Order of the Amethyst
Queen Zinnanda Bardac
The young Queen of Bardac's Holdfast
A young woman, pale and beautiful of face with an athletic body both slim and toned in muscle. Her bright blue eyes are observant and bright, but she is often seen frowning and pouting subconsciously if provided with a problem to overcome. Newly a woman, on occasion she lapses into old childish demeanor, but as time passes she more frequently holds the bearing and presence of a firm but merciful queen.
Outspoken and argumentative with her nobles and advisors alike, and vicious and vengeful when wronged, she has also demonstrated a much softer side to her character when moving amongst the common folk. Her actions in helping the community re-build after the recent riots showed her more charitable and compassionate nature towards the poorest amongst her people, and she actively did all she could to ease their sufferings and mourn their dead, regardless of the price to the royal coffers.
She has also vehemently defended dragon-born despite old prejudices and the protests of her lords, taking many into her employ at the castle or arranging escorts from the country for those who wished it, as well as outlawing any harm to them. Her most recent act involved commanding a nationwide day of mourning to remember the fallen as the bodies of all the dragon-born that could be gathered were buried with respect and ceremony in the ‘Singing Gardens’, a large walled orchard-graveyard planted outside Goldshore on the old site of the ’Dragon’s Tower’ Tavern, which was itself destroyed in the recent riots. Her show of grief and mourning at the funeral, along with her bold words of pride and command to end further murders and death, earned her the whispered name among the people ‘Zinnanda the Merciful’.
Zinnanda was raised the second child of the King and Queen of Bardac’s Holdfast. As a young girl always living in the shadow of her noble parents and well-loved older brother Fearghas, she was mischievous, rebellious and stubborn, rarely keen on maintaining the correct demeanor of a young royal princess and often getting herself into trouble. Her antics however were fondly and lovingly lauded by her dear Uncle Richard however, who himself was apt for a touch of mischief, and the two shared a strong bond during her younger years.
After a particularly embarrassing incident at court involving a bucketful of earth and worms and Mistress Nissilla Stephens’ best ball-gown, the family sought the assistance of a local Monk master to hopefully teach their youngest child some discipline and composure. The training was partially successful; it taught Zinna how to keep her emotions in check and hide her emotions in public so as to uphold the appearance expected of her in public, and many in the noble families commented on her being a ‘changed child’. However it also armed her with better tools and skills with which to sneak into places she was not supposed to go.
She had developed an early friendship with the family’s young stable-hand and carriage-boy Hathas, and around the age of eight and nine the two began to make nightly ventures out into the night on personal adventures. After being caught on one occasion raiding her father’s alcohol cabinet, her uncle called her into his private rooms and began to teach her some new and much more sinister skills.
Over the next few years, Zinna trained to become a spy for her family, often being sent on small ‘tests’ or ‘missions’ during the court gatherings in an attempt to gather information. At first these were innocent enough and seemed nothing more than games to Zinna; ‘Find out who made the Lady Hardshaw’s new dress’, ‘Which stallion is Ranger putting to stud this season, and for what price’, ‘Captain Jameson is hosting a visitor; find out who it is and how long they intend to stay’ and it was through these challenges that Zinna developed her skills with charisma and stealth, as well as ingratiating herself with many of the noble families. However with time these grew gradually more serious and risky, as her uncle trusted her with progressively more dangerous tasks. Zinna herself was often innocent of the repercussions of her actions, and the few times she suspected that more sinister might be happening she stuck loyally to her family and her orders. In the meantime, she still maintained her nightly trips with her friend Hathas, to which her family had now resigned themselves of her character and provided a key for the lock upon her bedroom window allowing her entry and egress at all times of the day.
It was on one such adventure that the two young friends overheard a meeting between her father and uncle regarding a dangerous trip that her uncle was to take, somewhere in the Nether Isles. At the conclusion, they both heard her uncle speaking in rich tones ’We must keep the child safe from her mother, for her dam she must never know she still lives, lest they come for her. The only way to ensure this is to remove the memory of her. It… saddens me immensely, dear brother, but it is a price I am willing to pay for her safety". At the time she thought nothing of it, for her uncle was often travelling and she had long ago realised that he was as apt to meddle in arcane mischief as she was to raid the cookie jar, but the words were to haunt her through the years, for they were the last she ever heard her beloved uncle say. He was gone the next morning, and had never returned.
When Zinna was around the age of eleven she experienced something that was to have great influence on her future. Her family were travelling to visit friends in the North, with Hathas being part of their retinue of servants and guards, much to her delight. When passing through a small village, she heard rumours of there being dragon-born visitors staying in the same inn. She had always been fascinated by the idea of dragons and dragon-born; something her parents had been highly disapproving of but that her Uncle had quietly supported and encouraged. Excited by the idea of finally meeting one of the rare race (for dragon-born very rarely visited Bardac’s Holdfast) but in equal parts dismayed to hear that they were packing to leave that very night, she snuck from her room to the stables to catch a glimpse of them as they left.
She knew the moment she entered the stables that something was amiss, for the muffled whimperings of her friend held pinned to the wall and their cruel laughter as they bullied the boy were entirely at odds with her expectations of such cruel creatures. Thinking herself protected by both her monk-skills and her noble title, she confronted the group of four dragon-born men.
They incapacitated her easily and with little respect for her name or dignity. Then they held her and made her watch as they began to ‘punish your friend for your own disrespect’. Horrified, she was forced not to look away as they carved into the face of her dear friend with sharp blades, blinding and scarring him for life as his screams mingled with the frightened cries of the restless horses. Then they approached her with wickedness in their eyes and joked of what they would do to her, but just as they pinned her to the ground one of the men caught full sight of her in the lantern light and seemed to recognise something in her face. His expression moved from shock to intense delight, then laughter. “She bears the visage of Kel’rei’enth. Leave her” and the others, with a great deal of intense investigation of her face and features, agreed. They left her tied in place but otherwise untouched as they mounted their horses and rode away and her friend quietly sobbed into unconsciousness as he bled into the dirt.
When they found her the next morning beside the near-dead Hathas, she was muttering words of vengeance and ruin against all dragon-kind with a hatred so intense that she would carry it for many years. Suddenly the prejudice many in the kingdom felt against this strange race, and her parents’ reluctance for her to meddle in any affairs involving dragon-kin, seemed wholly justified. Even her uncle’s disappearance in the Pirate Isles, which was known to be the home of many Ancient dragons both chromatic and metallic, she now blamed on the scaled race of creatures.
Her father, seeing her matured by the experience and eager for action, as well as desperately missing his brother’s unique services but aware of her own apprenticeship in his keeping, sent her on a new mission of greater magnitude than any committed previously. He tried to win her over with smiles and innocent laughter about how the vial would only make the rebellious and cruel town-master sleep heavily and therefore give his beaten wife some rest, but Zinna was no fool. She knew exactly what lay within the vial, but questioned not her duty and undertook the task without hesitation. And as much as her father tried to keep her busy with dresses and trinkets at the next gathering, she still noted the town-master’s absence at the council meeting, and her sharp ears heard rumours of the terrible gut-rot that had afflicted him not a month hence and sent him to his early grave. Zinna was powerfully aware that her family duty had once again changed; from daughter to spy, from spy to assassin.
And so she served her family, her stubborn and rebellious nature kept balanced and reined-in by the regular challenges offered by her more discreet antics, her childhood losses making her fiercely loyal and protective of her family, her own training and skills making her perhaps a little apt to doing things her own creative way rather than following her orders to the letter but capable all the same. By the time she was fifteen and betrothed to the young Lord Cameron Highgarden, heir to the eastern shore-side domain of Highgarden, she was as dutiful to this decision as her parents could have hoped.
Little did she know that her world was about to be turned upside down, and the fate of her kingdom with it.