Half-elven druid of the Shoanti Wind Clan.
From Tientrich's journal...
Pais walked over to the man, who stood with what looked like a five-foot branch propped against the ground, while he used the knife to carefully carve away small shavings of wood from the other end. The tiny symbols extended only a few inches from the end, not much further than last time he had seen him several months back, and appeared a fairly uniform repeated pattern. The other end of the branch had another block of wood, of some other type by the much lighter colour, apparently stuck to it. Pais knew from last time he saw the man that that block was hollow, and was merely a cap for the leaf-shaped blade on the end of the spear. At least he assumed it was a spear; he didn’t know how functional the damned thing would be with all the twists and kinks along its length, although he had to admit that it did follow a path that seemed to be balanced around a central straight line. He thought about asking about the different types of wood- perhaps the cap was softer or something- but then remembered the last time he had asked a question about plants. He wasn’t ready to nod off to sleep just yet.
He stood for a moment, watching the druid in profile as he continued to work on his carving. He was pleased he had approached from the man’s right side, he found it a little less disconcerting. From this side he seemed just a normal (albeit very tall and wiry) man in his mid-twenties, golden brown hair shining dully in the firelight as it fell messily to his shoulder. His garb was no doubt strange, wearing glossy brown-black armour that appeared to me made of some kind of lizard scales, and wearing a cloak of feathers and fur. His garb was otherwise rather mundane leathers of green, brown and grey (he thought, the firelight made colours a little hard to discern accurately) the strangest thing being that the buckles and such were all horn or bone rather than metal. Some kind of bone or ivory fetish hung on a leather strap around his neck.
With no acknowledgement forthcoming, Pais decided to break the silence.
“You don’t seem to be making much progress there.”
The druid looked up from his work, pupils shrinking rapidly as he looked toward the firelight. Pais had forgotten how freaky his eyes looked at night, becoming pools of blackness as the pupils expanded out to swallow almost all of the colour around them. Having said that, they freaked him out just as much during daylight hours, the bright amber colour making him feel like he was being watched by some kind of hawk.
Of course, his eyes were not the only disconcerting thing about him now that he was facing him. The other reminder to his elven ancestry was now apparent, the point of his left ear not hidden as only a few wisps of hair grew below his left temple. And spreading down from there the whole left side of his face and neck displayed tracks of shiny scar tissue in the firelight, disappearing under his shirt and extending who knew how much further. It was not that this scarring was particularly hideous (Pais had once seen a man who had had an oil lamp smashed over his face, and the burned, scarred mass that has left behind was truly repulsive), more that is was incredibly strange, an intricate pattern spreading like the branches and leaves of a tree. He had discussed it with a fellow traveller last trip and the most realistic possibility they had come up with (realistic not including theories of strange tentacled monsters and the like) was that it was some kind of tattooing done with a hot wire, but he still doubted whether anyone could sit still through that. He wasn’t about to ask.
“Same progress I make every day.” he replied “What I carve just reflects what I’ve done for the day. I can’t see the future, so have to wait until the next day to keep carving.”
“So what does today say?”
“Mostly that I walked.”
“Hmmph.” The merchant snorted “It all looks the same to me.”
“I do a lot of walking.” The man replied simply, with the hint of a smile, and a quick shrug. Actually, not a shrug at all, the merchant realised, but one of the seemingly involuntary spasms that erratically hit the man’s left arm when he wasn’t focused on doing anything with it.
Looking at his hand he realised for the first time that the scarring extended all the way down here, becoming harder to see at the fingers, which were all stained darkly, probably from leaves and berries and whatnot he supposed.
Tientrich didn’t begin his life in the civilised lowlands of Varisia. In fact, he did not even begin his life as Tientrich. He was born into the Shoanti of the Storval Plateau, more specifically into the Tamiir-Quah, the Wind Clan who make their homes at the western edge of the plateau and the Stony Mountains. He spent his formative years there among his mother’s people under his birth name of Tollok. Of his father he knew little- an elven traveller from the Meirani forest whose interest in the Shoanti had been piqued by meetings with members of the nearby Shadde-Quah, and had determined to spend time studying the other Shoanti clans. He had moved on before Tollok’s birth, but that was of little importance to the boy growing up. He had an entire tribe to help raise him. And while he developed a little more slowly than the other children, there was no question that he was Shoanti, and belonged among them.
As he grew, young Tollok showed less interest than the other youths in martial prowess, spending more time trying to commune with the spirits of his clan. Perhaps this was one of the reasons he was not fast in making friends with his peers, or perhaps he isolated himself somewhat due to the fact that he did not always fit in. Regardless, he counted a few close friends among his tribe, and the shaman had shown an interest in the boy’s development given his leanings. As he grew through his adolescence, young Tollok did begin to wonder more about his elven heritage, but lacked any real drive to discover more.
It was during his rite of passage that young Tollok decided to seek further answers as to his heritage. The Longest Cross, like all Shoanti rites of passage, was not an easy one. Tientrich to this day cannot truly remember the details of that race across the stony mountains, although visions of monsters closing in pursuit as he struggles, exhausted, across yet another ridge still sometimes haunt his nights. It was as he took a few brief moments of rest before beginning his descent down the western slopes that he looked up to see a cloud shaped like one of the great storm rocs of the mountains revered by his people winging its way westward. As his eyes followed its path westward, they rested on a green smudge on the horizon; Mierani Forest. The young man was sure that this was a vision granted him by his clan’s spirit totems rather than just exhaustion and lack of oxygen at high altitude clouding his mind, and determined to follow the sign. Descending into the Lurkwood he met another of the young men who had been on this run. He asked this youth to report back to the tribe that he had indeed completed the Cross, but that for now his destiny lay westward. He would return when he could.
It took many days for Tollok to reach the legendary forest of the elves, and when he did so he received no welcome from his father’s brethren; half human, and barbarian at that, this was no homecoming for the young man. Shunned, shamed, and still unsure whether his father had even returned to the forest, he was travelling back toward its fringes when he came across the forest’s druids. Here he did find welcome, swapping stories of his people’s totem worship with the elders of the circle. He swapped the traditional klar of his people (a weapon which he had never really felt suited him) for a branch of ancient hornwood from within the mystical grove, which he carved into a shaft for a spear. He found he enjoyed life among the druids, and ended up spending many years among them learning their ways
It was without the gruelling challenge and danger of the Shoanti rites of passage that he was eventually indoctrinated into the circle of druids, and given his new name, Tientrich, which referred to the storms that the Tamiir-Quah hold among their totems. He was instructed to choose himself an item which would be the focus of his abilities. The council presented him with an array of items, from rare woods to teeth, bones and horns of various creatures. Tientrich chose what appeared to be a large tooth, which he hung point-down from a leather strap and carved as a totem; the whirlwind of an air elemental at its point, above which sat a storm cloud, with a storm roc resplendent above that. When he presented it to the council the elders nodded their approval, noting that the young bronze dragon from which the tooth had come would no doubt have approved. Training complete, he was tasked to travel for the next year, discovering more of the world and his place within it, but to make his way gradually southward to the region around Sandpoint, where they felt something unnatural was stirring, and he would be needed. In the end he left Meirani with nothing of the elves, but a new purpose found within the forest nonetheless.
Tientrich did as asked, but decided on his way that he would attempt to gain an animal companion the likes of which many of his mentors had. And given his upbringing there was only one creature that he felt would be the right match for him- one of the storm rocs revered by his people. He was not, of course, foolish enough to think that he could tame one of the legendary creatures of the Wyvern Mountains. However small, juvenile birds were sometimes seen among the Stony Mountains, and it was back to these that he drifted. There was no doubt that a part of him was pleased also at the thought of “inadvertently” running into his people, tame roc gliding overhead as he returned. Perhaps it was this arrogance for which he was punished, or perhaps it was simply the will of the spirits all along.
Tientrich found his roc, spotting it from afar as it circled among the highest peaks of the Stonys. As he made his way toward its location he was gifted with another sure sign of favour, as a storm formed overhead during his ascent. The bird had landed, and was perched majestically on a rocky outcrop. It gazed at him without fear as he approached, but he could not quite reach its perch. He stretched out toward it with his spear in his left hand as he made soothing noises, confidence growing as it hopped onto the shaft. As he began slowly bringing it back toward him there was an earth-shaking crack from above and a bolt of lightning sizzled through the air. Somehow in the instant before the bolt struck the roc threw itself back into the air with a screech the Tientrich remembers somehow sounding like laughter. The bolt encompassed Tientrich’s spear and left arm, and severe pain travelled up his arm to encompass his entire left side. He remembers nothing further other than vague dreams of storms, rocs, and beings of the air, before waking up near the edge of a cliff 20 feet below where he had been, miraculously with no major injuries. His spear lay beside him, and while the steel of the head was pitted and warped, the shaft seemed only to show a series of scorch marks, its strength unaffected.
Tientrich wanted to record the dreams he had experienced, as already the details were fast escaping him. By the time he had taken out his knife to carve what he could remember into the spear shaft, the only medium he had available, he could remember little but that it was by the elements rather than the beasts of the air that he was most strongly favoured. He carved several druidic runes into the butt end of the spear, and determined that he would continue to record his journeys so; one day he would return to the Tamiir-Quah and wanted to be able to tell his tale to the shaman. He realised that it was not yet time for him to return, and while he wished his survival of his rite of passage acknowledged with his first clan tattoo as was his right, he would stay on the path the druids had set him. The lesson that his pride was not the first consideration upon his path was one he did not need to be taught twice.
As he continued his trek it became apparent to Tientrich that he had not escaped completely unscathed from his close encounter with the spirits. Scarring in the form of branched lightning covered his left side, and the hair would not grow back where this lay along his skull. His left arm spasmed erratically, though fortunately this did not seem to occur when he was actively using it. He could feel the power of the spirits within it, and slowly learned to harness some of that potential. He was sure there was more, if he could only learn to use it. Arriving eventually in Sandpoint, Tientrich was dismayed to find no signs of anything “unnatural” besides the farmland slowly encroaching into the woods. He did what he could to halt this by using his abilities to spook the locals, but after a year his enthusiasm had begun wane.
If this is his destiny, he thinks, then he will soon leave to rejoin his people.