Maris Sissava Character in Ekal | World Anvil
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Maris Sissava

A female yuan-ti pureblood and leader of the Desert Dreamers revolutionary group. She helped Team Jellicle locate and rescue Louis Chabert in Anthep in 897, helping them fight a yuan-ti malison on the outskirts of town. An avid reader, a religious vision convinced her to abandon her family's worship of Dendar and start a religious reformation around Merrshaulk.

Physical Description

Special abilities

  • Monk, Way of the Shadow
  • Cleric, Knowledge Domain

Mental characteristics

Personal history

Unlike many yuan-ti, Maris was born outside of Sheyuan in Despero's cosmopolitan capital of Havre. Her father was a yuan-ti sent to spy on the city while her mother was a half-elf shopkeeper he had charmed, and for years she grew up in a comfortable middle-class family. Her mother ran a bookstore in town, and by the time she turned 18 Maris had read through every single book in the store. Her father taught Maris about Dendar, one of the yuan-ti's most powerful gods, and how to use the deity's blessings to cast spells and control others. She proved to be a capable spellcaster, sometimes getting into trouble when her powers caught the attention of local authorities.   At the age of 18 she traveled with her father to the yuan-ti homeland of Sheyuan, studying in Kaifeng about the history of the yuan-ti and their attempts to establish a continent-spanning empire. She went on several missions with her father, brainwashing nobles in Anthep and spying on government officials. Inheriting her mother's half-elf ears, she could easily walk around the city without drawing undue attention. Her greatest success from her early years came when she turned the young nobleman Louis Chabert into a worshipper of Dendar in 897, someone who could be relied on to work their way up the ranks of Desperan politics and become a pivotal figure in the kingdom's leadership.   For a time Maris used this success to establish a reputation as an information broker in Despero, helping yuan-ti agents infiltrate the half-elf kingdom in record numbers. Always on the lookout for new leads, she heard stories about the dark elf families of Rakka's Verschow region and their libraries full of ancient tomes dating back millennia. Eager to gain ahold of so much arcane knowledge, she organized an ambitious heist to raid the libraries of every major Verschow house in the early weeks of the year 901.   The mission ended in disaster, only one of the three thieves returning with a single journal full of blank pages. Maris was humiliated by the fiasco, having spent most of her father's goodwill and influence on ensuring its success. Devastated and blacklisted by the yuan-ti leaders of Sheyuan, Maris fell into a deep depression for months as she searched for a way to redeem herself in the eyes of her kin.  

Celestial Visions

In the fall of the year 901, Maris had a powerful vision that left her delirious and bedridden for several days. Merrshaulk, a yuan-ti deitiy and goddess of dreams, urged Maris to abandon Dendar's worship and help lead Sheyuan into a golden age under Merrshaulk's guidance. The serpent deity promised Maris renown and unfathomable powers for her assistance, and after awakening from her delirium she became a priestess of Merrshaulk.   This conversion was not taken well by her father or the other yuan-ti of Anthep. For centuries the cultists of Dendar had been the undisputed religious leaders of yuan-ti society, but in recent years Merrshaulk's had attempted to unseat the religion and modernize Sheyuan for the industrial era dawning in Pescaliat. Maris pleaded with her father to understand, but he turned his back and banished her from the yuan-ti cell in Anthep.   Maris spent a couple of years back in Havre, living with her mother and honing her martial and magical powers granted by Merrshaulk. Maris' mother hadn't been on speaking terms with her husband after discovering his yuan-ti heritage, but she couldn't leave her only daughter to face the world all on her own. Maris tried to establish a cell of Merrshaulk followers in Havre, but the territory was still strongly in the hands of Dendar worshipers who had learned of her change in faith. When a couple of radicals burned down her mother's bookstore and nearly killed Maris, she knew it was time to look for followers beyond Despero's borders.   Months of sailing and adventuring took her to the desert kingdom of Sabha, a diverse and vibrant democracy where a small handful of Merrshaulk's yuan-ti followers lived in secret. She helped them grow their numbers and find a safe hideout above a quaint bookstore, founding the Desert Dreamers as a means of modernizing yuan-ti society and advocating for more acceptance of yuan-ti by foreign governments. Mercenaries passing through the region like the Seeking Scorpions helped her eliminate rivals and ferry her agents to remote corners of Pescaliat.   It was during this time that Sarek Sharen VII, the longtime ruler of Sheyuan, passed away in 906. A hardline supporter of the cult of Dendar, his son and successor Oshphim Sharen III was less ideological and took a laissez-faire approach to the budding conflict between the cults of Dendar and Merrshaulk. The two faiths would be allowed to fight among themselves for supremacy, an opportunity Maris had been waiting years for. With a group of devout followers spread across the Campanel Desert and the Northern Territories, in 925 she marched on Sheyuan to confront Dendar's worshipers in a holy war for the soul of Ekal's yuan-ti. It's been years since the conflict first began and even the Shroud has struggled to obtain reliable intel about the conflict, thousands of yuan-ti cultists fighting each other deep beneath the Fuzan Mtns. Whatever happens, Maris is willing to go to extreme measures to ensure Merrshaulk comes out on top.
Current Location
Year of Birth
874 61 Years old
Bright Yellow
Aligned Organization
Ruled Locations

Character Portrait image: by Ashley Liu


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