Professor Nikolai Aleksander is Osaka Gakiun's PE instructor, and a Human Legacy magician. He also runs the schools' parkour, weapons training, and martial arts clubs. He is an berserk, a shaman who serves as a warrior-priest of the chief Norse god, Odin.
Nikolai is a powerfully built man, with olive skin, a stocky frame, wide shoulders, and a barrel chest. His face has rugged features and stone grey eyes. The black hair on the top of his head is worn shoulder-length, with the sides and back shaved off. He generally braids it into a single ponytail, but occasionally wears it freely for more formal situations, allowing it to hang down and cover the shaved parts of his head. He also wears jaw-length, L-shaped sideburns that are close-cropped, and an short chin-beard. There are tattoos of Norse runes all around his body, magically empowered to provide an practical as well as decorative function. As a means of fully embracing his mixed heritage, he has a ta moko facial tattoo and complemented some of the runic tattoos with borders of traditional Maori design. All of his runic tattoos were first carved into his flesh and the wounds packed with ash, to form raised scars, which were then inked.
Nikolai wears several outfits. For his ordinary classes, he wears the school gym clothes. For his extracurricular activities, he wears his black martial arts keikogi with grey trim. It consists of a sleeveless uwagi(jacket), obi(belt), and zubon(pants). The uwagi has the school patch sewn onto the left side of the chest, and he typically completes the outfit with a simple black sweatband. For casual wear, he prefers a grey camouflage shirt and pants with detachable lower legs, and a black belt and motorcycle boots. When traveling, he puts on a black leather jacket, gloves, and biker chaps. When combat is expected, Nikolai wears greaves, elbow-length demi-gauntlets, spaulders, and hip guards along with his torso's combat harness, instead of his travel gear.
Nikolai has mastered an diverse selection of weapons, though he usually only carries a few on him. Nikolai has had them inscribed with Norse runes to enchant them to be more effective against supernatural threats. His favorite load-out is listed below.
- Sword: Nikolai's signature weapon, his sword is an broadsword-sized khopesh, with an one and a half edge and a hilt sized for two-handed use. He uses the waved edge to create vibrations when run along an enemy's weapons, to unsettle their grip, and the hooks behind the point and below the curve to snag his opponents' weapons and gear to control them. Thanks to the shape of the blade imparting a natural slicing motion to it's swings, and the way it distributes the weight forward, the khopesh cuts with the power of an axe. The shape also makes it harder to block, as it can easily reach around weapons and shields. Holding the blade with the back forward allows the sword to double as a club, as well, thanks to the design of the point. The quillions of the crossguard are curved towards the point of the blade, to allow his wrists more room to move. It is holstered on his right hip, so it can be drawn quickly by his sword hand. The reason it is much larger than traditional khopesh, which were no more than one-handed short swords, is that it is forged with crucible steel instead of bronze.
- Crossbow: Nikolai prefers a crossbow to firearms, as it's quieter and easier to charge the ammunition with magical energy. The crossbow is built to re-cock itself automatically, so all he has to do is put in a new bolt. He also inscribes his bolts with runes, and carries them in an wide, rectangular quiver on his left hip. His crossbow is slung across his back when it isn't in use.
- Limb armor: Nikolai uses his greaves and demi-gauntlets to both protect himself and add a little more punch to his unarmed attacks. His demi-gauntlets are constructed with an elbow-length bracer, and tactical grip gloves with plates for the back of the hand and the fingers' bottom segments, as well as studded knuckle guards.
Motorcycle: Nikolai rides an two-seater motorcycle with saddlebags containing emergency supplies and a spare set of his magic ritual tools.
Ritual tools: Nikolai uses an grimiore, small altar(An collapsible one is placed inside his saddlebags), and an rune-inscribed athame with an silver blade when performing ritual magic. He also has salt for purification, chalk for drawing, and a silver bowl in his standard kit. The use of other materials is dictated by what the intended ritual needs.
Magic: Nikolai often uses Norse runes to channel his powers, using them for divination, as well as building wards and enchantments. Rune-spells are limited by the user's creativity in putting them together, and having the materials to create them in the first place. Great care must be taken in making them, as an improperly inscribed rune will cause the spell to be malformed and possibly backfire. His tattooed runes grant him protective and enhancing wards that can be supercharged in his berserkergangr state, largely eliminating their vulnerability to being overwhelmed by heavily concentrated magical energy attacks. Besides runes, which must be prepared beforehand, and basic energy manipulation, Nikolai's magic is largely limited to rituals and visions, as well as sensing, communing with, and calling on spirits for aid, which is unreliable at best, as the spirits may choose not to help. The spirits also guide him, giving him instinctive knowledge and protection in battle. Stepping to one side and moving his sword in a certain way without knowing why, thereby parrying an unseen attack, is a common example of this guidance. Occasionally, the spirits may compel him into a quest, for purposes even he may not know until he reaches his destination, which he is also often unaware of until he gets there. He is also weak against mages who can use spoken and somatic spells, as he has no way to counter complex magic without rituals or specially prepared rune-spells.. Nikolai must be careful not to abuse his powers, as this will break his connection to the spirits and strip his magic.
Berserkergangr: Though trained as a Berserk, Nikolai's battle-trance is known to many warrior and religious traditions throughout history, such as the African Leopard Men, Native American Spirit Warriors, and the "Boxers" infamous for the Chinese Boxer Rebellion. This family of martial and religious practices is called Somafera, meaning "The Body Wild", after the name of the trance they wield. Through his Norse heritage, Nikolai refers to Somafera as Berserkgangr. The berserks are the most famous wielders of this trance, and theirs is now the most wide-spread of the traditions. It is a state of transcendental religious ecstasy that forces the body into overdrive, unlocking it's safety limits and granting conscious control over many previously unconscious bodily processes. The vast majority of users must undergo personalized initiation rituals to begin learning to control it. Though all humans are capable of deliberately accessing this state, it is highly discouraged, as it takes years of training to accomplish this and generally only those born able to do so, such as the berserks, have minds wired to cope with it. Even "psychonauts" experienced with psychedelic and hallucinogenic drugs are known to be traumatized by it. Those who fail to acquire the proper training through one of the Somafera traditions after they are born to Somafera have grim prospects. Though cultures with Somafera traditions simply saw them as whole-but-different people and assimilated them, modern society sees them as broken and dangerous. The majority of the untrained end up in prisons, insane asylums, medicated into shells of their former selves, dead, or otherwise dysfunctional. Medically, this is known as Intermittent/Militant Explosive Disorder, an rare genetic defect of the brain's impulse control center, related to and often correlated with epilepsy. The trance also runs the risk of heart attack, stroke, internal bleeding, heatstroke, a strong chance of self-injury, and always results in crippling post-trance fatigue that can last up to 6 weeks depending on the depth and duration of the trance, which has a maximum sustainability of one hour. The strengthened mind-body connection resulting from the trance leaves them far more vulnerable to stress-induced illness. The emotional gradient of the user is also effectively a sheer cliff, instead of an gradual slope. Much of the brain's higher functions shut down in the trance, leaving them running mostly on pure instinct. Enough stress will force the berserk into an trance as a defense mechanism, rendering them feral but unable to access the full spectrum of their abilities. These abilities are superhuman speed and strength(5-7 times their ordinary maximum, depending on mastery), superhuman senses and reflexes, increased healing(Rapid blood clotting and muscle relaxation, immunity to pain, purging of toxins and illness), dilated time perception, muscle control, and a near-precognitive grasp of body language, to the point of being able to predict an opponent's movements before they are consciously aware of deciding them. Berserks are also capable of instantly refreshing themselves in battle, sometimes several times per trance, but will have less and less effect each time, and must pay for it dearly later. Besides letting them burn out, the only way to stop a berserk is to make them bleed out, suffer an instantly fatal wound, or attack their lungs with inhaled gas or powder, a particular vulnerability as they invariably hyperventilate to fuel their body's accelerated metabolism. Attacking them before they can enter battle fury, particularly when isolated, is the best option, as they can't defend themselves during the body's transition from normal function to "burn-out mode". The actual transition time varies, as newly initiated berserks must undergo an ritual, while experienced ones can strip away elements of the ritual until they can trigger at will. The more warmed up a berserk is physically, the faster the transition. Nikolai triggers at will, and typically takes no longer than a minute in transition. Only intuitive magic abilities, such as energy manipulation, can be utilized in this state. Nikolai will also merge with his totem spirit guide, a wolf, when entering berserkergangr, shaping his aura into an spectral werewolf around his body. It's in this merged state that he may phase partially into the spirit world, granting him intangibility. While intangible, he may not interact or be interacted with physically, though magic will still hurt him. Berserks are labeled based on their totem spirits, which also determine their fighting style within the trance. Nikolai has an wolf totem spirit, therefore, he is classed as an ulfhedinn(Ulfhednar for plural), or "Wolf Coat" berserk. Ulfhednar tend to be very intellectual, active fighters, constantly moving and shifting stance, guard, and tactics. Some excel at ring control and precision, others prefer deception, tricks, and head games. The constantly shifting approach ulfhednar take makes them difficult to hit, though speed and accuracy are frequently emphasized. Some, who excel at speed and judging distance, are almost impossible to get a square hit on, always slipping their heads or twisting their bodies so the main force of a blow is lost. Due to the spiritual nature of the Somafera trance, the berserks and other Somafera traditions frequently display shamanistic tendencies and powers.
Battle style: Edit
True to his training, Nikolai is an highly evasive fighter, blending into and redirecting attacks to set an opponent up for counters, which are typically strings of explosive, up-close blows thanks to Storm Fist's integration of Jeet Kune Do and Muay Thai elements. Throws, as well as joint manipulation and breaks, are his favored grappling moves. His style frequently frustrates and confuses his opponents, leaving them tired out long before he is. When engaging supernatural threats, he channels his magic into his weapons and armor. He can also call upon the spirits to heal, wield the elements, and control the weather on his behalf. When using the berserkgangr, Nikolai generally prefers ring control and precision strikes, using his expert knowledge of human anatomy to exploit pressure points and nerve clusters in tandem with his berserk speed and strength. Depending on his target in the body, this can inflict an incredible amount of pain and damage if he discharges some of his power on impact. He is also an skilled marksman with his crossbow, though not uncommonly so.
- Meditation: Nikolai has mastered the art of meditation, even while moving and in combat, using it to control his body temperature and withstand killing heat and cold, as well as armor himself against physical melee strikes. Firearms and magic-infused attacks still work against him when using his mental armor, which he primarily utilizes to make full use of his berserk powers without risk of self-injury.
- Yoga: A standard part of his exercise routine, Yoga has allowed Nikolai greater muscle control, even over previously involuntary muscles.
- Parkour: As much a philosophy and method for life as it is a method of movement, parkour has contributed greatly to Nikolai's mindset and agility. It teaches quick, creative, and critical thinking. Discipline, overcoming fear, confidence, and self-development are also major aspects of parkour.
- Martial arts: After starting his training at age four, Nikolai is now an 7th Dan black belt in the hybrid martial art, Storm Fist. Storm Fist is comprised of elements of Aikido, Baguazhang, Capoiera, Drunken Fist, Judo, Krav Maga, Jeet Kune Do, and Muay Thai. It is focused on mobility and endurance, blending into and redirecting an opponent's movements to set them up for explosive counter attacks. Storm Fist also starts it's multi-opponent sparring at green/3rd belt rank, far earlier than most other martial arts, but even without this policy, the sheer evasiveness of their fighting style makes practitioners well-suited to fighting while outnumbered, even against armed opponents.
- Liberal arts: Nikolai has trained similarly to an samurai, using his hobbies as a way to train his warrior skills. He practices art and calligraphy for dexterity, precision, and attention to detail. He practices music and singing to hone his hearing, dexterity, and breath control. Dance helps him improve his coordination, balance, and flow. Handicrafts such as woodcarving allows him to practice many of the same skills as art, while providing a more practical benefit, making bowls, tools, and other items he can use or sell for extra income.
- First aid: In tandem with the anatomical knowledge he acquired through his martial arts training, Nikolai is an certified provider, and instructor, of wilderness first aid, a necessary skill when the spirits may guide you to go anywhere.
- Haka: Just as his father taught him of his Norse heritage as a berserk, his mother taught him the Maori practice of the Haka war dance, which he has incorporated into his routine for his rites as a berserk.
- Board games: Though he plays chess, Nikolai's favorite game is weiqi, which has simpler rules, yet more complex, and realistic strategy.
Though having to deal with constant emotional whiplash and bestial tendencies as a result of his nature as a berserk, Nikolai is an highly moral, free-spirited man, always encouraging and teaching those around him. This is because Nikolai's training has had an profound impact on his psyche. The core of parkour's philosophy is the discovery, awareness, testing, and improvement of the self, leading to acceptance and confidence in one's own abilities. It requires quick, creative, and critical thinking, strengthening the mind as it's physical practice strengthens the body. Discipline and learning to overcome fear keeps the traceur calm in stressful situations. Persistence shows the traceur that we can do more than we think, meaning that failure is often due to simply not wanting to do something enough to put in sufficient time and effort to overcome the obstacle. The physical practice of parkour and the shifting perspectives required to chart a path through one's environment teaches the traceur that many of the blocks and limits we face in life are simply illusions imposed by oneself and conditioning by one's society, liberating the practitioner and allowing them to become a force of change. He sees this freedom of the self as something that makes him a better shaman, allowing him to easily accept and be guided along the tides of the spirits' will. His training in Storm Fist, by contrast, has encouraged modesty, discipline, integrity, leadership, communication, and conflict resolution. For Nikolai, martial arts has always been more about building character and challenging oneself to improve than it has been about fighting. Nikolai is also an very intuitive individual when it comes to handling people, relying on an excellent grasp of cold reading and cues from the spirits. He also spurns heavy armor not merely because it slows him down, but also because it implies doubt about the spirits' guidance and therefore insults the beings he trusts and respects with the utmost fiber of his being. He sees himself not as an agent, but a conduit of their power, which he does not command, but only borrows to do what is necessary in maintaining the balance of the world.
When Nikolai triggers the berserkgangr, much of his higher functions shut down. He has no sense of self, and operates almost entirely on instinct and programmed reflex. The conscious and subconscious parts of his mind merge, granting him otherwise inhuman control over his bodily processes and muscles. He is also capable of subdividing his awareness, compartmentalizing his mind to focus on several different tasks at once. For the most part, he only divides his mind in three, one portion dedicated to maintaining his trance and meditative techniques, one portion physically operating his body, and the third taking in sensory input and formulating his response. This makes him highly resistant to telepathic opponents if they can't catch him in his ordinary state. Nikolai also has no perception of pain, a mixed blessing, as he can both ignore wounds and injure himself without realizing it. His mind also takes on the identity of his spirit guide, a wolf, as it merges with him in this state as well.
Feral state: Edit
When subjected to sufficient stress, berserks will trigger their berserkgangr as an defensive reflex, becoming little more than mindless animals for the duration of it. Because they perceive themselves as under attack, they will lash out at anything and everything in sight out of pure instinct, regardless of if the target is friend or foe. However, they are substantially less dangerous than a berserk who has voluntarily triggered berserkgangr and thus retained control. This is because they lack intelligence and cannot utilize anything that requires a degree of consciousness, such as meditative techniques, muscle control, and virtually all magic. Hence, they can't perform at their best, and are as much a danger to themselves as everyone else.
Born to a Norwegian father and Maori mother, Nikolai grew up in New Zealand. When he was four years old, his parents enrolled him in martial arts. At age six, being in the vehicle during an car accident triggered his berserk nature and the shamanic gifts that came with it. Were it not for his father, who shared these abilities, things might have gone very badly for Nikolai in the grip of his first, and uncontrolled, berserkergangr. Nikolai's father took it upon himself to train him as a berserk, as no other was available. Over time, his prowess as a martial artist and a shaman grew. Disregarding his difficulty in using complex magic in favor of understanding how other magicians work with their abilities, Nikolai studied many aspects of magical lore, mostly because his father informed him that most of the time, the problems the spirits expect shamans to solve are caused by mages or are otherwise supernatural in origin. Arcane symbols and rituals, which are his core methods of accessing complex magic, are an particular focus of study for him. Upon prompting by his martial arts instructor, he began exploring parkour and the liberal arts as a way to hone some of his warrior skills, which his father greatly encouraged, hoping that it would also help him to be a more well-rounded individual. Heeding the advice of his father, Nikolai also studied first aid and survival skills, to prepare himself for being called on to wander by the spirits. At age 18, he began the process of acquiring his tattoos with an practitioner of the sacred Maori tradition of ta moko. When he was twenty-four, his instincts as a shaman drew him from his dojang to Osaka Gakuin, and he has taught there ever since, happily instructing his students and keeping the balance of the region in check until the spirits call him to journey elsewhere. Nikolai is a regular tutor and sparring partner for magically inclined students, particularly those who wish to hone their knowledge and skills in fighting arcane opponents. While they are accepting of the nature of his shaman powers, the sudden, erratic, and whimsical nature of how the spirits call upon him is a frequent source of exasperation for his coworkers. However, they also value the opportunities these ventures often provide for their students to gain practical field experience when dealing with the supernatural, and in how to hopefully diffuse or prevent such problems in the future.
- Nikolai Aleksander's first and last names translate to "Victory of the people" and "Protector of man" respectively.
- Nikolai has established containment protocols with the school staff in the event of his being forced into a feral trance, involving large quantities of knock-out and tear gas, as well as adhesive and flash-bang grenades. Anti-magic wards have also been added to the school security systems, designed to nullify his tattoos and powers on demand, as well as that of any other threat to the school.