Younger Years

Paravella’s humble beginnings held no glimpse of the notoriety she would later achieve. The daughter of a clan of forest-dwelling gnomes, she grew up learning how to collect and create dyes from the various flora and fauna. From mushrooms to flowers and insects, Paravella took great pride in not only learning everything her father taught her about the world of dyes, but also in trying to discover new sources of colors and new ways to combine them. As a child brimming with curiosity and living amongst the nature magics of her people, Paravella had an idyllic youth. Though few found her explorations into different dyes interesting, Paravella was too caught up in her fascination of it to notice.

Childhood passed into young adulthood and Paravella married into a neighboring forest clan. Her husband, Corynor, was a kind and loving sort. As a weaver, he and Paravella spent many a happy day together creating beautifully colored fabrics. They did well; their textiles sold as far as the human clans west of the great forest and the cities out east, over the mountains. The goddess blessed them with several healthy babies.

Changes

Life could have continued that way and Paravella could have lived out a contented life with Corynor, but that is not how it played out. A travelling merchant, a regular customer for their cloth, brought Paravella an opportunity that she could not pass up.

Gruthvan, the merchant, was a portly human, nose and cheeks red and puffy from too much wine over his years of travel. He would roll into town and then hop down from his wagon, greeting all with great hugs and pleasant words; his breath smelling of fermented grapes and his cloak of tobacco. He would get to wheezing after only a few minutes of bustling about, showing his wares and looking over what the gnomes had to offer.

On this day he had an extra gleam to his gaze when he looked upon Paravella and Corynor.

“My friends,” he said, grabbing them both up and crushing them against his wide middle in a warm hug. “I have great news. The School of Textiles in Trakkan has expressed great interest in your fabrics. They wish to know how you come up with such unique colors and designs. They’re willing to pay quite handsomely to have you spend a few weeks working with them. I understand if these are gnomish secrets that you do not wish to share, but I can assure you that the money they are willing to pay could set you both up for life.”

Corynor chuckled a bit, clearly amused and not taking the offer at all seriously. Paravella, on the other hand, felt a sudden yearning, an awareness of a hole inside that she had never known existed. She found herself nodding without conscious thought.

“I… I would very much like to go,” she said. Corynor looked to her in shock and puzzlement.

“But, dearest of my heart, Trakkan is a city full of humans. It must be terribly stinky and barren there. Why, I doubt they are surrounded by so many beautiful trees, that they have such a fresh smelling sky above them, that they can hear the birds’ beautiful calls over their own voices.”

Paravella blushed, but would not be swayed. “It won’t be so long, beloved husband. Think of the things I could learn from this journey. There must be so many exotic dyes in such a far off place.”

Corynor huffed and pleaded and cajoled, but in the end Paravella’s quiet insistance paid off. She headed out with the merchant into lands barely imaginable to Corynor’s mind. Days passed. Then weeks. Months went by, and Corynor began receiving money along with the occasional letter.

Five decades passed before Corynor saw Paravella again. By then he had remarried and their children had grown up. Paravella stayed around only briefly before moving on and Corynor could barely recognize her. She stood straighter, dressed in fancy clothes, talked with more surety, and was surrounded by a retinue of servants. He saw the slightest hint of regret in her eyes at first, but it was quickly swallowed up by her business-like attitude.

Career and Enslavement

During her time in the city, Paravella slowly changed from an introvert into a wildly successful businesswoman. It took her little time to realize that the city had far more to offer than alternative dyes. She began to take an interest in other forms of art, such as sculpture and painting. Eventually, she found a niche in designing buildings, merging form with function and magic. As the decades passed, her skills came to be in high demand.

Paravella’s great reputation caught the interest of the liche lord Haukagaron. While still young enough to pass for mortal and keep his experiments secret, Haukagaron recognized that such days were limited and that he must look to the future. He lured Paravella to his villa on the pretense of having her help with renovations, abducted her, and moved to the wild forests of the high mountain valleys to the west of the city. Here he had already stored much of his treasure and made arrangements with the local ogre tribes for safety.

With Paravella’s skills at his command, a workforce of strong, if indelicate, brutes, and his own magic, Haukagaron set to building a stronghold where he and his work would be safe from interruption. Over the course of three decades, the Castle Kaukenn was born.

For her part, Paravella threw herself into the task. She kept one eye on a chance of escape, knowing that it would take a very clever plan to fool the sharp-minded Haukagaron, but otherwise enjoyed the work. She could not deny her own excitement at the task, the finest challenge of her career so far.

Escape

In the end, Paravella managed to both complete her great masterpiece and take revenge on Haukagaron. One of the defenses built into Castle Kaukenn was a trap for sending invaders into the dark and hopeless Under realms. Using indirection and a lot of fast talking, Paravella rigged the entire castle to tie into that trap. Upon completion of the stronghold, when Haukagaron was lost in marveling at this great creation, Paravella spoke the trigger word from outside the castle walls and watched with tear-stained cheeks as roots sprang from the ground to entwine about the great Castle Kaukenn and pull it down into a pit of darkness. Haukagaron was now free to follow his mad pursuits for eternity, but the world was also free of his tyranny.

Having seen what could be done with a workforce of ogres, a skilled mage, and herself, Paravella convinced many of the tribe to join her in a new business venture. Once she secured the services of sufficiently skilled wizards, she spent the rest of her life designing and building unique strongholds, each a thing of beauty and powerful magics.

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