"No! Don't come near me. I-I'd kill you!"
Hatched in the clan during the introduction of nocturnes to Sornieth, Kaigan was always a little off. Most nocturnes, the clan learnt, mimicked those around them in order to learn how to survive, and consequently picked up habits and skills related to those that raised them. Kaigan, in a very Arcane fashion, seemed to know what he wanted and how he was going to get there straight from the egg.
The experiments started as soon as he was old enough to fly and retrieve his own toys, as the rest of the then-small clan referred to them. It started with sticks and stones, the young nocturne bashing them down into something barely recognisable as what they had once been, and then attempting to mesh all his ‘ingredients’ together to create something new. Sometimes, to the other dragons, it looked like what he’d attempted had worked, but Kaigan was never satisfied, throwing away failure after failure with increasing disgust.
Then, Sornieth discovered alchemy, and Kaigan could not have been faster in hunting down the old pearlcatcher responsible and discovering how, exactly, a combination of magic and science worked to reduce a component to its basic material, and then how a different combination of magic and science worked to create new things from those basic materials. Now armed with notes and a starter-kit, Kaigan returned to the lair and claimed a cave for research.
It didn’t take him long to get the hang of it. Very soon after his return home he had isolated the most common components, and some rarer ones, and was creating small things that the clan received with a variety of reactions. The creatures were largely unwelcome, queer unnatural things that didn’t obey the way the world worked like they were expected to, but other, less animate creations quickly found favour.
But an Arcane dragon’s thirst for knowledge is not quenched so easily. Common components were, by their nature, easy to come across, but Kaigan wanted more. He had heard stories about other, rarer components, and in his hunt for them found a small bird that had wandered carelessly into his cave. That was the first time he deposited a living creature into his cauldron, and far from the last. A living creature, it transpired, melted down into components he’d never heard of before, and in his desire for more of the same, and to find even more, he began to hunt down helpless living things and throw them in.
To begin with, he had some qualms about it. Living things were living things, after all. They had a life of their own, and he was cutting it short in the pursuit of knowledge. He convinced himself it was for a good cause and continued. Time passed, and with each life he ended Kaigan became further and further removed from the emotions connecting him to the loss of life, until eventually he no longer cared. A potential ingredient was a potential ingredient.
By this time, he had three young daughters, all of whom were fascinated by watching their father work. He didn’t recall who their mother was - some tryst in between experiments, who had left the trio of eggs behind and left as soon as she was satisfied. It wasn’t important, anyway. But Kaigan loved his three daughters dearly. Ever eager to please, they’d bring him more creatures to melt down, and although they were only small and could catch little more than insects, he treasured their eagerness to help.
He should have sent them far away. Perhaps then he would never have made the greatest mistake of his life; one that he would never be able to atone for.
Apathy towards life is a dangerous thing, even more so when it reaches the heights of not differentiating between lifeforms. By the time he realised the squeals from the cauldron were not cries for mercy or an animal incapable of speech screaming its fear, but rather calls for father, it was too late to save them.
He tried, reaching in as far as he could into the volatile liquid designed to render living tissue into nonbeing, but all succeeded in doing was retrieving a single skull. The last of the flesh bubbled away in his ruined hands, the flash of fast-fading colour identifying it as once being his youngest. Of the three young nocturnes eager to please their father, this was all that remained.
Kaigan grieved deeply, hating himself, but could not tear himself away from the exhilaration of alchemy. He attempted to move back to inanimate objects, but all too often he would realise too late that yet another living creature had become his victim. Two more skulls, both of birds he’d planned on releasing yet killed instead, joined his collection. Realising that he would forever be a danger, especially to those he loved, he barred himself in the cave, refusing entry to anyone and everyone. From then on, it was a lonely existence, but one preferable to killing anyone else he loved.
Kaigan is so apathetic towards life that it’s reached the point where he fears himself. Attempting to change his ways in response to his deep grief has left him isolated and lonely but simultaneously pleased because it means he can’t hurt anyone anymore. Any attempt to make contact with him is greeted with loud and frantic refusal, as he winds himself into a giant fluster of terror.
Role Within The Clan
Kaigan is the clan’s alchemist and creates things on demand as required. Even without the rare compounds produced by reducing living creatures, he is still highly skilled and can make almost anything requested of him. While most of his work is personal projects, he is always willing to create things for the clan, as long as no-one comes near him and leaves their requests at the entrance of the cave, where a ward has been rigged to alert him if one is placed. Likewise, he leaves all finished products in the same place. Presumably, the rest of the clan check regularly, or have a similar alarm set up, as they’re always collected before the next time he looks.
Scales plastered with gold as a result of his early experiments, Kaigan is an impressive dragon to behold, if ever seen in the daylight. His forelimbs, all but gone save a few bones and scraps of surviving flesh after his attempt to save his daughters, are encased in rusty old prosthetic limbs, made for him by Taki and Itadaki. They keep trying to give him ones that won’t rust, as those were only ever supposed to be a temporary measure, but he won’t let them close enough. Around his neck is a necklace with three skulls hanging from it. His daughter’s skull is central, with the two birds flanking her on either side. He wears them in an attempt to remind himself of the sanctity of life. Armour plating is fitted to his chest, hiding further damage from his failed rescue and protecting his body from further damage.
Although alchemy is arguably as much a science as it is magic, it nonetheless makes Kaigan a formidable user. The wards around his cave are of his own creation.
Kaigan is stronger than he looks. Whilst his limbs are severely weakened by themselves, the prosthetics and armour he wears are actually stronger than his physical body, leaving him capable of overpowering others if required.
One of the two dragons that came crawling out of his cauldron, Jinko treats Kaigan like a father. Kaigan grew far less afraid of this after discovering that those from the cauldron could not be killed in the cauldron, and that accidentally throwing Jinko in simply gives them a refreshing bath.
The second of the two dragons that came crawling out of his cauldron, Tekina is a little more independent but still firmly refuses to leave their 'father' for any real length of time. They are often the main point of contact with the rest of the clan for him.
- Kaigan (海岸) is Japanese for coast