Kain Darkwind's Savage Tide
Newly minted noble archmage
The first, most striking thing upon her approach is her gracefulness, the effortless ease with which she moves. Grace to put a dancer, to put an elf, to shame. It’s a reflection of a toned and honed body, lean and tight like a coiled spring. Her fair skin is bronzed by long hours in the sun and matches her shoulder length amber hair that hangs free and untamed, framing her face and always seeming to fall exactly as she wishes when she moves. That face is dominated by two large, expressive, green eyes and full lips. Gorgeous by an standard, painfully so, and all the more played up by the confidence with which she carries herself, the certainty of her approach and the ease of her smile. It all speaks to power, to authority, to self-assurance. It hides how small she is, makes her larger than her barely five foot frame. It also hids how young she is, and it only comes into perspective when she sheds her more assertive persona, in small private gatherings in which she need not take the lead and there is an opportunity to observe her in stillness instead of action. However young her body may be, her mind is far more mature, hardened by experience. Those that look into her eyes stare into those that have already seen things most never will. Similarly, however petite she maybe, none will ever describe her as delicate.
Certainly none who have seen her in action would say as much – she shrugs off eldritch assaults, withstands blows powerful enough to shatter steel, and shrugs off arrows as inconveniences. However much the arcane wards and protections she has might protect her, her toughness is not in question to those that have seen her bleed, and in her time she has bleed pints of blood for Sasserine and Farshore. A bolt through the throat – the scar where it went in and came out is still faintly visible despite the application of powerful healing magics – knives in her back, and brutal bare-knuckle brawls with (rumors say) an ogre. No, no one will doubt her toughness. This is no cloistered scholar or soft and pampered noble.
Her garb changes by her mood and activity. She prefers gowns and skirts in blues, reds, and greens and most commonly wears them in civilization, but readily trades them for blouses and trousers for marches through dense jungles and caves, adding a bandier of potions and an extra belt loaded with equipment as needed. Her clothing is unmistakably the work of the famous dwarven tailor Alcindar. Constants are the silvery brackets on each wrist that give off a tangible protective aura, the fine cloth belt with a pearl clasp around her waist that always anchors at least two daggers, and the container she wears on her hip from which poke the hilts of halve a dozen wands and staves: even in times of peace she’s ready for war. The story goes that she knows well how to use the daggers too if need be, and once carried a sword.
Only a fool could forget that Lady Islaran is far more than a a noble: she is the deadliest wizard Sasserine has known in many a year, that she took countless lives during the madness that gripped Sasserine in recent months. One of the daggers bears the mark of a Red Dagger within the Witchwarderns to those that recognize such marks, and the strength in her hands speaks to the subtle over-development common in practiced wizards. To those with mage sight she blazes with magical power in the form of active spells, magic items, and personal power of varying strengths – from faint to overwhelmingly powerful, auras that bleed from her into her surroundings with palpable might. This is not simply a mage, not a wizardess. It is an eldritch titan, an archmage hardened by war and ready for another.
Name Katrina ‘Kat’ Islaran
Titles Archmage, Lady (Sasserine and afilliated), Red Dagger (Witchwardens), Scion of Sasserine (Sasserine), Slayer (Olman Tribes)
Aliases Masked Mage
Age 19 (biological), 24 (chronological)*
Date of Birth Neth 14th, 574
Place of Birth Sasserine
*Katrina spent approximately four years petrified between the voyage of the Vanderborens and the Sea Wyvern. She and the other Wyverns lost approximately eight months during the events in Opar.
Complexion Pale (Deeply Tanned)
Eye Color Green
Hair Color Amber
*Note, as a powerful wizard and sorceress Lady Islaran may change her appearance at will.
Affiliations Dawn Council (Scion of Sasserine), Steel Wyverns (Member), Witchwardens (Red Dagger)
Allies Bianka Altanish (High Warden), Mirren Family, Tarmon (High Mage), Thorgrim (Lord Defender)
Family Anna Thorpe (mother), Celes Ilaran D’Arran (aunt), Dorian Islaran (father), Vikky Tarjay (cousin)
Friends Togar Irontooth, Torya Irontooth, Tureg Irontooth
Rogue1/Conjurer13/Arcanist1 (Occultist) (1,004,868 experience)
LG (N) Medium Humanoid (Human)
Init +9 (+5 Dex, +4 Improved Initiative)
Senses darkvision 120ft., low light vision x4; Perception +34 (+38 with Ne'mer)
Languages Abyssal, Aquan, Celestial, Common, Draconic, Elven, Giant (Learning from Einar), Infernal, Keoish, Olman, Orc, Slyvan, Terran
Aura detect scrying (40ft. emanation), Good (moderate)
AC 30, touch 21, flat-footed 25, CMD 29
(+6 armor, +5 deflection, +5 Dex, +1 monk, +3 natural)
hp 182 (1d8+14d6+104) DR 10/magic vs. ranged attacks (100 points)
Resist +2 vs. evocations, +1 vs. transmutation, +1 vs. Yellow Sign, endure elements, half damage from constriction, falling, being buried, and crushing effects
Special Defenses 1/day reroll will save, bolstering (+2 saves if enemy has inflicted melee or ranged damage this round), contingency, detect scrying, Evasion
Fort +15, Ref +17, Will +20
Speed 30ft., swim 60ft., fly 40ft.
Melee unarmed strike +14/+9 (1d8+2) or
Melee red dagger +17/+12 (1d4+5)
Melee masterwork dagger +15/+10 (1d4+2)
Melee touch +14 (by spell)
Ranged pistol +10 (1d8) (touch within 20ft.)
Ranged throwing dagger +14/+9 (1d4+2)
Ranged touch +14 (by spell)
Base Atk +7; CMB +14
Attack Options Archmage, sneak attack +1d6
Special Actions Minute meteors (5ft. column, 1d4+7 damage, save DC 20 negates), shift (25ft., swift action)
Combat Gear book of infinite spells (open to greater planar binding, 1 page turned), dweomer’s essence x5 (+5 vs. SR when used as component), pearl of power (3rd), shaw of mysterious conjuration , ammo x8*, antiplague x5**, antitoxin x10**, fungi touch x2*, holy water x2, smoke stick x3, throwing dagger x10
• Potions ointment of restoration** (3 doses remaining), potion of endure elements x10, * potion of heroism**
• Rods lesser rod of metamagic extend x2^, lesser rod of metamagic merciful^, lesser rod of metamagic silent^
• Scrolls form of the dragon (CL 15th)
• Staves staff of abjuration (3 charges)^
• Wands wand of cure light wounds x2^, wand of cure light wounds x2^ (35 charges), wand of cure light wounds^ (20 charges), wand of cure light wounds (34 charges), wand of death ward^ (28 charges), wand of lightning bolt (50 charges)^, wand of magic missile (CL 9, 50 charges)^
Arcane Reservoir (Current 7 – Max 11)
• Bloodline Development – As 8th level sorceress for 5 rounds, Swift Action
• Conjurer’s Focus – summon monster IV, 8 minutes, Standard Action
• Surge – +1 DC or CL, Free Action
Arcanist Spells Prepared (Caster Level 17th, +19 vs. spell resistance, Concentration +25)
4th (7/day) – enervation (+14), resilient sphere (DC 23)
3rd (6/day) – daylight, greater magic weapon, heroism
2nd (10-2/day) – cushioning bands, lesser local telekinesis, protection from arrows, one open slot
1st (6/day) – endure elements, Katrina’s form, mage armor, speak with animals, one open slot
0th (Unlimited) – arcane mark, detect magic, detect poison, light, mage hand, open/close, prestidigitation, read magic
Conjurer Spells Prepared (Caster Level 17th, +19 vs. spell resistance, Concentration +25) Focused Arcane School Teleportation
7th (3+2/day) – charm animal (DC 24), greater teleport, spirit wave, thorgrim’s dagger storm, one open slot
6th (4+1/day) – chain lightning (DC 25), disintegrate (+14, DC 24), greater dispel magic, wall of iron, one open slot
5th (4+1/day) – cone of cold (DC 24), overland flight, telekinesis (DC 23), teleport, wall of force, one open slot
4th (5+1/day) – black tentacles, detect scrying, dimensional anchor (+14), dimension door, force swarm, resilient sphere (DC 23)
3rd (6+1/day) – arcane sight, fireball (DC 22), fly, greater magic weapon, magic circle against evil, summon monster III, one open slot
2nd (10+1/day) – bear’s endurance, bull’s strength, cushioning bands, darkvision, fox’s cunning, invisibility, knock, protection from arrows, scorching ray (+14), see invisibility, versatile weapon, hold animal (DC 19)
1st (6+1/day) – identify x2, Katrina’s form x2, mage armor x2, protection from evil x2, shield x2, speak with animals x2, true strike x2, charm animal (DC 18), hide from animals
0th (Unlimited) – amanuensis, cleaning, dancing lights, mending
Boon black lightning (free action, electricity spell ignores electricity resistance)
Prohibited Enchantment & Necromancy; Specializations +2 caster level checks with evocation, +1 caster level checks with transmutation
Spell-like Abilities (Caster Level 17th)
1/day – teleport (1 minute casting time)
Spell-like Abilities (CL 10th)
1/week – contact other plane
1/day – augury
Abilities Str 15, Dex 20, Con 20, Int 24, Wis 16, Cha 21
SQ Ambition, arcane bond (Ne’mer), experienced, exploits (bloodline development [starsoul], conjurer’s focus, metamagic knowledge, planar contact), life link, planewalker, summoner’s charm (7 rounds), trapfinding
Feats Archmage, Craft Magic Item*, Dimensional Agility, Eschew Materials*, Improved Familiar*, Improved Initiative, Iron Will*, Quicken Spell, Scribe Scroll*, Skill Focus (Diplomacy & Perception), Spell Focus (conjuration), Spell Penetration, Weapon Finesse
Traits Focused Mind, Theoretical Magician
Skills Acrobatics +16, Appraise +15, Athletics +8, Bluff +16, Craft (alchemy) +13, Craft (carpentry) +15, Craft (metalworking) +13, Craft (traps) +14, Diplomacy +36 (+37 when representing Dawn Council interests), Disguise +15, Disable Device +32, Fly +11, Handle Animal +9, Heal +18, Intimidate +16 (+17 when representing Dawn Council interests), Knowledge (arcane) +28, Knowledge (dungeoning) +16, Knowledge (engineering) +25, Knowledge (geography) +13, Knowledge (history) +20, Knowledge (local) +16, Knowledge (nobility) +14, Knowledge (nature) +14, Knowledge (the planes) +27, Knowledge (religion) +14, Linguistics +18, Perception +34 (+38 with Ne'mer), Perform (dance) +16, Perform (string instruments) +13, Profession (sailor) +20, Ride +8, Sense Motive +21 (+25 with Ne'mer), Spellcraft +34, Stealth +18, Use Magic Device +25
Hero Points 2
Possessions combat gear, amulet of resistance and natural armor +3, armillary amulet, blanket of comfort, bookplate of recall x3, bracers of bolstering armor +6, brazen amulet, broken amulet of the planes (1 use, only visited planes), circlet of persuasion, cloak of resistance +3, efficient quiver, handy haversack, heart of darkness, lesser gown of stars, monk’s belt set with pearl of the sirines, pillow of relaxation, portable hole, red dagger (+3 dagger, Witchwardens badge), Queen Morea’s Ring, ring of evasion, ring of maniacal devices, ring of wizardry II, masterwork bandoleer, masterwork cold iron knife, masterwork potion belt, pistol, silver knife, watertight bone tube*
• Alchemical & Adventuring ambrosia x2, basilisk blood vials x4, blank books x6, candles x15, chalk, day’s ration x20, everful pouch of abjurant salt (1/day), flask of acid x4, flask of alchemist fire x4, flask of holy water x4, flask of oil*, flyleaf x2, fungus torch x13, healer’s kit, ink x6, masterwork thief’s tools, meditation tea x50, mellowroot x4, night tea x60, pen x3, rope 100ft., silk rope 50ft, smelling salts (12 uses), smokestick x2, sooth syrup x4, soul stimulant, spell component pouch x2, stillgut x2, sunrod x4, tanglefoot bag x3, torch x10, troll oil x4, waterskin x5
• Books Manual of the Planes
• Clothing courtier’s outfit x2, explorer’s outfit, gloves (black), heavy robe, Islaran signet ring, jewelry (100gp worth), noble’s outfit, silver and sapphire bracelet from Einar (1,400gp)
• Currency 8,788gp in combat wealth, 75,798gp in noncombat wealth
• Spell Components contingency focus (ivory statue of herself worth 1,500gp), focuses for_ magnificent mansion_, focus for vision_, true seeing_ ointment, 200gp worth of gold dust, 1,400gp worth of diamond dust, 250 worth of incense, 1,500 gp in scroll scribing materials, magic item crafting tools
• Spellbooks azure folio of darum’tok the ratblooded, beginnings of knowledge, beyond the gates, black magic, blessed book, dark lightning, foundations of reality, iron circle magic, manipulation of matter, supernal flamoire, the emerald tome of the ironheart, the sepia text of t’sal the bronze, tome of battlemagic
• Trinkets & Plot Items Aurion’s coin, Dawn Council badge, Heart of Darkness, living construct arm, Kellani’s dagger diamond, mask, shadow pearl
Spellbooks azure folio of darum’tok the ratblooded, beginnings of knowledge, beyond the gates, black magic, dark lightning, foundations of reality, iron circle magic, manipulation of matter, supernal flamoire, the emerald tome of the ironheart, the sepia text of t’sal the bronze, tome of battlemagic
• 0th – all plus amanuensis*, animate animal**, chill/warmth*, clean*, enumerate*, flame orb*, quick sober*, sneeze*, spark
• 1st – air bubble, alarm, alter winds, animate rope, bungle, burning disarm, burning hands, cause fear, charm animal, color spray, comprehend languages, crafter's fortune, detect secret doors, detect undead, disguise self, endure elements, enlarge person, expeditious excavation, expeditious retreat, featherfall, flame bolt*, flaming grasp (as shocking), grease, hide from animals, hypnotism, identify, identify scrier, interrogation, Katrina's form*, lock gaze, magic fire missile (as magic missile but fire), magic missile, magic weapon, mount (appears as mount made of flame), obscuring mist, obscuring smoke (as mist), protection from chaos, protection from evil, ray of enfeeblement, reduce person, repair light damage*, resist scrying*, shield, shocking grasp, silent image, sleep, speak with animals, starsight, summon fire elemental I*, touch of the sea, true strike, unseen servant, ventriloquism, wave shield
• 2nd – acid arrow, alter self, arcane lock, bear's endurance, blindness / deafness, bull's strength, burning arrow (as acid), continual flame, cushioning bands, darkvision, detect thoughts, elemental speech, false life, flaming sphere, fox's cunning, glitterdust, gust of wind, hold animal, invisibility, knock, lesser local telekinesis*, locate object, make whole, minor image, mirror image, owl's wisdom, protection from arrows, pyrotechnics, resist energy, resist fire (as energy, fire only), rope trick, scorching ray, scrytalk*, see invisibility, shatter, shocking ray (as scorching ray), smoke cloud (as fog cloud), summon fire elemental II*, summon swarm, touch of idiocy, Tovac's dead man's eyes*, versatile weapon, web, whispering wind
• 3rd – arcane sight, blink, clairaudience / clairvoyance, coldball, communal resist energy, daylight, displacement, dispel magic, elemental aura, enter image, explosive runes, fireball, flame arrow, fly, freezing bolt, greater magic weapon, haste, heroism, lightning bolt, magic circle against chaos, magic circle against evil, magic circle against good, magic circle against law, major image, nondetection, phantom steed, protection from energy, protection from fire, scry retaliation*, rune of seeing*, secret page, seek thoughts, shrink item, sleet storm, slow, summon fire elemental III*, summon monster III, tongues, vampiric touch, water breathing
• 4th – all sense, arcane eye, black tentacles, detect scrying, dimension door, dimensional anchor, electric fence (as wall of fire), enervation, enlarge person mass, fire elemental body I (as elemental body, fire only), fire shield, fire trap, greater invisibility, hallucinatory terrain, ice storm, Katrina's force swarm*, lesser geas, locate creature, minor circle of seeing*, repair critical damage*, resilient sphere, scrying, secure shelter, shout, solid fog, stone shape, stoneskin, summon fire elemental IV*, symbol of revelation, wall of fire
• 5th – baleful polymorph, break enchantment, cloudkill, cone of cold, cone of lightning, contact other plane, dismissal, fabricate, interposing hand, lesser planar binding, major creation, mage’s private sanctum, mindfog, overland flight, permanency, polymorph, prying eyes, secret chest, sending, shadow conjuration, summon monster V, telekinesis, telepathic bond, teleport, wall of force, wall of stone
• 6th – analyze dweomer, antimagic field, chain lightning, contingency, control water, disintegrate, form of the dragon I, freezing sphere, greater dispel magic, guards and wards, legend lore, mass bear's endurance, mass bull's strength, mass cat's grace, mass owl's wisdom, permanent image, planar binding, programmed image, repulsion, stone to flesh, summon monster VI, true seeing, wall of iron
• 7th – animate objects, banishment, control weather, deflection, forcecage, form of the dragon II, grasping hand, greater arcane sight, greater scrying, greater teleport, limited wish, machine renovo (as heal for constructs)*, magnificent mansion, plane shift, resonating word, simulacrum, spirit wave I*, Thorgrim's dagger storm*, vision
*See Spell’s thread
Inherent Bonuses +1 Wisdom, +1 Charisma, +1 Intelligence, +1 Knowledge (arcana), +5 hit points, +1 on saves vs. Yellow Sign, +4 on Knowledge checks related to the Yellow Sign
Magic Item Slots 8 of 15
Dawn Council Scion of Sasserine (20)
Witchwardens Red Dagger, TPA 80, CPA 10
Witchwarden Boons Red Dagger (Evocation), Black Dagger (Transmutation)
Authority Points 0 (+28 with checks)
Noncombat Wealth 113,266gp
Noncombat Assets 75,798gp, alchemy laboratory (500gp), ancient olman tomes x4 (6,000gp), Arcane Magic in Theory and Practice (500gp), Beliefs of the Civilized Races (500gp), brazen amulet, jewelry from the bazaar of beggars (200gp worth), Kaia Oracus Prophaetus Minorum (3,000gp), clothing & animals (1,3000), ‘Failure’ (750gp), Farshore farmhouse (3,333gp), Katrina’s Mansion (17,500gp), ‘Right of Succession’ (980gp), crafting supplies for Jez to make ring and amulet of Katrina’s Form (3,000)
Upkeep Wealthy (1,000gp)
Current Combat Wealth 356,443 (As of the end of Madness in Sasserine)
Value of Inherent Bonuses 76,000
Encumbrance 19lbs, Light Load – (47lbs in Haversack out of 120lb)
Party Property Held Portable hole, wand of death ward (36 charges), wand of cure light wounds (34 charges), wand of cure light wounds (20 charges)
Olman Villages Influence 10, Goods 20, Labor 20
Sasserine Influence 19, Magic 10
Exotic Imports 7,500 (Celes)
Imports 2,500 (Celes)
Crafting Guilds 10,000 (Shadowshore)
Creative Arts 5,000 (Shadowshore)
Taverns 5,000 (Shadowshore)
Mundane Research 5,000 (Shadowshore)
Military Crafting 4,000 (Tavey)
**Katrina is proficient with all simple weapons, hand crossbows, rapiers, saps, shortbows, short swords, and main-gauche. She is proficient with light armor.
Active Spells (Sp) Katrina is typically under the effects of the following spells: all sense, cushioning bands, detect scrying, endure elements, heroism, lesser local telekinesis, mage armor, overland flight, protection from arrows. The effects of these spells are averaged into her stat block above (caster level 18th). She is also frequently under the effects of a contingency, as described below.
Conjurer’s Focus (Sp) As a standard action Katrina can expend 1 point from her arcane reservoir to cast summon monster I as a spell-like ability. Creatures summoned in this way last for 8 minutes rather than the usual duration, though she cannot have more than one summon monster active at a time using this ability. She may expend an additional point per spell level a higher level spell, up to a maximum of summon monster IV.
Contingency (Sp) Katrina is protected by a contingency that comes into effect if she fails a saving throw against an enchantment effect or transmutation that alters her form she is affected by a break enchantment spell at caster level 18th.
Experience Katrina has a +2 bonus on dungeoneering checks, a +1 bonus on saving throws involving the Yellow Sign, and a +4 bonus on all knowledge checks associated with the Yellow Sign.
Life Link (Su) Heinrick and Katrina’s Voidsoul forms were merged, creating a bond between them that transcends life and death. Should one of them die, the other can perform a raise dead on them by permanently sacrificing hit points equal to their current hit dice or resurrection by permanently sacrificing two hit points per current hit dice. Alternatively, a sample of one’s body (such as a lock of hair) can be substituted for a sample of the other’s for the purpose of casting a resurrection spell. A larger sample (such as a tooth, or the tip of a finger, causing 1 hit point to be lost permanently) can substitute for a suitable target for raise dead.
This bond is not in any way shape or form mental or empathic.
Planewalker (Ex) Katrina has awakened magic inside her which is unpredictable yet powerful. She treats her wizard and sorcerer caster level as equal to her hit dice for all purposes. She adds one half her levels in all other classes to the level of each of her spellcasting classes to determine her spell access. She may substitute sorcerer spell energy to power prepared wizard spells on a 1-1 basis. If the spell in question is higher than her highest level sorcerer spell slot she may expend total spell levels equal to x2 the spell’s level to power it. She has a 50% chance to retain spontaneous spell energy when she utilizes it. This is decreased by 5% per spell level cast. (1d20-1 per spell level, 11 or higher is success). She adds her charisma bonus to her armor class as a deflection bonus (maximum 1/3HD).
Power Magic (Ex) Katrina may extend the casting time of any spell with a casting time of less than 1 full round to 1 full round to increase the caster level of that spell by +1. She may double the casting time of spells with a casting time of greater than 1 standard action to increase the caster level of the spell by +1.
Shift (Su) As a swift action Katrina may teleport up to 35ft., as if using dimension door. She cannot take other creatures (other than her familiar) with her when moving this way. Using this ability does not provoke an attack of opportunity.
Katrina owns the following businesses.
Islaran Shipping Farshore (Blackbird Yards)
Buildings Inn (Modified: -Bard, -Stall, -Storefront, +4 Lodgings), Waterfront (Modified: +2 Defensive walls, +1 Forge, +1 Lavatory, +1 Sewing room, +4 Storages, +2 Workstations)
Teams Craftspeople x3, Ossington Refuges
Sasserine School (x6)
Manager (Paid in advance for 1 year)
Rooms 1 Office, 3 Classrooms
Teams Mage, Scholar
Manager (Paid in advance for 1 year)
Rooms Office x2
During her many adventures Katrina has come into possession of a number of items that are of limited value to her now in combat. These items are stored in an arcane locked room within her mansion and occasionally loaned or given to those she trusts. A current inventory is as follows:
mithril armored coat
potion of endure elements x10
potion of heroism
rod of metamagic empower, lesser
scroll of enervation (CL 14)
scroll of enervation (CL 14)
+1 acidic spellsword of acid (staff of fire with acid powers)
wand of enervation (CL 7, 50 charges)
wand of fireball (CL 5, 50 charges)
wand of lightning bolt (CL 5, 50 charges)
wand of magic missile (CL 9, 50 charges)
wand of magic missile (CL 9, 50 charges)
wand of magic missile (CL 9, 50 charges)
wand of scorching ray (CL 11, 50 charges)
wand of cure light wounds (CL 1, 50 charges)
Disk of Dread (Keyed to Farshore)
In addition, several other magical weapons are spread throughout the mansion, as follows:
+1 keen rapier (on a dresser in Katrina’s room)
mi-go coral staff treated as a +1 ranseur (mounted on a display in Katrina’s library)
Items of Note Elsewhere
Katrina has many unusual items she does not carry with her, but instead stores elsewhere. For the sake of clarity and ease, these additional items are listed here in totality.
arcane bond ring (burnt out)
Barbazu’s Glaive (from Hell Log)
Captain’s Chest (arcane locked)
Color’s Glasses (revert Kat’s black eyes to normal, do not radiate magic, radiate chaos)
dust of a disintegrated Hamatula
ivory dragonchess set (worth 1.5gp)
Lux Seoni’s bloodstained robes
Magical Weapon’s Case (prevents rust, 1,000gp)
Mari’s ruined holy symbol (destroyed by Pazuzu’s presence)
“Right of Succession”
Courtier’s Outfit (Alcindar) x3
Explorer’s Outfit (Alcindar) x2
Noble’s Outfit (Alcindar) x2
Wizard’s Robes (Alcindar)
Courtier’s Outfit x2
Katrina has collected a number of scrying focuses to aid her. They are stored in her mansion, and are listed below.
Predator (Spearhead from murder of Lithira)
Yuan-ti Blackguard (Blood, damaged)
Lady Katrina Islaran, born commoner Katrina Thorpe, was the first and only product of the occasional unions between Anna Thorpe and Lord Dorian Islaran, conceived during the last weeks of Dorian’s dalliances with the commoner woman. Such was the nature of their split, and of Ms. Thorpe, that Dorian learned nothing of Katrina’s existence until years later. Those first months were difficult for Katrina’s mother as she struggled to feed herself and her infant daughter. She survived, and Katrina survived, mostly by the grace of the Church of Pharasma whose acolytes were not eager to send a newborn into an early grave.
Eventually the Church was able to help Anna into a position as a wet nurse for a merchant family, then another. While not what she desired, the job was sufficient to feed her and her child for a time, and gave her an opportunity to acquire skills as a seamstress that allowed her to earn a living after she left the employ of the merchant families.
Growing up without a father and with a working mother in the Azure District left the young Katrina with two things; an over an abundance of freedom and a great deal of loneliness. She used the former to get rid of the later, running with the local street rats – as the thieving, brawling, almost lawless children of the Azure distract are often called. Her intellect, toughness, and quick hands earned her a place among them, while their company, and their many ‘adventures’ suited her naturally impetuous nature, giving her an outlet for her inquisitiveness. Such were the first twelve years of her life, until, while seeking out political weapons against the Islaran family, the Kellani family discovered the identity of her father quite by accident.
While it was not such an unheard of thing for a noble, particularly a male noble, to lay with the occasional commoner, the fact that the bastard of a scion of the Islaran family was running wild in some of the poorest districts of Sasserine was a significant scandal in its time. Such a thing was simply not allowed to happen.
Seeking to mitigate the scandal the Islaran family extended an offer to Ms. Thorpe; they would take in Katrina as a true scion of the family and give her a noble education and opportunities that she would never have otherwise. With some reservations it was an offer Katrina’s mother accepted. At age twelve Katrina was dragged kicking and screaming – figuratively – into the Islaran household, an unkempt, uneducated (though bright), and unrefined girl.
Those first few months were trying for Katrina, her new family, and for the revolving door of governesses and instructors brought in to instill a noble bearing in her. More than one night she ran away, back to her mother, only to be brought back each morning. She had no interest in skirts, gowns, or dresses, no desire to enjoy polite company, and a great talent for sharing her unhappiness with those around her. She went through five governesses in six months. More hardy ones followed, but none had any more success than the last.
Perhaps the most frustrating aspect of her actions for most in the Islaran household was that it in her refusal to conform to anything they desired, she always made it exceptionally clear that she was perfectly able to do so. There was a great deal of patience in the household, particularly from her grandfather Kelter Islaran, but even that patience was not unlimited. She was fourteen when it ran out. Tired of watching her ignore every attempt to help her, and tired of watching her waste her potential, the decision was made to send her to the House of the Dragon, an institution with a legendary reputation for turning even the most delinquent souls into proper members of society. It was a reputation well deserved.
The House of the Dragon did what so many strong willed women had failed to do in the preceding years – it broke Katrina. It was not the school itself, or its staff, or its curriculum that broke her. She was not afraid of the threat of failure used to cow most, but her defiance in the face of one of the most respected institutions in the world brought down more hell on her than she had ever imagined.
Every institution like the House of the Dragon has its dirty secrets, traditions or organizations that it never acknowledges exist, that few speak of, and only in whispers even then. In the House of the Dragon that secret was (as still is) The Ten, the shadowy, faceless, nameless group of elites within the school that ruthlessly torment those who don’t live up to the standards of the academy. It was The Ten who shattered Katrina Islaran like a porcelain cup.
The Ten who dragged her from her bed night after night for pain, terror, and humiliation. The Ten who found a way past her immunity of petty punishments and distain with fear, pain, and persistence, who night after night, week after week, drove home to her how worthless she was, how she didn’t deserve to be at the House of the Dragon, and how she would never amount to anything. The Ten who spared not her intellect, her appearance, her mannerisms, or her flesh as they physically and mentally beat her into submission. Only when she had been reduced from outspoken, confident, and defiant to ashamed, meek, and complaint did they let up. When they did the academy found a girl eager, almost desperate, to please, who threw herself into every study available. History, politics, geography, nature, economics, architecture, advanced mathematics, and language she absorbed insatiably. Anything that was asked of her she complied with. She became a model student, a prodigy. And she was filled with self loathing and an abject fear of failure.
Whether it was clear or not to those that broke her and remolded her exactly what they were creating, or if they were simply using tried methods in an attempt to force her out of the academy, the result of it all was an exceptionally structured, driven, compliant and capable, but also conflicted, terrified, and fragile girl in terrible pain.
She hated herself, hated that she didn’t live up to impossible standards she set for herself, hated the society that set those standards for her, and hated her drive to live up to those very standards. It grew outward, initially from her fear of a return to the treatment she had suffered in her first months, to a fear of failure itself for any purpose, as all that she held gave her value was rooted in her success at the academy. Privately – very privately – she manifested various self destructive behaviors to help her manage her pain and her fear, but the very tools she turned to in order to help her only cut her deeper as they reinforced her view that she was not the image of perfection that she and others expected.
The contradiction at the core of her view of herself, that she hated the structures of the nobility while at the same time clinging to them as her only source of self-worth, was destroying her. That contradiction, like all contradictions but especially those rooted so deeply in a person’s sense of self, produced predictable consequences: unconscious conflict and rebellion. While she came to embrace education she also rebelled – subtly, by taking her study further than had been intended. Instead of learning an extra language she learned eight, instead of stopping with knowledge of the world she studied other worlds, and instead of stopping with the most basic understanding of magic she delved into practicing magic. In that field she showed impossible aptitude.
The House of the Dragon was the most prestigious school of arcane teaching in Sasserine, it offer significant instruction for those inclined to dabble in magic, and more limited instruction for those inclined to focus on it. Before Katrina was seventeen she had gone further than any other student at the academy. None of the others were even close, not only in practical application of magical theory, but in understanding of the theories behind that application. None that is, save one.
[Stannis Alensin], a magical prodigy particularly gifted in divination magic, was the sole student in the school able to approach her in magical fields. The two developed something of an association, if not friendship during their shared time at the school. Perhaps they were lonely, or perhaps they simply sought an equal to discuss matters few at the school would ever understand. They had much in common, both coming from poor backgrounds, both possessing exceptional talent, and both quite reserved, quiet, and suspicious of other students. In spite of that, their most common shared activity was reading at a shared table.
Much like fellow students, most of Katrina’s instructors marveled at her aptitude. [Eudokia Kasovar] was a bizarre exception. Perhaps it was Kasovar’s lack of admiration that drew Katrina to the young fiery headed sorceress, perhaps it was the unique and masterful nature of her explanation of magic that spoke to her, perhaps Kasovar’s youth, or maybe it was simply the amazonian woman’s self-confidence. Perhaps it was all of the above, or none, but something about Kasovar struck a chord with Katrina and drove her to new heights. While Katrina long drove herself harder than anyone else, for Kasovar she drove herself harder than was reasonable. She dove into information on dragons – Kasovar’s obsession – and for the first time began to study the basics of metamagic, a system she had long viewed as uninteresting. When Kasovar departed the school it was a great blow to Katrina.
Though in her later years at the Academy magic became her private obsession, Katrina raced through any and all education the Academy offered her. At seventeen – an almost unprecedented age – despite her delayed entry into the Academy she graduated from it. She was by all appearances a star pupil ready to take her first steps into her adult life. Following her graduation for some months Katrina’s life was rather quiet by the standards of her life. As a byproduct of her accelerated progress through the House of the Dragon and the timidity with which she had pursued all things other than her education she was largely alone, her few friends from her schooling years (such as Torya Irontooth) still months or years away from their own graduation.
She spent most of those months hiding in her rooms in the Islaran household trying to avoid the potential suitors the family had in mind for her, especially following a series bitter spats with her mother over the nature of the noble class that left them alienated from each other. She might have spent years barricaded away had her childhood friends not come calling, seeking someone of magical talents to join them in their planned adventures. It had been years since she had seen them – since she had entered the House of the Dragon – and they found one another rather different for their time apart.
She was no longer the skin and bones girl of the streets, and they were no longer just street children. Richard and Kiel had grown into broad shouldered young men as quick with a blade as she was with a spell, while Paul had been called to the service of a higher power, having entered the faith of Desna shortly after Katrina was dragged into her noble household. Which of them convinced her to join them – Richard with his infectious smile, Paul with his grave concern for what was right, or Kiel with his charm – she was never certain, but she found herself compelled to follow them, discreetly, on their more low profile and local explorations. In truth it was likely none of them alone or all of them together that drove her out of Sasserine. Instead the combination of rebellious impulse, boredom, loneliness, and curiosity led her from the city.
It was perhaps the best thing that could have happened to Katrina. The truth was that hiding in the city and accomplishing nothing fed into the self doubt that the House had fostered in her and left her more miserable each day, while at the same time her increased isolation left her less able to deal with those same fears. Among her onetime companions, the self titled Blades of Sasserine, she found both comfort and support, despite any and all attempts to remain aloof. Their companionship, respect for her abilities, and, in at least one case, infatuation with her did wonders for her self-confidence, even if she never admitted as much openly. Their constant company also mitigated her ability to use her now common methods of managing her inner turmoil and pain, forcing her to seek healthier and more acceptable alternatives. In short, they likely saved her life.
Between their adventures she played connection for the group into higher society, though it was ultimately they that introduced her to Lord and Lady Vanderboren, a meeting that would ultimately cost them their lives. Eager to mount an expedition to the Isle of Dread the Vanderborens were rather interested in the young adventurers, while they, including Katrina, were in turn rather interested in the Vanderborens for various reasons.
Katrina, wrestling with herself over what being a member of the nobility meant, and over what obligations she had to both her family and her city, was fascinated by the Vanderborens, who defied the prescribed notions of what they should have been as members of the nobility. Ultimately the Blades of Sasserine, including Katrina, agreed to join the expedition to the Isle of Dread, though not without reservations; it was only at the urging of her grandfather to seek some measure of happiness that Katrina made her decision.
The journey itself was surprisingly uneventful for the first weeks. Hugging the coast the small fleet avoided both foul weather and foul creatures in what was an almost leisurely journey; too leisurely for the Blades. Weeks cooped up on a crowded ship did nothing for their temperaments, and before long they were practically begging for a chance to stretch their legs and do some exploring. After the third week on the ship they begged permission to make a short stop to explore the upcoming ruins of Tamoachan. They received it. They were betrayed.
Abandoned in the beach near the ruins by Lars Helvur the Blades met their inglorious ends one by one. Richard triggered a long dormant trap and died in agony as a cloud of acid melted his head into a soggy mess, while both Katrina and Kiel met their ends on at the end of a basilisk’s gaze, he trying to save her. Paul’s end, alone in ruins full of monsters and traps, without food or water was just as certain, though Katrina never knew for certain how he had passed on.
Yet, despite meeting her end, Katrina’s story, unlike those of her companions, did not end. By strange quirk of fate, or perhaps by divine plan, she stood frozen in stone for only four years before she was rescued from that prison by a group of adventurers lead by one Heinrick Gilantheril, an adventurer by trade and the lover of one Lavinia Vanderboren – the daughter of Verrik and Larissa Vanderboren.
From Heinrick she learned the fate of her party, the fate of the Lord and Lady Vanderboren, and the fate of her grandfather. The entire series of events shocked Katrina rather severely. She had carefully hidden her feelings for Kiel for some months, and the knowledge that he had died trying to save her without her ever so much as breathing a word of her feelings weighed heavily on her. The additional ill news, of the deaths in her family and of the Vanderboren’s who she had such respect for was the added shock that shook her to her core. She had long been plagued by nightmares – ever since the Academy of the Dragon – but they took on a horrible new savageness as she watched her friends and family die again and again.
With almost everything she had known dead or gone she reached out – uncharacteristically – to others, seeking external comfort openly for the first time in years. She formed quick relationships with the ships resident sorceress Joliet, and with Heinrick – the man who brought her back from death, who carried her locked in stone through the jungle to the Sea Wyvern. Those friendships helped her through those painful first days. Taking revenge against the man that left her and her companion to die also helped.
Her revenge against Lars Helvur came with stunning swiftness. Long before she had turned her thoughts to revenge, before she had even truly grieved for her loses, Lars came to her. He and his crew of savage pirates came upon the Wyvern, sought to take her prize and kill those aboard. He thought he was chasing a prize; instead he chased what was an avatar of vengeance to his doom. Katrina cut the life from his flesh, then surrendered his soul to the Bone Lord Malagon – an act that she later held grave misgivings over.
It was in the aftermath of that battle that she came into contact with for the first time with a woman that would come to mean a great deal to her; Maribesana, the pirate priestess and first mate of the Sea Wyvern. That relationship – like her relationship with Heinrick – was not without turbulence in its infancy, but it grew during her stay on the Sea Wyvern as she spent more time with her. It grew as they fought together against a hydra, against Journey’s End, and against more pirates. It grew as they spent months living together in the cramped living spaces of the Sea Wyvern. In time it grew into something more than friendship, though it took months for either to admit it, and longer still for anything to come of it.
In particular her relationship with both Maribesana and Heinrick grew in the aftermath of what she describes as the worst night of her life; the night that brought her face to face with a pair of demon lords, and face to face with her worst nightmares – helplessness and worthlessness, and a night that brought the child of a demon lord into the world. The mar that night left on her mentally was far worse than that which it left on her physically. It left her loathing herself, loathing her cowardice in the face of the demons, left her loathing her complete inability to do anything against the demons as they taunted, tortured, maimed, and raped. Ashamed she withdrew from all the world until the Mari and Heinrick coaxed her forth again.
The shipwreck on the Isle of Dread was a catastrophe for her personally, with a great many of those who she had fought so hard to keep alive throughout the other challenges of the journey dying seemingly on the verge of success. The subsequent desperate and bloody journey across the Isle was unpleasant to the extreme, but allowed her to face one of those fears created by events on Renku by taking the fight to a group of demons. Storming the Shrine of Demogorgon with Heinrick, Heldin, and Tainthorn and successfully rescuing Urol from them did wonders for her confidence, in spite of her near death in the fighting and the party’s own losses. The entire series of events proceeding from the wreck of the Wyvern also further tightened her bonds to Heinrick, as the two fought through savage animals, vicious demons, traitorous skinwalkers, and hostile environments while trying to keep their charges safe.
The group proceeded forward from the wrecked Shrine of Demogorgon, arriving in Farshore in time to interrupt a pirate raid upon it.