In an arid mountain-locked plain of Gyr Abania, two traveling Miqo’te tribes set up their new homes. The smaller and weaker was the K tribe, who eked out a living by the salt lakes clustered near the center of the plain. They had a longstanding rivalry with the notorious J Tribe, which was larger, stronger, meaner, and occupied the only exit to the coast. Unable to expand and unable to leave, the K tribe made do with what food it could find and searched night and day for a fabled treasure long rumored to be hidden in this very plain. They dreamed of discovering it and using its riches to beat the Js at their own game, but as months turned into years, such prospects seemed increasingly unlikely.
The leader of the K tribe, K’Davin Nunh, was a kind-hearted but not particularly strong leader. The rest of the tribe consisted of his eight wives, their many children, and his idiot brother K’arl. The fifth wife was K’umquat, with whom K’Davin shared an almost brother-sisterly bond. K’umquat was the only wife that bore him no children, and in fact had no interest in sleeping with him whatsoever, but he loved her nonetheless.
But that all changed when M’tata arrived. A fiery orange-haired pugilist from the distant M tribe, M’tata had fled her home after coming of age and refusing to marry the M tribe Nunh. After being denied sanctuary by the J Tribe, she asked the K tribe for permission to temporarily live with them until she recovered from her long journey. M’tata and K’umquat instantly developed a very close friendship, one that K’Davin was not a fan of but tolerated out of love for his wife. The two were inseparable, staying up till the late hours talking, laughing, and sharing stories. M’tata taught K’umquat how to hunt, and K’umquat taught M’tata how to cook, care for livestock, and appreciate things in life other than punching.
When the time came that M’tata was fit to resume her search for a permanent home, K’umquat pleaded with K’Davin to let her stay indefinitely, citing a “burgeoning friendship.” K’Davin reluctantly permitted it, but K’umquat’s split devotion caused strife within the once-united tribe. The other wives started resenting the many things K’umquat kept getting away with, K’Davin was growing tired of playing second-fiddle in her affections to an outsider, and K’arl was mad that M’tata kept pointedly ignoring his repeated offers to go start a new tribe together.
They all nevertheless maintained an unstable peace…until the day K’Davin discovered that K’umquat was pregnant. He quickly flew into a furious rage, demanding to know who she’d slept with and why she would lay with somebody else when he’d been so patient with her as a wife. K’umquat tried to claim it was divine providence, but he quickly suspected K’arl despite both parties insisting they would never have done such a thing. Angrily, he jailed both of them and expelled M’tata from the tribe, never to return on pain of death.
But that very night, M’tata sneaked her way through the village and freed K’umquat from her cage. As they prepared to flee, K’arl interrupted, begging to be let out and offering to lead both of them to a new land, where he could be their Nunh. They politely declined. So instead he asked, if they were truly leaving forever, to at least reveal what K’umquat had done to get pregnant. He knew it hadn’t been him, so who?
So M’tata disclosed that she’d found a hidden mountain pass on the far side of the plain, and at the end of it was the fabled treasure of lore. But rather than bring it home, she sold the whole thing to the J Tribe in exchange for two potions of Fantasia; one to swap her biological gender for a single night, and one to turn back. K’arl promised he wouldn’t reveal their secret, but he totally lied and explained everything to K’Davin the next day, when M’tata and K’umquat were long gone. The K tribe searched for many nights, but were unable to find this mountain pass, or the wayward couple.
But M’tata hadn’t been entirely truthful to K’arl. She had indeed found the fabled treasure, but not in the mountains; it had happened during a late hunting trip on the banks of a lake near J territory. At the stroke of twilight, when the setting sun was at a very specific angle in the sky, did it reveal the mouth of a barely-visible underwater cave. It was in this cave, populated by a colony of friendly salt-swallow larvae, that M’tata and K’umquat originally found the treasure, and where they now lived in secret.
K’lyshna was born a few months later, and lived her early years with her parents among the salt-swallows. They would only leave the cave at night to hunt and gather resources, and for many years they were a happy, if isolated, family. But as K’lyshna grew older, K’umquat knew their daughter couldn’t live like this forever. She argued with M’tata that it wasn’t healthy for a growing child to have no contact with kids her own age, and that there was a whole world out there she needed to go experience. It didn’t help that K’lyshna inherited M’tata’s rebellious streak and was constantly asking when she’d be allowed to make friends who weren’t flying nudibranchs.
Once she came of age, M’tata brought K’lyshna to the J tribe and asked that they allow her daughter passage out of the plains. She lied about K’lyshna’s heritage (claiming M’tata had been pregnant with her when she first arrived) and the J tribe permitted it, rationalizing that their only beef is with anyone from the K Tribe.
So K’lyshna hitchhiked out on the J Tribe’s next supply run to Limsa Lominsa, and M’tata returned to the cave to live happily with K’umquat and the salt swallows.
K’lyshna soon found herself in an exciting new city without a friend or coin to her name. And despite her best efforts, she was unable to find anywhere to live within her price range of ‘free.’ Her initial hopes of finding a pugilist guild were dashed when she discovered it was located in an entirely different region. Making use of her only other skill, swimming, she began exploring the ocean depths hoping to find a new underwater cave to make her home. And she succeeded, in probably the least-convenient place possible: the flooded shafts of Blind Iron Mines, which had shut down years ago after running out of ore. Here K’lyshna clandestinely carved out a meager but familiar living situation for herself before looking to build her future.
Both of her parents had impressed on her the importance of getting a good education, so she seeked out the arcanist’s guild and enrolled in classes. Carbuncles were just as amazing as she’d imagined, far more tameable than salt swallows. But as she continued in her studies and learned how to summon two different types of carbuncles, she started to think the entire guild was going about summoning the wrong way. Since emerald and topaz carbuncles derive from similar aether, should it not be possible to breed them together to make a hybrid carbuncle with a mixture of both their abilities?
The arcanist guild quickly shot down this line of thinking as absurd; carbuncles are essentially mathematical equations given physical form, they are not animals, and there is no way to breed them. But K’lyshna grew up with two moms that don’t take ‘no’ for an answer, and so diligently continued her research into forming a ‘composite carbuncle’ that merges Topaz and Emerald, with a future goal of mixing even more colors together.
But her research hit a major snag when the arcanist guild, fed up with her obstinate refusal to follow proper summoning procedures, banned her from their organization. K’lyshna and her two carbuncles quickly found themselves ostracized from all the usual training resources, shunned from the academic cooperation most arcanists enjoy.
With little other choice, K’lyshna found herself involved in the underground Limsa Lominsan carbuncle-fighting pits. This illegal practice operated in the fringes of the seediest levels of society, but it was her only way to make money to fund her research and strengthen her carbuncles at the same time. At night in her underwater home, she’d use the pugilist skills her mother taught her to train with her carbuncles and make them stronger (as well as ensure she could protect herself in skid row).