[Work in progress] Marian Cephanse

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Marian Cephanse

Postby Marian Cephanse on October 20th, 2018, 5:59 pm

Marian Cephanse


Race: Human
Gender: Male
Age: 24
Birthday: 11, Spring, 494
Birthplace: Ravok

Appearance

One spots a city guard shove a man of moderate height and build straight to the ground in the middle of the street. Defiant blue eyes and a teeth-bared sneer flash for a moment out of a mess of chin-length black hair. For a moment, the man on the ground looks like a prince of thieves. The man collects himself as he pushes aside some locks obscuring his vision to reveal a diamond-shaped face of defined lines, bold eyebrows on a strong brow, high cheekbones, a hawk-like nose, and a weak jawline. He suddenly looks blank-eyed, uninterested and unremarkable, nothing to linger on for too long. No reason to stick around and watch something like that, just a typical disciplinary beating of some street rat. Still, that image of brief rebellion lingers in a few bystanders’ minds, causing them to glance back as the guards cart the man off and catch one last glimpse of the man with the now-dull eyes looking up at the sky with a wild grin. A discerning observer would note that both arms are completely limp, swinging with each coaxing shove from a guard.

Character Concept

Marian the mischief-maker would tell you that he’s down on his luck. While he has suffered some misfortunate, the vast majority of Marian’s troubles are self inflicted. He lacks the temperament to resist a challenge, whether it’s a code to decrypt, a locked safe to pick, or a head of hair to expose as a toupee. Marian cracks first and considers the consequences later.

He would tell you that all he wants is a cushy clerkship to support his mathematics hobby. He tells the truth, but he would omit the fact that he has held such a positions before and always lost them by snooping around trying to break his employers’ own codes. If a message came across his desk with an obvious cipher, then its decrypted contents deserved to be distributed all over the merchant’s ring. If you walk around with your coin-purse in a loose back pocket, then you’ve already given up ownership of your Mizas. When you inevitably catch Marian in the act and beat him silly, you only encourage him to improve his craft.

Chaos fostered within Rhysol’s dominion strengthens all competing parties. Marian considers himself an agent of nurturing disorder in his new profession, as a thief specializing in the interception of confidential encrypted information, such as trade secrets and blackmail documents. His specialty provides steady work so long as Ravok contains influential families and firms who covet their fellows’ power and wealth.

Still, a man who deals in encryption and theft would never show his hand for free. Underneath a cavalier exterior, Marian deals with substantial anxiety due to his dangerous profession and its effect of estranging his siblings. He bears the burdens of uncertainty and risk in order to pursue a private goal. Marian secretly disdains Ravok’s wealthy elite, because he believes unearned, hereditary wealth stagnates the social hierarchy. He hopes to master unscrupulous means with the goal of disrupting the city’s economic order.

Character History

Born and raised in a middling Ravok merchant family, Marian enjoyed a comfortable life during his early years. His father provided a steady income through managing imports of rare luxury goods from beyond Ravok’s shores. Rinnard focused his parental attentions on Marian’s older brother Bernard as the eldest son, grooming him to strike out on his own business ventures before eventually settling down to inherit the family estate. Similarly, Marian’s mother Serana spent most of her time with Marian’s half-sister Sirine, hoping she could marry a member of a powerful family to gain alliances for the Cephanse house.

Meanwhile, Marian was left largely to his own devices. Marian spent most time studying intensely, but also relieved stress by playing pranks to garner some attention from his parents. Ravokian society built a well defined path for young people in Marian’s social class. Those with a skill in combat or subterfuge were groomed for The Ebonstryfe or The Black Sun respectively, leaving the remainder to study finance and economics to become merchants like their parents. Marian showed little interest in financial games, preferring to spend his days studying mathematics and cryptography, which set him up for a lifetime of calculating actuarial tables and dipping quills as a clerk.

The one exception to his preordained path was when a family friend encouraged Marian’s parents to teach him personal magic, even arranging for Marian’s initiation and basic instruction in Projection at The Institute for Advanced Study. Marian approached the craft carefully, heeding the warnings of his teachers. He would close his eyes and imagine gently releasing his astral body from joint to extremities, shedding a body part slowly like a molting insect. When he felt that a limb suddenly lacked feeling and movement, he would gleefully manipulate nearby objects as if through telekinesis. Marian struggled beyond basic instruction, because his teachers pushed him toward learning combat maneuvers. Fearing the inherent vulnerability that came from detaching his astral body for offensive purposes, Marian preferred to practice the art for mischief. He spent considerable time pushing glasses off nearby tables into patrons’ laps. Nonetheless, Marian has not advanced far beyond these parlor tricks. His abilities are stunted by his reservations about pushing his astral body too far.

Lacking any particular skill in magic, combat, or business, Marian entered a clerkship for a Nitrozian merchant at age fifteen. The work involved mostly simple encryptions and calculations. Marian kept his days interesting by cracking other clerks’ ciphers and playing tricks on coworkers. A future devoid of events, adventure, hardship, and anything resembling discomfort seemed to await the young man, which elicited an intense fear of irrelevance from Marian that he suppressed by focusing ever more on his work. He feared that he would never make an impact on the world, but also feared the risks associated with following a more meaningful path in life. He languished between irrelevancy and uncertainty.

However, Marian was shaken out of his complacency at the age of 18. His comfortable life ended when, in the Spring of 512, a series of documents surfaced producing a series of scandalous claims against his family. The documents appeared to indicate that his family engaged in smuggling slaves about the city, disguising their appearances, surgically hiding slave brands, and finally reintegrating the slaves into the city as new immigrants. City officials claimed that an anonymous source broke into a safe in Rinnard Cephanse’s study to find the documents. Rinnard claimed that the released documents were forgeries based on legitimate business records found in the chest. The Black Sun found Marian’s father guilty of treason and sentenced him to hanging. Marian privately believed his father’s claim that he was framed, but Black Sun agents compelled Marian and his siblings to publicly denounce their father’s crimes, but the man’s wife defended him and was sentenced to share his fate.

Mere days before the execution, the 512 Djed Storm struck. Prison guards reported that a mist seeped straight out of the mortar in the cell walls, causing bizarre and mostly terrible magical phenomena to strike each prisoner. Witnesses among the surviving prison guards and inmates claim that the catastrophe showed the doomed husband and wife a merciful end. The lovers' bodies began to glow faintly, at which time they stood up tall and shed their chains, clothes, as well as any other physical attachment including the very sweat and dirt on their skin. The pair walked through multiple cell walls, transfixed in each others’ eyes despite the physical obstacles. Upon meeting, they embraced and burst into shimmering hailstones.

The same morning, Marian was sitting at his desk in an office above a Nitrozian textile factory. He hadn’t read a single page or checked a single calculation for the firm’s latest reports, lately overcome with grief and guilt as his parents’ days counted down ever more. After completing a fifth bell of staring at his desk, dully watching the paperwork pile up, he perceived a faint blue glow emerging from both the left and right margins of each sheet of an expense record penned by the firm’s chief merchant (and Marian’s employer). He blinked, but the glow only grew in intensity. Marian felt compelled to grab an empty tin inkwell and heat it over his candle’s flame. He firmly pressed it over the glowing patches, exposing a single word from the ancient tongue on the left margin and a mess of characters in the common alphabet on the right side. Marian immediately realized that the writer was an utter fool, trusting hidden ink to conceal the mistake of leaving key and cipher-text in the same place. This challenge gave Marian a brief respite from his rumination on the fall of his family, so he pursued it doggedly. He had never seen the cipher method before, but since he had the key he could simply try many variations of common ciphers by trial and error until one revealed the plaintext. The cipher was above his abilities, so the task took months, but he persisted hoping that the cryptographic exercise would lead to some poetic justice for his family. Ultimately, he found that each character in the ancient tongue key informed the shift-code for one character at a time in the cipher-text. Once each character of the key shifted one character of the ciphertext in order, the encryption cycled back to the first key character, meaning a key of “ROZA” or “17-14-25-0” gave a shift schedule of “ROZAROZARO…” or “17-14-25-0-17-25-14-0-17-14…”. Knowing the cipher allowed Marian to decrypt each hidden message and uncovered his firm’s leaderships’ embezzlement scheme.

Marian thought that he could reveal his employer’s crimes to the city guard or the Black Sun to counter his father’s fate. He left his evidence in an offering tray at The Temple of the Black Sun and prayed to Rhysol for justice. Unfortunately, the agents of chaos and discord saw fit to share this information with Marian’s employer, at which time the merchant framed Marian for the embezzlement. Subsequently, at trial, the judge informed Marian that he was “a traitor just like his father” and that “he would never find himself among polite society again”, before sentencing him to a year prison sentence and five years of hard labor on the lakeshore.

The institutionalized life introduced Marian to a life of crime. It was a common practice to try to steal from non-citizen visitors entering Ravok’s trading post, because non-citizens had no protections under the law. Marian became known in certain circles for his prodigious pickpocketing skills, decent lockpicking, and most importantly the ability to withstand a beating with a defiance in his eyes. He also took to trying to steal mercantile documents, hoping to snatch encrypted messages with novel ciphers that he had yet to encounter. In these ways, Marian managed to build a new life on the foundation of his strongest interests.

In the two years since his sentence ended, Marian has eked out a living by selling his larceny skills, particularly specializing in stealing sensitive documents. He occasionally sets up a particular con in which he encrypts merchants’ documents, then arranges to anonymously drop the key in exchange for a fee, but this strategy comes at considerable risk. Still, Marian feels deep resentment at the injustice of his past, which gives him the drive to push his skills, hoping to reach the point where he can change the world for the better. If “righteous” institutions can allow such evil to occur, then a man who embraces his clandestine practice can create good.


Language

Fluent Language: Common
Basic Language: Ancient Tongue

Skills

Skill EXP Total Proficiency
Cryptography 15 SP 15 Novice
Larceny 26 SP 26 Competent
Mathematics 15 RB 15 Novice
Projection 9 SP 9 Novice


Lores

Starting Package:
Lore of Ravok Layout
Lore of Religion, Rhysol

Possessions

1 Set of Clothing 
-Simple Shirt
-Simple Pants
-Simple Undergarments
-Simple Cloak or Coat
-Simple Boots
1 Waterskin
1 Backpack which contains:
-Comb (Wood)
-Brush (Wood)
-Soap
-Razor
-Balanced Rations (1 Week’s Worth)
-1 eating knife
-Flint & Steel 
100 Gold Mizas

Heirloom: Broken Lock, Average - Marian discovered this smashed lock on a safe in his father’s study, which contained a set of documents that lead to the downfall of his family estate.

Housing

Location: Ravok

House: An average sized, single room apartment with a bed, table, a couple chairs, wardrobe, and complimentary chamber pot.

Ledger

Purchase Cost Total
Starting +100 GM 100 GM


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Marian Cephanse
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Joined roleplay: October 13th, 2018, 4:23 pm
Race: Human
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