Born the seventh child of eight on a simple farm nestled in a valley in the western Free Marches, Lywc was raised mostly by older siblings and herself. Her parents were never really present as she and her younger brother grew, and so she would roam as she pleased. She wasn’t quite old enough to be of any real help, rather than hindrance on the farm, and thus was left to her own devices often. Even as she grew older and started to help out as needed, she would then wander off along the rolling valley grasslands that spread out all around the homestead. Often, she would go out for days at a time, following herds of wild horses and teaching herself about them and their habits. She even befriended a few of them, and taught herself to ride, after they trusted her enough to allow her to climb up on them. It truly was an idyllic childhood for her.
When she grew a little older, perhaps around seven or eight, she stumbled across another, much smaller farmstead, though this one was overrun with herbs and plants of all kinds she had never known or seen before. Fascinated, she skulked around, investigating, until she was discovered, much to her surprise, when the woman who lived there stopped her from touching a hogsbane plant. Instead of scolding her or running her off as she expected, instead the woman grinned at her and asked if she was curious about all the plants. Lywc said she was, and thus her apprenticeship with Aylis began.
For three years, she studied with Aylis, who was a skilled herbalist, a moderate alchemist, and a practiced midwife, learning as much as she could in that time. Lywc befriended Aylis’s son, Bryn, who was of a similar age and also learning from his mother. As they grew together, they both took an interest in swordplay as well–Bryn had seen Templars going through the nearby town of Haylewen and decided he wanted nothing more than to become one. So they fashioned sticks into makeshift swords and practiced together.
As they practiced and grew up together, they also grew closer. Bryn was the first boy she’d gotten to know outside her brothers, and they one day decided that they were definitively in Love, and once Bryn completed his Templar training they would be together forever. Aylis didn’t do much to dissuade them, figuring that they would eventually grow out of the notion, but they remained fond of one another and resolute in their decision even over the six years that Lywc learned from her.
When Lywc was fourteen, Bryn announced he was going off to the Chantry to join the Templars, and she decided she knew enough to start making her own way in the world as well. So she packed up a satchel full of what few belongings she had to her name and set off for Wycome to try her luck and skill there. Unfortunately, it turned out she must have had no luck at all–several places turned down “the country girl” who was looking for a job with no prior experience or knowledge of the city. Finally, though, a small inn on the southern outskirts of the city gave her a chance and let her work as a server. It was far from ideal, but it was something to keep her on her feet until she can land a better job. Lywc was overwhelmed by the city and more than a little rudderless, not exactly having a grand plan–or any kind of plan, really–but she was fairly certain she can somehow utilize her knowledge of herbs to find better employment. A city has to have herbalists, right? Or alchemists? Surely they would both be in demand, somewhere in Wycome.
Everything was going as well as would be expected, until, only a few months in, one of the patrons tried to get too handsy with her one evening–and he hadn’t even had that much to drink, just felt he could take what he wanted from her, pinning her against the wall in the narrow corridor between the common room and the kitchens–but she fought back fiercely against him and managed to pry a wicked dagger out of its sheath on his belt and stabbed him with it again and again until he slumped to the floor and she was left standing, shaking, covered in his blood. The innkeep, instead of anything else he could have done, tells her he was giving her five minutes to get away before he called the guard to deal with the body–something he considered a courtesy. Needless to say, she never went back to that in. She kept the dagger.
Her luck continued to fail her as word turned into rumor and spread like wildfire around the little part of town she’d been scraping a living by in, so she was forced to utilize her smaller size and natural deftness and skill from tracking horse herds without spooking them to pick pockets and lift food for herself. She only took what she needed, and not much else besides, taking no joy in having to do so just to survive.
Thus went her first year in the city.
Eventually, she got caught in a bad situation. It was bound to happen, of course, with the way she was living her life. Some noble accused her of stealing from him (which she did), she denied it, and a sword fight broke out as a result of escalating tempers–her against his two guards. She fended them off for a short while, impressively, but she was quite outmatched–a fifteen-year old girl against two trained, adult men–and so bolted for it as soon as she had an opening. Darting through alleyways she’d come to know intimately and shortcuts between buildings full grown men in armor couldn’t possibly fit through, Lywc managed to escape, only to nearly run straight into a woman standing directly in her path.
Before Lywc could stammer any sort of lie or apology, the woman laughed–a breathy, rough sound–and told Lywc that she’d taken notice of her for quite some while. At Lywc’s suspicious, curious look, the woman introduced herself as Iona, the head of the thieves’ guild in Wycome, and that she thought Lywc showed enough potential to warrant an invitation into the guild. So long as she didn’t do anything too stupid. Now, Iona asked of her, would she take the chance to learn more and get much, much better? Or would she wait for the guards to catch up with her?
She’s lost them, Lywc insisted, but Iona waved her off, laughing again. Now, later, no different. It will happen eventually.
Lywc doesn’t really want to–she doesn’t like having to steal for a living, but… she is good at it. On top of that, she really had little choice, for Iona was right: one day her luck will truly run out, and that will be the end of her. So, she accepted the invitation into the thieves’ guild.
Iona took Lywc under her wing within the guild itself, providing her a small but stable place to live, made sure she had enough rations to eat so she wouldn’t have to be distracted by stealing food to stay alive. In return, Lywc threw herself into her lessons–rapier and epée styles, trained every day; expanding her alchemical knowledge from simple healing salves and potions to poisons and antidotes; strength and agility training to scale walls and increase her stamina; complex gauntlets designed to train the stillness of her breath and lightness of her feet and fingers to be nearly undetectable; intricate locking mechanisms she had to unlock, dismantle entirely, and then rebuild in a different configuration for the next person; and, after a time, how to use daggers in the deadliest manner in close quarters, and how to utilize the shadows to her benefit.
After a handful of years, Iona deemed her learned enough to send her off on her own dealings for the guild. With her knowledge and affinity for horses, Lywc became the usual point of contact for black market shipments and deliveries between other guilds and the Carta.