|Date of Birth||33 AC|
|Date of Death||Unknown|
|Claim to Fame||Master thief and entertainer|
Ainife was a notable Feka Asha performer and master thief who profited from acquiring various Altalar treasures either by ransoming them or selling them to the black market. At a young age, living in a tumultuous Daendroc, she found solace in the arts of dancing and acrobatics, investing her time and effort in them. With her skills and the oddity of her appearance, she rose in popularity and was given the name of “Leaping Night” that referred to her rabbit ears, and also the nature of her dances that made the night pass. She used her position to infiltrate homes and venues, slipping into rooms and more. Her exploits remain in stories told to Asha, Ailor, and Altalar alike. To this day she is considered an inspiration to those who wish to carry themselves with her beauty and grace, or to have her cunning and become rich beyond their wildest dreams.
Origins and Early Life
Born in 33 AC to a pair of former slaves, Ainife had a good childhood as a result of the stresses and efforts her parents made. Her parents were an Asha and an Ailor, whose lives had been marred by the atrocities in their earlier lives as slaves of the Altalar. After the Cataclysm and the Wildering occurred, they ran from their respective masters and participated in the Great Journey. In the midst of the chaos, Ainife’s Asha mother and Ailor father somehow connected, and the latter made an odd decision to escort her. Once they arrived in the Ashal lands they decided to elope, leading to the birth of their Feka Asha daughter. She was to be an only child, and Ainife lived in a society that was not sure about how to see her. In the eyes of many, she was the vision of the Ailor who had attacked them during their path home. At the same time, atop her head, two rabbit ears were present and a sign of her being a part of the Asha. Stuck in this middle ground, Ainife craved some sense of belonging and found it amongst a group of traveling performers. They were a group composed of Ailor, Asha, and even an Altalar, but not as the leader by any means. Either in her late teens or early twenties, she made her choice and left with a similar set of musicians, dancers, and acrobats.
The main bulk of her early days as a performer were filled with countless days and nights of training. Though not as dangerous as The Great Journey of her mother, the troupe’s own routes tended to be subject to attacks by roving bands of thugs in Daen. This factored into the Feka Asha’s training, prompting her to learn subtlety and swiftness. Her teacher, whose name is lost to history, is said to have taught her how to be both prideful and resourceful with her mixed identity; in tandem, these traits led to her first successful heist. What prompted it varies, but most historians and storytellers agree it started in the Northern Altalar Kingdoms when Ainife’s teacher fell ill and the caravan lacked the funds to find a doctor or purchase medicine. With her own plan, the woman charmed and tricked her way into the estate of an affluent Altalar curator. She performed a mesmerizing dance with acrobatics weaved in, considered to be a trademark of her style. She used the favorable position to gain access to the vault containing some pre-Cataclysm Artifacts, art, and other precious items. Under the cover of three nights, she stole just enough each time, managing to leave with little to no suspicion placed upon her, drawing her first case to a close.
After a few more successful heists, she and her mentor left the troupe. With their new independence, the heists continued. Ainife was able to steal from Haelstram, Othenron, Meddlemmor H’tallin, and parts of the Ithanian Hivres. Her crimes number upwards into the hundreds, or even thousands for those who like to exaggerate the tales most. Both her dancing and her thievery contributed to her eventual moniker ‘Leaping Night’.
To many, the near end of Ainife’s life is the least concrete portion of her stories. In one version, her life ended when she was caught red-handed as her growing greed prompted her to take more than she could carry. It was then revealed to be the plot of a crafty Altalar who brought her to justice, having her executed for her continuous crimes as they came to light. Another version, more beloved by admirers, documented that the woman never was caught, and in fact settled and invested the riches she accumulated towards creating a place for people like her who sought glory and acceptance either in Andois or Caslin, after which her crime spree ended and she settled down to become a teacher of performing arts. Once old age caught up to her, she died peacefully, surrounded by her apprentices.
During performances, the young Asha in her prime would speak little, if any words at all, opting to focus on her actions. She tended to regard most patrons with an odd, cold, but enticing demeanor. She was professional and composed, yet never wore her full emotions on her sleeve. Offstage and with familiar company, Ainife is thought to have been more of a vibrant personality just like her dances. She was said to have been eager to talk and bright-minded with thoughts of future targets and goals. To some, it was said that she genuinely cared for every audience member and embraced people of different backgrounds except the Altalar, despite them making up a good portion of her demographic when she toured the Northern kingdoms, as she held a hatred for the marks they left upon her parents. Some say her animosity lessened into her later years, but whether this is true is difficult to discern.
When her name is heard, Ainife invokes either disdain or admiration, but most consistently, fascination. Altalar, Ailor, and Asha alike grew up hearing one or more of her heists in the forms of stories as children and in plays and books as adults. The space left from the lack of information on some portions of her life has given various writers and playwrights more than enough retellings to capitalize upon. In spite of this, she tends to be portrayed as a tragic heroine or a blind villainess who either cannot see the error of her ways or is manipulated by others. The Altalar tend to dislike her the most, attributing the loss of pre-Cataclysm Artifacts to her. The Asha are mixed in their view of her because of her mixed status, but some have decided to be more accepting as she lived true to the teachings of Itjawetekh, the Baskarr Heron of cunning and dignity. The Ailor share a similar mixed view as some hold distaste sourced from her race or criminal history, while others see her as a femme fetale to be adored, especially in the heavily romanticized stories that shape her to always have an altruistic reason for her crimes. The minor nation of Andois in particular has a unique love of the Leaping Night, making her a cultural figure for their mixed population. It is from the nation that the most positive and favorable adaptations of her hail from. Her race and her troubled childhood followed by her later fame made her an ideal candidate for daring and yet suitable tales, which perpetuated the liberal beliefs and equality of Andois. In the present day, fans of Ainife, who are dancers, acrobats, or thieves, seek to emulate the mastery of her arts, her fame, and her wealth.
The lack of clarity about her later life makes it unclear if her lineage exists or not. Yet, other factors also lead to further confusion such as the lack of confirmation on her romantic relationships and affairs during her work. Some say that she married her mentor and they had a plentiful family line. While others believe that she had no interest in starting a family and that her family ended with her. It is more than likely that there never will be a clear cut answer.
- Some iterations of Ainife’s story have her mentor be the Baskarr Heron Itjawetekh in disguise, citing how the mentor taught her how to be crafty, but not lose her self-respect by stooping too low.
- More recent iterations of Ainife’s escapades have often been made more racy. However, in truth, most traditional accounts of her have little to do with such.
- Some people believe that Ainife’s hidden vault of stolen treasures is hidden somewhere in Daendroc.