Fire Magus Hestia Bygate (a.k.a. Mad Magus Hestia, Hestia of Yamato, Mt. Tarkaal's Witch, Destroyer of Estverde)
Hestia Bygate was born in the Byren Domain located around and to the north of Mount Tarkaal as the daughter of Lauren and Reginald Bygate, a shrine maiden and priest of the Bonfire Shrine respectively, in 21 AA (Age of Awakening). The family name Bygate originated, just as the same-named village Bygate, from the Angel Gate that was erected in Littlewood in the 4th century AID (Age of the Iron Divide) after the Angel Saxons traded the secrets of fire magic for the placement of these gates around the areas ruled by the men of Mt. Tarkaal.
Shown on the map section is Mt. Tarkaal and Littlewood below the Vastroad. Bygate and the Angel Gate are both marked there, and a small path connects to the Vastroad from Bygate, allowing for travel and trade with Lord Byren's castle and its hamlet Lichterland, which would later become Lumina Aka, one of the capitals of The Middle Lands.
Initially expected to follow in her parents footsteps, she slowly grew alienated from the mages of the Bonfire Shrine, and finally, after her banishment from the order, decided to take her education and unparalleled talent for fire magic elsewhere, traveling the Middle Lands and, after several years, arriving at the Yamato Kingdom, where she offered an impressive map of the Middle Lands she had created as part of an surveyor group that had climbed Mt. Tarkaal for this purpose. After a brief run-in with the bureaucracy of the kingdom, she managed to convince the right people of her immeasurable value to Yamato, and the emperor himself furnished her with gifts and an initial position as assistant to the royal cartographer.
Her skill and power as a magus was quickly recognized, and it took only two campaigns to the North for her to be instated as a special advisor on fire magic, ultimately gaining control of a special platoon of fire mages she handpicked and trained, called the Ryûga Order. After several decades with the Yamato Kingdom, she had amassed wealth, lands, and favors and had a key consultant position with the highest military brass, being herself a special general in charge of her magus platoon. She waged many bloody campaigns against the Nordmen and established several posts meant to defend against possible Middlish aggression, ultimately gaining governorship of the outer eastern provinces bordering the lands of Estverde, the largest city in the east of the Great Land that didn't belong to the Yamato Kingdom.
In the 100s of the Age of Awakening, tensions with Estverde began to rise due to a number of trade embargoes and arguments over landownership largely based on Yamato expansion policy. Hestia, now in charge of the provinces most affected and in danger, decided to push for a preemptive annexing of Estverde, promising the beginning of a great empire to the Emperor and his generals, who were all too eager to employ her and her deadly mages as well as commit large contingents to an all out assault on the Estverdians.
All of this culminated in one of history's greatest tragedies when the Estverdians disposed of the first and second infantry division of the Yamato Kingdom at the beginning of the battle and then made the mistake of provoking Hestia during the negotiations that followed the ensuing siege. The words that general Sun Ieyasu used to describe what happened next have been engraved at a monument erected in front of the black blight that scars the Untamed Meadows to this day:
When the representative had spoken, I knew it would be bad. General Hestia had often displayed her tendency for bold action in the face of ridicule. She was one who took the respect she deserved indiscriminately. But I would have never guessed what happened next.
The death of her fellow men had affected her more than I thought, and in one instant she gave way to the evil Yasha inside of her, letting it eat her soul! Her hair turned paper white, her eyes gleaming blue, and the all-consuming rage I thought she would turn against the representative, she turned against the city instead. A strange crackling popped through the air and pillar of flame as high as the clouds and as wide as the city walls rose in front of us with a boom and a roar. The city of Estverde, wood and stone and people, all reduced to ash in an instant. And the flame would burn still for many days to come.
At that moment, a few people there cried, a few people laughed, the representative collapsed in terror, and I could not help but remember a line from the Gokenja Scripture; the book of Inyô.
In it the sage Inyô crosses paths with a hooded figure and strikes up a conversation when the two share a fire for the night. He boasts to the stranger that he has retrieved the legendary blade Aalandra and conquered it despite its eternal allegiance to the Lord of Water and no one else, claiming he would use its power to travel the newly discovered ocean beyond the Iron Belt. The figure says it was unwise to bend the sword against its will, for it had a soul, just as any man. The sage asks who he is to call him, the great sage Inyô, unwise, and the hooded figure reveals his face that is many and none, glowing with a peaceful and beautiful light, and it speaks:
"Now I am Sanatana, creator of man and all that is good, and I say to you: No soul should be bent or broken, save by its own will!" And suddenly the light changes, and he becomes terrifying to behold. "If you do not heed me, this is the face you shall behold before your end, for now I am Rakvali, destroyer of worlds."
I heard that line over and over as I saw the emotions of the people around me, and I felt that we all thought ourselves Rakvali in that moment, for one reason or another, for we had unleashed Hestia onto the world, allowing her to bend our souls to her command.
After this, the political backlash against the Yamato Kingdom was severe. The place where Estverde once had stood had been turned into a blemish on the land and on the mind of the people, for it forever marked the spot where over twenty thousand people had been incinerated by the folly of magic. Many mages of the Middle Lands and Hestia's former platoon went into seclusion at the Eastern Walls of Weltenend, pilgrimaging past the place where Estverde had stood. They would later become the Brotherhood of the Null, enforcing the Null Concord in 156 AA.
Hestia herself was taken back to the Kingdom with a severe case of final stage Spellblight but still not stricken with nullsickness, meaning she remained dangerous. With the stigma of Spellblight in the Yamato Kingdom, she was now thought of as a yasha and only her high station and distinguished record had kept general Sun from executing her himself on the spot.
The sentence that was passed onto her was death, and she was to be executed at the former premises of Estverde to appease the souls of those that had been lost there. This was meant to appease the outrage of the neighboring nations that had arrisen from the excessive use of magic against another souvereign nation as an aggressor. Executing Hestia was a cheap cop-out for the Emperor: for one, she had defied his orders and leveled Estverde instead of annexing it, making it easy for him to distance the kingdom from her actions, on the other hand she was now a yasha, meaning she was worth less than the lowest human, a blemished existence that should be erradicated.
One day before she was to be moved, she burned the tower where she was being held to the ground and escaped.
She was found one year later by the Lord of Fire Horvath Innsrai, who located her on the blighted spot where Estverde had stood and where her execution should have been carried out.
Horvath had been tasked with finding and eliminating Hestia after a meeting of the margraves of the Middle Lands, supported by the Yamato emperor, who wished for the resolution of the situation. He found her blackened in the ashes, sitting on a mound, carving a little statue of Inyô. Hundreds of such statues stood behind her, all carved from wood she must had foraged from the surrounding lands.
"I have heard much about you, Hestia Bygate," he had said then, carefully measuring her with his eyes. Indeed before him seemed to crouch a broken woman, dressed in blackened garbs that had once been made of fine silks.
She looked up. "You killed my pet flame," she noted with an empty, emotionless voice.
"The 'Shôri no Reibi' was it? I am afraid there is no more fire here that will listen to you, no matter how loudly you call for it, Hestia."
"Rude," she noted casually and kept carving, her eyes transfixed on the tiny statue.
"So you know who I am? I ask because I would not want you to die at the hand of some unknown stranger."
"Oh, yap yap yap! Go on then, before I do it myself out of boredom. But before I go, here is a piece of advice from one weapon to another: My time has come, and so will yours. Our end is decided when we become too powerful for the hand that wields us."
"Just so," he said and then burned her, her ashes gently floating down to meet the rest.
A Legacy of Null
While the Yamato Kingdom was more annoyed by the loss of valuable asset, the reaction in the Middle Lands to the whole Estverde incident was far more severe. Having developed sophisticated war magic and already employing it here and there, the populous grew concerned with the looming threat of mass-annihilation at a whim. The use of war magic was increasingly regulated in the following years, a policy furthered by the Five Keepers and the margraves of the Middle Lands, using trade politics and diplomacy to make their neighbors compliant. This was easier than one might think, since the Middle Lands themselves had the highest sophistication of magic, and was were affecting themselves the most, making it more attractive to their neighboring nations to follow suit.
In that time several mages of high station left their homes and went on a pilgrimage to Estverde, meeting there in a loose congregation. They moved to the Eastern Walls of Weltenend and began carving out a secluded home for themselves to live and study in. Less than fifty years after Hestia's death, they returned to the Great Land, clad in black and with a new power and vision for the world: The Brotherhood of the Null.
Born form the horror of Estverde, they had learned to suppress and nullify all magic within reach, becoming guardians of the Great Land, ever ready to step in. Using their power and knowledge, accumulated by the influential initial members, they quickly leveraged their way into the courts of the most influential Nations of Aqualon at the time: The Middle Lands, the Yamato Kingdom, the sovereign city of Altonar and the United Ocean Belt Technocracy. Only the Old Gods and Angel Saxons were too difficult to reach and influence.
After much campaigning, they got the leadership of these great nations to join the negotiating table, and an international contract was hammered out, making them commit to halt and discourage the proliferation of high-tier destructive magic, as well as technologies designed to destroy indiscriminately; basically the creation and proliferation of weapons of mass destruction was banned. Additional clauses gave the Null diplomat status, allowing them to travel the world freely, overseeing the nations as neutral advisors. The so-called 'balance of repercussions', meaning one nation breaking the Null Concord (as was the name of this contract) would immediately force the others to retaliate, lead to a successful suppression of dangerous magic and technology - to a degree - that was instrumental in keeping the planet from blowing up during the following age, which was called the Great War at the time. And thereafter, a more and more stable peace and prosperity was built on top of the Null Concord, ultimately making Hestia's contribution to the world a positive one, though no historian would ever praise her for this.
General Physical Condition
Having spent the entire first half of her life traveling and training, Hestia was at peak physical condition and a terrifying enemy to face in combat when she reached the Yamato Kingdom. While training and commanding the Ryûga Order, she often joined the practice to serve as an example and stay in peak physical condition to serve as a field general.
Hestia was said to have been incredibly healthy, not getting sick once in her entire life. Her skin was fair and tended to freckle in the summer as can be discerned from different ukiyo-e paintings from the Yamato Kingdom, showing her with and without freckles.
While having a relatively small nose for a westerner, it was still slightly above average in the Yamato Kingdom, and some documents of the daily lives at Court show that people liked to touch it for good luck, though she suffered the practice less readily in her 50s and 60s at the height of her career, then caring less in her 70s. Her hair was reported to be long, golden, and luxurious for a westerner and she was known to often braid it like a Kaltani. She has a keyhole in the left one of her jade-green eyes and never dissuaded the belief of the Yamato folk that it was due to her having defeated and eaten a powerful Yasha to gain its strength.
The combination of her iris keyhole, braided, golden hair, and traditional Yamato clothing made her easily identifiable in her prime, and more than anything, there was always a little, bright blue flame dancing over her left shoulder. When riding into battle on her bayô, she was also well known to carry a great flamberge on her back, a spoil of war from the treasury of the emperor she had shown a liking for, later receiving it as a gift during a great ceremony.
Many historians and people of her time believed Hestia to be left-handed because she flashily lifted her left hand before performing great feats of fire magic, but in fact she did so to keep her right hand free to draw and wield a weapon if needed. She also pretended to be left-handed at court as well as she could because being left-handed was the more usual thing in the Yamato Kingdom and right-handedness was seen as uncouth. She was also well known for laughing brightly when seeing great plumes of flame, regardless of who or what produced them, and her laugh become feared by her enemies.
Other than her staggering talent for fire magic and her extensive training in the same, she also attained basic military training during her time in the Yamato Kingdom.
On an expedition to the North, she defeated a small Gallian tribe, holed up in a remote, slightly fortified village, recovering a small number of old Gallian treasures, including three Angel Saxon artifacts later to be known as the Three Treasures of Yamato.
One of these she was allowed to keep for herself: the Shôri no Reibi 勝利の霊火 ("Ghost Fire of Conquest"), a tiny, actually eternal flame that danced about the shoulder of the treasure's wielder. Known to few, the actual treasure was a silver bracelet that had to be worn. The Shôri no Reibi eternally produced the tiny blue flame dancing above her left shoulder, which she liked to expand into great plumes of flame using her magic. When walking the Court, she quelled the flame though, thinking it would be disrespectful to present one's weapon here, no matter the kind.
Apparel & Accessories
During her time in the Yamato Kingdom, she was most commonly depicted as wearing common, purple Yamato garbs when walking on the streets or training the troops. But whenever she was at Court, she would don expensive indigo silks, gifted to her by the emperor.
In the Bonfire Shrine at Mt. Tarkaal, she received an extensive basic education, learning reading and writing, arithmetic, and the Scrolls of the Fire Priests. She also learned the history of the Keepers of Fire and the history of the Middle Lands, trade and barter with outside forces, and the politics of the surrounding lands.
When she was 15 years old, she was instructed in the ways of fire magic, and due to her unprecedented talent was the youngest shrine maiden to ever be appointed to the Fire Watchers, tasked to travel the Middle Lands and quell fires in villages and ever growing cities that were at prime risk for such catastrophes.
While visiting Lord Timothy Byren of Mt. Tarkaal, ruler of the domain that would later make up the heart lands of Lumina Aka, she spent some time with his son Frederick Byren and his daughter Clâvia Byren, learning about surveying from them, a passion of their father they shared. Together they decided to plan an expedition to Mt. Tarkaal in the future, and Hestia furthered her education by reading scrolls and books on the subject matter at the Bonfire Shrine.
After her flight from the lands of Lord Byren towards the east, she visited many towns of the Middle Lands, working day labor or as a tutor if she could get a position as such to pay for her expenses, often trying to absorb the local culture.
In the Yamato Kingdom she took to reading again, and with her position she now had access to all the writings available in the Kingdom, including the famous Yamato philosophers of the time, much contributing to her education in philosophy, statesmanship, and the art of war.
Accomplishments & Achievements
A pioneer since childhood, Hestia was the youngest member of the Fire Watchers and the first person to climb Mt. Tarkaal. There wasn't anything of value on top of the mountain, but she took a group of surveyors with her, and together they created one of the most impressive maps of the Middle Lands at the time. Before this information could be delivered to Lord Byren, master of the lands around the Charwoods and the men of Mt. Tarkaal, Hestia stole them and ran away with the map, departing on a long journey through the Middle Lands, finally presenting it as a gift to the emperor of the Yamato Kingdom.
After being granted citizenship and a position as a consultant by imperial decree, she was also employed as a military consultant and later general, creating the Ryûga Order, a platoon of elite fire mages meant to elevate the Yamato Kingdom's military capabilities as a response to rising military magic might in the Middle Lands.
Failures & Embarrassment
Unable to cope with the esoteric and restrictive life style of a shrine maiden, Hestia failed to conform with several of the rules of the Bonfire Shrine where the Eternal Flame, bestowed upon the men of Mt. Tarkaal during the Age of the Iron Divide, was maintained and was ultimately banished from the order, much to the disappointment of her parents, who both were high-ranking members.
Her banishment was in large parts due to her unhealthy obsession with fire itself, which she deemed not dangerous in the least, just misunderstood, until she caused a large forest fire in the Charwoods. There are even some historians that claim that it was this fire that gave the woods their name, rather than the charcoal burners that had started establishing a business there after the Eternal Flame was lit and the art of fire magic taught to the men of Mt. Tarkaal.
Undeterred, she kept on practicing her magic but felt limited by disapproving betters, prompting her to seek out the Yamato Kingdom after a long and arduous journey.
While living there, a number of public embarrassments on her account have been recorded in Yamato history, most of them related to her lack of understanding for the rich and complicated customs and traditions of the Yamato people, getting used to which took her well over a decade.
In the end, no failure or embarrassment could have ever outshone her most infamous act: The brutal incineration of the great City of Estverde, which destroyed her status and reputation and ultimately lead to her death one year later.
No trauma ever shook Hestia as much as the disapproval of her parents and her peers during her childhood at the Bonfire Shrine. Her unquellable enthusiasm for fire in all its forms could not be tempered by the wisdoms of her fellow priests and shrine maidens, who cautioned her about the dangers of uncontrolled fires.
As preventing fires from spreading in villages was one of the chief occupations of shrine maidens of the Bonfire Shrine, she often had to travel the Middle Lands, keeping people save from fires breaking out. But among the ranks of the Fire Watchers she grew more and more restless, passionately arguing for letting fires run their course; a position that was met with shock and horror. It was said that something snapped in her when she was banished from the shrine, and she would do all in her power to prove the supremacy and beauty of fire to her peers thereafter.
Hestia was reported to be highly inquisitive and bright as a child, prone to exploration and discovery. Doubtless her ascent of Mt. Tarkaal is owed to this particular characteristic. Her creative mind and talent for spatial thinking have always made magic come easy to her, and under the guidance of the Bonfire Shrine, she quickly attained a high level of mastery in fire magic, displaying terrifying skill and soul power.
Her mind for tactics and military matters was also praised by her peers in the Yamato Kingdom at a later age, and for this reason the position afforded to her there included not just teaching the principles of fire magic but also applying them in combat and in war.
Morality & Philosophy
While retaining many of the esoteric and ethical teachings afforded to her as a child at the Bonfire Shrine, she never fully assimilated the peaceful, reclusive mindset that was intended to her by her betters.
In her mind, finding new horizons in the real world, spiritually and philosophically, and pushing the limits of the possible always took precedent over most things.
While doing many good deeds in her early life and later within the Yamato Kingdom, many seemed to be motivated by some sort of lofty, but ultimately hollow ideal or just by political or other gain. It always seemed more important to her to please others with her deeds than to actually be a morally superior person, and her unfortunate fascination with fire and destruction often further hindered her in that regard.
Virtues & Personality perks
After a decade with the Yamato folk, Hestia had become so used to faking her left-handedness that she had become more or less ambidextrous. Her keen intellect and proactive nature propelled her successful career for her entire time with the Yamato Kingdom.
Vices & Personality flaws
Hestia was very set in her views, generally resisting people trying to change her mind. She also tended to get angry quickly when not taken seriously or faced with adversity. It was her unfortunate temper that ultimately led to her downfall.
Hestia was said to be an extremely charismatic leader, capturing the hearts of her peers with her openly expressed joy for life and passion. Her love for fire in all its form, however, was often off-putting, and only her bright, positive attitude, which in her 40s and upward became tempered with experience and self-control, kept her peers from becoming too alarmed by it.
Hobbies & Pets
According to Court records, Hestia was an avid Age of Heroes (Deck of Cards) and Mahôgi player and could best even the male generals of the Court, earning their respect.
Though living with the Yamato folk for many decades, she reportedly never fully overcame her western accent.
Wealth & Financial state
While entering the Yamato Kingdom with very few possessions and coins to her name, the map she delivered to the emperor as a gift was so well received that she quickly acquired status and, in the tradition of the monarchy's inner workings, received lavish gifts during the course of her service, including a large residence, servants, and later even lands and a province to rule over.
The Crest of Bygate, created and employed by Hestia during her service to the emperor of the Yamato Kingdom. Though many felt the symbol was problematic due to the flame overlaid on the imperial fortress looking as though the hallowed hall was burning, the emperor himself approved it, and so it was drawn on many banners and stamps were created for it.
Mount Tarkaal on the left, the towers of Yamato on the right: Hestia Bygate's place of birth and the home she chose.
- Honorary & Occupational Titles
Shrine Maiden of the Bonfire Shrine (31 AA - 52 AA) Magus of the Fire Watch (36 AA - 52 AA) Tutor of Lord Hildebrandt (53 AA) Consultant of the Imperial Cartographer (58 AA - 59 AA) Special Advisor on the Art of Magic (58 AA - 108 AA) General of the Ryûga Order (63 AA - 108 AA) Special Advisor to the Imperial Military Council (65 AA - 108 AA) Daikan (Governor) of the Easternmost Provinces (72 AA - 108 AA)
- 5721 - 5809 (Died 88 years old)
the Bonfire Shrine by Mount Tarkaal
- Biological sex
Hestia never took a mate during her life, but some historical sources suggest that she might have been attracted to women. This, however, could have been an attempt at discrediting gossip. One entry of the Kyûteishô 宮廷囁 ("Whispers at the Court") reads as follows:
Though long of marrying age, the lady Hestia has refused many offers to marry into influential clans of the Court. Why, Taira and Tenshin themselves offered high ranking heirs to be her husband, all rejected. Such an honor has never before been bestowed upon an outsider, but not to this one's surprise, for the Lady holds great magic in her palm and commands the loyalty of the imperial mages of fire, a good get to say the least. But why refuse entering one of the great ruling houses, I wonder? It is said that she is always surrounded by chamber maids and prefers the company of her female disciples. Why, when accompanying her male colleagues and betters, she has often preferred to do so to Rakubara, reportedly enjoying the entertainment 'no less than her fellows'. This one is left to wonder if a simple explanation may not fit all this strange behavior, but indeed conjecture is the sport of the uncouth.
Jade-green with a keyhole in the left eye.
- Quotes & Catchphrases
I am not going to live my life as a prison guard for a great flame such as this! You do not approve of my passion? Well, I do not approve of your lack thereof!
I claim this mountain for Lord Byren and mark the Middle Lands for his taking! Just kidding.
If you think you are too far south to fear the Nordmen, you are an idiot. It took me one look into your town's records and I already know they raided you thrice in the past.
How did I, a woman, draw this map? I didn't. Three colleague surveyors and a historian joined me on my expedition, thus the map has been a joint effort of us all. But if you feel my gender makes me weak or stupid, you should know three things: One, I got here all the way from the other side of the Middle Lands never selling my body once, only my skill as a teacher; two, the aforementioned expedition would not have happened without me calling for and organizing it start to finish; three, it would take me all of five seconds to burn this entire tower to ashes.
You feel uneasy serving a woman general, I understand. So in front of all of you I am saying: He who steps forward and kills me now, prepared to die himself, may have my title and the home given to me by his highness the Emperor by imperial decree.
The time for words has passed. Now there will be fire.