About Cvael’istia of the Quiet Needle
Ancestry, Background and Class Features:
Ancestry: Low-Light Vision, Woodland Elf heritage
Background: Speciality Crafting feat
Class: Flurry of Blows, Monk feat, Powerful Fist
The only child of the Qhintarro tribe’s chief seer-priestess, Cvael’istia (Tia for short) caused her mother a certain degree of dismay by possessing not an iota of the magical aptitude her people are universally born with. She was what the elves of Terra Nova call “dead to magic”, and would never know the joy of mastering even the slightest of cantrips. All hopes of her eventual succession as the Qhintarro spiritual leader thus dashed, Tia instead was made to take up a very different calling: that of a dhenna fech.
Dhennaa fech, “those who are apart”, are ritualised outsiders in elven society. Numbering no more than a few dozen at any one time, they gather ceremonially once in a great while but spend most of their adult lives in seclusion, meditating on what it means to live without magic and honing their physical form to the absolute limit. Other elves tend to pity the dhennaa a little, but also respect them; while they are far from outcasts, in the minds of many their lack of magic means they are not quite “true” elves either. Still, the dhennaa are sometimes sought out for the wisdom they might bestow, their perspective being free from many of the concerns and prejudices that would trouble a more ordinary elf. In addition to this, the dhennaa fech are also respected for their martial skill – they do not patrol the wilderness as a ranger would, but they nevertheless oppose anyone and anything that threatens their fellow elves just as fiercely.
During certain times of the year, a dhenna fech travels between the tribes in the general vicinity of his or her hermitage to observe the tradition known as “life-etching”. Sometimes a dhenna’s meditations will guide her to a handful of elves among the tribe she is visiting, but it is also not uncommon for life-etching to be treated as something more like a service being offered. In either case, those who avail themselves of it are elves who have just completed an important chapter in their life or otherwise had something momentous happen to them. After carefully questioning this elf on this, the dhenna then spends another night in meditation before applying a tattoo to the elf that represents the subject matter in question. What the tattoo looks like and where on the body it is applied is entirely up to the dhenna, but it is virtually always a highly abstracted affair whose meaning is known only to the artist and the one who received it. A similar process may also be employed to honour and commemorate the dead, though it is more common to scrimshaw their bones rather than tattoo their bodies.
As the dhennaa fech have no ties to what many deem the three chief pillars of elven life – the tribe, magic, and the divine –, so are their tattoos and scrimshaw work regarded as something slightly alien, yet potentially illuminating. Few elves are so set in their ways as to completely deny the potential validity of something beyond their worldview, at least if it is so steeped in tradition as the ways of the dhennaa fech are. Still, a tribe gladly welcomes a dhenna fech and just as gladly sees her off; few envy them the secluded, magic-less lives they lead, as highly prized as their insight and skilful life-etchings may be.
Tia, for her part, took to life as a dhenna fech reasonably well. Before ritually cutting her ties to her old tribe she spent several decades learning the ways of the ancient tradition under a dhenna by the name of Llehcu’oreh, a cantankerous old man who had been living in seclusion for fully three centuries. Mincing words was anathema to him; he was irritable, hard of hearing, and had a low opinion of just about everything, including himself. Tia liked Oreh immensely, even though he wasn’t always easy to get along with – for in all fairness, neither was she. Though becoming dhenna fech was considered an honour (a bit of an underhanded one, she always felt), Tia appreciated the sheer freedom it afforded her most of all. No longer must she chafe at the strict spiritual tenets and smothering social intricacies of tribal life: she could spend her time as she saw fit, focussing on her own interests and desires, and perhaps ironically this made Tia into a much more mellow person than she had been in her younger years among the Qhintarro.
She’d settled comfortably into her new existence when the Landing took place. Word of it travelled fast among the elves of Tirn Wydd, as Terra Nova is called in their tongue – but where most of them were understandably wary of the new arrivals, Tia found herself curious about them more than anything. The thought of entire peoples existing outside of the elves’ fairly narrow worldview intrigued her, and it didn’t take long at all before she found herself neglecting her dhenna fech routines to observe them from afar. Thence, of course, it was only a small step to actively seeking them out and learning what she could of these strangers’ thoughts, doubts and aims…
Appearance & Personality:
Somewhat short for an elf at barely 5'8", Cvael’istia is lean of build and subtly muscled, with surprisingly fair skin, shortish hair that is a light grey in colour save for two crimson streaks, and bright amber eyes. She moves with a kind of casual grace that surely is as much an innate gift as the product of decades’ worth of training and exercise, every barefooted step at once almost dreamily relaxed and full of confidence. Abstract yet understated tattoos, their needlework remarkably fine for the most part, trace intricate patterns across large swaths of her limbs and torso; because their ritual purpose requires these tattoos to “breathe”, Tia’s plain cotton garments are so cut as to leave them generally exposed, which also helps keep her range of movement as unconstrained as possible. She is otherwise not too concerned with her appearance – her clothes tend to be dyed various shades of aquamarine, admittedly, but simple anklets and bangles of wood or woven grass are the closest she comes to wearing jewellery.
Tia has always been something of a misfit. While she still lived among the Qhintarro tribe, she was almost infamous for her cheerful bluntness and the disregard she showed for the tribe’s elaborate interpersonal etiquette, though in the decades since she has become more pleasant to be around. Still, the social graces are far from her strong suit even today; Tia likes to get to the point straight away, and typically views “fancy talk” as little more than beating around the bush, if not an outright attempt to confuse the subject. What may be said in her favour is that she always lives and lets live if given the choice, strongly believing that there is rarely ever one “right” way to do or approach something. This open-mindedness, as well as an innate sense of curiosity and wonder, allow her to deal with outsiders more easily than many elves: however strange a foreigner’s ways might be, Tia is far more likely to pester him with questions about them than judge him for them.
Skills and Feats:
Strength: Athletics +5
Dexterity: Acrobatics +7, Stealth +7
Intelligence: Crafting +3, Art Lore +3
Wisdom: Survival +5
Charisma: Diplomacy +2*
All skills listed are Trained; skills not listed are Untrained; * marks skill gained through Ancestral Longevity
Feats: Ancestral Longevity, Ki Rush, Speciality Crafting (Artistry)
Sling (+20 bullets)
Wealth: 6gp 7sp 8cp, Bulk: 5.7/7