Yuan-ti raiding parties from the jungles around the capital city of Vex, the seat of power for the Tabarran nation, where becoming an almost daily occurrence but Farina barely noticed. Her 13th birthday was in a couple of days and her father had promised her something special.
Her father, a master blacksmith to the House of Moop, the current ruling family of not only Vex but all of the Tabarran nation, always managed to surprise her with something new and creative. He had hinted that this year, since it’s her coming of age year, it would be an even more special gift.
Castle Vex, where her father worked and she lived, sat atop the highest cliff overlooking the rest of Vex, the ocean to the west and the deep jungle to the east. From way up in her window in the servants wing of the castle, the skirmishes where Tabarran guards fought and died defending Vex from Yuan-ti raids almost looked like toy soldiers at play.
Farina loved her music. Unlike her father, who wrought his art out of iron with hammer and forge, Farina plucked strings on her axena, a stringed instrument that had been popular with all catfolk like herself for as long as anyone could remember.
When the strings were plucked, it not only made a sweet pure tone but the body of the instrument seemed to purr along with the notes. It was beautiful, it was soothing.
Farina’s father, Toecha was also a friend of Misham Moop, head of House Moop and current ruler of all of Tabarra. King Misham had offered to have Farina play at court on her 13th birthday. She was excited and terrified. It was an amazing honor.
The morning of her birthday, she woke to a large gift box sitting in the corner of her room, and plumes of smoke on the horizon. She barely noticed the smoke as she ran to the gift box. Just then, her father was coming into her room to wake her, “Well my girl, I see you are up bright and early today. I wonder why!” He looked at her with love for her flowing out of him.
She tore the paper wrapping away to reveal an ornate case made of beautiful Ebon wood. Black and dense, and almost as smooth as glass “Jelsen, the master carpenter helped me with the case,” Toecha said. She unlatched the lid of the case to reveal a beautiful axena like none she had ever seen before. Her father spoke, “I know I am no musician, that is not one of my gifts but I love that it is yours. I cannot build you an axena out of wood but I thought one made out of metal would be pleasing and help protect you.”
The neck of the axena looked the same as the one she had now, A fretboard with frets and tuning knobs at the top but the body was ... different. It was a similar pear shape but it was dominated by a blade running down the bottom edge. “Farina, I fear you may have to use you axena for more than music. I want you to always be safe.” He looked to the smoke billowing on the horizon.
She picked up the instrument. It was surprisingly light considering it was mostly iron. She noticed that her father, a master of his craft, had hollowed out the body to reduce weight. She plucked a string and it made a sharp tone, one that demanded to be noticed and the body … didn’t purr exactly, it was more like a growl. She was in love.
She hugged her father tightly and she sat down with her new axena - she named it simplly, Axe, and played right up until her recital at court.
She was beckoned in before King Misham, Axe in hand. She noticed immediately that the atmosphere at court was different. There were mumblings among the guests, messengers came up on several occasions to whisper in the King’s ear but she got to play nonetheless. And, oh boy, did she give them a show!
It was like nothing they had ever heard before. Instead of the soothing sounds of an axena, they got the heart thumping aural assault of AXE. They could do nothing but nod their heads in time. It was a sweaty, visceral experience for all at court. The crowd roared with applause. Farina was euphoric. Her birthday was all she could hope for.
As she finished her performance, a bloodied royal guard burst into the room “Sire, they are at the castle gates! Yuan-ti in numbers as yet unheard of.” King Misham stood up, drew his sword “To the walls. All hands to the walls!”
Toacha came up to Farina, his blacksmith’s hammer in hand, “Farina, go to your room, bar the door and open it for no one except me!” She ran to her room, visions of guards on the walls around her, some shooting arrows others falling off the walls, screaming.
She got to the servants wing just as the portcullis of the castle was breached. The door to her home was in sight but just as she was about to reach it, a Yuan-ti appeared from the adjacent hallway. Her eyes widened, her heart raced as she backed away from it.
She grabbed Axe by the fretboard so she could wield it as a weapon. Terror had overtaken her, she looked for someplace to run but there was nowhere to go. At that moment, she saw a vision of Amoria, the Goddess of Light. The goddess spoke to her. “It’s alright child, you are protected by my light. Use your gifts and help those you love.”
Farina closed her eyes, took a centering breath. Clutched axe tightly and charged at her enemy.
That day, Farina became a Herald of Amoria. A paladin that would shine Amoria's light across all of Tabarah.