Kivana was not a well-loved child. The best she could hope for growing up was indifference, and that suited her just fine. She was proof of her mother's indiscretion, the bastard child her family shunned to the basement and pretended did not exist. She never knew her real father, though she heard many whispered rumors about him by listening to the servants and others talk when they forgot she was near, or had no awareness of the small, curious child hidden away in the piles of fresh laundry, or behind boxes of food in the pantry. Some claimed he was a magician, a devilishly handsome man who'd seduced her mother into an extended affair while he'd been staying briefly in Iberica along his travels. But, most discarded that notion, since it left Ferrina, Kivana's mother, mostly blameless, after all, who among them could resist the enchantments of a dashing sorcerer. More often, they spoke of him as a hedonistic bard of ill-repute, who wooed her mother with poetry and charm, but whom Ferrina was quite happy to spend time with, as she had numerous others while her husband, Orvan, was away on business.
Kivana grew to prefer the idea of her father as a wandering minstrel, since she had little love for her vain and insipid mother, and knew well that the rumors of her frequent infidelity were true. She came to know all the dirty little secrets in her mother's fancy household, and this knowledge made her understand the truth that lies behind the facade of society. She was an outcast, denied by those who grudgingly provided her food and shelter, looked down upon by those who believed themselves better than. She had free reign in the city, allowed to wander as she liked, as long as she remained out from under foot and away from the resentful eyes of her family. She began to spend time with others like herself, the forgotten and unwanted children, the poor and morally flexible. There she had friends who did not care that she was a bastard, or that she was different, and she was free to be herself in their company.
Her gift for sneaking into places where she ought not be, and cleverness earned her an apprenticeship, though it was hardly formal, with an outlaw known as Sly Kurstan. He'd once been a Gunslinger of note, but time and drink had put a tremor in his hands, though neither had dulled his mind. When he was sober enough, which was not exactly often, he would instruct Kivana in the use of what he considered to be the only really worthwhile weapon. She took to guns in a way many could not, and grew to respect them, even revere them, as Kurstan did. She also served as his look-out, spy and sneak thief, slipping into places he could not get into, and seeing things he could not see. Her family was no-doubt relieved when they discovered that Kivanna had vacated her grim basement room without a word of good-bye, taking with her only the few personal items she'd accumulated during her relatively short life, and some food from the pantry. Orvan might have blustered about the fine bottle of spirits she'd pilfered from the cellar, but upon reflection had likely considered it fair trade to no longer have his wife's bastard under his roof.
The spirits she gave to Kurstan when she announced her intention to stay with him from then on, and while the notion to object might have occurred to him, the liquor was too dear to risk. So, Kivana, at the age of twenty-five, moved in with the aging half-elf and began to teach herself what she could while he enjoyed the food she cooked and the wealth her ability for discovering secrets and thievery afforded him. Kivana made friends with the Goblins in the city, some of them at least, and they begrudgingly taught her about engineering and crafting, what she could not learn from Kurstan, she begged from those clever minds. She taught herself to deal with beasts, mainly horses, though Kurstan's ancient nag was stubborn and lazy, and fought the girl every step of the way.
When she was sixty, still fairly young for her race, Kurstan was killed in a fight with a newly minted gunslinger looking to build his reputation by cutting down the old guard. The beardless boy had heard stories of Sly Kurstan, and cared little that the legend had gone gray and palsied. Sly Kurstan still had his pride, and on the afternoon the youth called him out, he had imbibed just enough liquid courage to delude himself into thinking he was still quick and his eye still true. Kurstan shot first, but the bullet merely grazed the boy's shoulder, and a half-second later the old gunslinger was lying in the dust, with his life's blood spilling from his gut. Kurstan's death was not quick, or pretty, and Kivana tended to him as he grew first feverish, then mortally ill from the wound. Three days later, in a shack that reeked of fetid flesh, death and alcohol, Sly Kurstan left this world while in an alcohol-induced stupor. Kivana was alone once more.
She buried her mentor, and the closest thing she'd ever had to a father, and burned the reeking shack to the ground, all her worldly possessions tucked into the worn leather bag on her shoulder. She took on Sly Kurstan's god as her own, Cayden Cailean, and worshipped in the way Kurstan had, by walking into the nearest tavern and getting uproariously drunk. In the midst of her send-off, and mass, she heard that beardless youth bragging to all who would listen about how he'd beaten old Sly Kurstan in a duel, and sent the legendary gunslinger crawling home with a bullet in his gut. Kivana had never been drunk before, and perhaps she would have thought twice about her next actions if she hadn't been just then, but she had spent the last three days watching the only person who'd ever treated her kindly, who'd ever seen her as being worth something, go mad with sickness and pain. So, perhaps she would have done what she did anyhow. She turned from her drink and retrieved her musket, took aim and painted the rear wall of the tavern with the young boy's brains.
No one moved as she walked across the room, unsteady on her feet, but with a cold eye and rock-solid hands, and removed the gunslinger's purse, leaving a few coins before his body as payment for his funeral. She carried the remaining gold back to her seat at the bar, finished her drink in one swallow, and left the tavern in utter silence. She walked to the nearest authorities and turned herself in, prepared to accept her punishment for the murder of the man who had killed her mentor. She was tried and sentenced to twenty years hard labor in service to the crown, which in time saw her pardoned if she agreed to take on a job aboard an air ship, the Sasskiana. She jumped at the chance for adventure, with the thought of her unknown father lingering in the back of her mind.