Resilient Gypsy Priest of the Seasonal Pantheon
Lith was born in the slums, at least that’s what she remembers. Born without parents into a society that simply ignored and forgot those less fortunate then the rest. She was “lucky” enough to live off of the scraps of others like a rat for most of her early childhood. A quiet and lonely life, Lith hid in the alleys and slept beneath the overhangs, staying out of the rain and curling up with stray animals for warmth. Her survival into adolescence was rewarded with the gift of exploitation by her elders in the seedy parts of town. Taught & forced to beg, steal & lie to pay off those who were “helping and supporting” her, she found the oh so common misery in life that those who call the gutters their home often possess. However as puberty hit Lith ran away from her peers, not willing to escalate the depravity of her services to that of what they were asking, and in a stroke of luck managed to hitch a ride several days travel away to a new life.
Lith quickly found out that places change but people don’t. Assaulted by the person who transported her as “payment”, she effortlessly fell back into the street urchin life that she had once lived before, now in a new and unknown locale. No longer pestered by her old contacts, and finding her “home” to be a place with far less of a seedy underbelly, she attempted to make a living off of the tools that had been taught to her but that she had never truly picked up on, stealing & trickery. Her skills were no better then they had been, and after several painful as well as terrifying encounters she decided that it was not worth the risk…through her suffering she began to grow a sense of modesty, or at lest to stall the youthful burst of unrealistic self confidence so many people suffer from.
Months of learning the new area changed into years, and Lith settled down into her new life. Young, full of energy and with a smart head on her shoulders she made a decent living on the street, eventually managing to afford a tiny place to huddle in. The final years of her teen life were spent searching for someone, for something to change her life. Lith could feel it pulling at her, calling to her, especially in the dark. She started taking simple walks in the streets at night, for pleasure, not to try and scout out food or contacts, not to keep up with the happenings of the town, but because she felt something under the evening sky, beneath the moon, and especially when the cold wind hit her back. There was something in the goosebumps that the chill of the winds from the north brought that wasn’t natural, that she was convinced meant something more. During the winter solstice Lith found herself in a fever brought on by what she thought was bad food. The fever got worse and eventually she dropped into a coma for several days, suffering from what originally were thought to be nightmares but eventually she grew to feel as visions of the future, and as a message. In those dreams Lith is sure she was touched by a divine being. And just like that they were gone.
For a week Lith had felt the touch of a greater power in her dreams, ensnared in a world that was not her own. Her feelings, her heart and mind had all been eclipsed by this overwhelming sensation of what ever it was. The ache of the hole those dreams left once they stopped drove Lith into a new frenzy, as she searched for some clue as to what it could have possibly been. Over the next year she found clues and finally a answer. Through many dead ends and false leads she arrived at the conclusion that she had been effected, perhaps even touched by the god Shar.
Shar. A goddess many people dislike to mention, but are always touched by during the winter season. A goddess of deception & subterfuge. The mother of winter & the inky black of the night. Having lived on the cold dark streets for most of her life Lith understood why she would find comfort in such a being. She made a decision then, that she would devote her life to the mother goddess who had watched over her all her life, whose realm she had dwelled in and whose domains she was surrounded by. And so she directed her waking hours to finding out more about the deity, her followers and what was known about her. She spent many hours a day in prayer, often during the late evening, walking under the night sky in the cool wind…listening for her patrons voice, for a sign.
Eventually Lith did hear something, and was contacted by a small group that also worshiped Shar, though informally. Through doing favors for people, selling most of what she owned as well as occasionally herself, the street urchin managed to acquire an “official” book for Shars followers, as well as contact and pay a priest to visit her small town. The meeting went well, and though she was deceived into giving up much more then was originally agreed on, in the end she felt content. Lith had been formally indoctrinated into the priesthood of the Mask of Winters.
The spreading of Shars word consumed Lith with her new sense of enlightenment. Now not only had she lived a life in the shadows of her god, not only had she been touched by a whisper from the icy mother, but she had been sanctified by another who knew the deceptively harsh kiss of her deity. A fire blazed inside Liths belly, plunging her headlong into direct and subtle methods of teaching and converting others. Attempting to at least. Almost instantly Lith found resistance to what she spread. People questioned the benevolence of Shar, of her importance. Few were willing to flat out deny the god her proper respect, most were only willing to give her the respect fear brought…fear of what she may steal from them in the winter, or snatch from them in their own foolishness. Why couldn’t they understand what she saw? Why couldn’t they feel the way she did.
Lith got more devious, more aggressive, and more threatening. She approached people who were down trodden, those who had little to lose in joining her. Those who already lived in the dim places of the town, people who knew the cold of winter well…sitting in houses with dead hearths for lack of firewood. She found her followers, as poor and unimportant as they were, but her fervor grew into greed, greed to be great, greed to overstep her boundaries. While attempting to coerce the followers of Shar who she claimed as friends her selfish desires and “cold” methods came to the light of those who trusted her, and the guards. Over a dozen of those she had converted were drug away to jails, 3 were executed, all because of a reckless plan she had came up with that involved profaning another deities temple and spreading false information. However the punishment of the guard and those in charge of the town didn’t end there. Over the course of the next month Lith found her flock dwindling. People disliked Lith more then ever now, and Shars name held only fear.
She didn’t take the change well and when she realized that now the town was even less accepting of Shar then they had been upon her arrival, she fell into despair. Liths life began to fall apart, not because of the towns people but because of her own feelings of guilt and loss. She had inadvertently betrayed her god, failed in the most basic aspect of a priest…in spreading the acceptance and word of her deity. Selling her home and what goods she had left that were worth any pocketable money she left the town and walked the roads. She sought a cool hand on her face, a quiet whisper in her ear, or perhaps a dim speck in the night sky to lead her way. She sought redemption, and she found it once again in the cold dark solitude of a winters night.
Life on the road was a large change to lith, but perhaps because she had only known a stable home for a short period of time in her life, she took to it quite well. She had always been good at blending in and finding enough food in the trash or as a beggar. The nice clothing she had finally acquired over the past year was one of the first things she sold when money became tight, having known from a young age that her body was not one that was “effective” as currency & mixed with her guilt she actually felt comfortable wearing rags once again. Her depression deepened however, and her continued movement between small towns drained her strength, stamina and resolve much quicker then she had anticipated. Less then half a year passed before she found herself sleeping in a freezing ditch, cold, starving, and hopeless.
She woke one evening to find a warm blanket of fur around her shoulders, and a bowl of fresh water with a piece of cooked meat beside it. Grateful for what ever soul gave her these gifts, she quickly consumed the food and huddled down into the ditch, her own body warmth and that of the beautiful fur keeping her snug threw the night. Lith slept during the days, only awakening during the night, and each time crawling around until she found another bowl of water and a cooked piece of meat. It was as if someone was watching over her. She knew she would always be provided for, all she had to do was crawl into the darkness and have faith. It’s lost to Lith how long she did this for, but it must have been several months at least, until the passing of winter, at witch time she no longer needed the fur coat and food was more plentiful…so less likely to be noticed if missing. It was the first day of summer when she stood fully up and walked for the first time in weeks to the end of the slums and looked on the main street of the town. Some people shunned her, though most just ignored her. What worth was a peasant, a bum who wore dirty rags, drank mud and ate rats.
Liths faith returned to her, her hope and drive, slowly but surely. There was something about her ordeals, nearly dying in the street, being delusional for months and surviving off the scraps no one else would eat. Something that changed her. With a clarity to survive and to serve Shar, the one who had saved her, she found a drive to live by. Things would happen regardless of what she did, and she couldn’t control everything, but she knew the reverse was true as well, not everything was random. She was positive she was meant for greater things then this small life she had been living. To be active, to go out and spread Shar’s influence, not in word as much as she had originally planed but in deed. She didn’t need recognition of her service, after all what were the gazes of mortals compared to the caress of a god? Having been forged stronger by surviving the icy grips of despair and loss, she went forward, away from the town and towards another. She knew something was coming, an opportunity, a blessing, a chance to prove herself in the eyes of Shar. She wouldn’t shy away from the gifts her god gave her, the power that was invested in her, or the responsibility. She was a priestess of shar, and she would wield her gods wrath as the dreams and whispers told her too…all the while taking comfort in that soft cool touch on her shoulder.
Lith spent the next few years slowly increasing her understanding of the connection she had to Shar, and the true meaning of the Gifts that were given to her. It took little time for her to realize that she was blessed with a deeper connection then just a priest to her deity, even the people she met who could enact divine magic in Shars name seemed to possess a different type of power then she had. Their magic was refined, studied in a sense, and inacted threw a hierarchy of understanding. Her own powers however seemed more internal, more based on her emotional tie to the god, as well an ability to draw on some inherent power that she seemed to have access to. The more she studied about the clerigy the less she related to them. Their route manners, the lack of feeling, the insistence on order and structure among their ranks. Lith felt that following Shar would be something that was passed on directly by feelings imposed on her by the divine. Some said she spoke heresy, others simply shook their heads, a very few agreed.
From learning about the clergy Lith turned to exploring the land she knew and had lived in with the intent of seeing what Shar would want of it. The god of winter, night, & subterfuge was a mysterious deity, indirect more so then most, and cryptic even to those close with her. Lith listened, and inferred what she could, what she decided herself. In Shars name she would try to find a way to extend winter and the night. Was it possible? She didn’t know, but she would search anyways for it. Teaching people along her way the blessings that cold seasons brought, the secrets of the evening and it’s amazing gifts. She herself knew she needed to learn to be more subtle. The art of deception was something she had grown up around, dwelled in, lived off of, but when it came down to it she simply wasn’t that good at it. So instead of honeyed words and a quiet touch she would strengthen her will, try to learn how to wait for the right time, hone her intellect to seek every advantage possible in her conflicts. Patience.
It was as she began to work directly for what she saw as her gods desires that Liths true powers as an Invoker began to finally grow concentrated and more controllable. The understanding came slowly at first, her acknowledgment of it and understanding that something special was happening fueled her commitment to use and expand those abilities. Though she had heard of many priests who possessed all sorts of divine abilities, empowering them during combat, controlling the light and darkness, the elements, as well as divinations and fate, Lith found hers was most useful when expressed in destructive fonts of inky cold. She could effect shadows, seep the life from creatures with a creeping chill, and bring down the inevitable ice that winter promises. The more she exercised her new found abilities the more joy she found in using them. As divine magic coursed threw her being she felt a tiny fraction of the touch of Shar she had felt in her coma and during the times she consumed the water and meat in the streets.
Now more then ever, assured of her own ability, but having learned caution, Lith set out to do important things, things that if she performed correctly could have long lasting and important effects. Always trying to learn, always spreading small whispers of the pleasures and promises of the cold winter nights, and always finding a bit of personal reward and enjoyment in her service to the Mask of Winters.