Ŋar

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Ŋar facing danger, as usual

Ŋar was the greatest thief of the , fabled in legend and song; she and her barbarian companion Fánao were the most storied adventurers of the last century in perhaps all of Arcél.

Though many tales are told of her, it is difficult to find sure facts. No doubt half of this sketch will be lies, some of them begun by Ŋar herself, who never scrupled at an exaggeration, nor bothered to correct an inaccuracy.

By the best of reports, she grew up in Łâɔ province. At age ten she lost her (matriarchal extended family), or they lost her; when anyone was impolitic enough to inquire she spoke of dark tragedy, though the details varied with each telling. Unkindly persons speculated that she was simply a third daughter and thus a burden for a poor , and that she ran away. She was taken in by a wizard, who taught her the rudiments of the inner world (nɔŋǎ), of fighting, and of thievery. For a brief time she had a lover and hoped to start her own . Under murky circumstances both wizard and lover died, and she ended up in the capital, Jansɛ̀, aged perhaps 15.

She thieved on her own for at least a year, a remarkable period to live independent of any Jansene gang. She finally joined the Scorpions, a gang based in the Unsunlit Quarter, quickly rising through the ranks to Enforcer and then Murderer. She grew deadly enough that the leader of the Scorpions, Kàs, began to fear for her position, though she had done nothing disloyal. She attempted to have her killed, and Ŋar fled to Mǎɔmê. It was here that she met Fánao.

How can we summarize the adventures of these stout-hearted women, feared throughout half a continent? There is no end to the tales. The two stole from nobles, guilds, and temples; fought with and sometimes alongside gangs of thieves, bandits, and pirates; sold their fighting prowess to a dozen warlords and queens; tangled with sorcerors, insane dead ancestors, and Kebreni spies. They made their fortune several times over, losing it as easily as it came. They knew all the kingdoms of the , and ventured to Ȟamsan, Uytai, and Fananak; there are tales that they made the long sea voyage to Neinuoi and to Ereláe, and even travelled the inner world to other earths. More than once they quarrelled and spent weeks or years apart, and twice they fought— once without serious injury, once almost killing each other.

Ŋar was small for a , but strong and long-enduring. She had a quick wit, and remained cool and dispassionate in battle or other crises; but she formed few attachments, and never forgot a perceived slight. She was expert in Bé protocol and was a consummate actress, but had little patience with society, and used these skills only to accomplish a mission. She could be generous with the poor and the persecuted, but a merciless and sure killer when she chose. More than one nation banned her or tried to have her killed; on the other hand, she performed delicate and dangerous missions for the queen of Belesao, and became a trusted councillor of the queen of Łeisau. In her early life she dallied often with pretty boys; in middle age she preferred long-term though not exclusive relationships, though she lived with none of her lovers.

In her later life she was abbess of a nunnery in upper Łeisau, where she trained respectable young women for military careers. Her adventures with Fánao, who then lived in Mǎɔmê, were fewer, though their friendship remained strong.

Fittingly, we have three contradictory accounts of her death, which must have occurred early in this century: that she died defending her abbey against Mɔłɔ assassins; that she perished in a suicide mission, destroying a Kebreni ship which was attacking Mǎɔmê; or that she succumbed to venereal disease.

See also

Ŋar and Fánao explore the temple of Kâ