KEY CHARACTERS: WHISPER

Shadowboxing

Like most people, I spent my young life struggling to be heard. It didn’t help that I was constantly surrounded by adults rather than kids my age. Or maybe it did; that’s not the point.

The point is, being seen but not often heard made me a jealously competitive and occasionally obstinate child – continually on the hunt for approval. It wasn’t a good look. As I got older and fell into brotherhood with some of my peers, it got worse, making my formative, early friendships a bit…tumultuous.

Whisper is in much the same boat. He’s young, eager to please, and deadly jealous of the Chosen’s notoriety. It makes sense. They’re both formidable warriors. Both from the same gene-stock, and yet, when standing side-by-side, Whisper might as well be invisible.

SINS OF COMMISSION

Even as the soft undisguised scorn of Whisper’s mind-voice slithered through the assembled, the grove remained silent, save for the rustle of the wind and the gentle crackle of nearby lanterns. Still, the would-be Bladesworn remained motionless, arms clasped behind them for what they hoped and feared would be the last time.

That you are the best we could dredge from the clans is a testament to how far we have fallen. All I see among your thoughts are dreams of honor and glory. Half-truths your instructors failed to beat out of you. You hear stories of the Chosen standing against armies, and you carelessly ignore the cost of standing beside him. Whisper raises the nub of his severed left arm. For those who forget, the Rite of Sacrifice will serve as a permanent reminder.

… you carelessly ignore the cost of standing beside him.

Shaken by the display, many of them steal glances at the forgefire burning away in their periphery where a chirurgeon awaits, bone saw and cautery at the ready.

Whisper continues, You. Will. Not. Be. Heroes. But if you insist on trying, then by all means. A cruel smirk crosses his face as tendrils of energy ignite down his sundered extremity. Prove me wrong.

Knowing only boldness can demonstrate her worth, an initiate promptly claims a wooden practice blade and charges at Whisper before he has time to draw one of his own. The attack is as savage as it is swift, a flurry of strikes. Whisper’s eyes gleam as he evades blow after blow with effortless grace, waiting for his moment. When it arrives, he parries the neophyte’s weapon and backhands her across the face with a psychokinetically projected fist that pulses with eerie blue light. Like a marionette whose strings have been savagely cut, she collapses to the ground.

Without pausing, Whisper motions at the remaining initiates. Next.

MIND CRIMES

Whisper grew up in a place called the Cannery. It’s a haven for Shadowborn zealots who practice a form of extreme hardship as a way of unlocking new abilities. They’ve even taken to severing children’s vocal cords in an effort to produce/develop psychic ability. To date, Whisper is their greatest and only success. Now, this upbringing doesn’t excuse his demeanor, but it does go a long way to explain his gift for being a cold-hearted and vicious bastard…

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