Willow Bitterspring

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Willow is a wood elf raised in the vast Renvaka Woods, a wet region in the west populated by many villages, a few cities, and a large collection of trees.

Fighting Style[edit]

Pure archery. With Bow Basics, she gains AP 2 and the Deadshot Stance (+2 to attack and damage, but can only five-foot step). With the Steady Shot trick, she gains +2 to attack when she hasn't moved in the last two rounds. And with Daunting Shot, anything she hits suffers a -2 morale penalty to attack her back.

So basically, her best strategy is to hang back, say put, and keep firing.

Exploration Hook[edit]

Willow wants to know who killed her family and to find out if any members of her caravan survived. Once she has that knowledge, revenge may be the next step.

Social Hook[edit]

Having grown up in a caravan, Willow is unaccustomed to living alone, and appreciates having a group around. She has actually come to enjoy their company for different reasons, but overall she finds them funny and suitably violent. Finding her family's murderers and doing something about it will probably require violence.

Willow's Backstory[edit]

Alder Bitterspring was a fool. Not professionally, of course--that requires a certain amount of talent. No, Alder was the kind of fool no one pays for, the kind born when a young man sees a pretty woman and hears her sing like a bluebird welcoming a traveler back home after years away. Fortunately for him, Alder was at least a competent carpenter, so when he followed Oltair Riversniff's Traveling Circus out into the woods, Oltair himself let him stay. "Everyone here earns their keep," Oltair had warned, but surrounded by trees and traveling in wagons, with an ax and an easy smile, Alder fit right in.

Almost everyone in the caravan loved him, especially the professional fools. Dahlia, the object of his affections, necessarily hated him. She had to, of course. More than half of the songs she knew were about love, and it was her Emperor-given right and duty to make him miserable for the appropriate amount of time. After she had waited six months and four days (the suggested period of contempt according to Scorning Your Suitor: The Ladies' Home Guide to What Men Really Want), she of course gave in and married him.

It had been a peaceful, sunny morning when Dahlia tripped over the ornate basket and smashed her nose against the willow tree. Looks and voice she had, grace, not so much. But by some miracle she had managed not to crush the baby, who had rolled out of the basket and was now wailing at her assailant loud enough to drag out all the fools and acrobats, metalworkers and hunters from their hammocks.

"Look, it's a little elf!" Oltair proclaimed. "Hmm, we don't have an elf yet." This was true. There were mostly humans in their group of about forty, but there were a few Pechs and orcs, even a goblin. "We could use an elf. Dahlia!"

"Y-yes?" Most of her boldness was used up on stage, so she was relieved when Alder joined her for moral support. Oltair's girth and spittle were hard to stand up to. "You almost broke it, so you might as well buy it. Raise the elf. It's your kid now."

And so Willow's childhood was handed to her by a scruffy, smelly ringleader with a belly like a giant and laugh like rolling thunder. She came to quite enjoy Uncle Oltair's company, but it took a village to raise an elf. She learned the flute to earn money, hunting to eat, and acrobatics for the sheer joy. Her parents were patient enough, her family big enough, that all she really wanted for were answers.

Elves. She met a few in their travels. They were self-righteous. Cold as the winter frost, even when they tried to smile. Bored, and boring. And of course, capable of abandoning an infant in the wilderness. She hated them. There were times when she needed to up the elf mystique for the show, of course. But the rest of the time she kept her ears wrapped up in a bandana, as if that would make her human. Sometimes she still dreamed that it would.

Her sister, Alder and Dahlia's blood, was human, and there were times Willow was jealous. But Chrysanthemum was the best younger, then sort of older, sister she could ask for. Chrys was the singer, the one who carved little figurines in Father's wood scraps, the daughter that rolled in the flowers just to get her dress dirty. They hunted together (Willow killed, Chrys cleaned), climbed trees together, and shared dresses and secrets, even when they were grown.

But Willow hunted alone, sometimes. On the day she lost everything, she had been playing the flute for the birds, trying to match their songs. When she saw the storm clouds forming, she headed back, killing a deer on her way. She was humming to herself and lugging its carcass when she first noticed the smell. Willow could run very fast, but not fast enough to help. There were only ruins when she got there, burned to a few broken wagons. There were some bodies, but not enough--she counted. And the ones she could count were impossible to identify from all the holes.

Willow looked for tracks immediately, but the rain was faster than her that afternoon, and she found nothing. Her whole family, her whole community, was gone in less than a day.

She wanted to claim a stump to sit upon and die upon. She wanted to at least cry herself to oblivion. But Oltair and her parents had taught her better than that. First thing--stay alive. These were her woods, so she did, easily. But somehow, she couldn't escape the smell of fire. So she ran farther and farther, all the way to Istagat, where she had gotten careless and landed herself in prison.

She doesn't have a family anymore. She doesn't even have friends, as she used to think of them. But she does have a group of people who would need to be paid pretty handsomely to stab her in the back, and that helps. There's an elf, but he's all right for an elf, maybe because a human follows him around all the time. There's a goblin, and the goblin's foul smell reminds her a little of home. There's an orc, and he's kind of an idiot when it comes to staying alive, but he's also vicious and hilarious, so she'll take him, too. There's a giant, and he has a bear, and looking at them reminds her that places outside of the city still exist. There's a couple humans, too, both smart, both useful. She wishes her mother were here to feed Ricros properly. She's envious of Art's sense of purpose.

It isn't a family, but at least it's a place to be. At least they make her laugh. And if she ever finds out who killed her family and all that she loved--well, some allies wouldn't hurt.