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Palzari the Histrionic (Planar / female aasimar / bard 8 / Signer / NG)
"Berk, the centre of the Multiverse must be a sodding crowded place if we're all standing there!" These were the words which launched Palzari's illustrious career as a factor in the Sign of One. It wasn't even that she said them herself; in fact, the phrase was the wry observation of Troika, a high-up in the Sensates and Palzari's flavour of the moment. While they're no longer lovers, the pair are still close.
Troika's little joke must've touched a nerve in Palzari's mind, 'cause she found herself lying awake that night, her brain humming with questions. Could Troika've been right? Should she doubt that most basic tenet of the Signers? It was a paradox, sure, but planars aren't supposed to worry about things like that.
Palzari's own career in the faction had already brought its highs and lows. Mostly they were lows, though. The aasimar hadn't the concentration or the imagination to conjure up a whole multiverse, that she'd realised long ago. At that time, it seemed like she was living a lie. She'd joined the faction because she always saw herself as the centre of attention. That's why she was such a successful actress, too: she loved the adulation of the audience. But there's a big jump from being the centre of attention to the centre of a whole multiverse.
Maybe she should concentrate on her career rather than the cut and thrust of faction politics, she mused. That was when her vision struck. Of course! It was obvious. "The multiverse is a stage!" she murmured.
"Eh?" asked Troika, half-sleepy.
Palzari (lost in thought): Oh, nothing.
Troika (now awake): Tell me what you said. It sounded kind of deep. You know philosophy's bad for you at night.
Palzari: Well, I just had the strangest thought. What if we act out our lives, like performers in a play? That'd make the multiverse a stage, and me the Leading Lady.
Troika: That may be, but who's writing the script?
Palzari: Is it rehearsed? Who's directing?
Troika: Now that is deep. You could argue it many ways. Perhaps the powers are behind the production. Chant is they see and hear all.
Palzari: That'd make them the audience then. No, there's more to it than that, Troika. There's someone out there, writing my lines. Telling me what to say, and how to say it. It's as if my life's being scripted as I live it. All our lives, maybe.
Troika: By the "One" that you barmy Signers go on about? (chuckles) No, that doesn't sound likely to me. I mean, I feel alive. I can do whatever I want to do. There's nobody determining my life for me.
Palzari: It could be that your life is an autobiography. We paint the scenery ourselves, perhaps. Or maybe that's just what the author wants us to think...
Troika: Stop it, you're scaring me! You don't really think that...
Palzari: It's a possibility, ain't it! What if we're just characters in some blood's story. A novel perhaps, or a play. You and I; the leading roles, our friends and enemies are bit-parts. The things we do, plans we have; maybe they're all just plot and characterisation.
Troika (cautiously): That might be so, but is it a philosophy you can live with? It's all very well believing that, but blind faith ain't all that inspiring. Unless you're a prime, I guess.
"Well, imagine that."
- Tanar'ri to signer after neatly severing her head
Palzari: If I realise I'm on a stage, then why can't I go behind the scenes? Meet the writer? Walk amongst the audience? Like you said, the centre of the multiverse must be a crowded place, if we're all there. An actress centre-stage can't learn anything dark. She can only repeat the lines she's been given, and hope that when the final curtain comes down she's performed well enough to merit an encore. Maybe the answers to life can't be found at the centre of the multiverse, maybe they're hidden round the edges.
Troika (thoughtfully): Like a library, you mean? After all, you don't find the answers to all your questions at the centre of the library. You've got to peruse the shelves and get to know your way around before you can find anything useful. If you can find the index, then you're laughing.
Palzari: And while you're looking, everyone else squabbles about who gets to stand at the centre! By the powers, how could have I been so blind? I'll go to the Factol in the morning. I'm sure she'll be thrilled.
Troika (cynical): Oh sure. She'll love you pulling down the foundations of the faction. Palzari, dear, none of us like an upstart. You've got to take this carefully. There'll be inertia to change, especially in the Sign of One. Powers know, your fellow factotums are bloody-minded enough about most things. No offence intended, of course.
Palzari: None taken. 'Course, there's Pristine to watch. She's up to something big. And that Null Ghentar, I'm sure she's got some sort of scam running.
Troika: That's the spirit! Trust nobody, especially those with ambition. Or those who're sleepy enough to drop at any moment, and that's me my love. Shall we talk about this more when it's light?
Palzari (already lost in fantasies of her promotion to factor of the Signers): Hmm? Oh, yes. Night, Troika.
[Palzari doesn't sleep. She lies awake, motionless except for the rise and fall of her chest, thinking. As dim light streams in through the shuttered windows, she feels she knows the way ahead. While her lover still slumbers, she quietly leaves her home and journeys to the Hall of Speakers.]
[Palzari exits, stage left.]
Palzari's vision drew a small circle of interested Signers, mainly bards and performers. They've called themselves the Masquerade. The aasimar's status in the faction's slowly growing, as her clique of artistes and actors explain her take on the Signers' philosophy with their plays, songs and poems. For her part, Palzari's endeavouring to find a way to leave the centre of the multiverse behind and walk instead towards the edges. She's sponsored several expeditions into the Hinterlands, where she hopes to find the edge of the Outlands. Perhaps that'd be a good place to start walking from.
The band of thespians doesn't receive funding from the Sign of One as a whole, so Palzari's established a small theatre, the Théatre Broulliard, in the Deep Ethereal. It's well-connected to Sigil, so the custom is brisk, and it's becoming an increasingly fashionable place for the high-ups of the cage to be seen. The Masquerade perform popular drama, as well as philosophical pieces composed by the talented bards in the fraction.
Troika's influence has also encouraged some of the more theatrically-minded Sensates into joining in with the project. While they usually miss the point of the Masquerade's ideological message, they're still enthusiastic participants. With this much interest, Palzari's thinking of branching out into opera, classical theatre and even masqued balls! If you're trying to get in with the high-up crowd of the Cage, you'd do well to watch this rising fraction.
For more information on the Théatre, please consult Brix's Guide to the Cage. Advertisements for new performances are usually carried in S.I.G.I.S.
Copyright 1997 by Jon Winter