Appearance: Short, slender, and very “built” A'Chara has always been popular, as much because of her constant smile as because of her looks. Her deep, nearly sea-green eyes usually flash with humor or enthusiasm above her pert little nose, which is slightly turned up at the tip. She keeps her ankle-length brown hair braided and pinned up, and most of even her close friends aren't aware of just how full and rich it actually is. The lone exception to this is Miri Evenwood, the closest thing A'Chara has to a sister. The two of them often had sleep-overs when younger, and like A'Chara keeps Miri's secret about her unusual birthmark, Miri keeps A'Chara's secret about her lone vanity; her cascades of silky fine hair.
Personality: Open and friendly with those she knows, her few encounters with strangers have left her wary of them if she is not with one of her friends. Always eager to explore she is usually only a half-step behind Miri when it comes to charging into new situations, although she does sometimes try to think before she acts. Quick and nimble on her feet, she enjoys a good fight, but usually prefers to fire from a slight distance as opposed to closing with a larger, stronger opponent. Her agility gives her an edge when she does have to fight hand-to-hand though, and she will not hesitate to pull her sword when necessary. A born leader, she may not be as charismatic as some, but if she were only a little bit taller she would instill confidence in anyone instead of only in the people who know her well.
A'Chara was born in the tiny hamlet of Hystar, on the edge of the Hullack Forest, just downstream from Thunderstone and not far from the Thunderflow River. She was the only child of Kairwy & A'Nesta Springstep, who had settled in Hystar after their long-ago adventuring days were over. She spent most of her childhood playing and learning the “tricks” of being a locksmith and a tinker from her father. About the time she turned 10, she began to take on babysitting chores around town to help add to her family's meager income from Kairwy's business and A'Nesta's laundry service and rooms to let. She would often watch little Rowan Goodriver and Miri Evenwood, and as they grew up the three became fast friends. A'Chara spent many hours at the Goodriver farm, helping Rowan with the training of the war horses and ponies his father was famous for. Rowan Sr. had been a Purple Dragon Knight, and saw to it that the trio spent part of every day practicing with bow and sword, both on foot and from horseback. The elder Rowan arranged for Juni, as the younger Rowan was affectionately known, and A'Chara to travel as caravan guards together on several occasions, something Miri desperately wanted to join them in, but her father strictly forbade such endeavors as “unlady-like”. The trio did join the local militia together, as all able-bodied young people were expected to do, and between Miri's spellcasting, Juni's sword prowess, and A'Chara's marksmanship they helped clear out many bands of roving orcs raiding down from the Thunder Peaks. The druid Tuathal Talloak was the trio's favorite adult friend and fighting companion, though he always saw himself as their mentor and teacher more than as a friend. When he is not around, they all use their pet name for the druid, “Tuie”, but they try to be careful not to slip when he's near, knowing that the knickname irritates the older man.
The Springstep family never seemed to have much in the way of spare coinage lying about, but they were always happy just to be together enjoying what they did have, a wonderful environment for a young girl to grow up in. The elder Springsteps and Rowan Sr. had been companions long ago, and Kairwy made secret arrangements with his old friend for something special for A'Chara's 25th birthday, the traditional coming-of-age for a halfling. A'Nesta and Kairwy did many small odd jobs for the Goodrivers, and Rowan kept a “credit” account for all the hours A'Chara spent helping to train the warhorses, though she never realized she was doing it for anything but pleasure and to help her friend. When the crop of foals that would be four on that special birthday were born, Sr. selected the one that he felt would be the best of the lot, a long-legged blue roan pony with a large round white star, four white socks, and an odd star-shaped white patch on his belly. Explaining that the pony was earmarked for a halfling owner, he told Juni to make sure that A'Chara handled all of the training on Nimblestep, as the little roan was soon named. From halter breaking to combat training, A'Chara worked day in and day out with Nimble, resulting in a pony who was totally devoted to his future mistress, without either of them being aware of what was to come. When Nimble's barding and saddle were fitted, Sr. had A'Chara sit for the measurements, stating that since a halfling was going to get the finished warpony, who better to have the saddle designed to than another halfling?
On the morning of her 25th birthday, A'Nesta had a new set of hand made leathers for her daughter, and Kairwy gifted her his old crossbow, so lovingly cared for over the years that it still worked like new. Certainly not even expecting this much, she was totally clueless to the final surprise waiting for her when Juni knocked on the door, Nimblestep on a lead rope behind him, fully barded and saddled. Having just been told that morning of where the pony was actually going to end up, Juni couldn't resist keeping the cover story going just a little longer. He told A'Chara that he was to take the pony to his new owner today, and knowing how much she cared for the stallion he thought she might want to spend some time with him before the delivery. With tear-filled eyes she thanked the tall fighter for his kindness, and giving the small stud a kiss on the nose, she then buried her face in his mane and hugged him, fighting the sobs at the thought of never seeing him again. Unable to keep the charade going any longer, Rowan turned and started to walk up the path towards the road. A'Chara, still not “getting it”, yelled after him that he had forgotten Nimble, and Rowan, grinning from ear to ear, replied, “why would I take him? He's been delivered.” Finally understanding what was happening, A'Chara let out a squeal of delight, and not even bothering with a bridle, leaped onto Nimble's back and rode down the street at a full gallop using only the halter and lead, yelling and laughing with joy. Miri, who had learned of the surprise only minutes before Rowan had gone to the Springstep house, was waiting outside her home for her friend, and together with Juni they spent the entire day 'playing' with Nimble. By sunset the pony had been bathed, combed, braided and fussed over so much he was happy to be left alone for the evening.
When Miri came of age a few years after A'Chara, the three young people decided that it was time for them to have their turn at adventuring, and set their sights on raising the money for a charter from the crown. Sitting with Tuathal in the local tavern one late spring evening discussing how best to raise the coin they need, two strangers walked in and approached Mance Lowhill, the proprietor. A'Chara managed to overhear that the extremely tall, almost ghoslty figure wrapped head to tow in a black cloak was an historian “of sorts”, and the human woman escorting him is his assistant, Allindar. Miri, never one to hold back when an idea hit her, approached the assistant and talked her into meeting with the others. After a long discussion, Allindar told them that her master would pay very well for any interesting items procured from the nearby elven ruins. Long a source of mystery in the region, no one in Hystar had even heard of a name associated with the area, but Allindar identified it as the former city of Andar Illithar, abandoned for centuries before the founding of Cormyr. Everyone in the town had been there, most on a dare while still mere children, but lately the area had become much more dangerous, with roving bands of humanoids attacking woodsmen and hunters.
Having decided that this was too good an opportunity to pass up, the four decide to leave at dawn and spend a few days exploring deeper into the ruins than a simple day trip would allow. By noon they had reached the overgrown and partially collapsed walls of the ruin, and set up a base camp in an easily-defended tower. After several small skirmishes with kobolds and goblins, they accidentally stumbled onto a hidden passage leading deep beneath the buildings above. Gearing up for several days underground, they moved through tunnel after tunnel, ever deeper, until they came to a huge brass door. A'Chara found a hidden trigger that worked smoothly, even after all the centuries undisturbed, and they found themselves in a vast open room with walls, floor and ceiling covered with intricate runes. Even the support pillars were inscribed with faintly glowing sigils. To this day, A'Chara doesn't know exactly what happened next, but as she stood in the very center of the room, gazing in awe at the vast chamber, spotless and dustless despite the years of abandonment, she heard Miri exclaim “hey, look what I found”, there was a flash of bright light, and when she could see once more she was in a dilapidated tomb, with none of her friends in sight. After escaping through a partially collapsed drain, she made her way to Stormreach, where she learned she is now in Xen'drik, with no idea of how to return to her homeland, her friends and family, or her beloved pony.
Achara's Story - or how I came to be in Xen'drik
by Achara on Nov 17, 2016 at 12:49 PM}