(Taken from Eliza by way of Joelle Anthony.)

Calamity Jane
Ten things Sally Din wants

1.) Her own way. Though this particular facet to her personality, in her youth, made her appear selfish and rather stubborn, it’s proved helpful as she’s aged. She likes to think of it as tenacity. Being a woman, she’s got to prove herself daily to her men (or so she feels) and this unwavering sense of what needs to be done is central to that success.

2.) Sir Renmen. Sally has known Lee Renmen for the last twenty years; though he’s about a decade her junior, the two have had a long, sometimes perilous relationship. Since they are both knights, neither can marry; Din has been proven sterile (though there is some argument as to whether or not this is, in actuality, true). Renmen is a knight and a priest, and Din is notoriously neutral to religion (“If it works, fine. But I’m not holding my breath.”)  As of the time of The Aldersgate they are in a rocky period, and, as any of the Knights of the Asp would tell you, that doesn’t make Sally fun to be around.

3.) Recognition. Though she’s humble on the outside in many ways, always giving good spoils to her knights and praising their good work, Sally likes nothing better than to see her name in print. Except, that is, when she’s being accused of slaughtering 300 innocent townsfolk.

4.) To be obeyed. As the Captain of the Asp, Din does not like to be crossed. Her favorite method to get folks to pay attention and obey her when they’re not is a round of public humilation. Nothing like being screamed at and called a “leech” in front of thirty-odd knights and pages.

5.) To survive. Sally is as tough as the Territories that created her and sharp as a whip. If it comes down to survival, she knows how to do it and to do it right. At all costs, she could survive in the wilderness, if needs be, most likely undetected, for years. She’d had to do it before, and she could do it again.

6.) To see her pages succeed. It’s been a tough go the last few months for the Order of the Asp; they’ve lost two of their men, including Sir Gawen’s–the most famed knight of the bunch–page. As such, Sally’s felt a bit of a failure; losing men is never a matter she takes lightly. Her newest recruits, a blacksmith’s kid named Brick and a skinny oddball named Mesmer. She realizes she might be a little tougher on them than she’s been on previous pages, but she does it to make them stronger.

7.) To turn a profit. It’s not to say the the Order of the Asp isn’t innocent of all charges against them. Retrieving wares from smugglers and from thieves is a sticky business, and the crown doesn’t exactly pay the best wages. So, in order to keep her knights happy and to keep them well provided for, she is known for augmenting the retrieval lists after a run in her favor.

8.) To get revenge. Over the years, Sally’s accumulated a rather lengthy list of people she’d like to seek out revenge upon. Whether or not this revenge comes in the way of physical, mental, or financial injury is dependent upon the original crime. But members in this list include people as high up as Queen Maelys herself, to a barkeep who once made a comment about her rear end.

9.) Guns. If there’s one thing she loves more than Lee Renmen, it’s her own steel. She’s ever in the quest for better, more accurate guns, and owns close to a half dozen herself.

10.) To kill. There’s a thrill about it, to Sally, something dark and forbidden. The first time it happened she was horrified at the excitement that had run through her, the knowledge that she’d held a man’s life in her hands and extinguished it. The man had deserved it, but whether the 40 or 50 odd souls she’s taken in her time on the earth have, she can’t say. “Justice depends on how you look at it,” she’d say. “So it depends whose orders I was following at the time.”

Sir Ander\'s Doppleganger

This is Sir Ander’s first appearance. He’s the “younger knight”. More on his character a little later.

From Chapter Three: Blooming Day

Slowly, Cora stood, her skirts rustling as she did so, the petticoat snagging on her foot and letting out an alarmingly loud tearing noise. They were close enough to notice, and she heard both knights fall silent, and engage their weapons.

Her cover blown, Cora gripped the gun and twirled out into the hallway, leveling the weapon at the trespassers. Mustering all her courage, she said through numb lips: “Get out of my house.”

She must have sounded amusing to them, for both of the knights began to chuckle at her. Her chest tightened with mingled fear and fury—how could they laugh at her? And how could they take Brick? And Denna? Gods damn them.

There were two dark figures before her, illuminated from behind by the dim lanterns outside. One reached over and flicked on the gas lamp in the entryway, and his face came to life from darkness. He was perhaps twenty, and startlingly handsome. His round face was punctuated by a dimpled chin, and he had warm brown eyes that certainly weren’t as menacing as Cora had thought they would be. He smiled and held up his hands. Dressed in traditional knighting gear, he wore a long grey duster and a green vest beneath, a black kerchief tied around his neck. He carried silvered guns at his hips and, Cora knew, a host of other weaponry at the ready should he need them. His hat was wide-brimmed and set back on his head, letting loose a couple of free brown curls.

“Come now, lass,” he said. “Put the gun down. You don’t want to shoot your foot off; truly, we’re here on Queen’s business, so there’s no need resorting to violence.”

“People are screaming,” Cora said, the words spilling out of her mouth before she could stop them. Her arms ached as she held the gun out, straining under the pressure of fright. “If it’s Queen’s business then why in Hells is everyone screaming?”

“Resistance is a strange thing,” said the second knight, removing his hat. He was bald and missing an eye, but his ugliness would have been apparent even without the shortcomings. “Makes people resort to rather desperate options, I find. But that’s neither here nor there, lass. You best put the gun down and come with us. We’ve got a comfortable spot for you in the carriage.”

Cora flinched at the mention of the carriage. She squared her shoulders, concentrating on the green kerchief around the bald knight’s neck. Just like the green glass bottle on the fence post. “I am not going anywhere,” she said, willing her voice even.

The younger knight sighed, wiping his brow with the back of his hand. He moved a few steps closer to Cora, and she adjusted the gun from the bald one to him.

“You’re sadly outnumbered, dear,” he said, his tone dripping with condescension. As strange as it seemed, Cora was more frightened of the young knight than the old one. At first she had liked his eyes, but now they began to roam her body, to size her up. “You can shoot one of us, and if your aim is true, you still won’t have enough time to get the other down before you’re pinned down and forced to the carriage. Understand? The last thing we want you be is… damaged.”

Eliza has proclaimed June Villain month! Of course, I had to join in. After much thought on my part, I introduce to you some of the (non-spoiler) villains from The Aldersgate.

Queen Maelys I

“I cannot abide by the superstitious ramblings of feeble minds. My people will be taught to value their own decisions, their own consciences, rather than rely on archaic writings and fairy tales about goddesses.”

“It is not, as some have implied, an easy task to be a Queen.”

From the moment of her birth, Maelys has been celebrated. Earena suffers from two significant problems as of late, a sharp decline in the birth of females, and a strict matrilineal line of a ascention to the Throne. After the birth of three boys and two stillbirths, Carine III gave birth to a healthy raven-haired baby girl, Maelys Carine. This was cause for much celebration, for Maelys’s birth meant her claim to the throne was more direct than her cousin, the Lady Felice Vezina.

Maelys I has reigned Queensland for forty-three years, having ascended the throne two weeks after her blossoming. She married her cousin Edgar Vezina–who was twenty years her senior–and they produced six boys before an illness rendered her incapable of bearing children again. None of her sons produced girls, but her brother and his wife, the Lady Belleview, had a daughter named Ellinora, to whom Maelys has pledged the throne upon her death.

Maelys is revered throughout the Continent and the Isles as a warrior Queen, having seen the continued growth of appropriated lands on the Continent, and more recently, in the Northern Archipelago of Nans. Her reign is defined by a new age of technology, as well, contributing greatly to the success of the knighting orders abroad. Maelys’s fleet of airships–including her own, the Arabella–are considered one of the greatest modern wonders of the era.

As deep as her love of technology runs, Maelys is also a staunch Dranist. She adheres firmly to the teachings of the philosopher, Drana, who taught that religion is but a figment of men’s minds, devised to control the weak and elevate the strong. In the last century, all Queens have worked to eliminate any connection between the throne and the past religions of the Continent and Isles, but none so enthusiastically as Maelys. Though no official reports have ever surfaced, locals in the Territories and abroad attest to most unusual disappearances of priests, seidcrafters, and even local herbwomen.

In spite of the advances and prosperity much of the kingdom has experienced, one issue Maelys has been unable to escape. Her niece, Ellinora, the claimant to the Throne, has–for all intents and purposes–gone mad. In order to preserve the line of current women in the line of succession, Maelys called upon the Aldermen of the Territories and Queensland to send their daughters north to her, for safekeeping, and schooling.

This was met with resistance, and so, Maelys sent out the Order of the Oak, a group of taskmaster knights, to retrieve the girls with force, as they deemed necessary.

“They do not realize the gravity of the situation. I do not wish to take any of these girls from their families; if I believed there was another way, I would see to it. But here, I can protect them. Here, I can keep them safe.”

A reported three-hundred girls were taken to Hartleigh Castle, and are now under the careful eye of the Order of the Rose–the Queen’s personal guard. Any incidents involving violence against townships in the Territories have been attributed to an uprising against the Order of the Oak by the Order of the Asp, led by Sir Din and Sir Gawen of Fenlie, both of whom are wanted for treason, murder, and a long list of other sundry behaviors.

Profile: Maelys Carine I

  • Height: 5’1″
  • Eye Color: Hazel
  • Hair color: Black/gray (favors wigs these days)
  • Age: 56 Years
  • Hobbies: An avid horticulturist and patron of technological arts, has three terriers
  • Issue: Lord Grayson Vezina, Lord Alexander Vezina (deceased), Lord Carl Vezina, Lord Elgar Vezina, Lord Geoffery Vezina, Lord Hortense Vezina (deceased), three stillbirths
  • Husband: Lord Edgar Vezina, deceased
  • Fashion: favors lavish dresses; known to own at least two hundred various gowns.