Prized pupil of Devaedra herself, Xenobia emerged from the maelstrom with her mind, her pride, and her ambition intact. The physical changes...those were merely the price of power, Xenobia mused, and perhaps they could even be appreciated in time.
- Power has its price, alright. You or I might pay that price through endless training and the risks of the battlefield. I bet House Tesserus literally pays for power with actual gold coins. But House Devaedra's price for power... now that I've seen it, I'd rather march a hundred miles or face a thousand foes. They call it ‘rift-sign’, after the great Rift near Devaedra's tower. Exposure to the Rift transforms you physically mentally even spiritually if you believe in that stuff. Rift-sign renders some mages hideous and others merely strange in appearance. Xenobia though... her rift-sign is... an otherworldly beauty. I know what you're thinking – Tentacles, you wouldn't understand unless you've seen it up close. There's a fascination... I couldn't look away. The way she moved – it was like spirals orbiting each other. It was all wrong and all perfect. Look, I hate Xenobia for what she did to us. And I don't know why she let me go. But, I see those undulating, spiraling tentacles whenever I close my eyes.
- Xenobia says she’ll accept an apprentice who can answer her eight questions. Answer one wrong, and you’re instantly dismissed. We are nothing, if not clever, though, and we’ve reconstructed the correct answers to some of the questions.
- Question 1: Who deserves power?
Anyone who can grasp it.
- Question 2: How does one grasp power?
Answer 1: By transforming the self, or answer 2: by casting out what is weak. Xenobia has accepted both these answers from would-be apprentices.
- Question 3: What two things transform the self?
Power, and the striving for it.
- Question 4: What use is emotion?
Answer: To reveal the flaws in others.
- Question 5: What limits the power one can grasp?
We don’t have an answer to this one yet. We know the answer isn’t ‘nothing’ and it isn’t ‘weakness within the self’.
- Dear Broken Spoke,
Xenobia herself isn’t telling us anything, and she’s treated our agents with particular cruelty. The details are rather vivid and best illustrated—not written. Those within the House say that Xenobia is one of Devaedra’s favorites, but I’m not sure Devaedra has ‘favorites’ in any sense of the word we’d understand. And if Xenobia is a ‘favorite’, that doesn’t explain why so many of House Devaedra’s other mages are such bitter rivals, nor why she works against the House as often as she works for it. It’s more than petty noble squabbling at play here. Gedran, Devaedra’s closest advisor, loathes Xenobia. Something deeper is going on. Devaedra hasn’t left her tower in centuries, though she makes her presence known through magic simulacra. Perhaps we could use our particular techniques to learn more about Xenobia from a Devaedra simulacrum.
— The Wave Chicane
From Xenobia herself:
- Dearest Larissa,
This will be my last letter to you for a long time, and it’ll be the first and last time I write about my family. When the Empire came to the Westmarch lowlands, some fled to the hills in pointless rebellion. Others accepted the inevitable and became loyal citizens. My father, ever the compromiser, surrendered to the Empire, but kept its power at arms-length. He knew our heritage. He knew Devaedra’s blood ran through mother’s veins. Yet his pride, and mother’s fear, kept him mired in provincial politics as a petty lord. Each year, father made another political bargain, another compromise, and our holdings diminished. Once, they feared our name, but now they shrug as if they’ve never heard it. Father and mother came to me – another compromise. Would I wed the child of a neighbor lordling? Our family would have joint-ownership of prime grazing land. I am worth far more than half of a pasture, father. So, I depart for the Rift, Larissa. I depart for my true heritage. I depart for Devaedra.
- Gaze of Envy: None who follow Devaedra into the maelstrom emerge completely intact. The successes retain a semblance of their previous form. Not so the failures.
- Words of Spite: “Words are the deadliest poison of all, for the victims repeat them and thus spread the toxin.” – Xenobia
- Wave of Sorrow: When brought into the maelstrom, Xenobia remembered her family's fate: the poverty, the violence, the mourning. Never again, she swore.
- Mark of Despair: “I don't want you to fail,” Xenobia said. “I want to you dwell on the fact that you're about to fail.”
- Cursed Soul: “Why do our wounds matter if our rivals have so much life to give?” – Xenobia
- See also in: