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Null Ghentar (Prime / female human / 0-level / Factor of the Signers / NG)
Null's a factor of the Signers now, but it's not always been as simple as that. She used to be a Clueless prime, then she saw the dark of the Planes...
Since her formative years, Null always had a fascination with death. Her parents died about the time Null learned to talk; it wasn't a nice way they went, either. See, about that time a terrible plague ravaged its way across the land, killing and maiming anyone unlucky enough to come into contact with it.
Null's mother came down with a fever which grew rapidly worse, until the house was wracked with her pain. Null's father wisely kept the young girl and her sister Alici away from the sick woman, and tried his best to tend his dying wife. Then he became ill too, and quarantined himself in the bedroom. Through the door he told the girls to go to their grandparents, but the children were too young to understand.
For two nights Alici and Null wept as their parents' anguish became weaker and fainter. Then it all was quiet. The girls took comfort in the silence; their mother and father had finally found their peace.
The girls were eventually found by their grandparents, and raised a more old-fashioned way. As the girls grew into women, so their aged relatives grew frail and wasted away. The grandmother used to tell the girls of the paradise which waited for good people who died, and this comforted Null. When they passed away, within days of each other, Null and Alici wished them well on their journey to their resting place.
They continued their simple rural lives, left to fend for themselves, watched over by the village folk. That was until the portal opened...
One night, under a full moon, the village pond began to seethe and belch forth foul gases. As the peasant people watched, frog-like monsters lumbered from the waters, attacking and eating the humans. They set the tiny hamlet ablaze, and the cool night air fanned the flames. All of the humans were captured or slaughtered, save for the two girls who tried to hide. The slaadi (for that was what the beasts were) razed their house anyway, and Alici was badly hurt as the sisters fled.
Null knew her sister would never recover - she was much too injured for that - but neither was she about to die. Remembering their grandmother's words, the girls agreed a pact of blood. Null was to kill her sister and stop the terrible pain, and Alici would remember Null had done the deed out of love. They hoped they'd avoid the wrath of the gods that way.
It wasn't an easy blow to strike, but Alici died quickly, and Null's life swerved to follow a dramatically new course. She wanted revenge, firstly, and she wasn't scared of dying on the way to getting it. Returning to the pond, she found a few of the slaadi dead. They all clutched rusty iron triangles with the same rune carved into them.
"In the desert of your dreams,
my imagination is your oasis."
- A fairly articulate,
though naturally self-centered Signer
Curious, Null prised one from a dead frog's webbed fingers, and the pool began to boil again. Fearing another attack, Null ran away, but as she left the pool's edge the bubbling ceased. When she returned, rather more gingerly, it began once again.
Now Null may never have been schooled, but she had a vivid imagination, and to her this seemed more an adventure than anything. Assuming the triangle was magical, she steeled her nerve and walked into the muddy puddle.
She emerged through a watery pool in Sigil's Clerk's Ward. Whether the portal was a wandering one or not she never learned, for almost at once she was swept away in the politics of the Cage. As for the slaadi who razed her town, well, Null soon chalked that one up to chance.
Slowly she began to understand the ways of the Cage, its strange laws and stranger customs. Her lust for revenge rapidly took second place to her thirst for knowledge. Where was this place? Why had she been brought here? She'd always imagined she'd had a purpose in life, so when she discovered other thinkers who had the same ideas, she naturally threw in with them. She changed from Clueless into factotum, of the Sign of One. Her strong will catapulted her through the lower circles of the faction, and she's now a factor. Null tells many an exciting tale of how she grew to know and love the Cage, but they're for another time.
Null's take on the Signers' philosophy is that it's not the living who make the multiverse what it is; it's the dead. Life's a preparation, a place where opinions are formed and lessons learned. Death's the first step along the long path which leads to, well, wherever.
There's got to be some point to it all, see. When you die, your beliefs live on and take shape as a petitioner. It's these cutters who're the fabric of the Planes; the embodiment of everyone's personal truth. And it's they who dream of the living. A simple twist perhaps, but one that brings solace to those who grieve.
Sure, living minds and imaginations affect the multiverse - after all, it's all a process of learning, trial and error - that's fine for the small things most folk worry about. But there aren't nearly enough cutters out there doing the imagining for a multiverse so large. If you counted up all the sods who've died, and now have nothing better to do than dream, you'd be much closer the real imagining power you'd need for the whole show.
Null's carved a small niche for herself in the Signers, and leads a small but vocal fringe who hold that it's the dead who imagine the living. Without death, there'd be no life. The traditional ring of logic might be reversed, but it's still a ring, and it's one that seems to mesh well with the Signer's notion of imagination. They call themselves the Sleepers. Others call them barmy.
The Sleepers're interested in the area of dreams, which they reckon are messages and omens from the dead, and also the ceremonies various cultures use to send off their spirits. Maybe the truth's contained in one of those, somewhere. If a Sleeper dies, her comrades will do their utmost to recover her remains, so that they might learn from them by magic, dissection or imagination. Some bashers think that's morbid; for the Sleepers it's very illuminating.
Other members of the group are interested in probing the boundaries of the dead - finding out how petitioners think, what motivates them, and most importantly what they dream of. Sleepers think that the dreams of these bloods'll hold some real gems. Perhaps Powers share their darks with petitioners who're sleeping, or maybe it's the dreams of petitioners that give Powers their direction. Whatever the truth is, the Sleepers imagine they're close to finding it; closer than most bloods realise.
Null still has the odd sleepless night over what she did, and sometimes she worries that the Powers might not've forgiven her. She also knows that Alici's out there somewhere too. In Null's heart, she knows that her sister has the most important dreams of all.
Copyright 1997, 1998 by Jon Winter