Nearly a year before present day, a particular party of adventurers gathered in a particular village in northern Knuse. The village was known by countrymen as Winterbite, and they told tales of its inhabitants being cold and unwelcoming of outsiders. A particularly nasty and misleading reputation given to these villagers, who simply wished to live quieter lives. Knuse is a nation which prides itself on performance and entertainment, there is no respect to be had for those who remain backstage. It is in this quiet and shunned place that a group of cultists chose to build their keep, knowing they would not be interrupted. Winterbite was imperiled as the eye of Keratitis focused itself on them.
Little trade occurred between Winterbite and other Knuse settlements. That little became none as Keratitis employed Mooks to block off the trade route and steal and slaughter at their discretion. For an unknown purpose, they were intent on causing the residents of Winterbite to slowly wither. The villagers were fortunate that the aforementioned adventurers appeared when they did, though this group was far from what they expected. A Virtue, a Vera, an Akora and most shockingly a Scrofa. Their names were Circe, Berent, Tellurium and Rasha. A collection of misfits brought together through unlikely circumstance.
Berent and Tellurium had been together longest. Berent was the one who first found Tellurium in the aftermath of the Singing Starfall. Circe joined the duo later on with an interest in learning more about the Akora. Rasha met with the unlikely trio on her way to Winterbite as the one tasked with cleaning up the cult activity there. The happenstance of their partying up showed in their coordination, messy and unpracticed. They were good enough to defeat the Mooks but as they faced the actual members of Keratitis they struggled to simply remain alive. Regardless, they were able to enter the Keratitis keep and make their way to its lowest level.
They encountered the end teller named Vivum Kelemen, who was drawing the blood of a Virtue and using it to create undead entities. However, this was not Kelemen’s primary goal. What he and the other Keratitis members sought was to complete a ritual circle which would signal the hungering beast to return to the world and bring about its end. They believed that the blood of a Virtue, an entity constructed by the gods themselves, would give them the power they needed to do so. The party challenged Kelemen but could not overcome his empowered self and were all brought to the edge of death.
Circe Nazar is not like the Virtue she was attempting to save that day. Unlike the rest, she always felt like something core was missing in her being. That the connection to a deity the other Virtue could define themselves with just wasn’t there. This emptiness haunted her ever since her first incarnation and remained even after the many times she gave her life during the war on alignment. She fought to protect the Tertian people, hoping that answers would come if she acted like the other Virtue around her. Still, there was nothing. That was until after the war, during her incarnation where she bore the name ‘Nazar Veda’.
Nazar was a paladin, as a majority of her previous incarnations had been. One who drew from the abilities of the vashta of death, Shuria Iori, though doing so felt unnatural. In other lives, she had attempted dedicating herself to several other deities including Genmu, Razdor and Jini but no coven filled the emptiness. She spent her life as Nazar traveling with a party who was dedicating to weeding out and destroying vicious cult activity around the world. They made quite a name for themselves, though their legacy would be cut short in a rare encounter with the Remasked. They managed to defeat the cultists and bring the ringleader to her knees but in that moment something utterly unpredictable happened.
Rohakoa themselves appeared, not to rescue their ailing followers but to personally speak with Nazar. Rohakoa claimed that Nazar’s path was predetermined and that she was having this encounter for a reason. That reason being that she wasn’t a Virtue who came to be through the act of the true gods. Rohakoa told Nazar that they created her to be a mere mockery of the other Virtue. Nazar was drawn in by Rohakoa’s knowledge of her emptiness as well as the tantalizing possibility of finally getting answers. Rohakoa used their influence to turn Nazar against her allies and she wiped them all out with the power of death. When the battle was done, she felt the emptiness more than ever.
Rohakoa disappeared without telling Nazar anything more. The Remasked ringleader managed to escape in all the confusion. All that was left behind was a whisper that claimed anticipation towards Nazar’s next move. In a fit of sadness and regret, Nazar took her own life though she knew that she would just reincarnate. She just had to leave that life behind. After that, she was reborn as Circe. Her form was smaller than her previous incarnations and she didn’t have the same sense of drive she had before. As well as the lingering emptiness, she now felt weak and trapped. Forever consigned to reincarnate as a servant to a malicious old god.
Circe wandered, dejected and hopeless, not even bothering to commit herself to a deity for she knew it was pointless. What woke her up from this trance of depression was her meeting with Berent and Tellurium. The oddness of their pairing was amusing to her but more than that she developed a level of intrigue for the Akora. Akora came to the world with nothing; no personality, no direction and no knowledge of where they even came from. They were lost beings, just like her, so she wanted to see for herself what this one would do. She wasn’t particularly attracted to the prospect of joining another party after her last life but this was important to her. It could be the thing to keep her going after what happened.
Circe recorded all the adventures that she, Berent and Tellurium went on in a journal. She decided to use it as a sign of confidence, that she- that they would win this time. That way, someone else might one day read the journal and know of the party’s feats. Kelemen brought a sudden and painful end to that dream. Circe and her friends faced death at the hands of Keratitis when Rohakoa appeared once more. They offered an ultimatum; if Circe would choose to kill one of her allies, if she could betray them again with her own hands, then she would be given the power to defeat the patriarch. Tears of suffering and self-disgust at her own weakness flowed and, knowing that she would regret it all over again, she took the offer and murdered Berent.
As promised, Rohakoa empowered her and Circe used the power to rip Kelemen to pieces. There was so much anger to be let out, more than what could be released on the end teller’s body. He was reduced to nothing but bloodstains and ashes. Circe freed the other Virtue from her bindings and ran before Rasha or Tellurium could awaken. She wouldn’t stand to be like that any longer. She had to find a way to escape Rohakoa’s clutch, alone. All she left behind in that keep were regrets and the journal that was supposed to mark victory. It offered no clues as to where she went, not that her aimless wandering could very well be tracked.
After roaming for a time, Circe had a chance encounter with the sage druid Nairn. It was like a cosmic joke, running into a Vera with such a similar form to Berent so soon after what happened. Perhaps the true gods were punishing her for what she had done, or more likely this was just the latest stage in Rohakoa’s sick game. Circe had no interest in staying around the druid at first but Nairn did not allow her to go. He sensed the suffering she was going through and could not in good conscious allow her to suffer through it alone. It took some time but Circe was convinced to regale her tragedies to the druid. In return, Nairn offered to teach the lost Virtue what he knew so as to possibly aid her on her journey.
Circe’s focus was brought to the misaligned realm, the plane the sage druids were tasked with keeping shut. Circe knew of it and its chaotic residents well thanks to the experiences she had in her previous lives. It was then that she had a thought- that perhaps the rule-breaking magic of the misaligned realm could help her in some way. It could give her the power to overcome and slay Rohakoa or it might even give her the ability to finally fill the empty feeling she’s been cursed to hold for so long. The sage druids can only keep the realm shut for so long, thus Circe decided that once it opens again she will enter it herself. It’s not like it could permanently kill her and even if it could that would be a relief in itself.
A handful of months after her first meeting with Nairn, Circe began to have visions of Rohakoa’s craft. All of them centered around Tellurium, vague images of him suffering or collapsing. Circe did not allow these illusions to wear at her mentality but she was curious. She hadn’t seen Tellurium for a little bit and, if Rohakoa is showing images of him, then something must be up. She followed Rohakoa’s indirect guidance to Qing Mai, getting there in the midst of the hermetic dragon and deepest fear incident. The raging battle wasn’t her concern, what pained her was learning that Tellurium had also been cursed by the old god. His senses of trust and friendship stolen from him.
Circe was done running from Rohakoa, done allowing herself to be manipulated at the barest effort. She faced her mistakes and admitted to murdering Berent in the face of Tellurium. She then told him of how she’d dedicated herself to breaking free of Rohakoa’s influence. She had become stronger, strong enough to fight not just for herself. She promised to Tellurium that she would free him as well. With no reason to believe it, she decided that she absolutely wouldn’t fail this time. Circe and Tellurium escaped from the Qing Mai incident and made their way back to Nairn. They’re currently still with the sage druid, finding ways to help Tellurium find happiness without trust. Until the day the world’s end comes and the two finally have their chance at freedom.