War and Subterfuge
I live a blessed life, but I wouldn't mind living it SOMEWHERE ELSE.
Coming soon to a tabletop near you!
Halya lived with her father until the age of 12, her mother having died in childbirth. Her father was never quite sure what to do with a daughter, and his work did not exactly allow him the time to figure it out. He was often away training the next generation of the Dapreevan army. Most times Halya was looked after at the local chantry, where she learned to behave like a lady and uphold the Code of Heironeous. She was an inquisitive student, and asked enough questions to try any Sister’s patience.
On occasion, when guilt struck him, her father would take her with him to watch him work. When she returned to the chantry fighting imaginary enemies with sticks, the Sisters tried to convince her that violence was immoral. This did not sit well with Halya’s interpretation of the Code and her sense of duty. Exploring the boundaries of the Code soon became her chief interest. She did not understand why her actions were considered wrong when the boys were encouraged to practice with weapons. Due to her relentless inquiries, some exceptions were made to the gender segregation at the temple, allowing the girls the choice of training to be paladins alongside the boys. However, it was established that the girls were not to enter service as paladins, should they graduate. They would be needed to serve the church. Halya just wanted a break from prayer and study, and it proved to be enjoyable when she found that she was a natural with a sword. However, it did not satisfy her desire to see the world.
One day one of the senior priestesses intercepted her in the hallway and gently pulled her aside. Halya was initially pleased to be recognized by such a venerated member of the church, but the expression on the woman’s face concerned her. There was apology, sympathy and avoidance mixed in the winding stream of ever-calm words, and finally the message came through: her father wasn’t coming back anymore. He and a small group of soldiers had been on a training mission in the desert and none of them had returned. Whether they had died from exposure or been eaten by some creature was uncertain; the desert erased all traces. If there were bodies, they were impossible to find in that scorching expanse of sand.
Just like that, all her unlikely dreams of ever being taken away from the temple fizzled into nothing. She was an orphan with no option but to stay where she was until she was old and grey like the Sisters and Brothers of the chantry and, like them, had no stories of her own to tell. While she respected her elders, she also found them dreadfully boring. She couldn’t bear the thought of sitting cooped up in a building while somewhere there were good people dying. Her father’s men.
Her inquisitive spirit soon turned to rebellion. With her father gone, she did not even have those short trips outside the chantry grounds to look forward to. Her discontent was catching, and she made plans with her three closest friends to run away. Unfortunately, tragedy struck two days before their planned escape. While playing on the grounds with those three friends, one of them was swept into the deepest part of the river. Halya watched in a stupor as a head resurfaced and disappeared, then a hand, then a leg. She followed along the riverbank in a fog, not knowing what to do. She stopped again. Her friend did not resurface.
When the hysterics had calmed, the Sisters had been informed and a search of the riverbanks had begun, Halya told her two friends that she believed this had been a warning against their course of action. Her friends disagreed. When they left two days later as planned after the service for their drowned friend, Halya stayed behind. Afraid that a horrible accident might befall her or those around her, she devoted herself to her studies and her training with unprecedented vigor. The boundaries of the Code became a comfort rather than a hindrance, and she behaved as if Heironeous himself might be watching her at any time. She suspected that he was.
Years later, when her training was complete, she graciously expressed her desire to serve elsewhere and was sent to another large church in Swiftwater Port to supplement their paladin training staff. The new scenery kept her placated for a while, and she took to spreading the virtue of Heironeous to the seedier parts of town when she felt unfulfilled. While content, she was never quite happy. She felt that her fighting skill was a gift from Heironeous, and she was wasting it by staying out of danger as the church wished her to.
Her patience, it seems, will soon be rewarded.