Character Background – Ruka

The daughters of married-in nobles as a general rule are not expected to continue marrying within the noble lines, so Ruka – eldest daughter of a married-in noble – was mostly free to determine her fate. Her choice was influenced by many factors, including jealousy, young love, and a love of epic stories. Her mother, nobly born but of low enough rank to be married off as a prize for great deeds instead of to another noble, was shocked in a detached sort of way. That the next two daughters were of grace, beauty, and charm enough to delight in any court was a salve to her eldest daughter’s wildness. Her father, low born but an adventurer of such great deeds as to earn a low noble for a wife, was publicly against her chosen path but secretly encouraged and helped her. Since his son showed little interest in following his father’s footsteps, that his daughter should comforted him enough. When Ruka left the city of her birth, it was in the company of three others and carrying no more than a small pack and long sword. She had chosen the life of an adventurer.

When Ruka first picked up a wooden practice sword, it was on a lark. She’d heard some of the local farm boys teasing her brother Toridin about how he looked like a dancer when he practiced his sword. Ruka was learning to dance, so she should be able to use a sword, too, right? She gave it a few flourishes and happened to be seen by her father. He was initially skeptical, but in his time as an adventurer he had met a few swordswomen. What they had lacked in strength they easily made up for in speed and ferocity (though he did recall one beast of a woman whose strength was a match for any man). He spent some time with her, though not as much as his son and other pupils, and she was delighted by the attention.

In the first year, Ruka had only a passing interest in the sword. She enjoyed the extra attention her father gave her, but not so much the rolled eyes and scorn from her mother. She was always tired, and her hands were becoming unsightly callused. She may have given it up if it weren’t for an appreciative glance from Corbin, a friend of her brother’s, which turned her head so she could hardly think straight for a week. Feeling like she was always in the shadow of her younger twin sisters, Corbin’s momentary attention firmed her resolve.

Why should a young girl feel overshadowed by her younger siblings? A few weeks before Ruka’s scheduled nameday (typically when a baby is about a year old), her mother Mishla went into early labor and gave birth to twin girls. They were lovely even at birth, being small enough (and Mishla being stretched enough from a recent birth) that they didn’t suffer the usual squished faces of newborns. It was also foretold that they would carry their maternal grandmother’s beauty (beauty so great as to build family lore that there was elf blood in their veins). As is common for babies with strong foretelling, they were named very soon after their birth rather than waiting the typical year. In this way Ruka, Shael, and Shaol share a nameday, despite Ruka being a year older. On top of that, their foretold beauty granted them names which were a variance on Shayal, the goddess of beauty, while Ruka simply carried a family name shared by her aunt. As the three girls aged, Ruka felt herself always compared to her fairer, taller, and more magically inclined sisters. There was even talk of noble marriages for them, something Ruka was passed over for. She certainly wasn’t ugly and might even have been considered attractive if it weren’t for her sisters making her look plain by comparison. Needing to set herself apart, Ruka continued learning the sword.

Torik, Ruka’s father, routinely told stories of his grand adventures to his children and anyone else who would listen. It was these stories which prompted young men to come to him for sword training, so that when his eldest and only son Toridin was old enough to learn, Torik already had a small class of students. He made special time for his son though, wanting very much for him to follow in his footsteps as a grand adventurer. This desire was even in Toridin’s name. In his travels, Torik had befriended a dwarf named Stordin (even saved his life on a few occasions) and wanted his son to be recognized by drawves to give him a leg up in the diverse field of adventuring. So he had used drawven naming conventions and instead of calling his son Torikson, he added the dwarven “din” which required dropping the last sound in the father’s name if it wasn’t “S” or “R”. One of Toridin’s friends, Corbin, would also listen to Torik’s adventuring tales and decided he wanted to go out and adventure, too. So Torik took him as a student and trained him alongside his son envisioning the grand deeds they would do while looking out for each other.

Toridin had other plans though. He had his eye on a lovely farm lass and waited until she was embarrassingly with child to tell his father about her. A rushed wedding took care of things, and Toridin knew he wanted to stay home and tend field with his wife. Disappointed, Torik redoubled his efforts to teach Ruka as his second chance for a lineage. She began training in her brother’s place with Corbin as a sometime sparring partner. Corbin, jealous of Toridin’s marriage and also feeling abandoned by his friend, Corbin strung Ruka along in an effort to get back at him. When Torik had declared them ready to set out, Corbin went to town and hired two passing adventurers to take them on. These two happened to be quite shady and left Corbin and Ruka with nothing but their clothes halfway to the next town.

The two had no one to rely on except each other, in this trial Corbin put aside his anger toward Toridin and fully became Ruka’s friend. They journeyed together for quite some time, but eventually parted ways. (Corbin was more interested in bar-crawling his way through the world while Ruka wanted to earn herself stories to rival her father’s.) They’ve run across each other a few times, but really only stay in touch through letters to Toridin where he will sometimes pass on word from one to the other.

(Not mentioned: Ruka’s other younger sisters – Elbeth, Merry, and Mishiel. Mother’s name – Mishla. Corbin’s eventual class – Rogue. Toridin’s wife’s name – Aiella.)

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