Cmdr. Vivian Callahan
Beloved Hero and Living Martyr
There is a story, spoken once in hushed whispers and now proudly told by many a spoony bard, of a woman who would wander from battlefield to battlefield leaving nothing but the corpses of the wicked in her wake, an angel of victory that could turn even the most desperate defeat into a crushing victory. Provided, of course, she was on your side.
This story was greatly exaggerated, and on the rare occasion that it would catch up with Vivian, would cause her near-limitless headache. Though she very rarely claimed credit for these grossly-exaggerated stories, whenever she WAS fingered as some phenomenal heroine, inevitably she was asked where she was when the battle some poor child’s big brother died in occurred, or why she couldn’t save someone’s husband.
These were questions that she would end up asking herself again and again in moments of quiet, even before…well.
There is another story, however, one you won’t hear nearly so often despite its grandeur, one you will hear only from the men who were there, or the occasional quiet storyteller who knows a legend from a folktale. This story tells of a commander whose army was routed in an important battle. Recognizing her as a hero of her people, mockingly, the victors offered her a trade – in exchange for her head, her men would go free. She accepted at once.
Her execution was a spectacle. In any war, an awe-inspiring hero to one side is a terrible monster to another, and so the people gathered ‘round to jeer her, to celebrate her demise. She was pelted with stones and rotten food as she stood at the gallows, though her calm smile did not falter. She knew what she was to these people, and to them, this was the best she deserved. It wasn’t a sentiment she was entirely sure she disagreed with, some days.
Even as the platform gave way from under her, her serene smile was burned into the minds of the people present, her last words ever-echoing in their memories:
“You’d best kill me quickly, men. I’m sure your supper’s getting cold.”
An hour later, the city was under siege. Her death had been a rallying point, a crime, a travesty that the men she had led over her career could not stand by and accept. They fought like beasts, outnumbered ten to one in the enemy’s own heartland, and still, by the end of the day they held the city.
According to some, one young man cut the commander down from the gallows only to find her wresting herself from his arms, demanding a sword with which to aid her countrymen. Only Vivian herself knows if that much is true; that young man died in the siege. But the fact remains – at the end of that day, she had taken command and they had taken the city.
Death had always been a steadfast companion of hers, as it is for every successful soldier. As such, when she met Madrich on the very edge of oblivion, she wasn’t entirely surprised, though she wasn’t at all prepared for what happened next. He offered her a deal, and again without hesitation, she accepted; even if it weren’t far too early to die, when a Spirit offered you something, it was no suggestion – you took it.
This time…she wasn’t entirely sure what she was giving up. Certainly her life wasn’t worth much now. But it was better, she decided quickly, not to question it, lest it be interpreted as a distinct lack of gratitude. In return for whatever it was – a Spirit’s amusement, perhaps – Vivian received the two things she needed desperately: the time to save more lives, and the power to end the petty, angry squabbles between city-states, the wars between what ought to have been countrymen united under one flag for the good of all people. Or at least, that’s what she hoped.
Despite those gifts, however, her neck remains ever-marred by that rope, and every day her stiff body complains to her a little more as she forces it along…
- Unusual physical strength. (D8)
- Rusted agility (D12) with unfortunate reflexes. (D20)
- Unnatural resilience (D6), but unreliable stamina. (D20)
- Rather worldly knowledge. (D10)
- Dulled perception. (D12)
- Sanity worn thin by trauma (D20).
- Very little magic to spare. (D20)
- Calm nearly to a fault. (D8)
- A skilled and practiced swordsman. (D8)
- Competent with other weaponry. (D12)
- Uncomfortable with bows. (D20)
- A knowledgeable enough survivalist. (D20)
- A passable cook. (D20)
- Accustomed to giving speeches. (D8)
- Experienced with leading men. (D10)
- An accomplished tactician. (D10)
- All too used to digging. (D12)
- Terrible with animals. (D30)
- A subpar rider. (D20)
- An amateur horticulturist. (D20)
- Too shaky for most fine work. (D30)
Vivian is able to:
- Drain life from her surroundings. (D10)
- Spread minor afflictions. (D20)
Though Madrich makes no particular attempt to make himself known, his presence, by nature, weighs heavy in the hearts of those around him. He holds no malice, of course – even by the standards spirits hold, death is neutral and inevitable.
Merging with Vivian is just as much a reclamation of his power as it is a fusion of the two. Madrich’s form blossoms from her body as a stories-high phantom, a barely-tangible shade that darkens the landscape with its presence. Within its confines drift vague, humanoid figures, men who shriek with silent rage and sob with muted sorrow, the remains of those Vivian has slain in battle. In the eye of this storm of the slain is a ribcage of pale bone, and in the cage rests the commander’s body, swaying and dancing with the Avatar’s movement like a macabre doll.
When it must act physically, it often does so through the use of an entirely expected scythe. Contrary to what one may expect from an Avatar, though the scythe is massive, its handle is of plain, aged wood and is quite well-worn, and the blade wickedly sharp and utilitarian, meant for a clean cut through all but the hardiest of…anything, really.
As it moves, Madrich’s Avatar withers plants and small creatures near it. While that makes it extremely convenient for use in dealing with rodent infestations, it would best be kept away from children.
- Strength uninhibited by biological limits. (D6)
- A certain methodical swiftness. (D10)
- Nigh-immunity to…well. (D4)
- Ages of experience. (D6)
- A sixth sense. (D8)
- One less meat puppet to keep going. (D10)
- Fly. Well, it’s more like drifting, really. (D12)
- Curse a creature to slowly wither away. (D10)
- Drain the life from creatures around it. (D8)