Arslan's extended family are the descendants of a small clan of Shifters who lived in a cliffside city on a mountain range for ages and ages. Their domain was threatened at the beginning of the War and they took sanctuary in Sharn. There they discovered that their head for heights made them naturals to construct, maintain, and repair the highest towers in the city.
The companies in charge of these public works were corrupt and--while the Skywalker clan shifters earn more than a lot of people in Sharn, they're still hardly prosperous. (IF they scrimp and budget, they can provide a home for their wife and children without their wife having to work. But that's a stretch.)
The old men in the Skywalker clan have developed a habit of taking one final climb up the highest towers when they grow too old to work. They say they're climbing to the moons, but everyone knows that this is their way of facing their deaths with dignity, in a final challenge against the wind and the rain and the steel and the stone.
Arslan never was satisfied with the life of a high steel worker. After his father climbed to the moon, he'd had enough and enlisted in the army for the final years of the Great War.
Arslan never was very stealthy, but people always put shifters as scouts, so that's where he wound up. Rather than ruin the silent movement of his comrades, he made a habit of taking to the trees and the rooftops, serving a lookout, sniper, and death from above ambush expert. (It helped when the platoons artificer crafted him a magic crossbow of deep crystal and a magic chain shirt of mithril.)
Three years before the end of the war, Arslan and his troop wound up maneuvering against an enemy band of shifter scouts. The running was hard and the fighting was harder. The eneimes faked a retreat several times trying to lure them into ambushes. He didn't even realize the group had really broken when he noticed a straggler in feminine armor beneath him.
Arslan had been cured of his awkwardness about fighting women during the war. Hardening his body psionicly, he dropped from the tree with his dagger drawn and onto her back.
The girl managed to keep her feet! As they both staggered, Arslan tackled her through some bushes, loosing her halberd and his daggers. They both tumbled to their feet, unarmed. The girl, Arslan could see now, was almost fully human. If it weren't for the anamilistic light in her golden eyes he would doubt she was a shifter at all...
Then her muscles ripples and her head went almost entirely lupine and arslan had no further doubts!
The older man bulked up, nails extending into claws as he shifted as well. They wrestled for almost a minute, occasionally gouging each other but both were too heavily warded for their wounds to endure. It was only when their shifts exhausted simultaneously that Arslan was able to overpower the smaller girl and bind her in silk rope to lead back to his army in triumph.
It turned out that their main force had suffered a crushing defeat that day and they had to move five miles extra to get to the new camp. Arslan turned over his prisoner with the promise of 75% of the ransom award, then ate, crawled into his tent, and snored.
The girl haunted his dreams. She'd been young, with a fierce spirit and hopeful face. Barely old enough for love and surely too young for war!
Pained screams startled him awake in the morning. Arslan dressed quickly and followed them the cries to the front of the captain’s tent. The girl hung naked by her wrists, being stroked with a leather lash.
Furious, Arslan bellowed, “What are you doing to my prisoner?”
The captain glared at him, and he continued, “Sir, I doubt she'll be worth much ransome covered in scars!”
“New orders from the top, scout. No more ransoming prisoners back to fight us again.”
Arslan growled as the lash was lifted again and strode up to the officers, who's garuds drew their swords, “Then by right of the laws of war, I claim her as my war bride!”
There were some gasps—not that he'd invoked the right to take a slave so much as because he'd defied the captain, who'd lost friends in the most recent battle, but he laughed and cut the girl down for Arslan. “Enjoy her, boy!”
Arslan carried the girl to his tent, lay her down on the bed, and began to wash her wounds...