(From the desk of your EM on Legends: A Bio) Birgit Rhys – Healer With a strangled cry, Birgit came fully awake and upright. Her stomach was churning and her skin was covered with a cold, clammy sweat. With shaking hands, she fumbled for the flint box and candle on the small, wooden table beside her cot. As the meager flame fought back the immediate shadows, Birgit pushed her hands through her damp, tangled hair. It was the dream again. The horrible dream of the last day she spent in her beloved Papua. Birgit knew from experience that there would be no more sleep this night. The images were still too vivid and the light would be streaking the skies before they faded to the back of her mind where she usually kept them locked. It had been months since the last dream had driven her from bed in the middle of the night and she’d hoped that meant she’d finally come to grips with the horrific scene. Now, she wondered if she ever would. Throwing off the covers, Birgit made her way to the small wash stand and bathed away the physical traces of the dream. She tidied her long brown hair and slipped on her day dress and apron. She studied herself in the mirror and decided that, other than the dark shadows under her eyes, she looked reasonably presentable. Reaching into the bottom of the small wardrobe, Birgit drew out a parcel. It was covered in layers of cloth and tied carefully with a leather string. Going to the small table and chair by the window, she lit another candle and reverently opened the parcel. Carefully, Birgit removed a worn diary and a small, heart shaped locket. Opening the locket, she gazed on the faces of her beloved parents and let her mind drift back in time. Birgit Rhys came into the world on a bright sunny day in the cozy back room of the Healer’s Hut in Papua. Her father, Ephraim, was a great mage, and her mother, Elspeth, was a renowned healer. Both had lived and worked in the shining capital of Britain for many years. They had been in service to the King and the Council and lived a grand life at the great Court. Even with all the fame and adventures, their lives were missing something. The thing they wanted most was a child and, when Elspeth conceived Birgit, they decided to retire from the bustling city to a quieter climate where they could enjoy the child that was to come. As Ephraim and Elspeth still wished to be able to help others, they made the decision the make their home in the village of Papua. Travelers came through from time to time to explore the swamps and ruins around the village and the townsfolk lived a simple life. Ephraim had time to devote to his great love of reading while Elspeth soon became known as the one to turn to when a baby was colicky or a small child took a tumble and broke some bone as small children are wont to do. As their only child, Birgit’s earliest memories were filled with love and laughter. Her mother would sit for hours and brush her hair, cuddle her close and teach her songs and words of healing. As both of her parents had strong magicks running through their blood, they knew that Birgit would inherit their abilities and wanted her to learn from an early age how to use her abilities with the utmost caution. They never made it seem as though she was studying, however. Each lesson was more of a game and always entwined with love and fun. As Birgit grew, so did her powers. At the age of ten, she was already helping her mother with her sick calls around the village. Birgit was trusted by all the town’s people as much as her parents and was welcomed into their homes as a member of the family. Her sunny smile and easy disposition put the most fretful child at ease. A baby, who would not quiet with anyone else, would immediately calm and begin cooing the minute Birgit picked them up. A raging fever would break at just the touch of Birgit’s cool hand and a few chanted words. The most horrible, gaping wound would heal with barely a scar once Birgit had bandaged it and spoken a few words. Life went along at an easy, peaceful pace until the summer of Birgit’s sixteenth year. Word began to reach the small outpost of unrest and fighting amongst the Ophidians, a strange, magical race that lived outside the borders to the north. The Ophidians had always kept an unspoken truce with the cities of Sosaria and had kept to their own borders for generations. Suddenly, for a reason that escaped many, the Ophidians began attacking any who ventured near their borders. Since Birgit’s life had always been filled with happiness and peace, she did not pay much attention to the tales brought into the village by wandering travelers. Her parents, however, worried and wondered if perhaps they should get their beloved child away to a safer place. Sometimes, though, life has a way of taking the decision from anyone’s hand. It happened on a bright, sunfilled day two days before Birgit’s seventeenth birthday…. Birgit had gone deep into the forests to the south of Papua to gather some herbs and roots that were needed for her mother’s potions. She had no fear of the forests or swamps as she had grown up playing and exploring in them for all of her life. As she reached down to dig up some madrake root, the ground suddenly trembled violently pitching Birgit forward onto the ground with a force that knocked the breath from her. Her heart pounding, Birgit picked herself up and looked around. An ominous black smoke was rising over the trees from the direction of Papua. Barely able to breath, and scared for some reason she did not understand, Birgit began to run towards her village and her home. As she drew closer, Birgit began to hear the terrified screams of the inhabitants along with hissing that sounded as though a thousand snakes had invaded. Stumbling into the village proper, Birgit could not comprehend what her eyes clearly showed her. The Ophidians! Ophidians were in the village slaughtering men, women and children with no thought. Blood ran everywhere, smoke rose from almost every building, energy crackled through the air as the magicians, her father included, tried to hold off the invaders. Birgit could see that the magicians and the villagers were being overwhelmed by the sheer number of Ophidians. With horror, Birgit saw her mother run through with a halberd wielded by an enormous Ophidian Warrior. As she screamed, her father saw her and bellowed, “Run Birgit! RUN!” Birgit had no memory of what happened next except in the nightmares in the middle of the night, which her conscious mind refused to look at too closely. When she next knew herself, it was dark and Birgit was huddled, trembling behind the stone ruins deep in the forest. Her clothes and hands were covered with blood and dirt and soot. Her mind vaguely recognized the landscape although she could not immediately place it. Something inside her, however, told her she could not stay where she was. She had to move! She had to warn others! What she had to warn them of and why she had to run, she could not remember. But Birgit knew in her soul, she had to get moving. Birgit began making her way through the dense forest with no real understanding of the direction she was going. She stumbled many times but got up and kept moving. Near day break, Birgit stumbled once again and felt she could not go on. Just as she was ready to give in and submit her soul to whatever came next, she felt a gentle hand on her shoulder. Looking up, she saw the face of an old woman peering at her. “Poor thing,” the woman said in a whisper. “Come now. You are safe. Let’s get you warm and fed.” Coming back to the present, Birgit realized that day was almost breaking yet again. It was time to move on again. She had stayed too long. She knew now that she must reach Britain and give a warning. Or, if they already knew of the horrors of Papua, she must help however she could. Birgit quietly wrapped the diary and locket back in its cloth and began to make her preparations for the journey ahead. She only hoped she wasn’t too late.