Savage Malifaux: Meet the Characters: Zai

Character Name: Zai
Player Name: Lara
Profession: Illusionist

  She is the Incomprehensible Butterfly, Master of Prestidigitation, Virtuoso of Dreams, Sovereign of Your Reverie. When she struts into the spotlight, Zai’s mussed pageboy hair might be pink, purple, or indigo; her sinuous arms draped with fur stoles, or silk kimonos, or glittering chain mail, or bridal veils spangled with Kusama polka dots; her face concealed behind a porcelain mask. After swanning around the stage, taunting the audience into a frenzy, it’s time to set the stakes, establish just how dangerous the coming feats are, and how brave she is, the dazzling magician. Shaking with fear, her first audience volunteer holds up his hat, which she skewers with a darting, razor sharp dagger, nailing his gambler to the wall. With a smile renowned as the most dangerous smile in two worlds, Zai juggles three knives (real ones), adding four, five, eight, twelve flashing illusory ones–dancing and leaping as she weaves them into rings of fire through which she elegantly flips, or showers of deadly rain through which she dances and spins. As the daggers fly, they sing like bamboo flutes, each with its own pitch and harmony, slicing the air with deadly, ethereal beauty. At the apex of the audience’s terror and jubilation, when they are most afraid that she might be torn to ribbons by the climactic tornado of fiery knives, she commands the weapons to settle around her feet, faces the audience, and finally, finally! takes off the mask. On the way out, one fan says her eyes were those of a golden dragon; another says her skin was black as night and spangled with galaxies; a third simply says she was the most otherworldly beautiful woman he’d ever seen. The only thing they can agree on is that they will never, ever forget her.

  Her desire for the spotlight is so intense that Zai must perform regularly for an appreciative crowd or die of rage and heartbreak. Real fame, the pinnacle of prestige, she believes with all her heart, is to become famous not only on Earth (which was easy) but in Malifaux, where wonders (and terrors) are a dime a dozen. Because she knows well enough not to draw the attention of the Guild’s ruthless witch hunters, she hides her real magical abilities behind the glittering curtain of stage magic.

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