Kylaia was a physically active, unconventional child. Kylaia learned to use the sling from her cousin Ogin at age six and initially learned unarmed fighting as a child by observing ostriches, zebras, giraffes, and other savannah animals After fighting to defend her sister Iyaka's honor at Nawolu trade fair, Kylaia was taken on as a student by Joesh, the Shang Falcon, despite her "advanced age" of thirteen. Joesh paid her bride-price "for the honor of being allowed to teach so inventive a young lady" and to compensate her family for the loss of a marriageable daughter. As Kylaia's father said, "Even less than a bride possessed by a demon will a young man like a wife who can kick his ribs in."
Kylaia is quite tall (at thirteen she was as tall as her father) and the boys of her tribe teased her by telling her she was turning into a giraffe. She is also strong and has callused hands and feet from practicing fighting. She has dark brown or black skin, dark brown eyes, and curly hair, although it is not clear how curly.
She was described by Liam Ironarm as "The most beautiful thing on two feet, all silk and steel and lightning." However, she did not consider herself to be as beautiful as her sisters, and it's probable that Liam's assessment of her beauty had more to do with grace, strength, and martial arts skill than conventional standards of beauty.