About Smaranda Zografu
Born in the city of Ardis in Ardeal, and raised on its streets, Smaranda learned some tough lessons from a very early age. The mob who killed her mother and almost killed her delivered the first of those lessons - you are different than us and we will forever hate you for that. And Smaranda could not deny that she was, indeed, different. The heritage of her vampiric sire was evident in her chalky complexion and emaciated frame. The second lesson she learned from the children (and sometimes the adults as well) living in the slum where she took refuge once she found herself all alone in the world - endure or die. At first, their barbed words, their rocks, their kicks made her burst into tears and pitiful wailing - which excited her attackers into a frenzy of even greater hatred and hurt. Little by little, she learned to grit her teeth over the pain. She stopped speaking, stopped asking them to please, stop, why are you doing this, and instead she would stare at them evenly, her face an expressionless mask. This unnerved them, so one by one they ceased harassing her. All but the worst of them, who became even more creative in their violence towards her. Thus, her third lesson. Do unto others as they do unto you. She had learned their patterns well by now, who liked to kick and who liked to punch, who favoured sticks and clubs, who was good at throwing rocks. She ambushed the weakest of them, at first getting much worse than she was giving, but little by little she grew stronger and faster, until they feared her. Such a menace she had become that the adults mobbed again, swarmed the streets baying for her blood, the abomination, the monster, the witch-spawn. Oh well, she'd always hated this city anyway.
Having narrowly made her escape from Ardis, Smaranda found herself on the road, at the age of 14. For the next few years she roamed the country, avoiding the more rural communities and hiring herself out for whatever work she could find. Aimless at first, she found her calling when a group of foreigners hired her as a local guide. The strangers were some sort of wandering mercenaries, taking jobs that usually involved ridding local communities of problems they couldn't deal with themselves - usually monstrous critters, bandits, and in one memorable occasion for Smaranda, a fledgling vampire. She vividly remembers the mixture of fascination and revulsion she felt as she watched the captured creature. Cold hatred for their kind washed through her; not only was this unnatural, a desecration of the cycle of life and death, but their predatory ways were directly responsible for her mother's death and her own life of strife and pain. Noticing her reaction, the foreigners offered to let her drive the stake through the vampire's heart. They were quite taken aback when she managed this with a single open-handed blow, driving it so deep that its tip bit into the ground.
After that, she spent some time travelling with a Varisian caravan, learning tumbling and fortune-telling and seeing more of the country. It was in their company that she met the Professor, although at the time she didn't know what a professor was, nor how the man was going to impact her life. They came across Petros Lorrimor at a rest stop on the road to Tamrivena. He seemed to know the caravan's leader, a wizened Varisian woman by the name of Trandafira, and the two spent several hours closeted in her wagon. The Professor joined them for dinner and entertained the company with stories well into the evening, although it didn't escape Smaranda that he seemed preoccupied. Later that night, Smaranda awoke to muffled sounds and a sense of dread. Rolling out from her sleeping place underneath a wagon, she stumbled on a scene of chaos and carnage, their camp under attack. Even as she watched, Vasil, the knife-thrower, shambled to his feet, his head lolling to one side on an obviously broken neck. For a moment Smaranda couldn't understand what she was seeing, then as he moved towards Tamara, the dog-tamer, she shouted out a warning. Too late. The poor woman was ripped apart before her eyes. Panicking, Smaranda started running, until she came across the professor, fending off the attacks of several ghouls who seemed about to overwhelm him. Her fear and despair suddenly finding a channel, she barreled into the creatures like a bolt of pure rage, battering them with her feet and fists. The rest of the night passed in a blur, Smaranda staying by the professor's side and fighting, fighting, incessantly, hopelessly. The first rays of the sun cast their unforgiving light on the ruin and desolation was left behind by the attackers, the shattered remains of Smaranda's world. She vaguely remembers the professor speaking to her, apologizing for something, but mostly she remembers feeling numb.
Goals and motivations:
Her hatred and loathing of vampires, and by extension of all undead, is a powerful motivator for Smaranda. Once she learned that she can fight back, she has made it her personal mission to rid the world of as many of the abominations as she can. This also plays a large part in her dedication to Pharasma.
She views the accumulation of personal power as a kind of insurance against being badly treated by others. For now, she is focusing on the physical aspects of such power, constantly honing her abilities and fighting skills, but perhaps she will discover other kinds of power in the future.
Her most recent lesson included the discovery that home is not a place, but people. With the Varisian caravan, she had felt at home for the first time in her life. Now that they are gone, she is seeking for another group of people who can accept her and support her.
Appearance and personality:
Smaranda is quite small for her age, looking stunted and frail, her body painfully thin. Her dark eyes are sunken into her emaciated face, the contrast with her very pale skin making them look like holes. She wears her black hair hacked short, mostly for convenience than for any consideration of fashion or aesthetics. Her skin bears a haphazard pattern of scars, bruises and premature wrinkles, which she tries to conceal with long sleeves, gloves and generally swaddling herself in fabric from head to toe. Her movements have a furtive, twitchy quality about them, and her eyes frequently dart around, observing, measuring, analyzing.
She is a very lonely girl, in part due to her obvious strangeness, but also because she never learned how to just be around other people. She rarely speaks, and when she does it's slow and quiet, her raspy voice barely above a whisper, her words measured out one by one. She feels most comfortable when she knows the rules, and as such changes and new situations are difficult for her. But she has a hunger in her, a hunger for learning, and for human contact, and for belonging. This is what drives her to try and try and try to change herself, to be better, to fit in.
Dissembling and deception are alien concepts to her. Not only is she truthful, even painfully blunt at times, but she tends to take at face value whatever it is that others tell her, at least until she sees evidence to the contrary. She is quite literal-minded and has trouble grasping metaphor, sarcasm and even humour.