Little is known about Cawti's family or childhood. Cawti's parents are Brigitta and Miklos. Cawti knows something of her parentage and has deliberately renounced it for reasons of her own. (Yendi (book): "Do you have a patronymic?" "Not any more.") We don't know if the father she renounced was Miklos or some stepfather, though.
Presumably early in her life, Cawti teamed up with Norathar e'Lanya, then a disgraced ex-Dragonlord. The partners were known as the Sword and the Dagger (Cawti was the "The Dagger of the Jhereg"). They were considered very good assassins and were very expensive.
Cawti and Norathar were hired by Laris for a hit on Vlad Taltos during a turfwar between the two. The hit was successful in that they killed Vlad; it was a fiasco in that Vlad's friends Morrolan e'Drien and Aliera e'Kieron showed up to rescue and later revivify him, and also temporarily killed both Cawti and Norathar.
The fall-out of this introduction was even more disastrous for Cawti and Norathar's partnership. Aliera arranged for Norathar to be reinstated into the House of Dragon, ending her career as a Jhereg assassin, and the newly-revivified Cawti became romantically involved with their former target, Vlad Taltos. Cawti proposed marriage to Vlad the very night that Norathar was confirmed by the Dragon Council (Yendi).
Cawti went into semi-retirement following the dissolution of her partnership with Norathar and her marriage to Vlad, although she did occasionally aid Vlad on his projects (Jhereg).
Cawti became involved with a social and political movement led by Easterner Kelly, aimed at ending Imperial oppression of the Easterners and Teckla. She was arrested on at least two occasions. Both Norathar (now Dragon Heir) and Vlad (who gained an audience with the Empress on her behalf) tried to free her, but Cawti refused release until the Empress ordered her out of jail.
Cawti and Vlad's marriage began to crumble during this time, partly because of political disagreements. They ultimately separated because Vlad got on the wrong side of the Jhereg Organization and was forced to flee. He did, however, leave her his newly acquired ownership of all Jhereg interests in South Adrilankha, the Easterners' ghetto, to dismantle as she saw fit (Phoenix).
After inheriting Vlad's interests in South Adrilankha, Cawti attempted to dismantle the organization there—which, predictably, failed, as the Organization simply sprang back up, outside of her control.
She attempted to reassert her influence, and run the organization, "more gently", but met with only limited success. This was when the Left Hand of the Jhereg began moving in, along with low-level Right Hand operatives who reported to Nylanth.
Seeing that Cawti was faced with overwhelming opposition and lacking a support organization, Cawti's old partner Norathar tried to help her regain control. However, this had the potential to prove disastrous to both the House of Jhereg and the House of Dragon, since, as the Dragon Heir, Norathar's involvement could trigger another Dragon-Jhereg War, and/or cause her to be removed as the Heir.
Out of a desire to avoid these consequences, Cawti reluctantly accepted Vlad's offer to help her. In exchange, she agreed to reveal to him a secret — the existence of their son, Vlad Norathar.
Cawti has apparently stayed in contact with Vlad's Noish-pa during his absence.
- Vlad Taltos (her estranged husband)
- Noish-pa (her grandfather-in-law)
- Vlad Norathar (her son)
- Brigitta (her mother)
- Miklos (her father)
"Right. Brilliant." --(Yendi (book))
"Oh but I did [kill you]. Six times. But I lost count and revivified you seven times."
- "--Okay now what happens when I die?" --
- "I kill him."
- "One possib- What did you say?"
- "I kill him.... Well, what did you think I'd do? Kiss him?"