Greyhawk 636 CY: The Rise of Asmodeus
Qui is the youngest daughter in Umari family. Her father (Nori) is a royal official and her mother (Rie) a priestess. Her oldest brother (Kou) is a commander in the army and her other brother (Nobu) is a woodworker. Her older sister (Haruka) has been missing for years and the family does not speak of her much. Qui does not know the circumstances of her departure from the family and has been told by her parents that it is not her concern. Recently she has discovered the truth of the matter.
The Emperor Akhiro, Divine Light of the Sun, sent Qui east because he foresaw that in time the Isle of Pearls would need to aid others more directly in preventing evil. He understood from helping the Heroes of The Key that there are dangers in the world that can not be stopped without the Light of Pelor. The Isles are a place of great beauty but they also house the locked and guarded gate to the prison of the mad god…the only direct one on Oerth.
So he decided that he would pick a proper time and send a monk. As he was pondering, he received word from Sir Christopher that the Last Tapestry was again showing the future. And the Lord Marshall of Geoff requested that he consider sending Qui. Although a young and skilled monk…she had not been on Akhiro’s list of possibilities. But fate chooses where she will.
Qui has three duties:
1. Follow your quest as Sir Christopher directs
2. Be alert for signs of the mad god
3. Follow the Will of Pelor/Amaterasu
Although he has not told her specifically, the Emperor seems concerned about something. As if he is waiting to see the true shape of some great evil.
She knows the Emperors guard the void place where the Eldest Dark is imprisoned. That she has been told to look for signs of its presence is a disturbing hint of the Emperor’s concern. She now wonders if the disruption being caused by Asmodeus has been noticed by far more terrifying eyes.
(Samurai 7/Expert Minister of Trade 10)
Nori Umari has run the trade in the Isles under a single concept: fairness. If the Isles are sacred to good then what comes from them must benefit all people. He has held this belief since he was a child. His brother, Katashi, did not agree, he believes that the Isles must be strong and that other are not their concern.
This eventually led to a rift between them that was not resolved for years, and ended only when Katashi died. It is one of the great regrets of his life that Nori was not able to reach his brother. Only one of Katashi’s children will see him, the youngest; Akemi, a messenger for the emperor and young Samurai. The two others, Mari and Masaru, have preferred to embrace their father’s philosophies.
Unlike the others in the family, Nori will sometimes think on his own lost daughter fondly. He does not doubt the emperor but he remembers brief smiles from his little one and does not believe that evil can fully grasp her heart. He is alone in this view and does not share it with others. The emperor has declared that there is nothing human left in Haruka and her death is the only solution. As a servant, he accepts it. It does not mean he must believe it. And he questions his own resolve should the killing blow fall to him.
He is proud of Qui but worries about the harshness of her road.
(Priestess of Amaterasu 13)
A priestess of the Sun, Rei believes in total goodness. This can sometimes make her harsh. She expects perfection from all her children and agrees totally with the Emperor about Haruka. She dotes on Qui and feels vindicated that even with the same her eldest daughter has brought that it will be expunged by the youngest.
She does not suspect her husband’s soft spot for Haruka and would consider it a weakness and a danger. She would be astonished at his morning prayers to Amaterasu for her redemption.
She is close to the Emperor and has his counsel on matters and is his on some. He has said to her, oddly, that perhaps her own harshness toward Haruka is a weakness in itself. She thinks on this as a test. She does not believe it is a weakness at all.
Much of her time is spent in thinking on Qui and the road she must travel. She prays and prepares blessings daily for the strength her youngest must have to deal with the pain and sorrow brought by her hideous first daughter.
General of the armies, Kou remembers the births of both his sisters as well as his oldest one leaving. He has trained his whole life to protect the Isles and worries that when the day comes he will be insufficient.
His warriors would scoff at such a thought. He is beloved by all who serve him and trusted by the Emperor. Kou is all that a servant should be, and all that a master should be. His heart shines with honor and generosity, and he is perhaps the wisest of his siblings.
Deadly on the battlefield, he is somewhat distracted lately because his first child is due. His wife, Mariko, is also a Samurai but is on leave from the military due to her pregnancy. The emperor has offered her and the child the protection of the palace due to the return of Kou’s sister Haruka. They initially refused but Nori convinced them to be humble and accept the offer of the Grandson of the Sun.
(Expert Woodworker 12)
Unlike the rest of his family, Nobu chose a simple life with a wife (Ume) and children (Simiko and Tarou) and a trade of beauty. He is the kindest, and unknown to his father, would agree and sympathize with his love of Haruka. He remembers his older sister helping him gather wood and staying out at night under the stars.
He believes her love of those starts was not always sinister and that it was something in the blackness in the gaps that twisted her heart. He will never give up on her and thinks it vile that the Emperor would place Qui in such a position. That his dear little sister would be called to kill his older one, is beyond his understanding.
He feels that it is not his place to speak up to his betters among his brothers and sister and parents. But is it not possible the Emperor is testing them. Testing that they would think differently…and know that there was once the glimmer of love in Haruka?
He remembers the nights naming the starts with her and gathering wood and how she would marvel at his carving skill even when he was a child. She would comment on the hidden shapes in us all and her feeling that she lacked this. That in her was nothing and she feared that. He believes she does not embrace what she has become.
Her name means distance, and it could never have been more properly chosen. Haruka is only barely human. From the moment of her birth her eyes were fixed on distant stars and for some reason her heart given to the dark god Mikaboshi. His unknowable distance was a driving force for her curiosity. She was uncomfortable in the light of the Sun and chose to walk often at night. Eventually she gathered her family and explained that she would go in search of the god of her choice and in reality she had never loved or cared for them for a single moment. She saw them as simply insects in the way of a great destiny. Her mother begged her to stay, after all her youngest sister has just been born. Haruka said she did not understand why that should matter, one more mewling cancer on the planet did not interest her in comparison to the god of dark stars.
Her family has not heard from her since. The emperor is aware that she had left Oerth altogether by means rare and unknown to most…and she traveled the stars. He is also aware that she has returned. And the god of empty spaces…one of the three gods (along with Incabulos and the Elder Elemental God) who is a shard of the mad god seeking their own dominance…has sent her with a mission. And this mission will bring her into direct conflict with the sister and family she has rejected.
The Emperor Akhiro is unsure if anything human remains in Haruka. She has dwelt with an aspect of darkness that is deeper than most can fathom. Even he struggles to understand the desires of Mikaboshi…the cleansing cold, the god of empty spaces and distance; he who would blot out the light of the sun itself; the one star he can not dominate.
She fell in love with Kou long ago when they were training together for the military. The parts of their code, Honor and Courage, that most people struggled with were natural to him. And they became natural to her. They share a common goal in the preservation of all good and obedience to the Emperor.
With their first child due within the year they are overjoyed. But there is now fear because of Haruka’s return. If she seeks the destruction of all ties of family, then surely at some point, the new child will be within her sight.
The Emperor, wise and good, has given them the protection of the palace. They fear others will think they, as cowards, sought it. But in honesty Mariko does not care what others think on this. Her child must be protected from this monster.
She loved her father and wonders how he died. His death of illness, so brutal and sudden, shocked the family. She remembers her uncle Nori coming to make peace all the time, but being refused.
She remembers how he came to his brothers funeral, only to be dismissed and rejected by her older siblings. She will never forget the pain in his eyes.
She also remembers the joy on his face when she came to his door to give him what forgiveness and words she could. It is not often the older weep before the younger. In this she believes that her uncle was stronger and better than her father. That his belief of fairness to all is superior to the strength of the Isles alone.
It was in his honor that she began training to be a Samurai. Her father ran a criminal empire unmatched in the Isles. One now run by her brother and sister, who have both disowned her. She knows that reconciling with her uncle is only the first of her father’s mistakes she must undo.
Mari and Masaru Umari
Twin siblings, they are the undisputed rulers of their father’s criminal endeavors. Mari, the oldest by a few minutes, is a cunning girl who despises weakness above all things. She trusts her brother but fears his vices are the weak link that could undo all they have. If only Akemi, strong Akemi, had chosen the better path in life.
Mari ponders the day when her brother will need to meet with an accident to preserve the dream of their father. The dream of an indomitable nation that needs no one but itself. The seat of the Sun and the seat of all power. The Great Plan to achieving this might still be far off, but she does not think her brother will live to see it done.
Masaru is cruel. He is filled with vice and greed. He believes all should bow before him and give him what he wants. The members of the family and syndicate do not know who they would rather have in charge if they had to choose between the siblings. Right now they balance each other and business has been good. They worry that something could change that.
For now Masaru is growing more an more unpredictable as far as his uncle is concerned. He believes he betrayed his father and deserves pain and punishment. He believes the way to do this lies in his equally traitorous sister Akemi.
She is a stain on the family that must be expunged. That she has chosen her uncle over her beloved father’s memory and business is unforgivable.
(Crane Hengeyokai; Mentor)
No one knows, except The Emperor Akihiro, how old Kazuko is. He has trained members of the Umari family for generations and has been the friend to Emperors. A Hengeyokai, Kazuko is part Crane and part human. The nature of the shifting people is not that simple, but that description is as good as any.
Kazuko has trained Samuari, Monks, Crafters and anything that was necessary. He has been master, default nanny and friend to the Umari family for as long as anyone can remember. Trusted by everyone, and with good reason, Kazuko is often turned to for council. Harsh but actually very caring he prefers to fight hand to hand but uses any weapon as if it was second nature.
Although he seems young everyone knows that is simply not true. Kazuko is troubled by Haruka’s return because he knows that it could tear apart the Umari family. In all the years of training the family there have been a handful of failures…she being one of the most spectacular.
He also worries about the emperor. Emperors are long lived, and they are divine but they are also mortal and they can be killed. The emperor is young, unmarried and without a child. If he were to die, then it could be said the sun was put out.
(Ranger Yokai Hunter 12)
The sister of Qui’s mother Rei, Mana is a hunter of evil things. Sometimes, in moments where she wonders if she could have done things differently, Rei sees that her sister and her prodigal child are similar in some ways.
Mana is good to the core, but distant at times. She ponders things that would normally make people despair. Such as the triumph of dark armies and monsters. The difference between Mana and Haruka is that Mana keeps her family at a distance because she loves them and she sees the triumphs she ponders as something to be avoided.
Mana’s husband and child were killed by a strange disease years ago. In fact her daughter, Naomi, was Haruka’s childhood friend and it was her strange wasting death that deprived the young girl of the one person who could have kept her from her dark path. Since that event Mana keeps all her family at a distance, secretly fearing it was a powerful Yokai that she had wronged who killed her family. She has made it her purpose to find out. She has recently begun seeing Naomi in dreams and her child tells her it is time to go back to her family and that she will be needed.
Ghost and Dream Spirit
Naomi was a normal girl. She had a close relationship with her cousin Haruka, even though most people did not see it. The children were often away on their own playing in the woods and exploring. She even made a Ki Rin doll for her, often removed, cousin. She took pride that it was the one thing that could always make Haruka remember that people cared about her.
Naomi does not remember when she contracted the disease that killed her and her father, but she knows it was not natural. She knows she came upon something in the forest of spirits and then she brought the disease home. It made her fade away, unable to touch anything or anyone until she died. She remembers some battle after her death and the Emperor. She felt like she was being absorbed into something but she knows the Emperor, although young himself, saved her.
She awoke not dead, not undead…but a dream spirit with the ability to dispel nightmares and hunt with the dream hunters who protected dreams. She has no idea what she is but lost herself in her new role for several years. She recently stumbled upon some facts that made her seek her mother in dreams. The family will need protection soon, so will all the world. She fears this will put her into direct conflict with her best friend. But feels it is unavoidable.
She knows she has forgotten things. The hidden thing that killed her and her father, something that is important to Haruka, why the Emperor saved her from the thing that tried to claim her…and she knows all of these are important.
She does not know fully what she is or why she is. She knows she is powerful and can create, defend and send dreams. She feels that her death was a mistake and somehow the Sun Goddess has taken advantage of it.
She does not wish to fall to arrogance, but Naomi Saito thinks she may be important to the world. But that is not what matters most to her. What matters most is that people can dream freely and hope. and that she will see her family again face to face somehow.
(Wu Jen 13/Yakuza 5)
Katashi died, but unknown to anyone that was just the beginning. He suffered a brutal and horrid death from an unknown disease that wracked his body and drove his mind even further into madness. He began to understand that darkness and silence and cold were the fundamental parts of the universe.
He awoke after his death in the presence of a disturbing masked man whose face was a living mask and a gnome. They told him of the battle between the three faces of the mad god and how one would win and then they would free him and whoever was on the winning side would become part of the magnificence of nothingness. His niece Haruka, they told him, was already serving the god of empty spaces. The Gnome was serving an aspect of the mad god in primal chaos in the form of Urdlen and the man had, used the Codex of Infinite Planes to come to an understanding with the god of nightmares.
He could help his niece and get revenge on his brother. This was acceptable to him. When he asked if he was alive or undead the masked man paused, and said he was not sure…he did not pay full attention to what the disease he made did except it remade Katashi better and stronger.
(Wu Jen 7 /Blade Dancer 8)
A cousin of the Umari family through Qui’s paternal Grandmother, Midori is one of the rising palace wizards. She has been worried about the rumblings from the void lately and thinks things are escaping…leaking. She is an expert in and staunch opponent of the mad god. She believes that a battle is coming and the Emperor is in danger.
The Emperor understand but, she feels, dismisses her fears for him. He says she will soon meet some heroes who will help and that she should not worry herself about him. But she believes he is too relaxed.
She is making it her duty to protect him at all times. A thing he finds charming and sweet but necessary. In fact her vigilance has resulted in his taking long unannounced walks in order to be alone. Perhaps his self appointed bodyguard has more than reasons of loyalty to care so much. But sometimes the attempts to prevent something can cause what is feared.
Midori is protective of her whole family and is confused why Qui was sent on the mission when there are Umari’s with far more skill and experience. It is the will of the Sun that this is all so, and she bears no ill will or grudge. But she does worry about her.