Sakezo Marl, Chosen of the Infestation
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By White Shadows

Background: Once, Sakezo Marl was a famous doctor, a learned but humble man who spent his life wandering from village to village. His skill and compassion were spoken of up and down the East, and it was said no plague was beyond his wise mind and skilled hands. But that changed in a small village where he encountered a blight he had never heard of before – maggots that grew in the flesh of its people, spreading from one to another and eating them alive.
Sakezo fought the infestation with every trick and tool he had developed over the course of his life. But nothing worked – the maggots seemed to thrive in the face of his potions and treatments, even those that were strong enough to threaten the lives of their victims. Nor did any of his methods of quarantine stop the spread of the maggots. Little did the doctor know, his work had not gone unnoticed. Jzaloc Rehkurph, God of Parasites and one of the most alien gods in Heaven, was watching the situation closely, for it knew that the maggots were not one of the natural parasites of its domain. Rather, they were the million writhing bodies of the hekatonkhire known as The Rot That Devours Living Flesh, that had crawled out of the nearby Shadowland.
When he found himself showing signs of infestation, Sakezo retreated into forest, kneeling to beg Heaven for aid. He wept, not for his own imminent death, but for the other victims he had failed. Moved by his plea, and fearing what the unchecked hekatonkhire could do, Jzaloc Rehkruph added its own prayers – and was rewarded with a surge of Exigent power.
As Sakezo knelt in a forest clearing, a vast swarm of life emerged from the tree – worms, centipedes, wasps and beetles closed on him from all around. Before he could escape, they had plunged into his flesh, devouring the maggots – and they carried with them the power of Exaltation.
Disgusted by his strange transformation, Sakezo nevertheless did not hesitate to use his powers to seek out the main body of The Rot That Devours Living Flesh, a massive pillar of maggots that squirmed through the heart of the Shadowland. He fought and defeated it, driving it back into the Labyrinth and forcing it to withdraw its bodies from the villagers.
Since then, Sakezo has continued to wander and heal, but the ‘plagues’ he treats are more varied – his new abilities allow him to treat an unjust ruler, a group of brigands or a rampaging monster as decisively as he would a disease.
Jzaloc Rehkurph keeps a close eye on its new Chosen, manifesting by infesting nearby humans to speak with him. It wishes that Sakezo would learn to appreciate the gift he has been given, but for his part the doctor regards his Exaltation-infestation as a plague on his life – one he hopes one day to cure. This view was only reinforced when he discovered records of a prior Exigent created by Jzaloc Rehkurph in the First Age – one that devolved into a hideous monster, that was only destroyed at great cost. He has sworn he would rather die than allow his Exaltation to consume him.
Description: Sakezo is a beautiful man, with soft, almost effeminate features. Many are surprised someone so young can be so knowledgeable and accomplished. But when he uses his charms, the horror of the infestation is made obvious to observers, with parasites visibly moving under his skin. When his anima manifests at the ‘Glowing’ level, these creatures burst forth in a horrifying display. When his anima is at the ‘Burning’ level, he is surrounded by a sickly grey-green aura, and when it is at the ‘Blazing’ level, he is barely recognisable as human, becoming a walking mass of parasites.
Personality: Sakezo is a deeply compassionate man, who has devoted his life to helping others. He will go to great lengths to avoid killing another human, and tries not to use his charms around them, knowing the fear and disgust his magic evokes in others, and feeling the same way himself. He is, however, arrogant about his medical abilities, and will not back down from any challenge to them.

Attributes: Strength 3, Dexterity 4, Stamina 5, Charisma 3, Manipulation 3, Appearance 4, Intelligence 5, Wits 4, Perception 4.

Abilities: Archery 1, Athletics 3, Awareness 4, Brawl 4, Bureaucracy 2, Craft (Sewing) 2, Dodge 4, Integrity 3 (Ethical), Investigation 4, Larceny 3, Linguistics 3, Lore 4, Martial Arts 0, Medicine 5 (Parasites), Melee 0, Occult 3, Performance 2, Presence 3 (Intense), Resistance 5 (Disease), Ride 1, Sail 1, Socialise 2, Stealth 4, Survival 3, Thrown 3, War 0.

Merits: Fame 2, Familiar 1 (A giant centipede), Iron Stomach, Languages (Riverspeak, Forest-tongue), Natural Immunity.

Willpower: /6

Intimacies:
Defining: Principle: “I live to heal, not to harm.”; Principle: “Suffering should be cured.”, Tie: His Exaltation (Disgust)
Major: Tie: Jzaloc Rehkurph (Dread), Principle: “No malady is beyond my medical skills.”, Tie: His Patients (Loyalty)
Minor: Tie: His Familiar (Fear)

Essence: 2
Personal Motes: 10
Peripheral Motes: 39

Anima Powers
Sakezo’s Exaltation gives him an innate sense for the rhythms of life. By touching a living being, he instantly knows its health and condition, including any damage, disease or parasitic infestations it suffers from.
When Sakezo’s anima banner is at the ‘Glowing’ level or higher, he gains the Hideous Merit. In addition, any being that sees him in this state gains a Minor Intimacy of Horrified Disgust towards him. If they are his enemies, he may take a Reflexive Threaten action against them the first time in a Scene they see him in this state to make them flee.
The unnatural parasites of Sakezo’s body refuse to let him die, replacing his flesh at an alarming rate. He heals one level of Bashing damage every 10 minutes, and one level of lethal damage every hour. He will even regrow lost limbs – healing a Crippling Injury takes one day per level.

Charms
The Charms of the Chosen of the Infestation manifest as the various varieties of bizarre parasites that infest his body. Most of them are entirely unique, given new forms and powers by the magic of his Exaltation.
He can add a maximum of (Attribute) dice to a roll. If his Anima banner is at ‘Glowing’ level or higher, this increases to (Attribute + Essence). He has Excellencies for Strength, Dexterity, Stamina, Intelligence and Perception. He may also use an Excellency to increase his Appearance, however doing so changes his Appearance to ‘Hideous’ for the roll, if it was not already.

Offensive Charms:
• Bore Worms (5m, 1wp, Supplemental, Up to One Scene): As Sakezo touches a foe (typically with an Unarmed strike), he releases a group of red worms that bore into his enemy’s flesh. On each action the target takes, he must roll Stamina + Resistance at a difficulty of Sakezo’s Essence. On a failure, he loses 3 Initiative. If he is Crashed, he instead takes 2 dice of Lethal damage, ignoring Hardness. This has no effect on inorganic opponents. Walking corpses are especially vulnerable, and always count as Crashed. When Sakezo this charm ends, the worms die.
• Berserker Mites (4m/Round, Simple, Up to One Scene): When stimulated with the proper application of essence, these tiny mites release a potent alchemical concoction into Sakezo’s blood, filling him with aggression. While this Charm is active he gains a +2 bonus to all Physical Attributes, and increases his Initiative by 1 at the start of each round. He ends this Cham ends, he gains 2 dice of Limit.
• Talon Worms (4m, Reflexive, One Scene): The heads of these worms are sheathed in a razor-sharp layer of bone. When this charm is activated, they burst from Sakezo’s fingers and tongue, extending them into claw-tipped tentacles. These have the statistics of Light Artefact Weapons with the following Tags: Brawl, Grapple, Lethal, Natural, Reach.
• Lash-Leeches (4m, Supplemental, Instant, Decisive-only): These terrible creatures burst from Sakezo’s flesh, their sucking maws groping hungrily to find flesh to drain as he attacks. This adds 1 dice of damage to a Decisive attack, and each level of damage inflicted steals 2m from the target, transferring them his Essence pool. Using this Charm causes him to gain 1 dice of Limit.
• Knife-Wasps (6m, Simple, Instant, Withering-only): Sakezo vomits forth a cloud of these wasps to sink their over-sized stings into his enemies. This is an Unblockable Withering attack against a foe at up to Medium range with a dice pool of Dexterity + Brawl + 3 and a base Damage of Dexterity +5, with an Overwhelming value of 1.
Defensive Charms:
• Hardened Body Spiders x2 (Permanent): These creatures spin webbing throughout Sakezo’s flesh, reinforcing it against the blows of his enemies. Each purchase of this Charm grants one -0 Health Level, one -1 Health Level and one -2 Health Level.
• Iron-Shell Beetles (3m/level, Reflexive, One Scene): Sakezo forces these parasitic beetles to the surface of his skin and hardens their shells with essence, forming a suit of chitinous scale-mail for himself. This increases his Soak and Hardness by 1 point per 3 motes spent, up to a maximum of his Stamina in points, or Stamina + Essence if his anima is showing. When this charm ends, the beetles fall away from his skin, dead.
• Regenerator Bug (4m, Reflexive, Instant): This parasite works to rapidly knit flesh and bone, keeping its host alive. Sakezo may activate this Charm whenever he Crashes an opponent or Resets to Base Initiative. It heals one level of Bashing or Lethal damage he has suffered.
• Venom-Eater Millipedes (4m, 1wp, Reflexive, Indefinite): These creatures thrive on what other beings find poisonous, and eagerly burrow through Sakezo’s body to feast on new threats. He may activate this Charm when exposed to or suffering from poison or disease. The threat has no effect on him, but remains dormant in his body for as long as this Charm remains active. At any time, he may end this Charm to purge the toxin, or may inflict it on another being as a Supplemental effect costing 3m to enhance a touch or Unarmed attack, ending the Charm.
• Spine Bugs (4m, Reflexive, Instant, Decisive-only): These sharp-shelled beetles shed their carapaces explosively when exposed to air, sending razor shards flying at enemies who pierce Sakezo’s skin. Activating this charm in response to taking damage allows him to make an instant Decisive attack against the source of that damage, provided it is within Short range. This attack has a dice pool of Dexterity + Strength, does Strength dice of damage, and does not reset him to Base Initiative.
• Heartworm (10m, 1wp, Reflexive, Instant): Curled in his chest cavity is a creature Sakezo considers the parasite of last resort. He may activate this Charm reflexively when he takes enough damage to kill him. The Heartworm sustains his life, allowing him to heal his last health level in a day, provided his body is not destroyed. However, using this charm causes him to gain 10 dice of Limit.
Social Charms:
• Domination Worm (8m, 1wp, Supplemental, Indefinite): Of all his parasite-charms, this is the one he is most reluctant to use. It Supplements an attack or touch, releasing a tiny worm into the target. Once there, it swims through his blood and begins to grow, secreting chemicals to control the targets’ feelings or actions. Sakezo can mentally command the worm to push the target to act in certain ways. This costs 4m per action, and each use inflicts 1 dice of Limit on him. He may roll Strength + Appearance, against the target’s Resolve. A success acts as an Inspire or a Persuade action against the target. They are not consciously aware that they are being influenced. Sakezo can have no more than (Essence) individuals infested with Domination Worms. If he exceeds this limit, or undoes his essence commitment, the worm dies.
Miscellaneous Charms:
• Eye-Eater Larvae (4m, Reflexive, Scene): When he needs to see beyond the mundane, Sakezo allows these strange larvae to feast of the fluid in his eyes. The perceptive can see them moving in his pupils. While this Charm is active, he gains the ability to see dematerialised spirits, and can tell the Essence rating of any creature he looks upon.
• Community Symbiont (1+m, 1wp, Simple, Indefinite): These insects secrete a number of substances that serve to nourish other parasites. By touching another being, Sakezo can dispatch the Community Symbiont along with some of his other parasites to burrow harmlessly into their flesh. Once there, the target can use the charms of the parasites he has chosen to grant them. They have a pool of motes to do this equal to the number of motes he has committed to this Charm. Once this essence is expended, the parasites die. Users with an essence pool of their own cannot spend their own motes on the granted charms. Any Limit gains are applied to Sakezo.

Weapon Acc Dmg Def Ovw Tags Attack Parry
Punch +4 +10B +0 1 Grpl, Ntrl 12/8 4
Talon Worms +5 +13L +0 3 Grl, Ntrl,Rch 13/8 4
Throwing Knives +4/+3 +10L 1 Shrt Rng 7+Acc

Armour Soak Hard Pnlty Tags Total Soak
None 5

Evasion: 5
Join Battle: 8
Resolve: 4 (5 with Ethical speciality)
Guile: 3
Health: -0/-0/-0/-1/-1/-1/-1/-2/-2/-2/-2/-4/Incapacitated

Notes: Sakezo has no artefacts, but if he were to acquire one he would find he is Resonant only with artefacts made out of organic materials, preferably still living ones. He has a Neutral affinity for Jade and Moonsliver, and is Dissonant with all other artefacts.
In the event of Limit Break, Sakezo becomes controlled by his parasites, rather than the other way round. He acts in a wild, aggressive, feral manner for the rest of a Scene.

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