Strange Seattle: the Aleph-null file
A Tough Paradox who Solves Mysteries on Ardeyn
I am: Azimar, a Qephilim of Commerce
I’m from: Port Talaat where I was born on the 7th of Greythorn in wintertime 31 years ago.
My childhood family life was: chafing under the apprenticeship to my father Surresh’s guild as I dreamed of a different life. As the eldest son from a long line of merchants from the Court of Coin, my father and my mother Talinda always just assumed I would take over his business affairs when he grew old, and run the family accounts. I never wanted that, and took every chance I had as a small child to get away from the docks and go into town to study the humans or hike along the coast, building up a hardy resiliency.
When I was still young I: developed my lifelong pot belly, which to the qephilim of commerce is a mark of success to come, but to most everyone else just makes them assume I’m fat and lazy. I spent my youth divided between seasons in Port Talaat watching and learning business with humans, qephilim and others from all over Oceanus alongside my father, and other seasons in Juvanom, the last great city of the Court of Coin, deep in the sea, being tutored by the Merchant Masters. My skill at math was acceptable but not at the top of my peers, but my ability to detect when people were not doing business fairly or were holding back important truths was second to none.
In my Teens I: had a large fight with my parents about my future, and apprenticed myself to my cousin Marabi, a netter in the town of Overlook near the World Falls. Technically I was still studying commerce, which allowed my family to save face and prevented them disowning me, but in truth I was studying the ways of the locals, learning how often they hid not only things but also their intentions or motivations. I became very skilled at finding and understanding things and people, which allowed Marabi to make a good profit and earned me some redemption back home. One day I learned from Ensi, a traveling member of the Court of Sleep, that among the humans one could make a living finding lost things or revealing secrets to those who wished to know them. I began to ask the humans about this thing, and plan for my future.
In my early adulthood I: saved up my pay and when my apprenticeship was done, rather than return home to study as a Journeyman of the Court of Coin, I set out to Shalmarn, and excavated a partially ruined building in which I opened “Uncovered; Seeker of Lost Things and Hidden Truths” and took on clients for a daily rate to find people, things, or information they could not. My business eventually began to do well, and allowed me to expand and even take on a human apprentice named Kuliana who was intrigued by this odd way to earn a living.
After that I: began to dabble in various mystical traditions and rites which Kuliana introduced me to, eventually becoming a student of dream study. The biggest disruption to my business came when Shalmarn was invaded by a horde of rampaging sark, it must have been about 3 years ago. I joined others in fighting to keep them away from some of our cities most delicate ruins, but if a company of Free Battalion qephilim had not happened to arrive in our city during the attack and fight them off, I fear we would have been overrun. I lost many items as a good part of my shop was burned down, and life was very tough for nearly a year afterwards. I heard from others at the Lambsblood Tavern that the mercenaries had learned the sark were led by a human named Tokmal the Master, but he was never found. Eventually life returned more or less to normal.
One day, I bought an odd brick made out of a chalky blue substance that powdered under light pressure from my cousin, which he had found in the World Falls and discovered that it created states of higher awareness. I used it for my meditations, and found that my insights were far more keen than usual, and my mood was always bright for about an hour afterwards. After a few weeks, I decided to try it before sleep in addition to before my morning work. I had the most amazing lucid dream in which I was a human, but living in a world of wonders and terrors, where the crafters had completely displaced the spiritualists and no qephilim remained. In the dream the humans called this place Sea Atoll, for it was on the coast. I appeared near a great shrine called the Space Needle at which crowds gathered. I dreamed for many hours, and while I had slept all night, I was exhausted and took the day to rest.
I used the powder again the next night, and returned to the same dream realm, this time I wandered further and rode one of their tame wyrms, “The 8 Route” deep into the huge city. I ended up at a tavern called “Diesel” which the locals claimed was a bar for bears, even though clearly only humans were customers. There I met a man in my dreams called Dana, who seemed somehow more real than the others around us, and he asked if I wanted to have dinner. We did, and he asked me to meet him again at Diesel in a week, to which I agreed, after some confusion about a magical number he wished me to give him.
Each time I used the special powder I returned to this place, and Dana became my guide and in the dream it felt right that we should be lovers, though I had never wanted a man while awake. After a couple of months, the powder ran out, and I was no longer able to find that dream world. I did not know if Dana was a spirit I could find another way, but he did not appear in any other dream realm I visited, the grief caused me to be jumpy and nervous, and for nearly a month I had the shakes and my work suffered before I was able to get over the sense of loss.
Months later, some of my regular customers who are traveling merchants paid me for services with an assortment of coin that included one I had not seen before labeled a “quarter.” I did not want to offend as they were good for business several times a year, so accepted it along with the rest of the crowns. Pondering the coin just a couple of days ago, I realized I had seen such coins in my dreams of Sea Atoll, and then I had visions just like with the incense from my cousin, and was again dreaming in Sea Atoll. But this time I was approached by others who seemed real in the way Dana had, and they opened my eyes. I was indeed having vision journeys, but this realm was no dream, it was an alternate version of the world itself, called “Earth” and this was but a city called “Seattle” within it. I was one of the few special people with the power to cross between these worlds, by using an object not from my own world, I would be drawn to the world it was from… the powder had crossed to Ardeyn from beyond the World Falls, and a “quarter” was a coin of Earth. They said they worked for a company called “The Estate” and I should come with them to learn things I needed to know to be safe. They gave me rooms to stay in, and while I feared I would return to Ardeyn when I slept, they sent a sorcerer named Max who gave me an odd device that he claimed would keep my sleep safe. It seems to have worked so far.
I live in rooms on the large grounds of their business for now, but I have seen Dana again, working as a guard for these grounds… I have not yet spoken to him, knowing he is as real as I am, and that to him I vanished for months is somewhat difficult, and my mentors have warned me that as few on Earth know of these worlds as back on Ardeyn, so I could not explain the truth to him if I did approach him.
I Live: in guest rooms at The Morrison Estate, at 268 SW Kenyon St. Seattle, WA 98108 on earth, and in a room above my shop in Shalmarn on Ardeyn.
I work for: Whoever is paying my per diem on Ardeyn, I have no job but am being given a small amount of money for now by The Morrison Estate on Earth, they are kind, but I don’t want to reveal too much about Ardeyn or my place there until I am sure of them.
My job is: to find answers when others have failed. On Ardeyn I hire out my services to those in need, often those seeking to solve a riddle or understand an item found in the Age of Myth ruins beneath and around the city. The ground floor of my shop is cluttered with items clients are willing to leave in my hands that I have yet to unravel, but my favorite jobs are when I accompany teams into newly opened ruins to decipher old riddles or figure out the meaning of ancient carvings.
My usual day involves: A breakfast of cold bread and cheese around dawn with my Apprentice, followed by unlocking the doors and spending the morning moving from table to bench to desk seeing if I can unravel some more of the oddities in my care. Around midday I leave Kuliana to watch the shop and study the less confusing curios, while I eat a walking lunch of fruits, nuts, and bread as I deliver any item I have solved to its owner in exchange for payment to reveal what it does/means. Money in hand, I may treat myself to a glass of wine or even some chocolate at the Lambsblood, if the pay is good, before returning to my shop. If business is quiet, the afternoon is much the same, on better days the afternoon may be spent meeting with clients who have verbal puzzles for me to solve or legal documents for me to puzzle out the meaning of, my rates are cheaper than most proper solicitors, but my answers are not binding… which can be a boon to someone who is not sure if taking a contract to court would be wise. The best days are when a group of explorers hires me on a daily rate to join them in entering some new chamber or tunnel beneath the city, in case they run into ancient traps or puzzles they fear to trip. On earth I have no usual routine, as I have never spent more than a day here before.
When I have Time Off: I offer prayers and donations at shrines to the Incarnations of Law and Commerce, as well as any Incarnation who has had a major impact on my recent life. For a single day, I may wander down to the river and enjoy quiet solitude, and from time to time I take off for a longer break and sail down to Citidel Hazurrium for a few days then sail back.
I think the Morrison Estate: is a friendly business whose work I do not really understand, but whose willingness to aid me without charge speaks much of their good intentions.
I have Translated to: Earth, several times.
I know Strange details about:
o Ardeyn operates under the law of Magic and is influenced by Sumerian myths.
o Spirits of the slain live on in Ardeyn, and they are drawn into the subterranean Night Vault; a recursor who dies in Ardeyn would leave behind a spirit subject to the same rules of death.
o The Maker and Seven Incarnations who safeguarded Ardeyn are dead or missing, except the Betrayer (who was the Incarnation of War before he murdered the Maker).
o Strangers called kray continually test Ardeyn’s borders, and they sometimes find cracks through which to enter, thanks to the efforts of the Betrayer.
o The entire land of Ardeyn is built upon the petrified body of a god called Lotan the Sinner.
o The act of betraying the Seven Rules of Ardeyn is considered a sin. When the spirit of a dead creature is drawn to the Night Vault, the weight of sin upon it determines its fate in that dreary realm. The list below has the Seven Rules of Ardeyn, in brief, and provides some examples of the acts against those rules that are considered sins.
THE SEVEN RULES OF ARDEYN
- COMMERCE. Accumulation of obscene levels of wealth in the face of poverty
- DEATH. Murder
- DESIRE. Give a Stranger or Lotanist access to Ardeyn (usually because of lust or greed)
- LAW. Theft of another’s livelihood
- LORE. Lies meant to harm another
- SILENCE. Failure to aid another when it is within your power to help
- WAR. Cowardice that betrays a trust
o Qephilim of Commerce: Trade and commerce in present-day Ardeyn don’t seem much affected by the lack of an Incarnation to watch over the transfer of wealth. But the Qephilim of Commerce, who are also called the Court of Coin, are now much reduced in power and influence, and they still inhabit some of their ancient cities, built during the Age of Myth, under the warm surface of Oceanus’s waters.
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