Other Names: The Silver Prince (innumerable false identities in Skullstone’s bureaucracy)
Neverborn Patron: Perfected Principle of Consumption
Potentiall the most dangerous of all the Deathlords, as so few realize how dangerous he is. Pragmatic and patient, he has pursued his personal schemes for annihilation almost since the Contagion’s failure.
The Bodhisattva estimated that destroying Creation would take him just under 1,200 years. His patron, the Perfected Principle of Consumption, raged at this delay, but the Deathlord persuaded it that only patience and cunning could succeed where brutality had failed.
To the Bodhisattva’s great surprise and pleasure, the Scarlet Empress recent disappearance, shaved 500 years off his timetable. He now believes he can conquer and destroy all Creation within a decade, depending on how the Realm Civil War plays out and whether his incompetent rivals get in his way. And then, he can destroy it in another 10 years.
Like the Bishop of the Chalcedony Thurible, the Bodhisattva relies on religion to pursue Oblivion’s goals.
Unlike the Bishop however, the Bodhisattva lacks any true religious feeling.
His state religion, the New Order philosophy, is a complete fabrication - calculated only to win the loyalty of the people of Skullstone Archipelago, lull the people of the surrounding territories into a false sense of security, and hide his secret plan to build a huge necrotech fleet which will conquer the West and drag the whole region into the Underworld.
The New Order philosophy postulates "all who die within the Skullstone shadowland return as ghosts. Due to his munificence, the vast majority of Skullstone souls proceed directly into reincarnation".
Only a few “righteous dead” voluntarily stay behind as ghosts to help maintain their society’s continuity. Skullstone society venerates these righteous dead, who form the backbone of the nation’s extensive (and pervasive) bureaucracy. Modern Skullstone also incorporates necromancy and zombie labor into nearly every aspect of its culture and industry.
In truth, none of Skullstone’s deceased ever reincarnate.
Except for a fraction of ghosts (about 1 in 9 whom the Bodhisattva deems indispensable), all of Skullstone’s ghosts are magically dragged to a hidden base on "Island 5" where they become soulsteel to meet the Bodhisattva’s ever-burgeoning needs - a fact the Deathlord rigorously conceals from his people and most of his Abyssal servants.
The Bodhisattva makes great use of his natural shapeshifting powers. Indeed, most of his subjects know him only as the Silver Prince and do not realize he is literally the same person as the semi-mythical Bodhisattva who founded the Skullstone nation 680 years ago (RY 8).
As the Bodhisattva, the Deathlord appeared as a traveling mendicant in simple robes, aged but full of fire and passion. In that form, he predicted his future return as “a prince clad in silver.”
Today, the Silver Prince is a towering figure in robes of silver cloth layered in razor-edged soulsteel shards, each of which whimpers softly with his every motion. His pale dead face remains handsome by the standards of Skullfolk, most of whom appreciate the beauty of a well-preserved corpse. He usually wears an ornate opal death-mask on ceremonial occasions.
During the long interregnum between the Bodhisattva’s 150-year reign and the coming of the Silver Prince (RY 530), the Deathlord wore the faces of countless influential Skullfolk whose lives he stole in the process of molding society from the shadows.
THE BODHISATTVA’S DOMAIN
The Bodhisattva’s principle base of operations is Ebon Skull, an enormous manse-palace carved into the side of Mount Vashti, an extinct volcano on the archipelago’s largest island. After the Skullfolk carved Ebon Skull by hard labor, the Deathlord imbued it with sorcery to grant it greater power. Onyx, Skullstone’s capital, grew up around Ebon Skull.
The Bodhisattva also directed the construction of manses across Skullstone. Today, most of his territory’s demesnes are capped - their manses either turned to the Deathlord’s purposes, or loaned out to his deathknights and other servants.
Skullstone consists of five islands.
- The largest, Darkmist, forms the political and cultural center of the nation, with Onyx as the capital. The people of Darkmist are born, live, and die in a society where the living and the dead interact at least nominally as equals - where zombies and skeletons perform most unskilled manual labor.
- Three of the other islands - reyshores, Seagate and Cormorant - all are inhabited and loyal to the Silver Prince’s authority, but not completely engulfed by the local shadowland. Most Skullfolk are nationalistic, relatively well educated and completely loyal to the New Order.
The Silver Prince oversees every aspect of their daily routine—from education to employment to entertainment—and surrounds them with magical loyalty inspiring propaganda.
- The last island in the archipelago has no name except Island Five. The result of a spatial anomaly produced in the near-collapse of Creation during the Fair Folk Invasion, Island Five technically should NOT exist! The Sidereal Exalted would have erased it had it not landed in the periphery of the Skullstone shadowland. No one dwells on Island Five except nephwracks and a few ghost slaves bent to the Deathlord’s will. These ghosts and their zombie slaves craft the Silver Prince’s modernized fleet of artifact, soul-steel ships.
THE BODHISATTVA’S PANOPLY
As Lord of Skullstone, the Silver Prince commands a substantial portion of Creation’s necromancers and necrosurgeons. The zombies at his disposal number in the hundreds of thousands. His secret base on Island Five provides him with inexhaustible supplies of soulsteel. When his Black Fleet becomes fully operational (in about two years, by his estimation), he will have the equivalent of 100 First Age light warships armed with necrotic Essence weapons.
Personally, the Bodhisattva’s robes grant the defenses of soulsteel superheavy plate but with no Mobility or Fatigue penalties. His grand daiklave, Howler in Darkness, has the unusual property of appearing as a ceremonial short sword while sheathed, then expanding to its full size when drawn. It has the traits of a standard grand daiklave . Anyone struck by the blade who survives may be forced to obey the Silver Prince for the next 100 days.
The Bodhisattva chiefly relies on social prowess to defeat his enemies. However, if forced to fight, he is a skilled swordsman having mastered the Violet Bier of Sorrows Style.
Finally, while not the most puissant sorcerer among the Deathlords, he is a Void Circle necromancer and a Celestial Circle sorcerer. He avoids using spells openly, however, to preserve his image as a benignly strict administrator instead of a supernatural tyrant.
SERVANTS OF THE BODHISATTVA
The Silver Prince typically places Dusk Caste Abyssals in the Skullstone Navy. However, since the entire economy of his nation depends on necromancy, necrosurgery and other occult disciplines, the Bodhisattva prizes his Daybreak Abyssals. Day Caste Abyssals have a part to play as well, as Skullstone’s invasive government includes a very active secret police.
Moonshadow Abyssals serve the Bodhisattva as trade emissaries, diplomats and naval officers. Recently, an Abyssal circle loyal to Skullstone and led by a Moonshadow successfully bound a storm mother against attacking Skullstone ships, and the Bodhisattva seems eager to put the power of Moonshadow oath-binding to further use.
The Bodhisattva has little use for the Midnight Caste - he fears their natural fervor might lead them to see through the deception behind the New Order philosophy. Any Midnights likely function as missionaries on the outer islands and diplomats to foreign territories.
Above all else, the Bodhisattva demands loyalty. All the Bodhisattva’s plans hinge on the society he built in Skullstone, the mighty anchor destined to drag all Creation down into the Void. He cannot, WILL not, jeopardize that asset by granting Exaltation to someone from outside Skullstone or even a citizen of less-than perfect devotion to her nation.
That is, he will never do so again...
- One of his first deathknights was a Solar Exalt whom he captured and thrust into a Monstrance of Celestial Portion. His mind broken, his soul raped into submission, the former Solar swore loyalty to the Neverborn and emerged as the Fallen Wolf of the Cutting Sea. The Bodhisattva soon realized, however, that Fallen Wolf was not as broken as he could have been and banished his unruly servant. Fallen Wolf now wanders the West, tormented by a guilty conscience as much as his Abyssal Resonance and the damnable Whispers of the Neverborn.
- The ruthless Ebon Siaka became the Deathlord’s most trusted lieutenant and the Admiral of the Black Fleet. Tales say she was a Tya before her Exaltation. Today she invariably dresses in soulsteel plate adorned with the colors of Skullstone. She also carries a gigantic stone hammer with the traits of a grand goremaul. She uses it to destroy entire ships with one blow.
- The Knight of Ghosts and Shadows did not begin as one of the Bodhisattva’s servants. The Day Caste Abyssal arrived in Onyx six months ago as a refugee from the court of the Lover Clad in the Raiment of Tears - disgusted by his mistress’s licentiousness and abandoned her court. After years of wandering, tales of the Prince’s audacity and charisma led him to Skullstone. Since then, the Knight has served the Bodhisattva faithfully. Lately, however, the Knight worries about strange alterations to his body: crinkling skin, graying hair, a growing numbness in his hands. Concerned his condition comes from some curse from the Lover, he has petitioned the Bodhisattva for advanced training in necromancy in hopes of combating whatever ails him.
- The Bodhisattva does not rely exclusively on his Abyssal servants. He recently (and tentatively) forced a young Sidereal Exalt into his service after the Bodhisattva forced her to stare into the Mouth of Oblivion. She now calls herself Unfolding Corpse-White Lotus, though continues to use her former identity as the Green Lady when spying on the Bodhisattva’s rival Deathlords, Mask of Winters and Walker in Darkness. She has a third identity as well, posing as the elderly male Sidereal Ten Thousand Virtues, servant and supplicant of the Bishop of the Chalcedony Thurible. It amuses the Silver Prince endlessly to hear her tales of how she pits the Mask of Winters and the Walker against each other, not to mention the fatuous Bishop’s inability even to detect the true gender of the spy in his councils.
- Finally Captain Moray Darktide is a Dawn Caste Solar Exalt. For some baffling reason, the Unconquered Sun chose to Exalt a Skullstone privateer locked in combat with a group of Lintha pirates. Moray Darktide now finds himself uneasily caught between his newfound status as a Lawgiver and his lifelong patriotism and belief in the New Order philosophy. The Bodhisattva keeps Darktide far away from Skullstone much of the time, lest the Solar discover Island Five and turn irrevocably against the Deathlord. The Bodhisattva does not realize that by sending Darktide so far away from home so often, he has allowed his pet Solar to be discovered by Fallen Wolf of the Cutting Sea.
In an Abyssal series centered on the Bodhisattva, the characters are most likely citizens of Skullstone with varying degrees of patriotism. If the characters discover Island Five, they may be appalled (if they somehow retained their basic humanity) or delighted (if they listen to the whispers of the Perfected Principle of Consumption).