- Markshire PCs:
It was only to her friend Panitha that Sun-Ok explained her decision. Wonderful, mysterious, damaged, elf-blood Nitha—the only one in this land who seemed to understand even somewhat the Way, the only one to whom Sun-Ok had confided her reason for fleeing the Kingdom. Sun-Ok had never asked Nitha about her father—whether her injury and the abandonment of the bardic path her father had wished for her had led to his disappointment with her. If they had that in common, it remained unspoken. Perhaps Nitha reminded Sun-Ok of her own father, as well—the wild powers of the sorcerer tempered with the discipline of the warrior—but there were parts of Sun-Ok’s psyche that she left carefully alone, denying them the introspection that was typical of her.
It was Nitha, of course, who supported Sun-Ok’s decision, instructing her in how to train in the arts of combat—the use of armor and shield, the various weapons and techniques. Even if many of these were not Nitha’s own fighting-style, she seemed to know how and where to learn them.
And, of course, she continued practicing the tailor’s art, supplemented now both by her own increased hunting prowess and by a profitable business relationship with the beautiful Aelswith, Mez’s sister-in-law. Aelswith remained a puzzle to Sun: unwilling to accept repayment of the seed money for the business, she was a skilled fighter of evil who seemed more concerned with household chores like dusting, and while hesitant to take a life, she was a prolific huntress and provider of skins. In truth, though, her relationship to Aelswith remained superficial but friendly, the puzzles unexplored. Sun-Ok was learning to live the Way while carrying many unanswered questions.
It was during this time, as well, that Sun-Ok developed a blossoming friendship with Durok, the dwarven crafter of metals to whom she had sold those first “nuts.” He was hard on the outside, gruff, taciturn and no-nonsense in the way of many dwarves she had met, much like the metal he worked, never affected by the strong drink he avidly consumed. She—much like the goods she produced—was soft and flexible, open yet mysterious, somewhat distracted at times, and easily if rarely intoxicated like so many elf-bloods. Yet, somehow, there was an odd kinship between the two that went beyond their shared dedication to their respective crafts.
Durok produced for her many wondrous items, for which she would trade what she was able—mainly magic bags that helped him carry all that heavy metal. There was a marvelous ye do, what the people in Markshire called a rapier, and a shield she could move with outstanding quickness to block blows. But her kinship with Durok was consecrated, figuratively and literally, when he produced for her a mail shirt of outstanding quality. Just as he spat on his hand before shaking to seal a deal, he cut his arm to drip blood on the armor, binding her to the dwarven Bloodaxe clan.
She was still somewhat concerned about Durok’s wanton use of his bodily fluids—she never asked what he had done to produce the shield, and had only seen his sweat go into the construction of the rapier—but it was an oath she accepted nonetheless. Durok did not know how hard it was for her to accept any oath—she’d never told him about her father—but he was perhaps the only one in Markshire to whom she would make such a pledge: an appropriate if unspoken testament to their bond of friendship and another small step toward the racial harmony she craved.