The Keepers of Galastaire
The sunset-haired Horizon Warrior approves of very little.
Race: Human (Hill Clans)
Heisen. Chiheisen. The Horizon Warrior. The Red Demon. Suriya. She’s known by many names to many peoples, but the stories remain consistent. One woman stood against the dangers of the horizon and brought them to heel. Some say she seduced them. Others? Destroyed them.
The only person who knows the truth is likely Heisen herself. She is not the sharing sort.
There was once a cruel spirit, a fearless woman, and a land without sunrises…
A spirit stalked the crossroads to and from all places – a shadow with a thousand tails. Wanderers, merchants, and lost souls would catch the flicker of these shadows in the corners of their eyes, would smell smoke of unseen fires, would hear the faint wind of tails striking the air…
And in that whisper of noise, they would hear many familiar voices.
“Turn back,” would say one voice. “Turn left,” demanded another. “Forge ahead,” might urge a third. But the smoke and shadows would confuse them. The cacophony panicked them.
And as they hesitated? The smoke would turn to fire. And shadows? Into claws.
The villages would send their hunters to capture or to kill this beast, but each of these hunters knew doubts, wants, and worries. They would hesitate and they would die.
The great cities would send heroes, sellswords, and knights. But each of these found themselves far from home and drawn in many directions. These? Were found quartered. Severed.
Finally? A young woman, nearly a child, grew tired of these tales. She had been born to a land without light. She had no mother and nothing to her name. Her father had fallen to this very beast… or perhaps another – he had taken a road one day and had never returned. This young woman found herself angered each time the tale of the smoke and shadow was told. “Why do they not turn back? Turn left? Go ahead! Go anywhere! Just go!” And none could answer her.
Because deep down, they knew – taking any path is painful. Leaving any path is worse.
This young woman had heard enough. She took up a hunter’s spear and went out to where all roads meet. Sure enough, she smelled the smoke. Sure enough, she saw the stirring of a thousand tails of shadow. And sure enough? It angered her. So she stopped. And she waited.
“Turn back,” said a voice. “Turn left,” demanded another. “Forge ahead,” urged a third.
“But I have arrived!” she said in answer. “I am here. This is where I wish to be!”
For a long while, there was smoke and silence. Then? A question in a thousand whispers.
“What troubled soul seeks out the confusion at the threshold? Who seeks such uncertain doom?”
And at this? The woman laughed. “A troubled soul tired of stories without end. I do not wish to turn back. I have no interest in what is to the left or right. And ahead of me? Is you. Just you. I am not held by thresholds. I have nothing to lose, and so I am free of smoke and shadow!”
And with this? The smoke receded. With this, all of the shadows sank out of sight. What remained was a creature of beauty and the scent of distant fire. “Then I will give you something,” it said. And so, It adorned her in a robe of silk and took her in its many arms. And so it loved her.
Thus this woman mastered the threshold and crossed into another place. Fearless.
And now, though smoke and shadow linger between many roads?
The gold and red and violet of the rising dawn might lead the lost to safety.
…Of course, some tales say the spirit loved and wedded her. That it gave her hair, once dark and smoky, all the fire of a rising sun. Thus, her wisdom would be clear to any who beheld her. Others? That the spirit swallowed her up and her vengeful ghost leads wanderers from its hungry grasp, whose hatred makes it dangerous to those who dare hesitate. The truth?
Is neither behind, nor to the left or right. The truth requires fearlessness to pursue.
So far? None have found it. In truth? Few seek her out. Who could catch a sunrise?