Gods can be cruel. For those of you who don’t know the tale of Cassandra, see here. In short, the sun god Apollo gifted Cassandra with the ability to see the future, but when this act of generosity failed to open her legs, he spitefully twisted the gift into a curse. Cassandra was left with the knowledge of future events, but could neither alter these events nor convince others of the validity of her predictions.
A sword fighter with a mysterious past and memory loss! Not terribly original, but I have a fondness for the conjunction of sword fighting with the sea, ever since the 7 Seas RPG came to my attention. As balance and agility are such an important part of fencing, to have this gentleman on board ship forces him to become skilled at balancing on uncertain surfaces, adapting to situations that life throws his way. His memory loss stems from the day he was dragged from the sea, barely alive, clinging to driftwood.
Feng Shui is an ancient Chinese system of aesthetics beleived to use laws of astronomy and geography to improve life by receiving positive qi. In other words, it is the holistic arrangement of living spaces to be fit for purpose. The Feng Shui assassin has mastered the art and its darker side by association – redirection of qi is not restricted to positive outcomes! By placing innocuous items around a house, or by the subtle rearrangement of furniture, the assassin can create death traps invisible to most. Its victims fall down stairs, trip and break their necks, get crushed by toppling wardrobes and fridges, electrocute themselves or gradually poison themselves. It is almost always diagnosed as accidental death by misadventure, and the deaths can be sudden or subtle, depending on the requirements of the assassin.
Cruor started hearing voices at an early age. Initially she thought they were friends playing tricks, but the voices said very strange things. They told her secrets and special words and gestures that made things happen as she desired. She eventually recognised the voices as being one voice: Her own, but older. Her own voice was telling her that she was going to become a goddess someday, but that she would need to make sacrifices to achieve this. Trusting herself, Cruor began her long path to power, littering her way with the broken bodies of former friends and family.
She started to craft herself anew.
Kimiko resembles a short Japanese woman, with a weather beaten and wizened face, oversized spectacles, cheeky grin, large all-weather poncho and latest digital camera. She travels a lot and likes taking photographs for her relatives and friends. She is actually a mystical repository of the various unfortunates she has assassinated over the thousands of years of her stolen life, stealing their souls at the moment of death. In turn, she uses these trapped souls to control animals, insects, birds and so on as a form of hive mind, which is her primary method of assassination. For instance, one gentleman was killed out walking by the beach with his family, when Kimiko possessed the circling gulls who pecked him to death in an homage to Hitchcock. A lady was killed in her sleep by rats coming up through the toilet and eating her alive. A more subtle occasion required a lone wasp stinging a man know to have an anaphylactic reaction. There are some who believe that some primitive cultural resentment of photographs may stem from Kimiko’s actions a long time ago in her travels. As to what she is exactly, nobody rightly knows, but she is effectively immortal by transferring her souls to another convenient vessel where necessary.
Nadja grew up in a small hovel by a marsh, alone with her aging mother. She cared for her mother as she died from a slow wasting illness. The emotional stress of the situation led to her developing a fascination with the cycles of life and death, and she learned a great deal from her mother about the flora and fauna of the marsh. After her mother passed away, Nadja gave her body to the scavengers and kept her wisdom locked carefully away.
One day, Nadja was approached by a haggard youth of a similar age as she crouched studying a dying bird, overcome by marsh gas. He was touched by what he took to be her compassion, when in fact she was simply watching its demise. They loved each other for a time, but the relationship soured as their mutual outlooks grew apart. She felt betrayed by him, and resented his special link with nature when he left to become a hermit. Vowing to make him suffer, she went in search of the power she needed to achieve her vengeance.
She sought out a spider demon, and made a pact to marry it. On the wedding day, they exchanged marriage gifts to make the pact binding. She gave him a silver ring, then the demon laughed and insisted she wear a special wedding dress. They kissed, but at his bite a paralyzing venom flooded into her. At this point the demon summoned his arachnid minions to bind her with silk – a ‘special’ dress to fit the occasion – and the demon turned to carry her away to his lair where his other ‘wives’ were entombed. Nadja, succumbing to the venom, mumbled “what is yours is mine” and triggered the enchantment on the rings. Shrieking, the demon was consumed and bound within Nadja’s ring, his power flooding into her, but she knew she would remain a prisoner of the web forever. To free herself would in turn release the demon and the consequences that entailed.
With her new powers, she silently bid the beasts of the marsh to carry her silken coffin to a blasted oak, branches reminiscent of a crescent moon: a natural conduit of magical energies. Borne aloft, she was suspended at the centre of the crescent, and a protective shell of silk woven thick and strong to shelter her. She sent her mind out into the marsh, and the myriad eyes of the spiders, insects and vermin that dwelt there, and so began the reign of Nadja, Vermin Queen.