(Planar air genasi wizard [she/her] / Hands of Havoc / NG)
As might be imagined by her name, so typical of those of her race, Zepherai’s an air genasi. Now most cutters think of the genasi as physical beings not given much to philosophical debate, and for the most part, they’re right. Zepherai herself ain’t much of a thinker — she’d be the first to point that out — but as she says: “I know what I see, and I see what I know.” You’d be forgiven if you thought she sounded a Signer, because that’s also what she appears to be at first glance; she and Pristine of the Will of the One are two high-flying elemental-kin who’ve wormed their way high up in the Sign of One (there is a third, of course, but his is a story for another time).
Of course, it’s never that simple. While Pristine’s a legitimate Signer, at least according to most folk, Zepherai is really an anarchist. Contrary to most of the other mysterious sods, Zepherai really don’t make much of a secret of it, yet nobody minds much, even the Hardheads! See, the anarchy she spreads doesn’t actually harm the factions or the Cage at all…in fact, the Harmonium recognise that she’s a valuable asset to have, just in case she’s right.
But right about what? Well, I’ll leave you wondering that just a few moments longer. It’s important that we establish what she’s doing in the Cage in the first place. Let’s not fly before we can flutter, right?
Zepherai was born and raised on the Plane of Air, far from the hustle and thrust of the factions, the Blood War and even the Prime. Sure, the Elementals have their own brand of politics, but it’s an Astral Plane away from “philosophy”. There are elemental sneaks and traitors and liars with the best of them, but they’re children compared with the double-handedness of the yugoloths, oh yes.
So when a smiling but injured yugoloth appeared near Zepherai’s retreat in deepest Quasi-Elemental Lightning, who was she to turn the poor berk away? Believe it or not, Inner Planars haven’t really heard about the rapaciousness of fiends, just as we Outer Planars know nothing of the complex social structure of elemental society. Think the earth elementals are just walking rocks? Better think again, clueless!
Zepherai won’t say the name of this ‘loth again (just in case), but from her description of the cutter it sounds like he’s an ultroloth. So what in Hades was a ‘loth as high up as that doing on Lightning? Interesting question, but Zepherai claims there’s more. Of her circle of elemental friends, she ain’t the only one to witness these beings on the Inner Planes. Apparently, a pech named Malachi reckons he’s seen an ultroloth gathering silver in Mineral, and Friss-Frass, a water weird, saw a pair of them casting some spell in Salt.
Anyway, at the time, Zepherai thought little of it. The ultroloth seemed friendly enough, and the genasi tended the fiend’s wounds — apparently a surge from the Positive Plane engulfed the cutter and its radiant energies burned his flesh. However, just hours later, Zepherai’s glass mansion was struck by a ferocious storm of ice lightning, and the ultroloth, in his weakened state, perished. Its corpse melted away, leaving only a small wand with a magical white crystal set into the end. Despite being tiny, it was incredibly heavy, and spitting electrical charge everywhere. Knowing that dying off your home plane does not necessarily mean death for many creatures, Zepherai kept hold of the item in case the ultroloth should return in a few decades to reclaim it.
He never got the chance.
Shortly after the fiend incident, Zepherai heard from a storm of lightning mephit friends that a great rift had opened up in the Lightning near the border with Positive. It was almost as if a great chunk of the plane had been ripped away…the plane was healing itself slowly, but the fabric of the plane and its border with the Ethereal seemed irreparably damaged, and a family of volts which had lived in the area were missing.
Convinced that this strange occurrence had something to do with the ultroloth, Zepherai sought confirmation from her sources. The wand, it turned out, was highly magical, and changed with the power of a thousand normal wands of lightning. The water weird and pech confirmed that great holes had appeared in their respective planes after their sightings of the fiends too.
Zepherai was worried. As any cutter knows, elemental-kin are rightly protective of their planes; the purity and sanctity of the elements is as important to them as Sigil is to us. Determined to learn why the yugoloths were apparently stealing chunks of the elements, Zepherai set off for the fabled Cage (for even the Inner Planars have heard of the Lady’s ministrations) with her aerial servant and three invisible stalker guards to try and reason with the yugoloths and get them to stop their plot. (I never said Inner Planars weren’t a little naive!)
Of course, it didn’t take her long to realise that she’d sorely underestimated the might of the yugoloths and their important in the scheme of things. But then, she thought, so had most Cagers. See, Zepherai reckons it’s a common misconception of cutters that the ‘loths are just mercenaries and servants, the summoning stock of the Lower Planes, while the real movers and shakers amongst the fiends are the baatezu and tanar’ri.
It always happens — ask the right questions, and the right answers will eventually come your way. But how does this occur? Chance? No! There are bashers who’s job it is to direct the right people to the right places. Some of them are touts, but others take far less of an active role in things. It was one of these bloods that first put Zepherai in touch with like minds. The ‘loths were a growing fear of certain circles of the Revolutionary League at the time, who had a hunch that something big was brewing, but lacked the evidence to prove it. Zepherai proved to be just that missing link. She joined the faction and gained allies and confidants, the Anarchists gained a visionary with the right darks, and the strength of convictions to follow them up. Zepherai is nothing if not headstrong, and when the Revolutionary League collapsed into anarchy, she was one of the first to join the Hands of Havoc. She hasn’t looked back since.
Source: Jon Winter-Holt, mimir.net