Appearance & Items:In humanoid form, Grimalkin is bony and small-bodied, with dark fawning features, blue-green eyes, and straight gray hair. In hybrid form, she increases in size, but would be considered a runt among her towering peers. She has slate gray scales, a long barbed tail, and dragon-like feet. Her gray hair remains, long and metallic, however a series of small, horny nubs interweave along the crown of her head like stones, and she has a pair of white, gazelle-like horns that curl back at an angle beside her skull. Old claw-like scars mar various parts of her body, along with a small, distinct mark on her right shoulder. Her wings are abnormally large (too large for her frame), tattered, and ratty looking. The sails are crisscrossed with scars and have small holes in some places while the bones are knobby, having been broken on numerous occasions then healed.
Her garments are plain and always in greys, browns, or subtle color tones. In humanoid form, she usually wears a turban-like headdress that can cover her face, a knee length robe cinched at the waist with a piece of linen, pants, boots, and a heavy dolman-shaped mantelet lined with fur. Sometimes, she will wear a long, embroidered sari. In her hybrid form, she wears a doric chiton held up at the shoulder with clasps and bound around the waist with a braided cord. Underneath this is a pleated loincloth, secured by a central knot, that wraps around her hips, draping long over her thighs like a skirt.
Basic Persona: Grimalkin is a very aloof creature. In her early life, she was poorly treated and so became scornful of others, developing a thick skin and impersonal manner that gradually turned into a deceptively playful personality. Most of her initial ambitions were driven by spite and the desire to ‘get back’ at others. In time, she learned to cope with social situations, but came to view them primarily as a means of getting something she wanted or gaining a tactical advantage.
She is clever, sarcastic, and quick with biting remarks, but age has taught her when to speak and when to show restraint. She prefers to observe those around her instead of engaging in open debate. She enjoys toying with people and often disguises herself and her motives; usually playing off a person’s own greed and selfish desires in order to ‘lead them down the garden path’.
Puzzles fascinate her. She has a great interest in learning and will experiment on almost anything, testing both objects and people. Something of a packrat, she harbors books, scrolls, shiny baubles, and trinkets. Though she can be exceedingly cunning, she tends to be impatient and reckless under pressure. She’s wholly irreverent and ignores the Gods, but she is highly superstitious, believing in the power of fate and the ability of certain objects to carry and transfer past emanations. She has a strange fixation/obsession with Rhyn.
Basic History: Grimalkin was born into a small, isolated athdraki clan that established itself in the foothills of Thelahar after the War of Daishevar. The forerunners of her clan served as foot soldiers for Jeremas, but they were lowborn athdraki and in the final skirmishes many were sacrificed as suicide troops.
Unable to return to Israidius, those who survived the slaughter scattered into the wilderness. Life was hard for these athdraki. They were hunted like dogs, and the pressures of human expansion made it impossible for them to establish permanent homes. They were forced to remain nomadic and had to raid human settlements for supplies.
Naturally this did not make them very popular. These clans withdrew into the country’s two rugged mountain chains where they warred constantly with deshiven, goblins, trolls, and dwarves. Over many years, these embittered conflicts hardened the survivors and the clans became highly territorial, developing a fierce sense of aggression even toward each other. Survival in such a harsh environment left little room for pity or remorse and a rigid social structure, similar to that of a wolf pack, developed. Individuals came to be classified as alphas, betas, or omegas.
Grimalkin’s mother, a lowborn omega female, was caught and killed by farmers during a clan raid when she was only four years old. Lacking the classic beauty and vigor of most athdraki children, the tiny runt was considered a weak, worthless cripple and would have been abandoned but for the interest of an aging female called Fayalor.
A trained sorceress and sage of the clan, Fayalor had lost her entire family during the War of Daishevar, including one particularly beloved daughter. With no one to inherit her talents, the old woman decided to adopt Grimalkin, but Fayalor’s early hopes of having a skilled apprentice to carry on her legacy soon died. Grimalkin was a slow learner – too easily distracted by puzzles and the strange, curious mannerisms of beasts. Worse, she was a troublemaker. A prolific thief and bold-faced liar, she coveted the possessions of others and was such an opportunist that no athdraki could turn their back on her without fear of losing one of their valuables. The clansmen hated her, and when Fayalor died, they drove her away.
Forced to live on the fringes of clan society, Grimalkin eked out a living by stealing scraps, eating the remains of kills, and pilfering items during the chaos of clan raids. While she was young and small, these tactics served her, but as she matured, her large, unsightly wings became a liability. Heavy and unwieldy, they made her less agile and, whenever she was caught, took a terrible beating. In time, the bones grew knobby from repeated breaks and the sails tattered and torn.
In an effort to survive in a human dominated world, Grimalkin began to favor her secondary form and learned to skillfully blend into towns where she stole bread, trinkets, and weapons. Common folk mistook her for a criminal vagrant, one of their own who couldn’t keep her hands to herself, but demon hunters were a constant menace. These human killers spelled death for a lone athdraki, and Grimalkin continued to shadow her clan, moving when they moved to avoid such threats.
And so she lived – hand to mouth on the fringes of two societies – until Gornaz finally returned to Calamia. Grimalkin’s clan and many other small bands like it were reorganized into strict militias under the orders of his new ally – a human known as Derrek – who preferred their savagery and aggressive natures. As the clans were merged, their ranks swelled, and rival clan leaders found themselves tossed together. Many of the militias, with decades of hateful feuding caught between them, proved to be internally unstable. Their bickering often led to disorder, and the clan warlords, pitted against each other as well as their new leaders, squabbled for influence amid the growing factions.
When the war with the celestials broke out, Derrek began outfitting the wild clans for use in the conflict. Grimalkin, like many of her fellows, was taken from Calamia and assessed. She was found to be unfit for physical combat, but Fayalor’s teachings had given her an aptitude for magic, and she was trained to be a magus. Eventually, she was assigned to a support unit with several other mages. Their main function was to collectively cloak portions of Derrek’s assault troops to surprise the enemy.
In 880 ADW, Derrek launched a major offensive against the celestial capital of Moon Spire. Small hordes were positioned to waylay sections of the celestial army and separate the main battalion from the citadel. Grimalkin’s commander, an ambitious athdraki warlord, was the leader of one such group. He’d been given one of the precious portal gems issued to Derrek’s top mages. Holding most of his troops in reserve, the warlord planted himself and a few troops as decoys to lure the celestial troops. When they attacked, he called his main force through the portal.
Unfortunately, though he had the advantage of numbers, the celestials managed to divide his soldiers. His plan fouled, the warlord attempted to reopen the portal and call upon his reinforcements. During the process, a young celestial attacked him and the two struggled for the orb. An athdraki warrior finally bludgeoned the youth, but by then the warlord had lost his hold on the orb. Mortally injured, the celestial fell from the sky with the orb and both disappeared into the now unstable portal.
The remaining celestials were eventually crushed, but the orb was lost. Despite the victory, the warlord was fearful of Derrek’s wrath. In order to save his own skin, he accused Grimalkin of stealing the sphere. A known thief who loved shiny objects, she was the perfect scapegoat. Grimalkin denied the charges fiercely, as did many of her fellow mages. To avoid dissenting witnesses, the warlord had Grimalkin’s unit executed and spread rumors among the clans that Grimalkin was a traitor and, later, an enemy sympathizer.
The ploy worked. The clans came to believe that Grimalkin had stolen the orb and hidden it away with her other pilfered treasures. Derrek eventually ordered the warlord to torture and kill her. Grimalkin, however, managed to escape from her cell and fled into the Calamian wilderness. Branded a rogue and a traitor, she became a wanted runaway.