Panther on the cover of Caste Book: Zenith

Panther is one of the signature characters in Exalted, a Zenith Caste Solar Exalted.

Biography Edit

That Panther survived to adulthood seemed like a miracle. That he was selected to be a priest of the Unconquered Sun seemed like a mistake. The son of a Nexus prostitute, he was orphaned young then subjected to endless “indenture” for the crime of stealing to feed himself. A retired arena fighter named Maxus bought him and took him to the same fighting school where Maxus himself had grown up. There, Panther learned how to fight and how to look after himself, and he was soon on his way to making a name for himself in the infamous Pit, Nexus’s most popular fighting arena.

Growing up, Panther learned that ruthless self-service was the only way to become a champion. In team fights, he sacrificed his teammates’ safety to score telling blows against his opponents. In one-on-one engagements, he toyed with his foes for the crowd’s amusement, then brutally broke them down when the spectators’ bloodlust was at its highest. In order to win the sponsorship of a wealthy patron (and amuse the man’s jaded peers), he brutally beat down and killed a former teammate with his bare hands, ignoring the fighter’s surrender and pleas for mercy. For the blood he spilled and the lives he ruined, he received fame and money enough to buy his freedom. He ascended to the lifestyle he’d always coveted, wanting for nothing. Yet, for all he had, his life was ugly and pointless. The days blended into a pageant of endless bloodshed. The nights blurred into a lurching, debauched revel. Life became a fever dream, and he was content never to awaken.

But awaken Panther did, and with profound regret. He lay in his fancy apartment surrounded by stained drug paraphernalia, empty liquor bottles and unconscious hangers-on reeking of sex and sweat. The sight dizzied him. He had to step out onto his balcony. There, he turned his face to the sky, and in that moment, the Unconquered Sun spoke to him. He commanded Panther to go forth and make the world a righteous place as he (Panther) knew best. Sudden clarity overwhelmed Panther, and he realized what a shallow, worthless life he led. In a daze, he leapt from his balcony and walked out of Nexus into the depths of the East.

When he could go no farther, Panther rested and meditated on the world and his new place in it. He understood his divine mandate, but what did he know of righteousness? All his life, he’d been nothing but wicked and well rewarded for it. Yet, he realized that knowing so well a thing’s opposite can offer keen insight into the thing itself, and in this revelation, he found a measure of enlightenment. Perhaps his life of hardening and training his body had not been wasted after all. From that day on, he would seek out those who most like he himself had been and teach them the lessons he should have learned himself so many years ago. Some would listen, he knew, but most would not. To those, he would show that he was no mere priest, but the Chosen of Creation’s most powerful god.

Since his Exaltation, Panther has committed his heart and strength to redeeming himself for the unrighteous life he led. The core of his ethical framework, in fact, is to think about what might have seemed easiest or most satisfying to his old self and do the opposite of that. Thus does he hope to eventually redeem himself for his sinfulness and gain the moral high ground whence a man can justifiably preach of righteousness. By the same token, he believes that any Exalt can be redeemed, no matter how wicked he or she might be at the moment. It might take wicked mortals a few reincarnations to get it right, but the Exalted may change their ways in a single lifetime so long as they have dedicated guidance from those around them.

References Edit

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