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Meet the Iconics: Imrijka

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Wails regularly echo through the eastern wing of Gravecharge, Pharasma's cathedral in the university city of Lepidstadt. Yet such aren't the breathless screams of the dead that so often ring through the corners of Ustalav, but rather the cries of life. Since its construction, Gravecharge has maintained a clean and well-supervised hospice for sick and orphaned youths. Just as the goddess Pharasma concerns herself with the transition of life to death, so does she cherish even the most tragic lives.

Imrijka came to Gravecharge in the arms of a city watchman, wrapped in a tattered uniform and held at arm's length. The guard claimed his patrol had found "the thing" during their dawn patrol to the Spiral Cromlech, a Kellid ruin overlooking the city that was notorious for ill fortune and mysterious disappearances—but never for mysterious appearances. Hearing a babe bawling amid the moon-bleached standing stones, the guards bold enough to investigate momentarily took her for some stray fiend-child and almost slew her amid the eerie ruins. Identifying her as a half-orc infant did little to stay the hands of those ready to mete out death, but the argument that matters of life and death should be left to Pharasma sheathed the blades of those not truly eager to spill a child's blood—regardless of the color of her skin.

Dubbed Imrijka after Gravecharge's first high priestess, Imrijka Castavelik, the pistachio-skinned girl was cleaned, clothed, and given a place among the cathedral's other orphans. At first she terrified those youths, being larger, stronger, and more vicious in her biting than some children double her age. But only for a time. The priestesses of Pharasma explained the mysteries of their goddess's will and the vastness and variety of her creations, teaching the children that they were blessed to have such a unique new sister. For a time, behind the cathedral's walls, that was even the truth.


Illstruation by Wayne Reynolds

When she was old enough to understand and be understood, Imrijka reported to the offices of Jarlos Teym, Gravecharge's high exorcist, for the first time. He asked her a great deal about her life, how she felt about her studies, the clergy, the other children, and if there was anything he could do to make things more comfortable for her. A shy girl, Imrijka declined. Subsequent discussions bent toward the future, Imrijka's dreams, her prayers, and her vision for a long life. Finally, though, after months of building a rapport with the girl, Teym asked about her past. But for Imrijka, life began with the cathedral, priestesses, and other orphans. Teym pressed, insisting on answers, even verifying them with magic. After one particularly intense interview, a confused Imrijka finally started asking her own questions: Why did it matter? Why did Teym care? Couldn't what she might be outweigh what she might have been?

Deeming her mature enough to know, Teym explained his tenacity: someone had come to adopt Imrijka. Thrice. Every Kuthona for the past 3 years. First came a man dressed like a count's footman, articulate and with more questions than answers. He left after raising the clergy's suspicions with his too-pointed inquiries about Imrijka. A year later he returned, this time with a human woman of vulpine beauty who claimed to be Imrijka's mother—though her apparent age made that only the barest possibility. It was Teym's own suspicions and skill at discerning lies that kept the strangers from Imrijka, and the unusual pair left with wordless detachment. Finally, only a few months past—days before Teym's first meeting with Imrijka—the two strangers returned, led by a man dressed in white and silver. The bold newcomer spoke as one used to being obeyed and demanded Imrijka be handed over to him. Teym personally denied him, insisting to know what right he had to the girl. A father's right, the man persisted. The high exorcist ordered them out of the cathedral in that instant, but before they obeyed the man in white smiled. "She's not like us," he said, eyes glimmering. "Excellent."

Despite Teym's explanation, Imrijka understood only that her parents had come for her and that the high exorcist had sent them away. She held back both questions and tears, nodding blankly until Teym excused her. But she didn't return to her room. Rather, she exited through the front doors of Gravecharge and out onto the snowy streets—where someone waited.

A man in white sat upon the icy benches of the nearby circle, slowly feeding bits of shredded meat to the crows. Seeing Imrijka enter the plaza through the flurry of sound-deadening snow, he rose and walked toward her. Wary, she approached. In his gloved hand appeared a strange token, a disk etched with barbaric symbols and a figure impaled upon a spear. She reached for it.

A merciless iron arrow shattered the man's hand, sending the strange icon spiraling into the snow. Teym stood across the circle, another arrow nocked in his bent hawthorn bow. Around him whipped the black-edged crimson of Pharasma's inquisitors, woven flames that engulfed any flakes the whirling wind blew against them. "Back, girl," he commanded in a voice Imrijka had never heard him use.

The man in white might have been carved of ice. He had never flinched. Though the icon was knocked away, a tangle of disjoined fingers and bloodless flesh-ribbons remained outstretched toward Imrijka. Her small tusks clattered against her teeth, but she didn't scream.

"Another time, dear," the man whispered, just for her. Then the snow whirled around him. For a moment he seemed to be one with the cold, a blizzard-born prince. Then he was gone, leaving Imrijka cold and frightened—but not alone. High Exorcist Teym's cloak around her was heavy, and warm, and smelled strongly of tobacco and dust—what Imrijka imagined a grandfather should smell like. It didn't smell anything like the man in white.

Until Imrijka reached maturity and was fully able to defend herself, she rarely left Gravecharge Cathedral. When finally she did, it was in the crimson and black of an initiate inquisitor of Pharasma's faith. Even after the retirement of High Exorcist Teym, she continued to serve the church and the man she'd adopted as her grandfather, assisting him in his more scholarly pursuits as a consultant on religious antiquities at the University of Lepidstadt. She's traveled much of Ustalav and beyond—guarded an expedition to the boney towers of Kalexcourt, spent a night in the haunted hotel known as House Beumhal, been shouted off the porch of retired monster hunter Ailson Kinder (but not before getting her copy of Hunter's Moon signed), and had numerous other adventures. She regularly returns to Gravecharge, where several of her childhood companions have grown into positions within the church's sphere of influence—including Brel Vhalsik, an argumentative Kellid theologian with whom she shares a complicated relationship. But increasingly her interests and Teym's research send her beyond Ustalav's borders, where she treads with her goddess's blessing, bringing judgment to all who would violate the laws of life and death. In her travels she's faced significant prejudice, but tales of Pharasma's "monster monster-hunter" and Imrijka's ever-present arsenal convince most bigots to keep their fool mouths firmly shut. Through it all, she's never seen the man in white again—at least, not with total confidence, as there have been far too many shadows and half-recognized faces to be sure. She recovered his strange gift on that snowy day and wears the disk openly, hoping that someone someday might recognize it and lead her to some hint of where she came from and who she was. But for now, the future holds far greater promises for Imrijka, and she strides into it boldly, confident in her faith, where she's going, and who she is.

F. Wesley Schneider
Editor-In-Chief

More Paizo Blog.
Tags: Half-Orcs Iconics Imrijka Inquisitors Meet the Iconics Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Wayne Reynolds
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Cheliax

1 person marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Campaign Setting, Companion, Modules, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Thank you!


6 people marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Card Game, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Coooooooooool. :) I know this is probably stretching it, but any chance we will see more of this story, "the man-in-white," told in the Pathfinder Comics?

Paizo Employee Editor-in-Chief

2 people marked this as a favorite.
Ravenmantle wrote:
Thank you!

LOL. Is that a tear I see in the corner of your eye Ravenmantle? :)

You are very welcome.

AND BEFORE ANYONE ASKS

Meet the Iconics: Balazar IS in the works. But he's from Nex. And in the same way that I had to do Imrijka's write-up because she's from my pet nation of Ustalav, Erik has signed up to pen the back story on our awesome gnome summoner since that guy's from Erik's domain of Nex.

So in short: Ask Erik.

Paizo Employee Editor-in-Chief

Fenris_Chosen wrote:
Coooooooooool. :) I know this is probably stretching it, but any chance we will see more of this story, "the man-in-white," told in the Pathfinder Comics?

As this story is now a whopping 28 minutes old, there's been no discussion about that so far. So currently, no plans. But hey, you never know!


"...send her beyond Ustalav's boarders..."

Also, just so I'm not "that guy", this is a super-cool story. I love a brooding Slavic/early wintry setting.


1 person marked this as a favorite.

Great backstory! Definitely in my top 3 for the iconics.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Wonderful.


2 people marked this as FAQ candidate. 1 person marked this as a favorite.

This article should be given the "Meet the Iconics" tag as well, so this page would include Imrijka :)

Paizo Employee Managing Art Director

2 people marked this as a favorite.

Oh goodie! My favorite!!

Osirion

4 people marked this as a favorite.

Very cool. I love the mysteries surrounding her birth and appearance, and the implications that she has some sort of destiny to fulfill (or defy!).

The complete absence of typical 'half-orc backstory' tropes is very welcome.


1 person marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Nice!

It would have been all too easy to just do another boring, "fights for a world that hates and fears her" story. This is better.


2 people marked this as a favorite.

Cool story. And now I want to learn more about Grandpappy Taym.


Are wrote:

This article should be given the "Meet the Iconics" tag as well, so this page would include Imrijka :)

Thanks for fixing this, to whoever did!

I was worried that Imrijka would feel lonely without the companionship of her peers :)


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Maps, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

What was it that came for Imrijka? A simulacrum of some kind?


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

A mystery.


This would make her an interesting person for my character Sotiria to meet.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Modules, Pawns, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Excellent story!

Osirion

That's Friggin' Awesome(tm)!!!
I love, Love, LOVE the Iconics series! The very minute I saw it (thanks to Morris at EN Word for tweeting it!) copied it into MS OneNote, where I have a building file that includes everything written about each of the iconics!

Schweet!!


Wes - this is one of the best few "iconic back stories". Well done ... you should be proud.

David
ESPN


Sweet my favorite Iconic gets her story :)

Silver Crusade

Awesome! Thanks, Wes!

I've been bugging Jacobs and Sutter relentlessly, here and in Sutter's case, on twitter.

Payday!

EDIT: Wow, that was worth the wait! So evocative, and so many questions to be answered. I'm still holding out hope for some Iconics Pathfinder Tales novels, or at least some appearances in the excellent Pathfinder comic.

Silver Crusade

Are wrote:

This article should be given the "Meet the Iconics" tag as well, so this page would include Imrijka :)

This is a good time to go back and re-read the lot of them. :)

Paizo Employee Editor-in-Chief

Andrew Eakett wrote:

"...send her beyond Ustalav's boarders..."

Also, just so I'm not "that guy", this is a super-cool story. I love a brooding Slavic/early wintry setting.

Ha! Good catch A.E., it looks like if there was a change made the website gnomes got to it before I even got here. In any case, thanks!

And yeah, I feel like we often forget about seasons in our game writing unless it's a factor of the plot. Northern Ustalav is well within that New England range of climates and they definitely get some blustery winters, so it seemed like it'd be fun to make that a thing.

Paizo Employee Editor-in-Chief

1 person marked this as a favorite.
Sarah Robinson wrote:
Oh goodie! My favorite!!

Take note all. This is what sarcasm looks like.

However, when Crystal gets on and says this, that will be honest.

Paizo Employee Editor-in-Chief

2 people marked this as a favorite.

Yay! Thanks to everyone for their kind words. We'll really try to make sure there's not an equal span between this one's release and the next one's!

Sczarni

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Hoo boy! Now to figure out how best to work her into my Carrion Crown campaign as an NPC...


Thank you so much for letting me know this was coming up! I enjoyed the read. Lots of interesting background. It's especially awesome since Inquisitors are one of my favorite classes like, ever.


Pathfinder Campaign Setting Subscriber
Trinite wrote:
Hoo boy! Now to figure out how best to work her into my Carrion Crown campaign as an NPC...

Heh, I'm using her in place of the "cleric of Abadar or Pharasma" suggested to keep on eye on magic usage in the court in Trial of the Beast.

Awesome backstory! Good to know that Ustalav's weather is similar to New England's, since I've been using last year's MA weather for my CC campaign.


Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Charter Superscriber; Pathfinder Comics Subscriber

Well done. Thanks Wes!


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

I think I've got a new favorite iconic. Thanks Wes!


I hate to be a negative Nellie, as this is well written, but the backstories are sounding too angsty to me. Must an iconic have a tragic childhood?

;-)

Silver Crusade

Pathfinder Comics Subscriber; Pathfinder Adventure Path, Tales Subscriber

Masterful. So glad to see this :-)

Paizo Employee Editor-in-Chief

1 person marked this as a favorite.
DrDeth wrote:

I hate to be a negative Nellie, as this is well written, but the backstories are sounding too angsty to me. Must an iconic have a tragic childhood?

;-)

Ha! Interesting. And here I thought I was writing something distinctly non-angsty. :P


5 people marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Maps, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

People with normal childhood upbringings traditionally don't become adventurers.


3 people marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
DrDeth wrote:

I hate to be a negative Nellie, as this is well written, but the backstories are sounding too angsty to me. Must an iconic have a tragic childhood?

;-)

Actually, what I like about it is that it's one of the least angsty backgrounds for a Half-Orc I've ever read. :)

Osirion

This has given me a little bit of info about the church of Pharasma in Lepidstadt - perfect timing for my Carrion Crown game!
Thanks!

Shadow Lodge

Balazar is the only remaining Iconic not yet with his own "Meet the Iconics" blog, correct?


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

It's been almost 8 hours and no sign of Mikaze. How peculiar.

Paizo Employee Editor-in-Chief

Kthulhu wrote:
Balazar is the only remaining Iconic not yet with his own "Meet the Iconics" blog, correct?

Indeed.

Qadira

5 people marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Comics Subscriber; Pathfinder Adventure Path, Companion, Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Cheapy wrote:
It's been almost 8 hours and no sign of Mikaze. How peculiar.

If we don't hear from him in the 24-48 hours we may need to send an ambulance to his residence. I suspect a semi-permanent state of Squee... ;P

Cheliax

2 people marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Campaign Setting, Companion, Modules, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

So now my hope for the Pathfinder Tales line is that we'll see a novel set in wintry Ustalav, written by F. Wesley Schneider, in the not too distant future. If a certain monster monster-hunter was to be the main protagonist, that wouldn't be a bad thing.


Finally :)


Well done.

Silver Crusade

6 people marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Modules Subscriber

WOO! Favorite iconic finally got the spotlight! :D

Awesome one too. Agreed'd with Set on loving the absense of the expected half-orc backstory elements. Really like that it combined half-orc difficulties in childhood while also not making it a relatively happy(ish) one, or at least not a miserable one.

Seriously, this was refreshingly angst-lite by the usual half-orc background standards, and it still has plenty of meaty troubling bits lurking in the corners.

This story also gave Pharasma and her church a much needed PR boost.

It's hard not to imagine Imrijka falling into the role of "protective big sister" eventually for a lot of the other kids at the orphanage. It sounds like she got into her share of scraps at least with the "bite" remarks.

There are a lot of named figures here too. Jarlos Teym and Brel Vhalsik* get more detailed than most of the "supporting cast" in the background of the other Meet The Iconics' IIRC. I think it might actually be unusual that they got full names, but I think a few others in the past got them too(Sajan's sister for example).

Quote:
High Exorcist Teym's cloak around her was heavy, and warm, and smelled strongly of tobacco and dust—what Imrijka imagined a grandfather should smell like.

Damn, that really got to me.

BUT NOW THIS RAISES EVEN MORE QUESTIONS D:

Where does this leave Imrijka's "mother" referred to in Crystal Frazier's Ask Imrijka thread? Wonder if there's a way to canon weld both of these takes on her...

The image on that disc makes me think of one historical NPC in particular and that doesn't bode well at all, but I could be way off base since I've related that NPC a bit too much with his real world counterpart.

Spoiler:
Kazavon/Vlad the Impaler

Still, he seems to have originated in Ustalav, and he might have been a big thing amongst some Kellid tribes before his name entered the history books. That each of those adoption attempts happened on the month of Kuthona has me even more convinced. But then there's the question of "why?" And why were they so pleased that she was so different? And why a half-orc?

Man, so many places this could go. :D

*Oh noes they're trying to sink the Veleros/Imrijka ship! ;)

Paizo Employee Editor-in-Chief

3 people marked this as a favorite.
Mikaze wrote:
Joyplosion!

Wow! Glad you dug it, man. Live to serve. ;)

Silver Crusade

2 people marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Modules Subscriber
F. Wesley Schneider wrote:
Mikaze wrote:
Joyplosion!
Wow! Glad you dug it, man. Live to serve. ;)

It's dug so much that I went too deep and now there are balrogs.

Seriously, the announcements and releases over the past couple of months have led to an incredible overflow of Feel Good. :D

Cheliax

2 people marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Campaign Setting, Companion, Modules, Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Mikaze wrote:
Seriously, the announcements and releases over the past couple of months have led to an incredible overflow of Feel Good. :D

I have to agree. While it's always been good to be a Paizo fanboy, it's really been ramped up to 100 (on a scale of 1-10) since PaizoCon with all the recent releases and the slew of awesome upcoming products. Especially 2013 is going to be a kick-ass year.

Silver Crusade

Ravenmantle wrote:
Mikaze wrote:
Seriously, the announcements and releases over the past couple of months have led to an incredible overflow of Feel Good. :D
I have to agree. While it's always been good to be a Paizo fanboy, it's really been ramped up to 100 (on a scale of 1-10) since PaizoCon with all the recent releases and the slew of awesome upcoming products. Especially 2013 is going to be a kick-ass year.

Exactly how I feel. Paizo is really entering a new golden age, it seems.


Awesome to see that Imrijka got her backstory finally.

Pathfinder definitely needs more Half-Orc love.


I always thought she was an inquisitor of Asmodeus, with the crimson/black robe and all.

What a bait-and-switch! Still scratching my head.

I'm with Mikaze--love that bit about Teym's cloak. Good job, Wes. Ustalav is definitely my favorite part of Golarion.

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