Shar’leth was 14 when her family announced they were planning to join their people and cross the sea. Feisty and strong-willed, she had a habit of courting controversy and defying anyone who told her she couldn’t do something. She was a flirtatious girl, reveling in the attention and devotion she drew out of the boys she set her sights on. It was clear to anyone who knew her that she was going to be more and more trouble once she reached an age where her wiles would sway more than just boys.
A year before the announcement to set out was made, Shar’leth had a chance meeting with a human boy of her own age while out hunting for something to do. They were instantly fascinated with one another, and their initial flirtations had become something much more serious in their young eyes. Their rendezvous were eventually ended when a hunting party from her village found the pair. Shar’leth was forcibly dragged back to the village and she quickly became the centre of public scrutiny and gossip as the new spread like wildfire. Of course her parents, humiliated by the news of their daughter’s dalliance with a human told Shar’leth, in no uncertain terms, that she was to cut off any and all contact with the boy. Though she screamed and protested, insisting they were in love and going to be married once they were of age to do so, her parents refused to relent.
It was a month since she has seen her human love, when the decision to cross the sea was finalized. When her parents told her of their plans to make the journey Shar’leth was beside herself with grief believing she was abandoning the boy she was meant to spend her days with. So, the morning of departure, she hid in a hollowed out log and listened as her frantic parents called out and searched for her. Their search lasted hours but, unable to find her, they were forced to leave their only child behind.
When she was sure they were gone, Shar’leth emerged and immediately sought out her sweetheart. Her explanation of what she had done and her joy at their reunion was cut short however; in the month since they had last seen each-other the boy had found another girl and wished nothing to do with Shar’leth.
Alone and terrified, she wandered, weeping for her losses as she realized what she had so selfishly done. For months she shunned other people, skirting settlements and travelers. She was unwilling to go back to her remaining people whom stayed behind for fear of more anger and possible exile. Her only interaction with civilization was the occasional ransacking of a pantry while the owners of the homes were away. Eventually though, she ran out of food and was unable to find any homes or camps from which to pilfer a meal. Time passed and as the winter set in; she fell ill with a fever. Starved, weak and ready to give up, she at last stumbled across a remote cabin. Shivering and in tears, Shar’leth approached the door and knocked as she silently prayed for deliverance.
It turned out a Syndar hunter who was twice her age, lived alone in the cabin. Shar’leth swayed as the light and heat of the fire hit her face. She managed to croak out a whispered “help” before she collapsed. He scooped her up, wrapped her in furs and over the next week he nursed her back to health. His name, she learned, was Illsen. He was kind and doting, soothing her aches and feeding her broths laced with herbs aimed to aid her recovery. After several weeks together, despite her obvious youth, he asked her to stay with him and become his wife. Thinking she had at last found the love she had longed and sacrificed so much for, she gleefully accepted his offer and they married soon after.
Once married though, Illsen’s treatment of her drastically altered. He began to berate and beat her for the most insignificant of infractions. His near constant abuses eventually reduced the once fiery and lively girl to a weak and completely subservient bride.
She tried to flee several times, but he always tracked her and brought her back home before she could find anyone who was willing to give her aid. Those living in the nearest Syndar village closed their doors to her, both out of fear of Illsen and the belief that the problems between a husband and wife were none of their affairs.
Shar’leth finally gave up on her hope of escape and accepted her fate with Illsen, she had come to believe that she brought this misery on herself by choosing a man over her family in the first place. She learned to tend her wounds, eventually discovering that she possessed magical abilities which allowed her to hasten her healing. She endured and dedicated her days to making sure her husband’s every desire was met, in the vain hope that she would avoid another beating. He always found a reason however, even claiming on some occasions that his treatment of her was a result of a doe escaping his bow and as a woman she should bear the punishment for the creature’s defiance.
It wasn’t until she had been married for 27 years that she became pregnant. Shar’leth was terrified of telling her husband, convinced he would be furious with her. She didn’t know how she would hide the pregnancy from him when she began to show, nor could she bear the thought of drinking a tea to rid her belly of it.
One night, as she cleaned the dinner from the table and her husband loomed into the room, her hand trembled and she dropped their plates, watching in horror as they shattered on the floor. Illsen’s rage exploded and he beat her severely about her face and stomach, resulting in the loss of the child he didn’t know she carried. When her bleeding began and she realized what he had done, Shar’leth finally found the strength to do what she knew she must if she would ever escape Illsen.
When she had healed enough to walk, she set her plans into motion. At dinner, she served her husband a strong ale laced with Valerian root, intending to put him into a deep slumber. Once he had stumbled to their bed and passed out, she began to gather her clothing and some rations she had hidden away under a floorboard. She searched his pouches, taking the few coins she found there and placed them in her own pouch. Finally, she returned to the kitchen, so long her prison, and picked up a knife.
Shar’leth crept into the bedroom and stood over her husband. She remembered all the pain and suffering she had endured at his hands and the child she had lost. Taking a steadying breath, she raised the knife high over her head and exhaled.
She wasn’t sure what she had expected the sound of a knife driven into a living man to sound like, but she certainly hadn’t prepared herself for it. Illsen’s eyes sprang open as he screamed; she wrenched the knife from his flesh and again brought it down with brutal force. His screams began to take on a gurgling quality and she backed away from him, transfixed at the blade’s handle protruding from his torso and the trail of blood pouring from his mouth and wounds. Without a word she turned and fled certain that she had finally ended her captivity and would be able to escape her tormentor.
Shar’leth headed straight for the coast, intent on booking passage to find her family and beg their forgiveness for her impulsive abandonment. Her entire purse was emptied to secure a place aboard a vessel, but she managed to find a ship which was bound for a port in the city of New Hope.
Upon her arrival, no one had even heard of the Syndar who called themselves Phoenix. It would be another couple of years until Shar’leth would learn that there was a small group of the Phoenix who were travelling on Mardrun. Deciding it would be far more prudent to approach a smaller gathering of her people and see how she was received she set out to find them, again, silently praying for deliverance.