The fugitive in the shadows
The life of Lynn Sashiin was never one of ease or tranquillity. The unlikely child of a Nisibi wanderer and a Rankan ranger, her childhood home was stationary if not stable. Living with her parents in the forests at the foot of the Wizardwall Mountains, Lynn came to understand from an early age that she and her family were universal undesirables. The Nisibisi scorned and shunned her mother for her choice of partner, and the Rankan would have the heads of all the family as an example to others if her father’s family-choices were ever known. Lynn’s parents were brought together by passion and the joy of breaking with every courtship convention of Nisibi and Rankan, but the fundamental differences between the witch and the warrior were never dormant for long. The constant struggle between the two cultures would often be mirrored in the relationship, and so Lynn found herself affected by both but wholly a part of neither. Life in the forest might have been otherwise unremarkable, had it not been for the irrefutable signs of the strong which-blood flowing through Lynn. In her mid-teens, Lynn would find herself the centre of unusual and unnatural events, culminating in an unfortunate situation involving a squirrel, some potatoes and a large wooden ladle. This incident led to a confrontation between her mother and father on whether or not Lynn should be taught the witchcraft of the Nisibisi. When her mother would not relent and swore to teach Lynn what she knew no matter what her father thought, the Rankan fire in him was kindled and the two parted ways.
Again, Lynn’s story might have been no more remarkable, had it not been for the ferocity of the Rankan. While her mother strived to teach Lynn the Nisbisi ways of magic, her father returned to Ranke, wishing to repent for his transgressions. After cruel punishment, he was offered one chance for redemption: purging his family from the face of the earth. His spirit broken, humiliated and enraged, he accepted, leading a Rankan platoon to his wife and daughter. Lynn escaped the onslaught, but watched her mother die at the hands of her father, surrounded by his Rankan compatriots.
Lynn fled. Her mother’s last word to her, ‘Hide!’ the singular guiding strategy of her life from that moment on. She hid herself, her identity and her magic, becoming anonymous and unknown. Too cautious to turn to others, she learned to care for herself, practicing her magic and staying for the most part nocturnal. This propensity for the dark put her on a path of thieving to survive; lawful jobs are scarce in the night-time. Eventually, Lynn found that there were other, more sinister works to do in the dark, works that did not require her to show her face, and demanded there be no witnesses. Turns out anonymity can pay well. It was on one of these sinister jobs where Lynn found the last thing she expected. She found god. Well, a god.
Few humans have seen Shalpa, the Ilsigi god of theft, luck, war and general mischief, and it was not until substantially later that Lynn realised this was the shrouded figure she had encountered while skulking on a roof beam waiting for a target. All she knew at the time was that a figure appeared out of nowhere, and when she lept on it thinking it was her target it was suddenly nowhere. Picking herself up from the ground, bruised and shaken, she watched the figure appear again, looking as if it simply assembled itself out of the darkness. Two bright eyes the only discernible feature in the darkness, and while they regarded her curiously Lynn thought she saw them narrow in mirth before they melted into the darkness and disappeared. Only later would Lynn realize that one of her pouches had come to contain a small square of black cloth with a pair of bright eyes emblazoned in the centre. Careful digging revealed this to be the symbol of Shalpa, and while Lynn did as a rule not hold with divinity, it was undeniable that the character she had observed knew his way around the shadows like nothing she had ever seen. If anyone could instruct her in how to keep herself hidden, it had to be him.
Finding herself with a purpose, Lynn made her careful way to Ilsig, but was met by a city firmly under Rankan control. All signs of the original Islig gods were gone, and no sign of Shalpa, his adherents, or so much as a way shrine was to be found. In part out of a need to keep moving, in part due to hope and in part to despair, Lynn turned her attention to the only other place she knew of where there was a hope to find any remnants of clues to Shalpa: Sanctuary.