About Hannelia Venator
NG Human Bard (Archaeologist) 3 | AC 18 - HP 27/27 | F+3 R+6 W+3 | Per +7
Hannelia prefers practical garments in neutral colours most of the time, notably when working in the field. When entertaining for business she tends to subtly tailor her outfit to the client, using colours or symbols to show she is on their side. The more she convinces them of this and puts them at ease, the better the deal she expects to make.
Born and bred in Saringallow to Cammus and Tulia Venator, her mother was killed during a raid on the town and her father, a soldier in the army, lost a leg in the fighting and was permanently invalided out. As a result her early years were tough and survival at times was a day to day challenge. And yet it was probably only her presence that kept her father going. Devastated by the loss of his wife, his limb and his livelihood, without a young daughter to focus on, it’s easy to see how he could have simply given up on life entirely.
As it was, Cammus forced himself to hold together for Hannelia’s sake and slowly started to rebuild his life. Accepting his professional fighting days were over was hard and to start with he took on whatever jobs he could to survive. In the aftermath of such devastation, food was often scarce, work unreliable, and emotions among the populace raw. He crafted a crude wooden leg to replace his missing one, and over time he learned how to work wood and establish himself with a stable business.
Hannelia was too young to remember much of the hungry years but she, like others who were fortunate enough to tough it out, developed a certain physical hardiness as a result. To distract from the lack of food, and as cheap entertainment, Cammus regularly told Hannelia stories: of heroes and adventure, history and legend, myth and glory. These have been a part of her life for as long as she can remember and fired her imagination.
Unsurprisingly Cammus was very protective of his child and equally she grew to be fiercely protective of her father, especially seeing how some people treated him differently due to his injury. Over time they forged an incredibly tight bond as she grew from a child into an adolescent but like most teenagers she chafed under what she saw as overprotectiveness and excess caution. Her rebellion actually came about due to wanting to stand up for herself and to help provide for her father. Sneaking out at night she spent time around the town, looking, listening and picking up information about individuals and the community.
Her first encounter with Zukaloom Fingletucket was during one of her jaunts. Something about the gnome’s behaviour caught her eye and after patient observation and information gathering she deduced that he was moonlighting as an adventurous rogue. Attracted by the heroic stories she grew up with and her assessment of Zukaloom’s character, after careful consideration she decided to confront him one night. While he was out, she meticulously bypassed his locks and precautions and surprised him upon his return. After the initial shock of discovering an intruder inside his home, deciding quickly that she wasn’t a threat, something about the idea of this callow youth having outed him just struck him as overwhelmingly funny. Sat at his table, drinking his spirits in a bid to act grown up, Hannelia very much did not see the humour in the situation but the gnome was able to mollify her rising anger, congratulating her on her powers of observation and practical skills.
Seeing the potential of her quick hands and quick mind, Zuke took her under his wing and rapidly discovered he had a very willing student. Building upon her raw potential, he began to show her to hone her skills in reading and understanding people and objects. Taking her lessons seriously, she soon learned how to open and close locks, construct and repair a variety of devices, and read, persuade and misdirect people. Added to her accumulation of knowledge and her romantic view of the stories she grew up with, she was soon pressuring her mentor to let her accompany him in the field. Setting the expectation that practice in safety and reality are quite different things, he agreed once he felt she was ready.
Preparing as thoroughly as possible, her first few forays were a success but like all such adventures, failure was only a matter of time. One night the pair were out attempting to misdirect a bandit group into the path of a goblin band by feeding them false information, they inadvertently stumbled upon the lair of an owlbear. Improvising in the hope of setting a three-way fight into motion, all they ended up doing was riling up the beast, which set upon Hannelia and with a powerful blow sent her flying. Zuke was able to distract it and beat a hasty retreat with the unconscious girl. Biting the bullet, and knowing he was responsible, the gnome took him to her house and confessed all to her father. Cammus exploded at him and furiously chased the guilt-wracked gnome out.
Battered and bruised, with a pair of cracked ribs, but still alive, Hannelia awoke the next morning to two brutal realisations. Firstly, not only was the game up, perhaps it wasn’t actually a game, and secondly she was in deep trouble. With little choice, she accepted her father’s rage, his fear about her stupidly putting herself at risk, and his forbidding her to ever see Zuke again, letting it play out before slowly arguing her case. It took time but she was able to convince him that she wasn’t a little girl any more, that she had to make her own decisions - including bad ones - and that in a dangerous world there is no such thing as absolute safety. Stung both by the realisation that his daughter was indeed becoming a young woman and that he wouldn’t be able to protect her from everything forever, Cammus grudgingly accepted that she was right and was indeed developing a range of talents and skills. Swallowing his pride he told her this, and how proud of her he was. WIth things now out in the open, their relationship was only strengthened.
Zuke had stayed clear, other than briefly delivering a healing elixir, but Cammus sought him out and asked him to continue to teach Hannelia to both help her develop a career and also to be able to protect herself, as long as she wanted to. Indeed she did, though some youthful overconfidence had been knocked out of her and it was some time before she felt ready for something practical again. Instead she doubled down on her natural reaction: working and studying harder, thinking through possibilities and contingencies and preparing as best she could. Although she tries to avoid them, to her mind mistakes, even more so than successes, are learning opportunities.
Focusing particularly on her studies, Zuke was able to help her make some connections and she started to develop a reputation as an information broker and sort of a sage, initially for local townsfolk but over time also merchants and travellers passing through Saringallow. Though on some level she does know better, on another Hannelia’s idealistic ideas of adventuring have never gone away and she also still sometimes undertakes activities and missions, either for hire or because she is asked by friends or allies.
As a generally serious, guarded individual, such relationships usually take some time to develop, but those who are able to penetrate her professional exterior are rewarded with generosity, fierce loyalty and a freedom of spirit and idealism that clients and casual acquaintances would struggle to believe.