The river Roan. What is there to say about her that hasn’t been said already? Did you know she once tried to burn the spines off a prickly pear tuna, and it stuck her full of needles? She could say she’ll lay Mother Mountain flat so that we might pass over it easier, and I would believe her wholeheartedly.
Content Warnings: War, violence.
Roan is a hero of myth to high Asthaom. She authored its river, circumvented its only war, and birthed magic into the world. The Akiat diaspora considers her a fragment, aspect, or even a reincarnation of their late Saint Lex, though Roan is ambivalent at best about this. She has withdrawn from history many times, but inevitably returns when something must be done and she must be the one to do it.
Ask most anyone in the high Asthaom desert and they will tell you that Roan is Saint Lex in the flesh.
One of the legendary wayfinders of the Akiat diaspora, Saint Lex helped guide her people home through the long desert. Tales of her exploits can be recited by heart—holding back 1,001 exiles with nothing but a broken hilt, learning the entire Sarikote language in a single night, recovering the absent North star, and so on. So beloved was she that the gods Koda and Motu took her as their adoptive daughter, and the diaspora exalted her as champion and saint.
Even in death Lex did the impossible for her community. When she died at sea,she blessed her body to Asthaom’s coast, and it became the only arable land in the desert. The Akiat fell to their knees at her grave. They had finally come home.
So when a woman comes crawling out of the ocean in the body of a god-saint, many years later, high Asthaom riots in celebration. Saint Lex has returned at last.
But the world that Roan wakes up into is full of wounds, and the relief in the diaspora’s eyes is clouded by decades of grief. High Asthaom is gripped with a thousand-year drought, and there is no water in this land to sustain them. Each day the gods bleed themselves dry to protect their people from a wrathful sea. In the gilded halls of the Temple there are even whispers of a war for water.
The diaspora looks to Roan for hope, but they quickly find that she is a poor substitute for Lex. Deadpan, restless, and ill-content to accept the way of things, Roan is anything but a saint… And as Koda and Motu struggle to reconcile the memory of their daughter with the strange woman inhabiting her body, the diaspora is left to reckon with their fate, alone.
Roan may not be the woman they want her to be, but she cannot turn her back on the suffering of the Akiat. She follows the ghost rivers West, carrying the hopes and dreams of uncountable thousands with her in her search for water.
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Koda & Motu
Roan’s godparents and god-parents. The gods Koda and Motu were beside themselves with joy when the sea returned their daughter to them, but Roan doesn’t retain anything from her “past life,” and this is perhaps inconvenient for their relationship.
Not that Roan minds, much—she has trouble making up her mind about Koda and Motu, and the feeling is mutual. The two of them are bereaved parents, and they struggle to understand why their daughter can’t seem to reconcile herself with the history she inherits. She was universally loved, a literal saint. They would shower her with love if she would only let them.
In fact, her hesitation has revealed something Roan cannot ignore. The gods’ love for their late daughter belies deep and painful wounds. Koda and Motu sacrifice much for the Akiat people, and for eachother… But there is something about the way they hold their tongue around Roan that she struggles to trust.
- Roan (the person) is considered synonymous with Roan (the river in high Asthaom.)
- Roan is associated with the late Saint Lex’s tools. In modern times, these are thought of as world-breaking implements that helped author Asthaom’s river and birth magic into the world.
- Roan’s face is forgotten to most of the world. It’s taboo to depict in art, and no photographs of her face are in public circulation, either. Roan herself generally respects this custom, but there are one or two selfies floating around in private albums, and she has been known to unmask in exceptional times.
- Roan’s mask is burnished bronze, with eye markings modeled after Koda’s tearstreaks. Before Roan began wearing it, this style of mask would have been considered cheap and nondescript.