Qui's story starts like many, a simple lonely child on the streets.
It is unclear who her parents were or why she was on the street, she never once even questioned it. They simply were never in the equation, no tragic avenging their deaths, no seeking them out for answers as to why they would leave their oh so tragic only child blah blah blah…
Qui was about 5 years old and much like the rest of the urchins, she had to do something to get the average stranger to drop a coin at her feet or in her open hands. As with all the other Beggars, they only got one meal a day at the local temple, and the city itself wasn't necessarily very well known for its charity.
Qui was a clever girl, she was smart enough to realize the empathy people felt when looking at the downtrodden, and the happiness they felt when entertained.
Thusly she quickly made it her business to learn when and how to use be certain situations to her advantage. Quickly rolling in the mud and then crying on the street corner tended to get her a fresh hot bun or two from the lone women who walked the streets in the markets, plinking away at a little half rotten lute and singing songs either outside the tavern or by the temple qould earn her a coin or two depending on what song she played
But it was not long until one of the local drunks, a very old gnome took to her clumsy attempts at music and with a fair amount of spare time, he took to drunkenly teaching her how to play the lute. But she was young and smart and took to it very quickly. It would be a lie to say that the man ended up being truly meaningful to her, but he did give her the first steps towards her rather colorful life even if he was all but forgotten in time.
The old drunk wasn't necessarily a saint despite his charity. With a substantial debt, he didn't say so much as a single word when the young naive Qui put herself between debt collectors of the local organized crime syndicates and the old gnome who taught her music.
It's unclear what the loan shark was thinking, the quick game of chance but he offered did end up being quite beneficial. Win… and the gnome goes free… his debt is extremely minor anyways, but lose… and you'll be on the next slave ship to pay off that debt.
For a game of chance, it never really came to her how much she was actually risking. Luckily, she won.
But what she won wasn't just leniency for her teachers debt. She was given an address and told to show up and give the man who answered the door a small scrap of paper.
Once he did so, she was invited in, given a hot meal, another piece of paper and another address. When she showed up to there, she was given a coin another piece of paper and another address.
Happy with where this was going, she kept delivering the paper, what she didn't know was that she was the newest member of the local underworld crime families. She had become a runner, and despite her new position in the criminal organization, even when she eventually discovered the context of her position, she did not stop.
She was still a child, but she has spent her entire short life watching how the world moved and functioned in order to wedge herself into a position where she could benefit from the daily existence of the world around her. This new life had very little difference.
She quickly took to notice that the local guards all but ignored the little urchin girl and she could easily make her way through windows and a back alley doors unnoticed. If ever one of them even started to get suspicious, she would simply pull out her lute, playback few strings and ask for money. It would get her pushed over or ignored, occasionally insulted oh, but never once did they actually stop and search her.
At age 10, she took to pickpocketing, at 11 she took to specific targeted theft. If the local family members needed something very specific from someone who didn't want to hand it over, Nimble hands would take, and sad desperate eyes of a starving orphan would stay blades.
At 12 she took up whole new positions and was actually recognized by the local families as a useful agent. Her little "traveling shop" was stopped very often by the guards due to Sticky Fingers or easily identifiable missing items showing up in her Wares. But a crying child "obviously" being set up as a patsy could never really be guilty could she?
By the time she was 14, Qui had fully been taken on as a fencer of stolen goods. She even own her own little shop at a dirty street corner where she would consistently get away with selling stolen goods. For her youthful beauty had truly been coming in strong. The older she got, the more she noticed that small inconsistencies in stories or suspicious physical contact became "silly misunderstandings" and "clumsy girl."
Just as she grew up understanding she can use her childlike appearance and situation can make people turn a blind eye, she began to understand the value of beauty. At age 16, she would regularly make use of the lapse in a man's judgment whenever he saw just a little bit too much skin, or perhaps when he heard the plight of a "silly young Maiden who didn't understand that she was being cheated by being sold ill-gotten goods."
She was good enough that she was rather consistently getting reimbursed by the guards whenever a shipment was discovered. She likely would not have been able to get away with most of her shenanigans in a proper City, but Tes'vath was especially rotten. Even though it was extremely far and few in-between, she would have to and very easily grease a few palms and the guards would leave her alone.
But despite the crime rich city and easily corrupted guards, the first time in her life, manipulation and Corruption was not necessarily going to be a positive force.
Tes'vath was its own city-state for quite a while well over a century, but with multiple warring Nations, it didn't take long before it was snatched up and its ports used for the local war efforts. An influx of soldiers brought much-needed excess to the underworld of Tes'vath, sadly, soldiers who couldn't pay their debts started showing up in the river and none too pleased officers sent in their reports. The infamously corrupt Tes'vath what's quickly visited by an immense opportunity as well as a horrible danger.
The Taalias family, an old and powerful lineage of Aasimar excessively loyal to Bahamut and endlessly well known for their Paladin's clerics and priestesses. Or rather, extremely well known for their Paladin's clerics and priestesses who go from City to City brutally rooting out corruption and putting it to the flame. And now they were in Tes'vath or one notable member was.
Galladia the Maiden. Said to have been born attuned to the Heart of Truth, a magical gemstone of immense size switch on the night of the new moon, when activated by a priestess attuned to it, would bless the very ground it sat upon to compel all sinners from the cruelest of murderers to the most petty teller of white lies to confess their sins.
Upon the arrival of the Taalias family and the Heart of Truth. Qui was given her most risky mission. She almost never accepted assassinations I've killing wasn't necessarily something she was comfortable with, so she was given the simple task of stealing the Heart of Truth and if easily done or convenient, to kill Galladia the Maiden.
Whatever the situation, they simply needed to ensure that the biggest and most powerful members of the underworld would survive this event.
And while the ritual was restricted to the new moon, due to several events carefully playing out, Qui had roughly a month-and-a-half before the ritual would take place.
If she succeeded, she would have more than just a better standing with the syndicate, and more importantly, if she failed… Not only her income but her whole way of life would fall through her fingers like a loose sand.
She was not the only one assigned to the project, and to keep the Taalias family busy the local syndicates had arranged all of their less-than-desirable members to feed the searching and inquiring paladins and clerics fresh sinners to punish like a hungry old God demanding sacrifices. The more and more they lead their underperforming and Troublesome members into the waiting hands of overzealous paladins the further and further the city's attention would go from Galladia the Maiden and the Heart of Truth. After all, even if a sophisticated and advanced mining complex was being built, who wouldn't stop to pluck gold off of the very walls?
It was mere hours after the assignment was given that Qui made her way to the temple, and it was there that something very odd happened.
Qui had become near instantly enthralled by the beauty of Galladia. There was a fair amount of plans and plots going through her head, but she decided right then and there that she could not kill the maiden. She did however, decide right then and there that she would at the very least attempt to tempt the Maiden.
And for the first time in her entire life, Qui's honest efforts and well-executed silver tongued advances had been turned down. It was almost infuriatingly baffling to her. It had been so far beyond her ability to truly believe that someone, anyone would put dedication to a higher cause over what she considered innocent fun.
And moreover, she had never been turned down before. But she was persistent, everyday she would go to the temple and exchanged words with Galladia, who to her credit was immensely polite and did not turn her away. Eventually she began to actually enjoy speaking with the young woman. She would never stop trying to have fun, and Galladia would never stop turning her down. But the two actually started to bond.
It was truly an odd pairing, they have begin to become friends which was not necessarily in violation of her contract or any rules she abided by. But the longer it took, the more impatient the syndicates got. And it took a little bit of convincing to get her fellows off of her back about her mission.
Qui began going to the Daily Services listening to Galladia recite the scriptures and sing. She began to learn as the Maiden spoke to the masses. And eventually she even started to slowly attend the choir. It took time but she was a quick learner, what started off as her trying to convince Galladia ended up becoming a genuine interest. She began to realize that she was not converting, seducing, or otherwise turning Galladia. But instead, Qui was being converted, being seduced, she was being turned.
She had been prioritizing religious services and dedicated time to this Priestess while her job was fully and utterly being neglected. This realization drove a cold shock through her, for the first time ever Qui stepped back and evaluated her life. There was so much going on and despite her street smarts and how good she wasn't getting out of trouble or reading a mark… She hadn't seen this coming.
And what bothered her the most, from the depths of her soul was that she didn't mind. There was something else inside of her, something that pulsated, something that flowed stronger than she'd ever felt. Perhaps it was her relative youth, or perhaps she wasn't as smart as she thought. But it took her far too much time to realize the simple truth.
She loved Galladia.
Love was not something she had ever felt. She had no parents, and every person she had ever really known likely would have slit her throat for the change in her Pockets had she not have some form of protection or would have made them work for it.
Love, it was something one simply did not find in Tes'vath.
There was a fair amount of concern from all sides when she went missing for full two days. And it was to her extreme surprise that Galladia had come in person to find her. Words Works changed in private, and when the maiden finally left it did not take long before the syndicate and her old companions too confronted her.
There was precious few days between the present and the next new moon. Her actions and lack of actions had called into question her loyalty to Tes'vath's underworld.
An ultimatum was laid before her, but despite the words coming from her criminal comrades, the ultimatum truly rested within her heart. As the hours passed and the deadline quickly approached like a great predator circling its prey, she finally came to a decision.
Shaken and unsure of herself, she slowly walked through the city. She slowly made her way to the temple District. Entering the temple, she was greeted warmly and there she waited watching the Maiden preach, listening to her sing as the beggars and repentant sinners sat at her feet. She prepared to change her life forever.
Just as the song wound to an end, she took her shaky steps forward. But when her lips parted, screams filled the air. Looking back across the city, great plumes of poison smoke flooded the streets and Rifts into demonic realms began to open.
One of the enemy Nations had just launched a surprise attack. Appealing to the darker cults and local warlocks an enemy Nation had decided to purge the city so it could be retaken, it's ports denied to the war effort.
Only just barely realizing what was going on, Qui took the hand of Galladia and demanded that they flee the city immediately. But the maiden would not leave without the innocent who had gathered to hear her words.
Cursing under her breath, Qui agreed I'm using routes and secret passages known to only her and those of the criminal elements, she led one Priestess and a small handful of Biggers, widows, and children through the city under attack.
But the poisoned plumes and the demons proved to be more than just a minor problem. Galladia's life-giving Magic kept the group moving, but they lost three on the first encounter with the demons in the streets, another two fell to poison before they reached the next District, little by little the small handful was whittled down to Qui, Galladia and one child, and even then, it fell to just Galladia and Qui but the time they reached the secret passages in the walls.
Barely managing to get through and throw themselves into the river, the two slipped in silence Downstream until they pulled themselves out of the water and into the cold night.
But fate hadn't been cruel enough to Qui. Barely even able to pull herself out, as she brought Galladia to the shores, she can hear only a faint whisper of pain and sadness before the maiden's last breath escaped her lips.
She had been a potent Magic user, but casting relentlessly to keep civilians alive as they fled the city was more than enough strain. Purging the poison from their lungs, repairing the damage it did, it was far too much and in the end, in the last few steps she had only enough strength to protect one of them from the poison entirely.
She had died in her selflessness leaving Qui, the young Tiefling woman truly alone for the first time.
Qui found the Heart of Truth in Galladia's bags, and dug a grave with her bare hands laying the maiden caressed beneath a willow tree. What happened next isn't necessarily clear. But rumors of a quiet and extremely skilled fence in the next city begin to spread. A beautiful young woman capable of selling any stolen item no matter how valuable. It is said that she showed up in the city the same night that the legendary Heart of Truth thought lost in the razing of Tes'vath was found on the very doorstep of the Temple of Bahamut wrapped carefully in blood-stained bandages.
Of course no one knows who could have possibly survived the onslaught that leveled the entire city of Tes'vath, and even greater a question, why they didn't step forward and announce themselves, perhaps it was divine will which Spirited Away the artifact.
Or, maybe… Just maybe… It was a poor soul with a shattered heart, Torn Between Two Worlds only to have both brought crumbling to dust between her fingers.