Character portrait by kirasanta.
Zylaa Glimmerwind had always been a strange child. She had no friends and spent most of her time talking to plants. Her parents paid little attention to this as they were typically relaxed windling parents and quite busy with their work for the Overland Trading Company and its obsidiman Troubadour founder, Omasu (see pg. 83 of Nations of Barsaive II, Serpent River). It wasn’t until unexplained gusts of wind began manifesting around Zylaa that her parents began to realize there was something very special about their daughter.
Alstoon and Breena contacted the Three Wands Academy and spoke with the headmaster, Marak Xanader. Headmaster Xanader said he believed that Zylaa was a budding elementalist who should be trained in her magical abilities or they might get out of control. The Three Wands Academy was a multidisciplinary magical school for young wizards, elementalists and illusionists (nethermancy was not taught at the school and grounds for dismissal). It would be a chance for Zylaa to be around other youngsters who were gifted as she was. And the exposure to different types of magic would help her overall development.
Unfortunately even the best intentions go awry. Feeling isolated as the only windling currently attending the school, Zylaa became a poster child for adolescent rebellion. She cut class and fell in with a shady group of street youths. She stole other students’ belongings. She convinced some of the male students to participate in a striptease contest (which was won by a troll). She pissed in the sacred pool used for communing with water spirits. She openly mocked her teachers (“Professor Windbag is breaking a lot of verbal wind today.”). She also complained the Academy favored the apprentice wizards over the apprentice elementalists and illusionists. There was some truth to this (the student body was 50% wizards, 25% elementalists and 25% illusionists) but her antics distracted from the veracity of her words.
Things got so bad that Zylaa ran away from the Academy in an ill-conceived attempt to join a sideshow owned by the family of one of her classmates, Harlik Baranabas Kade. The show was interested in having a windling with a few elemental tricks up her sleeve and in her short time there Zylaa became friends with Olwen Gormlaith, a female elf sword performer whose wit was as swift as her blade.
The Academy was not amused and kidnapped Zylaa while she slept. They then sent a message to her parents that Zylaa was being expelled and the Academy was absolving itself of all responsibility for Zylaa’s safety. Zylaa was an extremely troubled young windling who they feared was destined to either a) become a criminal b) wind up in an insane asylum c) transform into a changeling (see pg. 162 of the Gamemasters guide) or d) all of the above. Please come and pick her up. Her bags are already packed.
Zylaa’s family was at their wits end with their out-of-control daughter. But then they were contacted by Blosoom Knucklesnap, a respected 7th circle windling elementalist who had heard of the turmoil at Three Wands. She said she had worked with “problem children” before and was willing to take Zylaa on as an apprentice. Her desperate parents agreed.
Zylaa, of course, thought this was more bullshit. Blosoom was just some senile old fool with an unbelievably stupid name that she would fly circles around. As she hovered in the air spewing forth a stream of obscenities, Blosoom’s air blast spell knocked her out of the sky. She hit the ground hard.
“Bitch!” Zylaa yelled. “I’ll burn your wings off!” But then Blosoom’s summoned air spirit grabbed Zylaa and began spinning her around so that she didn’t know which way was up.
“It is past due for you to learn some lessons in responsibility and the consequences of your actions,” Blosoom said.
It wasn’t an easy process, but Blosoom’s “tough love” approach eventually worked. Zylaa finally “woke up” and decided she wanted to utilize her magical gifts toward something constructive. She grew into a promising elementalist devoted to maintaining nature’s balance. Her sharp, biting wit remains intact and while she’s less of a rebel now she sometimes still struggles with authority figures. Zylaa hides her embarrassment over her past behavior behind a veil of sarcasm. She seeks to heal the corrupted areas of the world and protect that which is unspoiled so non-evil life may flourish.
Role in the Overland Trading Company: Zylaa first began working in the Overland Trading Company to pay off the debt she owed her parents for financing her magical education. The debt has since been paid off but she continues to work for the OTC for income. She performs several functions within the company. She acts as a healer when OTC employees become sick or injured. She travels with the OTC trade caravans, providing magical support for the caravan guards. And she uses her streetwise skills to learn (sometimes unsavory) details about trade and commerce within a particular city.
Her parents primarily operate as spice merchants for the OTC. A notable side business they developed is in the area of windling goods. They established good relations with many of the windling clans in the woods and have been able to procure windling wine, windling jewelry and other items. Very few trading houses have windlings as employees and the OTC has been able to corner the market on windling goods.