathema can be redeemed.”
“Indeed. I think the Dragons have challenged you to prove that the Solar Anathema can be cleansed and properly brought in to the Immaculate Faith.”
“Is that even possible?” Hope glimmered in Kazu’s chest for the first time since he fell in the battle.
“I think it is, and the fact that you made it all this way, and your faith never wavered, even when faced with death, gives me even more hope that it is finally the time.” The monk continued, looking far more serious, “If you accept this duty, your path will not be an easy one. Any of my brethren will not see past the mark upon your brow, and will try to kill you.”
“It is their right,” Kazu replied, matter of factly.
“No, it is not,” the monk said, far more sternly than he had been to this point. “You must not die for their blind adherence to the past. The world is changing, and we must change with it. What you represent, if you can rise to the challenge, is a chance for not only your soul to be cleansed of the taint of the Anathema, but all of the Anathema who come after you. Many lives ride on your success, and to lose you to the Hunt so blindly would be a great disservice to the Realm, and to the Order.”
“What should I do?”
“Survive, hold to the faith, and prove that the Solar Anathema can be redeemed.”
“What if I’m not strong enough?”
“You will be. Travel with me for a while. I travel this area, helping the smaller villages survive in these troubled times. If you fall, I’ll end you. If not, you’ll see what you need to carry you forward.”
So, for the next several weeks, Kazu travelled with the monk, helping out the villages and learning to use his newly acquired powers without giving away that he was a Solar Exalt. Kazu learned that his powers matched his nature and training well. He excelled against errant spirits, having gained powers to see and affect them even when they hid unmanifest. During each mission, the monk lectured Kazu on the tenets of the Faith, and what he’d need to focus on in order to stay on the path. He also focused on Kazu understanding that he couldn’t let himself be killed by the ‘smaller minded’ immaculates, who did not see the potential in what he represented.
After two months had passed, and the pair had just finished saving a vilage from a swarm of errant wood spiders, the monk called Kazu over and said, “You’re ready. It’s time for us to part ways.”
“As you say, brother. What would you have me do?”
“Your path leads to Great Forks. There, you will find the beginnings of your destiny. Do not worry, your path will become clear to you.”
“Great Forks? The Dragons lay a heavier path before me than I imagined. What if I begin to fall?”
“Have no worry. If you fall, I’ll come for you and set you free. Do not let any other Immaculate harm you. Do what you can to escape without killing our brethren, but if no option is left to you, what you represent to the Order is more important than what they do. Do not forget that.”
“As you say, brother,” Kazu replied, looking a little green at the thought of having to kill an Immaculate to defend himself.
“This is important, Kazu. You. Must. Live. Prove that even the Solar Anathema can be saved. It is more important than you know.”
“Mela as my witness, I will. Thank you brother, for everything.”
“Do not thank me Kazu, the path you are about to follow is not a gift. You’ll suffer more than most, and that is only the beginning.”