Mara-Kai was born somewhere around the border between Ryn-Alar and Argentia. Her parents were both actors traveling with a performance troupe. She grew up working, often helping her mother sew costumes, or help with props and scenery, and occasionally performing small parts in the plays. When in Ryn-Alar, her parents kept themselves disguised as humans so as not to draw ridicule from the human citizens. Mara-Kai always keeps her disguise kit handy, keeping her tell-tale blue skin covered with make-up and always wearing a wig.
She had a happy and trouble-free childhood. Her parents’ troupe was popular wherever they performed so money was never an issue. She had many friends among the children of the other performers. Much to her parents dismay, Mara-Kai was much more tomboyish than they’d prefer, often choosing to run around with a wooden sword having mock battles with the little boys than to sit quietly and play dolls with the little girls. She always had an interest in swordplay, and several of the actors snuck her a few lessons here and there when her parents weren’t watching.
When Mara-Kai was sixteen, the troupe was attacked between cities by a group of thieves intent on taking everything they could possibly sell. The women hustled the children to safety while the men took up swords to defend the troupe. Mara-Kai picked up a sword without a second thought and ran off to defend her family and friends. The thieves had clearly expected an easy job of it, and when the troupe fought back they quickly ran off.
Mara-Kai’s parents were dismayed at their daughter’s behavior. Clearly the traveling lifestyle was bad for her. They bought a small property just inside Argentia and opened a tailoring and upholstery shop. Mara-Kai tried to settle down with them, but she’d grown up traveling and missed it. When a caravan passed through their town two years later and spread the word that they were looking for able-bodied guards, Mara-Kai leapt at the opportunity. After a tearful good-bye with her parents, she left them to make her own way in the world.
Several of the other guards took a liking to her, and when they discovered that though she had some small talent for swordfighting, she was much more enthusiasm than technique. They took it upon themselves to instruct her, and within a year she became a competent swordsman.
A year and a half after she joined the caravan, she attracted the attention of one of the older guards, an ancient old elf by the name of Sandriel. He’d been watching her from afar and noticed her blossoming talent. He drew her aside and confessed that he’d been keeping an eye on her and thought she had the makings of a swordmage. He offered to teach her everything he knew to pass on this delicate and beautiful art. Mara-Kai accepted, and worked diligently under his careful tutelage.
While they were passing through a mountain pass, a young dwarf joined the caravan. He soon introduced himself as Ianmar, and they began to spend much of their free time together. Their friendship solidified when Mara-Kai was briefly possessed by an unknown deity to bestow invoker powers upon Ianmar. When Snadriel eventually pronounced that he’d taught Mara-Kai all he could, she and Ianmar decided to make their own way in the world, and hopefully gain some clues as to the nature of the possessing deity.