Kehani

I was born a cursed child. I am a Tiefling, standing tall, slender and imposing, with silver-white horns and pale blue skin. From my eyes down my sharp cheeks to my jawbone, I bear a silver lightning birthmark. To see me, you would find it little surprise that my mother died before she could even hold me in her arms. My father could not cope with seeing the start of my life mark the end of his lover’s, nor could he find it in his heart to love me. In my earliest years, he provided for my brothers with what little money he had not yet drunk away in run-down taverns. My brothers helped feed me, even as young boys. But money from a drunkard is not something one can rely upon. It was never enough, so Mavarst and Gatash, six and eight years my elders learned to steal and beg, and keep scraps of food on our plates. What little I recall of this time is through my brothers’ stories, for I was too young to form any clear memories. When I was three, my father was imprisoned. A bar fight had escalated, and a skull had tragically cracked on a table as a man fell to the ground. That was the last I saw of him. Perhaps that is what saved my brothers and I, for we were sent to an orphanage, where we were found and taken in by Martha and Devaan, who owned a large house by the docks. I lived happily here, loved as if I were their own child. I spent my days playing with other children, who never gave a moment’s thought to what I was. My brothers ran errands in the docks, and then took jobs once they were of age, eventually being employed on merchant vessels. They travelled far and often, and were rarely home. By the time I was twelve, I was becoming aware of the dirty looks and whispered judgement from strangers in the streets. Even the once innocent and carefree children began to bully and taunt. Martha and Devaan had endless faith in me, but I began to lose faith in myself, and it was clear civilised society doubted me. I felt the need to prove I was more than my infernal heritage. I had to prove I was good and pure of heart, and the only way I could think how to do so was to worship the gods – to spend as much time as I could in the various temples of the city. For four years I devoted myself to worship, missing so many opportunities for social pleasures, academic interests, or decent labour, instead studying only the divine texts. For all that I missed out on, it was a nonetheless a happy time. I had friends in the temples, and a newfound belief that I was not defined by my birth. I once thought that I would stay forever, and become a wise old religious teacher. But All Things Must Change.

When I was seventeen, a storm unlike any that had struck for generations ravaged our coast. The dock was hit the hardest – homes, workplaces, ships, shattered by wind and wave and lighting. My family’s home was among those obliterated. By luck alone, my parents were unharmed, but everything was lost – all our possessions, and their livelihoods. They packed what little they could salvage and set off to the capital to seek a new living. They begged me to come, but I refused. I did not want to back away from my dedication to the church, but I soon realised the storm had awakened something that had been inert inside me since birth – a great arcane might. I could channel the force of lightning with just a touch, and cast bolts of it through the air. I spoke of this with temple elders, and though the arcane is respected by the church, strange traditions disallow the clergy to practice it. I resigned from my duties, trying to figure out some meaning in everything that was happening. The sudden shift in my life and power was overwhelming. Unbound by duty, I spent months indulging in pleasures I had denied myself as an devout acolyte – ale, spirits, drugs, men, women, literature, but most of all, I indulged in my newfound power. A peaceful city was no place to be a sorcerer. Little could be done with my power there. I had to leave, and so I did. I travelled from town to town on random whim and impulse, never truly knowing nor caring where I would end up. Less than a month into my travels, I came to the realisation that I bore a child. I took pause from my journey, and spent the months of my pregnancy in a temple. Throughout that time I prayed to the gods, and tried to meditate on my future. I knew my journey could not be over, so I left the child to be raised by the priests. I left her, unnamed, with only a short letter to promise I loved her and would return one day. Five years have passed since I left my daughter in that temple. I think of her each and every day, but I know I do what I must. Throughout these years, I have come to conclude that I am not on journey to seek my destiny. There is no destiny, only the chaos of the storm – the inevitability of the change it brings for better or worse. I am a vessel of that change. I have no predetermined path to tread. The random ever-changing winds of fate guide me in this world. I will follow them to the ends of this earth if that is where they lead.

A storm brings destruction. Lives and homes may be torn asunder. In that violent chaos, it is easy to forget that the very same storm broke the drought which threatened to starve the kingdom. It is easy to forget that the flood which drowned this year’s crops leaves behind good sediment that makes next year’s crops grow stronger. The destruction, the change, and the new hope that come from the storm are not its intent. It has no intent. One cannot question the whim of a storm. It does not choose where to strike. It simply follows the only path it can.

Some say that storms follow me wherever I roam, but they mistake me.

I am no harbinger of storms.

I am the storm.

 

 

 

I DM one campaign, and play in another. Kehani was created as my backup character in case Monty the Goblin dies, but she developed into something outside the tone of that campaign. Perhaps I’ll get a chance to play as her one day. For now, the closest I’ll get is sharing her backstory here, and hoping someone else appreciates her theme and relates the traditional DnD woes of having more character concepts than you have opportunities to play.

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Visits to my Local Time Shaft – 7

So I was at the duck pond by my secret laboratory recently… and something seemed strange about the ducks…

I was looking for a neutral signal to recalibrate one of my time-whack readers, and I thought “What’s more neutral than a duck?” However, the signal was anything but neutral. One duck in particular was emitting a very strange and distinctly unducklike pattern.  I detected a high peak, then a long empty bout of mid-level noise, and then another peak, over and over.

I of course decided to plot the peaks, and it seemed somewhat random. After a lengthy period of observation, I realised it was approximately repeating a pattern with a little bit of variance to obscure it – perhaps enough to slip under any passive automated scan, but fairly rudimentary for any active observer to decipher. Measuring each interval to the nearest 3 seconds, and then normalising them to a 1 to 26 scale, it spelled out a simple message:

F L O M B E R R E I S W I T H Y O U

My assumption is this is from that strange gentleman who time-flopped me out, and that his name can only be Professor Flomberre. I’m not sure whether to be reassured or afraid. On the one hand, he saved me from being trapped in quarantine for months… but on the other hand, he knows a worryingly large number of things about me, including the location of my secret laboratory, where he did something strange to a duck…

The next day, I examined all the ducks one by one with my newly calibrated time-whack reader. All followed perfectly normal ducklike patterns. Flomberre either trusted me to pick up the pattern on the first day I arrived, or he’s got close enough surveillance to know for sure. I suppose the second option is most likely, but I cannot imagine what he might want. If he wanted the skull, I’m sure it wouldn’t have popped back out of the time shaft into my hand…

I will update you again once I have had time to run detailed analysis of the skull.

Until next time,

 – Barnabus K. Pompadour

P.S. – Flomberre, if you’re reading this – Thanks for the help, but… do you have to be so weird about it? Just come visit or something like a normal person

Visits to my Local Time Shaft – 6

So I was down at my local timeshaft recently… but for a change, that’s not where this update begins.

Word got out about the chronowraith skull – I mean, I wasn’t keeping it secret in any way – and I’ve essentially been quarantined in the lab with it because top scientists and the government are concerned about the risks of messing with something so heavily timewhacked. Without the access to funds and materials to better research it, I’ve only been able to make a little progress. I managed to scrap together a timewhack meter strong enough to not explode like the last one. The readings fluctuate in a pattern that seemed meaningless, until I mapped the coordinates to one axis, and the output of a random number generation code to the other. The fluctuations were always in line with the random numbers, even when I stopped and reset the code, or messed around to skew the probabilities. In life the chronowraith sees all points of time at once. Knowing its skull would end up here, perhaps it somehow observed this string of random numbers, and synchronised its thoughts to it. This opened up more questions than it answered. I kept thinking, “if only I could get out of here and get new parts and my notes and everything…”

And then a stranger, who looked precisely like a stereotypical mad scientist but with a beret, suddenly appeared out of thin air one afternoon. He immediately shouted “Allons y, we don’t have much time! Haha, get it, time? But seriously, I gotta get you out before my Time Flombateur de-flops this flop!”

He grabbed my arm. I suppose the flop must have de-flopped after that, because next thing I knew, I was out of there. In an instant, I went from standing in the lab to flying along a wild glowing blue stream of energy. I saw the professor for a moment. The words “Au Revoir, Barnabus!” reached my ears like a distant yell, and then he was gone. I’m embarrassed to say I did not immediately realise that the flow of energy I was in was my local timeshaft itself. After what felt like a few minutes, but could have been any amount of time, I found myself soaring through the air and landing with a thud on the ground. I came to my senses, and looked around at a familiar site. It was, of course, the very same place I always come to check the timeshaft. Moments later, the very same chronowraith skull flew out, and I instinctively caught it in my hands, as if my subconscious had known to expect it.

I will try to keep you up to date, but I expect I may need to continue my studies quite discretely. I always knew that the underground research base I had constructed years ago would come in handy!

Until next time,

 – Barnabus K. Pompadour

Visits to my Local Time Shaft – 5

So I was down at my local timeshaft recently… well, not recently this time – what it shot out raised a lot of questions, which needed a long time to answer.

The object I found looked like the skull of a chronowraith – a riduclous suggestion! However, I have since acquired many test results and other scientists’ opinions on this skull and as much as we want to believe it is false positive, we are in unanimous agreement that it did indeed belong to a chronowraith. This is concerning for three reasons. Firstly, it suggests that chronowraiths simply exist. Most dismiss them as a crazy hypoethetical, but there are many who have theorised about them, and the widely accepted physics among these scientists is that chronowraiths experience a superimposed real-unreal duality. Secondly, finding a skull suggests that they have a physical form. All popular theories state that they are made purely of time, pseudo-energy, and streams of particles called déjà-vuons, not the conventional matter found in this skull. And thirdly, a skull means one is dead. Nowhere, not even in science fiction stories, does anyone suggest that they are capable of aging, never mind death. What being or force of nature could cause the death of such a creature?

£465000 of scanning equipment exploded just for being brought within six feet of this skull, so it is emitting timewhack signals way beyond anything we have ever seen. This is probably because due to the lack of in-shaft timelines, the same skull is still in use by the living version of the wraith. As a chronowraith’s life simultaneously happens at all points in time, so too must its death. This means that one of those infinite points of death happened at the start of its life, so it simultaneously never and always exists. This paradox should prevent the being from exerting a physical presence on any reality, yet here we are with its skull…

Such an object – one that holds the weight of both infinite non-existence and infinite existence – should surely not be stable enough to pop out of a time shaft into the real world. It should, by all logic, have immediately disintegrated in an immense outburst of energy, but here it is, still in one piece.

If we could find a way to safely extract and utilise the bizarre energies emanating from it, this skull alone could probably power half of Europe 24/7 for generations. Unfortunately we lack the technology to do that, and even if we could do it, there’s still a high likelihood of the energy dissipating evenly across all of history and the future, thus becoming irrelevant again. But thinking of such applications is getting ahead of ourselves. First we must learn all there is to know about chronowraiths – or rather, re-learn everything we thought we knew…

I will keep you informed on any progress we make regarding our understanding of chronowraiths, but I fear it could be an eternity before another analysable sample is revealed to us.

Until next Time,

  • Barnabus K. Pompadour

e-Sermon on The Fundamentals of Close-Enoughism

Greetings to our congregation, gathered here to read this e-sermon. Today I wish to reiterate the church’s core ideologies, and address a dangerous misinterpretation of our cause.

Historically, the Brotherhood of Uncompromising Modern Saints has held an opposite philosophy to the Church of Close Enoughism, but the two have happily stayed out of each other’s way. However, perhaps in fear regarding our recent rise in followers, the B.U.M.S has been trying to misrepresent our image. They have tried to attract followers by condemning our ideals, claiming that we promote failure and negativity. Those already affiliated with us know this is not the case, but for readers who are less familiar with our philosophies, allow us to explain.

The B.U.M.S promotes an extreme form of perfectionism and strict ideals of success. These can combine into a toxic cycle of being forced to prove oneself. Our message is not that you should not strive toward success and goals, but that we are not defined by such terms. Additionally we affirm that these concepts are highly subjective. There is no universal correct set of aspirations. The B.U.M.S ideology revolves so heavily around the concept of success, that failure is seen as the worst thing that can happen to a person. We teach that this is not the case, and that there is not a boundary between failure and success but rather a wide spectrum. Being “Close Enough” to success does not mean you failed and pretended you didn’t, it means you acknowledged the bigger picture and focused on what you had achieved rather than what you had not.

We can put differences of ideology aside, however harmful we feel the B.U.M.S message is, but we cannot tolerate when they defame the name of Him, the Mehssiah, in All His Adequacy. They think celebrating Him is wrong. The messiah figure in their texts was a humble man, yet also the emperor of a morally just nation, the epitome of beauty, and wiser than one thousand great philosophers. He planted a tree every day for a year, saved four billion children from slavery, introduced recycling to his local community, and was the captain of the football team. This unrealistic image of perfection is what the B.U.M.S believes we should all strive for. They teach that until we reach this level, we are inherently full of sin, and are yet to earn respect. The Close Enoughist message is strictly the opposite of this. Respect is fundamentally deserved, not something you must earn. He, the Mehssiah, in All His Adequacy, represents this concept precisely. He is unspectacular, but He is. He exists, and that makes him adequate – and so in turn, He exists within us all not through divine powers of creation, but through simple shared experience. Like Him, we are all adequate and we are all Close Enough to what we ought to be.

Close Enoughism is a celebration of what we are, and what we almost are – not a rejection of becoming more. To become more in a healthy manner, you must first know that you are Close Enough. We want you to say “I am Close Enough to being there, therefore I can get there!” rather than “I am a failure for not being there yet.”

Until the next e-sermon, stay true to yourself, and be Close Enough to who you want to be.

The Second Great Act of Mediocrity: The Taming of the Beast

It has been several months since we presented to you The First Act. As is inevitable for the elders of the church, the second has gone untold despite our commitments. Here, we present the second of the Seven Great Acts of Mediocrity: The Taming of the Beast.

 

Despite the vague awareness a slowly growing number of citizens now had of Him, He, The Mehssiah, in All His Adequacy, remained humble. The first act was a tale told far and wide across the region within a three mile radius of the Holy Tree. And so when He, The Mehssiah, in All his Adequacy, first set foot in a new town, within a fortnight almost three people had uttered the words, “Hey, aren’t you that guy who helped those weirdos with their fruit superstition?” to which He replied, “Well, I wouldn’t call them weirdos, but yeah, sure, close enough.”

The almost three people spread word of His presence around the town until a meeting was called and a consensus was reached. The mayor spoke for the whole town, and told Him, The Mehssiah, in All His Adequacy, “Alright, if those fruity nutjobs over in that town are worthy of help, us normal people damn well are too!”

And so the Mehssiah sat and listened to the troubles of the town, and once every man, woman, and child had spoken, He said, “Okay, so I’m not really experienced in most of these things but I guess I can try to talk some sense into your chicken, Mrs. Baker.”

The Mehssiah was led to a backyard with a small chicken coop. One bird in particular looked very cruel. The bird stared at Him. It was Edgar, the Chicken, in All His Animosity, and He, the Mehssiah, in All His Adequacy, stared back. For several minutes this lasted, until eventually Edgar realised intimidation would not work on this man. Edgar strode forth, and was accepted into the Mehssiah’s embrace. And then, the Mehssiah left, but Edgar followed. The wicked streak of violence in Edgar had miraculously been replaced with an infallible loyalty to the Mehssiah that left Mrs. Baker with one less chicken, but with a little more peace in both her heart and her backyard.

And so whenever the townsfolk spoke of Him, The Mehssiah, in All His Adequacy, they spoke that He actually really only addressed one of their many issues. But that one issue was quite a significant chicken problem, and though it was not the desired outcome, the townsfolk always remembered that it was Close Enough.

 

Thank you for reading the second of the great acts. The third shall come eventually. At this point, we will not even bother giving a rough estimate of when. Keep on the lookout for updates and new scripture, and until then, may your life be Close Enough to how you wish it to be.

Visits to my Local Time Shaft – 4

So I was down at my local time shaft recently, and it threw out something less disturbing than last time – perhaps… Actually, this is also a little disturbing.

The time shaft gave what appears to be a passage from a classroom textbook. I’m surprised they still have paper ones. It describes a construction blunder of incredible proportion, stating that “a typo in the architect’s plans led the engineers to build evolving doors.”

Allow me to quote directly rather than paraphrase:

Initially, the evolving doors did not cause any problems. After around a month, they had developed a basic form of sentience. They were intelligent enough to mess with people who entered, jokingly asking for passwords, but for now, they were content with being doors.

It was another six months before their existential crisis. An employee, Jonas Fuller, was the first to report the change, stating “the doors asked me what it means to be a door.”

His concerns were largely ignored, and within days the doors barely functioned for their purpose any more. They became incredibly depressed and were far too willing to open up about it. Things only got worse from this point on.

Then a few sentences are illegible through charring from the time shaft, but it escalates quickly.

By this time, the hostages were well on the road to recovery, while the doors continued to exert power. They now legally occupy a new nation spanning 243 square kilometres of land formerly belonging to the USA. Aside from the events of their fight for independence, they have remained a peaceful nation, though the human rights record there still falls short of UN expectations.

And that is all I have. I wish I had the whole textbook to read more than this brief overview, but alas, this is the nature of the time shaft. We find random shreds of information and see what we can learn from them. This particular item really shows the incredible potential humankind shall achieve with synthetic evolution. Hopefully other applications of this wondrous technology will turn out less messily – or perhaps we are better off not risking it.

Until next time,

    – Barnabus K. Pomadour