Lanterns in the Mist
A student from Ustalev.
Short, slight, with pale skin and pale blonde hair. Wears dark glasses, and clearly has impaired vision. She has a pet snowy owl, that is usually nearby. She dresses in stylish, but rather understated clothes, usually in shades of grey and black. Using a Hat of Disguise, Katarzyna is able to make her appearance more like that of a normal human, as pictured below.
A Selection from Lorrimor Journal #34-
“Ludzifyr Lis was already an old man that fateful night when a wild-eyed young woman pounded on the heavy door of the lighthouse that Ludzifyr tended. It was an exceptionally bad night, with cold, damp and an impenetrable mist that seemed to cling to everything it touched. Ludzifyr didn’t even realize that the pounding was at the door at first, the sound of the restless waters and the rocks far below all but drowned out the sound.
Ludzifyr had not lived at the lighthouse for very long, only a few short years. But his many years at the monastery had trained him for what he encountered that night, the desperate, waning sanity in the eyes of the young woman and her advanced pregnancy. Ludzifyr managed to calm the woman, who gave her name as Yrzsala. She did not give him her last name, only her given name. When Ludzifyr gently questioned Yrzsala about her pregnancy, she began trembling and shaking, and crying uncontrollably. It took him a long time to calm her again, so he tried to focus on making her warm, dry, and comfortable. Ludzifyr was solitary by nature, a holdover from his life at the monastery, but he welcomed the distraction of his young visitor and hoped he could help her through her troubles. He surmised that she had run away from her village, or had been driven out. Perhaps the child was one she did not want, indeed, Yrzsala did not look old enough to be married. Ludzifyr prepared a comfortable bed for Yrzsala, some food, and bade her sleep, which she did.
Yrzsala stayed with Ludzifyr for several weeks after that. Slowly, Ludzifyr began to piece together the story of the young girl. He had guessed correctly, she was trying to hide her pregnancy from her family, and she was not married. She would not say the name of the man who had fathered her child, nor would she discuss the circumstances of the night she conceived. Any time the conversation lingered too close to the subject of her pregnancy, she grew agitated. Eventually Ludzifyr resolved that he would wait until after the child was born, when Yrzsala was happily cradling her babe, to broach the subject again. But it was not to be.
Yrzsala’s time came quickly, but her suffering was great. Ludzifyr knew a great deal about the process of birthing a child, but it was all knowledge he had gleaned from books, so his practical experience was virtually nonexistent. He was supernally calm, however, as was his way. His calm reassured Yrzsala in the brief moments of respite from her labor. These moments were few.
Eventually, Yrzsala birthed her child, a girl. Ludzifyr managed to clean up the baby and take care of the mother, and soon Yrzsala had drifted off into an exhuasted sleep, her infant in her arms. Ludzifyr, himself exhausted, climbed up to his room to get some sleep himself.
He awoke to screams unlike any he had ever heard. He rushed down to Yrzsala, who was writhing in a corner of the room, her sanity all but gone. He looked around for the infant, who was herself crying loudly on the bed she had been birthed upon. Ludzifyr rushed over to the infant and scooped her up to soothe her. Yrzsala screamed incoherently at him, and eventually he realized that she was terrified of her young daughter for some reason. The infant, for her part, quickly quieted when the gentle monk hugged her close. Yrzsala shook her finger at the child, and bade Ludzifyr to look upon her. In that moment, Ludzifyr knew all.
The infant who had indeed been pale at birth, had not shown the obvious signs of her heritage until that moment. Her perfect face was a thing of beauty, except for her eyes. The eyes would have struck terror in the heart of a lesser man, but Ludzifyr was no rube. The infant’s eyes were featureless pools of deepest black. He recognized her as Caliban, as perhaps that rare creature, the Banshee. Ludzifyr was so dumbstruck by the revelation of the girl’s nature, that he did not notice that the screaming had stopped. Yrzsala was gone.
Ludzifyr, still carrying the infant, ran down the stone steps to the lighthouse entrance. He peered out into the bright morning landscape, but could find no trace of Yrzsala. The infant whimpered at the bright sun, still low on the horizon, and squeezed her eyes shut, though Ludzifyr noticed that the sunlight did not seem to harm her. Ludzifyr called out to Yrzsala several times. He heard a scream high above, and looked up to see that Yrzsala had not run down to the ground level, as he had expected, but had gone to the top of the lighthouse. Ludzifyr rushed back into the lighthouse and bounded up the steps as fast as his old legs would carry him, careful not to let the infant come to harm.
Yrzsala was sobbing uncontrollably when Ludzifyr reached the top. He tried to comfort her, but she would have no comfort. It was then that she told Ludzifyr that she had sinned against nature, against the gods, and had lain with a man, a man who was touched by undeath. Yrzsala then lunged for Ludzifyr, grabbing at the babe in his arms. Ludzifyr acted without thinking, instinctively stepping away and shielding the babe with his own body. Yrzala’s momentum carried her past him, and down the dark steps. Ludzifyr heard a sickening sound as her body tumbled down the stone steps. He knew she was dead before he set foot on the steps.
He made his way down to the girl, and as he had surmised, the fall had indeed killed her. Ludzifyr was alone, and had a Caliban infant and the corpse of a young woman to attend to. He did the only sensible thing, he buried the young woman on a high bluff overlooking the sea, and carved an exceptional stone to mark her grave. He also set out to raise the young Banshee in a tradition few of her kind had ever known, with love, kindness and protection.
The young girl was named Katarzyna, after Ludzifyr’s mother. She grew up quickly, and was exceptionally bright and had a charming, sweet demeanor and an almost supernaturally beautiful singing voice. Katarzyna loved to sing for her father. Visitors were rare at the lighthouse, and Ludzifyr rarely ventured out to Karcau, the nearest town, for supplies. The lighthouse was quite self-sufficient, and Ludzifyr was quite skilled and self-reliant. Katarzyna was taught in the monastic tradition, though instead of religion, she studied the sciences and mathematics, as well as literature and languages. Ludzifyr knew that the girl had been touched by magic from the moment she was conceived, and that she would one day return to magic. He wanted her to be prepared for that day.
When she was 10 years old, and already fluent in three languages, Ludzifyr sat down with her to have a serious talk. Ludzifyr told the tearful child that he was dying, and that he would be dead within a year. He also handed her a box, wrapped in cloth and tied with string. She opened the gift, which turned out to be spectacles, though oddly made spectacles. Ludzifyr had made them himself in his workshop, where he made all the metal and glass fittings for the lighthouse, as well as the toys and trinkets Katarzyna had played with as a child. He told Katarzyna that he had made the spectacles to hide the feature that most indelibly marked her as a Caliban, for of course he had explained the reality of her situation many years prior. With the glasses, she would be able to pass as a normal human girl with poor eyesight, and she must be careful to maintain that subterfuge. He resolved to take her into town more often while he still could, and indeed, they went every other week after that for some time.
Unbeknownst to Katarzyna, Ludzifyr had been corresponding with a man at the University of Lepidstadt, a man who had served with Ludzifyr at the monastery. This man was Janusz Kel, and he was a master of documents and tomes, who worked at the university’s vast library. Ludzifyr was making arrangements for Katarzyna’s future, that she should continue her studies in an unofficial capacity and board at the school until she came of age to enter the school formally. Ludzifyr knew that this was his beloved daughter’s only hope of survival, to enter the cloister of academia, where superstition and fear were less likely to harm her.
As Ludzifyr’s time was drawing near, he told Katarzyna of his plan to send her off to school. The young girl was terrified of leaving her father, but he was always able reassure her and convince her of the wisdom of his ways. They had moved to Karcau by this point, and a new caretaker was running the lighthouse Katarzyna had called home since her birth. Eventually the day came for Katarzyna to leave her father and go to the University. Ludzifyr put on a brave face, and convinced his dear daughter that he would come visit her in Lepidstadt very soon, but he knew he had only days left to live. They bid a tearful farewell and Ludzifyr looked out at the road long after the coach had taken Katarzyna away. Two days later, Ludzifyr fell into a deep sleep and by the end of the third day, he was dead.
Katarzyna received word of her father’s death at school, and her grief almost overwhelmed her for months afterward. Slowly, very slowly, she began to make connections with the staff of the library of Lepidstadt, the pale, sickly, but very polite girl was a delight to Janusz Kel and his colleagues, who looked after her until she was 13 years old. Katarzyna had a way of charming everyone around her, especially if they heard her sing, though many found her singing rather melancholy.
Katarzyna was a phenomenal student, a prodigy, surpassing many of her classmates quickly. She became friendly with a young woman named Kendra Lorrimor. There were presumably a few people that thought there was something odd or unnatural about Katarzyna, but Kendra may have been the first to accurately deduce what that something was. Kendra gently asked Katarzyna about it one day, and the years of secrecy had heightened Katarzyna’s paranoia to the point that talking with Kendra about it was a welcome relief. They remained close from then on, though they often spent long stretches of time apart, since their studies took them in different directions quite frequently.
Katarzyna knew that because of her nature, she had a natural affinity for undeath. She knew that the affinity could be used in many ways, but she resolved to use her abilities to fight the restless dead wherever they might be found, to take the heritage she was given, and destroy creatures like that which her own father must have been. In some ways, her studies were a quest to find the identity of her father. She searched the archives for everything she could find about the undead, and about necromancy, and it was this that caught the attention of Kendra’s father, Petros Lorrimor.
Professor Lorrimor arranged to meet with Katarzyna through Kendra. Katarzyna was quite wary of the gruff old man at first, but she quickly became at ease with him. The Professor was kind to Katarzyna in a way that reminded her of Ludzifyr, and he seemed to delight in the insights that Katarzyna helped him discover about undeath and necromancy, and she delighted in the increased confidence in her magical abilities that she gleaned from her studies with the professor."
After Professor Lorrimor returned to his home town of Ravengro, Katarzyna expected to continue her studies at the university indefinitely, but in her estimation there were now very few people who could teach her anything she didn’t already know. Janusz Kel had died the previous winter, and she had few remaining friends at the university. She was almost ready to move back to Karcau when a letter arrived informing Katarzyna of Professor Lorrimor’s death. Katarzyna was inconsolable, but she was determined to pay her respects to the man who had taught her more than anyone except Ludzifyr Lis, her father. It was a great tragedy of Katarzyna’s life that her father had not had a funeral, and had been dead and buried without ceremony before she even knew it had happened. She would not allow another such tragedy, she would say goodbye to this second father properly. She would travel to Ravengro.