Among the spacious plains of the Azim Steppe, herds of tamed mustangs are guided by the agile Noykin clan to the One River for drink and for trade. Little did they know that the Moks, a tribe communicating in sign language, hid among their ranks as one of their kind. However, this was not a malicious tactic, as the Moks merely used their invisibility as a shield. Their numbers were dwindling; though residing concealed in other tribes did not aid their expansion, passing down their art directly to their offspring kept their practice alive. It might even seem beneficial for the Moks to have their children depart from their current tribe to another, finding more in the fray. Perhaps it was out of fear of war or love of tradition that they typically did not move, even adopting different tribal cultures as their own. In the end, they've always had their way of life that has made them distinctly Moks.
A pair of brothers, Arav and Kete, were split between the Ugund and the Noykin, respectively. The latter came to be known for his medical profiency as he grew amongst the beast tamers, eventually attracting the affection of the udgan Yesulun. Together, they had a single son; Sali, a light to continue the Moks legacy. Their art as healers were passed down as the boy had been gifted with the same conjury wielded by his mother, aspected to the wind of the plains and waters of the khaals even as he practiced archery. As he grew, so did his understanding of their tribe's ancient language, spoken with hands as oppose to the tongue.
For this purpose, the mated pair of Moks broke away from the main group at a trading post. Upon reaching the water, they dropped their guise as Noykin temporarily so that their son, Sali, could be exposed to his true heritage. As he practiced the names of the creatures inhabiting the One River with his hands, he had encountered an individual dinstinctly non-wavekin. As he would roam up the stream, tattered gher parts and charcoal caked the western side of the river. Though, most peculiarly; nested in a wicker basket that hardly guarded against the river current, an Au Ra infant lay moaning, with stray twine torn and bloodied. Upon further inspection, he noted a piece of bark was lodged between the strands; its crude etching spelling 'ILAKHA'.
Sali was a boy of only seven summers, yet he recognized that the child could not have been that old, given his mother was a midwife for Au Ra and horses alike. Thus, he lifted the makeshift cradle from the waters warmed by the Dawn Father's rays, carrying her back to his family before the rest of the tribe. However, neither recognized the swaddled girl. Sali's parents had desired another child recently, but the given circumstances implied it could not possibly be theirs. At least, not biologically. With nobody to claim the lone child, Ilakha was promptly declared Sali's younger sister.
For the next epoch, the siblings became best friends. In between Ilakha's zoological studies, Sali mentored her in the medical arts, including aetherial manipulation. He honed his skills as a conjurer for the purpose of defense and preservation of the Noykin tribe. He believed it served his own as well, due to his belief that silence alone cannot protect his people. Albeit he always taught Ilakha that calling upon nature's bounty enhance one's power holds no limits, reality had another lesson at hand. Considering the Noykin's prowess in procuring steeds, the roaming Buduga had sets their sights on them, direly in need of curing themselves. One evening, the Moks family set out on their usual routine at the One River, however all but one would return. After spending a period observing Sali's talents in the shadows, a trio of Buduga scouts attempted an abduction once they realized the family was separated. This hadn't stopped the siblings' parents from violently objecting, but to no avail. As his mother was slain before him, Sali harbored the river's waters to form a barricade between the scouts and the rest of his family. An eleven summer-old Ilakha's desperate attempts to join the battlefield were futile. Their father hoisted her over his back, leaving the man to see only his adopted sister's sorrowful gaze as his last mental image of her.
Once Sali was hauled back to the center of the Steppe, he was rounded up with others captured by the Buduga for presenting to Daidukul Khan. For the first year, he was set under constant guard to work at their makeshift infirmary, having restrictions for his use of herbal remedies lest he plot sabotage. For survival, Sali had to prove his loyalty. This worked in his favor once he falsely pledged to forsake the Noykin, allowing him to work as a field medic. Over time, his prowess in combat - particularly in the Naadam - granted him several priveleges over the other slaves. He was not proud, but he was grateful that his manipulation had gotten him so far. In fact, he was selected to be among a band to head for the Dawn Throne, following a pact made with the Oronir for the previous Naadam. Armed with a bow to utilize his talent as an archer, he would serve as a guard for the next couple years for the males granted breeding rights with their selected Oroniri maidens.
In due time, for his healing abilities, he was reassigned by an esteemed warring leader of the Buduga, Sukhbataar, to a band bound for the Nhaama Desert with the aim of recovering some caches of the Mierqid, tracking their movements for retrieving supplies on their expedition. Their leader, Toqta, was a former tribe member of theirs and an unexpected fatherly figure to Sali. He managed to keep his distance with enough with the leader to forge a disingenous friendship, though Toqta's tales being raised as a Budugan boy still linger in Sali's mind. The trust was enough to allow him to send out a falcon, supposedly to the Dawn Throne, but he had forged a code on the parchment based in the Moks language. Thankfully, his younger sister Ilakha had found it when she moved to the Sea of Blades.
Six moons into their expedition, the band of Buduga was only interrupted by a group of Oroniri diplomats that initiated a 'slave trade', only later that evening revealing themselves to be Ilakha and her allies in disguise. She had arranged the meeting with her brother over letters, perfectly coordinated their escape right down to drugging the airag of Toqta and his head spearman, the loathsome Muunkhtuur. After witnessing his fellow Budugan udgan fall, the group boarded a flock of bonded yol before setting off over the mountains the bordered Yat Khaal. A tearful reunion was marked by the rise of the Dawn Father's rays, warming the waters of the river around them. From there and beyond, a new beginning awaited.
A fondness for serenity and unity between leaving things is what makes life meaningful to the Xaela. However, having such seemingly naive goals in life doesn't mean he wouldn't valiantly and almost aggressively defend it. Amicable, though not easily convinced, he abides by his personal law that everything comes with a price. What appears to be good luck may be an omen of unfortunate events, but just the same, the sun rises again after storms. As oppose to spreading them, he guards his views passionately, harboring a stubborn and sarcastic nature. Typically cool and calm, he holds a serious demeanor when it comes to his work as a healer. The son of a veterinarian and a midwife, he utilizes magicks he's inherited from his udgan mother in much of his duties. Considering battle more of something to be avoided if possible, even a nuisance, his pursues more domestic interests in his career, particularly as a medical botanist.
Initially seeming aloof to most strangers, both his past as a Buduga and his true tribe has contributed to his slowness in opening up, much less trusting others. His typical neutrality has simultaneously attracted and put off others. Still he shows a gentleness to his allies that repays the loyalty, even if it seems to outsiders that his own is fickle. While usually quite patient, everyone who has ever worked in a branch of customer service would understand how this can wear thin. Especially when your most frequent guest is a homeless person who often shows up for free food and alcohol, or just to borrow the couch for slumber, primarily since they're now wanted in some obscure part of the country.
Though one to keep to himself, he's used a stern outlook to help persuade his allies to act out in what he believes is their best interests. A gentle side is portrayed only to close friends, yet his worry is never concealed. It is not so much out of inability to communicate them, but rather a subconscious habit where he tends to keep quiet about his own opinions. Unless he's particularly emotionally tied to a situation, his 'best' way forward is grinning and bearing it. Unless it's a certain herbalist.
Notes & Trivia
- Much of his Common was learned during his time at the Dawn Throne.