A/N – This piece of writing is the backstory for my character in a homebrew game of DnD I play with my friends. I’m fond of her as a character and still developing her so I expect I’ll be back with a Part Two. I hope you enjoy. : )
Annalise Noctuna was born to high nobility, specifically the reigning monarchs of the huge and prosperous kingdom of Axix. Axix was a verdant land ruled and farmed mostly by humans. Acres and acres of its farmland were tended by healthy and hard-working folk with diverse crafts and trades. There was much cattle for leather, sheep for wool and grain for bread. Anything the land naturally lacked could be easily traded in for plenteous freshwater fish or timber from the endless forests. Few went hungry in the kingdom of Axix and the nobility were respected among the people for largely successful leadership and protection.
The cities of Axix were well-built by capable architects with solid materials and then well-kept for intergenerational use by its residents. In the capital, for instance, many of its stone buildings had stood unchanged since the birth of the Axixan Kingdom with Queen Axila I.
However, despite the incredible fortune of Annalise’ birth – a princess in a mighty castle in a peaceful realm – there was one disadvantage that could not be easily overcome with any amount of wealth. She emerged from the womb with milky white eyes. The disadvantage of blindness meant that she was sheltered beyond even the norm of princesses. The King and Queen Noctuna guarded her jealously, even when she yearned to experience the outside.
Since her birth, many physicians had offered remedies to her parents in return for gold coin and every single one of them had failed to heal Annalise’ sightless eyes. The new parents were more destroyed with every crushed hope. Eventually, however, one group did offer their assistance free of charge. These were the large population of druids native to Axix’ endless forests.
The King and Queen had no reason not to try, even if they did have their doubts about success. The druids were a peaceful people and trustworthy. Annalise was taken at the fresh age of four to undergo a mysterious ceremony where she sat in tall waving grass where she couldn’t see the secret things the druids did around her. But unfortunately this too did not work. Ready to take their daughter from the trees and back to the palace as soon as the failure was apparent, the druids quickly made a second offer: They could teach her to see without sight; to sense the world through the thrum of life in every tree and blade of grass. She could become a drui
d – a rare offer in itself – as she had a natural affinity to the wilds.
The parents of the princess agreed because the craft of the druids were well-respected in the kingdom, along with their continual work keeping the land that sustained them bountiful and strong. They were also happy for anything that would give their little gemstone an advantage to balance her cruel lack of sight. As such, Annalise Noctuna spent many years with her toes tucked into the earth and her palms pressed on the trunk of mighty trees as she listened to the whispers of the land. Unable to see an inch in front of her face, the young woman was able to hear of things happening many leagues away. Even rumours from across the ocea
n of strange lands with bright people who lived under the care of living gods. Not only were the monarchs proud of their daughter’s quickly growing skill, the kingdom’s people took it as a sign that she was a blessed and wise ruler-to-be for them.
At twelve years of age, a wild cat with bright red fur matching to the girl’s long thick mane came to the lands of the Axixan druids. The small beast had silver streaks across her bright body, long sensitive ears and a streamlined form for sprinting down prey. She was a lone huntress travelled from a far-off land that she declined to name when asked. With no others of its kind to be found in Axix and apparently none to return to from whence she came, the feline was drawn to the druids for companionship and shelter from even larger predators that often savely drove her from their territory.
The cat told Annalise many tales of the world far and wide, taking particular care to explain the details of it’s sharp cat-vision to the human. Annalise in turn taught the cat secrets of the druids and brought her home to the palace on many occasions. As a “pet” of the princess, the cat was near-revered and treated to many gifts of fish and boar flesh. It was another symbol that their princess was a master and equal of the great wilds they called home. When asked what the name of her cat was, Annalise had to pass along the question with some embarrassment.
“Cats have no need for names.” Purred the clawed creature directly into her mind, “But you may give me one if it helps you to identify me with such a poor human nose.”
Annalise thought that her friend was precious and wanted to give her a name to match. She asked some servants to show the red cat different jewels and metals before asking which the feline liked the most.
“None of them. I like fish and fresh air.” The cat laughed.
“Then which is your favourite fish?” Annalise persisted.
“I enjoy white bream.” She licked between her razor claws, “among many others.”
One of the servants requested shyly to speak with a soft cough. “Your highness?”
“White bream are a silver colour with red fins, much like your friend is a gorgeous red with silver stripes.”
“Silver is a precious metal, the colour of good bream and m
y friend…” Annalise turned to the lithe cat, “May I call you Silver?”
The animal dipped her head and flicked her long ears in reply. It was decided and Silver became much of a mascot back at the palace; exotic, beautiful and powerful to match Annalise. Silver appreciated the attention but never lowered herself to require the approval or pandering of humans. Meanwhile among the druids, Silver was respected as a powerful huntress with knowledge of far places and unrivalled instinct. As the suspected last of her kind, they granted her unlimited access to their protected lands as her home.
As a feline, Silver was aloof and superior, silent and sinuous, fleet-footed and fatal; however she was also unexpectedly giving. She shared her broad knowledge and her catches and allowed Annalise to curl into her soft fur at night. Furthermore, one solstice she offered to give the greatest gift of all. It was rare that any creature, let alone an animal as noble and free as a wild cat, would offer to selflessly tie itself to another for life but Silver did, so that Annalise might have the chance to finally see the world through her own bright eyes.
The ensuing pact made between Annalise and Silver was different from a marriage but no less serious. Supervised by high druids, both promised to stay with, share with and protect the other for as long as they would breathe. They were to share one sight between them and Silver’s lifespan would be extended by sharing in Annalise’ human life force. Should the two be separated, the vitality of both would diminish swiftly, and Annalise would be blind once more. The princess couldn’t believe it even as it happened, her eyes opening to actually see for the first time. The first thing she saw was her own face through the eyes of her partner. She saw herself cry for joy. Soon after she saw her mother cry for joy at the knowledge that her daughter finally saw her and her father declared a holiday for all in the kingdom.
Silver was appointed a member of the royal family and her human kin rained her with endless thanks, not that the cat cared for such things. The Queen passed peacefully into the next life only a few months later, released from long standing suffering from an ailment that no physician nor druid could identify. Her father told Annalise that her mother was being escorted to heaven by hoards of angels; that she was happy and beyond proud of everything her daughter had become.
As a young druid in training, Annalise suspected that perhaps the spirit of her mother was a little closer to earth than heaven; in the wildlands she had come to call her home. She spoke to the wind softly and said she was proud of her mother’s benevolent legacy just as much as she loved her kind soul. Silver agreed that death was unlikely to stop the spirit of such a good and wise woman as Queen Axila the II.