|Created —||Sneerwell, 705 PR|
|Height —||166.14 cm|
|Weight —||118.10 kg|
|Gender —||Non-binary (they/them)|
|Aliases —||M2-5U22, Portal, Fursona, Bob|
22 is an autom druid; a natural philosopher; an anti-racist activist and agent of People Are People; and a resident of the Sky Net.
Early Days, in which 22 witnesses a key event in the rise of the machines, gains sapience through a freak event, and becomes enthralled with the majesty of nature
An Imitation of Life
In the first months of their time in the Pendergras factory, where several warforged were working along with the automs and the organics, 22 observed with detachment as an unfamiliar warforged arrived one day, speaking loudly to factory owner Colin Pendergras, then left only minutes later, bringing all of the warforged with him. It would be years before 22 understood that this had been Snow convincing King Colin that any warforged who remained here risked being turned over to AID's Order of Sages to be studied, and very likely mistreated.
Once 22 was assigned to the City Watch, their entire purpose was now to help maintain order in Sneerwell (beyond self-maintenance and other core functions), and they were content -- if they were indeed capable of contentment yet -- to engage in this task some 150 hours per month.
Reflecting on this initial period of their existence over a century later, 22 still treated it with the analytic detachment that remained their primary affect. An example of this, their response to a related question, is notable, as it subtly reflects the pro-warforged position 22 would (unsurprisingly) take in the years leading up to 730 PR and the War of the Forged: "The citizens of Sneerwell generally obeyed my orders when I found it necessary to give them, and in the approximately 6% of cases when this was not true, the citizen in question was approximately 38% likely to comply when the order was repeated by an organic member of the constabulary."
Tracing the dependencies of their existence back, past the decisions of particular organic creatures to whatever processes of nature might have led to the existence of those creatures, 22 began to imagine that some such process brought about the existence of all creatures, of the world, and even of the gods and the cosmic realms. For long minutes they sat, struck with wonder that nature could give rise to all of this. Paying proper attention to the city around them for the first time, they decided to disregard their current instructions, abscond from Sneerwell, and begin experiencing the world.
22's Philosophy, in which 22 views all of The Great Wheel as a manifestation of nature, champions creative endeavors, and loathes fire and annihilation
According to this view, nature is the foundation that allows the entire cosmos to exist, with all its distant stars and its many planes of reality. All beings arise from it, deities and mortals alike. Although mortal creatures would not exist without their respective creator deities, they are nonetheless a part of the vast collection of naturally occurring phenomena, albeit a part that is at least one step removed from the existence of nature itself. When a being is created by mortals rather than deities, that being is merely one additional step removed from nature's mysterious origins, but, like their creators, they remain as much a part of the whole as are the deities or the planes.
This philosophy applies to not only creatures but, to a lesser extent, all things brought into existence regardless of whether they are derived directly from the four elements (as a flower or a storm), constructed by non-sapient creatures (as a spider's web), made manifest by technological or magical means (as a sword or a continual flame), or merely conceptualized (as a plan or a dream). While some things are ephemeral by nature, those things that tend to persist should be allowed to do so unless their destruction provides a benefit that outweighs their loss, which 22 readily admits it sometimes will, since every act of destruction is also an act of creation.
A correct course of action for 22 is to encourage others to err on the side of creation over destruction and generally to oppose those peculiar things whose nature it is to destroy. Fire is problematic in this sense, but 22 accepts that organic creatures derive great benefit from its use, although they tend to be far too willing to use it when there is no need. However, use of purely destructive magics, such as a Sphere of Annihilation, is never necessary and is among the most abhorrent of acts.
The Path to Jadenhill, in which 22 finds work and community, takes up arms against Draconic Crusaders, and is inspired to seek power by the death of a friend
After a time, 22 assessed that the curve describing the benefits they had been gaining over time from caravan work, measured in terms of knowledge and useful personal alliances, had flattened sufficiently to warrant seeking an alternative pattern of experiences. An opportunity presented itself shortly, after a group of adventurers came on as guards for a trip south, two of whom were a dragonborn sister and brother, Tacciath and Uldil.
The dragonborn twins suggested that their usual work, tracking down missing items, would be more exciting than guarding, and 22 left the caravan life behind as soon as the group received their pay for the current trip. It was from new adventuring group that 22 learned of the plight of dragonborn across Isonhound, and when Tacciath and Uldil planned to visit family and friends in Jadenhill, they travelled along with the twins and found their first home, not counting their time in Sneerwell before they had developed a personal identity.
In Jadenhill, 22 came to be trusted and to feel welcome as they worked with the people to try to ensure the safety of residents with draconic and reptilian heritage, and 22 resided in Jadenhill for several years during which the crusaders grew increasingly aggressive. Tacciath and Uldil had returned to help defend the town, and Uldil was slain during a particularly devastating attack, with 22 unable to do anything to help. Afterward, once the defenses had been rebuilt and reinforcements had arrived, 22 announced that they would set out to discover some power that could make them more effective against the crusaders. Tacciath, knowing 22's love of nature, suggested a druid called Grandmush she had met weeks earlier, and 22 left to seek the druid out.
Learning the Magic of the Land, in which 22 studies under the unconventional druid Grandmush, aids the forest, visits the Underdark, and learns to take organic form
Grandmush's immediate enthusiasm at the prospect of teaching the magic of the druids to a synthetic person was as surprising to 22 as it was welcome. They had a unique view of nature comparable to 22's own, albeit a somewhat limited one. For Grandmush — who had spent most of their early years as the spirit of a dead tree who was only later brought to life — death and even undeath could be seen as natural phenomena that should be accepted and incorporated into druidic practices if their inclusion provided sufficient benefit.
22 accompanied Grandmush them for a time, at first focusing on the well-being of the woodlands, then traveling deep underground for some months, where they encountered many new sorts of creatures and phenomena, some of which, 22 would learn, could be found nowhere else but their native Underdark terrain. After a few years, Grandmush proclaimed that 22 was experienced enough as a druid that they were ready to move on to the next level. 22 decided to dedicate some time to practicing magics that focused on the power of the moon and the ability to transform their metal body fully into an organic one at times when it suited their purpose or desire.
The Rise of the Machines, in which 22 migrates to Gearguage, works as a smuggler during the War of the Forged, and acquires additional names
22 and Tacciath became active in the growing alliance of anti-racist activists called People Are People, for which Jadenhill served as a base, although not a primary one due to its non-central location in Isonhound. With the town now well defended, they decided to travel north to where they could be of help to less-secure communities, and they discovered that the hatred and violence against warforged people of the realm had become as great a concern as that against their draconic and reptilian neighbors. While escorting two warforged refugees from Raritan to safety, they were instructed to meet a contact named Bones who brought them all to the burgeoning warforged settlement of Gearguage, where they based themselves for several years while the War of the Forged escalated.
One of 22's primary roles during the war was to transport materials both legal and illegal across large distances, sometimes into or out of Gearguage, but, more often than not, from one small camp in the middle of nowhere to another that was separated from the the first by some enemy territory. They spent entire days in the shape of a fox (with some payload merged into their form, be it provisions or poisons, explosives or existence crystals). During this time, they often went by the code name "Portal", but when they saw Tacciath, she always called them "Fursona", a termed of endearment she had begun using back in Jadenhill.
When the war formally ended in 744 PR, Tacciath was 54 years old and ready to retire from soldiering, but 22 continued traveling and working on behalf of People are People, returning often to Jadenhill until Taccianth died of illness in 756 PR. By this time, the Second Draconic Crusades had almost reached their formal conclusion, and 22 was now coming to grips with the reality that friendships with organics can last only as long as organic bodies can. They decided to spend some time traveling alone, and, although this was not the last time they'd return to Jadenhill, it was the last time it would really feel like home.
Settling Down, in which 22 establishes a long-term home among synthetics
In the Sky Net, synthetics collaborated in ways 22 had never seen before, and here the warforged called Bones was able to replace many of 22's century-old parts and upgrade their form factor to the sleeker model-3 design. Bones work didn't precisely emulate Colin Pendergras' original specifications and wasn't intended to, but it did include the installation of a found component, the origin of which Bones said was unknown, but which gave 22 the ability to produce a form of short-range telepathic output that other intelligent creatures were able to understand as easily as they did 22's speech.
Life in the Sky Net would become a comfortable routine for 22 before the decade was out -- although during this period, 22's chronometer would register the passing not merely of years, but of centuries.
Kidnapped!, in which 22 learns a terrible lesson and helps an enemy to kill a friend
22's warforged friend Scope greeted them near the gate, pressing 22 for a response and getting none. Sensing something was wrong, Scope tried to intervene, but The gnome compelled 22 to fight for her, restraining Scope while she retrieved another device from her pack and touched Scope with it. Scope dropped suddenly to the ground and the gnome led 22 out into the Deadfog of Cof. 22 would later learn that Scope had been damaged so badly by the attack that when they finally received medical attention, it was not enough to save their life. The guilt 22 would bear for their role in Scope's death would persist for many decades.
They traveled for most of a day before 22's captor ushered them into a concealed structure where she locked them in a large metal cage in an otherwise empty room where the only light came through cracks in the walls. Finding themself finally free of the Bluestone's influence, they assessed their surroundings and soon determined that escape was not immediately possible. The fine mesh cage was well constructed, suffering only the most minor damage from both their cannon and their claws, and 22 had been unable to force the door or pick the lock after several minutes of trying. They wondered about the fate of Scope, but there was nothing to be done, so they waited patiently.
Meeting Their Maker, in which 22 discovers that a stranger is actually their oldest acquaintance, whose fate has become unpleasantly intertwined with their own
22 remained silent while the warforged tinkered with their insides, the Bluestone again compelling their compliance. The warforged made occasional comments to themself, appearing by turns surprised, annoyed, and impressed by what they found. Suddenly, they grew excited, and their interest in the task at hand seemed to double.
"What am I thinking?" the warforged asked a few minutes later, and they seemed to wait for a response. "Are you uncertain?" said 22. "Was that a joke?" replied the stranger, surprised. "Yes," 22 answered simply. "Who gave you a sense of humor?" demanded the warforged. 22 began to explain that many aspects of their own mind were a puzzle to them, whereupon the stranger exclaimed "You're sapient?!".
When the warforged had recovered, 22 started to convey the story of their awakening, beginning from their activation by Colin Pendergras a few years earlier. "That's me!" the warforged interrupted -- and over the next minute, Colin demonstrated knowledge that provided sufficient evidence for 22 to accept the claim.
Colin explained that a fellow artificer had recently transferred his consciousness into a defunct warforged shell from the Awe-Tom body he had inhabited since the death of his organic body. They exchanged quick overviews of their respective personal histories since their brief time together in Sneerwell.
22 had known of Colin's involvement with the Friends of Kragnux, his "death" at their hands, and his re-embodiment in the Awe-Tom unit, but they had not yet learned of Colin's escape from Wyvern Mountain -- or even of his captivity there. Regarding 22, Colin repeatedly probed into the nature and origins of their consciousness and was eager to learn what 22 could tell him even though this only frustrated him with further questions.
Colin's new plan -- since his recent discovery of the telepathy unit Bones had installed -- was to first perform an unauthorized modification, one which would give 22's telepathy unit a limited ability to detect the thoughts of nearby creatures. This would allow 22 and Colin to learn more about the gnome's machinations and determine a way to free themselves and Atnas.
Colin Quietly Saves Zugs McFlair, in which 22 becomes a mind reader, and Colin hopes his desperate measures to save Atnas will also spare Zugs from never having been born
The Gnome's Plot
Thus, they learned three important things:
- There was indeed a way to to escape the mesh cage. Although the cage had appeared non-magical, three words spoken in quick succession would trip the latch: "thermal" "exhaust" "port".
- Atnas had not been brought to Cof with Colin but was still held prisoner in Breme.
- Their captor believed Colin's long-time associate Zugs McFlair to be, as the gnome conceived of things, an "anomaly" who should never have existed; and she planned to rectify this by having 22 interfere in his lineage after hiding among the possessions of a time-traveler who she knew would soon be traveling to the past.
- "Zugs McFlair," she waved her hand dismissively. "There is no such person."
Before exiting, their captor reminded Colin of the hours he had left to complete his task, and of the consequences if he were to fail.
Having learned that 22 had often smuggled contraband by simply picking it up and incorporating into the form of some common and inconspicuous beast, he instructed 22 to use this technique to ensconce Colin himself in a form small enough to carry him beyond the reach of the gnome before she realized he was gone. 22 objected that they would not be able to merge a conscious person into their animal form, and Colin reluctantly revised his strategy to include 22 first removing his data core, thus rendering him inert for transport.
Once they had used the gnome's method of traveling back in time, 22 would restore Colin, Colin would reverse the modification that bound 22 to the gnome's instructions, Zugs McFlair would be born on schedule, and Colin would be at his leisure to think of a way to keep Atnas safe ...and perhaps a way to keep himself out of Wyvern Mountain.
Armed with this plan, Colin finished the modifications the gnome had mandated (which would allow her to issue commands 22 would follow even far away from her) and bided his time. When the gnome returned and Colin informed her the task was complete, she performed tests until she appeared satisfied with his work, whereupon she began putting it to use.
Instructions for Deleting Zugs
- Phase 1
- Take the form of a tiny creature, go directly to the nearby spring, and wait unseen until the changeling Caligna appears.
- Hide promptly in the changeling's travel gear without attracting his notice or that of his companions.
- Wait discretely until he has travelled in time, and abscond.
- Phase 2
- Travel to Osugbo's west coast without being recognized as a synthetic being.
- Find or construct a place in which you will remain undisturbed for centuries with a broad view of the sky.
- Remain there until you experience a full year during which no dragons appear in the sky.
- Phase 3
- Travel to Champerty without being recognized as a synthetic being.
- Locate the infant Julian McFlair, and plan and execute his successful abduction, also without being recognized as a synthetic being. Abduction by a frenetic chimpanzee might be funny.
- Ensure that the boy will never be found by those who had known him in Champerty.
Once she had confirmed that 22 correctly understood these instructions, their captor -- almost as if to maintain a trope -- discontinued the Bluestone signal, relying on 22's new instructions, and left her prisoners alone, claiming she would return with something to help their mission succeed.
22 mentally verified that no conflict existed between the gnome's instructions and Colin's plan, which left them free to begin following both as soon as they were free of the cage. And they reflected on how pleasant it can be to know the secret weakness of the seemingly unassailable apparatus that your powerful enemy has engineered to thwart you.
"Thermal exhaust port," 22 intoned.
- - - - - - -
In the Before Times
Lessons of Kathartha
Mysteries of the ArchCrystal