When it Rains
Faith... just Faith.
Whether she was abandoned, or whether her parents were killed or imprisoned, Faith will never know. She was raised in an orphanage in lower Sharn, amid a crowd of other rejected and unloved children. An impoverished, understaffed, city-sponsored institution, none of the children were well-supervised or received good care.
When she was discovered on the front porch of the orphanage, Faith had no name, no note, and no way to be identified. As a changeling, the subconscious unease with which her guardians treated her rubbed off on the other children, who made her a target of their scorn; she was different, and that was all the excuse they needed to tease her, mock her, play pranks, and even hurt her when they could get away with it. At a very young age, she learned how to avoid the notice of others, hiding in shadows and nooks.
Faith did not take this abuse lying down. She developed a vindictiveness that was astonishing in its cruelty. She learned to pay back each bruise, each insult, each prank, in her own secretive way: she would creep up on the other children while they slept and strike them or cut them. She would lay traps for the other children that would embarrass or even injure them. She would discover their secrets and expose them to their best friends. But every act was done so subtly, stealthily, and with such patience that no one, not even those who had been attacked, suspected that they were her doing.
It was not until age six that she discovered that she could change her appearance. It was at that age that she chose for herself an appearance to wear: she became a human girl, with ivory skin, coal-black eyes, and hair nearly black that hinted at green.
By no means did she wear this face all the time. Quite often, she managed to avoid a gang of older children by pretending to be another ward of the orphanage. She became quite adept at imitating the other children, even down to their mannerisms and personalities, though she never did enjoy her mimicry.
It was by this talent that she managed to escape the orphanage at age nine. One of the caretakers, an elderly lady who was rather short, was to go to the market; instead, the one who left for the market was Faith.
The matron of the orphanage, harried and unable to devote more than a few minutes per day to each child, chose for her the name “Claudia” when she arrived on their doorstep. She always hated this name, and on the day she left, she chose for herself the name “Jade”, both because of the greenish tinge of her hair and because she liked the simplicity of a one-syllable name.
She spent that first year on the street, stealing to survive. She became known to some of the criminal organizations in Sharn, and soon she found herself doing jobs for them, breaking into houses and shops, stealing certain items that were wanted by her employers. She also became adept at listening to and memorizing conversations, and did a lot of spy work for several groups. Toward the end of this period of her life, she even took on assassination jobs; she became a silent blade in the night. As a child, she could easily pass in places where adults would be stopped and searched, or worse; those who employed her found this quite useful. She had learned her lesson in the orphanage, though: she never revealed to anyone that she was a changeling.
For five years she lived this way, stealing when necessary or for others, spying and investigating and sneaking about the bowels of the city. She never made friends. She never spoke to anyone unless spoken to, though she had learned to be quite persuasive when occasion demanded. She spent all of her energy trying to avoid the hatred of the world and trying to live. She never stayed anywhere long, but squatted in attics or empty tower tops, in alley trash bins and abandoned vehicles, moving nearly every night, like a stray cat. Anywhere was better than prison, though; she had spent enough nights in a jail cell to know that as immutable truth.
Her career came to a sudden halt when she was fourteen. Being a long time between jobs, she had resorted to pickpocketing again, and was on the prowl for some poor fool who was not paying close enough attention to his purse. She marked a doddering old man, who was shambling down a street. He was not well-dressed, but he seemed well-fed for such an old fellow, and that was one of the tell-tales of a good purse.
She crept up on him, waited until someone else jostled him on his other side, and slid a hand into the pocket with the slight bulge in it.
Suddenly, without warning, she was spun around, in front of the old man and facing away from him, with her arm pinned behind her back and nearly tucked up behind her own head. She did not cry out from the pain, being accustomed to staying silent in the most extreme of circumstances, but she could not get free. Had she had more time to think about it, she might have even taken the extreme measure of crying for help.
But she did not have time to think about anything. She felt a sharp sting at her neck, and the world darkened into oblivion.
When she awoke, she found that she was in a basement, shackled at wrists, ankles, and neck by a short chain was bolted into the wall. She was gagged. Her bonds were secure, but not uncomfortable.
“Ah, good. You’re awake.” The old man sat cross-legged on the floor across from her. "You are probably wondering why you are here. Contrary to what you might expect, I have no wish to hurt you.
“You see, you may have marked me, but I marked you first. A pitiful street rat like you is hardly worth my effort, but you have greatness within you. It has been the work of my life to take moral degenerates like you and turn them into people worthy of their gifts.
“You, my dear, will learn the one lesson you have not received in the course of your life: Love. You will learn to love others; to hope for their good; to work for their benefit. But first, you must learn to trust.
“I am Ewan. In a former life, I was a monk, a devotee of a dark god whom I will not name. I was a talented assassin. But I learned the folly of my hatred, and I vowed to use the skills of my mind and body to do good. For these last fifty years, I have spread good by teaching others to love. And now, I have chosen you. You, a base and utterly hate-filled creature, will leave this house a different woman.”
Ewan spent weeks simply showing kindness to the poor girl. She escaped dozens of times, but every single time, Ewan caught her and returned her to the basement. She even attempted to murder him twice, but in the event, she found him impossible to surprise and tough as nails. He disarmed her and hauled her back to her chains. Even in her disobedience, though, he did not harm her or treat her roughly.
He fed her well, and gave her every comfort. Every day, he told her how wonderful she was; not because of her skills as a thief and a murderess, which were the only qualities for which she had ever been praised; but for her intelligence, her creativity, her agility, and her grace.
He released her from her chains after a month. “You know that I could have hurt you, or killed you, or done anything I wished, and you would have been powerless to prevent it. But I care about you. I give you food from my table at my own expense. I feed you and clothe you. And now, I grant you greater liberty. You may now move freely about the house. But I must ask you not to leave, at least not yet.”
She tried, of course, at least at first. He caught her every time.
For months they lived together like this. They worked together, ate together, sat by the fire and sang songs, gave to the poor, and helped the sick and homeless. Ewan never spoke of his old life as a monk; all he would say was that it was not worth knowing. He did tell her much of his past since those days, of the good he had done, and how it had changed the lives of others. He was not boasting, but merely showing her what a life full of righteousness could be.
In time, she began to understand. She returned his love, like a devoted daughter. She did her chores and cooked supper not because she was asked, but because she wished to show her love. She performed acts of charity and did not even think to mention them to Ewan.
She still had her flaws. Having spent years stealing to survive, she could hardly be expected to give it up immediately. In fact, she often stole without being consciously aware of it; only when she discovered purses or trinkets in her pocket did she realize what she had done. However, she tried to steal only from the rich or those she knew from her past life as evil men and women. Ewan almost certainly knew what she was up to, but he did not interfere.
He taught her much, during their time together. Under his tutelage, she was instructed in mathematics, language, and courtesy. She became well-spoken and genteel, able to persuade others instead of simply doing what she wanted in spite of others.
Two years passed, and she was astonished to find that she was happy. She relished life, delighted to do good. She wore a genuine smile all day long, and spoke only words of love. She stayed with Ewan, constrained by a closer bond than fear.
The one part of her life that she disliked was that Ewan never used the name she had given herself. She told him time and again that her name was Jade, but he seemed not even to notice, instead calling her “my dear,” or “little one.”
One evening before bed time, however, he sat beside her bed as he often did, and said to her, "Until today, you have had no name in my house. You gave yourself a name, a name of despair. That name will never pass my lips.
“But today, I will give you your true name; it is the name of your soul, the name of your future. You shall be ‘Faith’. Let your name always speak the truth about you.”
From that moment, he called her only by her new name.
Faith was at the market on the day that Ewan died. She came home and found him, sitting peacefully in his chair by the fire, seemingly asleep. When she cheerfully skipped over to him to wake him, she discovered that he was no longer present in his body.
What could one expect of so young a woman, who had spent so long on the other side of the law? She fled. She ran as far away as she could, and collapsed, weeping, in an abandoned warehouse. Faith spent days wandering the streets, hardly aware of even her own hunger and thirst.
Eventually, she came to herself. Her mentor, the only father she had ever known, was dead. She would not throw away the work of the last years of Ewan’s life; she would continue to live a life devoted to goodness.
She never truly left a life of crime; it was too ingrained in her to give it up entirely. But Faith exerted herself to seek out the corrupt, the cruel, and the uncaring wealthy, take from them, and give to those in need. As she had in her past life, she found herself in prison on more than one occasion, but she always went cheerfully, with a smile on her face. Of course, with her talents, her ability to change her face, and the practice she had received when imprisoned by Ewan, no jail could hold her for long. And no policeman ever saw the same face twice.
Faith is still preoccupied with theft, which is her primary source of income. She tries to steal only from bad people, but she does still sometimes take from the middle classes or even, unwittingly, from the poor. She has pulled some major heists in her career, but as she is intent on giving away all that she can, she is constantly looking for new targets and new opportunities. One of her favorite pastimes is what she calls “anti-stealing,” which is to give to others by stealth. Sometimes she will reverse-pickpocket an unwitting widow; other times she will break into a house and leave a gift for a sickly family.
She is not limited to theft. Her ability to strike from the shadows is remarkable, and, though she does not wish to harm others, she does sometimes extinguish the life of a man or woman who has become too corrupt. Let the dark gods they have created come and claim their own, she thinks, as she wets her blade in her victim’s blood. At the scene of the crime, hidden in an obscure place, such as the corner inside a closet, or the back of the headboard of the bed, Faith leaves her calling card: a tiny, elegant little heart, carefully carved into the wood.
Though she is primarily focused on doing good, she still maintains her underworld contacts. She is frequently offered assassination jobs, but now she is more discriminating; she studies the target, and if he or she is thoroughly wicked, Faith will take the job.
Faith knows quite a few people on the other side of the law, though she does not usually present her chosen face to them. Sometimes she contacts people in another disguise, as if she were a messenger from Jade, showing them a token, a cheap brass ring with a green glass stone in it. Those that owe favors to Jade, or who have been well served by her, are usually willing to help her if it is within their means; the rest fear her reputation too much not to be of service.
A physical description of Faith is almost meaningless, as she can be anyone she chooses. However, in her natural state, she tends toward a small, slight figure. Her preferred human appearance is the same: she stands little more than five feet, and weighs less than eight stone (110 pounds).
In her chosen appearance, she has dark hair and eyes; she has grown to hate her natural appearance, and so she has chosen hair and eye color that is as far removed from her natural self as possible. Her hair is almost black, but it has a greenish hint, which can be seen in strong enough light. Her eyes are dark pools as black as soot; they are not without white, but her irises are as large as she dares to make them. In contrast, she prefers fair skin to the ugly dark gray of her natural coloring.
In all her guises, before she met Ewan, Faith kept a mark at the base of her neck, which resembled a stylized diamond gem. Since the day that he named her Faith, however, that mark has been turned into a heart. It is small, only the size of a person’s thumbnail, and is usually covered by the collar of her shirt, or hidden completely when she wears a hooded cloak. But on those rare occasions when she wears a dress, it has been noted by others, who think it is a tattoo.
Her ability to change her appearance, being well-practiced, is strong. She can imitate nearly any humanoid creature, from a rather short half-orc (six feet) down to a very tall halfling or gnome (four feet), and most anything in between. The one race which she has difficulty imitating is the dwarf; her attempts to look grave and grumpy usually result in her bursting into high-pitched squeals of laughter, and usually end in merely mocking the race, rather than imitating them.
She has several preferred appearances that she uses for various situations. Her favorites include a male elf child, an old human woman, and a middle-aged human male. These guises help her to go places where she, as her standard form, would not permit, particularly the child and the old woman.
Faith is a joyful young woman. She is constantly brimming with smiles and giggles. Her delight is to see others enriched and happy. However, in a strange combination of innate racial ability and her upbringing with Ewan, she has a strong empathy toward others, and she can usually tell, and, in fact, feel, what others are feeling. When others are sad, or angry, or afraid, she usually feels some of it herself.
Faith may seem quite vain to other people, because she often checks her appearance in a mirror. Of course, she is not looking for blemishes or for hair out of place, but to ensure that her face is correct. She must be sure that she has not slipped up and caused her appearance to alter appreciably. However, she does not often make mistakes with her guise. She is not especially vain; in fact, she hardly cares about her attractiveness, except in that it affects how well she can do her job, knowing that she can make herself as beautiful or ugly as she could wish.
Like a cat, Faith lives wherever she sleeps. She has no place that she calls home; instead, she carries all of her possessions on her back, or else she hides them in places where they cannot be found. She is quite used to sleeping in cold, uncomfortable, unfamiliar places, though she is not much used to living out of doors.
The one thing Faith has lacked is a friend. However, though she is a good person who is street-smart, persuasive, and charming, she cannot easily trust, and therefore, she is actually quite shy. Having grown up in such a harsh environment, she is more easily wounded when she is embarrassed in social situations, which only makes it more difficult to make friends.
Though Faith delights in charity, she is not an ascetic. She wants to give to herself as well as to others, to have nice things, to have plenty. However, even with Faith’s ability to blend in, she still looks like a fish out of water when she wears a courtesan’s dress.
Faith doesn’t really have secrets, per se. She is a changeling, of course, which is her biggest secret, and which she would never dare to reveal to anyone. She is also a thief and assassin; but her evil days are behind her, and the only one from whom she wishes to keep her exploits a secret is the law. Being a changeling, however, it would be almost impossible for anyone to pin even a tithe of her crimes to her. Most of the rumors about Jade would be impossible to prove, and it would be just as impossible to connect Faith to Jade.