Life as a slave can be precarious but it is also rather simple. A slave’s life is not so bad, though it can be. Most people treat their slaves as they would treat their livestock; if you take care of it and keep it healthy, it’s more valuable.
On the island of Alimashrem, there were two classes of slave. Normal slaves were generally criminals that had been sold into slavery for one reason or another, or they were born of slaves in an effort to expand one’s herd. High-class slaves generally had one acknowledged free parent and that parent could decide whether the child remained a slave or was free.
Marda was one such slave. Her mother had been a high-class slave; she had died during childbirth. Her father was the chieftain of the holding. She understood her parentage at a very early age, but she didn’t quite grasp the difference between her and her father until her father had her Nana sold off for one of her transgressions; she had become too old for childish temper tantrums.
After that, Marda worked hard to be very proper - not so much willing to please, as doing nothing for which she would be punished. She took to tending the holding garden; it was peaceful work and kept her mostly isolated from other people, unless she was required to dance for some of her father’s guests at feast. Marda was a skilled dancer, even at a very young age.
For all her life, and for years uncounted already past, war was a constant occurrence, especially during the summer, as each holding chieftain sought to take what their neighbor had in order to feed his people through the cold winter or just because he thought he was strong enough to take what he wanted.
By the time Marda was ten, she had taken to helping the healer; at first it was just with his herb garden and then with the wounded. As the number of wounded grew, Marda spent an increasing amount of time at the healer’s cottage. By the time she was a teenager, she was an accomplished healer in her own right.
One day, Marda noticed that the fighting had stopped, then a new wave of wounded flooded the cottage and she was too busy to think on it. Marda was still a slave, however, and now she had a new master. It didn’t take long for her new master, Brindar, to learn her parentage.
Marda’s mother had been taken from Brindar's holding and Marda herself could well be his daughter, Brindar was going to set his son on the throne, but with the discovery of Marda, it was her right to sit there. Freed, Marda the slave no longer existed. Ekentna, the soon to be queen, had taken her place. It was a vast step for Marda/Ekentna to take, but with Brindar's encouragement, she tried.
Ekentna soon discovered that different people wanted her for different and reasonable reasons, but she had yet to discover who and what she was. She longed for the simplicity of slave life, but that was beyond her now. When a man tried to kill her, she made her decision; she would take herself away from all this before she lost her sanity.
Under cover of darkness, she ran into the Haunted Woods and there she discovered another race of men. They took her to their home underground, to hide and to meet their queen. There, she learned that a long ago ancestor of hers had been a member of these people and that her soul had passed from mother to daughter all the generations since.
Since Ekentna was the reincarnation of that first queen, it was only reasonable that she use her name, so once again, Marda’s name changed, but this name, Arawyn, fit best of all. The queen, Sarlaena, saw to it all her questions were answered and all her curiosities were satisfied. She eventually learned that there was yet another race on the small island of Alimashrem and that winter, she traveled to their home high in the mountains. At both places, Arawyn learned what they had to teach and a good deal of it was their different magics. It wasn’t until the spring was looming on the horizon that she learned that, once again, people were pulling at her. She was expected to unite all three of the peoples and halt the incessant fighting. Once again, the only thing she could think to do was to run away. But it was a very long way out of the snow-covered mountains and this time, she didn’t make it. Resigned to her fate, she would do her best.
Nearly a month later, and accompanied by men from both the mountains and the underground races, Arawyn started her journey, planning to hit all the holdings as she traveled in a circuit around the plains.
They came across Brindar a short ways into their travels and discovered that his noble intentions had degraded considerably since last she’d seen him. She forced him to stop his war and go home, compelling him to build his palace with its throne.
Arawyn was unable to make the circuit in a single summer so they went back to the mountains for the winter and finished what they had started the next spring.
The palace looked so very new when they arrived and much still needed to be finished, but it was discovered that Brindar had included plans of returning the queen to slave chains in his construction plans. Arawyn could not return to being a slave now; too much had happened since then, so once again, she ran away, but this time, she didn’t run far.