Mysteries of the Amberwoad Vale
Charismatic Half-Elf Archer
Terrible things will happen if the city of Two Rivers falls.
That isn’t much to go on, but that’s all the dreams have been leaving Lilli feeling sure of. They are more like feelings than full visions. She has never seen full events or what will cause the trouble, only felt their aftermath. Rarely does she see so much as a face, usually elfin, and she has never recognized one. Yet the impressions recur, and linger, in the way of all the most unfortunate truths.
She isn’t even sure if those ‘terrible things’ that might happen would threaten mainly her own life or those of the entire kingdom. But then, to Lilli, it means about the same thing either way.
Lilli inherited a double dose of independence. As the daughter of a restless female soldier, she learned early on how important it is to be able to take care of yourself. Before she could pull back a bowstring or heft a sword, she’d learned how to talk her way into anything she needed, first using sweetness and then by deception. She’d been a keen observer. From her elfin father, she’d got an urge to see for herself as much as she could, a natural ability for archery and slipping about in the dark, and the guaranteed outcast status of most half-elves. Since she had followed in her mother’s path of training as a city guard, she’d become a keen fighter, too.
Now, she longed to follow her own instincts, wherever her curiosity and salable talents at scouting, guarding, and espionage carried her. Only, those dreams.
Lilli’s mother used to get the dreams, too. That’s what had led her to join the city guard. True, there was also some old family heritage of making fine soldiers, but it wouldn’t have been expected of her, especially as a young female. No, when she’d sworn to protect Two Rivers, and then spent years of training to be able to do so, it was out of her shadowy sense she would need to do it to protect herself. She’d have stayed with the guard, if the increasing corruption in the city hadn’t put her into increasingly tough situations and made her wonder if the guard still protected the city’s best interests. And if that wood elf hadn’t kept appearing during her patrolling missions, close by and often enough for her to know that he wanted her to see him. None of the others ever saw him, but she had trouble looking away. And, finally, if, when she had realized she was pregnant, she had not let the elf leave for somewhere North, knowing that he was as bound to something in those woods as she was to Two Rivers. After that, she resigned from the guard to raise Lilli, but she stayed sharp on all the figures in the city prominent enough to influence its growth, which happened also to be those figures prominent enough to make use of her training as a guard. The vague premonitions had quieted for her, and she’d also come by a trinket, in the form of a sleep cap, which quieted the dreams, at least at night. She’d worked herself into the thick of the city’s web of influence, taking small jobs as she pleased and always keeping an eye out for any shaking in its threads.
Now it was Lilli who carried the dreams and the sleep cap. If she wore it too long, to avoid the dreams, a pressure built up in her temples and jaw. So she kept it for hard nights and when she needed her head to be clear.
Lilli kept to the fringes of the guard. She was as dependent upon her charismatic way with words as she was with the bow, and both were weapons that were best deployed from a far distance, a concealed position, or a knowing point of advantage. She took on spy missions the way her mother had, both as a practical matter and to keep her better informed about who was trying to pull off what. With her mother keeping an eye on the city, and because she never could have contained herself to the city walls, Lilli worked her way further and further out into the woods. Within five years, she quit the guard and offered her services to traveling parties or quarrelling factions that she took an interest in, gathering all the information that she could about the terrain of the land and of her various employers’ desires.
She felt less loyalty for the city than her mother had. As talented as she was at blending into shadows, and at convincing her audiences of exactly what she wanted them to believe, she never managed to feel either invisible or whole. She’d damn the city if she could be free of it, but that didn’t seem like an option. Better see, then, what the other options out there might be. At the very least, it would be interesting.