SynopsisHestia Bygate was an historically influential magus of fire, who was raised in the Bonfire Shrine near what would later become Lumina Aka and had an impressive career as a court magus of the Yamato Kingdom before falling out of favor for incinerating a large city called “Estverde”. After that incident, she became a dark chapter in the history books of Aqualon and is to this day better known as "the Mad Magus Hestia" or sometimes "the Witch of Mt. Tarkaal".
When the representative had spoken, I knew it would be bad. General Hestia had often displayed her tendency for bold action in the face of ridicule. She was one who took the respect she deserved indiscriminately. But I would have never guessed what happened next.
The death of her fellow men had affected her more than I thought, and in one instant she gave way to the evil Yasha inside of her, letting it eat her soul! Her hair turned paper white, her eyes gleaming blue, and the all-consuming rage I thought she would turn against the representative, she turned against the city instead. A strange crackling popped through the air and pillar of flame as high as the clouds and as wide as the city walls rose in front of us with a boom and a roar. The city of Estverde, wood and stone and people, all reduced to ash in an instant. And the flame would burn still for many days to come.
At that moment, a few people there cried, a few people laughed, the representative collapsed in terror, and I could not help but remember a line from the Gokenja Scripture; the book of Inyô.
In it the sage Inyô crosses paths with a hooded figure and strikes up a conversation when the two share a fire for the night. He boasts to the stranger that he has retrieved the legendary blade Aalandra and conquered it despite its eternal allegiance to the Lord of Water and no one else, claiming he would use its power to travel the newly discovered ocean beyond the Iron Belt. The figure says it was unwise to bend the sword against its will, for it had a soul, just as any man. The sage asks who he is to call him, the great sage Inyô, unwise, and the hooded figure reveals his face that is many and none, glowing with a peaceful and beautiful light, and it speaks:
"Now I am Sanatana, creator of man and all that is good, and I say to you: No soul should be bent or broken, save by its own will!" And suddenly the light changes, and he becomes terrifying to behold. "If you do not heed me, this is the face you shall behold before your end, for now I am Rakvali, destroyer of worlds."
I heard that line over and over as I saw the emotions of the people around me, and I felt that we all thought ourselves Rakvali in that moment, for one reason or another, for we had unleashed Hestia onto the world, allowing her to bend our souls to her command.
One day before she was to be moved, she burned the tower where she was being held to the ground and escaped.
Horvath had been tasked with finding and eliminating Hestia after a meeting of the margraves of the Middle Lands, supported by the Yamato emperor, who wished for the resolution of the situation. He found her blackened in the ashes, sitting on a mound, carving a little statue of Inyô. Hundreds of such statues stood behind her, all carved from wood she must had foraged from the surrounding lands.
She looked up. "You killed my pet flame," she noted with an empty, emotionless voice.
"The 'Shôri no Reibi' was it? I am afraid there is no more fire here that will listen to you, no matter how loudly you call for it, Hestia."
"Rude," she noted casually and kept carving, her eyes transfixed on the tiny statue.
"So you know who I am? I ask because I would not want you to die at the hand of some unknown stranger."
"Oh, yap yap yap! Go on then, before I do it myself out of boredom. But before I go, here is a piece of advice from one weapon to another: My time has come, and so will yours. Our end is decided when we become too powerful for the hand that wields us."
"Just so," he said and then burned her, her ashes gently floating down to meet the rest.
A Legacy of Null
In that time several mages of high station left their homes and went on a pilgrimage to Estverde, meeting there in a loose congregation. They moved to the Eastern Walls of Weltenend and began carving out a secluded home for themselves to live and study in. Less than fifty years after Hestia's death, they returned to the Great Land, clad in black and with a new power and vision for the world: The Brotherhood of the Null.
The Brotherhood of the Null
"What Comes to Be Will Come to Naught." - A black wave washes over the land and all magic ends. (5033 Words)
After much campaigning, they got the leadership of these great nations to join the negotiating table, and an international contract was hammered out, making them commit to halt and discourage the proliferation of high-tier destructive magic, as well as technologies designed to destroy indiscriminately; basically the creation and proliferation of weapons of mass destruction was banned. Additional clauses gave the Null diplomat status, allowing them to travel the world freely, overseeing the nations as neutral advisors. The so-called 'balance of repercussions', meaning one nation breaking the Null Concord (as was the name of this contract) would immediately force the others to retaliate, lead to a successful suppression of dangerous magic and technology - to a degree - that was instrumental in keeping the planet from blowing up during the following age, which was called the Great War at the time. And thereafter, a more and more stable peace and prosperity was built on top of the Null Concord, ultimately making Hestia's contribution to the world a positive one, though no historian would ever praise her for this.
General Physical Condition
One of these she was allowed to keep for herself: the Shôri no Reibi 勝利の霊火 ("Ghost Fire of Conquest"), a tiny, actually eternal flame that danced about the shoulder of the treasure's wielder. Known to few, the actual treasure was a silver bracelet that had to be worn. The Shôri no Reibi eternally produced the tiny blue flame dancing above her left shoulder, which she liked to expand into great plumes of flame using her magic. When walking the Court, she quelled the flame though, thinking it would be disrespectful to present one's weapon here, no matter the kind.
Apparel & Accessories
When she was 15 years old, she was instructed in the ways of fire magic, and due to her unprecedented talent was the youngest shrine maiden to ever be appointed to the Fire Watchers, tasked to travel the Middle Lands and quell fires in villages and ever growing cities that were at prime risk for such catastrophes.
While visiting Lord Timothy Byren of Mt. Tarkaal, ruler of the domain that would later make up the heart lands of Lumina Aka, she spent some time with his son Frederick Byren and his daughter Clâvia Byren, learning about surveying from them, a passion of their father they shared. Together they decided to plan an expedition to Mt. Tarkaal in the future, and Hestia furthered her education by reading scrolls and books on the subject matter at the Bonfire Shrine.
After her flight from the lands of Lord Byren towards the east, she visited many towns of the Middle Lands, working day labor or as a tutor if she could get a position as such to pay for her expenses, often trying to absorb the local culture.
In the Yamato Kingdom she took to reading again, and with her position she now had access to all the writings available in the Kingdom, including the famous Yamato philosophers of the time, much contributing to her education in philosophy, statesmanship, and the art of war.
Accomplishments & Achievements
After being granted citizenship and a position as a consultant by imperial decree, she was also employed as a military consultant and later general, creating the Ryûga Order, a platoon of elite fire mages meant to elevate the Yamato Kingdom's military capabilities as a response to rising military magic might in the Middle Lands.
Failures & Embarrassments
While living there, a number of public embarrassments on her account have been recorded in Yamato history, most of them related to her lack of understanding for the rich and complicated customs and traditions of the Yamato people, getting used to which took her well over a decade.
In the end, no failure or embarrassment could have ever outshone her most infamous act: The brutal incineration of the great City of Estverde, which destroyed her status and reputation and ultimately lead to her death one year later.
As preventing fires from spreading in villages was one of the chief occupations of shrine maidens of the Bonfire Shrine, she often had to travel the Middle Lands, keeping people save from fires breaking out. But among the ranks of the Fire Watchers she grew more and more restless, passionately arguing for letting fires run their course; a position that was met with shock and horror. It was said that something snapped in her when she was banished from the shrine, and she would do all in her power to prove the supremacy and beauty of fire to her peers thereafter.
Her mind for tactics and military matters was also praised by her peers in the Yamato Kingdom at a later age, and for this reason the position afforded to her there included not just teaching the principles of fire magic but also applying them in combat and in war.
Morality & Philosophy
In her mind, finding new horizons in the real world, spiritually and philosophically, and pushing the limits of the possible always took precedent over most things.
While doing many good deeds in her early life and later within the Yamato Kingdom, many seemed to be motivated by some sort of lofty, but ultimately hollow ideal or just by political or other gain. It always seemed more important to her to please others with her deeds than to actually be a morally superior person, and her unfortunate fascination with fire and destruction often further hindered her in that regard.
Virtues & Personality perks
After a decade with the Yamato folk, Hestia had become so used to faking her left-handedness that she had become more or less ambidextrous. Her keen intellect and proactive nature propelled her successful career for her entire time with the Yamato Kingdom.
Vices & Personality flaws
Hestia was very set in her views, generally resisting people trying to change her mind. She also tended to get angry quickly when not taken seriously or faced with adversity. It was her unfortunate temper that ultimately led to her downfall.
Hestia was said to be an extremely charismatic leader, capturing the hearts of her peers with her openly expressed joy for life and passion. Her love for fire in all its form, however, was often off-putting, and only her bright, positive attitude, which in her 40s and upward became tempered with experience and self-control, kept her peers from becoming too alarmed by it.
Hobbies & Pets
According to Court records, Hestia was an avid Age of Heroes (Deck of Cards) and Mahôgi player and could best even the male generals of the Court, earning their respect.
Though living with the Yamato folk for many decades, she reportedly never fully overcame her western accent.
Wealth & Financial state
While entering the Yamato Kingdom with very few possessions and coins to her name, the map she delivered to the emperor as a gift was so well received that she quickly acquired status and, in the tradition of the monarchy's inner workings, received lavish gifts during the course of her service, including a large residence, servants, and later even lands and a province to rule over.
The Jô'oo Clan
The Jô'oo Clan is one of the Clans of Yamato. It exists since its founding in the Age of Awakening by the notorious Hestia Bygate, destroyer of Estverde. And both feared and respected, the clan has carved out an impresive name all of its own. ~ 3018 Word
- Honorary & Occupational Titles
Shrine Maiden of the Bonfire Shrine (31 AA - 52 AA) Magus of the Fire Watch (36 AA - 52 AA) Tutor of Lord Hildebrandt (53 AA) Consultant of the Imperial Cartographer (58 AA - 59 AA) Special Advisor on the Art of Magic (58 AA - 108 AA) General of the Ryûga Order (63 AA - 108 AA) Special Advisor to the Imperial Military Council (65 AA - 108 AA) Daikan (Governor) of the Easternmost Provinces (72 AA - 108 AA)
- 5721 - 5809 (Died 88 years old)
- The Bonfire Shrine by Mount Tarkaal
- Biological Sex
- Hestia never took a mate during her life, but some historical sources suggest that she might have been attracted to women. This, however, could have been an attempt at discrediting gossip. One entry of the Kyûteishô 宮廷囁 ("Whispers at the Court") reads as follows:
Though long of marrying age, the lady Hestia has refused many offers to marry into influential clans of the Court. Why, Taira and Tenshin themselves offered high ranking heirs to be her husband, all rejected. Such an honor has never before been bestowed upon an outsider, but not to this one's surprise, for the Lady holds great magic in her palm and commands the loyalty of the imperial mages of fire, a good get to say the least. But why refuse entering one of the great ruling houses, I wonder? It is said that she is always surrounded by chamber maids and prefers the company of her female disciples. Why, when accompanying her male colleagues and betters, she has often preferred to do so to Rakubara, reportedly enjoying the entertainment 'no less than her fellows'. This one is left to wonder if a simple explanation may not fit all this strange behavior, but indeed conjecture is the sport of the uncouth.
- Jade-green with a keyhole in the left eye.
- Bright golden
- Quotes & Catchphrases
I am not going to live my life as a prison guard for a great flame such as this! You do not approve of my passion? Well, I do not approve of your lack thereof!
I claim this mountain for Lord Byren and mark the Middle Lands for his taking! Just kidding.
If you think you are too far south to fear the Nordmen, you are an idiot. It took me one look into your town's records and I already know they raided you thrice in the past.
How did I, a woman, draw this map? I didn't. Three colleague surveyors and a historian joined me on my expedition, thus the map has been a joint effort of us all. But if you feel my gender makes me weak or stupid, you should know three things: One, I got here all the way from the other side of the Middle Lands never selling my body once, only my skill as a teacher; two, the aforementioned expedition would not have happened without me calling for and organizing it start to finish; three, it would take me all of five seconds to burn this entire tower to ashes.
You feel uneasy serving a woman general, I understand. So in front of all of you I am saying: He who steps forward and kills me now, prepared to die himself, may have my title and the home given to me by his highness the Emperor by imperial decree.
The time for words has passed. Now there will be fire.
The Shôri no Reibi 勝利の霊火 ("Ghost Fire of Conquest") is one of the Three Treasures of Yamato that were recovered by general Hestia Bygate in 68 AA (Age of Awakening). It is a tiny, actually eternal flame that dances about the shoulder of the treasure's wielder and can be manipulated easily using soul power and fire magic. It was one of the most recognizable features of Hestia, who was gifted the treasure back by the emperor after presenting it to him.
The Bonfire Shrine
A shrine dedicated to the Eternal Flame of Lumina Aka, and also a recognized magus academy of the Middle Lands. ~ 405 Words
The Middle Lands
The Middle Lands are the most powerful region of the Great Land, which encompasses most inhabital parts of the Southern Hemisphere of Aqualon. ~ 459 Words
The Brotherhood of the Null
"What Comes to Be Will Come to Naught." - A black wave washes over the land and all magic ends. (5033 Words)
Age of Heroes (Deck of Cards)
The standard Age of Heroes deck of cards can be found all over Aqualon, even beyond the Iron Belt. (8124 Words)