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Van Tempest

Van Tempest (born Werner)

Van Tempest is an Augment, best known for her role in establishing the Unseen Highway, a route through the Wilds from Sanctuary City to New Haven. Van's work made it possible for many oppressed augments of the Settlements to seek a new life in the Wilds or Sanctuary Lands. Others also benefited from the new route as it opened up opportunities for travel and trade between eastern and western Amrisa.  

Call to Adventure

Van was the first-born child to Jakob and Marta Werner. The Werners were a leading New Haven family of merchants who were well off by New Haven standards. From birth, she was raised expecting to join the family business when she became of age. Because of this, the Werners ensured that she received a proper education, learning to read and do arithmetic, unlike many other Settlement children of the era. Van did not much care for these lessons, preferring to spend her time outdoors or working with her hands. Recognizing that these interests were also very useful, her parents added archery and self-defense to her training.   Each year, her father would take her on a trip outside the Settlements to teach her how to hunt and survive in cold. During a family hunting trip during the summer of her 15th year, Van and her father were climbing a particularly treacherous area of the Weylan Mountains. Van's father stumbled over some rocks and found himself sliding over the edge of a steep cliff. He caught himself on a rocky outcropping but was unable to find a way to pull himself back up. In a panic, young Van tied a rope to the nearby tree and tossed it to him. Once he grasped the rope, she tugged on it to help him up.  
The first time I accessed my Physik powers was to save my father from falling to his death. I reached down and pulled him up with all my might, He came straight up, feeling no heavier than a small child. In that moment, I was sure that the adrenaline had taken over. As the trip progressed, other things happened that could not be explained by adrenaline only. I moved too fast, having to slow myself down or leave my father behind. I didn't get tired or worn out, even after many hours of hiking. My father, who was healthy and strong, eventually insisted that we stop to rest.
— Van Tempest
  By the end of the trip, her father was very solemn and quiet and Van knew something was wrong. On the morning after they returned home, she was awakened by the New Haven Guard. They explained that she had been identified as a Physik and was no longer allowed to hold the Werner name. They were there to escort her out of the house to the Unseen district. At first, she refused to leave, causing the guards to shout and threaten her. Her mother appeared in the doorway, her eyes red from crying. She begged Van to cooperate, saying there was nothing else that could be done right now. The guards allowed a short and tearful goodbye between mother and daughter and then Van allowed herself to be led away.   In the Unseen district, she both saw and experienced many injustices. One day she saw a man being whipped by the cruel son of a New Haven city leader. People nearby were dutifully ignoring the altercation. Overcome with anger, Van shouted to the crowd, calling them cowards and demanding they show some human decency and put a stop to it. This led to her own arrest and should have led to her exile. However, due to her father's influence, she was instead was warned to not cause any more trouble. However, Van refused to be silent when she saw others being mistreated or oppressed. She soon found herself arrested again, and this time was exiled to the Wilds.  

The Trials

Going into the Wilds alone and unprepared was incredibly dangerous, so exile was considered a probable death sentence. However, as a Physik with training in survival and defense, Van had a greater chance than most. Following her exile, she wandered in the wilds for a time, purely going through the motions of survival, feeling lost and alone. One day, she stumbled upon an albino Great Wolf cub that had been abandoned by its pack. She cared for the cub, naming him Uli after Ulan, the god of the Moon. Soon, Van and Uli were working together for their shared survival.   Van was unsure what to do now that her life was so changed. She wanted to return to New Haven and somehow help the Unseen, but she could think of no way to do so. Van wandered about the Wilds for a time, meeting the nomadic groups of habitants who lived there. However, she never stayed with any group for long. Uli made the nomads feel uncomfortable and they never wanted him to stay around long. The nomads were convinced that his presence would encourage other wolves to come to investigate their camps. They feared him in a way that reminded Van of how her own people had feared her.   The nomads spoke of a place to the west where people lived in a big city. Van connected these stories with a memory from her childhood, where an augment from outside the Settlements, Leda Flamewalker, had visited New Haven. The foreign augment led the expedition, which most New Haven citizens had found offensive. However, Van had always been intrigued by Leda and her people. She wanted to see the place where augments could be leaders. Van decided that she would seek out Sanctuary City. Maybe she and Uli could be accepted there.   Van and Uli traveled west, eventually finding their way to the fallen uninhabited city of Gromont. There she found a group of people who identified themselves as members of the Library of IFERA Engineering Corps. They were excited to meet Van and rather than being frightened of Uli, they were very interested in the bond that they shared. The group told her many strange things that she could barely comprehend, filling her head with stories about Libraries, The Academy, IFERA, and more. She inquired about augments and was relieved when they showed no hostility or fear in response. In fact, they told her that two members of the group were Physiks. For these Amrisans, being an augment was considered a blessing instead of a curse. When the group invited Van to join them for their return to Sanctuary City, she readily agreed.  
The Library of IFERA's Main Headquarters in Sanctuary City
 

Sanctuary City

Upon their arrival in Sanctuary City, the group introduced her to the Head Librarian of Sanctuary City, Irvin Prax. He was most intrigued by her story and was especially interested in her eyewitness account of life in New Haven and the Settlements. He said that there had been little productive contact with the Settlements since Leda Flamewalker had returned 14 years prior. Expeditions were regularly sent to explore the Eastern Amrisa and New Haven would sometimes host them to discuss trade possibilities or passage through Gilston Bay. However, agreements were rarely reached unless they favored New Haven heavily in some way. Van recounted her life in the Settlements and their views on augments. She described her own exile, and her desire to find some way to help the Unseen.   Head Librarian Prax was sympathetic and declared that any Unseen who came to Sanctuary Lands seeking refuge would be welcome. He apologized for not being able to offer her more support, but maybe she could find some way to help exiles and refugees leave the Settlements?   After spending a short time getting to know Sanctuary City, Van announced that she would be returning to the Wilds. She wanted to try to map out the safest route between New Haven and Sanctuary City, and see if the nomads could offer any support to refugee Unseen in the Wilds. She also wrote a letter to her mother, describing her time in exile. She detailed information about Sanctuary City and Prax's offer to welcome augments from the Settlements into Sanctuary Lands. She described her plan to create a map that could help guide Unseen safely through the Wilds. Van gave the letter to Prax to be delivered on the next diplomatic mission to New Haven.  

Establishing the Unseen Highway

For the next two years, Van and Uli traveled around the Wilds, facing dangers from wildlife and weather. They met with the nomadic groups and discussed the best routes for crossing the Wilds. She learned that many of the nomads were actually exiled Unseen who had survived, and they were very supportive of Van's plan. They pointed her to the best routes to travel, as well as potential dangers and resources. In turn, Van compiled the information into a detailed trail guide and map. It wasn't a perfect solution, but Van was pleased. It would give exiled Unseen a better chance of survival, and more options than they previously had.   She returned to Sanctuary City and showed the map to Prax. He was very interested in its potential, offering to send groups from the Discovery Corps to set up waystations and encourage safe travel. He also made many copies of the map, some to store in libraries throughout Sanctuary Lands, and others to deliver to the Unseen in New Haven. Although Van had intended to create a safe route for refugees from New Haven, Prax knew it would also be invaluable for travelers and expeditions crossing the Wilds.  

The Return

Van joined the Discovery Corps on its next diplomatic mission to New Haven. Upon arriving, she entered the town with them, disguised in a Discovery Corps uniform. She snuck away from the group and found her mother, who seemed both overjoyed to see her, and frightened for her safety. After a brief reunion, Van showed her the map of the Unseen Highway and explained how the augments of the Settlements needed to know that they now had options outside of exile or life in an Unseen district. Van asked that her mother discreetly deliver the maps to Unseen in New Haven and other Settlements. Her mother agreed and said she would do all she could. The next day, Van left New Haven with the Discovery Corps but she did not return to Sanctuary City. Instead, she pledged to patrol the area outside New Haven, protecting the exiled, refugees, and peaceful travelers who passed that way. She would share her knowledge of the Wilds and ensure that exiles and refugees would find their way to the Unseen Highway.   Over the next several years, many refugees followed the Unseen Highway to Sanctuary Lands. At first, few Unseen chose to leave the Settlements by choice. Many feared the wilds more than the life they had in the Settlements. However, thanks to Van's maps and the hospitality and support of others, many exiled Unseen made better lives for themselves both in nomadic camps and in Sanctuary Lands. In time, rumors spread of Unseen living freely outside the Sanctuaries. These stories encouraged more to leave the Settlements to seek a better life outside of it.
Van Tempest and Uli
Date of Birth
Oarader 17, 72 AD
Birthplace
New Haven
Children
The Unseen
The Settlements were deeply superstitious of augments and their strange abilities, thinking that they were cursed, throwbacks to of the time before The Disaster that ended the world. Many feared that if left to their own devices, Unseen would take over the Settlements with their strange powers. Because of this, many laws were set up to strictly control their life in the Settlements.
  Many Augments were identified as children. Certain augments, particularly Physiks and Calcs, could often escape detection until their teenage or adult years. However, once identified, they would be stripped of their family name and belongings and given the choice to leave the Settlements, or sent to live in an Unseen district.

Residents of Unseen districts were denied most forms of employment, and often faced exile for the smallest of accusations, sometimes without evidence. Their lives were difficult, and supporting themselves and their families usually involved hard labor or joining dangerous expeditions into The Wilds or on The Great Sea.
 
Uli
The albino Great Wolf rescued by Van Tempest, while she was in exile.
 
When I found Uli, he was so small and alone. He had been abandoned to the Wilds by his family, as I had been by my own people. We had a lot in common and we were each other's family from that day forward.
— Van Tempest

 

Amrisa

Amrisa is the only continent on Kaiter that continues to support human life since the eruption of Mount Oacana. It is divided into three main regions. The Sanctuary Lands represent the area controlled by the Library of IFERA in Sanctuary City. It lies between the western coast and Wendomore Glacier. The Settlements refer to lands in eastern Amrisa where many survivors settled down after Mount Oacana's eruption. New Haven is the largest town in the Settlement Lands and exerts the most power in the region. Between Sanctuary Lands and The Settlements lie the Wilds, which are primarily inhabited by nomadic groups.  
The Wilds
The Wilds are an area of untamed wilderness, made up of both mountainous forests and broad plains located between Wendomere and Weylan Glaciers. The Wilds are home to several groups of nomadic Amrisans who survived the Disaster. These groups move around the region throughout the year, camping near seasonal game or sheltered areas in times of inclement weather.

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Cover image: by Francesco Ungaro
Character Portrait image: by Hero Forge

Comments

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3 Feb, 2021 22:35

Van is amazing. I love her story. I'm sad her father didn't say goodbye to her, though, even after she saved his life. :(

Emy x   Welcome to Etrea!
4 Feb, 2021 13:05

Yea. New Haven people can be very close-minded and prejudiced. I think her father felt a little guilty, and that made him avoid speaking to her after turning her in.

9 Feb, 2021 19:30

Beautiful story and powerful character! Very brave of her to try and help others in the same situation as her, even though she always fights for survival herself as well!

9 Feb, 2021 20:07

Thank you for the comment! I enjoyed writing Van's story and thinking about what life was like for augments in different parts of Amrisa.

17 Feb, 2021 23:25

Glad she managed to help so many.

Too low they build who build beneath the stars - Edward Young   Costume Challenge Entry: As Superpowered troops on an alien planet, the Battle Spears wear a uniform capable of handling all they face
18 Feb, 2021 14:47

Indeed. I am glad about that too. :) Thanks for the like and comment!