((I've been working on writing down this character idea for Errant for the last couple days; but, having finished, I realized that I had no idea if/when I'd actually get around to using her in Errant, and so figured I'd submit her for this in the meantime. I hope this isn't too 'out there'. ))
Name: Countess Ciara de Karmylla (KEER-uh de car-MY-luh)
Race: Vampire (Northman)
Deity: Nótt, Nyx
Faction: Knights of Dracon
Physically, Ciara appears to be a young woman in perhaps her late twenties. Reasonably tall, at around 5'11'', she is exceptionally beautiful and elegant. Her hair is shiny golden-blonde, and very straight; on the sides it hangs down to her shoulders, and in the rear it hangs down to mid-back. Her eyes are a deep emerald green, and somehow give the impression of being much older than the rest of her.
She wears an emerald-green silk blouse, tied about her waist with a black sash; the blouse has a built-in hood. Black pants, black leather boots, and thin black leather gloves complete her outfit.
The only armor she typically wears is a black, deepsilver jack-of-plate.
Her primary weapon is a full-sized latchet crossbow (here is a video of a small one). In addition, she carries a steel single-handed sword with a green hilt wrap. She also bears a solid silver dagger —though it is more like a stake with a fancy hilt, having a thick triangular blade cross-section, and no real edge to speak of. Lastly, she carries a small steel knife with an emerald set in the pommel.
She wears an ancient, rather worn, gold ring, which was made for her by her elder daughter.
She is accompanied by her pet, a black she-cat named Noctis.
Ciara is a somewhat complicated individual. She cares about people, but is almost always aloof —she has lost too much in her life, and so avoids getting close to people, knowing that eventually she would lose them too. The closest thing to friends —for a given definition of 'friend'— that she could be said to have are a few of her most trusted servants —some of whose families have been in her service for generations— who maintain her castle and help her run her county... That is, among people. She loves animals, and often seeks out their companionship; she has had an almost interminable series of cats throughout her long life, up to her current companion, Noctis —who, like all her predecessors, serves as both friend and, through Ciara's spiritual magic, a loyal scout. While cats are her favorite animals, she also greatly enjoys the company of bats, wolves, and various birds of prey.
Rather than view herself as superior to humans, as some people with such supernatural abilities might, she views her vampiric nature as a responsibility; because she has such advantages over ordinary people, and because she must feed on them to survive, she feels honor-bound to do everything she can to protect them. Likewise, she bears an intense distaste for those who abuse supernatural gifts to kill or oppress ordinary people, and views it as part of her duty to hunt down and stop such individuals or organizations —by whatever means. While this seems somewhat idealistic, after centuries of life, she is an absolute realist —she knows that there are some things she cannot help or change, and so she does not waste any effort on such; she leaves almost all societal issues alone, focusing her efforts on threats to peoples' lives, or to the structure of the Empire or human civilization as a whole —particularly the chaos races, and supernatural monsters.
Despite the fact that she has adapted to —even accepted— her curse, she still views it as such; with the exception of her two children, she has never turned anyone into a vampire —and she almost certainly never would again.
Though she must drink people's blood to survive, she does not enjoy it, and goes to great lengths to avoid causing pain, when possible. She never kills those she feeds on (unless they're an enemy who she was going to kill anyways), and rarely even bites them; instead, she typically uses her hypnotic powers and spiritual magic to lull her prey into a trance, and then uses a knife to open a smallish wound to drink from —the trance also means that her victims tend to remember little-to-nothing of what happened to them. She is very careful about her blood intake, having seen first-hand what happens when a vampire drinks too little —or too much.
In spite of her age, and how much she's seen, Ciara still retains the spark of curiosity. Over her life she has managed to acquire a thorough education —being able to speak, read, and write both Imperial Common and her own native northern tongue, as well as the dead languages of Old Achæan and High Imperial, and being quite well-versed in a wide variety of scholarly subjects, including a fair amount of lore on monsters and magic— and is always looking to learn more; she can spend hours upon hours in a library simply pouring over books in search of fresh information.
Despite —or perhaps because— of how long it's been, she still speaks Imperial Common with a slight northern accent much of the time —though she can speak it utterly un-accented when she has to.
Ciara was born over 700 years ago on the island that would eventually come to host the city of Artorius.
Her early life was not particularly special. She lived with her father, a fairly successful and well-respected goldsmith, in a small cottage on the outskirts of a smallish village, alone —her mother had died giving birth to her. She did chores, helped her father with his craft, and generally grew up like any other girl.
With one exception. Even from a very young age, Ciara had a way with animals; even those that were normally intractable, skittish, or downright mean-spirited would often turn placid and friendly in her presence. And she loved animals in return; whenever she had free time she would often head into the woods by herself —the cool, quiet forest being a treasured reprieve from the hot, cramped, rooms of her father's workshop— and simply sit, watching. In this way, she eventually came to learn how to contact the spirits of animals and plants and, eventually, the rest of nature.
But aside from that, she was a girl much like any other. As she grew older, she eventually fell in love with a young man from the village and got married, having two children —both girls: Cailín, and Alice. Not having quite enough money to build their own place, she and her husband and children continued to live in her father's —now rather cramped— cottage. Still, for some years, things were good.
Until, one evening, a foreigner —a vicious and sadistic vampire— broke into their home, butchering both her father and her husband —her children were only spared because they were out, having been sent to catch one of their goats which had run off. But, for some reason, rather than killing her as well, the vampire decided to turn her instead, and then simply left.
Ciara awoke from death, shaken, with half her family dead, and two young children to take care of by herself. As such, she did the only thing she could think of; she buried the slain, took over her father's business, and did her best to care for her children while trying to adapt to her new and terrible curse. Her children were scared of her, at first, but, as her personality had not changed, they quickly adapted —in the way that children do.
Things went more-or-less smoothly once more for a number of years. Her children grew up: Cailín, the elder, into a beautiful, strong —if a touch hotheaded— young woman, who helped Ciara with the goldsmithing work; Alice, the younger, into a kind, sweet, gentle —if somewhat shy and timid— girl. Ciara learned a great deal about her new nature, quickly mastering her newfound hypnotic abilities —which made feeding a much safer proposition for her, as she refused to kill people to survive; the number of 'wild animal' attacks in the surrounding area went way up, but because of her mental influence, no one could seem to clearly remember who or what had attacked them.
But, despite how well things were going, and her increasing comfort with her curse, in her heart remained the fear that the vampire who had turned her would return someday, and she prepared against that eventuality as best she could. And a good thing too, for one night her fears came to pass; the vampire snuck into her home, this time targeting her daughters. Ciara tried to intervene, only to find herself restrained by her creator's psychic hold on her mind. But she had always been strong-willed and, pushed even harder by the drive to protect her children, she managed to break free of his suggestion, and a terrific struggle ensued, only ending when she managed to drive a silver dagger —which she had made herself for just that purpose— through his heart; to make sure of things, she cut off his head. She had avenged her father and husband, and saved her daughters from death or, even worse, suffering the same fate that she had.
Alas, it was for naught. Not two years later, a terrible sickness swept through the village, killing many, and both her daughters took fatally ill. Unwilling to lose anyone else in her life, against her better judgement and desire not to inflict her curse on anyone else, Ciara enacted the same dark ritual that had been performed on her, and transformed both of her children to save their lives. Her elder daughter Cailín took to it well —perhaps too well. But her younger daughter Alice… had always been a gentle soul, and hurting anyone, even to survive, was utterly anathema to her nature; she refused to feed from people, and even getting her to drink fresh blood that was gathered in a vessel and brought back for her was difficult enough —she grew frail and sullen, despite Ciara's best efforts.
And, despite their efforts to remain undiscovered, with three vampires in a fairly sparsely-populated area, first whispers, and then full blown rumors, inevitably began to spread. People began to wonder about the family of goldsmiths: who bought so little food these days; who were never seen out and about in the sunlight; who even kept all the windows closed in their stiflingly-hot workshop at all hours of the day; and the young girl, who was so strange and pale now, after having survived an illness that had killed so many children her age…
Eventually, they were found out. The following evening, the villagers formed a mob and marched up to their home, seeking to kill or drive off the 'monsters'; they found only Alice —Ciara and her elder daughter were out hunting that evening— and took her —the young gentle girl had neither the strength nor the will to fight them, even in her own defense. Ciara and Cailín returned home to find Alice gone and, quickly realizing what must have happened, rushed to the village to rescue her. They arrived too late; the angry and frightened villagers had burned her younger daughter at the stake.
Driven half-mad by rage and sorrow, the pair took their bestial forms, and stormed the village, killing everyone they could find; it was not entirely a one-sided fight —they had strength, speed, nigh-immortality, and sheer terror on their side, while the villagers had numbers and weapons… none of them were skilled fighters— but in the end, they were left standing alone in the ruins of the town —there were no survivors. But even this 'victory' was not without loss; while Ciara had been able to maintain at least some slight modicum of self control throughout the butchery, Cailín had not —her rage and injuries driving her to feast as she slaughtered; in the end, her eldest daughter lost herself completely to the bloodlust and, with a last roar of anger and sadness, disappeared into the night —Ciara never saw her again.
With nothing left for her there Ciara, alone, heartbroken, and slightly sickened by her own actions —despite that they were at least somewhat justified— departed the island, heading to the mainland and, after a time, making her way into the expanding Achæan Empire. She wandered: with no goal, no hope… and yet she found herself incapable of not going on, of simply… ceasing. So, unable to bear the thought of taking up her old profession of goldsmithing —which had far too many unhappy memories associated with it now— she came to take up the trade of mercenary. Though she had no taste for battle, she proved decently skilled at the craft of combat —and her vampiric nature occasionally saved her where her skill failed— though, perhaps what she really sought was death —being unable to relinquish life of her own accord.
She continued thus for decades, until, by chance, her 'heroic' —meaning borderline suicidal, except that she happened to live through it and help carry the day— actions fighting alongside an Imperial force against the chaos races got her knighted for bravery. In that moment, she finally found a calling: protecting people; for, despite what they had done to her daughter, she did not hate humans —rather, she came to decide, given the 'gifts' of her curse, and the fact that the blood of more-or-less innocent people sustained her, it was, if anything, her duty to protect them. She threw herself into this self-decreed mission, focusing most of her efforts on fighting the chaos races, as opposed to the northerners that the Empire was also oft in conflict with as it expanded; this eventually resulted in her recruitment into the Ordo Draconis, which, she soon discovered, contained a number of members who shared her curse —or the similar one of lycanthropy.
Over the next more than a century —adopting a new first name, hair- and clothing- style every couple of decades, and passing herself off as one of her own descendants— her standing increased, until eventually she became the Countess de Karmylla, ruling a small county to the south-east of Deltalund. She quickly established herself a reputation as an inveterate recluse, having only the minimum possible number of servants in her small castle, and carrying out almost all of her affairs of state by proxy —making it much easier for her to disguise her unaging nature. In truth, though, she is often out and about; however on those occasions she goes by her real name and never uses her title, and, because of her reclusiveness —even people who are well familiar with the rolls of the nobility have rarely heard of her, and almost no one ever sees her— she is hardly ever recognized.
She travels often, keeping a watchful eye on the status of the Empire —and the lands beyond. She still personally joins the fight against the chaos races from time to time —though mostly only alongside fellow Knights of Dracon— and generally pitches in where she feels her help is needed. She also spends a good deal of this time —as some others in the Order do— seeking out those vampires, werewolves, or other afflicted individuals who might need her help or shelter —although, her aid is by no means guaranteed; for, despite being living proof that becoming a vampire doesn't necessarily make one a monster, she also remembers how she became one in the first place, and so her own kind don't get a free pass from her. She has in fact, at times, performed the role of semi-amateur monster hunter, hunting down and slaying those whom she feels are viciously misusing their superhuman abilities —if she cannot convince them to desist.
And so she has persisted through the centuries: with a sad, heavy heart, but a firm determination to do everything she can to protect the Empire—civilization—people from the forces and monsters that would see them destroyed.
Since the Empire made their way to her ancient island homeland —establishing the city of Artorius— she has been back there a number of times —whether out of a vain hope of finding some clue as to the location or fate of her long-lost elder daughter, or out of simple nostalgia for the only place where she was ever truly happy...