Real World History
Ongenwalh is the first character I created for White Wolfs role-playing game Exalted. She is currently active, running a campaign hosted Long Island.
Ongenwalh is very calm and soft-spoken, but with eyes that see everything. Some might call her "icy". The only thing that breaks this calm demeanor is when she sees slaves treated especially badly or sees someone's free will brutally subverted. She will not own slaves herself, and has an undying hatred for slave traders and Fair Folk.
Subterfuge is Ongenwalh's first strategy most situations, and she is not above theft, eavesdropping, disguise or any other sort of deception. When dealing face-to-face, however, she is generally honorable and trustworthy. She tends to plan carefully, rather than act impetuously. general, her deceptions will be order to gain information, not to cheat or harm someone. She finds secrets irresistible.
Tall and slender, Ongenwalh is a striking beauty. Her tan skin, angular features, green eyes and wavy red hair combine pleasingly, but make it difficult to determine her ethnicity. She tends to wear clothing fancy enough to mark her was affluent, but not fancy enough to call attention to herself. Favoring dark colors and veiled hats, she usually keeps her hair covered public. The veils also come handy when needing to skulk about shadows.
As a young girl, the woman who now calls herself Husk had a very vivid imagination and fantastic, complex dreams. Consequently, real life bored her tremendously. To ease the boredom, she used to sneak and hide in places for fun, spying. As time went on, she got more and more daring about where she would hide and eavesdrop. One day, when about 13 or 14, she witnessed something she really should not have seen and ended up getting discovered by those involved the event. Rather than killing her, they sold her to the Fair Folk to feed on.
Because her dreams were so vivid, she provided an incredible feast for the Fair Folk, who fed on her for nearly four years. While her mind and soul were being slowly devoured, she tried a number of things to hold on to her identity, including carving the word "Ongenwalh", which means "opposed to slavery", into her thigh and making sure it turned into a scar. Inevitably, she was completely drained, and her empty shell was sold back to the Guild. Normally, such husks are sold into hard labor, but even drained and empty, she was very attractive. When the Guild brought her and other husks to the northern city of Crystal, she caught the eye of Morric Slone, the city's leader. He gave her the name Ruby. Unlike the rest of the husks, who were put to work mining, Ruby was put to work doing mindless, menial tasks on Slone's estate, like washing clothes, scrubbing floors, etc.
Slone had a secret vault his home, the key to which he carried on a chain around his neck. He would periodically take his new slave into this vault and use her body for his own sexual gratification, usually on a pile of jade he kept the vault. It was during one of these sessions (about six months after she was released by the Fair Folk) that she Exalted. Normally the divine force that inhabits a human during Exaltation has no real personality, leaving the original human's psyche somewhat intact. In this case, however, the divine force inhabited a nearly empty mind. The force was unguided at first, being a primal energy of sorts. The only clear thing this new Solar Exalted knew was that she was not enjoying being sodomized by Slone. Within seconds of the divine force entering the girl's body, all of her new found Essence dumped into his body its raw form, instantly turning him to stone and causing her to loose consciousness.
When she came to, a good deal of her previous personality (though no memory to speak of from before her slavery) had returned. One of the first things she noticed was the word carved into her thigh. She knew deep within her that this word was her real name, but could not recall anything else. She remained locked inside the vault with the stone form of Slone, the key to the vault still around his neck. Realizing that no one else could get into the vault, she took the key and let herself out, leaving the stone man locked inside.
Concealing her caste mark (still blazing from the Exaltation), she continued her duties, pretending to be as mindless as she was before. To the rest of the household, it appeared that Slone had mysteriously disappeared. Some foul play was suspected, but it never occurred to anyone to even suspect the mindless slave girl. She continued this ruse for some months and, during this time, her personality grew stronger, though whether this was her original personality or not is anyone's guess. She also began to get strange, usually painful, memory-flashes of her treatment at the hands of the Fair Folk. During one of these, she collapsed to the floor and began crying sight of witnesses. From this point on, members of the household began slowly to suspect that there might be more to Ruby than met the eye.
Within two more months, she felt that her cover could not continue for much longer. In the dark of night, she went back into the vault, gathered a few items that seemed to sing to her (including an ivory mask), weapons and as much money and gems as she could carry. She took a last look at the stone form of Slone, still as naked and erect as ever. Almost as an afterthought, she took a heavy mace and snapped his stone phallus off at the root. Slipping this into her bag as well, she relocked the vault, gathered some food and clothes for travel and slipped out into the night.
She made it out of walls of Crystal, and out of the valley around it without incident. Heading south, however, the journey was cold, long and dangerous. As she walked, she began to experiment with the Essence she felt flowing through her, learning to use it. Much of this learning came about only times of great peril, when threat of discovery by Wyld barbarians forced her to use Essence to expand her senses, hide, fight or avoid injury. These skills served her well until she ran into a buck-ogre that saw through her deceptions. They fought. Ongenwalh put up a brave fight, but was no match for the buck-ogre, whose axes spilled her blood all over the snow. As the ogre moved for the death blow, however, the snow erupted and speeding shards of ice began to shred the beast. As the buck-ogre reeled pain, a dark, bestial shape roared from out of the snow and clawed deeply into the buck-ogre. As Ongenwalh's consciousness began to slip away, she saw the beast-form rise from dead buck-ogre and turn towards her. As her vision faded to black, she saw the slowly approaching form shifting into the shape of a man.
She awoke next to a camp fire within a wondrous stone ruin. Her wounds were bandaged and she was wrapped in mammoth fur. Sitting across from her was a man with silver-white skin and wild white hair. His eyes glinted yellow the firelight, clearly not human. He appeared to be his sixties, but Ongenwalh knew that he was much, much older but did not know how she knew. "I am Roak", he said. Ongenwalh knew, again without knowing how, that while he had used this name for centuries, he was born with another. "Who are you?" Ongenwalh wanted to keep her real name to herself, just as he had done, so said the first thing that came into her mind: "Husk."
In the following weeks, Roak revealed himself as a Lunar Exalted and explained to Husk what she had become. She learned much from him, including that he was nearly 800 years old and had fought the Fair Folk before the founding of the Realm. She also discovered that he was not completely sane, at least not all of the time. He would periodically slip into a babbling state, sometimes for days on end. Other times, he would start snarling, slip into animal form, and vanish for weeks. During the times he was full possession of his faculties, however, he also taught her sorcery and a handful of spells.
She studied with him (when he was able) for a number of years, learning much about the Wyld the process. She also began to unlock the secrets of the ivory mask she took from Slone's vault, which would let her alter her appearance. All the while, they moved gradually south, where she found herself drawn. One day, Husk awoke to find Roak vanished, as he sometimes did. This time, however, he did not come back. Husk waited for him for three months, but he never returned. Somehow, she knew he was all right, but realized that she needed to move on.
She continued south until reaching Sijan. Husk found the city extremely unappealing, but was irresistibly drawn to the city's vast libraries. Hoping to find information about her past, she found that the fees to use the library for non-residents exorbitant. Instead, she followed a funerist woman around for a number of days secret, learning her mannerisms. Using the ivory mask to disguise herself as a the woman, she gained access to the libraries at a small price. While this ruse was sufficient to gain access to the more common areas of the library, Husk did not press her luck to try to gain access to the deeper levels.
Focussing on researching the word "ongenwalh" in the library's common levels, she managed to find reference to the word "walh" in a book. The book translated it as both "slave" and "foreigner", and traced it to an ancient language that originated around the area that is now the city of Great Forks. Further research into this language also found the root "ongen", meaning "opposed to". She learned as much of the language as she had time for, but realized that each time she entered the library disguised, she ran a great risk.
Anxious to move on to Great Forks, she snuck onto a barge returning a wealthy funeral party to Lookshy. She spent a few days looking around Lookshy. Though she found it somewhat sterile, she bought local clothing and opened a bank account into which a small portion of wealth looted from Slone was deposited. Then she caught a boat to Great Forks.
Husk had expected that once she reached Great Forks, she would recognize something, but the entire city was strange to her. Not knowing what else to do, Husk setup another bank account and bought a townhouse. She spent most of her time in the city's libraries and other places of record, searching for anything that might give her clues to her past. After a few months, she bought a horse so that she could easily get out into nature more easily, as well as get around the city. She also hired a local woman, Marisa, to cook and clean for her, paying her an incredibly generous wage.
Ongenwalh has no memory of her life before being sold to Slone, other than flashes from her treatment at the hands of the Fair Folk. She sometimes wonders if her personality is really hers or a product of Exaltation. She tends to be very focussed and is beginning to see making life better for mortals, especially slaves, as the purpose of her exaltation. In general, Ongenwalh has lost all memory of what it is to be child-like and the joyfulness that comes with it. Gaining this back drives her without her understanding why.
Primarily, Ongenwalh wants to regain memory of her past. Finding out about her past would be acceptable, but being able to remember it herself is the chief aim. Externally, Ongenwalh wants to make life better for slaves. She has no idea how to accomplish this yet, but is always thinking about it.