Florania, a sylvan bard, had always known she wanted her daughter to be raised in the sylvan forests--and Florania's husband Azuryn, a human ranger, agreed. Although non-sylvans are almost never permitted in sylvan communities, the pregnant Florania traveled to her old home and made her case to the village leaders, supported by her Azuryn's animal companion Ari, a forest wolf. The leaders eventually agreed with two conditions: he would only be allowed in a limited area of the forest and could only stay until their daughter was twenty years old--a pittance to a sylvan lifespan, but a fully grown lady by human standards.
And so, several months later, Fiara was born in the sylvan forests, rare enough to be there as a half-sylvan and rarer still that her human father was with her.
Florania lived with guilt, however, that her family would have to leave the forest in what seemed to a sylvan as no time at all. She mused to her daughter one day, thinking she was alone in the room: "Our little leaf, Fiara, who must one day fall from these trees..."
Azuryn, who had walked in without her noticing, tried to lighten the mood: "What's this, not even two weeks old and you're renaming her 'Leafiara' without me? 'Cause I do like it," he added, flashing a grin.
Florania returned a smile to him. "So do I."
Smiling Face of Salvation
Naturally very energetic, Leafiara grew up as a mischievous handful unlike anything the pure sylvans were prepared for. But thinking herself invincible, and largely actually being stronger and faster than sylvan children her age, also set her up for a near-tragedy. At seven years old she had run off to pick herbs on her own when something put a large hole through her midsection, killing her instantly and unexpectedly.
There were no known witnesses to the event and to this day Leafi doesn't know what happened; it might have been a wild boar goring her on its tusk, an unusually prejudiced sylvan firing an arrow and clearing away the evidence, or a practicing mage's spell gone astray. She only knew she lay there dead in a still and helpless panic, an eternity of terror to a child even though only a few minutes in reality. A cleric arrived to save her, soothing the girl with a gentle smile and a warm, almost motherly voice that would never leave her memory.
And so Leafia, whose stamina and energy could easily have led her to take after her parents and become a ranger or a bard, knew that she must one day became a cleric--with the hope that she could one day be to others that smiling face of salvation.
Actress of Many Masks
Although she was clearly different from others throughout her time in the sylvan forests, Leafi established her place in the community starting in her early teenage years after her parents encouraged her to join a theater troupe, where she began discovering her love of music, dance, and whimsical outfits.
Her mother helped her develop a strong and clear singing voice for her age, which got her foot in the door, but being the only half-sylvan of the troupe eventually led her to become one of its cornerstones. Sometimes told that she was a blessing from both Tilamaire and Cholen, Leafiara's distinct appearance led to her being frequently asked to play a variety of human characters simply to look more believable, giving the girl leeway to expand her acting range and avoid being typecast. There was never any predicting what personality, profession, race, or even gender Leafi would portray next time she stepped on the stage, and she embraced them all with pride.
Leafiara wasn't quite as unlimited an actress as she or some audiences came to think, however. In her troupe's eyes she was never able to convincingly play a romantic role even in practice, though they found her acting slightly more credible if her love interest was female. She could also never master portraying a villain unless the character was comedic, over-the-top, or covert. In an infamous incident, Leafi also literally "broke a leg"--and an arm--mere seconds after putting on a pair of heels for a princess costume, after which she swore it was the one and only time she would ever wear them.
Despite these shortcomings, Leafi was believable enough in the roles she did play that she was sometimes teased with questions over which of her many faces was the real one. Some in the community also had concerns, largely unspoken, about whether she had become a proficient enough actress to raise doubt over her sincerity and openness in everyday life.
Coverup and Fallout
Throughout her young life, Leafiara's parents had withheld the truth of Florania's deal from her, pushing that they wanted to leave the forest as a family when she was of age instead of explaining that Azuryn had to leave. However, her parents' guilt grew as they saw their daughter become more entrenched with her theater troupe and, after realizing she might not want to go, they revealed the truth to her five months before her twentieth birthday.
After Leafi's initial angry outburst and an extensive heated argument, she calmed down and her parents discussed their options, leaving the choice in her hands: she and her mother had the option to remain if they wished. Ultimately Leafiara decided that leaving as a family was for the best--partly because that had already been the plan, but mostly because of being upset with the village leaders for not allowing her father to stay.
Between the coverup by her parents and the isolationism of the leaders, Leafi developed a distrust of figures in power, including well-intentioned ones, and lives with suspicion of conspiracies against her as well as insecurity that everything around her could be a house of cards that falls apart for reasons unknown to her until too late. To prevent either possibility, she went on to aim to be a people pleaser in a broad sense, but also showed reluctance to get emotionally close enough to others that it would leave her vulnerable.