Terry's Campaign 1

Backstory- Julianna

Most intellectual beings forget in a most convenient manner, the practices and rules that took my mother away from me. Among more simple thinkers, the stories turn into nothing more than bedtime stories and often time depict the burning of their neighbors as heroes valiantly rooting out the evil from their towns and keeping their children safe. Some stories, the once community member once tied to the stake after having their hands chopped off at the wrists suddenly revealed themselves as a scaly unrelenting beats with snakes for hair, and who’s breath turned the air to frost as she burned and withered into ashes.
I have seen my mother cast before without the use of her hands or lips. In part, cutting off her hands was a futile business, but I suppose bleeding out would have caused her less pain. She perhaps could have even saved herself, but it was clear what she chose to do with her dying proclamation. Among the smell of smoke and burning skin, her eyes burrowed not at me but at a man among the crowd. Anyone else would have thought he was simply hiding among the mob, chanting for her death as a cover up for his next action. He stopped his chants, dropped his torch and rushed to where I was watching my mother burn. He scooped me up with the strength conviction of a mother, and ran with me still bound in ropes. As he jostled me and ran towards the edge of the clearing, the crowd silenced. Some called for the man to bring me back and others were at best, indifferent. It was then my mother’s body exploded spreading a boiling acid over the crowd. Those standing closest were silenced in their hate forever. Some were merely scared from the hot boiling blood, but with a scar that wouldn’t ever heal as it stained with the force of an arcane mark. The last gift to me my mother left, was to be able to easily identify the vessels who carried the type of hatred and brutality who would burn a mother in front of her little girl. Often I wonder what I would do if I saw one of those people. For sure they would be old and withered by now as most were human and live short lives.
The man was able to find a clearing after a number of miles and a path that seemed to clear itself for our passage. I traveled no longer bound in ropes but at times atop of his shoulders, even though we never spoke. In that clearing, he simply set me down and looked at me with a severe sense of indecision then retreated back into the forest. I was getting cold but not feeling overall numb to the events of the day, when a young elf with darker skin appeared. He circled around me as if to decide if I was prey or a pretty little ornament. He left and I continued to sit when I noticed on the opposite side of the clearing movement from under some leaves. It was nothing but a hedgehog, but it appeared to be staring at me. He was fascinating, so I stared back. He came close and closer to me, as if he wanted to speak but couldn’t find the language. After a few minutes that seemed much longer, the talk darkish elf appeared again. He startled the hedgehog away and he leered at me much as he did before. Finally he said, “We are you coming along or not?” I was very young and had no real options so of course I followed.
It seemed among the trees and caves in the area these people lived just as easily as and comfortably as my mother and I lived at the academy, but the transition was not so easy for me. Druids have a much easier way of melding nature around them, and melding themselves into nature. While they allowed me to grow up among them, they didn’t do anything for me. I was made to learn their was and make my own contributions even knowing that my school of talents were not naturally geared for their land. As time passed on however, certain things did become more second nature. I became quite good at healing slavs although it was easier for me to make the elixirs or simply cast, but there was some insistence that I learn to work a cauldron even though that’s not what the other Druids would use. I as tried as I might, I didn’t have much of a talent for communicating with the animals the way others did, except for that hedgehog. He came to visit me often and eventually I was able to speak with him not as a companion but as a familiar. I suspect they all knew I communicated with him differently than they communicated with animals but no one seemed to mind much after a while. They tried to encourage their own beliefs and practices but somehow push me to develop talents in which they thought my own lineage would favor.
As it turns out, that little hedgehog was incredibly intelligent about most things. Jackson, he called himself, would tell me not only of things in this world but of different planes. He took years to tell me of all different ways and beliefs and it wasn’t until he revealed his true intention that I understood why he and the Druid clan I had known as home were taking the time to educate me. They asked me to leave.
It wasn’t uncaring, but more of a predetermined plan. They felt I reached the limits of what I could learn with them, and I was of age and perfectly capable now to take care of myself, but my mind was still hungry. They weren’t pushing me but encouraging me actually, to feel my mind and my talents. I wasn’t to thank them for anything but be willing to serve them if they ever came across a time when they were in need. I suppose the seers might know of an event coming where a talented witch might be a good ally. It was just before I left they made it clear, I was no druid, but in fact a witch with druid training. While I was well versed in arts of arcane, it would take some university learning to grow my talents further and practice and perfect hexes. Jackson assured me that the small town that burned my mother and almost me, was not a common paradigm when it came to witches or people who used arcane magic. Other areas of the world in fact celebrated it, openly studied and practiced, created bought and sold items and artifacts and even competed their talents. I have only even known burnings and teachings amongst the outskirts of proper society, the idea of walking among nobles and guards seemed like the fairytale. The idea of having access to a school and learning more was very appealing.
Jackson came with me, and it was easier than I anticipated to secure a spot in the academy. The teachings were almost mundane it was more aligning the practices they would teach with the practical that I had seen. More difficult was being among so many people with so many different intentions. I didn’t make friends easily. I think for a while they thought I would “clean up nicely” but I seemed to always have dirt on my face and couldn’t ever get the social niceties correct. I could hear people mutter things like, “she is hag material” and for the longest time I didn’t understand that to even be an insult, as most hags I had known were very powerful and talented with long lives and lineage. To be honest, I don’t see the problem with that, but Jackson insists that becoming an actual hag at this point is too limiting for my talents.
Now it’s years after academy and I have still been a bit transient, looking for opportunities to learn and practice out. The social niceties still allude me at times, but the adventure of it all is rather exciting. Jackson is suggesting we try to go out on some actual adventures, but what he fails to forget is that outside the somewhat stable walls of the cities, things try to squish you. And while I can often defend us and run, there are a great many things that are a threat especially if we get surprised. After all, that’s how they caught my mother.

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