Apostle. Spook. Reaper.
Pharasmin Inquisitor Emilia Kalderás was assigned protective detail for the Bishop of Death, with the covert objective of uncovering proof of his ongoing association with the undead. However, a chance encounter with a knight of Ozem, a disturbed mathematician, an elven cleric of hearth and home, and a traumatized hunter resulted in grim revelation: The Whispering Way is nearing their goal of restoring the Tyrant!
She must now balance between her charge to be trusted enough by the Bishop to find proof of his misdeeds, and her heart’s call to murder those who would raise the Tyrant once more. Quick wits and quicker blades will be required if she is to successfully operate as a double agent long enough to root out the foes both within and without her order.
Tall, unusually so. Perhaps a hand past six feet. A purple cloak with subtle Varisian designs conceals her body within its billowing folds. Even still, something is wrong with the proportions. Gaunt, stilt-like legs emerge from a part in the cloak, encased in high leather boots reinforced with ash-covered mithral.
The part rises as a low wind passes, and two crisscrossed belts come into view. Oak stakes held alongside the lower loops, a faint spiral groove cut into both. The upper loops hold two sheathes, daggers snugly fit within. A belt clasp binds both: A skull engraved into darkened cold iron.
Arms, lithe and long, cast back the rest of the cloak. More darkened cold iron, only now in the form of extended gauntlets, serving as bracer and glove both. Plated fingers ending in sharpened claws of worn metal. Silver filigree has been worked into the bracer portion, chipped and broken at the sites of sword blows and worse. Arms become shoulders, covered in spaulders of a similar design as the gauntlets.
As they approach, the hood is pulled back and what was androgynous becomes more feminine. Varisian. A scar, if such a blasted abuse of flesh can be called that. It runs from upper cheek, across a strong jaw, and down past visible neck. The entire region is a patchwork of poorly healed flesh, the evidence of magical acceleration – death would have been inevitable otherwise. Three lines, claw marks, too large to be the work of an animal.
It is only as you finally meet their gaze do you realize you have been avoiding it all the while. A fear, primordial and long dormant, stirs inside your heart.
Preternaturally alert eyes, pupils dilated. The stretched, angular form. Liquid-like movements, obfuscated by roiling fabric. It may be classified human by the mortal sciences, but you know better. This is a predator of predators, a very avatar of death.
Emilia was born to Hanna and Tomek Kalderás 28 years ago in Eran’s Rest. Descendants of those wandering Varisian families unable to return home when the Whispering Tyrant claimed Ustalav, Hanna and Tomek raised their children with a strong pride for their people’s ways of life. Their traditions, a blend of Varisian and Ustalavic rituals, left the Kalderás children with a wanderlust tempered by fear and superstition. Her earliest memories are of playing with her siblings Alicja, Tomasz, and Milo amongst the goats their family herded.
Over time, the games of her childhood grew more structured. Mock hunts and games of hide and seek became the standard. It was in this way that Emilia was introduced to a rarely discussed facet of her family’s traditions, those of the Sczarni. The Kalderás family, along with other relatives, represented the lion’s share of banditry that occurred within Ghorcha Pass. Emilia’s role was to pretend to be a child separated from her caravan, in order to drop the guard of those her family would rob.
Any questions she has as to the morality of such acts are suppressed the day she discovers a group of kids bullying Milo. Pushing the ringleader down, he trips and falls upon a sharp branch, which punctures his throat. Despite attempts to save him by the panicked children, he dies. Her parents hide the body and attribute the disappearance to the local rumors of fey in the nearby woodlands, while the witnesses say nothing due to the local rumors concerning the Kalderás family. Regardless of any other concerns, Emilia felt she owed her family a debt that could never be repaid.
III. Young Adulthood
That day forever changed Emilia and Milo’s relationship. Milo grew distant, upset both at the lie they shared and a perceived emasculation which brought no possibility of reversal. Their fights become increasingly violent over the years, both too broken by their emotions to back down. This comes to a head one day when a robbery goes wrong in Ghorcha Pass, where a covert band of knights from Lastwall successfully draw out the bandit family. Alicja is seriously injured, but the they manage to grab her and escape, all except Emilia. Milo tells his family that she was slain, and with the severity of Alicja’s condition, Tomek decides that retrieving her body is too risky.
Emilia is taken back to Lastwall, where she is thrown into their dungeons to face sentencing. It is here she has a chance encounter with Inquisitor Zetiah Mardhalas, who sees something in the gangly thief. Over a series of interrogations, and later, conversations, Mardhalas works out the guilt and anger that had been repressed for so long. He negotiates a pardon with Lastwall and offers a difficult path to redemption, if Emilia has the courage to walk it: Join the Church of Pharasma, and use the talents developed for petty larceny to combat true evil. In doing so, she may find an otherwise elusive peace.
The next few years are a blur of simple wooden cells, threadbare cots, porridge and vegetables, and training. The Church had millennia of practice shaping the instruments of its will from the unformed clay of humanity, and Inquisitor Mardhalas in particular was a master of the trade. Shaved away was the wanderlust, the love of a field in spring, and the smell of a goat stew cooked over an entire day. She was taught to understand and trust her own body, and the young woman who had found herself getting tangled in her own limbs during puberty was molded into a warrior, one with a reach longer than most men.
What time was not devoted to the pursuit of martial excellence was devoted to an appreciation of The Lady of Graves. In a growing acceptance of the inevitability of death, Emilia found the peace she had been promised back in the dungeons of Lastwall. In time, Inquisitor Mardhalas was tapped to become High Inquisitor of Ustalav, and Emilia found herself going by the official title of Inquisitor Kalderás. She may have found peace, but it was now time to earn redemption.
The years between her recognition as an Inquisitor of the Holy Church of Pharasma and joining the party were eventful. As part of her first tour, she shadowed regional inquisitors throughout each of the major counties of Ustalav. Doing so, she was party to the exorcism of spirits, the purification of necromancers, the dispatching of corrupted priests, and the escort of an relic through the Shudderwood that would put down the Lurker in the Woods.
It was on this last mission that Inquisitor Kalderás met tragedy. The Lurker had compelled a raiding party of werewolves to ambush the escort. While the group had expected an attack from the Lurker, they had negotiated passage through the Wood with the Packlord, who had lost many of his pack to the shared threat. As a result, the group was quickly slaughtered and the relic lost. Emilia had her throat torn out, and would have died had she not killed the werewolf attacking her and hid under his body for the remainder of the slaughter. Even then, it was only through harnessing the essence of the lycan’s life that she magically stitched close enough of the wound.
The act was altogether natural, and despite (or perhaps, because of) the death around her, in that moment Kalderás felt spiritual bliss. Her Lady had granted some small boon to her, one mentioned only in passing within her studies: The ability to temporarily hold souls on their path to the Boneyard and be revitalized by their proximity, like warmth from a nearby flame.
V. Current Day
After her recovery, she was sent immediately to High Inquisitor Mardhalas. In his time as head of the Inquisition, he had discovered some deeply troubling details concerning corruption at a level of magnitude greater than any would have previously guessed. Able to trust no one around him, Mardhalas turned to the one inquisitor he had personally recruited and who likely wouldn’t have been turned yet by malevolent factions within the Church.
Inquisitor Kalderás was immediately assigned to a protective detail with the Bishop of Death. Her scars had set in too deeply by then, leaving her unable to speak, but this played exceedingly well with the Bishop. Likewise, Emilia too had reason to leave the wounds, as penance for the child whose death she had caused so long ago, which had brought her to a life she would have never discovered otherwise. Her scars were a badge of faith in the Lady’s plan for her, and would remain until the day she died.