The Maiden of Masks
Tifanah Jespar was born during the Age of Enlightenment to a noble lord and lady of Qeynos. At a young age, Tifanah’s father, Lord Jespar, succumbed to a deadly plague, leaving Tifanah and her mother alone and without income. Unable to deal emotionally with the loss of her beloved father, Tifanah would dress in her parents’ clothing to temporarily take on new identities and play out make-believe roles so she wouldn’t have to face her own pain.
The Lady Jespar sought to maintain her standard of living she had become accustomed to while her former husband was alive and profiting from sound merchant and business practices. The beautiful widow initially had many suitors because of her prestige and wealth, but Tifanah’s strange play-acting, made up stories, and her fondness for wearing masks of her own creation would scare off all of the upper class men that came calling on her mother. This would only further add tension between the mother and daughter’s strained relationship.
As a young lady in her early teens, Tifanah had the occasion to see a traveling troupe of Antonican Bard actors that came to Qeynos. The elaborate customes, the accepted, even applauded make-believe acting, and the ability to tell a story of imagination all greatly appealed to the youth who chose to hide behind masks. She stowed away with the troupe for a time hiding in the costume coach as it pulled out of the city. It wasn’t until they were in the Highpass Mountains on the way to Highkeep that she was discovered.
The bards weren’t to keen on finding another mouth to feed, especially one that couldn’t really help pull her own load, but the kindly costume seamstress said she’d look after the young one. The troupe didn’t have the money to turn back to Qeynos, so far out, but feared they would be accused of kidnapping. It was agreed that Tifanah could stay with them, for safety, but only until their regular circuit brought them back to Qeynos. They also quickly dispatched a letter through the bard mail service to her mother to explain the situation.
The seamstress, having no children of her own, happily took to teaching Tifanah costume making. Tifanah learned the art of sewing, tailoring, and using makeup to achieve many different fanciful looks. The other bards took to the young lady and taught her singing, acting, even a smattering of simple magic spells. She would also learn of Fizzlethorpe Bristlebane, god of Mischief and patron god of entertainers.
During all this time though, Tifanah would not speak of her own past and would instead make up fanciful stories. Each bard in the troupe heard a different tale. No one knew for sure just exactly what her family did for work, how many siblings she had, or even her favorite color. The Antonican Bards were sad to part ways with Tifanah when they came back to Qeynos, but as a gift they let her play a role in her final play with the troupe.
Back at home, Tifanah refined the lessons she was taught, and her stories and costumes got more and more elaborate. The Lady Jespar’s finances were running low and her plan was to get Tifanah married off to a wealthy young man of a prestigious family in Qeynos. Tifanah would have none of it thought. She didn’t want to marry or become one of those boring, giggling women of the court. She wanted to assume new identities and focus on the magical skills she discovered while with the troupe.
When the Lady Jespar would arrange a meeting between her daughter and a suitor, Tifanah would always assume a new role to scare off the young man. She would make her face hideous with makeup, or create costume dresses that made her look extremely large, or wear ratty clothes that made her look poor. Tifanah took great pleasure in thoroughly running off the boys with her creations.
In the meantime, Tifanah studied magic. She was particularly fond of magic that could change her appearance and sought to master as many illusions as possible. She became so proficient at her illusions that not even her teachers could see through them. Tifanah loved to trick her teachers by assuming the likeness of other students or colleagues and playing tricks on them. Then one day Tifanah would just disappear. No one knew where to look for her, and didn’t even know of where to start. Every once in a while the Lady Jespar thought she noticed a stranger here and there would give her an odd look, but she could never be sure who it was.
As a young adult, Tifanah would be exalted by Fizzlethorpe Bristlebane to become the demigoddess of an extension of the Plane of Mischief, the Sphere of Illusions. She would take the title “Maiden of Masks” and was said to be especially protective of young women who sought their own role in life, and not the one intended for them by others. Young children who had tearfully lost a beloved parent sometimes found a small masquerade mask under their pillow in the morning, or spoke of a beautiful masked lady who hugged them and let them cry in the middle of the night.