Life in Drotid
As a young shaahesk, Kassaerth never quite fit in with the others. She didn't have the same attitude, the same bloodlust, the same aggression, the same overactive ego. Killing and fighting for fun and personal advancement didn't particularly appeal to her. Like most shaahesk of her station, she took part in military training exercises and gladiator-like contests, but she never got the same enjoyment from them as most of the future soldiers. Instead, Kassaerth found fulfillment in certain portions of the exercises; the challenge of outwitting her opponent, finding the well-hidden enemy, escaping from overwhelming odds. Something of a loner, Kassaerth sought out solace in the library, looking for something more than personal power and status. In her studies, Kassaerth came across descriptions of other cultures and the other deities of Avlis. She found that the teachings of Pelar appealed to her, particularly some of the newer texts describing the recent rediscovery and return of Fundamentalism. In training, Kassaerth would volunteer for the missions geared towards individual survival, hunting, and tracking, avoiding the group and military exercises when she could. As her desire to truly experience the life of a Hunter grew, Kassaerth became even more dissatisfied with her life and yearned for a change. Finally, when she could bear it no longer, Kassaerth simply left. On a training exercise in which she was instructed to track down a kobold "escapee" near Drotid's southwestern border, Kassaerth tracked the kobold instructor to the very edge of the swamp, within view of some of T'Nanshi's soaring trees. She trapped the kobold with an Entanglement spell, and approached him to claim the medallion that would signify completion of the mission, but only a few steps away, Kassaerth turned south into the forest. Kassaerth's life as a Drotid soldier was over, and her life as a Huntress just beginning.
Learning the Old Ways
--Placeholder for details about Kassaerth's full conversion to Pelar.--
Arriving in Ferrell
On one of her typical month long hunts, Kassaerth tracked her prey through miles of the T'Nanshi forest, blissfully unaware of the political winds swirling around the land. As Kassaerth finally closed in on the panther she tracked, several elves stepped into the same clearing. Without speaking, the elves immediately drew daggers and charged. Kassaerth ran, her long legs gradually outpacing the shorter elves. For hours she ran, from tree to tree, clearing to clearing, and quickly learned to avoid contact with other locals, as arrows whizzed past her head. As the sun mercifully sank beneath the trees, Kassaerth found herself in the rolling hills of Ferrell, safe for the moment. Upon speaking to the Ferrell natives, Kassaerth learned that war had broken out between Drotid and T'Nanshi, and that a return to the woods was now impossible.
Kassaerth quickly scouted the hills and plains surrounding Port Eridanus, familiarizing herself with her interim home. First and foremost, Kassaerth found fertile hunting grounds, ranging from several caves in and around Port Eridanus to the Roseberry Woods and the canyons of Little Falls. Although she was, and at times still is, greeted with mistrust by the warmbloods, she grew to know, and even befriend, several over time. Still not terribly social, Kassaerth can sometimes be described as showing affection for certain warmblood friends; Jalya, Auryna, MJ, Ace, Fletcher, Pan'na, and Delurion, among others. The local merchants grew to know that Kassaerth was willing to buy and sell necessities, always honest and rarely haggling over prices. Kassaerth's attempts at adjustment to life in Ferrell included renting a room at the Port Hole, in an attempt to fit in with the locals. After a few months, her restless nature took over as she returned to the wild, owning only what she could carry with her. Finally, some years later, Kassaerth has come to a curious peace between her solitary nature and social interaction, often spending weeks at a time on a far flung hunt, but also returning to the Port or Kitanya Hill to trade and speak with the locals.
Although Ferrell provided suitable hunting grounds and many challenges, Kassaerth's wandering nature made her long to again hunt in the T'Nanshi forests and Drotid swamps. Eventually, Kassaerth learned to take the form of certain forest creatures, and spent some time wandering T'Nanshi as a panther, wolf, and badger. During her travels, she learned of others capable of taking more forms. Other forms would allow her further access to lands at war with Drotid, and would add to her skills as a Huntress, so Kassaerth pursued the rumors of such abilities as vigorously as she pursued any prey. In time, Kassaerth learned the secrets of shapeshifting, and began to spend more time in T'Nanshi, particularly near Zvidureth as a wyrmling named Jaxxa. Over time, some of the residents of Zvidureth learned of Jaxxa's secret, but the protection of a number of her friends, especially including Fletcher Millstone, known as the Mayor of Zvidureth, prevented the locals from driving Jaxxa off, as long as she remained in her wyrmling form.
The War Ends
After T'Nanshi's victory over Drotid, day to day life for Kassaerth changed very slowly, and in some ways, not at all. She remained a forest druid, largely unwelcome in the forest she had come to love. Zvidureth allowed Kassaerth's presence, even in her natural shaahesk form, but some of the warmbloods continued to treat her with disdain, if not outright hostility. M'Chek, with its less forgiving and welcoming nature, remained entirely off limits. Kassaerth worked hard to show the citizens of Zvidureth and surrounding areas that she meant no harm to the Spiritland. This effort, plus T'Nanshi's natural culture of welcomeness, eventually paid off and Kassaerth was able to walk some of the lands near Zvidureth in her natural form without being accosted. Of course, she is exceedingly careful to always wear Pelarite holy robes at all times when roaming the forest in her shaahesk form, just in case.
Xira, the Huntress
Some time after the end of T'Nanshi's war with Drotid, word spread through the forest that those who follow the Old Ways would be asked to congregate at Ihnaah's grove near Blandenburg. Little information was given, but the word was carried by trusted faithful of Pelar, so Kassaerth made her way south through potentially hostile lands, slinking through the forest as a wolf, panther, and badger. Upon reaching the grove, Kassaerth shifted to her natural shaahesk form, safe in the knowledge that Pelar's faithful would not strike at her. Many others, some wearing the holy garments of Fundamentalists, others simply curious, gathered in or around the grove, all wondering the reason for the call.
--Placeholder for more details about the first meetings with Xira.--
--Placeholder for the Hunt of the hellcat that got away.--
The First Return to Drotid
During an exploration of the northeastern forests of T'Nanshi, Kassaerth realized she was very near the Drotid border. Feeling a sudden sense of homesickness, Kassaerth flew north across the border, her first time back in the swamps since she had deserted her army training many years before. The shaahesk she came across were cordial, almost welcoming. Most spoke of their hatred towards the warmbloods, seemingly intent on rebuilding Drotid's forces in order to exact revenge for the most recent defeat. For a full week, Kassaerth wandered the swamps of her homeland, rekindling long forgotten memories. Ultimately, little had changed in Drotid since those early days, including Kassaerth's reasons for leaving in the first place. With a slight wistfulness, Kassaerth crossed the southern border into T'Nanshi for the second time in her life.
A Hunter Becomes Prey
--Placeholder for details of the Hunt for Shaelth.--
The Hunt for Snow
--Placeholder for details of the Hunt for Snow.--
A Place to Call Home
Eventually Kassaerth found a variety of fertile hunting grounds, and although she remained a nomadic Huntress, she began to build her own hunting platform among the trees near the Eridanian River. From this spot, she could easily travel to Zvidureth, where her presence had become tolerated, if not quite accepted, by many of the local residents. There would also be excellent hunting near the river, and a quick escape to Ferrell would be possible should the war begin anew. Kassaerth's needs are simple, so the platform would be extremely plain, just enough for shelter, food, and observing prey from above.
Companions and Animal Research
Kassaerth often travels and hunts with one or more animal companions with which she has formed a strong bond. Kassaerth typically seeks to bond with indigenous creatures wherever she travels, often studying new animals at length. She most frequently bonds with the large cats, as she finds their Hunt to most closely mirror the teachings of Old Ways, encompassing the Choice, the Stalk, and at some innate, if not religious or conscious, level, the Tribute. There are a number of creatures she seeks to tame someday, but has either not yet succeeded or not yet run across. She has made two in particular a goal: the wyverns from her youth in Drotid army training, and the hellcats she encountered while on her first Hunt after meeting Xira. After nearly a dozen fruitless and near-fatal trips into the deep tunnels of Deglos, Kassaerth finally succeeded in taming a bezekira, naming it Ember, perhaps in reference to its patches of dark red fur or to its fiery natural habitat (or both).
Kassaerth's research on various animals and creatures is shared here.