Motivation: None. Previously, it was “To defend the Realm from its enemies,” but Arada has abandoned that goal and is searching for some new purpose for his life.
Anima Banner: A bitterly cold wind accompanied by a patina of ice that spreads across the ground at his feet.
The childhood of Tepet Arada, the most decorated Dynastic military leader alive, both belied and predicted his future success. The scion of a particularly martial branch of the House Tepet, Arada began flirting with what could only be called juvenile delinquency at an early age. Long before his own Exaltation, Arada displayed the capriciousness and unpredictable anger common to those of his aspect, and his parents, despairing over his lack of self-discipline, consigned him to the Palace of the Tamed Storm. Even that did not improve his disposition at first—Arada’s Exaltation came while he was in the process of beating a rival bully to death. Only two factors broke through Arada’s shell of willful disobedience. One was guilt over the murder he had blindly committed while in the throes of Exaltation. The other was his eventual realization that even becoming a Dragon-Blooded would not save him from dying at the Palace of the Tamed Storm if he continued on his self-destructive path.
If anything, Exaltation only made his death there more likely, for part of the Palace’s mandate was the culling of those Exalted children so undisciplined and uncontrollable that they were judged unworthy of Exaltation itself.
After leaving the Palace, Tepet entered military service, quickly rising through the officer corps. He might have risen even faster save for his ambivalence about his own family. House Tepet has always been known for the brutal manner in which it pits its children against one another in order to drive them to excellence, but Arada invariably saw through his elders’ games and chafed against them. More than once did he leave both military service and the Blessed Isle itself to spend a few decades as a fur trader in the North or as an explorer in the Far East or simply as a wandering adventurer, and each time, the Tepet elders gritted their teeth at his temerity and selfishness. Invariably, though, Arada would return to the legions, seemingly better for his time away.
In RY 585, Tepet Arada achieved his greatest fame in battle against the legendary Jochim, the most feared Anathema known to the Scarlet Empire before the coming of the Bull of the North. The conflict lasted for nearly a decade, and the Anathema’s army was only brought down by Arada’s brilliant use of fast-group tactics. Ultimately, Arada faced Jochim in personal combat and killed him, before bearing his head back to the Blessed Isle in victory. For this feat, Tepet Arada was named the Wind Dancer, an honorific he still carries.
With his reputation and skill, it was inevitable that Tepet Arada would be tasked with slaying the Bull of the North, so, with some trepidation, Arada accepted a position as general of the Third Legion, charged with fighting against the icewalker armies. It would become the greatest failure of his long life. The Tepet legions were weakened from the beginning by infighting as the Empress seemed to deliberately assign all of the command positions to members of House Tepet who were known to hate each other. Mass unit coordination within the Third Legion was weak, and the Tepets could not come together to crush the Anathema’s forces. Then, the Empress disappeared even as the Bull was joined by additional Anathema, some of whom knew forbidden sorcery against which the Dragon-Blooded had no defense.
Tepet Arada could only watch in dismay as the other Great Houses withdrew their own forces back to the Blessed Isle, even as the Bull stepped up his attacks, now bolstered by Second Circle demons and terrifying sorcery. Then came the Battle of Futile Blood and the decimation of the entire Tepet military apparatus. Tepet Arada managed the retreat as best he could and then returned home. Once there, he resigned his commission, washed his hands of Dynastic politics and, somewhat improbably given his temperament, withdrew to an isolated manse to become a hermit. His withdrawal from society is due not just to the scope of his personal defeat but also due to his belief that the Battle of Futile Blood was unnecessary—Arada has concluded that the Empress and the Deliberative actively conspired to destroy House Tepet because they feared its military might. While this is paranoia on his part, it is also probably true.
Tepet Arada has spent the last three years in seclusion but is now finally prepared to end his hermitage. News has come to the Wind Dancer: whispers of rebellion and civil war, and always with the name of Tepet Ejava, his favorite granddaughter, whispered loudest of all. Arada has not yet decided whether his beloved Roseblack is fit to take the Scarlet Throne or whether she must be brought low before her planned coup shatters what is left of the Empire. He hopes to come to some decision on that matter before he meets her soon.