On a cold night in the late winter of 1140, grunts of both pleasure and pain could be hear echoing from the local harem in Loya. There were eight women all together responsible for servicing those men with lust and coin. No woman took the duty lightly. For steady patrons kept steady heat in the frozen city.
The night was like any other for Nell; a poor illiterate bastard woman who had been born into the trade same as the mother before her. Dim but enthusiastic to please, Nell held a fantasy close to her heart that she could ensnare a noble and be taken away from the dark world that she fueled by the sweat of her back. In walked a man dressed in fine clothes and clean boots. He walked in with all of the entitlement nobility could offer. The younger whores instantly flocked to his side in hopes of gaining his favor. Nell, though simple in thought, had a keen intuition for new patrons. She allowed the younger wares to present themselves with obvious embarrassment. Nell stalked her intended with animalistic intentions until he noticed her. Once his eyes made contact with hers, she knew the rest would not have luck in securing his coin. The rest of the evening was spent in pants and torn bed sheets.
He visited her often throughout the ensuing months. His honey suckled voice promised such dreams and finery. She was no longer the huntress. Soon after the first encounter, Nell became aware of her pregnancy. Desperate to keep his favor, she did all she could to abort the babe. She bound her stomach, took tonics, and even threw herself off the harem balcony. Still, the babe grew. When she could hide the babe no more, she disclosed her secret to the noble. He laughed and looked at her with all of the grace of an angel before he started to beat her unmercifully. When tired, he left his coins on the nightstand, kissed her forehead, and walked out.
Despite the damage inflicted by the noble, the child was born into the world. Though the child was two months early, she screamed with a voraciousness; an unspoken challenge to the world. The mother grabbed for a pillow to stop the screams, but another whore, Felade , heard the babe’s screams and stopped Nell’s efforts. The young woman named the child Neitve after the hero from a fabled tale of a great warrior in her childhood. The name meant “defiant one”.
Soon after the birth, the noble returned to partake of Nell’s services always telling her sweet words and giving promises, but without coin. Nell, blinded by a chance for her dreams to come true, welcomed him with opened arms every time. Over the years, she took the comfort of his physical embrace over the comfort of coin. She would starve, freeze, and go without clothing, all to please him. Four years after the birth of Neitve, the noble brought great gifts to honor Nell, or so she thought. The clothing was finer than anything any of the women had ever seen. Nell felt, at last, her patience had prevailed. She flaunted the new garments towards all of the ladies. Neitve eyed her mother with contempt. She ran to the arms of Felade where her mother sauntered through the great room with all of the pride of someone who never had to earn coin from the sweat of an evening. The noble took Nell’s hand like she was the finest of ladies and escorted her to his horse. Neitve saw the tail of his cloak and the glimmer of his ring before the two left. Hours later, Nell hobbled in with a bloody face and torn clothing. She never spoke of what happened while she was away, but the whispers started. This was Neitve’s first memory. The mother continued to leave in finery and come back looking tortured and broken over the next several weeks.
When the noble next came to the whorehouse, Felade stopped his entrance to Nell’s room. Though Nell had never been kind to anyone, Felade felt love for everyone and felt honor bound to protect her. There was a scuffle and the noble pushed Felade back so hard, she fell off the balcony and died. Neitve ran from her hiding spot and went to shake Felade awake. Her warm blood flowed over the cold cobblestone in front of the harem. The noble never looked back. Minutes later the noble and Nell left. Neitve shed tears over the body and fell asleep and prayed that it was just a dream. When she awoke, a beggar was taking the shoes off of the corpse. Neitve tried to fend him off, but he backhanded her and she blacked out.
After Felade died, she left the harem and began to stay on the streets. Over the next several years, Neitve had to fight. She had to fight for a place to sleep. She had to fight for food to eat. She had to fight for others to leave her alone. As a ten year old and without a guardian, she had to fend herself from even the more obscene of individuals. She trusted no one and fought everyone and everything. Her hair was typically caked in grease and grime. Her clothes were scant. However, her punch was mighty. Young boys who cared little for anything than their needs soon found out about her punch. Occasionally, when the weather was bad or she had little other choice for survival, she would stay at the harem with her mother. Nell aged horribly. The scars, broken bones, and overall lack of taking care of herself took the toll. Still, the noble continued to visit her…continued to use her…continued to provide more poisoned words of a broken down fairy tale palace that existed only in the dim mind of an old whore. It was on those nights, Neitve would drink. She would find the biggest man around and pick a fight. She didn’t even case if she won or lost. She would take the broken bones…the scars…the blood. Many times, the local priest had to stop her cyclones of destruction.
On the eve of her sixteenth birthday, Neitve gambled and drank until she could no longer discern pain from living. She threw her fist into a wide arc and encountered metal. She felt her knuckle break and threw a kick. Not knowing what or whom she was fighting, she continued to throw out punches. Most of them were caught by a huge fist or ducked all together. She pounded her fists against the metal…waiting for a blow that would bring the darkness. It never came. Instead, the man grabbed a portion of her body and she was transported into a deep sleep. She awoke in a house she had never seen. There was a fire blazing and food on the table. The home was empty. She went for the door, but it was locked. Not trusting what was around her, she crept to the corner and awaited for whatever captor had imprisoned her. In walked a tall warrior of sorts. She went to launch herself upon him, but he sidestepped at the last second. Neitve crashed into a wall. The pain did not deter her from her mission to leave the fancy prison. She launched herself again at him, to which he responded by ducking. Each move of hers was countered by a dodge or tiny movement that put his person out of harm’s way. Panting and exhausted she moved back to the corner and awaited his move.
He said nothing. Instead, he broke the bread and began to eat the meal laid out on the table. She stayed in the corner. After eating, he waited a moment. It seemed he was looking for a signal. His face mirrored disappointment before he left. The lock clicked. After minutes of no return, and sure that the meal was not poisoned, she began to eat.
Neitve spent the next few days trying to escape. Always the strange warrior would come to breakfast with her, wait afterwords, and then leave. For a full week, she did not speak to him. After the seventh day, Neitve spoke to him. “What do you want from me?”
He looked up from his food and chewed with a look of contemplation. “The question isn’t what do I want. The question is, what do you want for yourself? Once you can answer that question, you will be free from here.” He backed out of his chair and then left.
It had been years since she had heard even her own voice. It had been even longer since anyone tried to speak to her. She replayed the conversation in her mind over and over again. What did she want she thought? Beyond a warm bed and food in her stomach, she had never given the matter much thought. Over in over her mind turned. She spent the evenings looking up at the ceiling and thinking. In all of her life, she never thought so hard about anything. Then again, in all of her life, she never had time to think. Her life was a reaction. She decided she wanted to change that, but had no idea how or in what way.
She did not see him again for several days. When she awoke, there would always be new food, but never the visitor. A full seven days passed and he returned to breakfast with her. He did not attempt to speak with her. He chewed the oats and sipped the ale without care that anyone else was in the room.
“I want to fight.” she said.
“Well that much is obvious.” He quickly replied without looking up.
“I want to learn how to fight better.” she tried again.
“Idiots don’t have brains or patience enough to train.”
“I’m not an idiot. I can learn.” Neitve pressed.
“Hardly. You love nothing. You trust nothing. You see nothing.” He replied, but this time he looked her straight in the eyes.
“There is nothing to love! Nothing to trust! Nothing to see!” She bellowed and threw her bowl at him. He caught the bowl without even blinking.
“If we cannot trust, then we cannot be allies. If we cannot be allies. Then we are enemies. If you want to spend the rest of your life trying to kill yourself, be my guest. But before you walk out the door, let me just say, it would be a shame to waste your gifts.” He fired at her with icy reserve.
“You girl. You have a gift for blood.”
Again, she reacted to the situation without thinking. She ran out the door and didn’t look back. He never left the table.
Weeks later and much more drunk, Neitve picked a fight with a group of four men. They were bigger, they were stronger, but in her mind, it mattered little. She had decided that if her life consisted of trying to kill herself, she might as well get to it faster. Two of the men had knives. She didn’t even try to block the first knife into her shoulder. It pierced her skin with a fiery pain. She closed her eyes in what she hoped was the end. The second knife pierced her stomach. She screamed a howl. She awaited the final death blow. It didn’t come and she opened her eyes. The warrior was back. He dispatched with the four men as if they were mice. She blinked in surprise. Then she collapsed into darkness.
When she awoke, she felt pain, but looked and found clean bandages. The warrior sat patiently at the same table where they shared meals only weeks before. He got up and walked outside the door. She followed behind him. He pointed to a small shadow in the distance. It could barely be recognized. The warrior took out a knife and threw it out at the shadow. He walked purposefully, and she bewildered, followed. They walked for several minutes before coming across a small rabbit the size of a boy’s hand.
“I gave you the choice before. By your actions, it appears as if I was wrong about you. Now having tasted death, have you decided towards life girl? Because it won’t be easy. You will have to work hard. You will have to take pain more then you ever have before. You will fight whoever I fight. You will give mercy to whoever I say. You will have to listen more then you ever have before. More than anything, you will have to trust me. If you cannot do this, then I will not seek you out again. I will not be there to save you from yourself. This is your last chance.
“Ok” Neitve croacked.
“It’s not that easy girl. Answer me the question. If you answer correctly, your training begins today. Fail, and the deal is off.” He bellowed.
“I want….I want….” She stuttered. It was in that moment that she remembered Felade and her silent courage. She had been brave for someone she didn’t know. She remembered her hate for the man she only remembered with a ring of silver and fire. She remembered the horrible cold nights filled with longing for a crust of bread. She remembered the beatings. The emotions erupted within her and she screamed loud enough to wake any of the living within ear shot, and perhaps even wake the dead. Her hands trembled before at last she said, “I want to give hurt to those who have hurt others.”
“Excellent…then you will. But you will have to show restraint. Not all battles can be fought. Some have to be picked and chosen for different reasons. Trust in me, and you will have the satisfaction of smiling on the dead of those most vile.”
In all of the sixteen years she had been alive, no one had seen Neitve smile, save for this man at this moment. She was happy and the visions of blood and destruction filled her eyes with happiness and her heart with glee. She would bring about terror.
“Alright fleabag. Now that the hard part is over, do go get yourself a bath. You smell like rotten pig!” He jested. “My name is Kell. What do they call you?”
He smiled. “Oh…the defiant one eh? This will be fun. Your first lesson starts tomorrow…provided you can get a bath fleabag”
“Yes.” She beamed.
Over the next two years, Neitve had the chance to hone her fighting skills, to bleed with Kell, and to hurt some very bad people. She learned to trust him…to anticipate his movements in battle. Her loyalty is fierce, though she is hated by most, she continues to follow the guidance of her patron. She will listen only to him. While she will never act outside of Kell’s wishes, her speech is another manner. Her tongue is sharp like a wasp. Most people cannot stand to be around her. She has long, unkempt black hair and dark eyes. However, per Kell, she always keeps a bar of soap handy.