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❝ the Witness ❞ ([personal profile] bearswitness) wrote2017-03-18 04:21 pm
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app for s72

Name: Zee
Contact: buttadventure @ plurk
Are you over 18?: Yes

Character Name: The Witness (Eshkol)
Canon: Original
Canon Point: A few months after being summoned up by a Main Character™.

Appearance: Here! In short: he's a creepy looking guy with a scarf usually pulled up to his nose to hide his lack of a mouth. He's not too short and not too tall, generally unadorned and dressed simply, and tends to blend into the background.
Age: Somewhere in the thousands.

Eshkol is from a world with ritualistic magic, only very simple technologies, and a menagerie of sentient species aside from humans. There are also a whole host of gods — or at least, a lot of people who worship a lot of different deities. The land is divided into kingdoms who frequently and loudly don't get along, and while some are ancient and lasting, new ones rise and fall every few generations or so. It's a violent and lively place with everyone generally out for them and theirs, and so far no single power has managed to rise up and unify much of anything (although many have tried). It's basically fantasy: no one is friends edition.

A full background of Eshkol would be a pretty lengthy one. Even he doesn't remember all the details anymore— or even most of them. But the most important part of the story is the beginning: the summoning ritual that created him.

A complex spell was carefully written and performed, and a new sort of creature sprang into being. The only name he was given by his creator and first master was a title: the Witness. And although he was bound by obedience to this master, his main purpose was to witness a crime. The spell was written so that as long as he never breathed a word about the deed, the perpetrator would never be found guilty or punished. As a finishing touch, to help with this important rule of staying silent, he wasn't given a mouth. (More than that, even, the Witness makes no sound at all — he can even knock on a door and not make any noise.) It was a perfect spell, and terribly useful if you had a lot of shady doings that should never come to light. His first master used him for a handful of political murders and coverups, then called it a job well done and banished him again.

That wasn't the end of it, though. The spell had been written, and if the ritual was performed, the Witness would return to serve whatever new master had summoned him. He became a thing of arcane legend, passed along from would-be master to would-be master. His entire existence was serving these people, and with no frame of reference, he had no objections. At least, not at first. As his existence stretched on, resentment began to grow. No other creature he'd ever seen had its free will bound as thoroughly as he did to his masters — but why, what had he done to deserve that? But his resentment was silent, just like the rest of him, and there was nothing to be done but serve.

But no spell is ever perfect, even one as apparently foolproof as the Witness's summoning. It took him a few hundred years to realize that there was a loophole. He learned that masters should be careful with what they say to him; a secret, as defined by something intentionally kept from at least one other person, told directly to the Witness breaks the contract. And when the contract is broken, the Witness finds his voice. The Witness's mouth is a counterpart creature very rarely seen, and should it ever rear its weird little eyeless head, then whoever summoned him had better hope they’d either not used him for anything too reputation-ruiningly horrific, or been a very decent master. His mouth can make all the sounds that the Witness hadn't been able to, and they come out all at once in a rush of noise. Sometimes this shapes into words, and sometimes those words are stories of the misdeeds he's done and seen. He's torn apart the careers and lives of a few masters to pieces this way, to his great satisfaction.

But these little mouth-related episodes aside, a very straightforward life followed his initial summoning. He was summoned, he served, he obeyed, he witnessed, then whenever a master decided he or she had used him to his fullest potential, he was banished and sent back to a black, silent, enclosed place of waiting. The passage of time is impossible to track while he's there, and his awareness only surfaces when he's called back again. And he always is eventually. It might be 5 years between masters, or it might be 500. The Witness had no way of guessing, and after a while, stopped caring. His entire purpose was merely to serve, and his masters were nearly always men and women who viewed him as nothing more than an incredibly useful tool. Sometimes he was given names. Sometimes he was treated decently. Sometimes he wasn't. It never mattered very much to him; if he had a terrible master, he only had to wait for them to send him back to his dark place of waiting, or grow old and die, and unintentionally send him back to his dark place of waiting. It always happened sooner or later.

But sometimes there were more interesting masters. Some of them even stood out to this increasingly jaded being, whose story remained untold to each new master he served. And eventually there was Damian Witzbold. Damian was a young man who at first seemed no different from the others: a greedy, self-serving, power hungry sort who would probably be taking full advantage of his new possession. It was the respect that Eshkol (a name he'd picked up from the previous master, from whom he'd been a gift for Damian) first noticed. Damian treated all of his subordinates with respect, even that silent man who offered no opinions either way. That alone wasn't so unusual, and would have been overlooked, if not for the people Damian surrounded himself with. They were all trusted and valued, just as Eshkol himself was, and they even seemed to regard Eshkol as an equal among them. It was almost as if he had friends. One of them, a seemingly young girl who was somehow even older than Eshkol, even took it upon herself to teach him to write. For the first time in his long, long life, Eshkol had not only respect and acceptance, but a way to express himself, and people willing to take that expression into consideration.

It was all really very, very strange.

On the surface, Eshkol is a thoroughly unpleasant oddity of a mouthless man. He's blunt, rude, unwilling to compromise, and will do anything to ruin someone's day. In fact, he's very much like that under the surface as well. There is, apparently, not much else to him. But if you're going to blame anything for this, you're probably better off blaming habit. For more years than he can count, the only form of expression Eshkol had came from minor acts of rebellion. Yes, he's physically obligated to go wash the dishes if told to by a master, but he certainly doesn't have to look happy when he does it, and while he will fetch your hot drink, there's nothing stopping him from sopping some of it onto your shirt as he sets it down. Any little act that could be preformed to let his master know how little he was enjoying himself would be performed. It could even be said that spiteful little acts of passive aggressive rebellion are the only things he really enjoys, which holds true even when they're not directed at his master.

But it goes deeper than just grumpiness. Eshkol has learned through the trials of time that things, really and honestly, do not get better. They might be more tolerable for a while, but they're inevitably going to get worse again. Of course, the reverse of this is true too. In a sincerely awful situation, he knows that all he needs to do is wait it out. It will subside back into its usual levels of unpleasantness sooner or later. Nothing is permanent, and the one consistency you can always rely on is the fact that nothing lasts and the present is a very, very temporary thing. This has the effect of underscoring his bitterness with a deep and profound patience. Eshkol can outlast anything. Sure, he'll express annoyance when you poke him repeatedly in the side, but does he really care? No. It's going to stop eventually.

There are a few other sides to this ancient creature, though. While he tends to ignore little acts of kindness (again, a result of the transient nature of things— just because someone is in a good enough mood to be nice today, he shouldn't expect it to last), he can't turn a blind eye forever. Just as Damian and his group eventually won Eshkol over into the monumental act of noticing them, Eshkol will eventually come to appreciate someone that consistently shows patience, kindness, and goodwill. The types of people that typically went looking to summon the Witness were simply not the kinds to practice that sort of behavior, and so it's new to him. It stands out to him as odd, almost unbelievable. With enough of it, he might even start to tone down his spiteful reflexes. …Maybe.

And finally, in the very rare situation that someone has won his appreciation, it comes with an intense loyalty. Eshkol will go from begrudgingly fulfilling ordered commands, to using his considerable powers and skills to fiercely protect whoever has his loyalty. While all things may be transient, he would be very annoyed if someone he actually liked died before old age took them. Liking someone has been an incredibly rare occurrence in his life, again due to the typical nature of the people he's known, and who knows when it might happen again? Not that it means he will be very much more pleasant to whoever it is, of course. It's hard to break old habits.

Canon Abilities/Skills:
Body Reformation: As a magical construct, he can break himself down into a gross black goo and rebuild himself in any way he’d like. He primarily uses that to shape himself into sharp edges for doing some violence, but it also means he can absorb pretty much any wound or injury from paper cuts to dismemberments, or squeeze himself through any small passage. He could feasibly use this to change his appearance in any way as well, but he prefers not to.

The Creepy Mouth: When his mouth emerges (a result of someone telling him secret) it follows the same rules, and also it’s particularly apt at ripping into and swallowing people. He’s not sure where they (or pieces of them) go once they’ve been swallowed; maybe they go to the place he hangs out in between summons. Who knows.

Teleportation: He can summon himself to his current master's side, no matter the distance. This only applies to said current master, and without one of those around he can't use this ability.

Etc: He hasn't directly done much besides violence and basic serving and waiting, but he has seen an awful lot. He has a few assorted, mundane skills picked up via observation, depending on what he's watched his masters doing (a few examples: knitting, sailing an airship, caring for a horse). As of recently he has learned to write, and he has very lovely handwriting.

Weaknesses: He has a weakness to absence of sunlight. Since he can’t eat he absorbs sunlight for energy (and expels it once used as oxygen through vents in his back), and being kept in complete darkness weakens him. Too long without sunlight and he would eventually cease to function. It wouldn’t kill him, but he’d be rendered immobile and helpless until next exposed to light.

He’s also weak to fire and extreme heat, as his black gooey bits can’t reshape themselves if they’re actively being burned or boiled. Subzero temperatures slow him down, and it becomes more difficult for him to reshape himself. He can recover from both of these states if brought to a more normalized temperature.

Symbiote Specialization: Iota
Symbiote Ability: Teleporting
A small distance, nonspecific jump, including any inorganic thing he's currently holding. He can think that he'd like to go that way, and end up anywhere from 5 feet more that way to thirty feet that way and ten off to the left. He might accidentally end up further from where he'd intended to go and take a few tries to get himself somewhat close to his intended destination. He can only use it a few times before a full rest, and won't get further than .5 miles away from his current location.

He can successfully land where he'd like to be, but only if it's somewhere he's been before, and only if it's within 5 miles of his current location. He cannot see where he's going before he gets there, so if the location has changed or is now dangerous, he wouldn't know about it in advance. He can use it a few times before a brief rest.

He can jump to someone, without having to know where they are. He must be familiar with this person by sight and sound. He can also bring along one passenger, for whom the trip is likely to be very disorienting, gooey, and unpleasant. This can be up to 100 miles.

He can go great distances, even to the other side of a planet. He can even teleport his immediate surroundings, both people and objects, along with him. This is effective in a 10x10 foot area, and with enough concentration he could even bring along parts of the floor, building he's in, etc. Things toward the edge of his 10x10 area risk being only partially teleported.

Nothing; even his clothing is made out of his gross black gooey self.

Samples: Here!

Rescue Write-up:
It had been a slow, lazy evening, right up until it wasn't.

Eshkol had been settled into a pile of pillows under the window, positioned just so to catch the occasional breaths of night air that passed through the room. Damian worked at a table warmed by the glow of several lanterns, freshly lit for the evening, while the others came and went around him. Khirsint split her time between Eshkol and the window, where she'd been learning to chart the stars as the slowly glimmered to life. No, remembering how to chart the stars. It was one of the many things she'd forgotten. The feeling in the air was comfortable, and Eshkol found himself, for once, with very little to complain about. The notes he passed back and forth with Khirsint were just idle chatter, nothing important.

It had been nice.

Khirsint had been the first to spot the end of it though, and she leaned out the window behind Eshkol with a finger outstretched to point.

"Look!" she'd declared. "What is that?"

Eshkol glanced lazily back, just in time to see the gout of fire that arched down impossibly fast, striking the window and spilling into the room behind. All had erupted into chaos from there.

The Witness's first thought was Damian, it had to be — but Damian had the bodyguard that never left his side, was already being whisked away under the man's cloak. His eyes darted next for Khirsint (hadn't he seen her dodge from the window at the last moment, he must have seen that), but she couldn't be found. What he saw instead was a flaming creature dead center of the room, eyes burning white hot as they stared directly at him.

He was sure he must be wrong for a few seconds — he wasn't anything, just the summoned construct of the man everyone was typically much more interested in. But as he pushed himself to his feet from where he'd fallen in a sprawl after the initial burst, the eyes followed him. The creature didn't wait for him to make a move.

The flames were on him immediately, somehow solid bars that pierced through his chest to throw him back. Immediately he made to reshape himself, smooth away the damage, but he couldn't escape the fiery burn. His body began to lose some of its structure as he squirmed, impaled, black liquid beginning to boil before it could collect itself. Eshkol threw an arm toward his attacker, letting it thin and stretch into a piercing blow of his own — but he never made it. His attack was batted away easily, his arm seared straight off by the intense heat.

And then: relief. A cold force from behind struck out and around him, killing the flames and pushing back the attacker. Eshkol whipped his head around to see this new contestant — a woman, he thought, but not someone he'd ever seen before. She snatched at his remaining wrist.

"You can't fight this," she said. "Come with me."

Eshkol stared, uncomprehending. But the creature of fire was collecting itself again, and his body was still in ragged pieces, not yet reformed. He gestured incompetently behind him, to indicate but the others. The woman seemed to understand.

"It wants you, and you cannot stop it. Come." She gave his wrist an insistent tug, and Eshkol didn't resist. That heat, searing and boiling, had presented a threat he'd never felt before, and to think it was aimed at him, not at his master...

He went, bewildered, able to see no other recourse. He would be back. He'd have to be back. But for now, he went.