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Axies the Collector is awoken in an alleyway by a ragged bum that tries to charge him rent for his stay the night before. Axies is naked, sore, and has a headache. There is smelly garbage all around him, and he shifts his nose so that he cannot smell it and banishes his headache after a few heartbeats of concentration. The narration reveals that Axies in an Aimian with blue toenails and fingernails and deep, crystalline blue eyes. The ragged bum had carefully constructed a small city from discards of trash and filth, and he tells Axies that he had trampled the temple of the northern god and stepped on Harpon street the night before. He asks Axies if he is a Voidbringer or a Herald, to which Axies muses that he must be a Voidbringer if he destroyed a temple. The bum also reveals to Axies that he is in the city of Kasitor, a city in northwestern Iri second in size only to Rall Elorim for the country. Axies had gone there and gotten very drunk on purpose, but while drunk he was beaten and robbed and left for dead. This is not the first time it's happened to him, and Axies sets out after the bum gives him a filthy rag to cover himself with.
Iri is a nation much warmer than those to the East, and the Iriali people have golden blond hair and wear painted patterns on their skin of many different colors. This prevents Axies's tattoos from sticking out too much, but Axies is still a bit worried of drawing unwanted attention. As an Aimian, his shadow is cast towards the sun rather than away from it, and he has the ability to change the shapes and colors of the markings on his skin at will. Axies thinks about how the scouring of his homeland was recent enough that knowledge of his kind, even for Siah Aimians, is likely general in the area.
Axies has been brought to local magistrates before because of his race, and he reflects about the Curse of Kind that he carries around. Because of this he doesn't worry very much and accepts things as they occur in his life.
Axies is a researcher of spren. He is commonly robbed of all he owns, so he has taken to recording field notes on his skin with his ability. He reads parts of his body to discover that he saw spren the night before that can only be seen when drunk. But even then, they don't always appear, as spren can be elusive; even the more common spren like flamespren don't always appear when expected. The spren he saw while intoxicated the night before took on the form of small brown bubbles that cling to nearby objects, and he considers a name for them like "Intoxicationspren" or "Alespren." He had been interested in them for years and considers this an exciting new development.
Axies walks to the docks, where a crowd has gathered to see the same thing he's there for: the emergence of Cusicesh the Protector. At precisely 7:46 every morning, Cusicesh emerges from the bay in the form of a massive jet of translucent water. Waves appear to erupt with its arrival but the surface of the bay around it is entirely undisturbed. Axies notes with his shape-changing ability on his leg that the jet of water is a deeper blue toward the center and more translucent at the edges. It seems to be roughly 100 feet tall, and it sprouts four long arms that then form fingers and thumbs. These limbs come down around the bay and rest on the golden pedestals made there for the giant spren. Some worship and others merely accept its existence, but its presence is a unique part of everyday life in the city of Kasitor. Its stubby neck area forms a head that looks to the East, toward the Origin, and its face quickly and consistently changes through hundreds or even thousands of distinguishable faces.
This process lasts for about ten minutes, and Axies feels a bit tired after it, which is apparently commonly reported among viewers. Cusicesh is the only spren of its kind that Axies knows of. A gang of young street urchins takes Axies's ragged covering and they run off with it, laughing. Four guards immediately notice his nakedness and arrest him, and Axies the Collector is unperplexed and whistling all the way to the cells.