She was two years old when a man from the docks attacked her. No one ever found out who he was, but Usil escaped her attacker with a scar that ran across her cheek and nose. The townsfolk considered her lucky, but the incident shaped her from that point forward. Violence would become her life.
By twelve she enlisted in the nation’s meager army to repel invaders from the north. Only a third of her compatriots in arms returned with her. Again, she was considered lucky. The war settled nothing, but for now, the country was safe.
She turned fourteen and married a boy a year her junior. It was common where she came from for people to marry young. Life for too many was short and it was the opinion of people to get on living as soon as possible. Terk, her husband, was a farmer with a back like a stone pillar. He hadn’t seen the brutality of war and his innocence and gentleness is what attracted her to him. His greatest concern were the weeds in the fields and she took great comfort in that.
A year later, Usil gave birth to a boy, Kallon. They had the boy blessed at the altar of Gesh, the godess of nature. And for a time things were good. But the drums of war beat again and she headed the call. The enemy in the north had reformed it’s armies and was moving on her nation.
A sixteen year-old was given a weapon and a scrap of armor and sent into the pitch of battle. This is where Usil unleashed her bottled talent. She danced through the bloody fields harvesting the flesh of her enemies. She killed a dozen people in her first true battlefront experience.
The war dragged on for three years. Usil excelled and moved up the chain of command. Her skills with an axe caused the enemy to call her “Blood painted”. Her intuit understanding of tactics made her company one of the most efficient. The army leaders took notice.
At the end of the war, the invaders were decimated and pushed back into the north. Usil returned home to her husband and child. She would not be a farmer again though. The military wanted her trained in strategy and logistics to be a leader. For five years they schooled her and during that time she also gave birth to a daughter and another son. The blessing of Gesh was put upon them and it seemed like Usil might know peace.
She completed her schooling and was named a general in the military the same year the king died. The former king’s son, now crowned, was aggressive and unforgiving of the north. He conscripted an army to end this century long feud once and for all. Usil was put in charge of the central front.
The new war was a costly move. The north had been preparing its own invasion force and were able to stalemate most of the battles. The battle lines pushed and fell for five years. At the end of those years almost nothing changed except Usil’s country’s treasury was nearly empty.
It was looking bad. It was the dead of winter and there were no more supplies coming. Usil met with the other generals with an idea she was reluctant to try before, but desperation demanded now.
Usil’s army marched to the battle field like it had every day for the last five years and the enemy presented on the far side. The battle began, but before the forces met in the middle, Usil’s soldiers turned and began to run away. The enemy gave a greedy chase. Usil and her warriors ran into a forest with the northerners on their heals. The forest was large and deep and no army could hold a formation through it. Usil’s contingent moved straight through the forest until they got to the other side. The enemy following stumbled straight into the waiting battalion of one of the other generals. The enemy was caught out of formation and with out organization, retreated back into the woods.
This is where the entire military of Usil’s country surrounded the forest, picking off scattered troops with in the trees. By night fall, the largest army of the north was butchered under those branches. From that point forward, battles were decisive and quick and the enemy had taken to using guerrilla tactics that rarely worked.
One of the tactics the north used was to sneak small groups of soldiers into towns in the south, to kill and plunder the villages to draw the larger armies out of their lands. Mopping up these small bands took another year, but the fighting was done. Usil’s country had won.
Usil returned home to find her village in ruins. Her own home was mostly collapsed. She found her family praying at the altar of Gesh for the soul of her eldest son Kallon. Kallon had been killed by the northerners. Upon hearing this, Usil flew into a rage. She could not escape violence, even in the sanctuary she believed she was returning to. With nowhere for her anger go, she blamed Gesh, her goddess, for the failure to protect her family. She kicked the stone altar over and it split in half when it hit the ground.
For this act of desecration, a mist poured out of the broken altar and covered Usil. She let out a scream of pain mixed with sorrow. When the mist dissipated, a creature covered in fur and jutting fangs from its mouth stood before Usil’s family. Usil had been cursed.
She fled from her family, from her village, from her country. She fled north, a land she knew better than her own homeland. She found a cave and took residence. During the night she would hunt animals to eat and during the day her horrid wailing frightened the peasants that lived near the cave. Rumors of a monster living there spread and soon, Usil found herself defending herself from would be adventurers trying to make a name for themselves for slaying her.
She killed them all, easily. Her now hideous form made her battle skills ten times more deadly. She kept a collection of skulls outside the cave as a warning to future assassins. Ten years passed. Her heartbreak grew numb and the routine of slaughtering the local wildlife and occasional monster hunter kept her occupied enough to not think of her life before.
One day, like any other, Usil heard the footsteps outside the mouth of her cavern. She moved with startling speed to dispatch the new challenger. When she emerged from the mouth of the cave she found a boy, maybe 15 years of age, with a sword and a necklace of monstrous teeth. It was all she need to see. She pounced on the boy, his sword spun off into the forest. She pinned him to the forest floor and raised a mighty claw to shred him when she heard someone call out her own name.
She looked up and to her great surprise saw Terk, her husband, looking much older and armed to the teeth. With him as a girl of 16 pointing a crossbow. Terk approached her, tears welling in his eyes.
“Usil, thanks the gods, we’ve found you!” Terk exclaimed as he approached the monster. Usil recoiled though, trying to cover her face with her enormous claws.
“Don’t look at me!,” her raspy voice pleaded. But Terk didn’t hesitate, he gently took her claw into his hand and lifted from her face so he could look her in the eye.
“Oh Usil! We’ve crawled into every hole and looked in every dark place to find you. We came to bring you home. ” tears flowed freely from Terk’s face but his smile beamed. Usil melted and ten years of shame and regret pour from her eyes.
She agreed to go home with her husband and children. She didn’t know how the village would take a monster living among them, but with every step she took towards home the curse lessened. By the time she looked upon the homestead Terk had rebuilt, she was back to old form. From that day, she never so much as swatted a fly and lived the rest of her days growing vegetables with her family. She considered herself very lucky indeed.