From the Z-file: Sindisuentha
Thursday, August 21, 2008 - 6:10 PM
The Aluvasein people sprawl across the lower half of the Talad region, across a wide variety of terrain, and with them are a wide scattering of customs which are long forgotten or much changed by their neighbors or their far more prominent ethnic relatives in Leandr. Half hidden by some broken marshes and treacherous barrow-mound riddled land, the province known as Blackshield spent generations apart, originally a settlement built around a keep for a war that ended ages past. But the people of Blackshield maintained their martial traditions for quite some time afterwards, being the sons and daughters of soldiers, and still having the hot Leandrite blood in them.
In more recent generations, many of the old customs have drifted away, and the once-strong regard for the landed families has grown sour. New, safe roads from the Aluvasein merchant lords opened Blackshield up, bringing with them new ideals and new prejudices against the “antiquated and often vicious” older customs.
Sindisuentha, born Lady Sindisuentha 'shtoyan Kazothmar, grew up in a society that barely recognized her nobility and had grown to regard her family with great suspicion and loathing. In past ages, the Kazothmar family had been the hereditary keeper of the shield for which the province was named, and had the once-vaunted and much dreaded honor to be the commanders of a large force of undead soldiers. These soldiers were originally regarded as the last of the last resorts to defend Blackshield. Over the years, the Army of the Broken Shield was used less as a defense and more to resolve border disputes or blood debts in symbolic combat; two members of the Kazothmar family would split the force, representing the two sides in a conflict, and send the already-dead troops to battle against each other. This ritual warfare also became an annual event, in a battle recreating the glory of past days when Blackshield province was still a place of war. The Kazothmar family became historians and morticians, antiquarians whose duty was to keep the burial grounds safe and occasionally assist in disputes of heredity or heraldry. But within the family, the old Kazothmar obligations were always taken seriously, and heirs of the line all the way to Sindisuentha were taught to be generals and warriors. Those who showed the proper sign, the unusually cold presence that was indicative of power over the dead, would be given the arcane training so that they could raise the Army of the Broken Shield.
Unfortunately, prejudice against any form of necromancy began to strangle the Kazothmar reputation three generations before Sindisuentha. By the time she was a young woman, the house was all but broken. Rumors of foul practices in the family made her a pariah, and though no one would call it anything but an accident, she was certain that the arrow that killed her father had been intended for him. Though she endured the continuing slanders, wearing her bloodline like armor, this only infuriated the people of Blackshield. They called her a proud monster, among other things, and eventually, they brought an ultimatum to her and the remains of her family: be banished and forfeit all lands and wealth, or be burned as a corpse-eater.
Sindisuentha's mother and uncle both died in the ensuing siege on the modest Kazothmar manor. She and her three siblings escaped, running off into the marshes to hide, and it was there that she raised the remainder of the Army of the Broken Shield, bringing it back to wage a guerrilla war against the rest of Blackshield, which was now bolstered by Aluvasein caravaner guards and mercenaries. Acquitting herself very well for her age and experience, particularly in her knowledge of local terrain and use of ambushes, things would not have gone well for her except that Tirilan and some of his allies arrived on a back road into Blackshield. He'd come looking for the lore of the Kazothmar family, and with his assistance, Sindisuentha salvaged what was left of her family inheritance. Sacrificing most of her undead soldiers to make the people of Blackshield content that she was defeated and gone, she and her siblings went with Tirilan, heading southward. She is the head of the Kazothmar family, now, and she intends to eventually return to Blackshield and take back what is hers... eventually.
Still a young woman, Sindisuentha had to grow up very fast. She's killed, and she will likely kill again; at this point, she regards it as a natural part of being a Kazothmar. Her pride in her family line is considerable, and she adheres to the family codes of honor fastidiously, which is one reason Tirilan is happy to have her as an ally. Likewise, she admires and idolizes Tirilan, and she's been caught up in his vision of the Black Sun. This is particularly true after her discovery of references to the Black Sun as part of her own heraldry (the Kazothmar's very first coat of arms, from nearly a thousand years ago, was a black sun on a purple field, which is why Tirilan originally went to Blackshield).
Sindisuentha has grand ambitions. She has been released from a very dusty corner in her life, and through this liberation has decided that all dreams are possible. She is a voracious learner, highly competitive and firmly believes that the harder she tries, the more she will achieve. Also believing that being in Tirilan's army fulfills the destiny of her family line, she is firmly set in her loyalties. This is combined with her need to behave with honor and aplomb. She strives to always act with restraint, decorum and dignity.
Though a hard-eyed general on the battlefield, Sindisuentha loves indulging her refined tastes. She sees no reason why a woman of her standing should not enjoy creature comforts if not actively on campaign... and sometimes, why not on campaign? Likewise, her undead soldiers are clean, wearing well-polished armor and even have dress uniforms. She very much enjoys Tirilan's penchant for holding courtly events, and makes a great effort to look as good as she possibly can when meeting others.
Sindisuentha's view of the world is through a rather romantic lens, where she is becoming a legend, and subconsciously, she expects things to progress as a story would. Her honor and her family line are matters of foremost importance, and she thinks the age of the Black Sun will bring the Kazothmar heritage into the glory it deserves. Her vision is that the Kazothmar will become rulers of a kingdom as well as protectors, and she believes that Tirilan is lighting the way.
She is not so naïve as to think that this sort of dream can be achieved cleanly.
Despite her shades of gray philosophy, Sindisuentha is troubled by some of Tirilan's other allies. She knows some of them follow Tirilan only for personal power, not for some greater purpose and certainly not through any real loyalty to him. She is confident in Tirilan's judgment, however, and believes implicitly in his decisions.
Of course, that his allies deal with undead doesn't bother her at all. What does bother her is the lack of people who could be close friends.
As written, Sindisuentha represents a very aggressive, eager part of Tirilan's following. Though she is a necromancer of sorts, she is not evil, and offers a very fresh, very alive sort of contrast to some of his others. Her competitive nature and honorable behavior are also a fine foundation for some wonderful interactions with heroes opposing Tirilan. She will, after all, accept an honorable surrender.