Cay "Bubbles" Brandkindle
A quiet, somewhat twitchy halfling who carries a pipe with her at all times, which she often uses to blow bubbles. Seems to have difficulty reading.
Born and raised in captivity, Cay was little more than a guinea pig for the experiments of her Dragonkin slavemasters. Their lust for power drove them to repeatedly and by a variety of means plunge subjects toward the theoretical elemental chaos from which all are born and to which all, in death, return. The experiments were designed with the intent to draw out some of that raw elemental power as subjects’ souls were repeatedly dragged back from the brink.
After enough iterations, or perhaps some dumb luck, the experiments succeeded.
Cay, although Zephyrborn, began showing signs of affinity with the other elements, beginning with the element of water. After this, her captors seemed to lose interest in her. Meanwhile, the developments brought a new spark of life to subject 17afY, an old man who was bought what felt like ages ago and who had long since had his spirit broken. 17afY began to (for lack of a more fitting term) exposition dump his life’s story to Cay and told her that, should she ever escape, she should find Hawkin Coutreau, who would help her if he knew where she came from. He also gave her a message to deliver (memorized as characters, as Cay was illiterate).
With time, her captors began to isolate her from the other subjects. While she may not have been afforded the luxury of a proper education and an abundance of experience in social interactions, it was clear to her that her Dragonkin captors’ disinterest and her isolation meant that they were trying to reproduce their results in other subjects and as soon as they did, she would be of no further use to them. She knew that once she was expendable, they wouldn’t bother bringing her back from death’s door. After all, why share the fruits of their labors with a slave? Escape was the only chance she had to avoid an untimely death.
Cay used her ability to manipulate water to slowly but surely carve through the stone walls of her cell, first cutting away the mortar surrounding the rock closest to her size to create a doorway, then using the dust and dirt she created while tunneling to conceal any evidence of her work. Once she breached the outer wall, she fled and never looked back.
The lab was located on an island in the Rissal Archipelago, a chain of small islands clustered on the edge of Akshiva and the Plane of Water far to the west. In order to flee the island, Cay lashed together fallen tree limbs and fashioned a raft, then set sail (guiding the breeze Wind Waker style) for “anywhere but here,” settling on a course that took her toward a mountain on the horizon (which she would later discover was The Axis).
After arriving on the mainland, Cay worked through what cover she could find, sticking to forests whenever possible in the hopes of throwing off any pursuers. She ran as far and as fast as she could, but after several days, hunger and exhaustion were catching up to her. She came upon a small farm tucked away in the woods and hid in the barn. Here she was found by the husband of the Halfling couple who owned the land. Binton Brandkindle and his wife, Idri, in their advanced age, took Cay in for a time, treating her as they would have treated their own daughter, Sytina, who had long since moved on to start her own family. They taught Cay skills so that she might repay them for shelter with labor on their farm.
In time, Cay confided in them that she was an escaped slave and was looking for a man by the name of Hawkin Coutreau. Neither of them knew of Hawkin, but Idri claimed to have once met someone who went by the alias “Stringfellow” in the city of Tamarack Row who was an expert at finding both things and people. Idri provided Cay with a bell which she claimed was magical and would, with the help of Tamarack Row’s magic, would help Cay find Stringfellow.
As a parting gift, Binton gave Cay a book she had spent hours poring over, telling her “For as lost as you get in that book, you might as well keep it for when you learn how to read the whole thing. Heck, might come in handy, too! Gotta admit, I don’t even remember how I got that thing in the first place.” Idri, meanwhile, gifted Cay a doll that had once belonged to Sytina (which Cay was quick to name “Agnes”).
Packing anything and everything she might need for a long journey, Cay set out for Tamarack Row…