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Meet the Iconics: Feiya

Thursday, October 27, 2011


Illustration by Wayne Reynolds

Born in a small village north of Trollheim in the Linnorm Kingdoms, the child who would come to be known as Feiya was the daughter of two Tian merchants from Minkai who had come over the crown of the world to Avistan to start a new life. Travelers by nature, they spent the short northern summers making slow loops through Hagreach and the Thanelands, facilitating trade. What few memories Feiya has of that life are happy ones: the jostling of wagons, the smell of campfires, and wandering alone through fields and forests, marveling as the wildness closed around her.

That happiness came to a sudden halt on the fateful day that brought her to the attention of a recently sundered coven of witches who dwelled on the border with Irrisen. Led by a particularly cruel green hag named Nysima, the coven had lost its youngest member to a squad of Blackravens from Trollheim and was still reeling from its sudden loss of power. They witnessed the child as she skipped away from the caravan stop, following a family of deer deep into the woods, and immediately set upon her.

There’s no telling what cruelties the witches would have visited upon the girl had they not suffered their recent loss. As it was, another, no less horrific, fate awaited young Feiya. The two crones seized the child and whisked her away to the east, their mad cackling drowning out the young girl’s terrified screams. By the time they reached their snow- and thatch-covered huts, they had given the child a new name and were already envisioning the return of their lost powers.

The next twelve years were a blur of pain, terror, and misery as Feiya endured the crones’ sadistic attempts to teach her their dark craft. Alternating between tutelage and torture, the witches frequently let their cruel natures impede their instruction. For while the young girl showed unmistakable promise and aptitude, she also possessed a defiance that only the harshest of punishments could suppress. On numerous occasions, Feiya tried to escape her imprisonment, only to be tracked down and captured after no more than a few hours. The retributions for these failed attempts have scarred her body and mind in ways that no magic can ever heal.

One brisk autumn day, after being beaten for failing to properly brew a batch of poisonous blue whinnis, Feiya was sent off to gather herbs. While harvesting more whinnis root, she spied a fox watching her from atop a large rime-covered rock. Unlike the region’s typical arctic specimens, this creature had a striking red and orange coloration that stood in stark contrast to the endless snow. There was something about the way the creature watched her that beckoned to Feiya. She approached carefully, and was astonished by his calm and focus. As she neared, the fox trotted a small distance away, turned, and gave her a look that was clearly an invitation to follow. This process was repeated again and again, and before she knew it, Feiya was following the fox on another escape attempt.

By sundown, the two witches had realized Feiya’s intentions. Furious, they set off in pursuit, confident that, as with all previous instances, their hunt would be brief. This time, however, Feiya had guidance. The fox led her along trails never before seen by human nor hag, staying always just ahead and out of reach. When she needed nourishment, the fox led her to game and fresh water. When she needed rest, it stood vigil while she slept. In this manner, Feiya was able to elude capture for more than two weeks.

One particularly cold evening, however, Feiya’s luck ran out. With her pursuers hot on her trail and the fox nowhere to be seen, she found herself trapped in a river valley surrounded on three sides by impassable mountains. Feiya could sense the witches closing in, could hear their promises of pain on the chilling wind. She took shelter in a shallow cave behind the waterfall that fed the river, a curious little grotto whose far wall was emblazoned with a crude carving of a butterfly. Like an animal run to ground, Feiya steeled herself for the coming confrontation. She had come too far this time to surrender without a fight. She determined then and there that her days of living under someone else’s yoke were over. She would have her freedom, either in this life or the next.

It was at that moment that the fox reappeared. Only now, there was something different in the way he approached her. He had always shown a preternatural intelligence, but as Feiya stared into his eyes, she saw a consciousness and a determination that would have frightened her had she not come to trust the animal so implicitly. As she watched him, Feiya was startled by a sudden and overwhelming flurry of sensations invading her mind. She sank, dazed, to the cave floor as the feelings slowly crystallized into coherence. Less a voice than a series of emotions, the promise it offered was unmistakable. Feiya said nothing, but her acceptance was as clear as it was quick.

What followed will forever haunt Feiya’s dreams. Raspy promises of pain and suffering rose above the din of the waterfall as the witches drew near to cave mouth. Feiya could see the outlines of their hunched bodies just beyond the blanket of cascading water, but before she could act, another sound arose. It started as a low rumble, then quickly gained volume, drowning out both hags and water and sending tremors through the cave floor. Then the valley erupted with the screeching and roaring of what could only have been a forest’s worth of wild animals, punctured occasionally by the shrill curse of a hag.

Long minutes passed as Feiya stood, too frightened to move. Then, as gradually as it began, the noise subsided until all that remained was the crash of the waterfall. Feiya crouched down behind a rocky outcropping, afraid to leave the shelter of the cave. As the minutes turned into hours, exhaustion claimed her, and, despite her anxiety, she succumbed to a fitful sleep.

When dawn finally arrived, Feiya stepped out from the cave, not quite sure what she was expecting to see. A fresh blanket of snow had covered the land, hiding any clues she might have found concerning the events of the previous night. Yet the feeling of relief was palpable. The fox crept up and paused at her side. She was finally free.

Feiya never discusses the events of that night, nor the particulars of the strange pact she entered into. She may one day try to track down the parents she barely remembers, but for now she is content to roam the world, relishing her freedom, seeking new experiences, and developing her newfound power. Though she desperately desires the company of others, formative years spent away from civilized society have left Feiya lacking in social graces, and her awkwardness often leads to unfortunate misunderstandings. Nevertheless, her inherent good nature tends to win out, and her occasional flares of temper are countered by her steadfast loyalty to her friends. Feiya relishes travel, and having identified the butterfly carving in the waterfall cave as the found-mark of a Desnan priest, she gladly embraces that faith, hoping that her wanderings may cast more light on who she really is—and what entity fosters her magical abilities.

Andrew Vallas
Graphic Designer

More Paizo Blog.
Tags: Feiya Meet the Iconics Wayne Reynolds Witches
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Poor Feiya! And I thought some of the other characters had tragic upbringings. Well, at least she's got her fox for company now.

And do I assume correctly that she gained her witch-training at the claws of the green hags? Which seems odd when combined with their brutality towards her; is it really all that wise to mistreat someone when you're teaching them things (magic, poison making, etc.) they can eventually use to kill you? Then again, maybe they were rather stupid hags.

Cheliax

It's been a long wait ... but you have to appreciate the timing, thanks guys !

This is your tale then Andrew? :)


Wow! Good stuff!

Grand Lodge

Very nice back story, and just in time for Halloween.


1 person marked this as a favorite.
Eric Hinkle wrote:

And do I assume correctly that she gained her witch-training at the claws of the green hags? Which seems odd when combined with their brutality towards her; is it really all that wise to mistreat someone when you're teaching them things (magic, poison making, etc.) they can eventually use to kill you? Then again, maybe they were rather stupid hags.

The witches' lust for power obviously trumped their ability to think through this possible outcome. It happens from time to time, especially with evil beings. Look at the Dark Lords of Sith, it's the natural order of things that the apprentice eventually rises up to destroy his master.

Paizo Employee Creative Director

1 person marked this as a favorite.
Eric Hinkle wrote:

Poor Feiya! And I thought some of the other characters had tragic upbringings. Well, at least she's got her fox for company now.

And do I assume correctly that she gained her witch-training at the claws of the green hags? Which seems odd when combined with their brutality towards her; is it really all that wise to mistreat someone when you're teaching them things (magic, poison making, etc.) they can eventually use to kill you? Then again, maybe they were rather stupid hags.

The "pre-training," perhaps, but it wasn't until she spent the night in that fateful cave and the fox became her familiar that she actually really became a witch. And even though she's an an arcane caster, Desna had more than a little to do with saving her from the greenhags...


James Jacobs wrote:
And even though she's an an arcane caster, Desna had more than a little to do with saving her from the greenhags...

So you're saying my crazy idea that a Witch could be some sort of atypical servant of a deity outside their normal clergy isn't necessarily crazy?

Cheliax

Pathfinder Comics Subscriber; Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Modules, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Very cool been waiting for the rest of the iconics and this is one more down.

Paizo Employee Creative Director

KrispyXIV wrote:
James Jacobs wrote:
And even though she's an an arcane caster, Desna had more than a little to do with saving her from the greenhags...
So you're saying my crazy idea that a Witch could be some sort of atypical servant of a deity outside their normal clergy isn't necessarily crazy?

Not crazy at all.

Shadow Lodge

*shrugs* Didn't grab me.


cool the witch


2 people marked this as a favorite.

Feiya - her turn on's

1) Wintery days
2) People who smile
3) Using shin-bones for toothpicks.

Her turn offs
1) Humpbacks
2) People who frown
3) The color green

Paizo Employee Developer

KrispyXIV wrote:
James Jacobs wrote:
And even though she's an an arcane caster, Desna had more than a little to do with saving her from the greenhags...
So you're saying my crazy idea that a Witch could be some sort of atypical servant of a deity outside their normal clergy isn't necessarily crazy?

A witch's patron can really be whatever you want, as long as its something powerful enough to grant spells (through a familiar).

Grand Lodge RPG Superstar 2012 Top 32

4 people marked this as a favorite.
Mark Moreland wrote:
A witch's patron can really be whatever you want, as long as its something powerful enough to grant spells (through a familiar).

Anyone remember those old "Behold the power of cheese" ads? :D


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Modules, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

I like this story it was fun.

I still would love to see Seoni's actual background story(how and when she got her powers, what village/town/city she lived in, etc.)

And ofcourse any of the iconics who haven't gotten anything for yet.


Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Charter Superscriber; Pathfinder Comics Subscriber

Cool background. Ties into the world, offers a reason for her abilities, quirks and deity choice - good stuff.

Grand Lodge RPG Superstar 2012 Top 32

1 person marked this as a favorite.
Blog post wrote:
Though she desperately desires the company of others, formative years spent away from civilized society have left Feiya lacking in social graces, and her awkwardness often leads to unfortunate misunderstandings. Nevertheless, her inherent good nature tends to win out, and her occasional flares of temper are countered by her steadfast loyalty to her friends.

I think I'll point to this next time someone tells me I'm a bad roleplayer because I dumped CHA. ;)


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Jiggy wrote:
Blog post wrote:
Though she desperately desires the company of others, formative years spent away from civilized society have left Feiya lacking in social graces, and her awkwardness often leads to unfortunate misunderstandings. Nevertheless, her inherent good nature tends to win out, and her occasional flares of temper are countered by her steadfast loyalty to her friends.
I think I'll point to this next time someone tells me I'm a bad roleplayer because I dumped CHA. ;)

Point to it whenever you dump any stat for roleplaying purposes.

Grand Lodge

3 people marked this as a favorite.

The story and the image don't really match up, IMHO. I was expecting a female who is less of a victim of the supernatural and more of capricious trickster. Also Tian Xia? With white hair? Don't see it. And Irrisen? In those pants? Noooooo.

I was hoping she'd be the eldest sister of a large family of girls. Feiya curses young men with boils when they break the hearts of her village sister kin. She's had plenty of adventures doing chores for her many grannies, which involves blackmail, poisoning uppity tax collectors, playing knife games while under the influence of Razmir's Tears with hedge knights and protecting the hard work of the honest folk. She's successfully delivered 6 baby daughters using her healing arts and has a tattoo on her hand to denote her as a journey-woman midwife.

She also has a rivalry with a honest and pure (but far too simple) healer witch from a nearby village. Every solstice Feiya and her rival strip naked and beat each other with scratching sticks under the light of the moon to see which daughter will get to be tutelaged by the grannies for the next month. The daughter witch that loses has to braid the other's hair and add a plait of hair from her own head, woven in.

The fox's name is Hoghzlick and he buries dead forest mice around Feiya's hut, waiting till they're rotten enough for him to dig up and eat. Hoghzlick has foul breath and he despises socks.

Cheliax

Pathfinder Comics Subscriber; Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Cards, Companion, Maps, Modules, Pawns, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

I really like this one guys, thanks for revitalizing this line of articles. Same time next week??? ha ha :)

Paizo Employee Creative Director

KestlerGunner wrote:
Also Tian Xia? With white hair? Don't see it.

Actaully... there's a long tradition in Asian cinema and the like concerning white-haired witches. There's even a white-haired-witch archetype coming soon in the Dragon Empires Primer.

Giving our witch white hair and having her come from Tian Xia were, in fact, pretty much the ONLY bits of art direction we gave to Wayne.

Grand Lodge

That had to be the best iconic background yet. It left me with chills. Nicely done!


liked it


I love these articles more than any other. May the continue coming out for a long while.

Andoran

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Very cool. Feiya is my new favourite.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Modules, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

What patron (bonus spellwise) does she have anyway?


Piet the Hagboy, who was really raised by a Hag, thinks that Feiya's real story must be pretty tragic (or worse, kinda boring), if this is the one she tells people. (The bit about being all physically scarred from years of torture, despite being a four-alarm hottie with flawless ivory skin, was a bit of a giveaway...)

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Deluxe Comics Subscriber; Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Great back story! I have been thinking about her all day. Shared her story with my gaming group tonight. We see her as chosen by some kind of symbiotic gathering of the animals. She could become their advocate, if not their guardian.

Thanks for this.

Mazra


Piet the Hagboy wrote:

Piet the Hagboy, who was really raised by a Hag, thinks that Feiya's real story must be pretty tragic (or worse, kinda boring), if this is the one she tells people. (The bit about being all physically scarred from years of torture, despite being a four-alarm hottie with flawless ivory skin, was a bit of a giveaway...)

for potential nastiness of subject material:
Female Circumcision -- Not all scars are above the belt.
Cheliax

Pathfinder Comics Subscriber; Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Maps, Modules, Pawns, Roleplaying Game, Tales Subscriber

Bleh. Not to impressed.


2 people marked this as a favorite.

Remember not all witches share Feiya's temprament:

Double, double, toil and trouble,
fire burn and cauldron bubble;

The widow’s farm is soaked by rain,
I give her neighbor’s cows murrain;

A Hand of Glory I can make,
if I’ve a dead man’s fat to take;

Distance will avail you naught,
a poppet will convey ill thought;

Devil, demon, daemon, hag,
with all I will my black tongue wag;

By candles’ magic I can make
a weak man strong, or strength can take;

Do not risk my ire or wrath,
for I walk down a darker path;

By the pricking of my thumbs,
something evil this way comes.

RPG Superstar 2009 Top 32

Dragon78 wrote:
What patron (bonus spellwise) does she have anyway?

Given the description of the encounter with the Green Hags ("Then the valley erupted with the screeching and roaring of what could only have been a forest’s worth of wild animals, punctured occasionally by the shrill curse of a hag."), the most likely would be "Animals" (APG p. 70)

Logically, then her "patron" could easily be one of few the remaining servents of "Curchanus", who now serves Desna.

KestlerGunner wrote:
The story and the image don't really match up, IMHO. I was expecting a female who is less of a victim of the supernatural and more of capricious trickster.

You mean because of the fox familiar?

Well, as to the "trickster" part, Helping a "Lvl1 Commoner" evade two Green Hags, would take an AMAZING level of cleverness on the fox's part.

Abraham spalding wrote:


Spoiler:
Female Circumcision -- Not all scars are above the belt.

Well, that could be healed by magic (... the 'non-trivial' Regenerate, Pathfinder Core p. 331). :(


Piet the Hagboy wrote:
Piet the Hagboy, who was really raised by a Hag, thinks that Feiya's real story must be pretty tragic (or worse, kinda boring), if this is the one she tells people. (The bit about being all physically scarred from years of torture, despite being a four-alarm hottie with flawless ivory skin, was a bit of a giveaway...)

Even if Spalding didn't call it? Her outfit may be snug, but quite a bit of her is actually covered.

I'm guessing her back, below the shoulders, looks like Nualia's belly. I'm also guessing that that's far too tame of a speculation.

Shadow Lodge

I volunteer to search her for scars.

Cool backstory, by the way. One of the best so far.

Osirion

Lord Fyre wrote:
Logically, then her "patron" could easily be one of few the remaining servents of "Curchanus", who now serves Desna.

Ooh, I like that! It could even be some sort of 'vestige' or echo of Curchanus himself!

Lantern Lodge

1 person marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Adventure Path, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Poor Feiya, yet another victim of imperfect caravan rules.

When will this needless suffering end?

Lantern Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Roleplaying Game Subscriber
xorial wrote:
Jiggy wrote:
Blog post wrote:
Though she desperately desires the company of others, formative years spent away from civilized society have left Feiya lacking in social graces, and her awkwardness often leads to unfortunate misunderstandings. Nevertheless, her inherent good nature tends to win out, and her occasional flares of temper are countered by her steadfast loyalty to her friends.
I think I'll point to this next time someone tells me I'm a bad roleplayer because I dumped CHA. ;)
Point to it whenever you dump any stat for roleplaying purposes.

Nine out of ten times though, even roleplayers tend to dump Cha for the points.


I dunno, this seems kinda out-of-place if you ask me. Like some people have said, it kinda goes against her looks and such (they expected her backstory to be different), and my own problem with this story is her just suddenly beating not one, but TWO hags on her own. That already makes her less belieavable than the other characters, who's background stories were more or less humble in comparison to this one.

Shadow Lodge

She didn't off them. 'Mysterious occurances' did.

Lantern Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Icyshadow wrote:
I dunno, this seems kinda out-of-place if you ask me. Like some people have said, it kinda goes against her looks and such (they expected her backstory to be different), and my own problem with this story is her just suddenly beating not one, but TWO hags on her own. That already makes her less belieavable than the other characters, who's background stories were more or less humble in comparison to this one.

Reread the story again. She did not beat the hags, it was a case of Divine Intervention.

Osirion

TOZ wrote:
She didn't off them. 'Mysterious occurances' did.

Thanks to the snowfall, she doesn't even know if the hags were 'offed.' They might just have been driven away by Cinderella's magical musical friends, and, cue sinister music, show up again when she leasts expects it, for revenge...

RPG Superstar 2009 Top 32

Set wrote:
Lord Fyre wrote:
Logically, then her "patron" could easily be one of few the remaining servents of "Curchanus", who now serves Desna.
Ooh, I like that! It could even be some sort of 'vestige' or echo of Curchanus himself!

This is possible. (But we know that dead means dead for Golarion Dieties.)

Set wrote:
TOZ wrote:
She didn't off them. 'Mysterious occurances' did.

Thanks to the snowfall, she doesn't even know if the hags were 'offed.' They might just have been driven away by Cinderella's magical musical friends, and, cue sinister music, show up again when she leasts expects it, for revenge...

You mean when they are a "Level Appropriate" encounter for her group?

RPG Superstar 2009 Top 32

LazarX wrote:

Poor Feiya, yet another victim of imperfect caravan rules.

When will this needless suffering end?

ROTFL!


TOZ wrote:
She didn't off them. 'Mysterious occurances' did.

That's even worse if you ask me. (Deus ex Machina happened?)

Shadow Lodge

She's a beautiful and unique snowflake.


Icyshadow wrote:
TOZ wrote:
She didn't off them. 'Mysterious occurances' did.
That's even worse if you ask me. (Deus ex Machina happened?)

Until the time comes to pay back the favor....

Cheliax

Very good writeup. Plus she gets bonus points for giving us the finger.

Lantern Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Jim Cirillo wrote:
Very good writeup. Plus she gets bonus points for giving us the finger.

She's giving the finger to the authors of the caravan mechanics. :)


Feiya - rockin' the white hair, flashing the nails, flipping the haters the bird.

Of course this is going to inevitably lead to FeiyaxSeltyiel hyrt/comfort fic.


This is a really interesting and well-written backstory, but I have a hard time reconciling what is presented here (kidnapped, abused young woman venturing out for the first time, socially stunted and completely unaware of to expect in the outside world) with her portrait (confident woman with a sly smirk looking the viewer in the eye, wearing somewhat revealing attire accented with strange hair pieces and a small "voodoo" doll, complete with impractically long finger nails.)

I would have said the witch presented in the portrait knowingly pursued her mysterious powers and relished in presenting herself to onlookers as a "creepy outsider", whereas I would think the witch presented in the story would want to integrate into the attire of places she visited, both to prevent unnecessary confrontations and as a way of enjoying her freedom from the hags--and would certainly not dress akin to the hags who violently kidnapped and beat her.

Still, I'm happy to see another iconic's background. Thank you for your hard work. :)

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