Apata

The Short Story:

Her name is Apate Shadowhawk and she is in her early 20’s though her age is not known. She comes from rural farming village and from a large family but was ostracized when she was young and forced to live on the streets of a nearby town. In the town she was noticed by an older woman (mid 30’s) named Keiko who is a master spy and skilled in the art of deceit, disguise, and manipulation. Keiko takes Apate to be her apprentice and teaches her all she knows. And upon her ‘graduation’ she gives her bow and an endless quiver of arrows and tells her a legend of her homeland. In the story Keiko mentions a magic bow and arrow carved from a rare magical tree that if she finds the tree that she must also find an extremely skilled bow maker gifted enough to carve them. So Apate travels the countryside looking for the tree but more over looking for the vindication and the skill to show others that her skills are not necessarily ill begotten while having a little fun along the way.

The Long Story:

Apate grew up outside a small sheltered and conservative farming village where she was the youngest of many children born to very poor parents. Her parents were allowed to farm a small acreage of the local lord, as long as they paid him in a portion of their harvests. As Apate was the youngest she was not quite old enough to be put to the fields to help, so she was frequently found underfoot in the house and in general being very mischievous by trying to get her siblings to play with her and when they wouldn’t, she would get them into trouble. For several years, things went as well as they could, her family was able to grow enough to pay the lord, eat, and the sell the small remainder either at market or to trade with others in the community. Apate tended to follow her siblings on their trips to town although she was not allowed, but she was rarely noticed and if her absence was noted at home it was often relished as a few hours of quiet time void of pranks and horseplay was always something not to be squandered by the other family members. On these trips she grew to love the villages and towns that they frequented, she watched the other citizens and noted their speech and actions and tried to mimic them.

One summer around her 12th year, the village and the farms were struck by a horrific drought. Not knowing how else to make ends meet, Apate’s siblings went to town more frequently to attempt to sell whatever things they could farm and what every items they could sell as well. Apate while not fully understanding their position tried to help in whatever ways she could, all the while doing things in secret. She would use her various skills to take food from other carts so her siblings could sell more than they actually possessed or to take home. She also realized that she could trick and convince people a little easier than other, but didn’t think anything of it. Until one day as she was trying to take a small cabbage from an unsuspecting shopkeeper, one of her eldest siblings surprised her. But that was the least of her problems as her elder sibling was shocked to see the cabbage levitate behind Apate’s shocked figure for a second longer than was natural before falling to the ground and alerting the shopkeeper. The enraged shop keep forced her siblings to flee the market, leaving everything behind for fear of jail time.

Once her parents and family learned of her actions and her scandalous skill set, she was cast out as being unnatural and a black mark on the poor family. She was told to forget her family and to forget who she had been. She was driven as far as the limits of the nearest town and told to stay away for fear of more ill-luck befalling the family.

This particular town was one that her family did not frequent as much as the rest, so she was able to slip in unnoticed yet again. And it wasn’t long before she had to rely on her skills to live. She outright stole food by creating distractions and lifting the object of her attention. She solidified her practice of mimicry of the languages she heard until she became fluent. She was able to seeming change persona to fit the occasion in case anyone did notice her. Though this was not always the case. Because unbeknown to her she was being watched by a woman who was also hidden in the shadows. This woman, while exotic in looks and seemingly memorable, was able to be forgotten in the shadows and in other minds with ease. Her name was Keiko and she had taken an interest in the young sorcerer scrounging on the streets. She approached Apate one morning, remarking on a particular difficult feat that she had observed her pull off the day before and convinced the young girl that there was still much to learn and that she could help.

Over the next few years Keiko taught Apate the ways of using trickery to get her desires. She taught her how to play others weaknesses against themselves and how to manipulate them and their senses. She taught her how to seemingly disappear if need be.

So on the anniversary of the town incident, her mentor told her that she must now utilize all that she has learned for Keiko could teach her no more. And that she would have to go out into the world to hone her abilities. But to be careful for her abilities would only protect her so far, so she gives her a present of a beautiful composite longbow with a quiver holding several arrows which never seems to empty. She then tells her pupil of a magnificent bow of legend from her old home. A bow that if carved from a specific magical tree only needed one arrow as it could be retrieved with a pluck of the string, though it would take many years of searching to find the tree from which this bow is to be carved and a bow maker skilled enough to carve the arrows as it’s location has been lost to time. The older woman then leads her apprentice into a nearby clearing and teaches Apate her final lesson. She gaves her the bow and She shows her how to aim and fire but more curiously was that when Apate took aim for the first time, a noise in the bushes distracted her at the last moment causing the arrow to veer off course. Readying her next arrow she pivoted an took aim at the disturbance to find a large hawk sitting eerily on a branch watching her as she lowered her bow. She remembers seeing this bird once before in the town square when she had levitated the cabbage but had forgotten in the trauma that followed. Keiko laughs scornfully and mentioned that she had wondered when the girl would notice this feathered shadow that had been following her since the accident, and introduced the bird to the young girl as her familiar. And while Apate watches and tries to approach the wild looking hawk, Keiko disappeared seeming into the shadows and was slowly forgotten.

Since then Apate has been wandering the countryside with her hawk, Loa, practicing her skills and starting some trouble along the way. And while she still harbor resentment towards her family she still tries to secret some coin into the family’s coffer whenever she passes near her old village on her various adventures. She is still searching for the tree from which the magic bow is to be carved while she tries to improve her bow crafting so that when the time comes it will be she will craft it.

Apata

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