A loner, occasionally mischievous, and somewhat unkempt, Yara Ondolithe would be considered a hermit in many a town. Lending her ear to the spirits that dwell in the Mire, Yara has lived off the land just inside the North Wall for a generation. Supporting herself by making magical and artistic totems for the townsfolk (and not always being entirely clear about which ones are which), Yara has become something of a country doctor and spiritual guide to those farmers and families who don’t engage the services of Pelor’s temple.
Yara was born to a nomadic elf family. Her parents had chosen to mate because of their passion for one another, but there was an understanding that their bonding would be fleeting. They followed the Ironroot Clan back to Sanctum when they were contracted to join the people of the Mire those many years ago, and after settling down in the “city,” made a life together before conceiving.
After Yara was born, her father D’Irn was able to land a job as a performer in the court at Castle Ardhome. Largely, her mother Lyrav was busy teaching her young child to live independently in the town, but she made money with her own artistic talents by fashioning intricate clay shapes into useful utensils and and containers and selling them in the town.
Yara spent her early years learning the manufacture of artistic goods from her mother, and playing with the human and dwarven children of Sanctum. Her father tried to entice her to learn music and performance, to follow in his footsteps, but she was much more deft with clay than with song, and never pursued it.
Her parents would bring her to the town square, hoping she would learn to socialize with the other children while they enjoyed themselves talking to the townsfolk, but instead of talking to the children, she would sit and stare at the town’s fountain, or watch the snails and slugs crawl across the cobblestones. If she was lucky, she would get to watch a moor sheep being brought through town, or get to sit and pet one of the many watchdogs belonging to the residents.
When Yara was a young adult, in her late teens, her mother was finally convinced that she had taught her everything she knew about craftsmanship. She said goodbye to her child and her mate, and left with the annual caravan of merchants leaving the Drekken Mire, leaving her mate to watch over her daughter.
D’Irn stayed closer to home after his mate’s departure, only performing for Ardhome’s residents infrequently. Yara had begun to make beautiful totems from the local marsh-wood, and D’Irn would spend his wanderlust by roving the various farmsteads of the Mire peddling her goods.
It wasn’t long however before he had visited every homestead, and grew tired of his sedentary lifestyle. For his daughter’s twenty-fifth birthday, he wanted to surprise his daughter with a trip to Castle Ardhome; it was to be his farewell performance to the court, and his daughter’s first visit to the castle.
Coming of Age
When it came time for D’Irn’s surprise performance, he gave his daughter a sleeping herb with her supper and had her borne to the Castle, intending to surprise her when she woke.
The evening did not go according to plan.
When Yara woke inside Castle Ardhome, she was blinded and deafened by a torrent of light and noise. The court, her father, and her friends were shocked at her apparent madness, taking her hands and holding her tightly, lest her seizures of confusion harm her or anyone else. As the eternally long seconds passed, she caught the glimmers of visible shapes and the intelligible murmur of voices.
Fighting unconsciousness and pain, she forced herself to discern the voices and shapes. She soon could tell that some of the voices were familiar, and with time she could make out the faint outlines and sights of her friends and father through the blinding torrent. In a flash of insight, she reached out and grasped her father, focusing her attention as best she could on him. She pulled him to her, calmly saying, “Let go. Please, I need to hear this…”
Bewildered, the onlookers were stunned into silence as Yara began to hold discourse with the empty air. With apparent patience, she spoke to the mass of shadows and torrent of colors and sounds which washed over her. Despite her strength and good-will, the torrent only increased, and within a minute she was overwhelmed and fell into the deep, restful recesses of unconsciousness.
When she awoke again, outside the walls of the Castle, she found herself staring into the deep brown eyes of a dwarven wise-woman. Realizing that her charge was awake, the woman closed her eyes, continuing to face Yara. As she watched, the woman’s eyelids began to glow a deep purple, and before she could say anything a large panther appeared in the room.
Momentarily, Yara panicked, but then she realized that she was seeing a spirit! The dwarf woman nodded toward her, and the panther stalked closer. Unafraid, she let the panther slink close and lift one of its paws to her face. When it touched her, she momentarily saw the image of a fox play across her sight, and she again blacked out.
Unlike before, however, she was lucid as she slept, finding herself looking down on the lights of Sanctum from a vantage that could only be the farthest west portion of the North Wall. Climbing down in absolute silence from the heights, she found herself in a part of the swamp she had not been to before; here the dwarves had built one of their mines; the ground was dry and around the mine-shaft was a small copse of sturdy trees which were free from the root-rot common to much of the Mire. Drawn to the copse, she strode toward it, a nagging feeling in her chest telling her she had to make this journey.
In the copse found a comfortable tree to sit against and waited. She did not have to wait long before the fox she had seen while awake carefully padded out of the undergrowth.
As the sight of no person had, the sight of the fox made Yara’s heart leap with joy. She rose, steadily strode to the fox, and gently lifted him into her arms. She knew now why the totems she had made were so clear in her mind before she made them, why the song of the water and the heart of the beat called to her above the wiles of men, and why the once-haunted Castle of Ardhome had overwhelmed her; she had been called to see the spirits of the Mire.
She was a Shaman.