About Janna - The Storm Maiden
Languages Auran, Common, Elven, Halfling
SQ bloodlines (elemental [air]), elemental affinity (air), hero points
backstory brief overview:
There are those sorcerers who give themselves over to the primal powers of nature, forgoing the learned practice of magic.
Such a sorceress is Janna, who first learned magic as an orphan growing up amidst the chaos that is the city.
Janna eked out what living she could on the streets. Life was tough and dangerous for the beautiful young girl, and she survived by her wits, and by stealing when wits weren't enough.
The rampant magic that characterizes city life was the first and most alluring tool which Janna realized could both protect and elevate her. Janna discovered that she had an affinity for a particular type of magic - the elemental magic of air.
She mastered her studies of air magic in a matter of months, almost as if she was born of it. Janna went from a street vagrant to an avatar of the air virtually overnight, stunning and surpassing those who taught her.
Such a rapid ascension also changed her physical appearance, giving her an otherworldly look.
A page from her childhood:
It was cold. The chilling wind clawed at my raggedy tunic and whipped my stinging hair about my body. Spikes of pain shot through my bare toes and up my calves as I stepped in puddles of ice water. I could no longer feel the tips of my fingers. The sheets from the downpour forced me to keep my head low and made it all but impossible to see more than a few paces before me. Everyone was locked away in their houses, safe and sound, assuming they had one. Not many these days had that luxury, especially in Reme. For those that did, the merchants hiding inside were far away from their wares, and I had recently "acquired" a key to one of their storage units. I would only have one shot of using it before the locks were switched. Now would be the only time to not be caught by guards. If I wanted to eat tonight, I had to chance the storm.
I hid behind the wall of a dilapidated building and waited for the gale to pass. While nature could always turn unpredictable, I began to notice a certain rhythm in the gusts. I would feel in my gut moments before a mighty wind would blow through the area. Once the current one passed, I sprinted down a block and hid behind another wall, all the while trying to stay inconspicuous. If anyone decided to check on the weather through their window and notice me, they would undoubtedly tell the food vendor their suspicions of who liberated their goods. Streets passed slowly as I had to take cover for long stretches of time, but the gnawing hunger urged me to continue. I was at the beginning of the alleyway with the targeted storage unit when an unexpected gust knocked me backwards, feet losing their place on the ground. My body twisted painfully as the storm blew me away. Be it through the good grace of the gods or survival instincts kicking in, my reflexes snapped me into a flip to realign myself, and I crouched low to keep my balance. Though I was amazed with my good fortune, I had no time to dwell on the thought. The wind had abided, and I took the opportunity to dart around the corner to my destination.
I pulled out the key from my soaking waist bag and pushed it into the lock pad. Praying to the gods above with a few lines for hope and forgiveness, I twisted the metal hilt. It would not budge. Baffled, I tried again, only to receive the same result. Panic swelled through my head, and I furiously turned the key unsuccessfully. My stomach gave that peculiar sensation that alerted me of my limited time. "Please, please, please," I prayed under my breath. I glanced over my shoulder to see a lone tree, gnarled and bare from continuous pollution, billowing before the coming powerful gale. "Damn it," I cried, pounding the door with my fist. There was nowhere to take cover as the mighty winds blew my way. "Please..." I begged as I stared up at the heavens. "I'm too hungry for this." Whether it was more luck or someone above had heard me, the door creaked ajar. With only moments to spare, I slid through the opening and slammed it shut behind me. I crawled under a table placed against the inner wall and held my head, fetal position style, as the raging storm cut through the heart of Reme, unleashing its mounting fury. The lone window of the building violently shook, threatening to break from the ferocity of the winds. It was then that the rain smashing against the tin roof grew louder. It had turned into a hailstorm. "When I get out of this place, I swear to visit everyone's temples to make sure I properly thank whoever is watching me tonight."
The storm continued pounding away at the building, the sounds forming a calming rhythm. I fell asleep, dripping and freezing, under the table, but I was safe. The trek through the rain and wind had drained me, more so without food. When I opened my eyes again, faint light poured from the window. I sighed with relief that the storm had finally passed overhead and that I was alive to enjoy the next day. "It's morning!" I realized with horror. The merchants usually rose at sunrise to set up their booths, and though I could not tell the time, the presence of light was all I needed to hurry my movements. Above the sanctuary of a table I had sat under had hardened, palm-sized cakes. Sugar in large quantities usually made me ill, but with the current choices of this or nothing, I rushed to stash them all in my still-wet pouch. A small brown bag hid beneath volumes of important papers, but I only reached for the curiosity. Tugging at the strings, the bag opened to reveal coins. Gold coins. "I'm so sorry," I apologized to my guardian god as I tied the new pouch to my waist.
As I exited the storage unit, I silently cursed myself a thousand and one times for not looking both ways first. While I casually stepped out, red-handed with goods, the very same merchant I had borrowed from and his guards had entered the alleyway. We locked eyes for one long heartbeat, the greatest insult I could have given. Before they could react, I leaped up, grabbing on the tin roof's edge and pulled myself up and over. "Don't just stand there! Get it!" I cringed at his words but refused to stay still long enough to be caught. I ran across the top of the building.
"On it, boss!" answered his men, and they sprinted to the end of the alleyway, mimicking my motions and joining me for a rooftop chase. I was far younger than the chasing brutes, and my youth gave me an energy advantage over them. They, however, had the longer legs. Climbing across connecting roofs, I desperately sought to put more distance between me and my pursuers. My muscles were stiff from my poor night's sleep, and I had yet to have eaten since two days before. I focused on primal fear to blot out any rational thinking, allowing adrenaline to course freely through my veins. Still, my body could not completely overcome the weariness.
"It stole this month's profits!" shrieked the merchant, back at the storage unit. "Don't you dare let it escape or your next salaries will be docked until you can replace the amount!" The loud shouting and our booming footfalls stirred people from their slumber, and the streets began to fill with eyes watching the events unfold.
I noticed with dread the approaching edge of the house's roof leading to the new block. The new roof was across, more than my height thrice in distance. I peered over my shoulder to see the brutes still on my heels. The merchant's voice had promised infinite tortures for my actions while the leap had a slim chance of salvation. "Please, please, please..." I begged as I picked up speed. My toes dangled off the gutter's edge before my body sprang forward, hurling over the great expanse.
Faces in the crowded excitedly pointed, some jeered while others laughed mockingly. "It dares to run?" hushed whispers echoed amongst the collective. "Why bother?" "Will it make it?" I propelled myself forward with swimming motions, unsure of what else would help. My view of the rooftop began to fall, and I realized I definitely would not land on my feet, if I made it at all. My hands frantically reached out for a grasping point, anything. My fingertips grazed the top, but my body had already fallen too far. I tumbled down to the pavement below. I clenched my eyes shut, anticipating the excruciating pain. Instead of colliding with the ground, my plummet came to a peaceful and complete halt. Where the crowd had only murmured quietly before, they had all stopped to gasp. One eye peeked slightly from my scared lids, afraid of what had happened. I saw nothing unusual. Both of my eyes opened fully, but still I could not understand.
Why have I not hit yet? I wondered. No one had caught me, for surely I would have felt the impact on the arms saving me. I peered at the crowd, hoping they would reveal a clue, but they stared blankly back at me. It was then that it occurred that I should check beneath my body. I finally understood why the townsfolk had been staring the whole while. My body was floating above the ground. "What in the...?" I mumbled quietly. Whatever had held me aloft released its hold on me, and I dropped softly at last to the ground. "Thank you, kind and understanding god for saving me again," I whispered, praising the sky above me.
"It's still alive!" a harsh tone called, and I realized that my fall had only taken a matter of seconds, not the hours it had felt. I was still being pursued. Choosing to flee from the sea of faces, I darted down the alley I had failed to leap across. The men carefully climbed down the building behind me, giving me plenty of time to make up for the lost time. "Stop, you nihil fili!" I cringed once more but continued running. The alley split into two directions, and, without a second thought, I chose left. About halfway down, however, I cursed myself once more for not looking both ways. It was a dead end. I turned around to try and recover the lost ground, but the guards had already poured in. "There is nowhere else for you to run," cruelly chuckled the closest one.
"If you come with us willingly, we can at least spare you any pain on your escort to our employer," the second one said, his voice kinder than any other that had spoken to me. I almost volunteered to join him anywhere he would take me, but the first man took another step towards me.
"Speak for yourself, Pilrus. It deserves all the punishment it can get!" I cowered back a few paces away from him.
"Move aside, gramps. It's not your granddaughter. It's one of them," the first guard retorted.
"I think I would be the first to know whether she is or isn't my granddaughter," he stated, drawing incredulous stares from all three of us. "And it would appear that my name no longer caries meaning with the new generation. How sad to not remember your elders."
"I don't think it would be wise to disrespect him so, Cal," Pilrus whispered to his partner.
"Why not?" he returned, unabashedly loud.
"Don't you know the Master of the Academy Magicka?" I sucked in a breath to keep accidentally speaking. I did not wish to be further punished.
"Ah, it warms my heart to know you youngins still have respect for us. Now, young lady," he continued, addressing me again to everyone's shock. "I believe you took some things that did not belong to you. Why don't you give them back, hmm?"
"We're supposed to take it with us," Cal muttered gruffly.
"Yes, definitely," Pilrus quickly agreed. After a hard stare to Cal, the man nodded his consent of the situation.
"Come, my dear child," he beckoned. I glanced nervously from face to face, careful to not meet their eyes, before taking a step forward. "I assure you that you are safe. All you must do is give over everything these good men are searching for." I untied the two bags from my waist and approached Pilrus. He smiled warmly as I dropped the pouches in his hands. "There we go. And now we're off." The Master walked several paces back out the alley before turning around. "Do you wish to stay with these two gentlemen, then?" he asked, his face displaying a kind smirk, if that was a possible description. I furiously shook my head and sprinted behind him, following in his footsteps.
He led me through a series of winding, back road alleys. The sun was already at its peak before he spoke again. "There is no reason to trail behind me like that. Come, walk with me." I did not wish to anger him, but I wanted to show the man all the respect I was capable of giving. He had saved me from gods only know what the merchant had in mind for me, not to mention he... saw me. He saw beyond the cultural bounds and looked at me, not through. I remained in the shade of his shadow. It was the one thing I could do for him. The Master spun on his heels and placed his hands squarely on my shoulders, starring deep into my eyes. Panicked at the motion, I immediately closed my eyes. I did not wish to insult him. "You are no longer a nihil fili, so there is no reason to abide by that any longer." Before I could regain control, tears streamed down my face. "No longer are you a Child of Nothing, and so you will not be treated as one. Tell me, young one, what is your name?"
For the first time in seven years, I spoke to someone other than myself and the gods. "My... my name is Janna."
Memories. A scene just before Janna would graduate the Academy Magika, remembering the days she spent in the Academy. The days of living on the streets so distant she blocked them out she had new memories, new experiences, a new life, and soon another life was about to begin.
Floating silently along the halls of the Academy, Janna pondered over the latest magic regulations she was to look over. The paper in her hand just couldn’t keep her attention, and after stopping in a small windowed alcove, Janna sighed and spelled the paper away. She looked out the window, watching the sun sink below the hills of the horizon.
The sight brought back memories; Memories of the streets in Reme. Of the cold nights and the warm days, of performing small street shows to pay for her books. Of the beautiful sunsets that only happened around this time of the year.
The days of starvation and isolation were even farther away. She was to graduate soon, she needed to learn the regulation of magic use throughout the city, but her mind just was not on that boring stuff.
Ever since her induction to the Academy, she’d been so busy dealing with regulations and magical experiments. Not to mention the battles her Summoners called to her for, or the love interests who just never could understand her. Sometimes, on nights such as these, she longed to be back there, sitting on the open balconies of the street homes. She had so little to worry about in those days. She went to class, walked along the streets, and found a place to stay for the night. The sun would slowly fall down, sinking below the horizon. The colors that appeared always brought her hope and made her feel safe. She’d then drift into an easy sleep, the last of the sun setting and the moon rising.
Lost in her memories, Janna leaned against the cold stone that made up the hall, closing her eyes. The stone reminded her of the cold air that would race around her feet as a child, helping her rush to classes or to make her street tricks seem real.
She remembered the quiet nights. She’d find a loft, either paying for the night, or offering services to make up for a warm bed. Climbing to the roof, she’d go to the edge of the building and lean over, watching the street below close shop for the night. She’d wait for all to be quiet before climbing onto the small ledge, swinging her legs over, and closing her eyes.
Her bare legs would swing lightly, feeling the cool night air on her skin. The wind would pick up on some nights and she’d reveal in the sensations.
It almost brought tears to her eyes. She hadn’t had a night alone in months. Ever since she came to the Academy, she’d jump from relationship to relationship. No one seemed right; no one seemed to understand her nature to be as free as the wind. They all wanted to pin her down. They wanted to lock her in a room and keep her to themselves, as if she was a prize.
She was the air. She was the wind.
Her eyes flew open and she glanced sharply at the glass windows beside her. It took but a moment for her to blow them out and banish the glass pieces. She paused, sticking her head into the hall, making sure she would have no visitors or watchers, before she climbed up, feeling childish, and stood in the window sill.
The cold air brushed against her form, sending her clothing flying behind her. She couldn’t stop the elated giggles she let out as she closed her eyes and leaned into her element.
God, how she missed this; the air clung to her, making her feel as if she was truly flying. The cold swirled around her, nearly lifting her off her feet in its excitement. It whispered into her ears, joyful of its reunion with her. It swirled faster and faster, whipping her clothes all around her before she nearly lost herself in the element.
Then, it twisted and she was surrounded by warmth. The air slowly twirled, lazy in its heated state. It had no need for tricks, as the heat was already getting to her, causing her eye lids to quiver and she gave a yawn. She couldn't remember why this felt so peaceful, so calming.
She maneuvered herself to sit in the sill, legs dangling out into the open. The air curled around her, blanketing her in its warmth.
Sometime later, when she’d fallen into a light sleep, she realized what this felt like.
Like a welcome home.
Assassins and friends:
---- Assassins and friends ----
Shadows, bent and twisted. Lampposts desperately trying to push back the darkness of night, the globes of light engaged in a never-ending struggle against the black.
One shadow twists, disappears.
Another one moves, several feet away. It disappears as well.
The movement is almost impossible to see in the darkness, as it appears the shadows themselves writhe, constantly moving towards a destination.
Nothing but an assignment, The Shadow Blade thought. He thought back to his briefing earlier. Just a magician called Janna- easy prey.
He hadn't been told much- only that she was an air mage of some sort, and that she had to be eliminated. That was more than some of the assignments he'd gotten before from Vortigern. The Shadow Assassin was sure he'd get her easily. There was a reason he was known as the Blade's Shadow of course.
Slipping in and out of shadows, The Assassin steadily made his way to Janna's home. No one noticed him- not even the sharp-eyed Sheriff of Reme with her uncannily piercing eyes and annoying traps everywhere. He'd passed right behind her, and taken one of her bullets in the process. Vortigern would be pleased at the Remean Hextechnology.
At last, he arrived at Janna's home. It looked surprisingly small, especially for the rather popular Janna, but he was sure this was the place- his memory never failed him, and this was surely the address.
Going to the back of the house, the assassin carefully oiled the hinges of the back door, and swung it open with practiced silence. His worn leather boots made no sound as Talon made his way up to the bedroom.
Even though the stairs creaked- tested by a perfectly weighted pouch- he made no noise as he stepped on the perfect spots, moving to the second floor without making as much noise as a pin drop.
Now the House Layout - ah yes. According to the blueprints- handily stored in the Assassin's head - the bedroom was two doors down to the right. He repeated the door-opening routine- silently oiling the hinges, and swinging open the door, revealing a room with a bed, a desk in a corner, and a wardrobe in another.
He slunk to the bed, where a beautiful blond woman slept. Judging by the lumps in the blankets, she had some great curves, and her face was serene, peaceful - ethereal.
The Assassin wasn't affected by these things. He only needed to get the job done.
He moves close to her, slowly making sure to not make a sound, his blade coming closer and closer to her throat.
Preparing for the thrust which would end Janna's life, Talon inhaled sharply.
A pair of sapphire orbs shot open.
Inwardly, The asassin frowned. This might ruin his clean getaway. Most women tended to stop thinking and simply scream, and that might alert the authorities. Fortunately, that meant that they didn't move to stop him.
His blade suddenly surged forwards, but it suddenly stopped moving. The assassin stared stupidly at her left hand holding his right arm, not allowing it to move further. It was a distraction of a millisecond, but he suddenly felt horrible pain in both his crotch and his face, as Janna simultaneously kneed his family jewels and head butted his nose.
The assassin gasped in surprise. No normal woman would have that reaction - they all just screamed and tried to push him away. Janna had done something that was not taught, but learned through experience and harsh reality.
Even though this was a serious turn of events - it was clear Janna was not an ordinary mage - The assassin still kept his composure. He wrenched his arm out of her grip and disappeared into the darkness surrounding Janna's bed. His hiding spot was not the darkest, uncluttered corner - it was under her desk.
Janna didn't even glance at the corner, but shot forth her right hand. Talon was in the middle of a swirling vortex of air, spinning, battered by books, lights, pens, and planks from her now - destroyed desk.
It was clear to him now. The move Janna had used when she woke up wasn't taught in self-defense classes - it was learned on the streets. And the fact that Janna didn't look at the obvious, dark choice meant that she had experience in where thieves and assassins would hide. The answer was obvious, yet somehow confounding.
Janna was a street brat, an outcast - a thief, one who'd had to go to sleep hungry, and always fear for her life, or the next meal.
She was just like him.
The Assassin's mouth opened, as he lapsed into the vernacular unused for so long. "Youhm a gangah, eh?"
Janna's jaw looked like it was trying to touch her toes, as she let up her vortex in sheer surprise at her would-be assassin speaking her childhood language. "An? Dun matter?"
He slowly walked towards her. "Dem power-men. Dey dun get wha' we get. The' wondah whai I dun listen?"
Janna's eyes, once confused, were beginning to light up with realization.
The Assassin continued. "Dey dun kno'. Wha' its like, to live'n dem pitz, or da streets.
Janna's eyes hardened. "Ah've been tellen 'em wha' its like, wha' ei' do." She shook her head. "Dun listen."
"Been scrappin' with 'em." He said in disgust. "Rats 'n bats 'ei are, all of 'em." He paused for an instant. "'cept for Vortigern."
Janna was silent at the sound of that name, she knew who Vortigern was, she knew why this man was here, but did he know?
"Ahm fightin' em, Youse fightin' em," Janna said. "All to make'em udderstand." She shook her head. "Ain't workin'." She thought for a bit. "Gotta make'em listen."
The assassin nodded unconsciously, and then narrowed his eyes. "How?"
"Dem magic?" Janna responded. "Den Dey'll listem"
He nodded. "Dem magic."
They spat on their right hands and shook. "Make dem listen?"
"Make dem listen."
Letters from friends:
You have our most sincere and heartfelt apologies for the scene we created at the graduation ceremony. (However that knuckle dragging, no neck, uni-brow, mouth breathing, eunuch Breeler had it coming.)
Please, never believe we were angry with you. We most certainly were not. It pains us to admit to this, but we are afraid. Your graduation with honors means we are alone again. FluffyCuddles is worried we can't make it without your perceptive guidance. (He didn't really use the word 'perceptive' since he can't make the 'P' sound, but that's what he means.) Everyone iis out to get us here. They just want to see us fail. I don't think it is as bad as him, but I am also concerned.
We know, part of what the Academy is supposed to teach us is confidence in ourselves. But we are finding it difficult to remember we are usually right when everyone tells us we are always wrong. We will just have to remember the exemplar of our mentor Janna and muddle through somehow.
We are both really happy for you and confident that you will succeed in whatever you choose to do. FluffyCuddles was practically jumping with excitement when he was imagining you adventures.
Hope to meet up with you sometime in the future and share our tales over a pitcher of goat nog.
Again, sorry about the stains. I really thought the color would come out pretty easily with just a little methyethelketone.
Your friend, WS.
You had to be the second person we told since it wouldn't have been possible without your example to guide me. Obviously you had to be second. I mean yes you have been incredibly important to our career. But I just had to tell Mummers first. I mean she raised me my through my whole childhood. Please don't be cross that she knew before you.
You know how the proctors never like me and FluffyCuddles and were always picking on us? Well, they didn't get away with it! They went too far and it came to the Commandant's attention.He was so impressed with our perseverance and fortitude for sticking to it and succeeding despite their abuse, that he rewarded us.
Well I say rewarded us. But you know what they say about the reward for doing a good job right? A harder job. We were given a great responsibility. We were awarded an advanced early graduation and an immediate assignment. We barely even had time to pick up our things before we were on the road.
We are being assigned to guard Magister Neven the Enigmatic. It is a stunning responsibility and a firm declaration of Commandant Renfro's confidence in our capabilities. Don't spread it around though. I think this may be a secret mission since he didn't give it to us in writing. A Hidden Mission if you will.
We know it won’t be easy though. First we even have to find him! Magister Neven is so enigmatic that no one knows where he is most of the time. I’ve heard he might have gone with High Priest Absythor to visit some lost shrine for some reason.
Well we have to get to the searching. It is a grand responsibility. We’ll write again when we've made some progress.
Thanks for believing in us, WS
------------------- Letter 3 ----------------------------
Dearest Janna, I hope this note finds you well. I apologize for the length of time it's been since I wrote you last. Things had been pretty boring and pleasant until this very morning. I thought it best to drop a note to you, as if you were to drop by, you'd find me elsewhere.
Where to begin? Well, I received a knock on the door from a very ...confident halfling this morning, of a Springheel lineage. I wish I were not here to answer, but that's another story. This Springheel informed me that another friend of mine, Lucia, had been killed in an adventure the two of them had recently embarked, I can't lie, it took me several moments to gather my thoughts, and I'm barely functioning as is, so apologies if I'm scatterbrained today.
The devil of it is the way Springheel said they were ambushed. An evil cult of some demon called Orcus ambushed them as they were following up on a missing head off a statue of Muir. Apparently the cult had demons and summoned frog men among the normal human cultists. It sounded like a bloodbath. There was one other survivor, a priest of the Muir faith, named Ares Valorn. The three of us, along with another have been retained by the church to investigate further the prior circumstances. I feel as if I owe Lucia this much.
So, currently I am on a 12 mile hike to the City of Ashes. As you might remember, I'm not huge on exercise, so I'm trying to keep a strong presentation up for the new people I am with. We'll see how long that facade holds up.
Hope things are going well. I'll update you if we find something out.
current xp totals: 13,620 / 15,000
200 ad-hoc award
--- Level 2 ---
100 Scene with Baran and Lauriel
--- Level 3 ---
100 Tracking the wizard
--- Level 4 ---