|Alias:||The Beast Out of the East|
|Gender:||Male (He/him, tributary)|
You’d do well to remember that, despite our best efforts, the world embellishes our… Ah… Competencies. But not Len’s. I can tell you now that whatever you’ve heard about him is true. Even the part about eating god.
Especially the part about eating god.
Content warnings: war, addiction, injury, and violence.
Len is Scaiuq’s thoroughly esteemed and thoroughly de-facto chief of defense, who led the resistance when the tyrant-god Motu marched on Scaiuq. He and his Sentinels share a common history as reformed criminals, and a grim, sardonic demeanor as the survivors of Asthaom’s only war. Len has since stepped down from office, but continues to spend much of his time counciling his fellows and guiding the Sentinels as a reconciliatory organization.
Len is better known by the name given to him in his youth: The Beast Out of the East.
In those days, he was a thief without equal. There was no man quicker, sharper, or more hated this side of the ocean black. Maybe if he had been content to steal hearts and rustle caribou, Scaiuq would not have stricken his name from history. But Len’s offenses rarely ended with theft. He harbored a terrible hunger in his heart, and showed profound cruelty to those who stood between him and what he wanted.
And Len was not content to covet the things of mortal men for very long. He soon turned his eye where none dared to—deep beneath the Scaiuq mountain range, and into the subterranean ruins of Sond. There, the god Sentin hid herself from the cruelty of the surface world, lost in a dreamless sleep.
It was the ultimate heist: steal the clothes off the back of a sleeping god. Only Len could have pulled off something so outrageous. And he did.
He became the first man to successfully navigate Sond’s treacherous labyrinths, the first to lay eyes on Sentin in a hundred years or more, and certainly the first to strip her naked and run off with her magic shawl. For the first time in his life, he might have been content to slip quietly into the night as the sole witness to his crimes.
But he didn’t. He was seen, and heard, and as it turns out, Sentin is a very light sleeper.
What follows is a “long and confused story,” in Len’s words. The god woke from her hundred-year trance and cursed the thief, pursuing him to the ends of the earth. The thief, having crossed every star in the sky, found no sanctuary in those he had wronged. He spent many nights running from a waking nightmare, shadowed always by Sentin’s watchful eye. With nowhere left to hide, Len fled one last time into the black woods.
It’s there he met a young woman, an ahuat with strange but kind eyes. She took him in when all others had turned him away.
Len spoke nothing of the curse to her. Passing the idle hours by the light of an oil lamp, he felt a peace that he had not known in many years. As he sat across from the woman, cutting the bones out of a fat, happy salmon, that peace began to feel like home.
He told her who he was, that night—the Beast Out of the East. The woman did not recognize the name. He recounted to her the many injuries that Sciauq suffered because of him. She simply shrugged, and told him that he had never done her wrong.
Len stayed with her for many months, at her behest. It’s difficult to say for sure when Len began to suspect that the ahuat was not the woman she said she was, but soon her mismatched eye became very familiar to him.
An unusually cool spring night arrived, not long after. The ahuat shivered by the dying light of the oil lamp. Len, just then arriving from a long day out on the steppe, took pause.
He shed the stolen shawl, and wrapped it around Sentin’s shoulders. That was that. He devoted himself to her as the first Sentinel, and the two have been inseparable ever since.
Nowadays, Len serves the newly rekindled Sond as council to its Tribunal. He has a finger in many pots, but his life’s joy is administering the city’s social servants, the Sentinels. Their ranks consist of ex-criminals, like him—from the pettiest thieves to the coldest killers. This is by design. The Sentinels follow in Len’s own footsteps, rehabilitating one another through a holistic program of social service, mutual aid, and cultural renewal. The program is so successful that it’s become an object of global curiosity, some calling it “the world’s most effective and compassionate criminal justice system.”
This doesn’t surprise him, really. He is the Beast Out of the East. If he can seek redemption, then anyone can.
A welcome firebrand in the house of god-kings. Len first met Roan when she and Sadren delivered a dire warning to him that he didn’t heed.
In those days, Scaiuq was a godless land of shadow and monsters to the rest of high Asthaom, long isolated by an enormous desert and a whisper network that concealed its true nature from prying eyes. Len had grown complacent, trusting that secrecy would protect them forever. When two foreigners arrived out of the West bearing an urgent message, he blew it off as hyperbole. Little did he know that war was on their heels.
Len owes Roan a debt of gratitude for this, but he isn’t beholden to the cult of personality that has grown up around her among the Akiat diaspora. Unlike most of her peers, Len holds Roan to the same standard that he holds everyone else. And then some. As an outsider, he can see past the layers of myth built up around the Akiat’s hero-gods. Roan is her own person, yes, but for better or worse she is also the product of a people fighting deep societal sickness. Renegades like her represent hope for the desperate… Much in the same way that Roan’s father, the tyrant-god Motu did.
Len and Roan are fast friends, united by a common interest in opposing Motu and healing the high Asthaom desert. But Len does not let her forget:
You are your father’s daughter.
Sentin, the Sentinels
Len is something like Sentin’s confidante, or right-hand man, or perhaps unlikely friend, or attendant, or one half of a platonic power couple, or…
Whatever word the historians settle on, Len and Sentin are extremely close. It was their relationship that founded the Sentinels, after all—the Exiled God hand-in-hand with the Beast Out of the East. They bring out the best in one another and in everyone around them.
Their secret is simple, really. Len knows what it’s like to be a moral junk drawer. Sentin knows what it means to be an exile, to be untouchable. Perhaps it’s no surprise that when Len offered to share what he had learned with his old accomplices, they took him up on it, and became some of the earliest Sentinels. Neither Len nor Sentin can promise forgiveness, redemption, or reconciliation, that’s not their place. But they can show the way to a better life.
Their devotion to each other and to their fellow Sentinels is powerful, often to the extreme. But with war at their doorstep, the Sentinels become the only ones standing between Scaiuq and the brink. Their dream of reconciliation is eclipsed by a bloody and terrible ultimatum.
Will it survive? Time will tell.
Sadren came to Len in a moment of crisis, and boy, Len could tell.
Newly excommunicated from Motu’s Lexarcs, Sadren and Roan fled West to warn everyone they could about the god’s plans to march on Scaiuq. But at this time, Sadren was coming down from the high of a broken relationship, the indoctrination of a fanatical cult, and physical addiction. Len laid one eye on Sadren and immediately saw himself in the man.
And not just from their shared experiences. They are both Sarikote, though Sadren was born and raised at Merike. Len recognizes a deep, internalized hatred in him; all this time he had been taught that Scaiuq is a land where gods abandon you, that the Sarikote are a godless people. But it belies a hidden yearning that he doesn’t have language for.
Len does, though, and he intends to tell Sadren all about it. The Sarikote hold their cousins in the diaspora as family, even if the Akiat don’t always remember this. And Sadren? Well, he might as well be Len’s brother from another mother.
By all rights, Len should hate General Dai.
He is Motu’s right-hand man and most esteemed general. He’s the rich heir to the Dai family and a notorious partyboy. If Sadren is to be believed—and Len thinks that he is—Hei is also one half of a deeply dysfunctional relationship.
But when they meet on the fields of war, Len recognizes Hei for what he is: A man that’s rotting from the inside out.
His whole world is collapsing around him, after all. He has been called to war in a foreign land, his lover has abandoned him, and he can feel himself slipping from Motu’s divine favor. He knows that what he’s doing is wrong—deeply wrong—and Len knows that he knows this. But the man hasn’t been given the opportunity to make a meaningful choice about it. Few are afforded such a luxury in the face of violence.
Still, Len gets the sense that something is going to break in him soon. Meaningful choice or no, Hei will have to decide where his heart truly lies.
When he makes his decision, Len will be watching.
- The symbols underneath Len's eyes are senuqe. He re-applies them each morning as a daily ritual, signaling to others that he is a man seeking reconciliation with his community.
- The pair of daggers are Sentin's, but Len carries them around most of the time.