A Gentle Touch

By William J. Keith


Mark Douglas is a sculptor in, if you'll pardon the description, the heroic mold.

He used to be a bartender, and by all accounts, one of the best bartenders on that side of town, both in the sense of "you'll never find a better Bloody Mary" and the sense of "you'll never find a better listener." Unfortunately, there was an accident -- accounts vary -- and he was blinded. Living off government cheese, he turned to sculpture, learning how to visualize his creations and shape them by touch. He can carve amazingly fine details into clay and stone, or bend gigantic sweeps of metal into dynamic, upward-reaching forms. Many of his works have a vaguely religious title or include spiritual imagery. The general consensus is that he's one of the most noble, stout-hearted, inspiring sculptors that's come onto the scene in the past decade. His story alone is uplifting; his sculptures are divine.

Mark is, in fact, a Mercurian of Fire. He was never a combat monster; though fairly tough, the better to defend humans who needed it, he spent more time talking his targets out of their latest scheme to ruin their own lives. It was a good job. It was a fulfilling job. It was a necessary job. This was what he kept telling himself while his heart burned to transform heavy matter into a visible sign that God touched the world. This was what he kept telling himself while he found person after person who would rather drop into Man's most determined attempts at Hell on Earth than face one more day of pounding at the problems in their lives, and was compelled by pity and love and law to convince them to get up and tackle another dawn.

And one day, he just couldn't stand it any more. In a Bright campaign, he pleaded for a Role update and a change to his Vessel, and got it. In a middling campaign, he could have suffered physical and celestial damage in a fight, and decided he didn't need to worry about asking for complete healing. In a Dark campaign, Mark bought a sharp knife and a pair of mirrored sunglasses. In any of them, Mark is now physically blind. He holds no Dissonance, no Discord unless this is how he was blinded in the first place. He would never have betrayed his nature. He firmly believes that he is far more effective serving God in this way, inspiring others in the way of the old Fire, than in the constant cycle of hauling people out of despair that was his life. Whether Gabriel, Dominic, his Choir- and Word-mates, or anyone else believes this is up to your campaign. The main thing is that it's just such a relief to be able to focus on doing something positive for Heaven.

Which, naturally, attracts the attentions of the Horde....


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