Thousand Gods, Thousand Graves
Imperial scribe turned haunted swordsman.
Shao is a little taller than the average Zhenjian, and still scribe-thin, although five years in the Thousand Isles have hardened him somewhat. He typically wears the humble clothing of a caretaker, and his long hair is usually loose. His fingers are often stained with ink. Shao now carries the battered sword of an Imperial guardsman; although the blade is of no particular pedigree or quality, it is rarely far from his side. A light scar runs just left of his sternum, though he usually keeps it concealed.
Calligrapher Shao lives humbly, feeds poetry to his bound ghost partner, performs funeral rites for fallen enemies, and is fussy about the quality of tea.
Imperial Scribe of the Gray Wing, Fourth Degree +5: When Shao Jenlian showed great scholarly promise as a child, his family sold him to the Imperial Library, where the ranks of scribes became his new clan. He excelled there, earning a place in the prestigious Gray Wing dedicated to rare works detailing arcana, death rites, necromancy, and the afterlives. As fine a scholar and scribe as Shao was, though, he was always a step behind his partner Minh. Brilliant, friendly, teasing, and loyal, Minh soon became the most important person in Shao’s life.
Ghost-Bound +3: During the sack of the Imperial Library, Shao, Minh, and Minh’s father Kun hurriedly worked to save as much of the Gray Wing as they could. Horror struck when a Badohan commander found the scribes. The commander sent an arrow through Minh’s heart, piercing Shao’s breast as well and mingling the blood of both scholars. Shao fled with Minh’s body, but feared her lower ghost would linger on, hungry and lost. In the chaos of the sack, he performed a ritual from the Gray Wing’s archives that would bind her ghost to his own until such time as she could find rest. Now her lower ghost lies quiescent within Shao… most of the time. He does not know how much of her intellect remains, for she doesn’t speak — but sometimes he can feel her watching. She is still protective, and she can grow angry.
Guardian of the Isle of Graves +2: Since the flight to the Thousand Isles, Shao has gradually learned to use his magical knowledge and the power Minh lends him to become an arcane swordsman. He has learned many of the practical necessities required of a swordman in his duty to protect the resting place of the displaced ancestors. He earns coin by making paper and inkstones, or composing proper letters; this profession, combined with his oddly artistic sword style, has given him the popular name of “Calligrapher Shao.”
Pilgrim of Burial Sites +2: Shao is wary of upsetting the ghosts of the Thousand Isles. Over the last two years, he has visited friendly or neutral indigenous tribes and learned the ways they honor their dead. He has seen more of the Isles than one might expect from a humble scribe, even if his focus is somewhat morbid.