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Paskal Beltane

"They say that the strong and bold will change the world - it's a lie, and I'll prove it."

0 · 199 views · located in The Great Desert

a character in “Spirits of the Desert”, as played by UltraEgg

Description

Image

(Face claim: Tommy Pico)

Name: Paskal Beltane
Nickname: Paskal, or simply Pask'
Age: Seventeen
Gender: Male
Height: Five feet, four inches
Weight: 134 lbs
Eyes: Deep blue
Hair: Sandy, short and coarse
Extra phys:ical info: Paskal's slight build is marked by a number of old wounds and cuts, the most noticeable of which runs horizontally along his lower lip. Also, due to his experimentation with the plants and herbs of the desert, his teeth have a relatively light colouring and his incisors are unusually sharp.
Marital status: Single
Occupation: Forager
Personality: Paskal is a self-confessed coward, taking great pains to avoid confrontation in all areas of life. In casual interaction he speaks quickly, quietly and clearly, sometimes lapsing into a nervous twitch if he feels that a conversation is dragging on. He can't resist a sarcastic comment if he thinks he can get away with it, but is usually content to sit in harmless silence. While his timid nature is genuine, Paskal also uses it to hide a cruel streak that he indulges in sparingly; a lifetime's experience of bullying threatens to rub off on him.
Biography: Born into a family without influence as a second child, Paskal was fated for mediocrity from the word go. Matters weren't helped when he stopped growing taller in his early teens, making him an easy target for ridicule and violence. Soon after he turned fourteen years old he was given a particularly brutal beating by an older boy, leaving him with a permanent scar on his lip and an anger that, for once, he couldn't push away.
Paskal eventually found an outlet for his frustration when he slipped a juvenile cobra into the older boy's bedroll one evening. When morning came, the Sleipnir Tribe were horrified to see one of their young ones suffering from a toxic bite, limbs purple and swelling. Medicines were administered and the boy slowly regained his health – and Paskal, to his shock, was disappointed at the mediocre effect.
Ever since then, Paskal found himself fascinated with the properties and symptoms of desert poisons, experimenting and examining their effect on humans. In his ever-growing paranoia of being found out, he even started ingesting the more common poisons in order to build up an immunity to them.
Power: The mark of Sleipnir grants Paskal otherworldly speed by way of partially slowing time for his body and mind (though only for 2-10 real-time seconds, after which he has to rely on natural speed). With excessive practice, the Sleipnir mark could also enable him to run over water.
Skills: Agility, scavenging, hiding, short-distance running, trapping, poisons
Likes: Early mornings, running, skimming stones, solitude, reptiles
Dislikes: Exposed spaces, coldness, confrontation, bullies, crowds
Strengths: Speed, planning, dexterity
Weaknesses: Tires quickly, physically weak, lacks motivation
Fears: Having his secrets revealed, attack by monsters or other people

So begins...

Paskal Beltane's Story

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In the shadow of a large dune, Paskal crouched by a thicket of berry bushes and wormed his arm in among the thorns. Twisting the little fruit off their branches one by one and tipping them into his forager's pouch, he allowed his mind to rest for a moment as he soaked in the coolness of the evening, the freshness of the wind and the texture of the plants. In a moment of weakness he drew one berry from the pouch and flicked it into his open mouth.

As he chewed, however, he began to notice that something was wrong. All of a sudden the berry tasted bland and empty, and the breeze no longer cooled his face. Indeed, the dune's shadow seemed to be lengthening even before his eyes. A terrible anxiety rising in his mind, Paskal scrambled up the sandy bank and took a look at the desert around him. It was flat, featureless, and stretching to all horizons.

Paskal groaned. Not another one of those dreams.

The now-heatless sun sank lower in the sky, threatening to vanish entirely. Paskal shuffled down the incline and began to walk; the dune would sink into the ground soon enough anyway, leaving him alone no matter what he did. He had seen this dream many times before, and saw no sense in forestalling the inevitable. This kind of dream was easily the most common that he had, and it always followed a sort of formula: he would be alone either in the wilderness or (less often) back at camp, going about his daily routine. Gradually, though, the landscape would flatten and the sun would set, and he would be left in the middle of a vast expanse. Then the monsters would come.

The monsters varied from dream to dream, but acted in the same way. Night would fall and they would appear from nowhere to chase him across the sand, sometimes silent as death, sometimes howling and cackling. Paskal was fast, but they were always just a little bit faster, and eventually they would catch him and... he would wake up. As of late he had been attacked by sand devils, monstrous vultures, blood-crazed hyenas and his own family members. While none ever failed to terrify him, one particular apparition stood out in his mind; this one hounded him, toyed with him, spoke to him. Paskal could never figure out what it wanted, which scared him most of all.

By now the sun had completely disappeared, to be replaced by the cold and distant stars overhead. Unlike Paskal's home desert, the constellations here were shifting and nonsensical. He stopped and looked fearfully around, shuddering at imagined noises. Maybe the creatures would stay away tonight. Maybe he would just wake up on his own. A single night left alone was all he wanted. But even as he pleaded with his own mind, a shining light in the distance banished all hope. Paskal stood rigid as the gleaming silver Sleipnir cantered into view, its footfalls never so much as marking the sand. When it came within 200 yards of him, the great beast smoothly lowered its head and pawed at the earth, shining eyes watching him carefully. Paskal, for his part, turned and bolted.

With a powerful snort, the Sleipnir took off after him, tearing across the plain like only an eight-legged stallion could. Paskal stood no chance of outrunning it, but kept sprinting anyway. In a matter of seconds the Sleipnir caught up and began to circle him, an amused spring in its step. With a flash it darted forward, knocking the boy off balance and sending him sprawling in the dust. Paskal felt the familiar panic setting in; things weren't supposed to touch him in his dreams.

The creature stood over Paskal as he rolled in the sand, and began to speak. "Why do you always run? I have never tried to do you harm."

Paskal crawled backwards as the Sleipnir advanced. "Leave me alone! I don't want this!" he cried out, eyes darting around to find an escape route. The spirit moved with him, shaking its translucent mane. "I do not want this either, child. But the critical point has been reached, and I can not go unrepresented." It raised a hoof in the air and paused for an instant before continuing. "You are one of five. Together you must journey to the spirit oasis, and there you must restore the balance. Tread lightly as I would, and mind your companions. Your fate depends on theirs." The hoof came down, aiming for the boy's forehead.

"No, wait! Stop!" Paskal screamed, raising his hands in front of his face. There was a sensation of searing pain, and then blackness.

.......................................................................................................................................................................................

Paskal jerked awake with a start. It took a few moments to recognise the familiar layout of his tent, and a few more to feel safe once again. Turning his head, he spotted his elder brother Tark glaring at him from his bedroll, evidently having been woken up by the sudden jolt. Breathing a relieved sigh, Paskal threw on a simple tunic and snatched up his forager's pouch, deciding to get to work early rather than try to get back to sleep. 

He pushed the tent flap open and slipped out, noting with delight that almost nobody else had risen yet, so he wouldn't be getting any trouble this morning. Reaching the outskirts of the village, he set off for a good location that he knew for gathering, subconsciously cradling his right hand; for some reason, he felt like he had been struck on the palm.

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Paskal's latest dream seemed to grow ever more foreboding the more he thought about it. And, squatting beside coarse bushes in hope of finding berries, there was little else to do but think about it. The mysterious Sleipnir, patron spirit of the tribe, and what it had said... about being "one of five". Paskal guessed it was referring to the five tribes, but what it then said about a "spirit oasis" left him clueless. Well, he couldn't really expect it to make sense; it was just a stupid dream, after all. If it hadn't been so vivid, he would already have forgotten about it.

Standing back up, Paskal tested the weight of his pouch. Fairly heavy. There was still room for more, but he was sick of scrounging for berries. He could set a few animal traps to add a bit of variety - if, he suddenly remembered, he hadn't left all the equipment back at the camp.  He sighed, turning on his heel and beginning the trek back.

Maybe it was just his imagination, but he was starting to feel a little bit on edge. There had been talk from the rangers and traders about strange creatures on the desert plains. Savage creatures. As a forager, Paskal was not unaccustomed to odd sights, but he had never seen such nightmarish beings as the wide-eyed men described. He shook his head fierecely. Keep your mind down to earth, now.

As he approached the camp once again, he turned away from the main entranceway and skirted around until he found a gap between the huts and hovels. He shimmied through, keeping in the shade with his head lowered. He slipped back into his own tent without a sound, and a quick glance told him that his brother and housemate had already left for work. Good; that would mean no arguing this morning. It never occurred to Paskal that he had unknowingly structured his life around avoiding other people. 

He stooped to pick up the necessities that he had forgotten in his rush to leave earlier: a coil of donkey-hair rope, a pair of nearly curved bone knives, a larger bag with a bundle of cloths and junk already inside, and a minuscule vial of red-tailed scorpion venom - "just in case", as he kept telling himself. Idly scooping his equipment into the bag, Paskal let his mind wander back to his dream. The Sleipnir had acted very... well, calm around him. Almost as if it knew how he would act in advance. But how would it know that? It would have to have been watching him for all of his life. Patron spirits were supposed to do that, of course, but Paskal found the implication worrying. The Sleipnir would have to be very intrusive.

You have no idea.

The bag dropped from his hand, thumping onto the floor as Paskal whirled around. Nothing was in the tent with him. Nothing could have spoken to him. Gritting his teeth, he stood up straight and willed his heartbeat to slow down. After a minute or so, he snatched the bag back up off the floor and stormed out. 

The traps he set were going to be especially vicious today.