The woman is tall. Taller than all the Keleshite women around her in the Bazaar. Some Kellids and Ulfen women, and some Bekyar rivaled her, but not those of Katapesh. She leans against the side of the shop, a hood pulled up over her head despite the heat. Beneath that hood, two intense eyes stare out, watching the bustle of the caravaners as they prepared the supplies and wrestled with the camels. One of the eyes was dark brown, but the other stood out like a light in the dark - it was a clear green. She watches you intently for a moment, until one of the caravaners cries out in frustration as the pack he has been attempting to secure begins to unravel. She steps forward and is quickly giving the man a hand, but you see that her nails are black and pointed like claws. The caravaners, despite her odd appearance, seem to tolerate her, and she moves as one of them.[/COLOR]
Standing well over six feet tall, this woman is difficult to place ethnically. Her hair is black and wiry, but her skin is pale. Unusually so, for her attire and equipment suggests she is used to traveling with the caravans. She possesses several other more striking features. First is her eyes - one is dark brown and the other a clear green. Second is her hands, which are not terribly unusual in themselves, with long fingers, rough and callused, but at the end of each one the nail is black and pointed like a claw. But the most striking thing about her are the scars that cross her face, as though someone carved them into her flesh with a red-hot hook. Her clothing is strurdy and meant for traveling, featuring the flowing white cloth typical of desert travelers. She keeps her face shadowed most of the time by a loose turban. She carries a battleaxe and a shield, as well as a dagger, shortbow and a quiver of arrows.
Kalistrine was always considered odd. She had a strange way of looking at things, and a sullen demeanor that brought trouble. Then there was her appearance. Pale, even under Katapesh's burning sun, and dark wiry hair, but it was her eyes that were the most striking. One was dark brown, almost black, like those of other Keleshites, but the other was a pale green. She often struck others as not quite right. She grew up with a poor family but received no familial warmth from them. Kalistrine was left to her own devices by her brothers and sisters, and used as a drudge by her parents. Few in her village doubted that she was a foundling. He parents never denied it either, but never admitted she was not theirs. The truth was that she was left by a kindly-looking woman who claimed that her husband had died of a fever in the vicinity of the Vargas Swamp and could no longer care for her baby. The woman paid the family to take Kalistrine in, and suggested that she would one day return to reclaim her child. Kalistrine's adoptive parents gave the woman's promise not another thought and spent the money she gave them while leaving Kalistrine to be neglected for years.
Kalistrine, who started off puny and sickly, began to quickly outgrow this tendency at a young age. She became bigger and stronger than all the other girls - and some of the boys. She had a tendency to scratch the other children with her nails when fighting and became quite adept at deterring bullies who didn't fancy nasty gashes. As she established some autonomy, she gained in confidence and in belligerence. Soon she was taking over as the primary bully among her siblings and peers. Her father stood for none of this, however, and beat her occasionally when she was insolent or defiant. Never a pretty girl, she took to using intimidation to get what she wanted from others, boys included.
As she neared puberty, she began to dream of a kind woman who would return for her some day. She suspected she was not related to her so-called family, and she would be proven right when one day the woman who had left her all those years ago returned. Now a girl of thirteen, Kalistrine was happy to leave dubious home that had sheltered her since her infancy, and she departed with the woman who called herself Mag and claimed to be her mother. As they began to travel North, the friendly demeanor of Mag changed gradually, as did her appearance. Kalistrine grew more and more apprehensive as her mother's attitude became more cruel and unpleasant. Finally, within sight of the Vargas Swamp, Mag turned to Kalistrine and said, "Little Girl, you have suffered, haven't you? Well, fear no more, for your mother and aunties have called you home. You're going to be just like us." Mag's limbs bent and cracked, elongating, her skin taking on a bark-like texture, darkening to the colour of aged leather. Her nails became black claws and her face grew horrible and cruel. Mag was an Annis Hag, and she had some to reclaim the daughter she had birthed thirteen years before. Kalistrine was terrified and attempted to flee, but emerging from the twilight were two more Hags, Mag's sisters and Kalistrine's aunties. They grasped her with their iron grips and cooed words of encouragement to Kalistrine. "Oh, don't be afraid of your Aunties. Hehehehehehe! You'll soon know no fear." One said, cackling. "You'll be one of us, dearie. Won't that be better than being a soft, pink thing, hated by pitiful humans." the other growled. Kalistrine screamed as they carried her into the swamp, eliciting delighted cackles from her Aunties as Mag led the way.
The grim lair of the Hags was a bower of twisted roots, covered by lichens and woven throughout with horrible fetishes of bones and sticks. At the center was a cauldron of ancient make, more a part of the blighted ground. The Hags bound Kalistrine with roots and set about their work of preparing the ritual to convert her into a Hag like them. Kalistrine screamed and screamed, but that merely caused her Aunties to laugh. They tore her clothes off and anointed her with horrible substances, forced drugged elixirs down her throat and burned herbal incenses that clouded her mind. When all was prepared, Black Mag, Kalistrine's true mother, began the terrible curse that was to make her an Annis Hag. By then, Kalistrine was almost completely addled by the preperatory concoctions, but she found room for one emotion - Fear. She could feel her nails hardening into cruel, razor sharp claws, her skin beginning to harden, her limbs growing strong like twisted iron. But then something happened. Kalistrine saw a flash of fire and heard screams from her Aunties. There was a horrifying sound of tearing flesh and cracking bone. Images of visages even more gruesome and appalling than those of her mother and aunties swam in her eyes. A burning pain began to clear the fog from her mind, and when she gained a moment of clarity, a visage of wrath appeared before her. With the head of a terrible carrion bird, the being eyed Kalistrine with the intent of tearing out her belly and leaving her to die a horrible death, but something stopped it. Instead, it traced a claw across her forehead and face. Wracked with burning agony that penetrated into her very mind, Kalistrine screamed and passed out.
Some time later, she awoke to a scene of carnage. Still bound in place where her mother and aunties had placed her, she beheld the lair of the Hags strewn with blood and gore. The cauldron at the center of the hollow had been wrenched free, and no sign but the unidentifiable globs of flesh and splintered bone remained of her 'family'. Moreover, Kalistrine felt a burning pain in her head. She struggled against her bonds, and after some time, the pain became so great, she succumbed to it, but instead of passing out again, she was overcome with a towering rage. Her fury was so great that she was able to pry herself free, haul herself out of the hollow and into the swamp. She crawled and staggered South until she reached the edge of the mire, where she was discovered at the edge of a camp of caravan guards. They were alarmed by the naked, gore and mud-caked thing with the burning eyes, but one of them stepped forward and somehow saw the child beneath. When Kalistrine next awoke, she was in a tent, wrapped in linens, with a soothing balm being applied to her face. Gazing down at her with great compassion was the face of a beautiful young woman. Kalistrine began to cry, and the woman, who introduced herself as Haleen, comforted her. The pain in her mind remained, though her cuts and scratches had been tended to. Kalistrine healed under the ministrations of Haleen, and emerged from the tent into an Oasis camp, where she was subjected to the horrified stares of the women and children of a nomad group. She walked to the edge of the water where she went to dip her hands in, only to find the claws on her fingers remained. She hadn't imagined that. Then she leaned forward to look at her face to see the jagged scars that marred her face. Seemingly with no pattern, they nevertheless invoked in her a cold horror, and then a slowly growing anger. Haleen found her as she turned on the staring Keleshite nomads, covering her head and shoulders with a shawl and taking her back to the tent before Kalistrine could cause any harm, or be hurt in turn by the nomads. Haleen packed up and left on camel-back with Kalistrine before the nomads' men returned from hunting, and made her way to Katapesh where the girl's appearance would attract less attention.
Life for Kalistrine in Katapesh was better. She was indeed accepted more readily. Most barely batted an eye, for all the strange inhabitants of that most cosmopolitan of cities. Haleen's business often took her away, but the steady care and affection she gave to Kalistrine softened her belligerence and muted the rage that still burned within her. There were instances of her temper getting the better of her, and she quickly became a pariah among the children of the Lower City. She fell in, however with a small band of Tiefling children, who instead of being put off by her claw-like nails and scars, bore similar marks of cursed parentage and so felt kinship with her. They drew her into some questionable pursuits among the bazaars and docks of the lower city, but Haleen managed to keep her out of danger for the most part. Kalistrine grew into an imposing young woman, strong, tall, and still hot-tempered. That pain in her mind was always on the verge of driving her into a fury. By the time she was sixteen, she grew interested in the martial ways of the warriors and soldiers she saw in the city, and Haleen indulged her by getting her training. Her instructors, however, were displeased with her progress - she was too reckless, too violent. One time, she took a blow to the head durring sparring and nearly beat a fellow student to death with a training sword, her anger taking over and granting her a furious strength that allowed her to batter down the defenses of the boy who opposed her. She was thrown out of several fighting schools, but picked up a smattering of skills that helped her develop her own style. Haleen was at a loss as to what to do with her, but through her caravaner contacts, she managed to get a job with a merchant by the name of Barak'u Bakr. Kalistrine was off on her first job as a caravan guard at eighteen. She took to the wilderness immediately, and though she had not the patience or seriousness of mind to truly excel, she learned some few tricks of getting by in the wild. She grew to love her first experience on the trail, and the cameraderie and tolerance of the other guards allowed her to come out of her shell. She grew enamored of one particular man, a Half-Orc named Ombur, who the others considered ugly, but to Kalistrine, he bore the burden of his birth with such grace, a burden she bore herself with considerably less acceptance, that he inspired in her feelings she had thought never to share. They began a short relationship. She was heartbroken when she was forced to part with him as their jobs took them in opposite directions, and they promised to reuinite when their paths crossed again in Katapesh the next year.
Kalistrine returned to Katapesh with a feeling of peace she had never experienced before. But when she went to find Haleen at their home, she instead found a note. "Please forgive me, Trina." it began. "But I must leave. Forget me. You have taken your first steps on a path to a better life. Follow it. I will always love you, but please don't think of me anymore. I have left you what little I could to help you on your way. You may continue to live in the home we shared. It pains me that I could not say goodbye properly. Your friend always, Haleen."
Disbelief gave way to desolation. For the first time in years Kalistrine began to cry. Her tears began to burn as they ran down the scars on her face. The pain in her head grew, and the next thing she knew she had torn the place apart with her bare hands, shredding the curtains, pillows, tapestries and smashing everything she could. She collapsed among the shards of her life, despair settling over her. After some time and regaining some sense of calm, she looked over the letter again, and something struck her as wrong. She knew in her heart that Haleen would not leave her like this unless it was to protect her. Something terrible must have come to pass to force Haleen to leave. With a new purpose, Kalistrine set about assembling whatever she could salvage from the ruins of her home. She gathered her things and a few surviving keepsakes and the coin Haleen had left, and went out among the merchants and caravaners in Katapesh, asking after the woman who had become her sister, if not her new mother. Months passed, but she eventually heard reports coming from one caravan to the next that Haleen had been spotted near a place called Kelmarane. The name had ominous events attached to it, but Kalistrine gave it little thought. Finding an advertisement for mercenaries to join an expedition to Kelmarane gave her the excuse she needed to set out in search of Haleen.
Kalistrine is a Changeling, a race from Pg. 84 of the Haunting of Harrowstone, the first book in the Carrion Crown AP.
She is Chaotic Neutral, tending towards Chaotic Good from the influence of Haleen (and presumably the PCs later on), and Chaotic Evil from the Demonic mark she bears.
She will be taking the Fiend Totem Rage Power at L2 (Pg. 75, Advanced Player's Guide). What she takes after that will be dependent on character development.