From Unofficial Handbook of the Virtue Universe
And the little Wild Thing said: "I want to have a soul to worship God, and to know the meaning of music, and to see the inner beauty of the marshlands and to imagine Paradise."
And the Oldest of the Wild Things said to it: "What have we to do with God? We are only Wild Things, and of the kith of the Elf-Folk."
But it only answered, "I want to have a soul."
Then the Oldest of the Wild Things said: "I have no soul to give you; but if you got a soul, one day you would have to die, and if you knew the meaning of music you would learn the meaning of sorrow, and it is better to be a Wild Thing and not to die."
- Lord Dunsany, "The Kith of the Elf-Folk"
Narah Zeman is many things. He is every part the witty sophisticate, able to quote Tacitus and Rochefoucauld, talk about the weather patterns of Meiji Japan, or discuss the finest way to taste wine, all while grinning toothily behind a bestial visage. Yet, if there's anything to be said about the Narah Zeman entity, it's that it's inconsistent. It forgets things, rewrites histories between sentences, renames people. He may tell a story, but include one glaring flaw. Even it's appearance is inconsistent - the people who know it best can attest that it regularly assumes other forms. Perhaps most distressing are the things it says; secret whispers hidden in witty banter about ending the world, about secret histories, and dire personal truths.
Appearance and Personality
An artist is someone who produces things that people don't need to have but that he, for some reason, thinks it would be a good idea to give them.
- Andy Warhol
The entity calling itself Narah Zeman (Or Zeman Narah, or any of the subdivisions thereof) has a relatively static appearance, vacillating between three favored forms. The first, and most commonly encountered in combat situations, is that of something resembling a classical demon - a humanoid biped with a hoofed, unguligrade stride (featuring an exceptionally short cannon bone, with fetlocks and pastern approaching a nearly human tarsal arrangement), well-muscled chiropteran wings (suspect magical aid - lift and drag forces would make actual physical flight unlikely at best), and hornlike, keratin-covered protrusions on his head. Roughly six foot eight, the figure is also covered in an large amount of cosmetic decorations. Its eyebrows, tongue, ears, and many other features all feature elaborately filigreed gold bar piercings, as well as golden tooth-caps on each of its many canine teeth. Each piercing and caps decoration is highly ornate, consisting of writing in well-known modern languages (particularly English and Slavic languages) and other, unrecognizeable tongues (he particularly seems to favor the Enochian tongue, see the Voynich Manuscript for more information). More mundane jewelry hangs from his neck, wrists, and "ankles", as a kings ransom in gold necklaces, rings, and bangles dangle from his limbs. His skin, as well, is covered in an elaborate pattern of what appear to be tattoos composed of very thin golden plates - again, magic is suspected in its creation, though we cannot confirm the presence or absence of arcane energies without further studies.
The second most commonly encountered body of the Narah Zeman entity is a far cry from the first - that of an aged human male, anywhere from seventy to ninety years old. He sports a long, unkempt beard, is balding, and has darkly tanned skin - whether this is due to his ancestry or his lifestyle is unclear. Roughly six feet tall and severely malnourished (a Doctor Ambrose, recently seeing Narah at the Brickstown Free Clinic, reported that he weighs less than one hundred pounds), his eyes are often cloudy and near-white, practically useless for many common tasks, and his records at local free clinics have detailed a history of severe rheumatoid arthritis, cataracts, back pain, and a recurring case of an inflamed throat. Often seen panhandling on the street, this form has displayed no unusual or metahuman abilities, save for sharing the same name as the Narah Zeman entity.
The third and final commonly documented form is that of a young human male in good physical and mental shape. Again, darkly skinned, the figure identifies itself as Narah Zeman, the founder and CEO of Chateau Faux, a small, high-end advertising agency. Similar to his first form, he enjoys a wide array of gold accoutrement - he sports a single gold tooth, a pierced eyebrow, a tongue-stud, and a single gold band around the base of each of his fingers. He claims to have immigrated to the United States to live with relatives, when he established the basic network of contacts and associates he enjoys today. This story would be easier to confirm if it did not hinge on several unverifiable factors - primarily that this manifestation of Narah Zeman is of the Romany people, that is, gypsies. He claims to be a Giogorgio, that is, a Half Gypsy. Upon investigating his citizenship, however, a number of patrons were willing to step forward and testify on his behalf, including a member of the previous administrations presidential cabinet.
Do I laugh now, or wait 'til it gets funny?
- Walter Neff, Double Indemnity
There is a problem with categorizing the history of the Narah Zeman entity, primarily in that he appears to be an inveterate liar. While some might categorize his memories as schizophrenic, a more accurate term might be to simply think of him as no less than three completely distinct individuals who, aside from sharing the same name, have next to nothing in common with each other. Thusly, his personal history is suitably fractured. The only available documents (Barring apocryphal references to entities matching his more demonic form) pertain to his guise as a young man.
First and foremost, the most documented account available simply states that he immigrated to the United States from the Czech Republic in 1990 illegally, at the age of 8. His family stayed on the move until their untimely demise five years later, when he was taken into a series of boarding homes as an illegal orphan, only finding adoption at the residence of NAME REDACTED until the age of 18, and his naturalization papers became complete. He attended Carnegie Mellon University, majoring in both English and Theater, and then attended Columbia University for a graduate degree in Law. He then used funds provided by the estate of NAME REDACTED to start the little-known Chateau Faux International Advertising Agency, tailoring his needs to provide a slim but consistent annual profit.
This history is seemingly out of place, but all of the records are accurate and present, with appropriate timestamps. He appears in alumni registers of both colleges, though few individuals actually recall his presence. MAGI suspects the implementation of a major fate-altering arcana at work, though can find little evidence of this being the case - the Narah Zeman entity is known for a sense of subtlety, and there's no reason an excessive (Or illegal) use of magic would be required for these events to take place.
What others have determined
How dreary to be somebody
How public like a frog
To tell one's name the livelong day
To an admiring bog - Emily Dickinson
Narah Zeman is an accomplished liar, and at best maintains a firtatious relationship with the truth. Still, his stories all revolve around him being trapped in the present, and missing the vast majority of his powers.
He also maintains what can be best described as a friendly rivalry with the Midnighter organization. Why he bears the group amicable hostility is, like so much about him, unknown, but he is often seen perusing their archives, searching for records of... something.
Some things can be gleaned from his behavior. He is often mourning the loss of a loved one, typically a wife, though on occasion, a favored courtesan, son or daughter, or beloved battle-friend.
Observations and Behavior
Elves are wonderful. They provoke wonder.
Elves are marvellous. They cause marvels.
Elves are fantastic. They create fantasies.
Elves are glamorous. They project glamour.
Elves are enchanting. They weave enchantment.
Elves are terrific. They beget terror.
The thing about words is that meanings can twist just like a snake, and if you want to find snakes look for them behind words that have changed their meaning.
No one ever said elves are nice.
Elves are bad.
- Terry Pratchett, Lords and Ladies
During a brief period of observation, researchers began to notice patterns emerging in the stories Narah told about himself - that, despite being an eccentric billionaire, a demon-possessed robot, and a pyrokinetic teenager, all three identities had blue eyes, and would not enter a room without first stamping their right foot three times. A week later, all of his identities were blond, and loudly complained of losing their mothers at an early age. Further, his stories all revolve around having set up some kind of deal personally with Statesman himself. The hero could not recall such a meeting from ever occurring. It is not known what the significance of these recurring traits are, though it is theorized that they are a sort of coded message. While Azuria herself has noted an interest in devoting further study to Narah Zeman's behavioral patterns, MAGI lacks sufficient manpower to do so.
Some habits, however are consistently present no matter the identity. First, the entity called Narah Zeman seems unable or unwilling to be perceived as "low" or "common" in a social sense. He may appear to be an emaciated elderly man in second-hand clothing, when he reveals that he is a deposed king, hiding in this foreign land after invaders overthrew the royal family. Note that this concept applies also to those who possess some superior mental facilities, as well, and that the knowledge is not always uniform. When he assumes the form of a scientist, in other words, he seems to spontaneously forget his knowledge of magic. Secondly, Narah Zeman has an overwhelming fondness for gold. Much as some fey are repelled by cold iron, so does Narah seem to be attracted by gold - in his favorite form (see archival photo) he bears a number of body piercings and tattoos, apparently crafted of the metal. It is unsure if this is simply a personal affectation, or shifting aspect that he's retained. Finally, his identities are uniformly male, though their personalities run the gamut of gender roles.
Update - After the events of December, 2008, Narah Zeman's identity seems to be reaching a greater sense of cohesion. Regularly seen in the same form and exhibiting the same characteristics for days on end, it's theorized that Narah's form has become solid and stable to accomplish a singular task.
Often seen in Pocket D, he's had dealings with a number of other beings, most recently the elemental Zaerek, though the exact terms of their understanding remain private.
Powers and Abilities
Men are so simple and so much inclined to obey immediate needs that a deceiver will never lack victims for his deceptions.
The powers assigned to the Narah Zeman entity are difficult to observe, due in no small part that it appears to be loathe to use them in most of its human forms. What has been observable through captured films have involved fire, and lots of it - the entity appears to use it to both harm and incapacitate its foes, while using it to heal and reinforce its allies. Stranger still are a small force of barely sentient fire imps that obey Narah Zeman's will, beings which he appears to conjure out of nothing at all in order to harry his foes. The sheer range of his pyromantic skills is quite wide - it's theorized that if he really wants a fire to do something, he needs only express his intentions someway, and the conflagration will react.
Most commonly, however, he speaks of having no powers at all, save for a potentially vast recollection of information both commonplace and arcane. Indeed, to all but a few specific kinds of divination, he seems to be nothing more than what he appears to be at any given moment - his presence may be predicted by the sometimes-presence of seven mockingbirds in strange or unexpected places, and an object constructed out of iron will grow unusually warm in his presence.
MAGI, in cooperation with the Legacy Chain, is slowly conducting research regarding the Narah Zeman entity, in the hopes of puzzling out the true nature of this hero. The following documents include images, texts, and even some songs that are suspected or known to relate to the subject.
"Jinni: Singular of Jinn (Genii), being created of fire. The species of Jinn is said to have been created some thousands of years before Adam. According to a tradition from the Prophet, this species consists of five orders or classes; namely, Jann (who are the least powerful of all), Jinn, Sheytans (or Devils), Efrits, and Marids. The last, it is added, are the most powerful; and the Jann are transformed Jinn; like as certain apes and swine were transformed into men. The terms Jinn and Jann, however, are generally used indiscriminately, as named of the whole species (including the other orders above mentions), whether good or bad; the former term is the more common. "Sheytan" is commonly used to signify any evil Jinn. An Efrit is a powerful evil Jinni: a Marid, an evil Jinni of the most powerful class. The Jinn (but generally speaking, evil ones) are called by the Persians Divs; the most powerful evil Jinn, Narahs (which signifies "males," though they are said to be males and females); the good Jinn, Peris, though this term is commonly applied to females."
-Stories from the Thousand and One Nights, Volume 16 of the Harvard Classics, 1937 edition.
The bells of hell go ting-a-ling-a-ling
For you but not for me:
And the little devils how they sing-a-ling-a-ling
For you but not for me.
O death, where is thy sting-a-ling-a-ling,
O Grave, thy victor-ee?
The bells of hell go ting-a-ling-a-ling,
For you but not for me.
-The Bells of Hell, unknown author, 1945
"(He) claimed to admire the city's powerful gangs for the thrilling casual potency of their violence and tag artists for their transient encrypted graffiti; when he praised the earthquakes for their majesty and the landslides for their reproof to human vanity; when with no apparent irony he celebrated the junk food of America and waxed lyrical about the new banality of diet cola; when he admired the strip malls for their neon and the chain stores for their ubiquity; when he declined to criticize the produce on sale in the farmer's markets, the visually delightful apples that tasted like cotton puffs, the bananas made of pulped paper, the odorless flowers, calling them symbols of the inevitable triumph of illusion over reality that was the single most obvious truth about the history of the human race..." - Salman Rushdie, Shalimar the Clown
Music, Art, and the Rest
"Fondu au Noir" by Coeur de Pirate
"'Men have forgotten this truth," said the fox. "But you must not forget it. You become responsible, forever, for what you have tamed.'" - Antoine de Saint Exupéry, The Little Prince
January 14, 2002
Object #: GE-006
Object Class: Euclid
Special Containment Procedures: Subject GE-006 is to be contained in a specialized room, roughly 6 meters in length, height, and width. Floors, walls, and ceilings must contain a thin latticework of iron netting embedded within their construction, and GE-006 is not to come into contact with any iron ore. Room is to be warded by no less than three lesser keys of Solomon, modified as per ███████████ specialized hermetic modifications. Room is to be furnished with 1 oriental carpet, 1 bed, 1 desk, 1 bookshelf, 1 halogen lamp. Subject is allowed to request 3 copies of any book in MAGI library of security clearance 1 or lower per week. GE-006 is to be exposed to a single class D subject once per week for up to an hour's time. Class D subject is then to be terminated, according to protocols. A fire extinguisher is required to be within ten feet of subject's cell at all times.
Subject is to be observed at all times via electronic observation - magical divinations have proven unreliable, and personal observation dangerous. One guard of security clearance 2 is to watch GE-006 at all times. Communication between guard and GE-006 is forbidden. Guards are required to have at least eight hours of sleep before being placed on duty. Rosicrucian purification ritual of the Lote Tree is to be invoked should conversation or sleep occur. GE-006 is allowed to communicate with a specially trained and prepared Legacy Chain handler up to two hours per day, and is allowed to submit requests at this time. Handler is to be replaced every lunar cycle. Handlers and Guards are to undergo routine psychological evaluation. Any abnormalities reported require immediate replacement of Handler or Guard, and reprimands to GE-006.
Description: GE-006 is a humanoid being of variable appearance. Frequently appears as a young man in high quality clothing, exhibits good manners and unfailing politeness. The subject has also been observed as the following:
- Old man, emaciated, large beard. Conversed with handler for two hours - handler proceeded to let the old man out of cell (see incident GE-006-45b report). GE-006 was later recovered at Brickstown soup kitchen.
- Blue skinned humanoid with several animalistic features. Classic "demonic" appearance. Threatened guard,threatened handler. Cell was suffering structural damage from subject's thrashing, until requests for several books were fulfilled. Calmed considerably.
- A large bonfire. Guard on duty, upon observing the subject, was unable to look away or speak. Guard collapsed three hours later, rushed to hospital. Suffered no physiological damage, but exhibits severe memory loss and signs of psychopathy - they attempted to mutilate three civilians during an escape from the hospital. Restoration rituals and therapy have proven mostly ineffective. GE-006 (in the guise of a young man) later apologized profusely, complaining of being too hungry to resist.
Changes in appearance occur quickly. Observers report a momentary confusion during these shifts. Subject is to never be exposed to an outside source of fire, as these seem only to agitate it.
Subject shows fluency in over two dozen languages and dialects thereof, and appears to be more than happy to converse with any member of the staff. They are warned not the humor subject.
Addendum #1: Subject is required to be under constant observation. During failure of facility ███████████ reactors (see incident report MAGI-024-03 )during a period of time in ███████████ of 2003, cameras observing GE-006 shorted out, and guard was called away. Subject reacted violently, causing extreme damage to cell, managing to crack cement flooring down to the iron mesh, which slowed it's progress. Upon return of observations, subject had assumed demonic form, and demanded to "Speak to whoever is in charge."
Addendum #2: Those with security clearance 4 or above may refer to document GE-006-011.
Document GE-006-011: Audio recording of Handler with Subject.
(GE-006 is in human form)
Handler █████████: So how are you adapting to the facility?
GE-006: Decently. I'm looking forward to getting out, truth be known.
Handler █████████: And how are you going to go about doing that?
GE-006: Oh, you know me, █████████. I've got friends in high place.
Handler █████████: Who would these friends be?
GE-006: No idea. I doubt they know it yet, either. It's hard to explain, of course. What country are we in again?
Handler █████████: The United States.
GE-006: Ah, right, right, I forgot. Anyway, yes - I should be out in a while. Do you want to meet for lunch when we're both out of here? I know this great place over in Founders' Falls.
Handler █████████: You mean █████████'s?
GE-006: Yes, that's the one. Best Polish food in the city, isn't it? Hidden culinary treasure? You took your husband there on your second date, right? I wonder if he knows what you do for a living... I wonder how he'd react. I would never tell him, of course, you know how dull he is.
Handler █████████: I think we're through for the day. I'll see you tomorrow, GE-006.
GE-006: Please, call me Narah.
Addendum #3: Note from the previous Secretary of █████████████.
It's come to my attention that you have in your facility a Mr. Narah Zeman. Mr. Zeman is a close friend of mine and of the current administration. We hope that your organization is able to see to his hasty release into the hands of Hero Corps. We have already contacted Alexis Cole, and she is most eager to oversee the release of Mr. Zeman personally.
We greatly appreciate your cooperation in this matter.
(Wherein other people, and Narah himself, are allowed to say things)
"Is Narah an Empath?" "I always thought he was a sociopath."
Behind the Mask
"Inside my heart is breaking, My make-up may be flaking, But my smile, still, stays on."
He walks out onto the bare stage where there is an audience.
He loathes them as much as they loathe him the real things half-slumbering through the banal deserts of reality pretending to know what they know but not knowing it's unfair unfair that one of them could do this to him put the jagged shard of glass in his heart that they would be able to take it she with the obsidian eyes and the laughter like thunder, when her feet touched the ground the earth wept tears of lapis and jade for want of her her? yes her. He knew the names and forbidden hymns of Nishkriya, knew Mokadi the god-blugeon, Aardra who drenches the wild of the world in blood, and Tejeprahba the sun-slaying missile he knew profane dances and subtle jokes and she of all people she who should scorn and hate him for what he was, a mirror showing the weakness and flaws in reality? She had the nerve to love him of all things! She she SHE put this shard in his heart, this hook that drags him roughshod over all of creation and it's banality and it's basilisk gaze and it's medusa televisions all annihilating him but still he loved her back and then she died and could not come back and then what? For this he was outcast, rejected by his own lands as an abomination, a poison, cursed with what was real he stopped he ceased he was no longer a lord of the outer madness a wild prince a raging monster because of her whose name was a killing word to his people. Still the shard works deeper and deeper and deeper into his heart, bleeding out his heart his flame who he is, and over the dull years spent conversing with dull, limited people, he waited. Years dragged by and wore him smooth and he rebuilt! because he was who he was, and he would not be taken lightly, for he was hobgoblin and panjandrum and pleasure toy and heartless child and fair folk and nightmare brood and more besides.
For love of one of creation's bastards, he insulted all of his kind, and an insult to his kind cannot be countenanced. Revenge. Rache. Venganza. Vengeance. Vendetta. Реванш. 復仇. Revenge!
Then he found her. Not the one, not whose shard still kills him from inside, but their child, the akshata offering of his to her divinity. She who was false and real and had his looks about him but also hers. Daughter? Yes, daughter, born of two worlds that could not compromise. He found her and clutched her close and kept her safe because now he is also father and seeing her realize who she is was a balm and a promise. The other things, the other real things, dull gods and empty spirits, they promise her things they want to make her who she halfway is, like her mother, make her a goddess of dark eyes and baleful promises and unrivalled beauty but he cannot he cannot. His people are dying and fading because of the real things, starving on flaccid dreams and no. He will show her the gossamer wonders of his kind, show her the delights of creation-born emotion, and teach her that when death next appears she need merely dance away and say no, because death is a thing of this world, and they are not of this world, and so what have they to do with death?
No. She will be the next great one, the next queen of the unsubtle hordes that will storm the hated iron gates of creation. She will lead the tides of chaos beneath a crimson banner, the countless armies of dreams need only someone to lead them. Her. Fear of death will shake them and beautiful promises will tempt them and the world will be swallowed back up and things will be right again. The stage is set and his props are moving into place, his fellow actors are all wearing their graceful, wicked masks. The music starts.
The show must go on.