Tuesday, October 25, 2011

"...She Could Only Answer in Tongues."

[This is the character background for Sarisvati The Suntouched, the cohort of my PC's cohort in The Aldelle Group game.  I meant to write this up back when I wrote the backgrounds for Harkaitz and Aziz, but never got back to it until now in direct response for it.]

Sarisvati was born into a family not expecting her.  It is assumed that her mother could not explain why her daughter had hair of flames and golden eyes and not the black hair and dark eyes of the village.  Shortly after her birth she was abandoned at a local temple of Surya, god of the Sun.  The priest who found her, Sarat, recognized a sign from Surya when he saw it.  The child was taken in and named “Little Fire Hair”.

“Little Fire Hair” was raised in the temple and took to the life there quickly.  When she reached five years of age she started training at the temple.  She learned quickly and when she was eight, she was given the name Sarisvati, after the goddess of knowledge.  There was some talk of sending her to the temple of Sarisvati for training.  Unfortunately, the one time she was sent to the temple of Sarisvati to see how she took to the training there, she kept accidentally setting things on fire with her hands.  She was quickly returned to the temple of Surya, where she stayed.

As she grew, it was noticed she had a knack of being exactly where she was needed, when she was needed, even if she was supposed to be somewhere else.  Sometimes she was found in places she should not have been and as a result received punishment – punishment that was moderated by the actual need for her to be there at that time.  The first time this happened was in the temple’s inner sanctum during a high ceremony.  A rakshasa had infiltrated the temple, intent upon assassinating Sarat (who was now the High Priest) during the ceremony.  Just as the rakshasa was moving to attack, Sarisvati stepped out of a hiding place, hands aflame, yelling a warning in a language few knew (Ignan), despite her desire to speak normally.  The rakshasa, surprised and no longer with the element of surprised, fled from the fiery temple defender, thinking her much more powerful than she was.  After the rakshasa had fled and the ceremony was over, Sarisvati found she could once again speak normally.  After being forced to write out “I will not hide in the sanctum during a ceremony I am not supposed to attend” 1000 times, she was praised for bravery and the use of holy flame in defense of the temple.  When asked why she happened to be there, she could only answer in tongues.
While most of the young women in the area her age were already married by the time she turned 16, Sarisvati kept her independence – few men wanted a wife with flames for hair and those seeking some sort of social leverage by marrying a child of the temple were convinced to look elsewhere when Sarisvati lit her hands on fire.  While admonished by Sarat, whom she considered her father and he her as his daughter, she was admonished lightly.  When he asked her why she kept frightening off her suitors, she could only answer in tongues.

When Sarisvati turned 18, she knew the lands around her home temple well and was known in them.  She started to explore further and further, looking for something she could not quite vocalize.  With the blessing of Sarat, she followed the setting sun, eventually arriving at a caravansary on the fringe of the lands she knew.  There she talked with traders from lands farther to the west, including a traveling priest of Ra, Salah of the Burning Valley.  The priest’s holy symbol called to Sarisvati, almost literally, and when allowed to hold it, she was lost in a vision of flames for an unknown period of time.

When Sarisvati came to herself again, everyone in the caravansary but Salah had fled her vicinity.  He told her she had started speaking in tongues and her skin had turned molten, glowing with a fierce inner heat for the last hour.  This had frightened the other travelers and they fled to other parts of the caravansary while he waited.  Sarisvati asked Salah why he had not fled and he answered, “Ra protects from flame those who serve the sun.”  After talking the rest of the day and through the night about Ra and his worship, Sarisvati decided she must travel further west to the lands of Ra.  When asked why, she could only answer in tongues.

Sarisvati travelled generally west for several years, digressing from her path when moved by the flames or a feeling.  She occasionally met with Salah when their paths crossed (he often traversed the lands east of the Uskar Desert) and the two shared what they had seen and learned.  The last time this occurred Sarisvati was 22 and she received another vision.  This time she saw the sun eclipsed and a shadow drown the fires in her vision.  When she came to herself again, she knew she had to travel far to the west and amongst elves to find a person.  When Salah asked who she was looking for, she could only answer in tongues.

After a year of travel (and occasional adventure) she found herself in Ttaeladra, a city of elves, where she found a human paladin in the service of Ra, Aziz of the Light, and recognized him from her vision.  She approached him and stated she would help him.  When Aziz asked why, she could only answer in tongues.