Pavanna Q. Krupt
James's near constant companion and priestess of Iomedae
Pavanna Q. Krupt, Knight Commander of the Order of the White Hart, is usually seen wearing her plate armor, covered with a red and white tabard signifying her faith. Her shield is emblazoned with the symbol of her deity, Iomedae. Hanging from her shoulders is a clean white cloak, embroidered with a hart as used in James Peyton’s arms, clasped together with a silver stag pin.
Her shoulder-length hair is black. Her face is distinctively Chelish but otherwise quite plain aside from a faded scar that cuts through the eyebrow of her right eye. Her eyes, however, seem to pierce through whatever her gaze falls upon.
Pavanna was born as the daughter of a minor noble lord in Cheliax. At a young age, she began to grow uncomfortable with the way she saw her parents—and the public at large—treat some members of society. She did not understand why some people had to work as slaves. As she grew older, she began to learn that not all the world was like her homeland. That not all societies accepted slavery, and some actively faught against it.
With the independence she gained as she continued to become older (and with the wealth and status of a nobleman’s daughter), Pavanna slowly became acquainted with those that shared her disgust with the practice of slavery. Eventually, she came to know a smuggler willing to ferry slaves out of Cheliax into Andoran.
Smuggling slaves to their freedom, the smuggler explained to her, was a very risky endeavor. Such a risk, he further explained, would require adequate compensation to be worth undertaking. So Pavanna saved. She saved her allowances, slowly sold her jewelry and baubles, explaining that she must have lost or misplaced them to her rarely inquisitive parents.
Eventually, by the age of 15, Pavanna had saved enough to smuggle out her best friend: the slave her parents had hired as a nursemaid before she could walk. Her nursemaid had been more of a parent and caretaker to her than either of her biological parents.
She met again with her smuggler contact, in the backroom of the same dingy tavern she originally met him in. She still remembers the smile he wore when he saw the hefty coin purse thud onto the table. That night, he promised, just past midnight, she should make her way to the pier his ship was berthed at with her nursemaid and he would take her safely to Andoran to start a new life, free.
Pavanna contained her excitement on her way back home and to her room. She informed her nursemaid, and they both wept, quietly, overcome with a mixture of joy and the sorrow of not seeing each other again after this night. While her nursemaid collected her few belongings, Pavanna crept into the kitchens and grabbed some food. Leaving her packed belongings in Pavanna’s room, the nursemaid returned to the house slave’s quarters to not arouse suspicion.
Lying in bed, it seemed to Pavanna that time had crawled to a stand still. The candle on her nightstand guttered and flickered. A draft flowed through her room, originating at the window she purposefully left cracked open. Finally, after what seemed like an eternity, she heard the tolling of the midnight bells faintly drift in through her window.
She pulled the rope that hang next to her bed, which rang a bell somewhere in the basement level of the house. It would not be long before her nursemaid was sent to her room.
Wearing a simple black hooded cloak, Pavanna departed through the side door of her house. The sky was clear that night, the stars twinkled, and the nursemaid quietly shut the door behind them. Her family’s estate here in the city was walled. They circled around the edge of the grounds to the front and only gate. Pavanna’s heart beat quickly, the excitement of this moment was like nothing she had felt before. Reaching the gate, Pavanna pushed it open and lead the two of them into the street just beyond it.
Her excitement withered in an instant. Barks, shrill and punctuated by whimpers, shattered the silence of the night. Lantern shades opened, looking the gates of the hells, spilling their light on Pavanna and her nursemaid. There must’ve been seven of them, and two hounds. They blocked all directions forward.
Pavanna looked back towards her house. Her parents were approaching, flanked by the house guards—the same guards she had seen beat bloody slaves for the most minor infractions—trapped. Through the barking, she could hear her father, “I’m so gravely disappointed in you…”
Her father’s words and the barking combined in her ears, like fetid ingredients mixed into a foul broth, already boiling over. She screamed, or perhaps she felt like screaming but was silent; the look of surprise on the face of one of the city watch officers as she charged him was clear. He attempted to grab her, but his motions were made clumsy by the sword he kept in his dominant hand, which he clearly did not wish to use against her.
Pavanna doubled back, she grabbed the hand of her nursemaid as she did so, and ran towards the opposite pair of watch officers. This time, however, they were not so fearful of using their swords. The one on her right, nearest to her nursemaid, rose his sword up and swung down, towards the nursemaid. Pavanna changed her course, and placed herself between the nursemaid and the descending blade.
The officer recoiled, but not before the tip of his sword cut down her forehead, just above her right eye. The guards face contorted from one of exertion to one of horror, he could quite possibly face death for wounding a noble. Blood dripped into Pavanna’s vision. She had stopped, and was feeling the wound—it was not deep, but she was in shock—but her inspection was cut short.
She felt the grasp of her nursemaid’s hand in hers soften. She turned. Her nursemaid’s body was impaled; a tip of a sword, glistening in crimson, was pushed through the chest of her nursemaid. She had turned just in time to see her nursemaid’s head fall, chin against chest, arms dangling lifelessly at her side, legs wobbly, supported solely by the sword pushed through her back.
The sword pivoted to point downward, and the body of her nursemaid slumped to the ground. Pavanna could clearly see the sword bearer. A female watch sergeant that Pavanna had seen around the city before. The smile on the sergeant’s face was seared into Pavanna’s memory; wicked, cruel…evil.
Pavanna was running. Tears streamed down her face. Her hand pressed against her wound. The shock had worn off, and the cut stung. The barking of the hounds followed her. She found a horse, tied to a hitch but otherwise free for the taking. She stole it, and rode.
The air whooshed by her face. Her cut stung even more, but she could not spare a hand to cover it; she had ridden before, but never at these speeds and never without a horse master or stable boy leading the horse. It was all she could do to stay upright in the saddle and guide the horse down the streets of the city to the nearest city gate.
It was as she approached the gate that the bells throughout the city began ringing. But it proved too late of a warning for the sleepy guards stationed there. All they could muster was a few shouts of “stop!” and “wait!” as she galloped past.
As she galloped out of the city, with the bells becoming more and more distant, the memories of what had just happened stopped racing through her head just long enough for her to think of plan. She rode into the country-side, off the roads. She knew through her contacts of an old farmer sympathetic to the plight of slaves.
Over the next few weeks, she hid in the loft of his barn. Her cut had stopped bleeding, and was beginning to heal, but her reflection in the water pails she used to drink and bathe with let her know it was still quite noticeable. She could go back. Her station and her father would protect her from any serious punishments. She would have to atone for the horse thievery, and the disorder she caused. The watch officers that roved the city and the countryside in search of her let everyone know to be on the lookout for her, but also that her father and mother missed her very much, and that she would not have to answer for the loss of the slave if she were just to return home.
If it had not been already, the first time Pavanna heard of this, her mind was made up; she would leave Cheliax for good. Not have to answer for the loss of the slave? Pavanna’s best friend, caretaker, and true mother was dead, but to everyone else, it was just a dead slave. Pavanna could not live here, not in this country. She could no longer stand the empty gestures, the paper thin courtesies, the vulgar humor, the petty politics, and most of all, the tyranny of slavery.
In the back of a cart, under a bushel of wheat, Pavanna traveled. On tattered shoes, in drizzling rain, Pavanna walked. On a swaybacked horse, without a saddle, Pavanna rode. Eventually, having bartered the little jewelry and wealth she had, she made it to Andoran.
She soon found a temple of Iomedae. She told the priest there of her story, all of it. He took pity on her and offered her a place to stay in the temple. Pavanna remained there, first serving as a maid, then as an acolyte, and eventually serving as a priestess herself.
Pavanna wanted to see the world. Invigorated by her faith to spread the word, and help right the injustices of the world. She set off, leaving her adopted home, her mentor, and her true last name behind.
During her journey, she came to learn of a fledgling realm and a call for aid from it’s ruler in the Stolen Lands. Hoping to guide the ruler in the ways of just and righteous leadership, she set off at once for Tuskany…