Anastrianna Galanodel or Ana for short – is free spirited to say the least. She left her family of Moon Elves barely being old enough to claim her adult name. There was a yearning in her that all the magic in the groves couldn’t fill. She set out on the adventure of a lifetime. She met strangers, danced in taverns, drank with dwarves, traveled with Gypses for a time where she let her hair grow long and she stopped bathing… But that’s a different story.
One night, in a small town tavern, she got into a drinking competition. There were dwarves and humans and Halflings and giants at this tavern all wagering on who could drink the most. Ana held on long, coming in 3rd. Staggering, the human she had just out lasted came up to her. They collapsed at a nearby table in a fit of laughter and drunkenly discussed the night’s challenge and how much gold each of them had lost.
Ana woke up in the man’s bed the next morning with little memory of what happened. She hurried away, figuring she would never see him again. A little under a year later, she returned to that small town in search of him.
The innkeeper knew of Malcer Stormwing. He had worked around town awhile doing odd jobs to earn enough money to move on. He left a few months ago. The innkeeper seemed to think he was heading to Anishton, the nearest major city. Ana thanked him and left. A young man stopped her before she had gone far. The city road could be a dangerous trip for an armed man, let alone a woman and babe. He was heading to the city market and had room in his cart for her if she wanted. Exhausted from traveling and keeping a baby fed and entertained and bathed, she accepted.
Kevnan was the innkeeper’s son. He was strong and a valuable asset to the inn, but he wanted to travel. Ana’s stories of her time in the world fascinated him. She explained to him how she was looking for the baby’s father. Kevnan promised to help her.
The two arrived in Anishton three days later. They found rooms at the Dragon’s Wing Inn. After settling the baby near the fire to keep her cozy, Ana struck up a conversation with the innkeeper’s wife and Kevnan went out to find any mention of Malcer. The two had no luck. Market day was the following day though and Kevnan thought they would have the best luck there.
Market day in Anishton was always busy. It was the monthly market for all the local farmers and smaller cities to gather and sell their goods and buy supplies for the next month. The city swarmed with people. Surely one of them had heard of Malcer. Ana left her baby at Kevnan’s stand while he sold his goods. She wandered through the streets, basking in the temporary freedom. She wandered into a lively sounding inn. People were shouting and cheering. She made her way farther inside and found two men sitting in the middle of the group having an arm wrestling competition. One man was burley, his linen shirt hugging tight muscles. He chugged a beer with his free hand, seemingly unaware of the other man straining across the table from him. The other man had dark hair, fair skin and a lean but muscular frame. He was focused on the challenge in front of him, but she caught a glimpse of his eyes. Steely gray and piercing. She couldn’t forget those eyes.
Malcer noticed her and lost focus for half a second, which was just enough for the other man to slam his hand to the table. Groans of disappointment and cheers of delight went through the crowd. He shook out his hand and made his way toward her. Spending the night with an Elf was not something you forgot quickly. She looked worn down and slightly plumper than he remembered. That was just his luck he thought, the graceful, lithe creature from his memory was a drunken enhancement. He still planned to tell people about the mythical beauty he seduced for a night.
Relief washed over Ana as Malcer came closer. She saw recognition in his eyes with a hint of what she thought was disappointment but she couldn’t fathom why. She pulled him out of the crowded dining room and found a quite hallway to talk to him. She explained to him about their daughter and how she needed him to take her and raise her right because she couldn’t do it, she couldn’t be tied down like this and their daughter needed someone more stable than her. She needed her daughter safe and healthy and that wasn’t something she was able to provide, she didn’t know how. Malcer’s face twisted from shock to fear to set resolve.
Malcer could see the fear of a trapped animal in her eyes as she pleaded with him to take their infant daughter. How could he say no? It was plain to see his daughter would not have the life she deserved with this woman. His image of her shattered for a second time in a matter of minutes. This woman was not responsible and was not the mature being he thought of her. He agreed to take the infant the next day, enough time for him to get some of his affairs in order.
Ana handed over baby Rhaella the next day. She left a letter with Malcer to give her on her 20th birthday, when she was an adult and might be able to sympathize with a mother she never would know. Malcer saw a visible darkness lift off Ana the moment the baby was in his arms. She smiled a dazzling smile that had entrapped him last year as she walked away, grabbing the arm of a strong man and hanging off him in a seductive way.
Malcer spent the first five years in Anishton raising his daughter. The local women took pity on his situation and helped him learn how to buy the right clothes for her and how to do her hair in different ways so the other kids wouldn’t stare. After the fifth year, though, his wanderlust got the better of him and the two of them set out on the road. He taught her everything he knew and sought out wise people in villages to add to her knowledge. Any time he found an elf or anyone with knowledge of the elven ways, he convinced them to teach his daughter. He wanted her to know that half of her parentage as much as he could give to her. Once, they spent the better part of a year with an Elven songstress who taught Rhaella elfish songs.
When Rhaella was grown, she stayed traveling with her father. The letter her mother left her explained the hardship it was to leave her behind and begged her to understand what it was like as a young mother away from the groves. Her mother said that she loved her immensely even in the short time before she left. Rhaella kept the letter with her, but her father had never made her feel unwanted or lonely. He had greatly filled the role of both parents and her life of travel never left a dull moment. It had led to her becoming a bard herself. Rhaella cried for weeks when her father passed away, but he had died content in his bed with her by his side. She continued to travel alone mostly after he was gone. Everywhere she went she kept an eye out for signs of her mother, wondering what she would do if she ever ran into her, sure it was bound to happen some day.