Saffiyah Glaedwine was born in Tielorrian in the year 246 to Gairell and Tayleth Glaedwine. They were both scholars, following the moon goddess Lunara. Saffiyah had deep green eyes, pointed ears, and blonde hair with a glow of red to it. At the tender age of four, Saffiyah and her parents fled from the falling kingdom they called home to go to the new land, known as Mardrun. Unfortunately, being so young at the time, Saffiyah has precious few memories of her birth place, and not nearly as strong a connection with their culture as Gairell and Tayleth would have liked.
From a young age they taught her the importance of the mana stream, their life force, and they attempted to educate their daughter in their ways so that she may also be a scholar. After their homeland was overrun with the undead, they clung onto their daughter tighter than most parents might have. It was their full intention to raise her to work with them in a laboratory and study in a library and be safe. As Saffiyah grew up, it became clear to her father that this was not a life she would accept, but her mother would not have it.
At 22, still quite young for a syndar, Saffiyah requested that she be allowed to travel North and explore their new world, as she had not been allowed to see any of it yet and only had stories and her own imagination. She pleaded with her parents to let her, telling them that she believed the answer to their race’s struggles with the mana stream would be found somewhere in the new land. She had heard stories of the creatures in the Dirge Swamp and wanted to see them herself. While Saffiyah told her parents that she wanted to adventure to research, she knew this was only an excuse to escape. The life her parents had planned for her was nothing like the life she wanted for herself. Their denial of her wish hit her hard. And considering she had no money of her own, she knew if this kept up she would always be reliant on her parents. So she devised a plan.
For as long as she spent thinking about what she would do, she was still young, and had not much worldly experience… so her plan did not quite go as she had hoped.
Saffiyah stole a few pieces of jewelry from her family and sold them for silver pieces. This gave her what she thought would be enough to take her safely to the Northern lands where she could escape the colonies and roam freely and adventure. She packed a few items, clothing and a book which she kept her thoughts. She then gathered a party of humans and offered them coin to make sure she could travel safely, and left a note for her parents. This would apologize and explain her reasons. One of her biggest regrets in life is that she was unable to have a proper goodbye with them.
For the first couple days, her party headed up toward the Dirge completely unmet by other travelers. It was days before she saw her first Mordok. The creature was ugly to behold, and it put her on edge to finally see one in person. She had not expected to be so nervous as she knew its intelligence would be far less than her own. Nevertheless she thought of the stories she’d heard about them and hung back while her men advanced on it. The creature was… timid. It backed away from the men coming to it, but they struck it down quickly and the whole group kept traveling.
In the following days they were met with scattered mordok here and there. It was clear to Saffiyah that the further North they traveled, the less meek these creatures seemed to be, yet they had not struggled too greatly to slay them and carry on. After weeks of travel, they ran into a larger group of Mordok than they had seen yet, only having faced 2 or 3 at a time at the most so far. Now with even numbers on both sides, the Mordok were more vicious and ruthless than she had seen them be before.
Even as her men landed great blows, the creatures kept coming at them until her party was in danger. It was as if the Mordok had a goal- not to kill, but to see how much damage they could do to them. Just as Saffiyah thought this might spell the end for her and her adventure, they were aided by a storm of arrows and swords. It was a pack of Ulven, sweeping through to clear the Mordok in the area. She offered them money as gratitude for their rescue, but the ulven would not take it. “We do not need payment for something our morals dictate we do,” one of them told her. They guided her wounded party to a tavern to rest, and parted ways.
Saffiyah paid for food, drink, healing, and rooms so that her and her men would have a chance to recuperate. All this, while necessary, was also quite costly. Depressed, she sat in a corner of the tavern with a drink, scribbling in her book and trying to devise another plan, one that would make her the money she needed to continue on. She was starting to lose hope, so she began writing down some of the songs she heard people singing instead to get her mind off of her troubles, even for just a little while.
“Whatcha got there?” she heard a gruff voice calling.
Saffiyah looked over see a human man swaggering over to her. His clothing was of fine, rich colored velvet, and he wore many large jewels on his fingers and around his neck. This was a wealthy man.
“Just doing a little writing” Saffiyah replied, carefully closing her book.
He came quite close to her.
“I have no interest for stories,” he started, “but I am interested in what I’m seeing”
The man looked her over, spending more time looking at certain areas of her body. He offered her a little purse of coins to stay the night with him in his room and “have some fun”.
This was not the first time Saffiyah had been asked this in her travels. Between the different taverns they stopped at to rest, she had probably heard this question four or five times now. So it became reflex to say no.
The man chuckled and pulled out another small purse full of coins, claiming he would double his original offer.
Saffiyah blinked. Am I actually considering this? She thought to herself. Entertaining the idea, she realized that it was going to be the best, and possibly only way to earn the money needed to complete her journey. She put on a false smile and accepted the man’s offer.
In the morning, she collected the promised silver, pocketed it, and went on her way, a slight smile on her face. The thing she found most surprising about the experience was that she did not hate it. She had accomplished something. It was easy and not unpleasant. She gathered her men, who had clearly also had…. restful nights… and with newfound confidence and invigoration they continued on.
They went quite far North before being stopped in the road by a large group of men who introduced themselves as merchants. They were called in to look at their wares, and before they knew it, they were surrounded by more men than they had spotted originally. These were no merchants… they were bandits.
Alarmingly outnumbered, Saffiyah’s men were taken down easily, slain before her very eyes. She cried out as she was grabbed from behind by one of them, who was pinning her arms down so she could not move, and could not cast.
“What should we do with this one?” The bandit called out to an apparent leader. He was a large man, wearing the best armor of any of them. He looked down at Saffiyah from atop his horse and size her up.
“We will take her to be sold on the black market,” he exclaimed.
The following days were a torturous existence for Saffiyah. These men were rough with her, and she was not well fed or watered. They bound her tightly at the wrists with ropes and took turns being the one in charge of holding it. They made her walk behind the caravan for long stretches, and if she couldn’t keep up, it was common for someone to yank on her lead, making her lurch forward and fall. Between the bruises on her knees from hitting the ground hard, and the red, raw skin on her wrists, she was unsure which hurt more.
It could have been days or weeks, she could not keep track. But eventually the leader called out to them that they were to part ways and sell their wares at different locations so it would be harder to track them down. Saffiyah was sent with four men to be sold into slavery. After a days travel, they exclaimed that they must be getting close. There were small streams of smoke in the distant sky that they could see above the tree-line. This would likely be people cooking or a blacksmith working. Signs of a gathering of people.
Saffiyah’s stomach lurched and she feared that whatever fate held for her, it could be worse than what she had already endured. But she was incredibly lucky. To her relief they were met on the road by another Ulven. Yet as they got closer she saw he somehow didn’t seem as friendly as those she had been rescued by, his face was stern and his demeanor was frightening. She rethought her original sense of relief and realized that this could be who she was being sold to.
The ulven interrogated the men who kept her, and upon deciding that they were bandits, he drew his weapon and attacked them. The lunk who had been holding her rope dropped it to draw his own sword and she saw her chance. Knowing that four-on-one were not good odds for the Ulven, she ran as fast as she could, trying to get away before they could slay him and grab her again. She raced toward the smoke, thinking that she might be safe if only she could reach the town as a free woman.
Her entire body ached, having been so worn down from her lack of food and water, she found it harder and harder to make herself run. Saffiyah’s legs felt like lead. She stopped, leaning against a tree to catch her breath. There were gentle rustles in a nearby bush, she ignored them, whatever animal was there would not concern her now. She used her teeth to untie her bindings, rubbing gingerly at the tender skin on her wrists. Her head was spinning. She closed her eyes and tried to ground herself. When she opened them again, she saw a Mordok approaching her, weapon held high. She gasped and quickly channeled mana and sent it flying a few feet back with a surge of energy. Turning back toward where she had come from, she saw the Ulven, charging up the road, looking enraged. She ducked out of his way and looked, just in time to see that the Mordok had already advanced on her again. He took it down with a few heavy blows and she stood there, paralyzed with shock.
When the creature lay dead, he fixed his gaze on Saffiyah, between the blood splattered on his face and the fierce look upon it, her heart skipped a beat. She secured her footing and just as she was about to push off running, the Ulven grabbed her by the wrist, hard.
“Stop running off on your own! You are going to get yourself killed!” he growled.
She drew back in fear and winced from the pain she felt surging from where he held her.
The look on Saffiyah’s face must have been obvious fear, for the Ulven softened his own expression, and his tone. He released his grip on her wrist, but held her at the shoulder to make sure she was steady. She looked him over, noticing by the way he held himself that some of the blood on him was definitely his own.
“I am Toralf Grimmsvulker,” he said, “and I belong to a group whose main duty is ridding the world of the bandit threat. The Wardens of the Great Wolf.”
“My name is Saffiyah” she choked out.
“Well Saffiyah,” he said through bated breath, “you should come with me. I know someone who can care for you. You’ll be safe with us.”
Knowing full well it could be a trap, she decided to trust him. She really had no other choice.
Toralf started toward the town, and Saffiyah followed.