Night Tiger Waits, by Shreyas Sempat
Warrior and Poet
"That morning, I found a new sword in my clothes-chest where I used to keep my practice sword. It was in a plain black wooden sheathe, but the craftsmanship of the hilt instantly told me that it was of considerable quality. The hilt was precisely carved although essentially unadorned. The blade, surprisingly, was made of shimmering red crystal with a gold inlay of flowers twining up from the base. As I turned it in my hands, red light played up and down the walls. I sheathed the blade, thrust it into my waistband, and went to seek out my fencing master.
"It is our custom that at the end of a warrior's training his master administors a secret test. I had lain awake many evenings, wondering what Master Raven Swallows The Sun had planned for me. I had heard wild rumours of many strange things - chases across beds of hot coals and sharp stones, riddle games with invisible demons, even magician-teachers who fought their students in their dreams.
"As I approached my Master's grove, a plaintive whistling caught my ear. I knelt down by the side of the path, where I found a little blackbird, the kind with the golden patch on its throat, lying in the brush. One of its wings was broken. I took out my handkerchief and gently placed the bird on the folded cloth.
"'What do I do with you, little one?' It looked at me with its little golden eyes. I decided I would walk the mile back home and leave the bird in my sister's care. Master Raven would understand.
"When I reached Four Willows Weeping's chambers, I heard her speaking to someone. The voice tugged at my memory, but I didn't believe it for a second. Well, I didn't believe it until I opened the door. Four Willows Weeping was sitting on the floor having tea with Master Raven. The swordmaster turned to me and smiled.
"'There you are. I had something else planned for you, but when I saw the blackbird I knew that the Ten Thousand Immortals - well, some of them anyway - I knew that they had sent it to me to be your test. I'm glad to see that you passed.'"
Night Tiger Waits is the descendent of Asharan feudal lords from the corner of Utushar. His family have lost much of their former wealth and power to the Imperial Bureaucracy over the centuries and are these days considered high quality artisans, and Night Tiger has studied the arts of goldmsithing and jade carving, ancient talents of his mother's forerunners. Night Tiger bears resentment towards the bureaucracy, a source of much friction between himself and his sister Four Willows Weeping who is studying to join the Magistors Administory.
Night Tiger is tall and whip thin, usually wearing his long back hair tied back in a copper clasp. His green-gold eyes hint at some Nekuuese ancestry. He is not classicly attractive but carries himself with a poise that can be arresting. He likes to wear a tunic the colour of verdigris with long black trousers and a black jacket trimmed with fur. The jacket bears the design of a tiger cub playing with chyrysanthemums - the ancestral device of his family - marked out in copper thread on the back and wrists.
Night Tiger Waits has left his family home, a beautiful sprawling lakeside villa full of art objects, to seek knowledge about the mysterious red crystal sword that he bears. It is a family heirloom, but one feared by most of the family because of the strange dreams that is is said to bring.
Night Tiger Waits
Male human Rog2: CR 2; Medium Humanoid; AL LN
Abilities Str 15 (+2), Dex 14 (+2), Con 10 (+0), Int 12 (+1), Wis 8 (-1), Cha 13 (+1)
Initiative +2; Speed 30 ft.
Armour Class 13 (+2 Dex, +1 armour) touch 12, flat-footed 11
Saves Fortitude +0, Reflex +5, Will -1
Hit Dice 2d6; hit points 7
Base Attack/Grapple +1/+3
Melee Masterwork longsword +4 (1d8+2, crit. 19-20)
Melee Masterwork war fan +4 (1d6+2, crit. x3)
Special Attacks None
Special Qualities Evasion, trapfinding
Skills: Appraise +5, Balance +8, Craft (goldsmith) +5, Craft (jadeworking) +5, Diplomacy +6, Jump +8, Knowledge (arcana) +3, Knowledge (history) +3, Knowledge (nobility and royalty) +3, Perform (oratory) +5, Sense Motive +3, Tumble +7
Feats: Exotic Weapon Proficiency (war fan)*, Martial Weapon Proficiency*, Weapon Focus (longsword)*, Wily Raven's Mercy
Languages: High Imperial, Low Imperial
Possessions: Red crystal sword (masterwork longsword), masterwork war fan, pentesh (padded armour), masterwork goldsmithing tools, masterwork jade carving tools, string of 10,000 yen (100 gp)
Wily Ravens Mercy is a feat that allows the character to deal nonlethal damage with a lethal weapon without penalty to the attack roll (normally -4 on attack rolls). It can be taken as a fighter bonus feat.
The war fan gets a +4 bonus to attacks in the first round of combat if the wielder succeeds in beating his opponent's Sense Motive check with a Bluff check.
Using Night Tiger Waits
Night Tiger is a character created for a PBeM game, and could encounter player characters in his quest to learn more about the red crystal sword, most likely involving travel to a distant and dangerous part of the world. Alternatively, the red crystal sword may come to one of the payer characters, or serve as inspiration for a mysterious legacy weapon specific to the gamesmaster's campaign. Night Tiger uses a variant of rogue that exchanges sneak attack for fighter bonus feats.
The Red Crystal Sword
The red crystal sword has been in Night Tiger's family for generations. It has a simple rosewood hilt decorated with carved peonies, and this design is continued in gold inlay up the red crystal blade. Despite being made of crystal, the blade is a strong as steel, although Night Tiger has never used it in combat (he relies on his war fan). It seems to throw back more light than it receives, and magic sensitive characters get an eerie feeling from it.
Night Tiger's mother, Phoenix Silently Cries, claims that the sword visited her in her dreams in the form of a red bird with terrifying eyes and told tales from the epic poem cycle Vakhriyya Dawndrinker by the poet Obsidian Serpent, well known for her deft mix of horror and adventure. Night Tiger himself has visions of Obsidian Serpent's unfinished epic The Book of Hasan's Right Hand, and has come to believe that a complete manuscript of the poem exists somewhere. He suspects that the soul of Obsidian Serpent, or one of her descendants, inhabits his sword.
Although magical, the red crystal sword begins with no more power than an ordinary masterwork weapon. It is a legacy weapon, or perhaps a legendary weapon or item familiar, with powers that will grow with the character, to be unlocked as the mystery of its origins are solved. What powers a sword possessed by a poet might exhibit are left as an exercise for the reader.
(c) 2012 The Creative Conclave.