Name: Exsecratus, Pawn Above the Board
The taste of copper, dirt, gravel, dust, each inhaled by shallow breaths, sluggish as the heart that beat in our chest slowed, stopped. And finally, a drawn out sigh, whispering across our tongue, as though our soul was made into wind. There was blackness, and I dreamt. And in dreaming, found memories long past.
Before there was anything, there was a void, the infinite dark, and then in this absence, the weight of nothingness demanded for life. But the void was a land salted and cruel, and the life it bore was not beauty, nor sense. It was cancerous, a writhing mass of chaos and hunger, and it filled, it grew, unthinking in its ravenous expansion. And in this timeless place of sharp edges and grasping tendrils, my dear Sister, the self-crowned Queen, she stood over all that existed for she was all there was. A board of her choosing, a piece all her own. But games can not be had without players, and just as the void begat life, it soon craved balance, order. And as the chaos ate at itself for Her amusement, the first light pulsed in the dark, faded, neither piercing, nor bright, barely a light at all. But it was enough. And I swam amongst the dark emptiness and feasted upon her and all her children, claiming the curious, guilty mouths so that the many-angled, the sharp edges of this land would learn that this was a garden meant for more than predators.
And with the fruits of my labor, innocence replaced horror, reality grew towards justice, even as She raged and screamed. Crimson clad, bloody handed, I became the last accursed beast, a relic of an Order long past. So I faded back into what dark remained, happy to gaze at a realm of youthful bliss and ignorance.
I awoke in the everpresent light of the mask, cowering within the dark beneath the stairway. Looking out towards my hosts, my pawns, I saw as their precious honor, their hope in an Order of mercy bled out onto the arena floor. Cold purpose gripped me then. I reached a sharp taloned hand towards the boy, wrapping around what innocence remained, paying no heed to the old man’s cries and I took his life for my own. Muscle and sinew ripped through cloth as I climbed the stairway, taking the dark with me.
Equipment: Exsecratus is an eldritch beast adapted to the dark. A tough pale hide acts as a light armor akin to hardened leather, with chitin and scale to protect his forearms and thighs. Solid gold hued metal adorns his shoulders, they appear to be some kind of auditory conductors. For offense, his lower arms end in sharp piercing talons, as well as a barbed tail. Unequipped with a weapon, his primary arms are nonetheless capable of holding and using them. A horned crest makes for a capable charging attack. A symbol of the Blinding is seared into his chest, enchanting him with minor resistance to magical attacks. Exsecratus is quick and nimble, but not to any extraordinary speed.
Control- Exsecratus’ reserves do not rely on magic, but control. Control is gained by meeting the purpose requirements of his prey as detailed by the form, expending/increasing depending on the form utilized. His hide/scale do *not* change their defensive capabilities across forms. Instead, each form beyond (excepting the pawn) constitutes an aura, with a range of 15ft, with a unique hallucinogenic effect. These auras are continuous, although they immediately dissipate out of range. Each has two tiers, Tier 1 (always a mild “feeling”, such as nausea) can broken by exertion of will, whereas Tier 2 fully alters perception (tunnel vision, shortness of breath), but can also be broken through exertion of will, albeit with thorough concentration. Tier 2 can only be achieved by the presence of an open wound/blood in the air.
The Pawn Above the Board- Strongest of the forms, playing the pawn requires only an active hunt or engagement within darkness, passively building control for use in other forms. The Pawn's aura elicits feelings of paranoia. At Tier 1 those in range experience mild paranoia, and at Tier 2 auditory hallucinations (the crack of a stick behind you, threatening whispers) and imagined foes on the peripheral of vision.
One Step Below (passive): When engaging an opponent, Exsecratus may become his shadow across the floor or wall nearby, free to hide within other shadows (However he can only pass between connected shadows). This shadow form has no special protection as hide can no longer prevent even weak attacks. It merely renders him 2-dimensional and harder to detect as a mobile shadow. Exsecratus may interact physically, and be interacted with in this form (but cannot initiate combat without exiting the for), but even while hiding, will pulse with a faded light, marking his presence. Lighting can effect his 2-dimensional size, allowing him to stretch, but never altering his mass. Perceptive opponents can use this to make him an easy target, either positioning light to lengthen limbs to distort them into unwieldiness, or use direct light to stave him off, pushing the shadow into a far corner. While in another shadow or complete darkness, he reverts to standard size, a cutout of himself. While in One Step Below, Exsecratus ceases building Control.
Opened Box: Defeating or consuming the flesh of an opponent allows the pawn to absorb their form, healing its wounds. Consumed foes can be used as apparitions in the Spirit's Theft From Prey.
The Tower- A defensive form, the tower loses control when its opponents block and absorb attacks without lethal consequences or blood loss. However, in exchange, its attacks cause localized rust and brittleness in armor, marked by a black corruption. This comes at the cost of its talons, which are no longer bladed, capable only of puncture wounding. They have no special penetrative capabilities compared to your average spear or blade, relying on the chipping of defence through the black rust to eventually penetrate metal or similar armor. The tail barb blunts to a club or mace. The Tower’s aura causes feelings of claustrophobia. Tier 1 is nausea, generalized claustrophobia, which can be exacerbated by enclosed areas. Tier 2 results in narrowed, tunnel-like vision and shortness of breath.
Siege and Starvation: Repeated blows in a single area causes armor to give way, and after 5 hits, the armor breaks. This effect to only require 3 blows if armor is composed of larger amounts of metal. Shields are unaffected by the black rust.
Self-made Prison: The Tower can expend control and choose to make the black rust *appear* to spread across armor. This grey rust bears no actual effect. Wary foes may take notice of this however, while the foolish may abandon their “infected” armor.
The Hunter- An offensive form, the Hunter relies on its opponents heart. The tail barb sharpens and compacts into a precise, deadly stinger. Control is lost with each attack, regardless of hit. Getting hit in this form immediately depletes Control and ends the form. Hunter aura invokes feelings of fear, heightening blood pressure/flow as the heart beats. Tier 1 causes mild adrenaline release (crafty foes can use this to their advantage), and sweating. Tier 2 pushes this, as the pressure builds to pounding sensation. Peripheral vision catches apparitious hallucinations.
Boon of the Chimera: The stinger barb deals a unique, slow moving poison. It can only spread through strenuous action, and at a faster rate when Tier 2 aura is active. The poison does *not* deal DoT damage, but acts a blood thinner, preventing coagulants. Opponents without means to staunch their wounds bleed more profusely as a result. Proportionate to the amount of poison absorbed (A small scratch of the stinger will be barely noticeable).
Nuckelavee’s Curse: Expending all Control for an area of effect ranging 10 ft, the localized pain of an open wound spreads its sensation across the opponents body. The initial wound dulls in exchange for the now generalized pain. Scales dependent on the wound. Exiting the 10 ft range dulls the effect as the pain slowly fades, returning to the wound alone.
The Spirit- A utilitarian form, the spirit has no talons, nor is the tail barbed. Instead it fights with misdirection and mirage. Control is gained slow but passively in this form, but only around spellcasters. Similar to the Hunter, the Spirit immediately exits its form when struck by magical damage. Unlike the other auras, the Spirits’ aura shrouds itself in darkness and shadow, taken from nearby natural sources, hiding its visage in dark places and offering increased magical protection. A telltale pulsing light will still occasionally give it away. At Tier 2 the light disappears, and only natural light can reveal it.
Theft from Prey: At the cost of all Control, the Spirit can pull an important memory of a person from its opponent on contact. Once stolen, an apparition of that figure can be summoned to taunt and distress foes. This apparition operates off of a limited memory of the figure it imitates, and skeptical foes can soon discern it from reality. Apparition is destroyed immediately by any attack, and disappears when Exsecratus changes forms. Consumed foes from Opened Box can be used as apparitions in the place of stealing a memory.
The Stairway- The pawn lies broken, and death awaits. With what strength remains it beckons you forth, and asks if you would accept their chains, and become a new pawn. The vision of peace is no one dream after all. Will you accept the mask, risk the anger of your Lord...or perhaps their pleasure? Would that not be any Lord’s wish, for you to play the pawn?