Birthday: Winter 1294
Birthplace: Barren Desert
This starts with Safiyeh's grandparents. One man married one woman, and they had three children: two girls and their youngest, a boy. Out of these children, one would inherit the very nice (but now rather crowded) family mansion. Ordinarily the parents of these three would have taken the easy route and ruled that their son received the ancestral property. However, the male child was the youngest, and it was just as fair to leave the property to one of the daughters. As a result, the parents made a deal with their children. The first one of them to produce a male heir would receive their parents' property as part of their inheritance.
So... the race was on. The children each got married and set about the business of producing a son, ambitious folk that they were. The second daughter was the first to bear a child, a daughter. Quite certain that their daughter must have the upper hand and a good shot at inheriting... well, everything, her parents decided to make some interesting choices. That little problem of the baby's sex was certainly not going to stand in the way of an obviously-superior child.
The girl's parents told no one else she was female. Within her immediate family her name was Safiyeh. To everyone else, Safiyeh was a charming, if somewhat quiet, little boy named Javid.
Javid's grandparents seemed content with the results of the absurd baby race and it was only after their deaths when Javid was twelve (and her parents firmly inhabiting Javid's birthright) was the lie revealed.
Luckily for Javid-turned-Safiyeh, most of her extended family's bitterness and jealousy were directed at her parents for doing such an outlandishly underhanded thing. Some pitied the girl.
It wasn't all isolation and angst for Safiyeh herself, though. From an early age she had been taught to conceal the truth from people, to lie, to charm people into believing what her parents wanted them to believe.
She also had some of the benefits that come with growing up male. She spent time outside with the desert wanderers that occasionally passed through her region, learning what they had to teach of survival on the sands. She learned the use of a poisoned blade from them, since in most other areas of combat she could not trust herself with anything more direct. Even after the lie was abandoned, most of these men continued to call her Javid. They acted as if nothing had changed, though she grew her hair longer and adopted more feminine mannerisms. Women from the settled areas were generally not welcome on such excursions. However, the fastidious use of her male name was an open statement to the families in the city that Safiyeh would be accepted.
Her surname, Kiyankadah, was given to her shortly after this time. It means 'willed by the kings,' as if to make a very clear point. The real social authority in this region, the nomads who ensured the safety and security of the settled area, openly supported this girl. It was also an implication (privately, between Safiyeh and her mentors) that when the time came to choose new community leaders for the nomads Safiyeh, their Javid, would be chosen by the will of the kings.
Though the acceptance of her mentors meant a great deal to Safiyeh, the old lie had become a very pressing habit. Constantly being addressed by her old name by people who knew better had two effects: On the one hand it was an assurance that her name could be separated from its old associations with confusion and deceit. On the other hand, it was a constant reminder that at least part of her would always be Javid. Part of her would always be a liar.
Safiyeh found that even though she was hardly a formidable warrior, she could still be of use to her people. Since for so long her very identity rested on the perceptions of others, her awareness of outside points of view assisted her when dealing with unfamiliar people. She found that by spending time with members of other cultures she could immerse herself in their ways. Her respectful but careful approach to others became a significant asset to the diplomatic efforts of her people.
She left her people for a reason her nomadic mentors found easy to understand: She found the idea of staying in one place for the rest of her life damned-near unbearable. She wanted to see other people, other ways. They had enough travellers through the desert that Safiyeh had heard many of their stories, learning them by heart.
Most compelling were tales of something called an ocean. A great desert where the dunes were made of salted and undrinkable water. There were even animals who could breathe this water. Water as far as the horizon on all sides, and even islands. Islands! Like an oasis of land in this bizarre liquid desert.
She left, crossing the Shumans with a group of travellers from Baron and lending them her services as a guide. They were stopping in Doma on their way to Nekonia, a place that held little interest for Safiyeh. She stayed for a few days, long enough to meet a few people and watch her first snowfall. After that, she moved on. Safiyeh predicted that staying in the city would distance her too far from her own ways, that if she got used to living in Doma she would become what her people call "water-fat," and that her ways would die in her, drowned in a place where water falls from the very sky.
She left to continue her journey, heading to the coast, any coastline. She wanted to step in the water, look at the place where sky and ocean met. She wanted to see the animals in it. To taste it, and perhaps eat the animals. Safiyeh just wanted to know it, as no one in her clan did.
After that, perhaps she would go back. Perhaps all she needed was to see the world to know where she belonged. This wasn't likely, though. More probable was that Safiyeh didn't belong there either. Her people knew her, but they knew her as Javid. This Safiyeh was still new and uncomfortable to them, even to the woman herself.