Samantha "The Panther" Greer
Cage fighter and rougher-upper for hire
HEIGHT: 5’ 9"
AGE: mid- to late-20s
SEX/GENDER: reports vary, see below
COMMON ALIASES: Sam, cage-fighting moniker “The Panther”
WHAT IS KNOWN: Rides a dromedary camel named Booga and does not appear to own or rent a home. Conversational fluency in orcish, but writing proficiency in dwarvish is poor. Seems to have never left the island of Islas Memstara, but has impressive (though rather out-of-date) knowledge of geography and civilization abroad. Many identifiable tattoos, which are detailed in appendix E-23; heavy scarring on right hand, among other less distinctive scars. Exact sex is vague: Sam avoids using gendered pronouns to refer to him, her, or theirself and never corrects anyone that does.
Samantha Greer’s earliest memories were of nothing but cold nights, dusty mornings, and struggles for midday shade.
This life of a simple urchin was forever changed when a certain traveller appeared in Tok. The Traveller was huge, with an imposing frame, and rode a powerful-looking camel draped thoroughly with bags and rolls containing unpredictable items. Despite the warm season, layers of cloaks and robes enveloped the head and body of the odd visitor.
Napping to forget the heat, Sam was roused awake by heavy, gentle ungulate steps; a tired gaze upward showed a lively mountain cast against the brightness.
Sam squinted to bring features into focus and felt strange feelings of destiny and purpose that would not be understood for many years.
The grand shape spoke.
- Excuse me, young one, but I am a Traveller, and I am new to this city. Do you know where a bazaar is? I’d like to set up a shop for a while.
Despite fatigue from the elements and malnourishment, Sam saw the opportunity and sprang up, eyes wide and direct.
= I can show you! That’ll be two gold pieces!
The Traveller saw fire in those eyes. A massive hand shuffled in a mass of cloths and handed to the small human a single gold coin.
- One for now…
Sam’s brow furrowed with irritation.
- …and a second when we arrive.
Sam’s eyes softened with understanding.
The Traveller noticed this and emitted an sigh of satisfaction, invisible through the supple armour.
With a spirited bound, Sam led the big Traveller and mount.
= C’mon! I’ll take you the quickest way!
A quiet rumble emitted from Sam’s follower, and so they went.
After a little ways, Sam slowed and fell in line with the Traveller, looking far up at where a head might be, yet still clearly aware of the road ahead. Curiosity won over discretion.
= So, uh, whatcha doing here? You here to sell stuff? Where ya from?
The Traveller mulled carefully for a moment.
- Indeed, I am a merchant of various sorts. I have wares from the main continent, and I thought it prudent to cross the ocean and try my means here.
= So you’re from the really big island, not this one?? What’s this weird thing you’re riding?
- Goodness, so many questions!
The Traveller’s head turned, and, though any face was concealed, a sharp gaze was as clearly real as a stiff breeze.
- That is a good thing.
Sam continued to look above while silently contemplating; the Traveller returned to looking forward. Sam gestured simple twists and turns in their path, some taking them down obscure alleys and back roads.
- To answer your last question, this creature is a camel. They are quite common at the edges of the Great Wastes on the continent. Now, let me ask you a question: what are you called, young one?
= My name’s Saman- uh, Sam. What’s yours?
- Well, my camel I have named Nyshymm, and I am called Bhalasar.
= Here we are!
Sam leaped ahead a few steps as if accompanied with fanfare. A loud ruckus and convoluted bustle filled all the senses. Shops and stores and boutiques of all imaginable varieties were scattered about, apparently at random. The peak of the Traveller’s figure pivoted slowly, perhaps scanning the scene with hidden eyes. A few seconds later, both tourist and guide started together with strangely-mutual excitement.
- Well! Shall we find a spot for me to set up my wares? Then your job is done!
Perhaps due to their combined intensity, a suitable gap in the market space was quickly located. In a sudden flash, the most movement Sam had yet seen of him, the Traveller dismounted and began to unfurl a tent. Sam stood and fidgeted, but kept careful attention. After not long, Bhalasar had a simple but comfortable place to sit and barter. A gold coin was produced just as the first one.
- And here is your second gold coin! Thank you so much for your help, Sam.
Bhalasar went back to unloading his goods, alleviating Nyshymm’s load. Sam did not leave, but walked in a tiny circle, idly kicking up dust as if waiting for something long overdue. A small, seemingly deliberate amount of time passed until Bhalasar turned back to an anxious Sam.
- Sam? What, if I may ask, are you doing?
= Well, um. I was hoping to hear some stories, like about that big isl- uh, continent and The Great Wastes…
So Sam stayed with the Traveller Bhalasar at his shop, where he sold and traded voraciously most of the days, all while telling Sam tales of his life as a merchant. Sam found a way to contribute too: dancing and, growing stronger with the weeks, performing acrobatics to attract customers. Bhalasar happily gave payment with modest meals, new clothes, and ever more engaging descriptions of places, people, and journeys. Every night they slept side-by-side nestled against Nyshymm, drifting off to each other’s stories and songs.
After several weeks, Sam awoke to Bhalasar strapping his assortments, some new, some old, to Nyshymm’s girth. Bleary-eyed, Sam asked what was the matter; gathering himself, Bhalasar explained that it was time for him to leave. He could not take the poor, young thing with him, but he promised to return and that the stories would continue.
Sam lamented the departure but also found new purpose and vigilance. Where there was once only despair and desperation, there was now business, optimism, and a constant, bold thirst for opportunity. The experience out front of Bhalasar’s shop served well, as Sam was able to maintain a meagre living dancing and performing. This well-developed strength and dexterity caught the eye of low criminal employers and, always looking for new chances, Sam became an occasional thief. After becoming older, the jobs included bigger acts of robbery, physical harassment, and on rare occasions assassination. But whenever Bhalasar returned, about every year or two, it would all stop. Sam would return to being a simple store-front dancer and listener for those precious weeks.
One peculiar night, Bhalasar and Sam readied themselves to sleep at the end of an unusually quiet day. Settling into Nyshymm’s warmth, Sam finally mustered the courage to ask a question that had been nagging all day.
= Bhalasar, have you always been a merchant? You said you’d never been to Tok until just a few years ago. What’d you do before then?
There was a long silence.
- Go to sleep, Sam.
Sam never asked again.
Ten years after the Traveller first looked down at a hungry, six-year-old Sam, Bhalasar returned again, Nyshymm carrying an obviously very light load. He sought out Sam as usual, but they did not immediately prepare shop as usual.
- Sam, I have something important to tell you. Nyshymm is soon going to give birth. I want you to take her child as your own companion. It will be yours just as Nyshymm is mine.
Sam was taken aback. Never has there been a more significant gift.
= Yeah, yeah! Of course! Hell yes! When will it happen?
- Soon. We should seek out a stable that we can rent immediately. Do you know where one is?
= Yeah! I know just the place. C’mon!
Sam bounded off, stopped, turned in place, and smiled at Bhalasar.
= That’ll be two gold pieces, hahaha!
The delivery was a complete success, and Sam was enthralled at the arrival of a second friend named Booga. Bhalasar didn’t like the name, but kept quiet.
They then set up shop as usual, but it seemed like Bhalasar’s heart wasn’t quite in it. His stories lacked their full vigour, limited by some unknown distraction.
Booga grew strong and self-dependent quickly, under the care of his mother and Bhalasar, Sam learning all the while too. Eventually, sooner it seemed than usual, Bhalasar explained his necessary departure. Sam reluctantly said goodbye once more.
Since passing by adolescence, Sam shifted away from thievery and assault and more toward sport, while Booga grew as well and became close to his companion. Years of street performance led naturally to skills in combat, so Sam steadily made a name in cage fighting as “The Panther”. It was helpful to assume a masculine persona, as in fact Sam did as a child when threatening urchin boys for shade. The resonance was not lost on Sam, but the absence of story-telling was troubling. Ten years have passed since Bhalasar last appeared in the city Tok.