Sea of Shards
Sorcerous vishkanya insurrectionist
As one of Allu’s rarest creatures — a male vishkanya — Xarn garners curious gazes wherever he goes. With a tall, slender frame that sways hypnotically when he walks, and a pair of bright, depthless reptilian eyes set beneath a halo of scaly ridges, Xarn’s appearance is captivating, especially to the weak-willed.
This overpowering effect is magnified by Xarn’s smooth, authoritative voice and mannerisms. A natural born leader, Xarn compels others to look, listen, and follow with every word and gesture.
While the facts of Xarn’s history are known only to him, this demagogue rebel has an almost mythical reputation throughout the southern Rimwaters, complete with a biography of sacrifice, suffering, and triumph that stretches back many lifetimes — if his claims about his origins are to be believed.
Xarn rose to prominence early in 1498, when a seditious manifesto entitled The Upward Spiral surfaced in Low Simurgh. Its appearance coincided with the Ascendancy celebration of Leijsalla, a daughter of the Rapti Imperatrix — a concurrence which, like so much of the events surrounding Xarn’s tumultuous life, cannot merely be a coincidence.
Although The Upward Spiral was published anonymously, the author describes himself as the only male vishkanya alive — a boast which may, in fact, be true, considering vishkanya mothers are duty-bound to slay their male children upon birth. Xarn has neither confirmed nor denied authorship, yet a cultlike resistance organization calling itself The Spiral has grown up around the document, and Xarn has accepted his seemingly inevitable role as its leader without complaint.
According to The Upward Spiral, Xarn is a tchalya — a soul blessed (or cursed) with the ability to remember all of his past lives. The manifesto makes direct reference to ten past lives, covering all eleven Free Races, with oblique references to dozens more. Xarn’s memories stretch back to the Weaving of Allu, the war between the gods and Titans, and the Great Contest which granted the Free Races autonomy from the gods.
However, most of the text concentrates on the past hundred years, documenting how the Rapti Empire was born through butchery and guile. In his past lives, Xarn suffered horribly at the hands of the Rapti. For example, as a merfolk, his family was extinguished by pollution from the Empire’s fiendish engines, while as a minotaur naval officer, he witnessed his allies succumb to the Thinfingers’ elemental magic, then died slowly at the hands of Rapti torturers. Xarn even describes his life as a Rapti spy, betrayed and executed by his own superiors during (the short-lived and deceptive) Truce of Bronze.
When he was reborn as a male vishkanya, Xarn claims to have harboured such hatred for the Rapti that he was overcome with the drive to rise up against them. He writes that, as a newborn infant, he wrenched the knife from his mother’s hand and cut her throat. Then the tiny babe spoke, clearly and articulately, to convince his midwives to protect him and smuggle him out of Xalat Sho.
From these miraculous origins, Xarn claims to have “made every step his own” — that is, acted through perfect free will, without any divine aid whatsoever — coming of age in a hostile and occupied region, and honing his arcane arts with the express goal of exacting revenge upon the Rapti Empire.
Xarn’s manifesto ends with a prophecy about the High Conjunction, which is expected to occur in the year 1500 (it is now 1499). He predicts nothing short of the death of Jujani, the Rapti’s patron deity. Those who have chanced to encounter the sorcerer — either in Shardhold, where he is said to be recruiting a rebel army, or elsewhere in the Sea of Shards — have only to converse with him for a few minutes, before they believe wholeheartedly in both his cause and his vision.