The Dreadful Winter
A ranger seeking to avenge her brother, stolen away by a fey creature many years ago.
Armilia Fex stands roughly 5’11’’, and has black, short hair and a dusky complexion. She looks older than her age, appearing closer to her thirties but only being roughly in her mid twenties. Her clothes are well-suited for the cold temperature of her village, and the wilderness that surrounds it. Armilia often appears solemn and serious, and moves about as though she mistrusts every shadow or every tree hides something behind it.
AC 17, touch 13, flat-footed 14; CMD 15
Fort 2 (9 vs. cold weather), Ref 5, Will 1
Knowledge (Geography) 6, Knowledge (Nature) 6, Monster Lore: Fey 11, Perception 5, Stealth 7
Languages Balok, Tralaks, Low Mordentish
Gear [longbow, caestus,studded leather, arrows (20), cold iron arrows (20), alchemical silver arrows (20) masterwork backpack, cold iron dagger, a bedroll, a belt pouch, flint and steel, iron pot, mess kit. torches (2), trail rations (3 days), a waterskin, cold-weather gear, snowshoes, scarf, buckler, furs, snow goggles, pouch with 10gp.
Armilia is a woman with a troubled past, and a very early introduction to the horrors of the world she exists in. Long since lost her innocent ignorance of the things that lurk in the shadows, Armilia is obsessed with the truth of what happened to her brother. Her nights are restless. Her waking moments fraught with paranoia and suspicion of the woods. Her mood melancholy and dreary. But she is capable, and one of the best hunters in the woodlands, even if the village think of her as either a murderer, a tragically scarred woman, or a crazed pariah. Armilia sometimes struggles to convince even herself. Doubts creeping into her mind, questioning her understanding of what exactly happened all that time ago. Maybe she did make it up. Maybe a beast, rapid and hungry from the winter, did snatch away her brother. Maybe, god forbid, she really did do the deed, and her fragile mind could not bear the burden of the having done the act.
As a child of 6, roughly 20 years ago, Armilia and her brother wandered into the woods. They were told never to go into the woods. That the woods were dangerous. That the woods were full of monsters. She wanted to see what was in the woods that made the grown-ups so afraid. Her brother, 4, poor Jaousk, could only follow as she lead him by the hand down the trial, oblivious of the danger she was leading them into. It had been a bitter winter, and the land had choked under the snowfall. The wood’s gnawled knuckles, twisted off by the cold wind, crunched underfoot. As the children wandered, Armilia looked back to find the lights of the Heldren.
She still cannot fully grasp what exactly it was that she saw. Her mind mercifully suppressing the creatures hideous form. But she did feel her brother’s hand yanked out of her grasp, and watched on as he wailed, pulled into the trees and dragging his nails into dirt and stone. She fled, through brush and bush, the roots and sharp fingers of the forest plucking at her in her soundless flight. When she arrived at the village, they told her later she seemed almost like a ghost. Eyes wide as the moon, and blood and debris clinging her clothes torn horridly. The village could not find her brother. Later, when the shock of the incident subsided and her bearings returned to her, she spoke of the incident as she had seen it. Her parents, in mourning, were bewildered. They knew their child was dead, and now their daughter spoke of monsters, raving mad and barely coherent. They sought the advice of the local soothsayer. She stated Armilia had witnessed something so traumatic that her mind has found an escape so it need not broach the reality. The hunters believed it was a bear or maybe a large wolf, that had jumped the children and taken her brother in their jaws. The sight of her brother being torn apart by beasts would have scarred any child. Some, namely the village gossips, and particularly the cruel parents of even crueler children, believed she had been the one to do it. That she had lured her brother into the woods to bash in his head with a rock. The torment from other children grew as their parents began talking of throwing her out of the village. She was a killer, a psychopath, and that eventually she would take another of the children. Or, worse, that when she would grow older she would turn on any one of them and slit their throats in the night.
Such things remained only rumours, and her father, the mayor at the time, tried desperately to quell talk of such things. He had the hunters seek out signs of his lost child, but the hunters found no trace of either the best or the child. As the years went on, Armilia grew only more deperate for answers. The events long ago fading only in detail but the scars left behind festering deeper more. The village still spoke of her as the ‘Monster Child’, and would speak often behind her back, muttering about her newfound obsessions. As she grew into womanhood, this obsession manifested in an insatiable desire for knowledge of beasts of rumour and tales of mystery. Creatures of unusual nature so outlandish and so utterly inhuman, no rational mind would think them to be real. Armilia believed it all. She ventured into the woods, trained with any of the hunters that would accept her on their ventures, begging them to take her with them. Most pitied the girl, having seen what a ravenous beast could do to a child, and the hunters were oft tasked with tracking man-eaters and putting them down. When her father died, the rumours only grew more fierce. The village now openly dismissing her and despising her. Without her father to protect her, they became resentful of what she was, and made every effort to ensure she was not welcome. Even her own mother, aging and growing more and more senile, revealed the deep-seated resentment she felt what happened, and in no small part blamed Armilia for letting her only son die on his own. Armilia’s trips into the woods only grew longer and longer, within which she could find solitude, but yet found even in the silence of the woods the whispers did not recede. The quiet wind spoke of the desperate murmurs of doubt. They would not abate while her memories remained without validation. The woods held secrets, and Armilia would crave her way to the answers she seeks. Anything to bring her peace, or closer to payback. Both desirable in equal measure.