The Jade Legacy
A young ranger from the Lands of the Linnorm Kings
Satja grew up in the town of Tomgruv, in the Southmoor region of The Lands of the Linnorm Kings. Her parents still managed to eke out a living there, breeding hunting dogs, but Satja could not envision herself continuing her parents’ business. According to family legend, her family once owned a tremendous Holding in the lands stolen from the Linnorm Kings by the Witch-Queen, Baba-Yaga, when she founded the kingdom of Irrisen. From an early age, Satja imagined becoming a guardian of the border between Hagsreach and Irrisen, fantasizing that she would one day reclaim her ancestral property.
Satja’s parents had hoped, for their daughter’s sake, that Satja would abandon this plan, but by her late teens it became apparent to them that she was committed. Over the next several years, they secretly saved enough money to send her north to BlackRaven Hall, outfitting her with what gear they could afford.
Satja was ebulliant. Her skills, honed over many years of practice combing the hills around Tomgruv, earned her a place among the Black Ravens. Unfortunately, on one of her first patrols, she was so severely injured, that she spent the next twelve months recovering. A group of Ice Trolls ambushed her patrol, and although the trolls were driven off, a fleeing troll knocked her over and stepped on her spine. She had to be carried back to BlackRaven Hall by stretcher. The encounter earned her the nickname, Footprint (or Footfall).
After nearly a year, she returned to patrolling, but struggled to distinguish herself. Another twelve months passed, and Satja grew restless and frustrated. Despite being involved in several small skirmishes, she still felt she had much more to offer.
Last spring, a caravan of dwarven tradesmen from the south petitioned Freyr for assistance in guarding their caravans. Recent delves by the dwarves in the Kopparberget mine accidentally broke through into Nar-Voth, opening the mine to duergar tunnels. All battle-ready dwarves had been drawn off to help defend the lower reaches of the mine, and the dwarven trade caravans were woefully underprotected, lacking their usual complement of dwarven mercenaries. Freyr acquiesced, sending three Blackravens on their journey south. Although Freyr claimed he was sending Satja along because of her knowledge of Southmoor, Satja felt as if she were being unfairly punished by this assignment. So, when the dwarven caravan continued south out of Ulfen lands and into Varisia, Satja bid farewell to her fellow Black Ravens, and stayed on.
Eventually, the dwarven caravan reached the end of its travels in the Varisian city of Riddleport. Here, much of the copper from the north was traded to other caravans. Satja, not yet feeling as though she had proven herself, took leave of the dwarves. Feeling uncomfortable in the dangerous streets of Riddleport, she made camp in the coutryside to the southeast. In the morning, she just kept walking. Finally, arriving in the city of Roderic’s Cove, she joined a small caravan that had reached its northern-most extent and was turning back to the south.
- * * * *
Satja was restless. She had been riding along with Mago’s caravan for months now. And she found herself really enjoying it, in spite of herself. Hadn’t she taken the trip into the Southlands to prove herself to Freyr Darkwine, lord of the Black Ravens? And yet here she stayed. Mago’s caravan was hardly courting adventure. His trade route had remained sensible and safe for the duration of her brief tenure as a guard and scout. They did travel through some uninhabited (by civilized races) countryside, and there was always some risk from weather, wild animals, or ambitious goblins, but it was hardly the untamed wilds of her imagination. So why was she still here?
It didn’t take a lot of thought to answer her own question. It wasn’t the travel, though she did find that relaxing. It was Mago himself. She had not thought of herself as unhappy among the warriors and rangers of the Black Ravens. She realized now, however, what had been missing . There had been too much posturing The Black were always competing to show they were the best at everything. Whether they were trying to prove it to Darkwine, each other, or themselves didn’t really matter.
Mago provided something else – companionship. There was something so disarmingly and graciously amiable about him. Satja had a hard time describing it. He seemed like a man who had weathered some seriously jacked-up shit, and had come out the other side a better person. There was something Mago had; Satja didn’t know what to call it, maybe a sliver of inner serenity, something that kept him on an even keel when the storm came. He was perceptive too, a natural and attentive listener. He had a way of looking at a person while they spoke. To Satja, it always felt like Mago was evaluating her as a person when he listened to her, but it wasn’t in a bad way. In fact, it was like he regarded her with more esteem than she held herself.
Mago had been so intent with her that Satja had originally thought he was flirting, but she had been around Mr. Magoo all summer, and she had watched him interact with dozens of friends and strangers. He gave almost everyone the same respect and consideration. (Satja’s realization that Mago was not, in fact, flirting with her had filled her with a confusing and embarrassing mixture of relief and disappointment.) She had to face it; Mago had made this sad dilapidated collection of wagons her new home. Just one summer had given her a sense of family she had never felt anywhere else.
When Satja wondered what Mago saw in her, she sometimes thought she might know. There was still a spark of ambition, a crackling ember, waiting for the right bit of kindling to roar to life. Could Mago see it? These rambling trips bringing pots and tools to boring deserted farmsteads weren’t enough to bring it to life. Satja longed to be dancing the dangerous dance of danger. She may not have been ready to give up her new home and family in search or adventure, but maybe she could drag that home to adventure. She would have to convince him.