Eekha

Your world is a complicated one, mine is not. Here, choices are clear. Good or evil, survival or extinction. Fight... or die.
— Eekha explaining the way of things on Big Ruk Island
 
Life on Big Ruk Island is unlike that of anywhere else in Tairos. It's raw and unfiltered, untouched by the progress and tragedy of the mainland. Here, the old ways are still followed. Strength and hunger are weapons of choice for would-be ruler but there are those that reject might alone as the decider of fate. For these rare few; protecting the helpless and shielding the innocent is a calling that must not go unanswered. One such hero is Eekha of Big Ruk.
 

The Warlord

 
The tribes of Big Ruk largely live in isolation from even from each other. Distance and dangerous make mingling a risky endeavor. That means news is very slow to travel across the massive island so when one tribe is suffering it's rare that they can come to each other's aid. Such was the case for the Choma Ei (Five Fires Tribe) when it was their turn to face the end. seventeen years ago, the blink of an eye on the mainland but an eternity here, the Choma Ei dared to reject a tyrant's reign. And, for that, they paid with their lives. Eekha was young at the time, having just completed her hunter's training. She was away from her village with her uncle, Luth, and beginning the first steps of learning to commune with nature. She was largely unaware of the politics of her day, the ideological division between tribes that demanded a side be chosen. To attack the pirate lords of Far Harbor directly or to continue to hold their borders and nothing more. The Choma Ei were one of the most influential tribes and strong proponents of maintaining the status quo. Opposite them was a warlord named Zhikurvokhan. He believed they'd suffered too long at the hands of these despoilers. Instead of continuously hurling them back from their sacred shores he wanted nothing less than to shovel their entire wretched city into the ocean.
 
Tired of endless debates while lives and territory were lost, Zhikurvokhan decided to strike. His target wasn't the pirates of Far Harbor, it was the Choma Ei. He slaughtered them to the last and left behind evidence that implicated the pirate lords. When traders from other distant tribes finally visited the Choma Ei they learned of the slaughter. The news of this atrocity would shake most of the other tribal leaders to their core and many fell in behind Zhikurvokhan, demanding blood for blood. Eekha was among them. She returned with her uncle weeks after the disaster and hatred for the pirates quickly seized her heart. The warlord took the young warrior under his wing. He was not only an ally to Eekha's father in the past but the two men shared blood, they were cousins. She was taught to fight, to master the ways of a Thunder Rider (those capable of bonding with the gigantic lizard-creatures of Big Ruk), and the language of the enemy. Meanwhile, her uncle Luth started to follow-up on his suspicions
 
Luth began to discover inconsistencies. He had allies among the merchants of Far Harbor who frequented the coasts in search of rare Minga Melon varieties. None of them could identify or recall any of the pirate lords dispatching a force to Big Ruk. While more than enough pirate belongings were scattered about the Choma Ei's home, the bodies of the supposed invaders were quickly desecrated by Zhikurvokhan's warriors. Their heads removed and made into hives for his bees. Their bodies cast into the carrion crawler pits to add further insult to them. While both punishments were not unheard of, it would normally have been the right of kin or allies to do so. Finally, Luth descended into the carrion pits to search for the bones of the pirate invaders. This was a perilous journey and one that few others would be able to survivor but what he found there was worth the risk. There were no pirate remains, no Far Harborer clothing or trinkets, none of the malnutritional bones or bodies ravaged by alcohol that are so common to them. Nothing at all to suggest pirates of any sort had been responsible. What he found instead were the corpses of Zhikurvokhan's warriors that had fallen in the battle. The carrion pits were the only place where the evidence of their deaths by Choma Ei weapons could be erased forever.
 
Luth was prepared to bring everything he'd found to the meeting of the tribal elders but Zhikurvokhan caught wind of his cousin's investigation. Rather then let this be brought to light the warlord framed Luth, planting pirate goods in his home and capturing a Harborer that was forced to identify him as a conspirator. Luth fled, trying to reach the other elders but Eekha tracked down her treacherous uncle and slew him. It wasn't until it was far too late that she discovered Luth's evidence cache and the truth became apparent. Eekha confronted Zhikurvokhan, intent on killing him for taking everything from her, and though she managed to blind him in one eye it wasn't enough to win the fight. She prepared herself for one final effort, to die fighting and honor her family, but her loyal mount Zhutt would snatch her up before the warlord could recover from his wound to finish the duel.
 
There she would meet other survivors of Zhikurvokhan's tyranny. Those who dared oppose him, those who had learned of his pacts with corrupted spirits, and their desire to bring war not just to Far Harbor but to the mainland as well. Every part of her wanted to rush back into battle and kill Zhikurvokhan or die trying but life was not her own anymore. It belonged to her uncle Luth. She took his life, having been consumed by the need for revenge, and now everything going forward must be done to make amends for that terrible sin.



 

A Life of Purpose

 
Since then, Eekha has tried to live a life of purpose. Foiling Zhikurvokhan's efforts to bring war to the mainland has always been front of mind for her, as is killing him for all that he's done to Big Ruk, but in the last fifteen years that hasn't yet come to pass. The eastern half of the island has become home to the warlord's growing sphere of influence while the western side continually fights to maintain their way of life and preserve the temples of the ancient ones.
 
For Eekha, part of repaying the eternal debt she owes her uncle is to live up to the lessons taught to her. Protect the innocent, guard the sacred places, bring peace where there is only pain, and show strength where tyranny reigns unchecked. She travels the old stone roads of the ancient ones, from one end of the island to the other, looking for those she can help and those that must be stopped no matter the cost.
 
Her only constant companions on this journey are her adopted brother Kraid, and Zhutt, her elderly Shellback mount (Ankyholosaurus). Kraid is an orphan from Far Harbor. His family were peaceful Minga traders visiting Big Ruk for valuable new types of melon when their ship was attacked by Zhikurvokhan. Deep Teeth (Mosasaurus) under the control of the warlord ripped the ship open while his warriors slew those on the beach. Kraid was less than half the age Eekha was when she lost her family and stood no chance of surviving on Big Ruk. She took him in, tried numerous times to leave him in the care of other tribes and each effort ultimately ended in failure. Kraid would always manage to track her down (or more likely track down Zhutt's massive foot prints). She eventually gave up on it entirely and just taught him the ways of the jungle instead.
 
Zhutt has been with her since the beginning of her journey. When Zhikurvokhan began training her to be a Thunder Rider he gave her the choice of any egg she liked. He even offered her one of the Terror Sails like he rides upon but she never felt a bond with any of them until she happened upon Zhutt. He wasn't in an egg or a hatchling. He wasn't even in the stables of the warlord. Rather, he was an aging laborer hauling carts of melons for Zhikurvokhan's warriors. The others laughed when she chose this sluggish dolt but under her care he flourished. Zhutt gained a freedom with Eekha that he'd never known before . As her mount he's dedicated every one of his last remaining years to being her protector and being loyal to the end no matter where the should take them. That same fervor extends to Kraid as well, though he finds the boy's youthful energy rather exhausting.

Physical Description

General Physical Condition

Eekha is in peak physical condition due to her constant adventurers and morning exercises

Identifying Characteristics

One her right upper-arm/shoulder area she has a tattoo Cinder Sky, the great firebird of the Tairuk Island Chain . It is a sacred creature in her tribe's history and a symbol she proudly bears.

Mental characteristics

Education

Eekha learned her most crucial survival skills as well as how to connect with nature from her uncle, Luth. He was a close ally with many of the island's greatest shamans and was able to pass along some of their secrets to his niece as well. He had also formed connections with some of the more peaceful Far Harborers who visited Big Ruk and imparted much of what he learned from them to Eekha as well.   Later, she would master the art of the Thunder Rider from Zhikurvokhan, perhaps the greatest living exemplar of that art. This fighting method is more than just knowing how to command Thunder Lizard; it is the means of becoming a perfect fighting duo... a single deadly weapon. Outside of combat it also was a means of connecting with a creature beyond what simple animal handling or a crude spell would allow for.   Her adopted brother Kriad is obsessed with mainland entertainment. He takes every opportunity to get his hands on anything from smutty romance novels to schlocky penny-dreadfuls. As reluctant as she is to hear it, Kraid has been her source of education for "mainlander pop culture".   Zhutt's entire life prior to meeting Eekha revolved around hauling carts full of Minga Melons. So much so that the beast considers itself an expert on the fruit. He does his best to try and show his little humans how to find the best, ripest, sweetest melons.

Employment

Eekha doesn't really have a formal employer but she can often be found taking up one hopeless task or another for someone she's over the course of her travels

Accomplishments & Achievements

Eekha considers every life she saves, and every quest she takes up for the innocent, to be a great achievement. It means that the stories of those people go on, and more stories are then written. Life perpetuates life. Good deeds are seeds that grow and spread into more of the same. Being part of that chain brings her great joy.

Failures & Embarrassments

The greatest failure she's ever endured is that her eyes were blinded by hatred so completely that it led her to kill the only family she had left.

Mental Trauma

Eekha has a difficult time thinking clearly when Zhikurvokhan's involved. It takes considerable effort to center herself toward the goal at hand rather than revenge. Her mount, Zhutt, is deeply afraid of Zhikurvokhan's Terror Sail, Lyaat. Aging labor beasts like Zhutt were often fed to the gargantuan killer alive and their screams echoed over the camps and into the beast stalls frequently. Kraid is deeply uneasy with being on the ocean, having watched his family's boat being pulled beneath the water.

Personality Characteristics

Motivation

To live a life that her uncle would be proud of and to make up for her terrible mistake. Killing Zhikurvokhan is part of that but she knows even if she were to succeed that his blood alone would not be enough to pay the debt she owes.

Savvies & Ineptitudes

She is especially good with animals and above all else Thunder Lizards, a very rare skill even among the Thunder Riders who typically only bond with one beast or at best one type of beast.

Likes & Dislikes

LIKES Celebrations and dancing, Thunder Lizards, Swimming, and searching for fruits, nuts, and berries


Dislikes Mainlander "pop culture", Disrespect toward any religion, Terror Sails, and most mainlander food though bread is very fascinating to her

Vices & Personality flaws

When time and duty permit she does enjoy smoking Cloud Thistle, a thorny plant who's wispy and sticky vines can dried out breathed in to produce a very relaxing high. She generally has her pipe and a pouch of Cloud Thistle on her at all times should the moment present itself and she's always more than willing to share.

Hygiene

Like all of the Tairuk Tribes, hygiene is almost obsessively important. She loves soaps, moisturizers, hair treatments, and perfumes. Though, because she spends so much time in the jungle among other predators she must always make sure that the products she uses blend with the natural scents of the flora around her.

Social

Family Ties

Kraid and Zhutt are her only family now

Religious Views

Eekha is a believer in the Totem Spirits of Tairos but far from a druid who acts to further their power in this world. She knows they are there, believes they are both powerful and ultimately a force of good, but doesn't think their hand should be directly felt in the mortal world unless the most dire of circumstances call for it. She knows that nature lacks the compassion that mortals are blessed with and calling upon the totems may not always give the desired results.   She is deeply respectful of religion in general and takes great care to show that toward the faiths of others. She has heard about the history of the The Queen's Rebuke and the silencing of the Gods but only knows the smallest sliver of what actually transpired. Ultimately, she feels that it might be best for these gods to no longer have direct means of influencing the land. If their power was anything like that of the totems it could result terrible devastation. Eekha feels that divine beings of all sorts make better shepherds than gardeners and that their role should only be one of guidance, not interference.

Social Aptitude

She may love celebrations of all manner but she certainly doesn't know much about behaving side by side with any culture but her own.

Hobbies & Pets

Many might see Zhutt as a pet but she does not. She treats him like a partner, a rather old and cranky one for that matter. If he were capable of actual speech she has no doubt he'd be using every waking moment to drown her tales from his long life hauling carts across the island.
Alignment
Chaotic Good
Current Status
Alive
Current Location
Species
Ethnicity
Age
31
Children
Known Languages
Tribal languages. The Common Tongue


Cover image: by Antti Hakosaari

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