After the Day of Red Fire that burned the surface of Greyport and forced the Mage’s Collegium to erect a stasis field (see Zot’s story here) many of the inhabitants of the city turned to life underground. Greyport was an ancient city first established by the dwarven kings of old. That meant there were miles and miles of tunnels, mines, catacombs, and sewers running throughout the rocky peninsula. Many of these deep, dark places had gone unused for centuries, but now became home for many of the displaced citizens of Greyport. Regular dragon attacks and a deep, unexplored depth ensured that the only safe place to live was just beneath the streets. Over the decades, the Undercity of Greyport came into its own. A thriving black market, a den of thieves, a place where every wicked diversion could be experienced and any foul thing could be bought or sold … but for most who lived there, it was home and it was all they ever knew…
Fiona was raised on stories of adventure. Her parents were professional scavengers, themselves born in the Undercity of Greyport. They were at home in the endless tunnels, and they carved out a reasonable, respectable life for themselves. Each day they would venture out, leaving Fiona safely in their hidden home they had found deep in the Undercity. Fiona was instructed to stay home and stay quiet while they were gone. When they came home with food and trinkets they would tell Fiona stories about explorers who would delve deep into dungeons in pursuit of treasure, just like they did. They laughed and loved, so Fiona’s first years were filled with excitement and joy.
Fiona’s parents weren’t naive. They cautioned Fiona against the strangers who lived in the Undercity. Reminded her that she could really only trust her family, and that bad people were all around. That the Undercity was dangerous, and that going out on her own meant she might never come back home. But they promised to keep her safe and that they would never let anything bad happen to her. One evening, however, it was Fiona’s parents who did not come back. As the days went by, the food ran short, and her new reality sunk in. The young girl was forced to leave her home for the sewers and tunnels… to fend for herself in the dark of the Undercity.
Fiona survived, barely. Living off scraps of food, sneaking around and staying out of sight as best she could. She wasn’t nimble or quick enough to steal fresh food or new clothes, but she was small and quiet, and went by unnoticed as she scavenged for whatever she could eat. She had enough sense to stay away from other people, having been taught that adults were untrustworthy, and the other children were no better. She travelled the tunnels, never staying rooted, constantly exploring and scraping by. With a bit of luck, Fiona lived like this for months.
There was no orphanage in the Undercity, and even if she had known of the Great Temple’s orphanage on the surface, she would never have thought to venture out of the perceived safety of the Undercity, with its shadows to hide in and endless tunnels to escape through.
By chance Fiona discovered a curious little kid one day. He was about her size, but appeared to be older, like one of the mean kids that bossed around the other urchins. But he snuck around on his own like she did, and his quick little fingers seemed to get him whatever he wanted. She had never seen anyone so talented at picking pockets or snatching things off of carts. He climbed walls and picked locks and snuck into places he shouldn’t go, and he was smiling constantly. He seemed thrilled by the danger of the Undercity, even though he lived on the surface. Fiona thought about following him out of the Undercity, but was too afraid of what she might find on the outside. So instead, she would wait near the thieves’ secluded tunnel entrance, and then spend her day following the peculiar little boy on his exploits.
Eventually, the kid found out that Fiona was following him, but he didn’t seem to mind. He started bringing her food from the surface. She never approached him for it, but each time he headed back home, he left behind a small sack of bread, cheese, or meats. The free meal gave her all the more reason to keep up with him, and over time she followed him more and more closely.
It wasn’t until she had helped him escape a sewer gang that she properly met Gerki (see Gerki’s story here). She found out that he was a halfling, and that was why he appeared so adult for such a small kid. As their friendship grew, he attempted to take her up to the surface with him and back to the orphanage, but the outside world was big and unfamiliar to her. Even though the Undercity was not kind, it was home – close, tight, and predictable. Gerki’s visits to the Undercity grew more frequent as the two of them started working together. Now that Fiona trusted him she showed him the place she had grown up in. It made for a suitable hideout in the tunnels. With a safe place to stay, Gerki ran away from the orphanage for good.
They were a surprisingly good match. Gerki was more than capable of getting them whatever they needed (within reason, of course) and Fiona knew a surprising amount about the Undercity. She showed Gerki the unused tunnels where they could scavenge for relics from the past. In turn, Gerki told her about the world above. When he learned that she loved tales about heroes and adventure, he started weaving stories based on their daily scavenging, searching and theft. It had been a long time since she had heard tales like these, and she was enthralled by the exploits of Gerki the Sneak and his friend, the brave swordswoman Fiona.
As the two grew up, Gerki became a more accomplished thief, sticking to what he knew, with ambitions for joining the thieves’ guild. Fiona, on the other hand, changed a lot as she matured. She bloomed early, and fast, her confidence and skill finally matching her instinct for survival. Fiona developed a good eye for functional equipment – durable gear that required minimal maintenance. She also started taking care of problems head-on, including those that Gerki had traditionally encouraged them to just run away from. Fiona eventually overcame her fear of the surface, but she and Gerki still called the Undercity home. Gerki taught Fiona how to read, and she consumed stories of adventurers, warriors and barbarian queens, and manuals of weapons and fighting styles. Her tenacity grew. She knew what she was going to become.
As the years went by it became obvious that she intended to become an adventurer. She loved exploring the tunnels of the Undercity. Fiona collected gear when she could, to better prepare herself for a life of heroics. She begged Gerki to help train her in swordplay – something he had to teach himself just to keep up! The halfling constantly told her that it was safer to dodge a confrontation, and that the typical heroic stuff just ended up getting you killed. She would hear none of it, insisting that his brains and skill with her brawn and instinct were a perfect match. Besides, exploring the tunnels of the Undercity was almost like being a true adventurer anyway!
There was nothing to do, so Gerki relented. He agreed to go on just one adventure with Fiona, a nice, safe one. That’s when they finally returned to the surface, and found themselves at a table one night with an Elven priestess and a black-clad wizard with his white bunny familiar.