Jao is one of the few remaining dragons, possibly the very last. He's a few hundred years old, which only makes him an adolescent in dragon years. In his human form, he's 6' and looks like a teenager, with short, unruly dark hair, golden skin, and amber eyes.
Jao met Locksley during the chaotic days after Hyperion Uprising, while the Leviathan Street clan was still in its early days. They were both denizens of Downside, and they had each heard about the other, but never met until a rogue demigod causing mischief among the lower level districts forced them into each other's company. The demigod was collecting aetherial creatures and immortals for his own entertainment, Sealing them in a labyrinth illusion in the catacombs beneath the city.
To ensure his "pet" dragon couldn't simply fly away, the demigod bound Jao to his human form. The spell was tattooed onto Jao's back. It's a realistic image of two dragons entwined in battle, starting at his left shoulder. Their tails wind all the way down his left leg, wrapping around his ankle like a manacle. He's still fireproof, though, and he also retained the ability to turn into smoke.
After waking up in the labyrinth with his new, unfortunate tattoo, he ran into another prisoner, Locksley. In order to survive the very real monsters trapped down there as well, Jao and Locksley had to team up. They discovered they worked rather well together, and formed a mutual, if grudging, respect.
They developed a friendship based on mutual adrenaline addictions and a general disrespect for authority. They're both intelligent, adventurous, and happy to go poke something dangerous with a stick.
Like all dragons, he's a hoarder. But instead of coveting the gold and jewels for which his species was hunted nearly to extinction, Jao's obsession is books. Oddly enough, he doesn't actually do much reading, and when he does, it's mostly anatomy books or penny-dreadfuls, cheap, quick reads filled with mystery or horror. It's the smell, texture, and weight of the books he finds soothing. Jao keeps his most valuable, and occasionally dangerous, books in a hidden vault deep below the Leviathan Street clan's complex, along with a few shiny objects he couldn't bring himself to part with.
Though his obsession is books, his passion is anatomy. He has always been fascinated with the body's bloody inner workings. He can easily lose days in his lab dissecting dead animals and examining organs. He pays top coin for fresh specimens, and rarely, if ever, bothers to inquire about their provenance.
He still has some fascination with shiny objects, though, and his borderline kleptomania has gotten him into trouble on more than one occasion. A couple decades ago, Jao stole a beautiful relic from the private collection of a punitive demigoddess named Vastienne. He overestimated his own resourcefulness, and she tracked him down with little difficulty. Moments before he was captured, Jao destroyed the irreplaceable relic. He assumed a lack of evidence would play in his favor. He was mistaken.
Although she would have reveled in Jao's slow and agonizing death, Vastienne was more interested in learning how he got past her security. After threats of "rigorous coercive interrogation techniques," Jao promptly showed Vastienne his draconic ability to turn into smoke. Intrigued, she wanted the golden dragon to her stable. She of-\fered him a simple choice: death or servitude.
But, fortunately for him, he was a full-fledged member of the Leviathan Street clan by then. Cho had no interest in a war with Vastienne's clan, but neither would she tolerate the killing or kidnapping of one of her own. And Vastienne was savvy enough to recognize the threat Cho and the Leviathan Street clan posed. So they compromised. Cho would allow Jao to lend his skills to Vastienne's service for an agreed-upon term. Ever self-interested, Jao readily agreed to work as Vastienne's personal thief, acquiring powerful relics for her collection.
Vastienne sentenced him to the same amount of time the relic had been in her possession. She carved the exact number of days into his forearm. The scarred number decreases daily as the term of his sentence is carried out, but he still has decades left.
In order to protect the Leviathan Street clan, Hex modified Jao's leviathan tattoo to include a confidentiality spell. Jao is physically incapable of revealing any information about either clan.
And there is one perk to the job. Vastienne has lent him a leather and metal cuff he now always wears around his right wrist. It's a relic from her personal collection, inscribed with seeking spell that helps him locate relics.