Cassandra was born in Shadowdale to Sir Vandamar Blackthorn, a retired knight turned farmer, and Eloria of Mistdale, a famous sage of religious lore. The two had settled in a remote section of Shadowdale that was covered with old-growth forest. Sir Vandamar cleared the forested lands, first of monstrous infestations, then of trees. He left a small section of woods between his farm and the nearby swamp. Used to fighting in the heaviest armor, Sir Vandamar had always distained swamp and marshlands, and so he left it alone, renaming the band of trees that blocked the view of the swamp the Barrier Woods.
After clearing the trees out, at a substantial profit, Sir Vandamar found that his new farmlands were very productive due to the combination of an easily tapped aquifer and excessive sunshine. Added to the substantial monies from years of soldiering and adventuring, he became quite wealthy. Naturally, much of his gold went to building a mansion and acquiring a substantial library for his wife.
When Cassandra was born, she was greatly loved and doted on. Early on, she showed great promise and an extremely high intelligence. Her favorite place in the world was her mother’s library, and her favorite thing to do was sit in her mother’s lap and listen to Eloria reading to her.
Eloria was dedicated to the worship of Oghma and Vandamar to Tyr, but each kept their beliefs separate from their marriage and their devotion to their daughter. Neither parent pushed their god on Cassandra, though they both encouraged their daughter to find a god or goddess to worship. Eloria knew that the godless could become easy pawns for certain powers - particularly old, forgotten deities who had little reason to act godly anymore. Cassandra’s choices in this area, however, remained uncertain - particularly because the books she read from her mother’s library would often describe how the gods manipulated mortals, their worshippers most of all.
Little did anyone suspect that at the center of the old swamp was the remnant of an ancient fane dedicated to the sun god, Amaunator. It was the presence of a remnant of Amaunator's power that lent the region such a sunny climate. Furthermore, this particular fane was dedicated to the arguable notion that Amaunator was also the lord of time, and therefore a god of prophetic nature.
Cassandra was in her teens, learning lore at her mother’s knee and the practical wisdom of a farmer from her father, when the greed of others annexed her life. A Zhentarim raiding party attacked Sir Vandamar’s lands, and her father was caught in the fields during harvest, hard-pressed to defend himself or others. Cassandra saved her father’s life when she flanked the raider that was pressing him hard, attacking him with her scythe. As anyone who has been on the wrong end of a peasant revolt can attest, a scythe can be a terrifying weapon; a weapon for which nobody, not even its wielder, can precisely predict where the blade will be at any particular moment. The raider learned this lesson in his last moments of his life as the teenage girl was blooded in her first mortal combat.
While Cassandra and some of the field hands held the raiding party back, her father was able to break away long enough to don his armor and return to the fray. Sir Vandamar, armed and armored, was an unstoppable juggernaut that destroyed the attackers quickly. All seemed well, until it was noticed that smoke was rising from the manse. The survivors rushed to put out the fires and assess the damage… they realized belatedly that a second party had approached from a different direction and after Sir Vandamar returned to defend the fields, they had attacked the mansion. Eloria had been hiding, until the raiders fired the library. When she ran out, trying to save her books, the Zhentarim cut her down and fled, taking what portable loot they could manage.
Clearing up the damage and healing the wounded took priority over vengeance. Unfortunately, the priests that were contacted to raise Eloria proved unwilling to the task. Priests of Oghma proclaimed that since Eloria had died defending knowledge, Oghma had taken her directly to his bosom. Similarly, the priests of Tyr refused to raise someone who fought and died in honorable battle against overwhelming odds. The only other priests available in the area were druids who held a longtime grudge against Sir Vandamar for clearing the forest. This refusal to bring back her mother cemented Cassandra’s certainty to distain the worship of any of the gods. That decision, and her grief, left Cassandra open to Amaunator's influence the next time she wandered too close to the barrier woods. Cassandra thought it was her own choice when she decided to leave her home the next month to join the Arcanum in Cormyr - instead it was the remnant of the forgotten god, eroding her willpower and making it easy to control his new vessel.
The Arcanum was a collection of scholars: wizards, bards, cloistered priests, and archivists. Their primary function was to preserve knowledge and train the next generation of lore seekers. Some of the professors and students held reverence for Oghma, but the Arcanum made no distinction between worshippers of any faith. Arriving with the remains of her mother’s library (Eloria’s final bequest) and a hefty endowment from her father in Eloria’s name, Cassandra was welcomed into that august institution as the youngest candidate ever accepted. Exposed to the massive and highly disorganized collection of books in The Stacks, Cassandra’s bibliophilic inclinations seemed to turn into a full-scale mania.
Cassandra had take up wizard’s training, but studied any lore if there was even the flimsiest connection to whatever her latest interest was. Twice, she picked up an entirely new language to understand some particular nuances of a research topic. Many of the students took to calling her “The Walking Grimoire,” while most of the professors wondered if she planned to read the entire collection in the stacks before she graduated. Needless to say, in the face of her excellence, her rise was as meteoric as her later fall.
As she studied, Cassandra began to focus on divination - distaining the unsubtle art of evocation. However, as she learned and practiced spells, she found her stomach turning whenever she tried to handle enchantments, so she eventually eschewed that school of magic as well, becoming an extremely focused diviner. She also collected stories from every source she could: every book, every professor, and every student; to better understand what she might eventually face in an adventuring career.
Cassandra’s rapid progress didn’t consistently win her friends. One student who didn’t appreciate being shown up in classes was Perryn DaFoe. His father, Pater DaFoe, was an aristocrat, and as the son of a high-ranking noble, Perryn was used to others deferring their excellence in his presence. Feeling slighted by a mere girl, Perryn decided his best tactic would be to woo her, and make her his plaything. Unfortunately, Perryn had never before had to deal with cold indifference from the fairer sex. Not only did Cassandra fail to respond to his advances… she didn’t even seem to get that he was extending himself on her behalf. This eventually led to greater misunderstanding and an attempted rape.
Cassandra, faced with Perryn’s greater strength, realized that she was outclassed in hand-to-hand combat. To protect herself, and intimidate him, she cast a spell she had memorized in Transmutation class, one which increased her strength and turned her fist to stone. Perryn continued trying to grapple her, and she easily broke his hold and slammed him to the ground. At the Arcanum, it was a strict rule that no magic could be used to harm a professor or another student, so even as Perryn was brought up on attempted rape, Cassandra was brought up on charges of arcane malfeasance.
Eventually, the governing committee decided that although Perryn’s actions instigated the events - enough doubt was cast that he wasn’t sentenced for attempted rape, only battery; and Cassandra was charged with the same since she was defending herself. Both were sentenced to three lashes at a public flogging, and although Cassandra faced the whipping with aplomb, Perryn did not - not only collapsing, but weeping and raging at his mistreatment. Naturally, he swore vengeance, however, Sir Vandamar had contacted Pater DaFoe, warning him that if his son as much as touched Cassandra again, they would meet on the field of honor. Pater told his son to leave the girl alone, which infuriated Perryn.
Blocked from seeking direct harm against Cassandra, Perryn planned a revenge that would hurt her far more than any physical damage, and which could not be traced back to him. When students entered the highly flammable stacks, they would check out everburning torches, which shed only light. When she next visited the stacks, Perryn saw to it that an accomplice handed the distracted girl a real torch, something she did not notice right away. When a spark from the torch she was carrying set fire to a folio she was perusing, the sextons set upon her and her Stack privileges were revoked indefinitely by the chief archivist. Banned from studying books save under closely supervised conditions in the classroom, it was left to Cassandra to figure out a way to sneak into The Stacks: searching out architectural plans, sneaking through dark, forgotten passages, while avoiding or circumventing various traps, both mechanical and magical. These she tried, and eventually succeeded. Perryn was waiting for this, however, watching her… when he saw her unable to follow her passion for books, she was moody and grouchy. When she suddenly brightened, Perryn knew she’d found her secret way in, and called down the sextons again to trap her. When she was discovered breaking the ban that had been placed on her, the governing committee decided to expel her from the Arcanum permanently. She was also the youngest person ever to achieve that distinction, one which, as of yet, has not been broken.
In her adventuring career that followed, Cassandra’s acquaintances have noticed that the diviner is almost always twitchy, but also invaluable in spotting and detecting threats. She slowly gained something of a reputation: that parties she accompanied were almost never taken by surprise. Having gathered enough gold, she suddenly decided to fund her own expedition to some ruins that she had read about, which were located in the swamp near her home. She visited her father, and then set out into the heart of the swamp, only to find the ancient fane of the sun god. Locating its central chamber and deciphering the ancient pictograms, Cassandra unfolded the lost history of the people of Amaunator. An epiphany about the nature of gods and religion struck her then, and that night, as she slept in the ruins, Amaunator clamed his first divine oracle in over a millennium.
Wakening from a horrific vision of the future which she has never been able to recall, Cassandra found her hair had turned white. She has come to realize that her hatred for enchantment magic was because of the constant subtle mind control of Amaunator that guided her to the point that she could become his oracle. He no longer influences her actions directly, but since that time, Cassandra suffers visions: some as quick sporadic insights, others as elaborate dreams. Amaunator occasionally lets her feel she has a measure of self-guidance, cajoling her with the prospect of her freedom, but just as often he drives her with blindingly painful visions toward a goal she can only guess at. She is god-ridden by a being that is forgotten, but seeks to bring its power back into the world.