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Saturday, April 5, 2014

#MtG's #Zendikar plane as a #13thAge setting - Part 3: Minor Icons

I still haven't finished the full list of icons in my Icons mega-post, and I'm already thinking about more icons.

The idea is a bit different though, than just adding more icons. I just noticed that some of my icons were very close to some other powerful figures that should have influenced them somehow. So instead of creating "dual icons" (which might be an option anyway), I will put here these kind of "minor icons" that complement some of the standard ones for my Zendikar adaption.

The write-ups will be smaller, and having relationships directly and only with these icons should be mostly impossible, as they exist in symbiosis with others, for one reason or another.

For now I'll put just one, and will update the post when I have more, as I'm doing for the standard ones.
I will start with what should have been my entirely fictional (that is, not present in the cards) Icon, that then I replaced with the more "setting-integrated" Stoneforger (aka Stoneforge Mystic)

 - 1 - The Lord of Cliffhaven
 - 2 - Tuktuk, The Returned
 - 3 - The Enclave Cryptologist
 - 4 - The Kabira Evangel
 - 5 - Sutina, The Speaker of the Tajuru

The Lord of Cliffhaven

A rarity among the Kor, the Lord of Cliffhaven has arised as a true community leader, among people who never had one. After the Stoneforger made Cliffhaven an important commercial outpost with contacts with all of Zendikar, one of the brightest Knights of Cliffhaven decided to pass through the judgment of the Kor Spirits in front of the elders of the community and has passed the test he himself proposed: the one of being a leader. As such, the impressed elders appointed him Lord of Cliffhaven, and he has defended the community interests ever since, especially from the naive diplomatic work of the Stoneforger.
She admires him for his ability to unite the Kor, although she feels a bit embittered deep inside of having been "stolen" the role of leader from under her nose, when she was and is the first Kor to be truly regarded as such by the other races.

Common Knowledge

Although less powerful than the Stoneforger, the Lord of Cliffhaven managed to interpose himself between her and the world, in order to protect her from it, and the Kor from her mistakes.
Now, in a fashion not so dissimilar from what happened with the Ghet and Kalastria Bloodchief, where the latter is more relevant, but the first manages to be the one with more contacts with the world, the Lord has become the face of the Kor. It's a dangerous position to be in though: if it wasn't for the power of the magical weapons that she has forged for him, many would like to lure him out of Cliffhaven or kill him altogether in order to have direct access to the Stoneforger.

Allies and Enemies

Compared to the Stoneforger, the Lord manages to have better relationships with the Treespeaker, due to his martial status, and worse relationships with the Vindicator, which he wisely sees as too opportunist.
Having flied more than most across Zendikar riding his drake, he has also known the Surrakar, whom he managed to see for the world-stabilizing force that they are, with the help of the Treespeaker.
He also has a conflicted relationship with the Shielf of Emeria. He reveres her spontaneously like any Kor, but he rationally thinks that the Kor must know what Emeria hides. So he is trying to get the angel's favor, but he will probably try to find ways around it if he won't manage.
He is also more wary with the Ruin Sage, and less with the Acquisitor, whom he knows he should get to communicate with, instead of hunting her down like the Stoneforger spontaneously wanted.
So basically, the Lord tends to polish the edges of the Stoneforger's ill-placed allegiances and enmities, as much as he can, but in doing so he also risks conflict with the one he wants to protect the most, the stoneforger herself.

Tuktuk, The Returned

The Tuktuk Goblin clan gets its name from a goblin that went from a typical goblin explorer life, and consequently a gruesome trap-sprung death, to a second pseudo-life of miraculous nature, remade as a magical sentient golem by the same eldritch device that had killed him.
Fact is, Tuktuk has reborn only partially, and along with his confused memories and limited mind, its golem body also hosts a portion of another mind, of unknown origin, that arguably made of Tuktuk the wisest and dzmore knowledgeable goblin in Zendikar. Arguably, because it's not only difficult to assert Tuktuk counts as a goblin, but even that he can really be considered Tuktuk anymore. The goblins of his tribe though, unsurprisingly, don't have any doubts about it.

"Tuktuk doesn't want brothers to go to that ruin. Brothers may alter its patterns and acquire gruesome death and end of world. Please refrain."

Usual Location
He travels around Akoum, escorted by all the tribe members not busy exploring ruins. He has fixed camping sites: a few miles out of Affa, dangerously near to the Tal Terig tower, the bottom layer of Ora Ondar, or the shores of Glasspool.

Allies and Enemies

While everyone in Zendikar has interacted at least once with one of the extremely numerous Tuktuk goblins, and in doing so they surely heard from them about their great and mighty leader, the stories recounted by goblins are usually so confused that very few know who and what Tuktuk really is.
Since they often cross their paths in Akoum, the Ruin Sage Anowon is one of the few who know the "creature" personally. He still didn't hear a good version of his story though, or he would be much more interested in dealing with him personally,  to get insights from "the ruins' own point of view".
The Acquisitor even had it commissioned to steal Tuktuk himself,  but between the mass of goblins that constantly surround him, and the unbelievable strength of its magical stone body, she declined the offer, until she figures out how to get past these obstacles. Rumors say that the commission came from the Loremaster himself,  but of course he would never confirm, and to ask her, let alone receiving an answer,  she should first be found, which is all but impossible if she doesn't want it.
Basically anyone can be ally or enemy of the Tuktuk goblins, depending on how intimidating or willing to pay, but to actually know Tuktuk is difficult,  since the goblins regard him as their living god. Tuktuk himself is extremely detached, and would probably answer any question asked, although cryptically. Probably this trait of Tuktuk's "personality" is the reason why goblins are so "jealous" of him, not letting anyone get too close: they probably sense that Tuktuk has no true sense of loyalty, and could very well turn on them if someone gave him a logical enough reason to do so.
The alien will trapped inside Tuktuk might also do so without any external intervention, but it hasn't happened in all the fourty years of Tuktuk's new existence, an entire era for Goblin standards.

The Enclave Cryptologist

There are quite a few cryptologists in Zendikar, most of them Merfolk, but one of them is the official cryptologist of the Enclave, an important stronghold rising from an island of the Umara river in Tazeem, which is the closest thing Merfolk have to a sacred place, and a birthing pool as well.
The Enclave Cryptologist, in an uncommon fashion for being a Merfolk, lives there without moving much, except for a few trips to Sea Gate, for conferences, and legal proceedings.
She is a knowledgeable individual, and despite her poor health, she has become a powerful wizard, expert in the Scrying sub-school, which allows her to see the world without moving from the Enclave.
She has become well-known in Sea Gate when she defended in the court of the law Thada Adel, the Acquisitor, managing to convince the judges not to put a price on her head.
This, together with her undeniable beauty, which also become a gossip matter in Sea Gate, led some to believe that her relationship with the Acquisitor could be more than just friendship.

"Thada has contributed to the knowledge of ancient relics more than anyone, and we simply can't hunt down like a monster someone that has probably saved our lives indirectly many times over..."

Usual Location
The Enclave, the famous Merfolk stronghold on the Umara river, in Tazeem.

Allies and Enemies

The Cryptologist keeps a lot to herself, at least when the Acquisitor is not involved. When she successfully defended her in the court of the law, she has been approached by other important figures of the Halimar region, such as the Loremaster, interested mostly in her latest researches, the Chronologist, who is apparently thankful for her vote from the Enclave Council, and the Halimar and Tazeem Expeditionary Houses, who unsuccessfully tried to have her join some expeditions.
She has of course generated the enmity of the Lord of Cliffhaven, who participated in the hearing against the Acquisitor, also on behalf of the Stoneforger. 
Being the Enclave also a religious institution, very close to the Church of Ondu since the Vindicator edict called the Great Merge, which united the faiths of Merfolk and Kor, at least formally, the Cryptologist has a conflicted relationship with the Vindicator, who tried to keep both the Enclave and Cliffhaven as close allies.
The Cryptologist however is not very interested in spiritualism, and is instead much more interested in the work of the Ruin Sage, who she manages to contact magically to share opinions and talks.
She is also one of the few scholars who is beginning to understand the role of the Surrakar in Zendikar, and this together with her communication with the distant Ruin Sage, could mean a lot for the Acquisitor, if she really is so close to the Cryptologist as many think.
She has no particular feelings towards the Treespeaker, who tends to ignore the Icons of Zendikar that do not possess a degree of power.
She is particularly scared by The Five, and that's why she's also a bit wary towards the Treespeaker and the Bloodchiefs: she knoes they have power over two of The Five, and she is worried they might release them.
Secretly, she is also watching very closely The Shield of Emeria, but she doesn't share opinions on her, due to the Enclave's religious imprint, which she is scared of offending somehow.

The Kabira Evangel

The Kabira Evangel in Tazeem, otherwise known as Father Rami, is a quite famous character in both his native Ondu and his "mission land".
He is the one responsible for the Sea Gate parish of the Church of Ondu, but he has his hands in much more earthly affairs as well. He is one of the minds and the main protector behind the rogue organization that is opposing the Halimar Expeditionary House, and indirectly (or probably much more directly than what's apparent) helping the independent "traders" (read pirates) that roam the Halimar, and the sea beyond, people coming from backdrops of the likes of Bojuka Bay, Nimana, and Zulaport: not exactly beacons of civlization.
His secret organization finds the support of some of the decadent aristocratic houses of Sea Gate, but nobody on the outside seems to know that he is one of the most able hands pulling the strings from behind the scenes.
The Enclave Elite think that the otherwise not-exactly-illegal organization (they just post pamphlets discrediting the expeditionary house) is also doubling up as a thieves' guild of sorts, and they are looking for clues to uncover their hideout, assuming there is just one. The Kabira Evangel, being so unsuspectable, is the invisible lid of a secret chute to an underground world, the depth of which has not yet been appraised by the authorities.

"Goddess, grant us light to banish the world's shadows."

Usual Location
When he is not at the Sea Gate parish of the Church of Ondu, he is said to travel a lot around Tazeem, mainly along the course of the Umara river, to evangelize the small settlements in the area. Truth is that he instead usually disappears in some underground locale of Sea Gate, to direct the operations of the organization/guild.

Common Knowledge

Since nobody, or nobody who is not involved, knows about his secret identity and "job", Father Rami is actually quite respected by everyone, and admired for his powerful speeches and charismatic personality.
However, there are a few unchecked rumors that have managed to come out of his home in Kabira, probably thanks to contact between the Ondu Expeditionary, and the Halimar Expeditionary houses.
Apparently, before becoming a priest, he had some kind of feud with a few families in Kabira, the nature of which has always remained murky. The most daring among the gossipers speak of a few possible reasons, ranging from adultery, to blackmailing, up to corruption of innocents, of unknown nature.
Nothing is for certain, and the rumors are rather confined to a few street-savvy members of the Halimar Expeditionary House, who have been asked to keep things quiet by none less than the Loremaster, who was in turn suggested to order so by the Council of The Enclave, in order not to discredit the Church of Ondu, thus worsening the already tricky relationships with the Vindicator and the Kabira Conservatory.
A false common knowledge is that he may be running a sect/cult that would be exclusive to the nobles of Sea Gate. This is actually an unintended cover up of the links between some of the aristocrats and the secret organization, resulted from people witnessing frequent encounters between them. It's both a distraction from the truth that the Kabira Evangel may have interest to keep going, and a possible weak spot in his web of intrigue, that could lead the Enclave Elite to uncover at least part of the truth.

Allies and Enemies

Openly, the Kabira Evangel has no enemies. The Lightcaster is probably the only one that comes close, since her flashes of foresight sometimes refer to something rotten within Sea Gate, and the Council is suspecting she may actually be referring to the secret organization/guild. However, she has not yet spoken about him in particular, although this might change in the near future. Fortunately for him, the Lightcaster "spectrum of foresight" is kind of "calibrated" towards larger events and plots.
Some families in Kabira still hold powerful grudges and feuds with him, but apparently the nature of the conflicts between them is so delicate that they tend to keep them away from authorities, probably also "thanks to" the Vindicator's regulations in protection of priests. Plus, unsurprisingly, he very rarely shows up in Kabira, or even elsewhere in Ondu, going there only for annual religious festivals, accompanied (or escorted) by the whole clergy of the Sea Gate parish...
Surprisingly, instead, the most probable enemies of Father Rami, in the near future, could be the same traders/pirates that he is involved with via his secret organization. In fact, if his secret identity would be compromised, before risking to have the law formally against them, they would probably make him disappear quickly and without trace, Bojuka-Bay-style. (Eaten by piranhas, or worse.)

Sutina, The Speaker of the Tajuru

Speaker Sutina, the pseudo-political leader of the Tajuru elven nation, is a figure recognized by many as important in the balance of power of Zendikar. She has a special connection with the beasts of Murasa and in particular with the gargantuan Lorthos, The Tidemaker. From her Tumbled Palace in Sunder Bay, she is said to communicate with The Tidemaker, dragons, beasts of all kinds, and even also with the Roil itself.

"A map is a brittle record; do not rely on images made of the past. The land makes itself new each day with the sun, so we celebrate its rebirth"

Usual Location
The Tumbled Palace, in Sunder Bay, Murasa.

Common Knowledge

Sutina is well known as the Speaker of the Tajuru, but not much else is known about her outside the Tajuru clans. The most informed non-elves know that she is a druid or shaman of some kind, or even an oracle not very different compared to what The Lightspeaker is like amongst the Kor. Although her powers surely touch the natural world of Zendikar in a way resembling those of most druids, she has no prophetic abilities, and she acquired that reputation only due to the way she speaks, and the lost-in-translation elven tones and words. Even her supposedly druidic abilities are just speculation, actually, and her empathy or even telepathy with great beasts and Lorthos, the Tidemaker, may actually be the result of some other kind of ability or simply knowledge. Nobody except some Tajuru elders close to her knows about her link with the Roil itself.

Allies and Enemies

Lorthos, The Tidemaker is an ally of Sutina, for as much as others know, although it's probable that such difference in the nature of their minds could reflect on the communication between them, and not in the best of ways.
The Treespeaker is perhaps the closest ally she has, since she's her ambassador outside of Murasa. However, the Joraga blood of the Treespeaker may turn out to be a fundamental difference that could some day cast a jagged shadow on their relationship.
Piqua, the leader of the Tazeem Expeditionary House, is said to have been close to Sutina in her past as a druid adventurer, something that would explain her extensive knowledge of Sunder Bay, and even her deep feelings towards the region, which may or may not coincide with similar warm feelings towards Sutina herself.
The Speaker of the Tajuru is proud to say she has no enemies, and although the claim is probably a bit too bold or more probably ingenuous, given the Tajuru way of thinking, the fact that the nation is viewed so well by non-elves, especially compared to the dark Mul Daya and warlike Joraga, surely means that Sutina is not doing a bad job in the diplomacy department. Not known to her though, The Five would be very happy to take her away from the Zendikar scene, for reasons connected with her partial control over the Roil, and nobody knows how her disappearance would affect the machinations of the demons, but some suspect that the balance of power would shift greatly in their favor.