Of course we'd heard of the Shrike, but we didn't know she was here! We didn't think- I don't understand! How did she find us? Blast it, isn't she supposed to be in Mharaji?! There's nothing left now. If she is here.. If this is what she does, I'm taking my chances on the Surface. At least there, there are no shadows for her to jump out of. She can't reach us there... Yes. Surely not.
Born Sarah Galiene in the city-state of Thawke, she is now known as the Shrike, the immortal vigilante. She has come to symbolize hope where there are none, justice when no one else will seek it and terror for those with evil lurking in their hearts. Since her beginnings as an implacable nemesis of the dreaded Corpse-Walkers and the corrupt magistrates of Thawke, her legend has spread far and wide across the Inner Shell and beyond.
Decades since she first gained notoriety, the Shrike still watches from the shadows and her blades are still sharp.
The Immortal Shadow
The Shrike is a popular figure across the Inner Shell and a common figure in plays, theater acts and even children's games. Some city-states outlawed such things, but that only increase her popularity with the common folk. The weapon most commonly associated with the Shrike is an arm-long heavy chopping blade used by Hattick farmers and has become known as the Shrike's Talon.
Tales of criminals and tyrants meeting their end by the Shrike are told throughout the Inner Shell, though most of them have come to be gross exaggerations of events if not outright fabrications. But for every few fictional beasts slain in tall tales, there are wickedness brought to a bloody end.
The Mark of the Shrike
The Shrike's most distinctive feature is her mask. Made out of iron or steel and colored black, it covers her features completely and allows her victims only a last gaze of leering metal. Replicas are sometimes sold, either as tiny trinkets or decoration.
Besides her talon, the Shrike has been seen using everything from sledgehammers to crossbows with the same frightening proficiency. At different points in time, she has used weapons, thaumaturgy and brute force equally. She has been attributed to a wide array of talents, though stealth and surprise remain constants in every telling of her story.
The Shrike's most impressive ability is her legendary immortality. Though the Shrike has been struck down time and time again (even once decapitated), she always returns with a vengeance. Attempts to display the corpse have always met with terrible retribution on those who thought to be her killer. Combined with her ability to traverse the caves with unnatural ease, appearing in entirely different cities almost instantaneously, the spread of her shadow looms much larger then her presence could ever hope.
The caverns are large and the Shrike can't be everywhere at once, but she could be anywhere.
Sarah Galiene was born to a family of Cave-Capped Hatter
tenders and spent most of her childhood binding rope, battling pests and preparing Hattick to be sold to the city. Hard times and a severe infestation of Hatter Gnats drove her to seek employment in the city of Thawke proper to help support her family and it was here she first ran afoul of criminals and human predators. Life in the caverns does not make for meek people and Sarah proved early to be a match for any attempts to extort or rob her or her business. Her own sense of what was right and what was wrong would not let her sit by and she came to see the greedy magistrates and criminals as little better than the Gnat pests from back home.
She came to the attention of the Corpse-Walkers almost by accident. After a visit by a corpse-riding enforcer ended in blood and desperate struggle, the Shrike was born from anger. The steel mask she would wear for the rest of her days was a prize she took from the Corpse-Walker enforcer who had attacked her. He was the last to see her face before he died.
The Shrike's legend began when she turned her enemies most effective weapon against them and taught them to know fear. The Shrike would strike her foes where they least expected it and leave them flailing at shadows. First, the slave-traffickers died, then the corrupt magistrates who supported them and finally the Corpse-Walkers who pulled their strings.
The Shrike's tale reached a crescendo with the end tyrannical reign of the Merchant-King Malak. His reign over Thawke had brought devastating famine and forced labor onto its citizens and the Shrike had become hunted by the Merchant-King. Ambushed, the Shrike was struck with crossbow fire and fell into an unknowable chasm. The Shrike's end was proclaimed throughout the city and the merchant-king celebrated his victory with a great feast.
As he toasted and bragged the height of his celebrations, the Shrike struck again and nearly ended the tyrant's life during the festivities before being driven away. As tension rose throughout the city, the king's soldiers would claim to have killed the elusive Shrike several times, only for her to rise time and time again. Fear, always her weapon, had been honed to a deadly point.
In the end, it was not the Shrike who claimed the head of the merchant-king, but bloody and violent revolution, spurred on by the implacable Shrike's return from death. When the king died, the tale of the Shrike seemed to end. Fewer and fewer saw her leave the shadows in search of prey or the aftermath of her hunts.
For a time.
Several city-states away, the Shrike would suddenly appear and with powers never seen from her before. Then again, in another city-state. Truth and legend become helplessly entwined, as the Shrike seemed to roam the Inner Shell at will, sometimes appearing in cities many miles apart with only days between. Even as decades past, the Shrike always seemed to be waiting in the shadows.
She is always watching.
The Shrike is somewhat of a fiction.
Sarah Galiena donned her mask and brought the fight to slavers and corrupt nobility alike, but she is not an immortal nor ever really capable of all the talents attributed to her. In truth, Sarah really did fall to that hail of crossbow bolts but the Shrike did not. A young woman found her and nursed her, then wore the mask of the Shrike at the king's banquet. Since then, many have worn the Shrike's mask. When one falls, there is always another, angered by corruption, greed and man's inhumanity to man, who takes up the mask. This is the source of Shrike's many talents, her many supernatural traits and her immortality. The true power of the Shrike are none of those things, but have become her power to inspire others to take up the flame and force the dark to fear them.
Sarah still lives, though she is no longer active as the Shrike. An old woman (though only mistaken for "helpless" once by any one person) at this point, she fights her battles in different ways now, fighting for laws that protect the common folk. But she still watches... And more then one young Shrike have found themselves given aid and advice by her.
Sarah, the First Shrike