Mangham High School: Teens really are monsters
James ‘Achilles’ Gardner
Attributes:Intelligence 2, Wits 2, Resolve 3, Strength 2, Dexterity 3, Stamina 3, Presence 3, Manipulation 2, Composure 2
Skills: Academics 1, Medicine 1, Occult 1, Science 1, Athletics 4, Brawl 2, Drive 1, Stealth 1, Survival 1, Weaponry 2, Empathy 1, Intimidation 1, Persuasion 1, Socialize 2, Streetwise 1, Subterfuge 1
Specialties: Occult (Astral) Medicine (First Aid), Athletics (Running)
Merits: Shadow Name 2 (symbolism of bronze, Greece and arete), Hallow 2 (shared with knowbody, total 4), Fame 1 (track star), Mentor 1 (Inanna), Striking Looks 1, Astral Adept 3
Arcana: Mind 3, Space 2, Fate 1
Rotes: Goetic Summons (Mind 3, Socialize), Serendipity (Fate 1, Occult), Scrying (Space 2, Occult)
Praxis: Dream Reaching (Mind 2)
Dedicated Magical Tool: Bronze spearhead, usually wears it bound to the arm with a leather cord as a kind of bracelet.
Initiative Mod: 5
Short-Term: Decide whether I’m gay, straight or something else. Win the upcoming event.
Long-Term: Decide what I want to do with my life.
Obsessions: Who is the spear-carrier?
James is tall, and training has left him lean and wiry. He’s built for speed, not strength, although he’s not a twig either. His hair is short, dirty-blond and curly. He’s good-looking enough – no supermodel, but enough that in combination with his status as track-star he’s rarely lacking for company. He tends to wear t-shirts when he can and favours lighter colours, but since his Awakening, he’s taken to wearing a few bits and pieces of male jewellery, notably the spearhead that serves as his Dedicated Tool. Over the Christmas holidays, he caught a bus into Savannah and got himself a small tattoo of the word ‘κλέος’ (kleos) in Greek on his right arm.
In general, James is outgoing and dynamic, quick to anger and just as quick to laugh it off. He has a tendency to speak or act before thinking, which has got him in trouble more than once, but when he takes the time he’s generally polite and well-spoken – his parents wouldn’t allow anything less. James does have a habit of forgetting to factor in what others might want when he sets about doing something, and he can be hardheaded in the extreme, to the point that he’s sometimes unwilling to concede a point even when he’s proven wrong.
James’ astral form is similar in general form to his waking self – he has the same body shape, the same face and so on – but his skin is darker, a natural olive bronzed by sun as opposed to a white boy’s tan. His hair is longer, reaching down to his neck and shines a straw-gold. In the light it gleams in a way it shouldn’t, seeming almost liquid. There is a catlike fluidity to his movements, something predatory and graceful. His eyes are bright and sharp, a grey like pebbles washed by the sea and still gleaming with sunlight on wetness. He typically manifests in a Greek-style chiton, white with simple geometric designs around the edges. He wears it naturally, and it doesn’t come off like a costume. His dedicated magical tool manifests here as a full spear, as opposed to just a spearhead.
James’ Nimbus is a harsh one. Under its influence, excellence is reached through trial and glory through hard accomplishment – but it is hard, and those who can’t hack the pace fall behind, consumed by their own neuroses. Under James’ Immediate Nimbus he becomes the locus of a myth of legendary arete – but Achilles was a merciless killer, and some measure of this fearsomeness bleeds through from his Shadow Name (Nimbus Tilt: -1 to Composure).
The son of a civil servant and a vicar, James had something of a sheltered childhood. The household was Catholic but not oppressively so, they weren’t rich but neither were they poor. The grandparents lived in the next town over and the family went over to visit every month or so. All in all they were perfectly normal.
James hated it.
He was too afraid of his parents’ disappointment to really act out, but all throughout his childhood he looked for something else, something more than a quiet suburbia of golf courses and aging residents. When he was younger he spent as much time as he could outside, exploring the alleyways, the golf cart tracks and the copses that bordered the golf courses. His childhood was full of little adventures and imagined escapades. That all changed, though, when he discovered athletics. Shortly after his school moved up from just running around the field to proper sports, James found something he could really enjoy, something he could excel at, and something which could get him out of Mangham and into the big leagues. He loved the runner’s high and the rush more than enough to put the effort into the training and the conditioning. Even better, his dedication and talent for athletics made him popular enough that in his junior and sophomore years of high school he was rarely without a girlfriend or a gaggle of mates to laugh with. He went to more than his fair share of parties and if he came home a little tipsy every now and again his parents were more-or-less chill about it, only cautioning him to keep things in moderation and not to let his grades slip too far – they’d long since given up on getting him to concentrate on stuff he didn’t want to.
It was in the summer holidays between junior and sophomore year that things started to get strange. It started with feelings of niggling dissatisfaction with the way things were going. He was winning the local leagues, but what did that really matter in the grand scheme of things. James pushed himself harder, but even the brutal training regimes he set up for himself fell short of achieving what he wanted. Another place began to intrude upon his training ground – a maddening labyrinth, into which he was drawn by a voice both familiar and not. Philtatos, he was called. Beloved, said Google Translate. Beloved of whom? By whom? Demons crawled from the walls and out of impossible angles. He fought with fist and kick and was cast down. The next day, when the labyrinth melted out of the practise grounds, he found himself with a stone in hand. This time he was victorious and plunged deeper into the labyrinth. Again and again he fought and again and again he was cast down, only to return the next day with a new weapon. The voice called him on. He never found it, but he did find himself and he carved his name on the wall of a black iron coliseum with the point of a shining bronze spear given to him by an unseen hand. He left with a spearhead in his hand and a voice in his ear – Find me, beloved.
When he returned to himself, James was changed. He saw things that others didn’t and he couldn’t get the voice out of his mind. His dreams took a turn for the different and his girlfriend of three months left him after he said someone else’s name while they were making out – a name he can’t remember. A woman who called herself ‘Inanna’ introduced him to the basics of magery with a slide-bound infopack and contact details in case he needed to ask anything more, but he’s been left more or less to himself since then. He’s kept up his training and he’s still doing as well as ever in athletics, but he finds excuses to miss the parties and doesn’t hang around as long afterwards. He hasn’t found a new partner, because he’s found himself looking at the other boys on the team and can’t decide if he wouldn’t prefer a guy rather than a girl this time, even if he’s worried about what his parents might think and he himself isn’t sure what he is now, or what he wants. He still loves athletics, but the world of magic stretches out ahead of him, a fulfillment of more than a few of his childhood fantasies. On weekends he sometimes tries to plumb the depths of his own mind, trying to recover anything he might have missed, any clue as to the identity of the spear-bearer.
James has never found his Daimon, and not for want of trying. He hopes that it might offer him an answer – or help him come to one – for the questions he has. Little does he know that the Daimon tries to teach him every time he enters his Oneiros. It hides, and will not reveal itself to him unless he learns the magic to summon it out or until he brings someone else to try and help him. It tries to teach him that he must learn to consider others, because unless he does so he will forever be alone, and it knows that for all that he loves the triumph of coming out on top James has always felt an absence up there, as though there ought to be another. In short, until and unless James can convince someone to help him improve himself without coercion and out of their goodwill for him, he will not meet his Daimon.
James’ Daimon takes the appearance of a young man, a little older and a little taller than James’ astral form. Its skin is nut-brown and its hair a dark nest of curls. Its smile is bright and its eyes a warm mahogany-brown, but that doesn’t stop it from delivering words that bite to the core, or from manifesting a suit of magnificent gold-bronze armour and beating James into the dirt until he gets the message.