Chari Eleanor Cross
The Inauspicious Acolyte
Chari Eleanor Cross was born on a roadside in Northern Khard, just as the caravan in which her mother was travelling was attacked and slaughtered by bandits. The newborn Chari was left to die in the mud, but was found by passing farmers, who took her in and raised her as their own. From a young age Chari was an enthusiastic, hard-working, and optimistic child, with a talent for hard manual labor. However, misfortune seemed to follow her wherever she went, and her adoptive parents were soon forced to give her up again rather than risk being ruined by any further calamities.
A monk of the Tilling Hand passed through their village about once a year, performing religious rites and sharing wisdom with the local farmers. On her thirteenth year, Chari was traded to the monk for a blessing and a goat, and taken back to the monastery. Having spent much of her childhood hearing tales of battle and adventure, Chari was deeply disappointed to discover that the Tilling Hand were no longer the warrior monks of legend but rather a sleepy order of priests, scribes, and scholars more concerned with discovering the ideal season in which to plant beets than with discovering the ideal place to punch a dragon in order to make its heart explode. Chari’s short attention span made her an ill fit for many of the monastery’s tasks, but she earned her keep through hard labor and spent her spare time in the library, pretending to read old agricultural treatises while sneaking as much time as she could with stories of romance and derring-do.
It was during one of these expeditions into the library that she quite by accident stumbled upon the ancient scrolls containing the secret martial arts of the Tilling Hand, which had been mis-filed by a librarian several generations ago and which no one had ever thought to look for. Without a proper teacher among the present-day monks, Chari began to painstakingly teach herself the arts through study and repetition, filling in the gaps in the scrolls as best she could. She practiced in secret by the light of the moon, and slowly but surely mastered techniques that had been lost to the monastery for centuries. It was a great surprise to everyone, then, when a band of bugbears staged a raid on the monastery and the 17-year-old Chari beat them senseless.
The abbots of the monastery found themselves with a problem on their hands: they had an acolyte who was absolutely useless at the reading, transcribing, and teaching that was the actual purpose of their monastery, but who had managed to train herself into a rather formidable warrior monk, a task that no one had asked or wanted her to do. They had begun to notice the misfortune that followed the girl, and feared that there was worse to come, but given her years of faithful service to the monastery they felt that it would be unjust to expel her from the Order. Besides which it had been four years and none of them really felt comfortable asking for the goat back. In their collective wisdom they decided that the best course of action was to send the young girl on a quest far away, which should give them at least enough time to come up with a better idea than that. Thus was created the Path of One Hundred Tales, Chari’s final test before awarding her the rank of master. After conferring among themselves again, the abbots all agreed that actually, one thousand sounded like a much better number. Thus was created the Path of One Thousand Tales.
Determined to prove herself, Chari set out to gather the wisdom of the world and return it to her humble monastery. In just the first few months of her journey she managed to make a number of friends, including a gallant and chivalrous gentleman she met in a tavern, a wandering knight in search of love, and a farm boy with an air of destiny about him. Together, she hopes that they can not just complete her quest, but also make the world a better place!