Opakii Naishe is a noticeably tall Bwantaali pulnagá from the southern Wendajii village of Poundroot. Naishe stands 6′ 2″ and weighs just over 150 lbs., and has been exploited most of her life by her family–foster parents who likely found her abandoned in the farm fields and raised her primarily with the goal of having her labor on their farm. Naishe worked as a farmer for many years, trading goods in the neighboring villages, but always believed she was destined for greater things. A seer she met as an early adult saw her inner drive for adventure, and began encouraging her to learn about the wondrous mechanisms that conjure magics into the world. He promised her that one day she might learn to cast powerful spells. But a cloaked merchant put a stop to her secret training when he passed along a dangerous trinket that took the life of her trainer. Now, Naishe seeks vengeance and fame, both in the name of her teacher.
Poundroot is named for its primary crop export, which is a staple used in many dishes from the region, especially to make flour for chapan bread. It is a small village consisting primarily of laborers and farmers who grow in the fertile soils and trade their wares among neighboring villages and hamlets that cluster near one another among the plains. Naishe never knew her birth parents, and was most likely abandoned among the grasses due to her half-human nature, given that many superstitious farmers in the south province do not approve of such a mixed union. The Opakii family adopted Naishe when she was just eleven months old, raised more for what labor she might provide the farm than for love or family.
The Opakii raised Naishe as a laborer, tending the poundroot fields and trading mostly flour-bound crops in the nearby hamlets. She worked hard and had a safe life with her foster parents, but never truly felt at home with her family. Naishe longed for a deeper, more meaningful life, and would fantasize about far off kingdoms and wild adventures as she toiled away in the fields. She wanted to meet others like herself–tall, half-humans, with a sharp wit and a keen eye for mechanical processes. Naishe had more potential than most, if not all, children in her village. In truth, Poundroot and the Opakii held her back from truly achieving her potential. So, for a time into early adulthood, Naishe could only daydream about greater things.
That all changed in her twenty-first year when she met Grofen Djalak, a seer in the hamlet of Clay Gulch. Grofen negotiated for poundroot one afternoon, but was immediately taken with Naishe’s potential for wit and poise. Over the next several trading weeks while Grofen remained in Clay Gulch, the two saw each other and developed a friendship of sorts. And when Naishe was talking about Grofen to Jabendalat in the local tavern, the bartender told her to stay away from Grofen, as he was an adventurer, a “strangely foul man” with “strangely foul magics.” When she heard that, Naishe wanted to hear more about Grofen’s adventures and how she might go about heading out on her own.
Grofen began working with Naishe, studying various traps and physical elements, as well as exploring the ancient art of shadowdancing, using elements of wizardry and illusion to lay traps and disappear into the surroundings. Naishe immediately showed aptitude, especially for traps, but found that some of the more complex spells eluded her. Grofen assured Naishe that in time she could learn to master difficulty magics too. For eight years Naishe would spend each weekend in Clay Gultch working with Grofen, and tend to the Opakii fields during the week days.
One fateful week’s end, Naishe brought her poundroot and vegetables to the market in Clay Gulch. She was eager to finish with the day’s selling, so she could meet with Grofen and begin her shadowdancing again. A cloaked merchant arrived in the market, approaching the poundroot market crate. Naishe remembers feeling enticed at first by the merchant, and he began discussing a rare and valuable trinket that he was offering to trade for food. It was easily twice the value of her entire poundroot cart, he told Naishe, and convincingly proceeded to dupe her into trading her wares for the necklace.
The disc-like glowing pendant seemed exciting at first, and she was excited about her sale. She thought to ask Grofen about the pendant and where she might sell it. But as she approached Grofen and made her evening greeting, she began to feel nauseated. The seer could see that something was wrong, and when he took the pendant in his hands to inspect it, he cried out for his assistants to run and alert the guard. By the time the Peacekeepers arrived, nearly everyone in the surrounding vicinity had lost consciousness or died from exposure to the pale stone. Grofen was among the several villagers who succumbed to the deadly stone.
Naishe regained consciousness and had to answer questions from the Peacekeepers. Where did the pendant come from? Who gave it to you? She could barely concentrate on what the authorities had to say. She felt pain and anger over what had happened to Grofen, the man who was her teacher and only true friend. She had so much more to learn from him, but now he was gone. She began to ask the Peacekeepers questions of her own. Who was that cloaked merchant? Where could he be headed? If she could find him before the Peacekeepers did, she could make him suffer for what he had done. And perhaps if she could achieve great things in Grofen’s name, she would also be able to honor him and what he managed to teach her before his death.