Kakaxar (pronounced /ˈkɑːkəʃɑr/) is a Xala Kese sorceress who leads a skilled band of mercenaries that numbers among the most notorious and sought-after on Vlastach. One unusual feature of Kakaxar's company—all the more so on Vlastach—is that they do not rely mostly on physical combat, but on elemental magic. Nearly all of the mercenaries in the company are capable elemental mages, and while most do have some prowess in hand-to-hand combat as well, there are some who have virtually no combat skills apart from their magic, but have sufficient magical skills to be valued members of the company nevertheless.
While certainly formidable, Kakaxar is not the most magically powerful member of her team, nor or the strongest combatant. Still, it is largely her diplomacy that holds the team together, her charisma that inspires them to fight even against odds that seem overwhemling, and her tactical skill that helps them win those battles. Her leadership of the team is vital to its success, and every member of her band knows it. Those potential recruits who lack the insight to recognize her importance to her team are quickly expelled. Kakaxar is the heart of her company, and has their full and well earned loyalty.
Kakaxar herself had relatively unassuming beginnings, born to a family of glassblowers in the Xala Kese city of Xenekad. Even as a young girl, she seemed something of a tomboy, more interested in rough-and-tumble games than in the more genteel entertainments in which her parents tried to interest her. In desperation, her mother tried to interest her in magic, as a source of power not relying on so much unladylike physical exertion. The young girl took to magic, and showed undeniable interest in and talent for sorcery in particular, but she followed this pursuit in addition to her physical activities, not instead of them. Nor did she seem to have much interest in boys except as playmates until, when she was thirteen, a badly injured young soldier named Hasuvar was billeted in a nearby home. Interested in finding out about life in the legion, Kakaxar sought out Hasuvar and spent as much time as she could with him quizzing him about military life and about his (probably exaggerated) exploits. She developed an infatuation with the young soldier, born at least as much from his deeds and bravery as from physical attraction. The infatuation was not returned, her youth making Hasuvar see her as more a younger sister than a possible lover, but that didn't deter her from her interest.
Given her personality, it's not unlikely that even had she never met Hasuvar, she would eventually have sought out a military career. Be that as it may, shortly after Hasuvar's return to duty, Kekexar sought out the nearest legion office and offered herself for duty. Rebuffed because of her youth and inexperience, she embarked on a determined regimen of exercise and self-improvement, intending to make herself so obviously competent that she could not be turned down. When she returned the next year, however, turned down she still was. Undauntable, she took pains to arrange false papers, make herself up to look older, and went to a different office, misreporting her age—and she was accepted into the legion.
She quickly found, however, that life in the legion was not quite as she had imagined it. Her commanders never seemed to take her as seriously as she thought she warranted, not trusting a woman to be the equal of a man in combat. When she told her superiors of her magical skills, hoping they would then see her value, they did put her in a position where she could make use of them, but by relegating her to the back lines to support the soldiers with enchantments, removing her even further from the action.
Not everyone was as blind to Kakaxar's skills as those legion officers, however. A mercenary named Gagis heard of her, and it didn't take much to convince the disgruntled Kakaxar to leave the legion and join his mercenary crew, the Silver Hands, instead. Kakaxar did very well there, and rose quickly in respect and esteem; when Gagis discovered her head for strategy, she became almost his unofficial lieutenant. Kakaxar enjoyed mercenary work, and for a few years, things seemed to be finally going her way. But then Gagis was killed in a failed assault on a Jirideeni stronghold, and a power struggle ensued to fill his leadership role. At first, Kakaxar had had no thought herself to try to seize control of the band, but some of the other mercenaries nominated her for the role. Her rivals derided her youth and her gender, which brought back bitter memories of her time in the legion; this, perhaps more than anything else, made her determined to attain the position. In the end, though, none of the contenders fully prevailed; the Silver Hands splintered into several factions.
Still, while all the Silver Hands weren't hers, Kakaxar had enough followers that she thought she could potentially do well with her own mercenary band. Needing more followers, she contacted a number of previous acquaintances from her time in the legion and in the Silver Hands, some she had fought beside and some she had fought against but still respected. Having seen the utility of magic in her work, she particularly sought out those who had magical ability. She recruited from magic schools all over the world; the number of interested applicants she found fom these sources surprised even her. And so, over the years as her band increased in numbers and experience, Kakaxar's company became truly a force to be reckoned with.
Kaxakar is a round-faced woman whose bronze skin is taut from the muscle underneath. Her motions tend to seem unnaturally rigid, and even at rest her posture looks stiff. She usually dresses in her typical "uniform" of a silver-colored vest and pantaloons, her arms festooned with bracers and bracelets she has enchanted with various powers.
Kakaxar's face has sometimes been likened an owl's, though she hardly has the bookish look that most would call owlish. Still, her large eyes and small mouth do give some strength to the resemblance. Like that of many Xala Kese, her wavy dark hair sometimes shows a hint of gold in the sunlight. She generally wears it loose and long; it may seem a tempting target for enemies to grab, but any who try generally find they've taken on more than they can handle.
Kaxakar's voice is low-pitched but resonant, with a tight quality that seems to lend a sense of urgency no matter what she's talking about. As in her travels she's picked up a smattering of many different languages, her linguistic endeavors have shaped her way of speaking, such that not only does she often throw foreign words into her speech (though she's smart enough to know not to do it when their meaning isn't clear from the context and it's vital for her to be understood), but she speaks with something of a slight accent pertaining to no place in particular.
As skilled a sorcerer as Kakaxar is, her powers are many and diverse. There are, however, some spells and effects she particularly favors. With the encrustation spell, she immobilizes enemies by coating them with earth or other materials, often leaving their mouths free for respiration and speech and their ears free so they can hear her questions. With the lapidation spell, she assails antagonists with innumerable stones or other projectiles. The hurl spell she considers particularly undervalued, and she's fond of finding creative uses of it to knock their foes off their feet and otherwise discomfit them. Against large numbers of enemies, she also makes particularly devious use of the barrage spell, designating some of her foes as the objects of the spell, such that she is literally using some of her opponents as weapons against others. She uses magic eye for reconnaissance, and sudden step for quick transportation.
Kakaxar's magic accouterments mostly have defensive powers; one toughens her skin, while another makes her resistant to heat and cold, and yet another causes her wounds to quickly heal. The powers of many of them, however, she keeps secret.
Goals and personality
While Kakaxar is not a loquacious woman, when she does speak it is with meaning, and often with a wry wit as well, Intelligent and volable, she is well known for remaining silent for a long period in a discussion, only to drop a clever quip that neatly encapsulates her view and demolishes the opposition. She also has a bit of a poetic bent, and sometimes, when in a mischievous mood, she distributes her orders or briefings in the form of (surprisingly well constructed) rhymed verse.
When Kakaxar first started her mercenary company, foremost among her goals may have been to prove herself to her detractors. If that was ever a motive, however, it was one that she long ago fulfilled. Now, she simply takes enjoyment in her work and in her camaraderie with her teammates. Returning the loyalty her underlings show her, she makes sure to protect her men, and does her best to rescue any who are captured or incapacitated.
Recently, Kakaxar has increasingly begun to turn her attention to the aspect of sorcery she had previously more or less neglected, that of comperience, the magical gathering of knowledge. Much of her spare time she has devoted to divinations and other comperient spells not directly related to her mercenary work. Whether this is just a whim that has caught her interest, or whether she's planning for her eventual retirement from the mercenary trade and maybe preparing for a second career as a sage, remains to be seen.
Although Kaxakar isn't known to be really close to anyone, the nearest thing she has to a confidant is her second-in-command, the Kahmarian Idri Guruti. She counts all of her teammates as friends, however, and in general the more seniority they have in the company the more she trusts and relies on them. Her acquaintances from before her time as a mercenary—including her family—she has not maintained communication with. She doesn't seem to harbor any resentment of them; she just apparently hasn't seen any reason to want to keep in touch.