Keita the Beastwalker
Attributes: Strength 0, Agility 2, Mind 1, Appeal 1
Combat Abilities: Brawl 0, Melee 1, Ranged 2, Defence 1
Careers: Noble 0, Hunter 2, Thief 1, Physician 1
Hero Points: 5
Languages: Lemurian (is literate)
Boons: Beast Friend, Keen Hearing
Weapons: Bow d6 (Range 60’), Dagger d3 (can be thrown, easy to conceal)
Protection: Light armour d6-2 (2)
Her body is a red brown of jungle trees and her hair a lustrous dark brown of the earth. Her eyes, an arresting indigo, penetrate you with a slightly feral stare. She wears light leather clothing, often the skins of animals she has killed. She carries a well kept, strong bow and a dagger.
We were not a rich family, but we were related to the nobility of Shamballah through my mother’s cousins, so I guess we were nobles in some right. Shamballah is a city of hunters, and our people are not the cosmopolitan folk that you find in the cities closer to the sea. Though like any nobility, there were still politics to deal with, and when someone falls on hard times, there is little forgiveness. Especially if one is still small, weak and has no power to influence.
I forget why we were travelling that day – probably it was a family hunting trip, to help my parents bring in some furs, claws, feathers and teeth for trade. We were tracking a large cat – the children learning the hunt from their parents, like our people have done for centuries – when a band of feral marauders suddenly appeared around us. The fight was quick and brutal. My mother managed to disembowel one before another slit her throat as she screamed. My brother and I tried to escape, and I slid through the legs of the one who seemed clumsy, but I heard my brother cry out as one of the dirty ones grabbed him by his not-yet-grown-to-manhood hair. I heard the crack of his skull on a rock. My father fought the hardest, trying to save his family. It took three of them to finally take him down. I kept running until I found the river, but I heard his angry bellow cut short. I knew I was alone.
I hid, listening, waiting for the marauders to try to find me. They moved silently but they moved on and didn’t find my hiding place in the tree, blending in. I quietly backtracked in the night. They hadn’t even taken their weapons. They had taken my brother’s body, and done horrible things to my mother and father. I covered them with leaves and brush, wept, and took my mother’s bow and dagger. And the charms from around their necks.
I tracked the marauders and found them two days later. My brother was still alive, though brutally wounded and they were doing unspeakable things to him. I could hear his wails as they laughed and enjoyed him. I can only imagine what they would have done to me. I ambushed them that night, one at a time, as they separated themselves. My parents had taken out three of them, leaving the three who killed my father. The first was pissing against a tree. I hung upside down from an overhead branch and slit his throat quickly and quietly. The second came looking for the first, and I slit his throat as he bent down to look at his fallen comrade. The third, I planted an arrow in his eye socket as he stared out into the jungle, blind from the fire, anxious about his comrades but unwilling to leave the boy he had just ravaged.
My brother died in my arms, satisfied that our family and he had been avenged. I cut his hair with my mother’s dagger before he died, as she would have done, to show that he had passed to manhood. He was my twin. I cut my own hair in grief, and in recognition that I was no longer a child.
I tried to return to Shamballah, but there was no support for me. When I told my relatives that my family had been killed, they took all our possessions and our house, claiming my parents owed debts. Whether they did or no, I had no idea. But when they tried to marry me to one of the old men for money and political position within the King’s council, I knew I was in danger. In the night, I stole food and money from their house, and fled with my mother’s bow and dagger, vowing to return one day to set things right.
I wandered the jungle, tracking, hunting, and sometimes stealing from towns and villages I found. I became quite proficient at blending into the shadows, and moving silently. So silently that I was able to sometimes prowl with the large cats in the jungle. In fact, I found that I was able to create an understanding between myself and the large beasts, and they would tolerate me hunting with them or sharing in their kills. Eventually, I regularly bedded down with some of them, trusting in my safety with them much more than my safety with humans.
My movements through the jungle brought me to another large settlement – Tyrus. Considering whether to purposely encounter humans again, I weighed the risks of being roped into societal expectations for a young woman my age. In the end, I slipped into the city in the night, leaving my animal friends in the jungle. I pilfered some less ragged clothes – leather knee length pants and a leather vest – from a store in the market. I slipped in through a window and took a few pieces of jewellery from the dressing room of a lady of nobility. And I stole a bit of food from a larder in a tavern. I faded back into the forest before sunrise and bedded down in the den of a local lion pride for the day, to digest the city food I’d eaten and to listen if anyone had been able to track me from the city. No one came during the day, but I warily moved on from there – exhilarated by the ease with which I had taken from them but also feeling a bit sick in my gut, knowing it was not honourable.
I was able to use the jewellery to buy passage across the river at Satarla, where I also performed some thievery for a local swindler who had a bag of coins to exchange for a large ruby ring possessed by one of the great noble ladies. As dangerous as it was to do, it was an easy enough caper. I climbed the wall one dark night, slipped into her dressing room and stole only the single ring out of her jewellery case. There were many other pieces that could have also netted me a fine price, but I heard the rustlings of a lady’s robes in the stairwell, and a sense in my gut told me to flee and not be greedy. Sure enough, it was a close call. One of the lady’s chambermaids noticed the ring was missing and sounded the alarm. The city guard searched all the flop houses and dens of inequity in the city looking for the thief and the ring. I hid in a culvert just outside the walls of the city overnight, comforted by the rats who held the secrets to the hidden places, until the ship left the next morning and took me across the mouth of the gulf of Satarla, leaving me in a small trading port on the edges of the Jungles of Qush. I felt their eyes on me as I strode out and disappeared between the trees.
The Jungles of Qush were not like my Jungles of Qo. There were many more wayward folks wandering those paths, and it was much more dangerous. I never let down my guard and had many fights for my survival, and sustained many wounds. The animals were still my faithful and trustworthy companions, and sometimes would help me back to their dens after an unfortunate encounter so that I could rest. I also learned much of forest healing – the plants to staunch bleeding, the flowers that clean wounds, the mosses to use for bandages and the barks that lessen pain. I came to the southern edge of the jungle, and faced a great reeking expanse of swamp. I followed the forest’s edge where it descended into the rotting mass, hoping to find a way around it, when I came across a band of hard men.
Over the years, my hair had grown once more, as had my woman’s body. Now no longer able to pass as a boy, I attracted more attention than I wished to. I had no desire to fight them, nor did I wish to lie with them. So, I set out across the stinking marsh, hoping I would find the edge soon. The marsh gases made me ill, and I bound some moss across my face to try to filter the stench. I stumbled and fell countless times, and nearly was killed by some strange monster that rose from the mud beside me. I wounded it with an arrow and fled as it roared in anger and pain. Eventually, the land dried and I crawled to a copse of trees and knew no more.
I awoke in a light and clean room, surrounded by strangers talking quietly. It smelled of sharply of medicines and soap. The woman beside me tried to assuage my fear, and I fell from my bed due to weakness. Unable to run, I was forced to trust. She showed me all my possessions, safely kept beside me and intact.
I had fallen gravely ill from the Festrel Swamp crossing I had done, and had nearly died in that copse of trees. And I would have if some healers in training had not been looking for a particular swamp plant for medicines. They found my dying body and brought me to Lysor. The healer complimented me on my use of moss to filter the air, and credited that with my survival. I finally broke down and released all the distrust, fear, tension and sadness that had filled my soul since my family was brutally destroyed. They agreed to take me on, and I began to learn the craft of the healer.
As a healer in training, I was often sent out with others to gather the materials the experienced healers required for salves, potions and other medicines. On one occasion, we were sent far out to gather strange plants near the city of Urceb. While foraging, my fellow healers in training went missing.