19 year old Ne'la looks older than she is and with good reason.
Her father was murdered when she was very young, leaving her brother Ortar to look after her mother and her. After five years Ortar heard that his fathers killer had been spotted in the area. Ortar left, promising his younger sister that he would return . He didn't.
At the age of eleven, Ne'la was left to look after her mother, whose health was declining into a deep depression without her husband ( and now her son) around her. Her mother believed that it was her fault that both of them had left and when Ne'la was thirteen she had to watch helplessly as her mother threw herself off the cliffs that were near her home.
It did not take long for the creditors to learn of her mothers death and arrive to take all that was of value from the only home that Ne'la had ever known, leaving Ne'la destitute. Her thoughts, naturally turned to finding her brother, whom she had not heard from for two years. Despite the long absence without word, she held onto the belief that her brother Ortar remained alive somewhere. All she had to do was look for him. She packed her bags of what little was left, and headed for the nearest village, hoping that Ortar had left news there. However no one had any news of Ortar and she continued her search from village to village, until at last, she decided to travel to the city of Alistan, the nearest major city around. However as she traveled the road to Alistan she walked into an ambush of 3 young robbers, who mugged her beat her and (inevitably) raped her then left her on the roadside, clothes torn and bloody. (at the time she had only been 14)
It was then that she decided that she had to learn to defend herself. She had passed a village not far back and when she staggered though the main road though, a local farmer and his daughter took pity on her and took her in. As they nursed her back to health she swore that she would repay them for their kindness before she moved on. So she worked on their farm for a couple of months as the farmers older son taught her how to use a dagger and a few hunting and tracking skills. When she decided to leave after three months of hard work the family gave her a small dagger and some silver to buy provisions with. (as Ne'la walked away she knew that they must have handed over the equivalent of three months worth of money to her. She vowed that she would return to them one day and return the money to it's rightful owners)
She was fifteen when she entered Alistan, and because she had nowhere to stay she soon learnt the law of the dark street alleyways...As she began to spend more time on the streets she was noticed by one of the head of a gang of thieves. He saw potential in her, so he offered her shelter o the understanding that she would work for him as a thief. As she learnt the tricks of the trade he told that that if she did not earn enough during any week period she would have to make it up by selling sexual favours. (in the beginning of her glittering "career" this was a regular thing!!)
There were a few things that worked in her favour. Her figure was slight and tall enough to fit though the crowds and disappear unnoticed, and the fact that she was a young female worked well for her. She began to work out the to work out the principles of thieving well, but her heart still yearned to find her brother and she said goodbye to her "boss", promising that if every she returned to the city that she would work for him again. Then she set off to look for her brother once more.
She made her way to a seaport and as she tried to make herself money she got caught by the captain of a ship in port, trying to pinch his purse. Instead of turning her over to the law however, he decided to make her a galley help, to repay her mistakes to him. She soon got her own way however, and her and the captain Rohirrem had an on board affair. (click here to read their last moments together)
He was an artist and during her time on board of the ship he drew many pictures of her, including the one above, which he gave her when she left his service the next year, still in search of her brother. He was also the one who drew the body art that she clearly sports on her back shoulders and arms..