Quella Sprucechild

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Quella Sprucechild


Quella Sprucechild’s story begins in the ancient hamlet Jötunskog, or rather several miles outside of the hamlet. A group of hunters were out searching for food when they came across a small hollow beneath a large spruce tree, they assumed that it must be home to some animal and quietly set up to make quick work of whatever animal hid inside. But as the hunters prepared to draw out the animal they heard the obvious cries of a human child from within. Cautiously they crept inside to find a large mossy cave, the floor covered in mushrooms and bones——most were animal bones, but some were clearly human. The cave was unnaturally warm and had a haziness to it as if the chamber were filled with fumes from something underground. In the center, wrapped in furs atop a pedestal was a human child, no more than a few months old by their guess, so they brought the child back to the hamlet.

Upon their return the hunters brought the child to their priestess, but she brought great mystery with her. The priestess knew of no nearby settlements, and she also knew that there had not been a birth in the hamlet for over a year. The child was not one of their own. But how had she gotten there? Unwilling to let a baby die from neglect the priestess raised her, giving her the name Quella Sprucechild. Her last name would stand as a reminder for where she had come from, her first name was more complicated. On the first day that Quella was in the village a bird had flown into the priestess’ house, before she could shoo it out the bird landed next to the child, who grabbed it by the neck and the bird went limp. So the priestess named her Quella, which means “to kill.”

As time went on Quella’s strange introduction to the hamlet became an afterthought, she was just the priestess’s kid to everyone. She lived her life like any other child in Jötunskog might, learning a trade from her parent. So, the priestess, Saga, trained Quella how to make potions, how to gather ingredients from the world around them, and the beliefs that had been a part of the hamlet since its founding. She learned to worship the Giants as great beings of creation and death. The Jötun guðir. Life for Quella seemed likely to be unremarkable. Until the day of her coming of age ceremony.

In Jötunskog it was customary for children to go out into the woods for three days on their 18th birthday, if you survived the harsh climate of the Koganon taiga then you were accepted as an adult in the hamlet, if you did not return then you were too weak to be of service to the hamlet, if you returned early then you were deemed a weakling and would be remembered as such for the rest of your life. So they gave Quella a bed roll, an axe, and a flint and steel and sent her out like every child before her.

Quella had traveled into the woods several times before, usually to help collect firewood or herbs for Saga’s potions, but she had never gone far before. And she had never gone alone. As the first night settled in Quella found herself wandering with nothing but the light of the full moon to guide her by. She had an idea of where she was going, a place she could get apples and berries. That wasn’t what she would find. As she walked she came to a small clearing with a massive spruce tree in the center, beneath it a hollow. She couldn’t see inside, but she could feel a warmth near the opening, shivering in the cold of the taiga Quella cautiously climbed into the hole. As she stepped into a larger area that was lit by glowing lichen and bioluminescent mushrooms Quella found herself, for the first time since the hunters had taken her, in the hollow of her discovery.

That night she slept by the pedestal, she had been told about this place and was excited to have discovered it. In the morning she began to search around the hollow a little more and began wondering what the place was for. But her hunger got the better of her, berries and mushrooms from the cave were plentiful, but she wanted to find more to eat, so she set up several snares and returned to the hollow to wait. She pondered beneath the great spruce for some time trying to conserve her energy, then as the sky darkened she checked her snares, not expecting to find anything, but in one was a rabbit. So she grabbed it and brought it back to the hollow.

For lack of a table Quella used the stone pedestal to begin skinning the rabbit and prepare it to eat. As the blood touched the stone though suddenly the hollow pulsed with a red light and the stone glowed, as more blood flowed she knew it wasn’t just a pedestal, it was an altar. And Quella had unwittingly just made a sacrifice upon it. The haze in the hollow intensified and she collapsed. Flashes of fire, giants, and hordes of undead creatures would be all that Quella remembered from her dreams that night. In the morning when she awoke the rabbit was gone, in its place a large cluster of purple crystals. She took it, feeling a strange energy tingle through her skin as she touched it. Then she left. She had spent her two nights in the woods, and was more than ready to return home to Jötunskog, as she left the tree’s hollow she found a heavy layer of snow had settled over the ground overnight. Which was not unusual, what worried her were the number of boot prints in the snow around her tree, there had been many people just outside the tree as she slept, and she did not like to think about that. Her walk home was a long one so she tried to put the strangeness of the boot prints out of her mind, but it was nearly impossible to do, as the tracks followed the exact path she was taking. As she walked she grew more and more concerned. Finally her fears were answered, she came to the top of a hill and saw smoke rising in the distance against the darkening sky. There was a fire in Jötunskog.

She all but ran the rest of the way, the tracks lead her straight to the hamlet. When she got there she found the place a smoldering ruin, the fire was gone, had been gone, it was just the charred remnants of buildings left. Scattered through the town were the corpses of the people who had raised her. Mixed with them were the bodies of zombies and skeletons, and the deep impressions from where giants had stepped. The only thing left standing was the statue of a giant in the center of the village. As the sun fell no moon rose on the horizon. Quella had slept from the full moon until the new moon. And at the base of the giant’s statue she fell weeping until she fell asleep. She woke, covered in soot from the smoldering hamlet, and laid there for an hour, eventually she got up and searched the hamlet for anything she might be able to salvage. She didn’t find much. Finally Quella left the ruins of Jötunskog and walked without purpose, away from her home.

Quella would spend the next several years of her life wandering aimlessly, surviving off the land, sleeping in caves and under fallen trees. She didn’t know where to go. Time became a blur and she forgot how old she was. Eventually Quella found a peaceful clearing bordered by a river and a forest and she knew that it was a place she wanted to stay. Using the magic that flowed through her veins she shaped the earth into a home that suited her needs. Here she would begin experimenting with magic and alchemy, trying to remember what Saga had taught her years before, while also trying to discover the secrets of the cave she was found in. She did not think she would ever return to the great spruce tree, but she wanted to know all the same, who had she made an offering to?

Not much time had passed since Quella built her home, when out on a walk she encountered a strange man by the name of Specz. He was eager to befriend her, but she hardly knew how to react, she hadn't been around other people in longer than she knew. But his company was welcome, and when she heard that the man intended to study magic and share his knowledge with those he knew, Quella couldn't pass on such an opportunity. So she showed her the home she had built, and welcomed his ideas of building a town there. His goal to further research magic fell directly in line with Quella's own goals. And so Quella became a founding member of The Source, and a member of the great nation of Lydoneia.