Zemir Solodan was born with a gift—but not everyone saw it that way at first.
The only son of miners on a remote planetoid called Pikora 317, tucked within the widest orbital ring of the gas giant Preluria in Near Space, Zemir spent his earliest days exposed to the harsh reality of life in a corporate labor colony. Determined to provide for their son, Zemir’s parents eked out their existence in the Freugan Salvage Company’s starmetal mines. The Solodans never went hungry, though the only delicacies young Zemir enjoyed were occasional tastes of citrus-chocolate pastries, sweet-milk custards, and savory meringues—gifts from the Freugan executives’ own ample stashes of treats imported from Absalom Station.
Even as a toddler, Zemir’s gaiety and thirst for new experiences were readily apparent. The vivacious boy quickly became known for his curiosity around the sparse facilities of the salvage company’s residential complex on Pikora 317. He developed many troublesome talents, such as sneaking into seemingly inaccessible places, turning neat collections of supplies into epic messes, and even finding ways to manipulate control panels into colorful, sparking displays. In fact, whenever a commonplace utility malfunctioned around the Solodan home, his parents joked that the “Zemir effect” had struck again.
Around Zemir’s fifth birthday, it seemed that the boy’s body began to betray him. Always known for eating anything with aplomb—especially new foods—Zemir seemed to sicken overnight. His appetite was as strong as always, but he gained weight, took on a sickly pallor, and grew weak. Despite his healthy diet and robust physical activity, testing indicated that the boy was dangerously malnourished. Even stranger, after every meal, Zemir’s breath smelled eerily similar to his favorite sweet treats, perhaps an indication of a dangerous blood disease, doctors speculated.
One by one, physicians ruled out all known ailments. Though his spirit never dampened, Zemir’s condition continued to deteriorate, even after his family sold most of their belongings to afford vitamin supplements, pediatric medicinals, and batteries of experimental medical tests. Desperate, and carrying news from the pediatricians that Zemir might eventually perish, his parents took to posting details of their son’s strange condition on every related infosphere portal they could find.
In just a few days, the Solodans’ pleas elicited a mysterious message from a Dr. Fainoro Corone, who said he suspected a rare and unexplainable diagnosis and requested to observe the boy in person. Dr. Corone’s long list of credentials indicated he was an expert in “exceptional pediatric conditions.” He hailed from a facility on far-off Arkanen, a Liavaran moon home to scientists, spellcasters, and—as Zemir’s parents believed—medical doctors.
With no other options, Zemir’s parents readily welcomed the quiet damaya lashunta doctor into their home. For a full day, Dr. Corone watched Zemir’s every move, focusing on the boy’s behavior at meal times. As Zemir slurped at his nutritional broth with surprising glee, Dr. Corone studied him closely. Slight mumbling accompanied his look of suspicion, as if the doctor communed with some internal eldritch knowledge.
On the second day, Dr. Corone attended breakfast at the Solodan house wearing a pair of thick, circuitry-etched bracers. Saying nothing, he watched Zemir’s father spoon broth into his pallid son’s mouth. Just before the gleeful boy swallowed, Dr. Corone’s demand rang out:
“Zemir, open your mouth now.”
The boy refused and downed the broth quickly. But at his mother’s command, he sheepishly opened his mouth. A thin film of custard clung to his baby teeth, and his breath smelled like sweet milk.
Dr. Corone pointed this out, and then gently instructed Zemir’s parents to continue feeding the boy. Saying nothing, he flipped a tiny switch on his bracers, which thrummed and glowed with a strange technological energy.
Immediately, Zemir’s eyes widened. His father fed him his broth, and when Zemir drank it, he made a disgusted face.
Dr. Corone nodded and explained: Zemir was not suffering from a physical ailment. The boy was instead, in the subtlest of ways, warping the fabric of reality to suit his childish preferences. For months, the boy had been turning all of his meals into nutritionally empty sweets. Similarly, the messes and mischief he had caused around the residential complex were the result of the boy’s ability to shift reality ever-so-slightly for his own amusement.
Zemir was a witchwarper—one who understands that the universe consists of infinite realities. What’s more, witchwarpers possess the innate ability to peer into those worlds, and to mix and manipulate them at will. Most witchwarpers’ abilities manifested in adulthood, Dr. Corone explained. But Zemir was special, powerful even for a child, and unlike anyone he had seen.
The doctor’s bracers—called reality stabilizers—dampened Zemir’s nascent and unstable abilities and would allow the boy to have a normal childhood. The lashunta was prepared to give the Solodans their own set of reality stabilizers, but with his “diagnosis” came another offer.
Dr. Corone wanted to bring Zemir back to Arkanen with him. There, he’d enroll the boy in the Institute for Extraordinary Minds, a facility that was effectively a school for young witchwarpers.
The witchwarpers at the institute—like Dr. Corone himself—could help Zemir learn control over his abilities, the doctor explained. Dr. Corone offered full tuition for Zemir and unrestricted visitation privileges for his family. Saddened but understanding the value of this offer, Zemir’s parents agreed.
For the next twelve years, Zemir was Dr. Corone’s protege. Zemir spent the time honing his ability to subtly manipulate his surroundings, growing more delighted each time he created a new sound, smell—and especially taste—that he’d never before experienced. He supplemented his training with an insatiable appetite for learning about far-away cuisine and cultures, dreaming of one day traveling throughout this reality and perhaps an infinite number of others. During this time, Zemir also learned of Eloritu, the god of magic and secrets, and came to view the infinite cosmos as a gift from this mysterious deity.
However, as passionate as Zemir became about his talents and studies, he also grew increasingly cocky and resentful of the reality stabilizers the instructors used to rein his more dangerous experiments.
Near Zemir’s eighteenth birthday, the young witchwarper began the early stages of his final thesis project: an ambitious attempt to create a minute-long rift into a reality adjacent to his own. The institute’s professors approved the project only under their strict supervision, requiring the placement of several stabilizing safeguards during all forms of research.
Zemir bristled at such restrictions. And so, under the cover of night, the brash and charismatic young man convinced three of his closest friends and fellow students to participate in a dry-run of his experiment. With no safeguards in place, Zemir used his substantial willpower to tear open a rift in reality. A primal scream rent his lips and a shock of his hair whitened under the great mental strain. Ecstatic, terrified, but trusting their brilliant friend, Zemir’s classmates stepped through the rift, which immediately winked out.
The human Alena Nidaro, the half-elf Tornil Lee, and the ysoki Smidge disappeared from this reality. Try as he might, Zemir could not reopen the rift nor could he find any trace of his friends.
Panicked, Zemir ran from his lab to the institute’s docking bay, where at least he could be alone and think. For a moment, he considered returning to confess his horrific error to Dr. Corone, but then he saw a midnight supply shuttle about to leave Arkanen for Absalom Station. And in that split second, Zemir decided the course of his own existence.
Posing as a worker, Zemir fled the Institute for Extraordinary Minds in the shuttle, and promptly lost himself in the crowds of Absalom Station. Convinced his friends were gone and he was to blame, Zemir wandered the station in a haze for weeks, performing minor tricks of warped reality for the credits he needed to survive. Eventually, Zemir sent a message to Dr. Corone to confess what he had done, then deactivated his institute communications account.
Despite the institute’s best efforts to track Zemir down and get some answers, Dr. Corone and his colleagues have always remained one step behind him. Although his wits returned, Zemir’s scars are far from healed. He now travels to all corners of this reality, as much seeking to earn a living using his strange magic and indulge his love of new experiences as he is running from a guilty conscience.
Growing ever more powerful daily, Zemir is a mysterious and joyful—if occasionally morose—companion to those who share his goals. He’s known for waxing eloquent about the tapestry of existence and the dangers that other realities hold. The wise would heed the witchwarper’s words, for Zemir has looked into infinite realities—and he’s vowed to never again lose another to the fray.