Personality: Remarkably sombre for a Hundi--partly by inclination, partly by age, and largely by having (although she wouldn't phrase it as such) having spent decades on the run from persecution--but nevertheless maintaining their much-vaunted honesty. Something that no doubt contributes to all the problems she tends to have in her day-to-day life. Gisela would much rather be healing people than harming them, but the world isn't exactly keen to accommodate this. She tends to creep people out, but that's just be the faint distorting feeling of constantly released mana. Conversely, demons tend to be more at ease--and she much prefers dealing with them (even if it's to get rid of them on someone else's behalf), as they have no issue with mages of any stripe.
Brief Backstory: As a child born to farmers, Gisela's parents had very little idea of what to do with their prodigious daughter. Well-off yeomen they might have been, especially for Hundi just this side of the Veldt-Ithillin border, but they were completely unequipped for dealing with a child with high magical potential to start with. One that had Gisela's particular malady to boot turned it from interesting to vitally important that she actually get a proper education. And so, the future mage was sent off to Meridan at a young age to learn the ways of magic, with only the firmest cultural pillars in place. The political situation was scarcely any more stable and the desire for mages that could influence a battlefield remained high... so, given her enormous reserves, it was natural that she was pushed into learning as many destructive spells as possible. Something that turned out to be quite the bad idea, when she was prompted to go on the traditional Coming of Age journey and go home, meet some less cosmopolitan Hundi. When she got back still unmarried, with substantially more burn scars and even more esoteric marks, the considerably more subdued girl opted to look into less violent magic. Healing. Keeping people alive long enough to heal them. And, generally, staying out of the way and uninvolved in minor border skirmishes or the like. But the city was growing markedly less friendly. A mage that wouldn't use her powers for the defence of the kingdom? Healers were widely admired, but the common folk were more interested in fast cures for illness or smaller injuries, not nearly so many were after the sort of healing she was best at--or, when they were, could scarcely get in contact with someone so academic. It was this souring mood that lead her to investigate alternate means of self-protection... and then get on the move. Having drifted through the country's major cities over the years, as well as ventured briefly through the other countries when circumstances have allowed, Gisela has rather reluctantly come to the conclusion that she needs to find someone who wants to make use of her abilities. With Erhan Lyn's fall and destruction, the attitude towards potential witches has almost dropped back to its 200-year-old nadir, and she does not want to deal with people trying to burn her at the stake.
Equipment: Gisela's equipment consists mostly of the usual paraphernalia of a mage with a thing for doing rituals: chalk, candles, reams of parchment, and more ink than would be practical to carry around if you couldn't just force clothing to be clean in one go. She also has her staff, which doesn't perform most of the normal functions of a magical catalyst: it doesn't make spells more efficient to cast, it doesn't condense the casting of any particular brand of magic by dint of its assistance. It helps her aim when that's a concern, but what it actually does is act as a vast repository for mana--on any day where she doesn't do much casting, she can just divert mana into it, and cast from that when needed. It's also integrated with her one persistent contract... not enough that losing it would break it, but its loss as an anchor would make the summoning much slower.
Skills: As her dress sense and staff attest, Gisela is a mage. And, like the majority of Hundi with sufficient mana to focus on their magical abilities, she's an absolute powerhouse in terms of mana capacity and absolute output--complete with a rather pleasing silvery colour to any illumination or magical effects produced. Unlike the majority of mages, Hundi or otherwise, she's congenitally unable to restrain all this mana, and even at her most drained there's some leaking out, let alone when fully rested or when she stops holding back to cast. In someone without much magical ability, this tends to just mean odd things happen around them on occasion. In this case... well, the risk that if it built up it could be severely damaging to her own health is high, any external manifestations would be big and, most unfortunately for any mage, it completely nullifies the ability to do small spells. Those reliant on fine control of small amounts of mana simply fizzle, while any with scaling properties come out as big spells. Not that this has stopped her from amassing an impressive breadth of skills down the decades. Firstly, Gisela knows a vast amount of healing magic, and is able to--one way or another--heal just about any injury or ailment, given time. Healing magic doesn't tend to have any downsides if it's overpowered and this is virtually flaw-free for addressing injuries. With illnesses, however... well, most healers are able to address the illness directly. She's much more liable to either just force the body through it with magical support, or excise the damaged region entirely and regenerate it from scratch. Relatedly, she's also well versed in the legal sides of necromancy; able to support a body missing vital organs on nothing more than spellcraft alone. This also goes for the preservation of body parts (although, admittedly, it's generally quite hard to find someone alive if their arm has been cut off and you need to go get it back to them) and entire bodies for later burial. Less well looked-on but not quite illegal is communing with the dead directly. If there's some sort of conduit, or they're actually at rest, and they want to answer, in any case. And if it's not blocked by divine fiat... really, the list of downsides if you're not evil enough to bind the soul directly is quite long. With these two skills combined, it's perhaps not surprising that her youth has been maintained as well as it has, even for a mage, despite no direct investigation of longevity. Is it risky? Perhaps, but Gisela has been able to pull it off. Of course, as any self-respecting Hundi, Gisela learned how to fight. Unfortunately, none of her magical options for that are on the practical side. What should be a small barrier to block attacks without inconveniencing her own magical retaliation instead manifests as a blatantly impermeable wall--great if you need to block artillery, potentially just cornering yourself if attacked by bandits. Similarly, her offensive magic is more useful for taking out an organised block of soldiers in one go; if there's anyone friendly in the target area, she has no viable choices. When it comes to defending herself, Gisela's primary defence is to fall back on a branch of magic that's often even more poorly regarded than the legal side of necromancy: summoning. No summon can be arranged on the spot, there's always some sort of ritual involved and methods to narrow down what answers the call, but the vast overcharge of mana means that calling for more powerful entities won't be ignored... and everyone else gets one hell of a notification. Most summoners only traffic in fey, who are generally quite easy to pay and willing to take a very active role. Gisela? Gisela hates working with them when it's not required; the flightiness and habitual deception without ever lying makes her skin crawl. But people really don't like it when you summon demons. Of the 108 Demonic Houses, there are many where the mere act of addressing them would get you charged with witchcraft. There are a scant handful where the summoning is itself a capital crime. But there are others with more favourable priorities, where it's more the nature of trafficking with entities that aren't properly of the world and just can't stay dead that's offensive, where you can just about get away with it. If you know what you're doing. There's one long-standing arrangement that Gisela has, with a demon by the name of Krysia, which allows for a bypass of the normal negotiation rules. If Gisela needs protection, then she'll fight. If there's a need to attack... well, that's where she'll size up whether it's a worthy opponent and her chances, first. For all her House values strength of arms and pride in their word, rushing into battle and getting discorporated is quite painful, and demanding a special payment is always an option. The demonic knight appears to have an endless selection of weapons, never showing up with the same thing twice.
Personality: A simpleminded and humble commoner, from a long line of simpleminded and humble commoners. Hildy doesn't quite understand the politics surrounding the current state of Velt-Ithillin relations but then she's just a commoner so she's not really supposed to understand whatever it is the nobles are arguing about. She's not really the sharpest tool in the shed, although again, she's a commoner; her education mostly revolved around what crops to plant and how to take care of pigs, anything beyond that just wasn't really necessary after all. She's friendly at least, even if she can be a bit awkward around those with a higher social ranking than her (eg. pretty much everyone). Whilst she usually doesn't have much time for hobbies, she has a weakness for gambling, especially if it involves cards; despite how simpleminded she is, she's actually very good at cards, even if she's never put any really high stakes bets on it.
Brief Backstory: Born to a family of farmers, Hildy's life hasn't really been very eventful. She's not some noble whose life is filled with politics and intrigue, nor is she a career soldier who has achieved great deeds on the battlefield. She's just a commoner, one who would still be working the fields and taking care of the pigs if she hadn't been conscripted into the Hraesleg Lions. As the oldest child of the family she didn't really have much choice in the matter, but she's trying to be optimistic about it. After all, it gave her a chance to see the world outside of her home town, and an opportunity to broaden her horizons a bit. She just... Has to make sure not to get killed on the battlefield, that's all. No problem, right...?
Equipment: As a conscript from a poor farming family Hildi can't really afford decent equipment, and thus wields a hastily lashed together spear and wears her mother's old cooking pot as a makeshift helmet. Whilst she also always has a knife on hand, it's more of a tool than a weapon and something she'd only use as a last resort in a fight.
Skills: Due to a lifetime of working on her family's farm, Hildy is pretty physically fit and has a great deal of stamina. She's good at handling animals, and is a skilled forager, able to distinguish between plants and fungi that are safe to eat and that are toxic. Because she's had to protect livestock from them, she also has some experience with fighting smaller monsters like goblins. Her literacy skills are rather poor and basic, and whilst she can read something like a sign at the marketplace she would be completely lost if given an elaborate tome written with intricate calligraphy. Living in a rural area all her life has ensured that Hildy is both respectful of the fae and knows when it's necessary to give them a wide berth.
"I would much appreciate it if you were to stop staring at me..."
Personality: Valmyra is a cautious and taciturn individual. Some may even call her opportunistic, a sentiment while not completely incorrect still fosters feelings of resentment toward her peers. While lamias living within the borders of Velt aren't too uncommon of a sight, she and her kin would still be the target of at least a bit of xenophobia. The civil unrest caused by tensions with their neighboring nation didn't help things either. It is perhaps due to this that the young serpent isn't quick to take to others and would rather be a quiet observer to those around her. However, those that manage to get close to her are able to see her better aspects: loyal, kind, and always willing to lend an ear. Some may even regard her as being a bit clingy, although she is usually conscientious enough to respect boundaries.
Brief Backstory: "Why...Why couldn't I protect them..."
Valmyra was born and raised in the forests that lie across Velt's eastern borders. She and her family lived alongside other lamia clans in a small secluded community. Born as the oldest into a family of several siblings, she quickly found herself being thrust into a protective caretaker role to safeguard her kin. While times were often hectic for the serpent, they were also filled with peace and tenderness. While her family mainly kept to the forested area, they often ventured into human villages and towns, whether it'd be for business or leisure. In addition, while not traveling north often due to the colder climate, the often traded goods with the dwarves as well.
While times were simple at first, eventually the skirmishes that sparked between Velt and Ithillin spilled into their village. Members of the lamia community in the area got caught in the crossfire between the oppoaing patrols, and during the exchange her father was killed while defending his family. Valmyra's mother was also gravely injured in the attack, and was since then left bedridden. This traumatic experience left Valmyra as the head of the family, and had to scrape whatever she could in order to take care of her household. She decided to take up spearmanship and join the Velt patrol corps, aiding to prevent such a event from tearing apart her family and community ever again.
Eventually, the Steel Princess Lady Velvetica caught wind of the lamia's efforts, and offered her a spot in her private military unit. The rest is history.
Equipment: Valmyra's main weapon of offense is a impressive spear named Asclepius, forged by the master dwarf craftsmen to the north. In addition to having an incredibly sharp edge, is lightweight and easy to carry - making its swings all the swifter. Of course, Valmyra has her fangs and powerful tail to rely on in battle as well, by virtue as a member of her race.
"Just you watch, this lance will skewer through any threat!"
Skills: Living in a forested area for most of her life, Valmyra is well versed in tasks such as hunting and herb gathering. As she has been tasked with taking care of her siblings and being the head of the household, she is also decent at tasks such as cooking and cleaning. Her snake biology also grants her a keen sense of smell, in addition to being an excellent climber
Appearance: Stands at about 5’8”. Lithe build, with some toned muscle in the arms and legs. Tends to wear typical adventuring gear that doesn’t stand out, favoring hooded cloaks with light armor underneath. Hair falls down below her shoulders naturally, but she ties it up in a ponytail most of the time.
Personality: Distant, pragmatic, and calm. At least, that's the image Kayliss tries to give off. She's successful at it most of the time too. But underneath that lies a streak of pride and patriotism. Kayliss defines herself by her role as a royal blade, taking pride in her skills and being firmly behind whatever cause the Veltian throne dictates. Being an assassin for the crown is all she had from the moment she was recruited for training, and that purpose gives her surety. She has adapted this mentality to her service with the Lions, viewing it as an extension of her previous work and overseer.
Of course, if she needs to, Kayliss can fake whatever personality she thinks will suit her purposes. Part of infiltration is social stealth, after all, and she is familiar enough with most aspects of Veltian society to pass off as either a commoner or a noble, able to move in whatever circles she needs to.
However, as of late, Kayliss's motivation has taken a new direction: the search for truth, and vengeance after that. She seeks to find out exactly who was responsible for the destruction of the royal assassins, and why. Her life and purpose had been upended, and she would have satisfaction over it, one way or another.
Brief Backstory: Born in the slums of Meridian, Kayliss was a parentless urchin for much of her childhood, quickly learning basic thievery simply to survive. That was, until she’d picked the wrong target. Or the right one, depending on the point of view.
The man in question she’d tried to pickpocket turned out to be a handler for Velt's royal assassins. An orphan child from the slums with decent stealth skills for someone with no training whatsoever was exactly the right kind of person for him to mold into another sneak for the good of the kingdom, and over the next few years, he did so, taking her on in the unit as a new recruit and putting her through hellish training. Over the years, Kayliss learned the work of an assassin, training in stealth, combat, and infiltration. Despite the difficulty of the curriculum, she stayed regardless. For one, it was a roof over her head and constant hot meals. Plus, the training gave her something she never felt like she'd had before: a purpose. Doing something for a cause instead of just to survive just felt...right.
After years of training, Kayliss began her work in earnest before she'd even become an adult. The career of a royal blade in the field didn't tend to last long, but she beat the odds and served with distinction for years. That was, until it all came crashing down. Some time ago, she returned from a mission on the country's border only to find the assassins' compound burnt to the ground, with every assassin within slaughtered. Only those who had been on deployment at the time of the attack survived, and there had been very few of those. The survivors of the massacre scattered to the four winds, with some fleeing to other countries and others disappearing into the criminal underworld.
As for Kayliss, she simply changed employers. The Hraesleg Lions had begun their policy of aggressive recruitment, and she signed on, pledging her service to the Steel Princess after explaining her skillset, her service record, and her circumstances. Now, Kayliss stands as a "problem solver" of sorts for the Lions, though she wishes her skills were used more often for their intended purpose.
Equipment: Aside from her short sword and dagger, Kayliss also bears a brace of throwing knives as well as a crossbow and bolts strapped to her back. She wears lightweight armor with a mix of metal pieces and leather for stealth. She bears a kit of various equipment for rogue's work, including lockpicks, poison, and smoke bombs.
Assassin's Work: Sneaking, lockpicking, poison, and actually being a blade in the dark. If it involves infiltration or stealth, Kayliss has likely been trained in it.
Blades: Adept with both the short sword and dagger, Kayliss prefers to use the two in a twin-blade fencing style, though she’s also capable of using either weapon solo, whether it be in straight combat or in less honorable work. Her swordsmanship is above average and certainly better than the usual adventurer or soldier, but she doesn’t quite match up to famed knights and other combat monsters in direct battle without the aid of a dishonorable advantage or two. Of course, this presumes that she would fight someone head-on to begin with.
Marksmanship: While not exactly adept with an actual bow, her aim with a crossbow is more than adequate. She is capable of using the entire range of crossbow types, from a hand crossbow to a heavier, two-handed one for long-range shots.
Appearance: Nearly two meters tall and twelve stone in weight, Cadmon stands well above most of the populace, with an almost-perpetual frown that, even on his youthful face, helps to contribute to what is—at first look—an imposing figure. First appearances can be deceiving, however. Even as tall as he is, he trends more towards the thin and soft sort of build, rather than the statuesque appearance that many seem to expect. He has some few scars to show for his years, but they're clearly more the result of play and training than any actual fighting for his life. His red hair falls messily to his shoulders, looking perpetually as though he only rolled out of bed moments ago, and it's clear to anybody who looks for more than the briefest glance that he is far overdue for a shave; even his eyes seem dull, but for the brief spark of life in them whenever something moves him to roll them in exasperation at whatever is occurring.
More than anything, beneath the dress, beneath the general noble bearing, Cadmon looks tired, as though some great burden is constantly sapping away his energy and will to live, no matter how stubbornly he continues along.
Personality: While he often gives off the sense of being a taciturn and detached indiviual, this sort of impression only lasts until you get to know Cadmon beyond the basic level. Rather, he is better described as sullen and melancholy. He feels, perhaps all too keenly, the weight of life's unfairness upon his shoulders, and raher than rise above it he seems to have let it drag him down and it often finds some way to pierce through into his words, often in the form of some sort snark or biting sarcasm. Not that it's all hopeless for him—he has his own hopes and dreams that he wants to pursue, if he ever gets the chance, and he's far too committed to his sense of duties and obligations (and, though he isn't likely to admit it, far too committed just to the people around him) to shirk them entirely in favour of pursuing his own interests and leaving everything else high and dry.
His interests, perhaps, are the best way to bring some light back into his face. While he's put quite a bit of study into tactics, managing people, and the like, at heart he's more a patron of the arts than a general of the battlefield or a machine of politicking. He greatly enjoys literature and the sciences above most other things, though he has, perhaps, read a few too many popular novels, given how much he secretly wishes he could leave his noble life behind and go off to live as a free burgess within a city or have some small manor out in the countryside.
Brief Backstory: Cadmon Edricsson Demet was born to Edric and Amelie Demet, his father being the earl of one of the northern border fiefs of Velt. As such, he grew up away from the city, more familiar with the hamlets and villages that surrounded the town that sprung up around his family's keep than with the amenities more centralized nobles could call upon. He was not, however, lacking in education; whether general, artistic, or especially necessary given his family's place and fief, military. The duties and obligations of his status were made quite clear to him even from a very young age.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, this rapidly weighed down on him, and he regularly took to the family library after his lessons and exercises as a way to escape into a more comfortable, idealized world. With the constant news of infighting between the nobles of various countries, the omnipresent border skirmishes with Ithillin, and similar, he also found himself growing more and more dissatisfied with the ruling class in general, even as his father and tutors hammered home the concept of noblesse oblige in his learning—a concept that it seemed many had utterly missed. Rather than take it as an opportunity to be better and show a better way, though, it seemed Cadmon only took it as more reason to escape into his books and dream of leaving his life behind.
A dream that could never come to pass—while they were off as guests of another family along the coast, Cadmon's parents perished at sea shortly before his seventeenth birthday. Without even time to grieve, Cadmon found himself crushed under the weight of managing his new fief and demesne. Other than hastily squirrelling himself out from a proposed arranged marriage, there was little good that seemed to come to him out of it; however, while that may have been the perfect opportunity to cut and run, leaving the inheritance to one of his cousins, he was far too committed to his father's memory and the sense of obligation instilled in him to leave, even were it for his own benefit.
After the passage of a couple of years of this, with the border disputes between Velt and Ithillin growing ever closer to outright war, a summons came—one evidently lacking in information, as it was the Lord Hraesleg summoning Edric to fulfill older bonds between their families and support the effort along the border.
Imagine the surprise when Cadmon arrived with his kit and what supplemental force he could levy without leaving his own fief undefended, answering a summons that wasn't even addressed to him for little more than it being a matter of honour. With Lord Hraesleg unsure of what to do with the young man—barely more than a boy—Cadmon found himself assigned under Steel Princess Velvetica's command, finding himself worn down more and more through the regular battles, politicking, and general strain of what leadership was expected out of him, let alone awaiting whatever news came from the cousin he'd appointed to manage his lands while he was absent.
Equipment: Barring his choice of brigandine rather than a more normal cuirass and a cabasset rather than sallet for a helmet, Cadmon wears a fairly standard full harness into battle. He also carries a falchion, rondel dagger, and a small buckler as sidearms. His primary weapon, however, is a curious sort of short polearm, roughly the same size as an average knightly poleaxe, though with a head design that appears like the cross between an ox-tongue spear and a halberd—useful to cut and thrust with, though lacking in a hook with which to pull riders off their horses, should he be dismounted and forced to fight with it.
More noteworthy even than its odd design, however, is the enchantment placed upon it. Most recognizable is that it seems to require almost no maintenance—the blade itself accrues damage very slowly, and even then mostly minor barring certain extreme use, and even the haft gains some extreme resistance to wear and tear. More than that, however, is the primary effect which led to one of Cadmon's ancestors earning the family's fief for his young son and all descendants thereafter.
If the wielder of the blade should feel the odds are utterly against them, they need to speak the blade's true name and anoint it with their own blood. In return, the blade shall empower them to hold the line against nearly any resistance for a time, their reactions heightened, their strength increased, and their constitution such that they continue to persist even through otherwise deadly wounds, short of being decapitated or utterly destroyed in a single stroke.
This act denies any possibility of retreat or survival, however; the effect, channelled through the blade, is powered by the consumption of any and all energy and life the wielder has, rapidly burning away the tether that binds their soul and their mortal body. In the physical sense, this is shown by the wielder's blood itself being burned away, consumed as fuel for the fire that the blade grants its wielder—and which is also used by the enchantment to repair the weapon from the very slow accrual of damage it sustains over the years, in the most active showing of such occurring, though a willing offering of blood at any time can effect at least partial repair if needed.
The enchantment is a guaranteed self-sacrifice in the pursuit of any goal, and is thus only used in the most desperate of defences or assaults. It also does not grant one person the capacity to annihilate an army; even were they unable to end the assault, the one making use of this enchantment would still tire and fall after the passage of eight hours' time.
Moreover—should the blade be stolen, it is not specifically bound to Cadmon's bloodline. For this reason, the true name of the weapon is a closely-guarded secret, to prevent it from falling into hostile hands, though there is little telling what sort of information a truly determined enemy could gain, through whatever means they were willing to undertake, be they mundane or utterly damning for their soul.
Skills: While he did not shirk his training, Cadmon is no great artist upon the field of battle—for any art from him, you'd be better off giving him paper and charcoal. He is, however, competent with it; but his true skill in battle lies in his understanding of tactics and placement, advising the one giving the actual commands to their forces.
Personality: As a member of the Hraesleg Lions, Guillaume is a soldier who embodies their values of bravery, loyalty, and honor.
Guillaume is a sincere and honest individual, always striving to do what is right, both on and off the battlefield. He is deeply committed to his fellow soldiers, and will go to great lengths to protect them and ensure their safety.
Despite his seriousness and dedication to his role as a soldier, Guillaume is also a compassionate and empathetic person, always willing to lend an ear or a helping hand to those in need.
Guillaume was born into a family of knights, and from a young age, he was trained in the art of combat and chivalry. He quickly developed a reputation for his sincerity, honesty, and unwavering commitment to doing what is right.
As he grew older, Guillaume's skills as a warrior began to blossom. He is known for his bravery on the battlefield and his deep loyalty to his comrades in arms.
When he was first knighted, he went on a journey to uphold his knightly code to the land and went out to help others whom he believes has a good cause. He crossed paths with Earl Edric Demet, his son Cadmon and István Shilage in the North during one of their skirmishes to offer his blade and honour in repelling the enemy forces for a total of 8 months. He would keep contact with the Earl and István from time to time after he departed Earl Edric Demet's service.
While fighting in a crucial battle, Guillaume's actions saved the lives of several of his fellow soldiers, earning him the respect and admiration of all who witnessed his bravery. From that moment on, Guillaume became known as "the Sincere," a nickname that would follow him throughout his military career.
Equipment: Guillaume has access to a suit of armour and shield fit for a Hraesleg Lions knight.
Skills: Guillaume is highly skilled in various forms of combat. While Sincerity is his preferred weapon of choice, he has not shied away from other types of weapons. He is capable of defending himself with hand-to-hand combat.
As a knight, he is also trained in expert horse riding. He can navigate through difficult terrain and engage in mounted combat.
When survival is key, he is able to hunt and forage for supplies as well as finding shelter.
Personality: Velvetica is not referred to as the "Steel Princess" for no reason. Cool to the point of being called cold by some, she possesses an extremely strong will(to the point of stubbornness), a dedication to what she sees as the duty of the Hraesleg family, and a willingness to carry out said duty. Even from a very young age she was interested in combat techniques and strategy, and this interest has not faltered as she has grown older. Her approach to her unit of the Hraesleg Lions is one of meritocracy: Those who show promise are those who earn their place in her forces. These extends to perhaps unorthodox choices, such as magi with skillsets some would see as bordering on the heretical or other similar individuals found dubious by other members of the nobility. To Velvetica, merit and loyalty to her cause are what is required. Of course, she will still deny those who engage in such acts as necromancy and other truly wicked arts. Violating the peace of those who have died is an abomination, just as declared by the Church.
Velvetica carries herself with considerably pride and self-assurance, a girl confident in both her skill with her blade and her skill as a leader. She believes that her conduct is not only a point of pride for herself but for the Hraesleg family as a whole, and behaves accordingly. Velvetica does not suffer fools lightly and will not hesitate to point out the flaws of others, something she has done ever since she was quite young regardless of the social standing of her target. When targeted at her own forces, it is in order to point out their weak points or admonish them for conduct. Otherwise, it is often quite a deliberate insult towards someone she finds distasteful. Velvetica is also quite a sarcastic girl at times, something that has not always endeared her to her fellow nobility. Still, when she believes someone shares in her ideals of protecting the land and its people, she is quite cordial and polite towards them.
Velvetica loves her elder brother deeply, seeing him both as a family member and an exemplary warrior to be admired. Her initial interest in swordplay was due to having seen her brother training, but it grew independently from there. In addition to art related to combat, Velvetica strongly appreciates natural beauty and has a collection of pressed wildflowers. She also deeply enjoys sweets and indeed food in general, to somewhat shocking degrees due to her petite and slender build. She is surprisingly easily embarrassed in spite of her stern demeanor, and will quickly attempt to cover it with angry outbursts. Her room boasts a considerable collection of stuffed toys, likely to the surprise of any one of the soldiers under her.
Brief Backstory: It was when Velvetica was very young that she selected her own future path in life. When playing in her family's garden, she caught sight of her brother training under his combat tutor, and watched him for several hours. From that day forth, her dedication to her family's martial legacy was assured. She insisted on starting her training as soon as possible, with as much exuberance as many children would display towards a new toy, and eagerly pursued her lessons with gusto. She also immersed herself in books of historical combat and strategy, developing into an incredibly promising student rapidly. She wouldn't be able to deny the praise from her teachers and her parents spurred her on, of course. As she grew older, her dedication only increased, and the ideals of the Hraesleg family were etched firmly on her heart. To protect the land and its people. When she was old enough, she asked her father to allow her to command a unit of the Hraesleg Lions. Initially he resisted, and only reluctantly agreed to her request when she could be deployed in a relatively peaceful location unlikely to face any serious threats.
After clearing the area of bandits and defeating an orcish warband, however, Velvetica's unit swiftly became rising stars in Velt's border defenses, and it became far more difficult to deny her requests for more potential recruits and more freedom to combat a wider range of threats. Indeed, Velvetica has swiftly become the current face of the Hraesleg Lions due to her command, currently working alongside the longtime ally of her family, Lord Ostaric, to secure Velt's Southeast borders.
Equipment: Velvetica wears finely-crafted armor, though it possesses no unusual qualities beyond its high quality. The sword she wields is an heirloom weapon of her family, known as Starshine. A finely-balanced, slender-bladed longsword of elven make, Starshine possesses the capacity to gather and store magical energy before using it to coat the blade and greatly enhance its edge or release it as a projectile. Indeed, it is known as Starshine the Infinite Edge due to a large amount of stored mana being able to cut apart a target from across a battlefield, as well as everything in-between. Due to Velvetica's personal lack of useable mana, it dangerous to utilize high levels of magical energy without allowing it to gather and store it for an extended period of time. As such, the "Infinite Edge" is a last resort only to be used when she has no other choice, as it greatly threatens her life.
Skills: Velvetica is trained in both strategic and personal combat, allowing her to command her forces and fight on her own. Trained intensively in a school of swordplay derived from a modernized form of Enneteca, Talderian combat arts, she operates as a high-speed, agile opponent that uses speedy slashes and thrusts aimed at vital areas. Coupled with Starshine's magical capabilities, this results in high-speed swordplay capable of piercing armor and even cutting a grown man in half if struck correctly.
Personality: On the surface of it, Urden is as quick to laugh and hoke as he is to breath. Quick to crack jokes and make offhand remarks on current circumstances, the chatty man is certainly lacking in the respect department, at least overtly. It is honest enough for who he is at a passing meeting or glance, however it is a façade to hide the mercenary beneath the smile who's out to make ends meet and nothing more, something that never quite reaches the dull amber of his eyes, no matter how much he laughs or shows mirth. Under the surface is a viciously pragmatic fighter, employing any and all manner of tricks, underhanded methods, and anything else that comes to hand to survive long enough to collect his pay. Still, he has a sort of mercenaries honor, as once he takes a job he'll see it done, as long as he got paid to do so, and if he's dumb enough to sign on for the long haul, that's on him. Beyond that, he enjoys a good drink, a good fight, and most importantly, a nice and fat sack of coin after a hard day's work, and really couldn't care less who he ends up working alongside.
Brief Backstory: Urden was born into a small band of mercenaries, who typically committed to activities and jobs that were mostly dealing with small bandit groups and providing muscle and security for caravans and other odd jobs that didn't pay well but needed done. The young man, growing up, chaffed under this lack of variety and, becoming quickly apparent, pay, something he found a quick and fond love for. Still, before he split off from the group he learned to fight and carry himself, training with a two handed axe that had belonged to his mother, who had taken off shortly after he was born. He was also given a short blade, a 'proper weapon for a scrawny kid like him', and a parting farewell gift as the eighteen year old split off from the small band, convinced they would just wallow in obscurity for the rest of their days. He had bolder and grander plans in place, though to call 'Strike out and get rich' a plan was fairly bold of him.
Being a freelance mercenary had its pros and cons, something that Urden would become incredibly aware of over the next decade of earning his keep through violence. Starting small, signing on with villages for fairly meagre sums to help scare off thugs, put the odd bandit in the ground, and generally began making a name for himself as a problem solver. He learned how to solve problems through any means necessary, given he rarely had the luxury of being on the side with the luxury of numbers. During this time he settled into a style of fighting that relied on speed and aggression to overwhelm most opponents, his two handed axe suited to the aggressive approach. He earned his fair share of scars this way, learning not just how to fight, but how to survive along the way. Though, word eventually reached him that his old outfit had turned to banditry, and for once he felt a call beyond just making coin, and that was quite a bit of anger that they gave up on earning their keep through honest, albeit bloody, work.
This is how he would end up crossing paths with the Hraesleg Lions, a detachment of them crossing paths with Urden as he was planning how to assault the camp where his old outfit was. They struck a deal, he would lead them down and help clear out the mercenaries turned bandits, and he would get paid for his services as both warrior and informant. Picking out where the old blind spots still were in camp, especially since the bandits had gotten lax and fat in their relative safety, and the sudden lightning assault just after dusk didn't give much of a chance for the former mercenaries to fight back. Urden made sure he personally put his former commander, and father, to the axe, though he conveniently failed to mention the blood relation to the Lions after the job was said and done. Prepared to simply move on, it was suggested that he come back and strike up a more permanent contract with the rapidly rising star of the Hraesleg Lions, the Steel Princess herself. Seeing a chance at not just a rapidly fattening coin purse, but also the fame and prestige to be able to charge more, it wasn't much effort to convince him to join the detachment and meet the Steel Princess first hand.
Urden has been earning his keep ever since, maintaining a position as a mercenary first and foremost, but with a provable track record of loyalty once paid, he would find himself in quite the peculiar bunch. Didn't matter to him, granted, he was getting paid to do whatever the Princess told him to do, So if that meant working with a mostly figurative gallery of oddities, well, the coin was good all the same so Urden was staying a happy man.
Equipment: Urden travels light, and doesn't bring much with him typically speaking. He has his mercenary uniform, a patchwork of mended clothes and a few pieces of token armor that are mostly there for show, though if a blow happened to strike there the worn steel would still do its job well enough. His pride and joy is his two handed axe, large to the point of almost being a poleaxe thanks to the length of its shaft, which he wields with heavy swings aimed to crash through defenses and lighter armor, the spike pointing opposite of the axe head providing an option against heavier armor. In a pinch he also still has the small arming sword in case he gets caught in a position too confined for his preferred weapon. He also has a small chest, where he keeps his coin, contracts, and journal, with the best lock he could possibly afford on it. The key being kept on a string hanging around his neck and often tucked under his shirt.
Axe Combat - Urden has dedicated the majority of his life fighting with axes, both his personal axe of choice and others such as hatchets and other throwing axes, and has developed a fighting style of his own that revolves around battering down and wearing through defenses of an opponent before they have a chance to outlast him. It has gotten him this far, and he is continuing to refine his efforts every time he ends up in a fight, convinced that, while it'll never be perfect, there's nothing saying he can't get good enough to convince the world otherwise.
Black Market Savvy - From negotiating contracts, acquiring supplies, extracting payment, or securing quick and discreet means to move from place to place, Urden has learned where to look not just for the best deals, but the kind of goods that would be frowned upon by polite society. Knowing what to ask and, more importantly, what not to ask is key in these sort of negotiations and dealings, but really Urden would have it no other way. It's where he does business most of the time, so it pays well to know how it works.
Thug - Sometimes being a mercenary means more than just killing, and Urden knows that all too well. Often times, a veiled threat, shift of the body, or twitch of the hand does more to dissuade trouble than anything else, especially if the client wants to keep bloodshed to a minimum. He has learned a variety of ways to intimidate and make his presence known as not only a threat, but one you really do not want to trifle with, and the more his standing grows? The more effective it'll get, which suits Urden fine. Means he can charge a higher fee.
Personality: Being intended as the first in a line of griffin knights, Roger has always felt pressure placed upon him. The strength to endure it, and the motivation to pursue it, has been thanks to his companionship with his griffin mount. Given the choice, he will forego most luxuries that his station might offer, such as a fancy meal or a warm bed, in favor of sharing a kill and curling up with his mount at night. In fact, being separated from his griffin causes him some degree of anxiety, partially due to his worries that his beast could get up to trouble- or at least become agitated- if left unsupervised.
Roger is ambivalent on the nobility. While there are indeed many brave and dutiful nobles, like the princess and his mother's family, he's also rather unimpressed with the silly notions that their lineage somehow makes them special. He may not be as prideful as his mount, but if some arrogant fop insults his family's lineage, they might lose a very expensive horse or two.
One thing that remains at the back of his mind is his worries about what will happen when his griffin finds a mate. Will it still be able to serve as his mount? Would their bond remain? It's not an immediate concern, but it's a worry that he cannot dispel.
Brief Backstory: For many generations, the Falkner family were renowned across Velt as griffin breeders and tamers. For most of their history, they were not nobility, but were nonetheless quite well-off due to the price that a trained griffin could command. This situation changed when one of the family's sons married a knightess from a minor noble family of little means, raising the family to nobility.
Roger was the firstborn son of this union, and the first of the Falkner name to be born to nobility. He lived much of his early life at the family's mountain eyrie where his father taught him the family business of handling and riding griffins. He learned to handle these dangerous, prideful predators without getting injured, how to train them, and how to ride them across the skies. Meanwhile, his mother trained him in the ways of a knight, hoping that Roger would follow in her family's martial traditions. They hoped that they could raise him to become the family's first griffin knight.
At first, his parents expectations for him seemed lofty, even unreasonable, and Roger struggled. He might have never managed to live up to their hopes if it were not for the fledgling griffin that was chosen to be raised as his mount. The beast became his closest companion, and bonding with it made him all the more invested in becoming a griffin knight, and more capable of enduring the pressure.
When Roger was knighted, it sent a message to the aristocracy of Velt that the Falkners intended to usher in a new tradition of raising up not just griffins, but also knights to ride them. Many of the nobility, however, were skeptical of Roger's credentials and abilities as a knight, seeing him as the son of an upstart family with little martial tradition. However, because of the value of an airborne cavalryman and the trustworthy reputation of his family, he was able to secure a position serving under Velvetica Hraesleg, where his role was mostly relegated to relaying messages, reconnaissance, and, if his commander requested, transportation. This changed as Velvetica's unit began to take on more formidable foes, and during the attack on the orc warband, Roger and Shortclaw faced their foes' porcine cavalry and cut them down, their first real fight. Since then, as Velvetica's unit has stepped up its role, Roger and his griffin have assumed a more active combat role, flanking their enemies and tearing into their cavalry and war beasts.
Equipment: Shortclaw A male griffin, raised alongside Roger since it was old enough to leave its nest. More than just a mount, it is Roger's closest and most valued friend. It is a preening, prideful creature, and while it will not attack humans or horses unprovoked, it will react poorly to being restrained by anyone other than Roger- and even then it'll probably whine. As far as griffins go, it is in excellent physical condition and quite capable of inflicting lethal injuries with its beak and claws. After Roger joined the Lions, he has managed to train Shortclaw to allow the princess to touch it and climb onto its back, although he wouldn't want her to take the reins without him being present.
Armor and Barding Roger's armor was designed for griffin riding in mind. It provides protection from both the cold winds when flying and the blades of enemies. His mount is also well-armored, clad in barding that bears a weight-reduction enchantment.
Spear Roger's primary weapon is a long, winged spear, designed to strike foes from his perch atop his mount, and prevent skewered foes from getting closer.
Survival kit It is important for a griffin knight to be prepared for the possibility of going down in the wilderness, and Roger is consequently equipped with a satchel of basic tools for wilderness survival, including a knife, bandages, a tinder box, a water skin, spare saddle straps, and a small metal pot.
Skills: While Roger is inexperienced, his parents trained him well in the basic skills needed to be a griffin knight. He grew up around griffins, and the fact that he still has all of his fingers is a testament to his competence in handling them. While he is not nearly at his father's level in this area, he can nonetheless train griffins to be comfortable around humans and obey basic orders, and is quite comfortable riding them both on the ground and in the air. In addition to what his father taught him, he was trained by his mother in the ways of knighthood, and focused particularly in the art of fighting with spears.
Name: Irian Sinewell Age: 26 Gender: Male Race: Wood Elf
Appearance: Irian stands at an average 5'7 (175cm), with a reasonably yet decently well-built body. His blonde hair extends shoulder-length, to contrast with his green eyes. His attire is generally green as befitting his Wood Elf origin, but he has also incorporated purple as the other shade in his clothes.
Personality: From the looks of it, Irian is quite a serious individual, rather straightforward, duty driven and concentrated, and is quite professional even when it comes to small talks, but if you were to try to go out of their way to strike up a conversation with him, he wouldn't mind it, but don't expect any lengthy talks. He's also a decently open person when it comes to knowledge, whether it is his fighting capabilities, his past, his roots as an Veltian elf, etc, as long as there are nothing taboo, or a person is coming to him in good honest faith, he's willing to reciprocate the feeling.
Irian is fueled by a desire to learn and understand the world around him, not out of an altruistic and abstract vision that 'Knowledge is power'. Knowledge IS power, but that power is used to survive close by to Ithillin. There is a concrete and material gain from absorbing knowledge about the world, and he's all for it. He is very observant and reads others well, and naturally he is quite good when it comes to politics and diplomacy.
Brief Backstory: Irian was born in one of the few forest settlements by the Wood Elves lying somewhere in the Velt's eastern borders. As the middle sibling, as his parents grew older, Irian was given a lot of privilege when it comes to social standings. He was not groomed into being head of family, nor was he living in the shadows of any siblings. He was his own person, and that allowed him to pursue his career as a forest watcher as soon as he matured.
Being forest watchers, his role was to keep eyes on any unwanted visitors, whether that be Veltians or Ithilianes, or even other creatures who wandered their ways into the elve's sights. Being a distinct and integral position for an elf to be in, Irian was taught pretty much everything an elf was supposed to be taught: hunting, survival skills and archery. And he surely did prove himself to be both an accurate shot and a fast one, though it's not always both. While it was important work, the remote position of his settlement did make jobs quite simple for the first few years. However, that was about to change.
The brewing cold war between Velt and Ithillin were slowly creeping up to the elves, who were caught in between both sides. Border skirmishes became more common, and forest watchers like Irians found themselves in incredibly tenuous position of possibly starting conflicts between the elves and the kingdoms, which they stood no chance against, or between those two kingdoms with each other, which would still result in the elves getting roped in nonetheless. The tension could no longer be ignored when a particularly aggressive Ithillin patrols open fired on the forest watchers, which led to a firefight that lasted for hours between the soldiers. The superior archery and home terrain of the elves drove the Ithilianes back, but this victory would not mean much, as the elf leaders feared retaliations from the Ithilianes. Seeing that playing both sides in the conflict would lead the elves nowhere but misery and destruction, they decided to cooperate with the Veltian, who were friendlier to them to begin with. Irian, also having understood the current climate his city found themselves in, volunteered to join the Hraesleg Lions, a growing authority in the borderlands, hoping they would be willing to protect the elves if war breaks out.
Equipment: Being a forest ranger, Irian possesses and is very familiar with his bow, in which he takes very rigorous care of to make sure his every shot still rings true. Aside from that, he is also equipped with a short sword for any melee combat situations. His relatively standard armor is received more recently due to his employment in the Hraesleg Lions, having a more all-rounded combat role rather than forest watchers.
Skills: Irian is a highly skilled bow users, well-trained in elfen archery, with shots so accurate it could be measured with a gold coin. In need of a target disposed from afar, Irian is the right person for that task. Despite that, being more open to other forms of archery, Irian is also trained in a more high-speed, medium-ranged styled archery that seeks to loose as many arrows as possible onto the enemy. Irian is also adequately trained on anemo magic, mostly to be chanted into his equipment, increasing the power, range or piercing capabilities of his bow/arrow, or in some niche cases allowing him to bend the trajectory of his projectiles slightly, albeit it would need to be premeditated. He is also able to hold his own in melee, but don't expect any miracles from it.
Appearance: Altogether disquieting to behold. Clocking in at 6'4" and all of it broad, thick muscle, the Son of the Shilage line wears his personal power like a imposing cloak about his person, each movement assured and deliberate. His gaze, when not hidden beneath the shadows of his helm, is prying, as though never far from looking for a way to open you up at the seams. His voice is an almost oppressive drone, the low rumble of splitting boulders. In times of leisure, his clothing is decidedly neutral in hue, favoring greys and browns. Hair falling to his shoulders in an unassuming mullet, it and his eyes both are dull and brown.
Personality: Tempered by wisdom and age, István represents his family of minor hedge lords within the Lions' ranks in much a similar manner as his forefathers had won any standing to begin with— brutally, and with ambition. He is noble by birth and training, not nature— often blunt and crass, just as likely to use his wits as a heavy, unvarnished club as he is to deftly trade acerbic barbs and polite doublespeak when faced with an enemy, or even annoyance. Raised by glorified soldiers, this base crudeness belies a healthy knowledge of the value of understanding one's peers and foes in equal measure, of reading tendencies and personas. Like a shark circling the waters, his eyes are restless in their search through what he's shown to try and find what makes you tick. While he doesn't lack a sense of humor, much of it is rooted in the grand and intoxicating ironies of struggle— happily shared among often unwilling audiences.
Indeed, he is staunchly and perhaps surprisingly process-driven and analytical, taking a craftsman's approach to many walks of life. He is educated well beyond that which is suggested by his demeanor and bearing, every bit the heir to a household, however minor it is. Lives life with a sense of fair play, rarely rankling at disagreements or insults earned by his blunt behavior. Believes in the value of doing one's job well, whatever it may be. As a Lion, he extends this expectation to his peers as much as he does himself— and is more than ready to turn that mind so gleeful in pulling things apart towards the task of helping people put their shit together. Everything has a structure, so it shall be robust.
His service to the banner's cause is one he has never sought to question, for it has time and again proven useful to his personal goals. He seeks to foster himself towards a proper familial succession— and following that, expand the holdings of his family. They have their foot in the door now— he will etch the Shilage name into the annals of history. To do that, he understands well that he would best reach this by dignified service and forging friendships— and for however one may find his method of navigating them, they shall too find him rare to renege upon those bonds.
Brief Backstory:"All that is held by blood, shall too be earned by blood." That is the creed of the Shilage family, to which Istvan was born. Recently uplifted from their roots of common soldiery in the Royal Army, the Shilages are still small fry as far as nobility is concerned— but if the Hraesleg are any indication, it is far from their ceiling. If such prominence could be found in continued military service, then they would be fools to not follow that blueprint.
Thusly, István was made to begin learning the crafts of war and rule from the moment he could walk, under the watchful eyes of both his parents and the best tutors their newfound status could muster. Knowing nothing else, he took to the lessons as a fish does to water, growing tall and strong beyond even his father by the time he reached manhood. The culmination of their efforts, he was literate and even cultured, but most of all fierce enough for service. His father's private worries that a posh and privileged upbringing would dull the ruthlessness that had served their military careers well were thankfully ill-founded— István was all but knocking down his door to ask when he would be going off to fight and prove himself.
His answer came in the form of house Demet collecting upon an old favor to the Shilage, as he was sent far to the north to assist Earl Edric in rooting out a cadre of bandits that had continually been harassing villages and townships. Once there, it was within short order that the scion of the new family had brought the old lord the head of a nuisance— and in exchange, requested to pledge his service for a time, both in thanks to his father's old friend and to better experience with his own eyes the true rigors of rule. Amused by the upstart's initiative and intrigued by his efficiency, Edric came to agree to István's terms. He would teach the heir to nascent house of southrons what he would need to know, should the plans István spoke of so boldly come to fruition— and in exchange, Edric would in no uncertain terms have his head should he dare challenge the succession of his young son Cadmon. István agreed readily. His designs were never here.
Years passed as István diligently worked as an understudy to Edric, having whipped most of the remaining bandits into an expeditionary force for his Lord— the same that had once followed the man he'd slain. As held through blood, earned through blood. They participated in numerous border skirmishes alongside Demet forces beneath István's command, specializing in breaking the enemy down from the edges, one by one, until they came apart at the seams. He served in Edric's minor court, learned his methods of administration, arbitrated small, petty disputes. It was the trial run he would need for statecraft. His retainership and service would, even in spite of a rough-hewn personality, ingratiate him to the family— even being entrusted with watching over Cadmon's military training, as Edric and his other retainers continued to try and groom the gloomy boy for succession.
This would prove vital in the coming years.
News of Edric and Amelie's death, now as though beloved Aunt and Uncle to him, struck swift and strong to be both he and the heir in their wake— but the older man had the privilege of time and experience on his side that the boy sorely lacked. He would for the two years proceeding become the lad's taciturn but shrewd advisor, imparting every lesson the father had bequeathed him unto the son in turn. When the summons from Lord Hraesleg came, István followed the boy, his Raiders in tow— however he may have been poised to administrate in the family line's absence, he liked having his head.
Such would not be Earned through Blood, either.
Equipment: A heavy flail, replete with a spiked head and pommel, nicknamed "Meteor". Sturdy kiteshield, every bit a weapon as it is protection in his hands. A humble, nameless arming sword at his side, and a harness of plate topped by an imposing great helm. Carries upon his person charcoal and parchment, both for use in writing messages as well as idly sketching drafts.
Skills: Strong, sturdy and brutal, the son of a house of glorified soldiers should not come as a shock in having a calling for violence. He is battering ram and castle gate alike, crushing his foes with mighty swings of his flail, leveraging its inherent unpredictability to the fullest. As stated already, his preferences are for methodically breaking foes both on tactical and strategic scales apart at the seams, taking their full measure into his understanding.
Atop this, he is diligent at reading those around him— certainly not prescient, but capable of more piercing insight than first glance would suggest. Good at talking shit, serviceable at talking nice. A fair draftsman for technical drawings in the vein of construction or military matters, though his still life lacks expression through the charcoal. A consistent coffee drinker, he has a discerning taste for a good brew.
(As above, but with rounder ears! Though her hair is naturally black, she dyes it pink to stand out. A merchant’s most powerful weapon is being remembered. In addition, on the occasion she needs to go outside during the day, she wears a cute, floral, wide-brimmed hat)
Personality: Sweet, caring, and good-natured on the outside. Calculating and selfish on the inside. Lirrah does what she can for the people she likes, and everyone else is scarcely a concern of hers. She has no particular investment in Velt or Ithillin aside from the knowledge that brewing hostilities are a good business venture. It would be easy to label her as another amoral war profiteer, but it’s hard to make the title stick when she’s personally serving hot meals to the folks on the borderlands (for a fee, of course). In any case, she is outgoing, personable, and really lays on the cute. Cute is good for business.
Brief Backstory: Born into a humble family of sweets-makers with three older brothers and three older sisters, it would be no exaggeration to say that Lirrah was the baby of the family. If she wanted acknowledgement, she had to work for it. Whether she had to lie or exaggerate or even shout, she was always yapping in order to get attention.
From a young age, this served her well, though it got on her siblings’ nerves. She learned how to cook, and was quite talented, but her gift of gab often had her strutting the sand to entice customers instead. She and her family’s trade became so well-known through her raw, extroverted moxie that she was considered by many to be the unofficial mascot of the store. She and her family’s brand of sweets soon became inseparable.
For most attention-seekers, this amount of notoriety would be enough to live a lifetime, but Lirrah wanted more. Her cries yearned to reach more ears. She wanted to say something that the entire known world would one day need to listen to.
On her sixteenth birthday, people came from settlements all around to celebrate her. It was at this moment that she decided to cash in all the affection and goodwill she had earned from a lifetime of honeyed words as sweet as the ripest melon juice. She wanted to leave the village, and travel north. For that purpose, she collected many investors and partners who would fund and stock her caravan, with no proof of success other than the borderline disgusting amount of aplomb with which she conducted herself.
Everyone likes sweets.
Her network was enormous. The affection that everyone had for her was overflowing. And flow it did, into coins and goods and equipment that would enable her desire to reach north. As far northward as she could go… so far, and so high, that even she could look down at the world despite her people’s relatively short stature.
It took a while, of course, to get everything ready. But within a few years, funds and equipment in hand, she reached Velt. This was only going to be her first stop, but it would be a profitable one. She had weapons to feed into the growing fires of hostility, and Nem glasswork and art pieces to appeal to nobles who wanted to show off how world-wise they were and who had more money than sense. With her charms, and the situation to her advantage, it was almost impossible to fail. She made a killing when she finally arrived and, happy with the numbers, decided to move onto Ithillin. What happened when everything boiled over wasn’t important. What was important was making her money off both sides and getting out, continuing to reach ever northward.
The situation was not exactly as it was described to her.
The conflict was practically already happening, and the borderlands were almost a war zone, with skirmishes and bandits and monsters out in force. Lirrah learned this when she picked the most reasonably under-staffed point on the border to make her trip, and found her caravan surrounded by marauders. Though she could shoot a bow (her home village was small enough that everyone needed to learn), she was not a real fighter. Her hired muscle fell quickly to the deluge of bandits, and she was soon surrounded.
She didn’t want her ambition to end there, but what could she do?
Then, the Lions roared.
Routed efficiently to the last, the bandits went from an overwhelming bellow to a simpering swan song within moments. Lirrah explained the situation to the Lions, embellishing to make herself seem less opportunistic, and she soon learned that things were more dire between the two nations than she had imagined.
A caravan cannot move north through a river of blood. Even avoiding everything else, the upcoming conflict could capture her supply chain and leave her stranded. There was nothing else for it. Thinking quickly, she talked her way into a mutually beneficial exclusivity contract with Velt during wartime. Her supply chain would be useful, and she could set up shop personally among the group that had helped her. Until the war was over, she would need to hold out. She didn’t want to pick sides initially, but as it turned out, a side picked her.
Equipment: A diverse array of highly saleable wares! Within reason, of course. The art objects get sold far before they reach Lirrah, because warriors on the frontline have little need for such things. If there’s something specific a soldier wants, however, she can usually get it in a week or so depending on rarity. She stocks generic weapons, along with some more interesting exotic weapons from her homeland. Nem bows, especially, are in high demand. With the ever-present threat of skirmishes, she stocks a ridiculous amount of healing potions. More high-end wares include enchanted rings and brooches, with a variety of protective effects, and even magical weapons. Nem alcohol is, to most, a novelty, but she gets enough requests from those who have taken to it to keep it in stock (and to drink herself).
When out and about, she carries a bow and a good supply of potions, as well as a few explosive flasks and acid bombs. She has an enchanted hat that cools her and gives her a lot of shade, though seeing beyond the immediate bound of that shade is still difficult as a Nem. Mostly it makes travel during daytime much more comfortable.
Diplomancer: Lirrah is very good at talking to people, and even getting them to agree to things they normally wouldn’t. She’s that charming! She’s a natural in any environment, from swanky party to seedy bar. She can lie as naturally as she breathes, and can make herself the center of attention with little effort. Conversely, during a combat encounter, she can turn up her cute and helpless act such that most reasonable enemies wouldn’t target her unless they had no other choice. Very helpful as a merchant!
Swift: Lirrah is dexterous, agile, and quick on her feet. On the rare occasion she can’t talk or act her way out of danger, she can usually escape it. Her sight, mainly in the dark, is immensely keen. She’s good with a bow, though aiming far away is difficult for her during the day. She’s practiced enough with the sling to fling dangerous flasks many feet away. Fast hands are useful in the kitchen, and she's also quite good at sewing and knitting.
Gourmand: Lirrah is an excellent cook. She’s best at dishes from her home country, but picks up new cuisine quickly as well. Sometimes, the difference between a dead soldier and a living one is a happily-fed belly. She’s especially gifted at desserts, which she can make at the level of a genius patissier. She can only make so many to her exacting standards day to day, that they run out quickly. People have gotten into fistfights over the strawberry shortcake!
An enthusiastic and voracious academician, with an endless motivation in all matters in the sciences. She distinguishes very little in what she actually transcribes or who is informing her: whether that be large, pivotal moments of a new king's coronation, village encounters with a local griffin, or a meandering ramblings of the rube. In fact, she could come off as insensitive or oblivious when she fails to read the room when bombarding her captive interviewee with questions, and aloof to the events happening around her.
She is also prone to spontaneous flights of fancy, easily swept away by the passion of the moment and swayed by praise with alarming ease. On the bright side, Melanie has near limitless amounts of energy once she's excited with something and tracking down an elusive cryptid. On the other, she has many shelves full of unfinished manuscripts when she lost focus and pursued another rabbit-hole that arrested her attention. Melanie has a very high tolerance of risky behavior and is happy to jump in head first into dangerous situations if she thinks it will get her a good scoop, only to regret it sorely when she inevitably realizes that physical exertion is far from her forte. She's a pushover to many requests of whimsy or embarrassment, simply to sate her curiosity on how people will react.
Melanie is quite prideful of her works, her status as an academician and regards her work as an idealized, altruistic undertaking. She has great sympathy especially for those who seek to advance any kind of understanding of the world, whether that be a fellow archivist, naturalist or a lowly scribe. Unfortunately, this passion also carries into her academic output, resulting in analyses frequently interrupted by opinionated remarks and purple prose.
| BACKSTORY |
Melanie's library of her published works is long and varied, being one of the few advocates of the study of the wider continent. She was beholden to a meteoric rise in infamy by sheer volume; within a few years Melanie had to hire several scribes just to sort the several dozen boxes of references and live specimens flooding in each week. Still, she gained a loyal following for her sweeping observations, obsessive focus on the most mundane of phenomena, and 'academic' studies filled to the brim with poeticisms. She was particularly known for getting into an open fist-fight over the color of Reon's dress during a public debate (of which Melanie would proudly proclaim she won, though it is unclear whether she is referring to the debate or the fist-fight). Many fellow academicians had a much more critical reception of her studies, viewing her as a hack and lacking in the appropriate skepticism one must apply in academia, though she was still respected in her studies of humanoid animation theories. Nonetheless, Melanie has not let up in her indefatigable pursuit of knowledge. Her most recent obsession has taken in the form of social history, and in a characteristic abruptness she dropped her work on the fundamental theories of alchemy to take an extended trip to Velt. She quickly latched onto the Lions as a rich source of insight into the brewing political conflicts as well as a security detail, in exchange for a wellspring of information on golemancy and alchemy.
| EQUIPMENT |
Enchanted Journal - An small leather-bound book filled with ink blotches and hasty scrawls. Melanie's magic allows torrents of paper to come flooding out of the book to take whatever form Melanie requires. The paper's durability is far stronger than usual parchment paper, which lends its strength to Melanie's constructions. The foremost pages of her book contains details on Melanie's most frequently crafted golem archetypes.
Haphazard Alchemy Set - Contained in a large box full of esoteric instruments required of any high level alchemical studies, with long slender brass measuring sticks, flasks of all sorts of sizes and several leather satchels of common ingredients. Unfortunately, Melanie's lack of rigor in organization has resulted in many of these containers being completely mislabeled.
Overpriced 'Ancient Relic' Dagger - A common dagger with a large fake jewel inset into the handle. Melanie got swindled into buying this. Still, she keeps it as a personal defensive tool in case she is cornered.
| SKILLS |
Though luck played a large part, Melanie's persistence through her danger-prone expeditions has been largely thanks to her undeniable talent in creating magic constructs and temporary transmutation on the fly. She can summon temporary mimics of creatures to assist her in various activities; birds carrying teacups, horses to ride on long treks and orcs to thump ignoramuses who insult her work. The duration and accuracy of these constructs depend on Melanie's focus on the construct and the strength of Melanie's memory of what it is mimicking, so outside of her usual assortment of ingrained helpers she often simply bases the paper golems off of an ally or enemy she's observing. The solid, defensive elements of her constructs are made of paper, while the more fluid joints or components that emulate certain elements such as fire is made of ink.
Melanie's knowledge on many wild creatures and physiology is extensive, giving her insight into treatment, both mundane and magical. Unfortunately, she has a tendency to be very clearly biased, confuse two of her many studies or simply get things wrong. It's safe to say that her written works are much more reliable than her recalled knowledge, given that it's not a very high bar. Though zoology is her main arena of study, Melanie's eclectic habits have sent her into anthropology, history, sociology and geology, swinging wildly each year as she pursues whichever field suits her fancy.
Melanie's more practical knowledge in the natural sciences such as alchemy and transmutation has shown its use in many cases during her travels, synthesizing comforts such as acids, soaps and nightlights. Her most frequently used combination is making sweet cakes, and she will debate anyone who questions whether baking counts as alchemy.
| TALES |
Water marks have blurred the opening lines of this letter. The following is a transcript of the legible components.
...I have long since learned that one must always be prepared for darker shores should they delve into the depths of man's atrocities. Though each time I write of these wars, scorching plains of undivided pain, I find myself increasingly disturbed.
Melanie, should a good, moral man who lofts a banner of evil be considered a victim or perpetrator? I should say my initial considerations incline me to see them as little more than hapless spokes trapped under the great unseen machinery of the divine, and should they simply be freed from these circumstances their humanity must shine again, untarnished. You should know, I've had stressed as much in my works to never see even the twisted individuals as mindless monsters but a malformed blade mistreated by the pressures of their observance.
But to simply blind ourselves of these people's capacity to conduct evil, willing or not, would bury the sorrows of the victims of these evil acts. Malefactors will go unnamed, atrocities forgotten. Those who had received mistreatment would not merely have had a great sorrow inflicted upon them but their tears would go unassuaged by their families. Those who come after them would never know what had been sacrificed to build their foundations, and worse yet, what must be stopped should evil return to their loft. Whether in spirit or in memory, by virtue of our sympathetic silence a great injustice would have been conducted.
Melanie, we as the lamplighters of the history must accept too, the complicity in our actions. Our long lives, cut short or otherwise, does not exempt us from this fundamental fact. We are not separate of what we write, but are a living, breathing continuance of it. We too, are prone to whatever forces we observe in scripture and whatever side we stand on this precarious balance of right and wrong, we must rely on those who come after us to decide if we, too, are a good people. I do not know how my works will be memorialized in the years to come, and I hope at the very least, be honest in my incompleteness.
It is a hard lesson to learn, a harder balance to strike. In my long, overspent years I am yet to even grasp the pithy roots of it, let alone apply it. I hope in time, you should find peace in your own limitations.
A veracious reader and knowledge seeker, Matthias was until about a year ago a studying to become a tactician at the Ithillin Academy. As such he is incredibly well read and his training covers much in the way of magic as well as sword play, making him a well rounded fighter slinging spells and working a blade. Orphaned at a young age Matthias was stripped of family titles and land in exchange for his upbringing to be paid for. His education at the academy and care given to him by the state prepared him for his eventual military service.
However, Matthias believed in honor and doing right by others, though bookish and less charismatic than others his skill in maneuver, planning, and improvisation make him an excellent second. Kind and gentle he isn't driven to combat but will fight for those who will give him a chance. Some consider him a traitor but he owes his life to Velvetica as she saved him from death at the hands of bandits that had nearly overwhelmed him. He hopes to one day make a new life here, his last name is even one he selected as his old family name was stripped when he was enrolled to prevent him from trying to reclaim his families old holdings.
| BACKSTORY |
When sickness swept through his families lands in north western borderlands of Ithillin, Matthias was only a babe too young to inherit. However, rather than reaching out for relatives or allowing those within the lands to raise him the royal family set about confiscating the land of his house. Their titles, lands, men, and more forcibly taken while Matthias would be made a ward of the royal court his family name stricken from the records. His families property, peasants, lands, and titles taken in exchange for an education and raising him within the court. Of course, with no one to protest this action Matthias was taken from the arms of his families loyal servants and into the halls of the King of Ithillin. His early days were one curiosity playing with other noble children and taking in a basic noble education.
However already showing a keen intellect and no small skill for games of cunning such as chess, his early use of magic cemented the choice to send him away from court to attend the academy. Under the tutelage of the wisest mages, heroic warriors, and dizzying intellects Ithillin had to offer Matthias grew, so too however did his desire to learn more about himself... Namely why he was never given a last name, something that vexed him until his teenage years. When one of his teachers finally disclosed what had happened to his family, to his home... However he could not speak as to what house it was he'd never asked the King and many houses had been devastated by sickness around the time it was hard to who his mother and father would be.
So Matthias pondered and studied... Until curiosity got the better of him, volunteering for a trip to the borderlands to battle against bandits with his classmates. Matthias slipped away in the dead of night hoping to find villagers, farmers, or anyone who might now anything about who his parents were. Instead he stumbled across the border and into middle of a raid by bandits on a Velt village, seeing the noble dressed in finery with a spell book in one hand and a sword in the other the bandits fell upon him... Only in return they tasted fire and steel. Yet for all his skill and daring numbers would drag him down, bloodied and weak he would have fallen there had it not been for the Lions arrival.
Saved by their band and nursed back to health, Matthias offered his services to Velvetica as a soldier, mage, and tactician. Since that time he has done his best to reward the kindness and skill, even adopting the a last name to suit his new home. Llewellyn, meaning like a lion was chosen as he hoped to prove they were right in trusting him and allowing him to serve alongside Velt's Fangs.
| EQUIPMENT |
Enchanted Leather Spellbook - A custom small spell book filled with spells and incantations often used by Matthias in his daily life. Most commonly his combat spells such as lightning, fire, and wind. Some pages still holding spells he is attempting to learn or working to create himself. When commanded by Matthias it will always open to the desired page, kept in a pouch of his waist for quick use.
Dwarven Steel Bastard Sword - A gift from one of his teachers during his academy days, it's honed edge never dulls and it has held up to the blows of many a stronger warrior. Though the weapon is steel it is dyed a deep black with a silvered cross guard once decorated with a howling wolf now replaced with a lion roaring set upon it.
Fiona - His trusty steed and confident, a Ithilin draft horse she can walk all day and if she breaks into a charge you best not be in her way. Responds well to apples and carrots, also known to drag her rider around by his cloak when he isn't listening to her.
| SKILLS |
Gifted with mana to spare and the talent to cast spells, especially gifted in combat magic Matthias skill as a mage is what originally got him accepted to the academy. His talent is anima magic fire, wind, lighting, and more are his preferred choice for spells though he has tried to expand to more everyday uses of magic. As well began learning more power incantations through resources from within Velt as he is cut off from the teachings he received in Ithillin.
Studying under some of the finest knights in Ithillin and now practicing against some of the finest in Velt has honed his sword play to an impressive level. Though he lacked the brute strength of other fighters he is nimble and deft making use of his speed and his own armor. Depending more on his blade's ability to be used one handed or two handed in concert with his pieces of plate to defend himself against his enemies he combines this with his most important skill.
Matthias's tactical assessment and anticipation training has given him the ability to guess what an enemy might do in advance and take steps to prepare for it. Allowing him to break down a battlefield like one might a game of chess figuring out what pieces to move, what to do next, and how to plan for the enemies retaliations after each maneuver. Working best with more information, time, and understanding of his opponents growing up Ithillin often gives him an advantage against their commanders. He makes use of this in fights as well reading opponents and planning around what their next strike is going to be.
Skilled as a rider Matthias being tall and broad of shoulders rides an impressive nineteen hand tall draft horse named Fiona, though he eschews the more common lance for the sword. His love of riding of horses in general is his hobby and passion, he could spend all day working with his mount.