Mist is the youngest child of the khan of the nomadic shifter clan of which Frost is also a member. She was sent out along with Frost on the pretense of protecting him from the dangers of the outside world, though anyone who sees the way she watches him can tell that her responsibility is more to keep an eye on him than anything else.
Mist is the thirteenth and final legitimate child of her tribe’s khan, born to his fifth wife. Growing up, her father paid her little attention, likely deeming her born too late to be eligible to succeed him as head of the tribe. For this reason, the old saying of “it takes a village to raise a child” became reality for the young shifter; she was often acknowledged as the daughter of the khan, but was brought up by the collective efforts of her mother and the other parenting members of the tribe, much like normal children born to her particular nomadic group tend to be. Though she never understood in her youth why her father largely ignored her, save on special festival days when she was included in family processions with her twelve siblings, she considers her childhood to have been happy and grew to appreciate the collective unity of the tribe. Mist was an active and generally content child, but was often told by peers and parents alike that she was too serious … this would be a developing trend throughout her life.
Like most nomadic children, Mist was taught the basics of survival during her childhood; learning couldn’t start soon enough for those living in the harsh conditions of the Wastes! Her real talents, however, would be demonstrated on her First Hunt, a rite of passage for all of the clan’s young teenagers. The premise of the First Hunt was simple: the initiates would be sent into the Wastes in a small group; they were expected to return with some sort of bounty, be it food, item, water, or something else entirely. Often, a child’s strengths would become more apparent, as would their ability to work in a group to achieve a common goal, an important aspect of life for nomadic peoples in the Wastes.
The Wastes, however, have little concern for the lives of those who live there; not long after Mist and her group were sent out, a horrendous sand storm blew in, easily one of the worst the tribe had experienced in decades, or so the older members of the clan proclaimed. Questions hung in the air: what had they done to displease the Spirits so? Would the storm soon pass or would they be doomed to die of thirst and starvation? What sort of omen was this? And, to a few particularly worried parents, what of the initiates sent out on their First Hunt? The First Hunt was sometimes considered a way to weed out the weaker members of the tribe at a young age; perhaps, some speculated, this was the Spirits’ way of testing the initiates, the Waste’s manner of deducing whether they were strong enough to assist their tribe.
When, after several days, the wind stopped and the sand settled, a lone figure was seen slowly struggling towards the tribe’s encampment: Mist, dirty, hungry, and dehydrated, but very much alive. She had used her innate abilities to navigate the storm, tracing her way slowly back to camp. She claimed that it had been difficult, but not impossible, to find signs of her group’s passing and the tribe’s trail as they had traveled to where they were currently camped. She had found little water, though enough to survive; many considered it a sign of her skills and the Spirits’ favour that she had managed event that. None of the other initiates found their way back to camp, making Mist the only survivor of the ordeal; she did not know what had become of the others, for they had become separated when the storm hit.
Much to her surprise, both of her parents were present when she finally stumbled into camp. Her mother frantically embraced her, weeping and thanking the Spirits for her daughter’s safe return. Her father, the great khan, had a much more subdued reaction: arms crossed, he gazed down at the child he had largely ignored in the past; Mist thought she saw a glimmer of pride in his eyes, but it was soon gone, and the khan returned to his tent. Regardless, Mist clung to the hope that her father had been proud of her abilities, of her survival, of her being his daughter. Her tracking and nature skill quickly spread through the tribe, as did the story of her survival. In the following years, she would often accompany hunting parties, using her abilities to find greater prizes; she was a fully integrated and useful member of the clan. Through this constant experience in the Wastes, she quickly honed some of her other skills, specifically her perception, stealth, and acrobatics, all of which played an essential role for a shifter living in the perilous Wastes.
Mist’s success on her First Hunt was quickly overshadowed when, several months later, a tribe member exhibited a more serious talent on his First Hunt: psionic powers. The huntsmaster had told the clan an extraordinary tale of the initiate, Frost, throwing an escaping goat off the side of a mountain with an invisible force! This created quite a stir among the tribe: shifter clans are highly superstitious by nature, and the tribe viewed Frost’s powers as a potential bad omen that could destroy the nomadic group. The decision was given to the khan and his council.
Being primarily concerned for the wellbeing of the clan, the family that had raised and cared for her, Mist firmly believed that the psionic shifter should be put to death. She had heard stories of shifters with such powers being possessed by demons, bringing ill fortune to the tribe as long as the psion was alive. She had faith that her father would make the right decision; being head of the tribe obligated him to make the best choice for the survival of the clan. She was disappointed: the khan decided not only to allow Frost to live, but that he would be raised to cultivate his powers and use them to better the tribe.
Over the following couple of weeks, several tribesmen challenged the khan’s decision and were summarily and quickly defeated. Mist’s own anger was intense; where was the clan’s noble ruler who held the tribe’s safety paramount above all other things? Surely he understood what a terrible omen these powers were! Never could they be a benefit to the group! She decided that she would take her concerns to the khan, hoping that he would be more receptive to his daughter’s ideas.
The khan accepted Mist into his tent and listened to her concerns with a stony expression, arms crossed over his chest, eyes hard and cold. After his daughter had given her passionate plea, he merely restated his decision that the psion would be kept alive; after Mist protested further, he flatly reminded her that continued outright disagreement with his decisions would be considered a punishable offense by the tribe’s code.
Angered by her father’s disregard for her concerns and the tribe in general, Mist passionately declared that he was not a true khan. Fueled by this, she continued her tirade, “were I the khan, I would have the boy put to death…because unlike you, I care about this clan and it’s members more than my own pride!”
The air hung thick and tense; neither shifter spoke. Such bold disrespect, slander, and disregard for the khan’s power was lawfully punishable by death, of which both figures were acutely aware. The khan’s hand lingered over his knife for a moment, but for some reason he did not carry out the rightful punishment; perhaps due to Mist being his daughter, perhaps due to weariness of the situation, perhaps not wanting to lose such a skilled tracker. Instead, he turned away, making to leave the tent. As he neared the door, he turned to look at his child. “This is why I never wasted my time with you as a potential successor,” he said, the words being pronounced slowly and clearly, made more painful by the khan’s stern and somewhat disgusted expression. He then left, leaving Mist brought to her knees from the impact of his statement.
Stung by khan’s words, shamed by her actions, and angry at the presence of a psion, Mist largely withdrew from the tribe, dedicating all of her time to practicing with her scimitar and long knife, vowing to herself that even if the khan didn’t care, she would be there to protect those she loved when the psion inevitably tried to destroy the clan. She made her distaste of the situation known whenever the council bartered for well-worn books for Frost’s consumption. She was no longer invited to sit with the khan’s family during festivals, and her father acted as though she didn’t exist. She continued to accompany the hunters on the forays into the Wastes, but her mind was no longer on the hunt itself, but rather how she could improve her skills through it.
For several years, she continued like this, keeping largely to herself and being completely involved in improving her fighting, tracking, and other abilities. Few spoke to her, and often only to tell her that she was being far too serious with her self-betterment obsession. She paid them little heed. Thus is came as a surprise when she was beckoned to the khan’s tent.
He said he needed her to fulfill a special task regarding Frost. It had been decided, for the tribe’s benefit, that the psion would be sent beyond the Wastes, to the Free Commons and further to gain information that could not be attained in the desert. This was no lightly made decision; Frost’s powers had developed rapidly over the past several years, and the tribe did not yet consider him a fully trusted member. For this reason, the khan had decided to entrust Mist with a very important task: protect Frost, ensure that he is doing what is best for the clan, and if it becomes apparent that he has malicious intentions toward the tribe, kill him.
Mist’s initial hopeful joy of being summoned by her father immediately died. Not only would she have to leave the clan for an unknown amount of time, but also she would be accompanying the psion, the member of the tribe that had, in her mind, caused her so much grief. This lofty appointment was a serious matter; if she failed any of the tasks, she would be exiled from the group, left to survive alone in the Wastes, as was customary among many shifter tribes. With the demand coming directly from the khan, she was unable to refuse, lest she wanted to risk his wrath again. Whether the khan had recognized her devotion to the clan, or whether he merely wanted to be rid of her, Mist didn’t know, but having no other choice, she agreed.
A few days later, after a solemn parting feast, Mist and Frost wordlessly left the camp. Mist cast a wistful glance over her shoulder, wondering if she would ever return to the tribe she cared for so deeply.