Cursed and Overweight Female Halfling Sohei Monk
Has a dog Buddha-nature?
This is the most serious question of all.
If you say yes or no,
You lose your own Buddha-nature.
-Zen Koan, The Gateless Gate
Tomoe was (is?) a slave of Kōreishi no Aojiroi, a rich, mysterious, powerful, and influential Tian-Min (assumed) necromancer. Her name, which she was given by her hermit master in the woods of Kyojin Mountain Range (specifically, Mount Kosaka), is Tien for “Howling”. She was born in the slave quarters of Kōreishi no Aojiroi’s manor in the heart of Kasai, Minkai, on the continent of Tian Xia.
Tomoe takes herself and her vows very seriously. She sees the rules she has chosen to live by as a method of controlling her own actions, after being a slave for much of her life, but isn’t sure how to make the theory and nebulous ideas into a real, personal reality for herself. She is a monk who has seen others living in true zen quiet but is unable to find it herself, as a result of a life of extreme turmoil, slavery, and constant threat of death or mutilation through experimentation at the hands of her slave-master. Her calm is a thin veneer put over everything she does, and she tries to conduct herself in a manner that makes her seem reliable, as she strives for complete control in herself.
She is a pack-trained warrior, and views her allies as valuable and worthy of respect. She places the needs of allies before her own at times and always seeks to keep her “pack” in working order. She is constantly looking for ways to integrate the skills of new allies into her tactics.
Tomoe is on morally-loose ground, never having proper religious training as a former slave. She knows the things her slave-master did were evil, but isn’t sure what was evil and what wasn’t. Regardless, she views a few things as “evil”: slave ownership, cruelty, unreliability, betrayal, laziness, deception, theft, selfishness, vivisection/experimentation on the living, necromancy, and willful ignorance. She doesn’t kill without reason, but sees black-and-white distinction between “combatant” and “non-combatant”, as her order imparted the importance of protecting of the weak to her as her sacred duty. The ability to quickly determine which is which in a scenario is important to her.
- is unsure of how she should behave in high-class settings when she isn’t forced into serving as she’s used to, so tends to try to go unnoticed and watch others for cues.
- has extreme reactions to being restrained or tied up, descending into panic attacks pretty easily if unable to meditate during her restraint.
- very emotionally attached to Roukan, as he is literally her only “family” still alive.
- has always been prone to addictive behaviour, particularly eating.
- is a big fan of sweets, and currently tends to try to have a small supply about her whenever she can.
- she has a thing for Amarro. She’d never say so, but if she ever got drunk and he was nearby or mentioned, that secret would likely escape… to her eternal (sober) embarrassment.
- aided by a monkey which somehow escaped confinement in – or snuck into – her master’s lab, picked her cage’s locks (she was being punished for reading in Aojiroi-san’s library), and helped her through the subsequent locked doors within the house. She escaped into Aojiroi-san’s teleportation circle, which was connected with his estate in the city of Akafuto, allowing her to escape out into the city and beyond carefully over several days, losing sight of the monkey as soon as she was outside of the city safely
- met and was properly raised by an old halfling hermit in the bamboo forest immediately northeast on the eastern edge of the Kyojin Mountain Range, who brought her from the forest into the mountains to train and avoid notice
- bonded to Roukan (a worg) and trained how to fight with him in battle; she didn’t fear Roukan despite his natural inclination toward evil, as her master had taught her that the intent was everything, not moral guideposts which serve only to blind one to the complexity of the spirit
- Roukan worked hard to overcome his violent tendencies, yet still expressed a desire to be free of his instinct and fully walk her path with her. She arranged a casting of atonement for him to have the supernatural aid to accomplish his desire
- she was taught how to read and write, about philosophy and “thinking beyond want” (which she doesn’t really understand, honestly), and other such concepts while evading the occasional hired slave hunters
- the hermit was killed when they were eventually found, but Tomoe didn’t realize until that moment that the slave hunters also wanted to find him, being an escaped slave as well
- escaped across the sea to Absalom
- while living and training in Andoran (in the Falcon’s Hollow area, prior to journeying with what became the founding members of the RoundTable Adventuring Guild), Tomoe was introduced to several gods, to which she developed a religious following. A female gnome from Tian Xia who she spent a lot of time with introduced her to the fairly-new belief in Aria, the Cherry Blossom Princess, stating that Tomoe would likely find a lot to agree with in the faith. Indeed, the halfling has, but was in opposition to the pursuit of “excess” that the faith celebrates for most of the time she spent training…
Tomoe joined the RoundTable Guild before they were known as such; Amarro, Chartreux, Leon, and herself all met up in Oregent. Tomoe had stopped to provide some help to Leon after arriving back in the city, visiting as she was from the monastery near Falcon’s Hollow on an errand. Chartreux had been spotted pickpocketing the enamored young man, and right when Tomoe leaped into a shpeal about rightful ownership, Amarro had waltzed up and convinced the mercenaries to accompany him through Arthfell Forest, toward what end is ultimately unknown (Tomoe’s theory rests on his desire to return to Cheliax for some reason, as he’d offhand-mentioned continuing through to Brastlewark beyond the Aspodell Mountains).
While in Arthfell, the group stopped in to spend an evening at the Travelers Stop Inn but was drawn into a brawl with several local mercs, and fell to a hand-to-hand battle in the tavern. Tomoe found herself well-suited to such endeavors (obviously), but a fire was started in the chaos and Amarro’s pulled-together party of newbies was saddled with the responsibility of reimbursement. Tomoe was very unfamiliar with the group, having only just met them, but she was trying out freedom and wanted to see how capable she was after her escape from Tian Xia; she would need allies to stay safe from slave hunters and Amarro had a certain way about him that inspired her trust. It was here that her story, only just begun, almost ended forever: the clumsy paladin Leon became entangled by an assassin vine as the group searched through the forest for a so-called ancient treasure, and when things looked dire for the lad, Tomoe rushed in to try to help. She parted with the group not with handshakes and farewells but with a quick crunch, her neck wrung by the bloodthirsty vine, and she became the first casualty the pre-guild mercs had among their number.
Sobered, Amarro’s team returned to the Travelers Stop Inn to complete their task and receive their pardon from the sheriff, but intervention arrived in the form of the newly-dubbed dreadmasque of Pharasma, leading them not to the west and toward the Aspodell Mountains, but east, toward Falcon’s Hollow; a “lucrative job” and other such evasive answers leading them back in toward Andoran’s black heart. Tomoe’s body, meanwhile, had been spirited in just that direction as quickly and carefully as Roukan, her worg mount and closest companion, could manage; the monks had told him to take care of her and ensure she returned, and he would do just that. The mercs were due for a reunion.
… Which came only several months later, following their return from a mission in Nex, of all places. Tomoe had been returned to life and became a representative of the monastery within Falcon’s Hollow, dispatched with several other monks to attempt to help calm things down after the last mission performed by the ragtag guild within the town. Thus, she was in the town during the siege perpetrated by Drazmorg the Drudger, a middling necromancer who became involved with the Hands of the Mystic Discordia and who sought to expand the influence of the necromancer guild in the ruins near Falcon’s Hollow. Carrock had received warning from his developing spy network within Oregent, and orders came down from the Voices of the Spire to solve the issue. Thus, the not-yet-guild team traveled back to Falcon’s Hollow, hired under the pretense of their familiarity with each other and “a hint” regarding further problems developing near the logging town.
It was during this chaotic siege that the
witch wizard Mikhail was slain, tragically surprised by some ghoul children who were wandering the streets. Tomoe took it upon herself to at least provide him some burial rites, and so delivered his body to the river’s depths, her allies combating the siege’s remnants. This burial would of course have echoes into coming events… the monk also began to get hungrier than normal; things were catching up to her.
The guild’s core members returned to Oregent and finally actually got set up in their current headquarters (though Amarro had not actually registered the guild with the city, and Carrock would only do this several months later). Things seemed to be going quite well in fact, but Tomoe began to have dreams about Mikhail; the changeling had imparted a memory to her subconscious while the monk dealt with her dying comrade’s final moments, and was becoming rather insistent about needing Tomoe’s help. Almost 3 weeks later, the monk returned with several allies, and was personally charged with performing some tasks Mikhail had been unable to complete; to provide some closure… unfortunately, this required a trip to Whitethrone!
Tomoe ultimately disliked her trip to Whitethrone, though she was pleased to be able to take care of one of their own, especially a friend who had died nearly in her arms. Her dislike of the trip may be misplaced, though: she had really started eating flapjacks while in Falcon’s Hollow (and should thus join Varro in hating that town instead), ultimately being torn from the rice and fish which she was previously sated upon by her unnatural hunger; she began to rapidly gain weight while in the frigid wasteland, stuffing herself with anything sweet she could whenever possible and ultimately outgrowing her robe before even completing the task… and so too did her misery grow. It was during one of this gourmet marathon’s many stops at an inn that Varro and Rhork were attacked by some locals, a situation which quickly became murder (in self-defense, Varro claims). Tomoe thus felt that, as an exemplar of justice, she would provide council, and so waddled outside to provide help… but instead spent the night in a jail cell with Rhork for her trouble, ultimately having mistaken the region’s “justice” for true justice. Many such harsh truths were introduced to the chubby halfling, and she left without any desire to return; the task was done, and gods take anyone, ghost or not, who said otherwise. She had bigger concerns upon returning to Kalsgard to take a ship home.
It was on the boat from Kalsgard that Tomoe met Gretchen, and her life unfortunately took a sharper angle on its spiral down. The witch pronounced that the pudgy monk was “adorable”, quickly becoming obsessed with making her even fatter, and Tomoe was so easily coerced into overeating that she almost effortlessly became thralled to the witch’s endless treats. The obvious reason for this, in retrospect, is the tiefling’s destructive self-image issues from being so damn skinny – though she would have never admitted it, making up any excuse she could think of to justify her behavior. Thus, Gretchen moved in with Tomoe shortly after the entire group arrived, and as she and Marrok settled into life in Oregent as members of the guild, Tomoe continued to expand at a rapid pace.
Thus, when Tomoe informed Carrock of her theory that the weight gain was a curse, Gretchen volunteered to perform magical and mundane experiments to find out whether or not that was true in his stead, intrigued by the possibility to change her own body through use of this magic. Unfortunately, this coincided with Gretchen’s actual intent: to see how fat she could make Tomoe get. The research she was desperately pursuing for her own sake soon came at the expense of the halfling’s health and mobility, and Tomoe found herself unable to adventure due to her girth. Still, when requested Gretchen was able to supply the monk with a girdle to allow her a normal level of agility despite her size, and eventually had to dramatically reduce Tomoe’s weight with a polymorph any object spell, reverting the spherical woman to her previous proportions. The monk had become too fat to allow her to fight in the Ruby Phoenix Tournament which she’d been invited to participate in, but the spell had intensified the curse’s effects upon its victim, an unknown side effect of an otherwise beneficial reprieve.
The discovery of the intensification of the curse following Tomoe’s return from the tournament allowed Gretchen to determine that there was, beyond shadow of a doubt, a curse upon the obese monk, though one of such potency that she was never able to determine with magical probing what its identity was. Nonetheless, Tomoe had returned from the Ruby Phoenix Tournament within several months as fat as before the polymorph any object‘s effects, so she received another casting of the spell, intended to suppress the significant amounts of weight she was enduring at this point. This solution was sadly short-lived and was posited by Gretchen as soon to likely result in the halfling’s death from a heart attack, such as in the scenario of the removal or suppression of the polymorph effect (as was the case during the encounter with Echian’s antimagic field during the tournament). Gretchen’s search for answers became feverish, both for her own sake and because Tomoe’s plight was actually dangerous to the unfortunate halfling, while Tomoe tried to overcome through sheer willpower that which could not be… The advice of Echian about targeting the source of the curse weighed upon the weighty halfling’s mind, and her next path was set before her.
Her wish for freedom from the curse was almost immediately upon her mind when offered a wish by Chyvvom, a contract devil whose realm she was sent to during the Acadamae’s “Breaching Festival”. Despite knowing that the devil was endlessly torturing others who’d signed contracts with him, the pudgy halfling was at her wits’ end: the curse was beginning to reach an event horizon; she was eating barely anything and hungry (in varying degrees) constantly, yet was gaining weight at an alarming rate again. In fear for her life, she asked the devil to remove the curse, though his writing of the contract was entirely beyond her ability to negotiate, ultimately promising an even worse curse upon her. Nonetheless, with a stroke of the pen on the notarized contract she was freed from the terrible ongoing hunger pains which she was forced to endure daily, and she broke down in tears of relief… then immediately snatched up her naginata and charged the devil: she would not be a slave to him, and with his defeat, she was able to gather both copies of the contract… though only temporarily. A clause assured the transference of her contract to Chyvvom’s master Lorthract, a powerful (former) infernal duke.
The goalposts moved again, and her slavery increased by another factor: first, she was still a slave to Kōreishi no Aojiroi, and he was (unknown to her) desperately seeking to regain possession of her due to her (unknown to her) divinely-touched blood. Second, she was a slave to food; she could not resist it or overeating due to the crippling effects of the curse. Third, she was a slave to Chyvvom and Lorthract through him: they held her soul as collateral and, despite allowing her two more wishes, would surely make use of what she’d promised them at some point in the future.
Temporarily at peace with her situation, Tomoe had her (lengthy) contract read by the unbearable clerics of Asmodeus: though her new curse effectively created a significant chance of the food she ate turning to ash in her mouth, she at least no longer felt hungry… though, that feeling now persists eternally. Nonetheless, she returned from the Breaching Festival and informed Gretchen of the good news… only to have the tiefling react with indignant fury. Gretchen removed the polymorph any object spell on Tomoe under the pretenses of any of the halfling’s future weight loss only affecting her “polymorphed” body, not her “true” body, prompting a horrified reaction from Tomoe as she ballooned to her true weight: over 200 lbs; equal to over 1,000 lbs on a human! An argument was immediately joined, Tomoe had a heart attack, Gretchen was called a monster, and murder nearly commenced… the witch ultimately quickly healed the monk before leaving Oregent in severe upset; it is unknown if she will return. Tomoe is meanwhile unable to walk due to her significant girth (pictured), and so is confined to her apartment, otherwise cared for by automated magical furniture. Gretchen had moved out before leaving town, and Carrock had taken to visiting, though the Siege of Oregent has left her dangerously unprotected…
“Two Souls ~Tomoe” (“Scars of Time”, Yoko Shimomura)
“Joshu’s Dog ~Roukan” (“Voyageur”, Enigma)
“The Muddy Road ~Traveling the World” (“Les Djinns”, Trentemøller featuring Djuma Soundsystem)
“Neither Mind Nor Buddha ~Combat” (“Kaguya Hime”, Juno Reactor)