Ranger-Commander, Hammer of Shornhelm
35 (born 3E 427)
Dannielle Auraelyon, also called Danni for short, is a Ranger born in a little village within County Darguard. She is also a well known war hero who fought during the Unification War, and recieved the moniker "Hammer of Shornhelm", named thus for the staggering number of casualties she and her rangers inflicted upon the Northpointers during the early stages of the war.
There was a time once when the Auraelyons were considered part of the upper echelons of Bretic nobility. However the glory days have long since passed; an Auraelyon hasn’t held a noble title in two hundred years. Dannielle lived with her father - the well liked Bertrand Auraelyon - in the village of Fenn, a somewhat sizeable yet insignificant hamlet in central County Darguard. Bertrand, having made his living as a ranger his entire adult life was quick to pass the skills he'd learned on to his only child. Ever wary of their neighbours to the north, her father Bertrand taught her how to use a bow, as well as teaching her basic sword-play, seeing as she had shown interest in taking up her father's lifestyle once she came of age.
Bertrand, who was known for being well connected to the going's on of the world around him, was among the first to sense that an impending war loomed on the horizon, though he knew not from where or when it would come. As a result, he began the creation of a small ranger militia under the pretext of forming a more professional defence for Fenn against banditry. Within a year, the militia numbered close to thirty men.
Bertrand's suspicions proved correct when Northpoint invaded Shornhelm in 4E 9. Realising the danger, Bertrand and his men moved south to recruit more men into the militia, drawing volunteers from neighbouring villages. Within a few months, his forces numbered around two hundred rangers. At sixteen, Dannielle went with them, though not in the role as a combatant, instead helping to treat wounds and gather supplies. Despite this, she was close enough to the front lines to taste the horrors of war.
The rangers acted autonomously from the Shornish army - the larger hosts mostly made up of levied men-at-arms and backed up by the more professional forces of the noble households - which coupled with Daric's initial lack of reconnaissance resulted in a great degree of stealth and early success. Bertrand, cautious of Northpoint's brute strength and the relative inexperience of his men, started with easy targets, focusing entirely on scouting bands to further blind the Northpointer advance, always staying well away from the large armies of either side and using the knowledge of his homeland to his advantage. Further, by constantly keeping the group on the move, they were able to perform their guerilla actions largely undetected. During this time, Danni slowly began to take part in the raids, at first ranging ahead as a scout, but later taking part in the actual attacks herself. She also attended the counsels that Bertrand held with his captains, grasping the basics of command, both strategic and tactical. Losses during this time for the rangers were minimal.
By the beginning of 4E 11, it became apparent that the armies of Shornhelm were outmatched by their northern counterparts, and so the rangers began to enact more daring raids in order to compensate for Shornhelm's disadvantage on the open field. Supply trains were raided, larger scouting parties attacked, and the rangers found themselves emerging more prominently on their enemy's radar. So greatly noticed were they, that eventually they sent an entire unit of Knights of the Tempest in order to bring the rangers to heel. Rather than try to avoid them entirely, Bertrand made the decision to lead the sortee - the knights, their retainers and additional Northpointer soldiers numbering close to three hundred - straight into an ambush. And so, deep within the woods of coastal Darguard, the rangers set their trap and waited.
The ambush began well, with many of the Northpointers falling to their arrows, but it very quickly turned into a bloodbath, and the rangers found themselves taking heavy casualties. Even with surprise and the terrain to their advantage, the warriors of Northpoint - particularly the Knights of the Tempest - were not easy foes to over come. During the course of the battle, Bertrand was left mortally wounded and it appeared a route was on the horizon. It was then that Danni, seeing her wounded father, took charge of the situation and led a formidable counter attack. In the end, it was the rangers that carried the day, but they lost half their number in the attack. The Northpointers were almost slain to a man, with only a dozen or so escaping with their lives. Bertrand's wounds proved fatal, and he died in his daughter's arms. Having led them to victory, Dannielle Auraelyon took over command of the rangers.
Continuing the FightEdit
As Daric’s forces defeated Shornhelm’s armies in the field one by one and morale began to fade, Dannielle and her men continued using her father’s tactics: avoiding the enemy where they were strong, harrying their supply lines and ambushing messengers and scouting groups before disappearing into wilds to hidden strongholds, denying the Northpointers a pitched battle. Knowing that the chance of a victorious outcome for Shornhelm appeared slim, Dannielle's forces used tactics in an attempt to delay the Northpointers, buying time for the Shornish to regroup and attack again, or at the very least find a defendable position and hunker down. However, her tactics proved to be more effective than anticipated, largely due to Daric's comparative lack of reconnaissance prior to and during the invasion.
While Daric's own army was too formidable to attack, the rangers focused their efforts on the smaller and less ably commanded forces of Northpoint. By the time Daric’s main army would arrive to assist the beleaguered forces, her rangers would already be gone, only to hit other Northpoint forces scattered across the front.Through out the north, word spread of a group of Shornish guerillas, led by a highly adept commander, and whispers grew among both sides of the lethality that they inflicted upon Northpointer troops and the effectiveness of their tactics. Not only were Danni's efforts a major boost to Shornish morale, they also led to an overall change in Shornish tactics, and many other Shornish forces adopted the same doctrine. What the northerners had intended to be a quick and decisive war turned into a long and drawn out conflict.
Around 4E 13, Danni's rangers were joined by a young wizard from eastern Shornhelm, Mage-Lord Connor Idenwae, a skilled magic wielder, particularly in the arts of Pyromancy. Bringing with him a couple dozen men, he was accepted into the rangers' ranks to give them a potent edge over their largely non-magical opponents. A natural risk-taker and supremely (over) confident, he and Danni were prone to have disagreements over strategy, and indeed the young wizard's presence proved to be a source of tension for Danni. As the war dragged on, the tension between the two of them grew, until - after a particularly successful ambush against a Northpointer caravan in which Connor came dangerously close to serious injury - it was released in the form of a passionate kiss exchanged between Dannielle and the Mage-Lord. From that day onwards the two shared a rocky and by all accounts unstable relationship, a constant cycle of romance, pressured arguments, break-offs and reconciliation.
It was after one such night of reconciling passion in 4E 17 that the war would take another life from Dannielle Auraelyon. On the border of Shornhelm and Thorkan, the rangers ambushed a small garrison of soldiers while a large group of them - featuring a great number of Knights Tempest - were out on a patrol. The raid was going largely to plan until the patrol returned earlier than was expected. With the element of surprise lost and numbers against them, the rangers made a tactical withdrawal. Mage-Lord Connor held the Northpointers at bay almost single handly with his magic for long enough to cover the retreat, knowing that it would be his final stand. After felling scores of Northmen, he was finally cut down by a member of the Knights Tempest.
After the failed raid there was a lull in ranger activity, with orders to simply patrol the border. A few months later, Danni announced that there was an item of business that she had to attend alone, and that she would not return for some time. Left under the command of her most loyal captains, Dannielle Auraelyon disappeared, and no one knew where. Many within the group whispered that it was so that she could mourn for Connor or even her father, as she'd never really had the time to mourn him. Regardless, Dannielle Auraelyon was not see or heard from for many months.
The Hammer is BornEdit
When Dannielle returned to the rangers in 4E 18, things changed. As though filled with renewed vigor, she led the rangers to even greater victories and more successful raids. News of her recent return and success was quick to reach Shornish ears, and all across the front efforts were redoubled to counter the northern menace. Again and again, King Daric Caron found himself marching back and forth across the Shornish expanse, attempting to bring the guerillas to heel, but the Shornish did not give in.
Eventually, a thousand pin pricks did what a single sword stroke could not, effectively bringing Northpoint to a stalemate. Daric's determination was legendary, but Shornhelm had ground the Northpointers to a halt. With morale at an all time low among both the nobility and peasantry alike, Daric faced little choice but to call a full retreat. By the time Northpoint withdrew in 4E 19, Dannielle had become a folk hero for the Shornish people, and recieved the moniker “Hammer of Shornhelm”.
As a result of her heroism and fame, Dannielle was able to call in several favours from the nobles and commoners alike. Using her new found influence, she managed to create several permanent ranger battalions from various counties in Shornhelm, operating from hidden camps and strongholds in the wilds. However, her position came with several disadvantages; while she was well known and respected she was still a commoner, and as a result she often found herself used for the personal gain of various members of the ruling class in return for their aid. For the most part, she tried to avoid their games as best she could. However, while she was celebrated as a hero in her homeland, she was seen as a scourge to the Northpointers, something that Daric planned to revenge.
The Tide TurnsEdit
Daric's second invasion came in early 4E 25. Having learned from the previous war and despite loathing such tactics, he utilised subterfuge, bribery and reconnaissance to discover the hidden strongholds of the Shornish. Thus, while he went forth to do battle with Shornish armies in the field, he sent other forces to find and destroy the rangers and other guerilla forces hidden in the wilds. This was met with great success, notably in the Barony of Thornvale, where the special forces division of the Knights of the Tempest destroyed the ranger battalion stationed at Wolf's Bluff, taking down a force twice it's size. While Northpoint pushed deeper into Shornish terrirtory, one border held; stationed in eastern Shornhelm, Dannielle led the largest of the ranger battalions in the defence of the east, supported by Baron Harlon Durell, who was commander of the Shornish regulars in that region. Together, the pair were able to hold back the tide, though Northpoint had numbers enough to sustain casualties for far longer than the Shornish could.
As the year drew on Eagle Brook, Darguard and Thornvale fell, leaving Shornhelm proper to stand alone. As the war drew into it's final weeks in 4E 25, Dannielle commanded the defence of eastern Shornhelm from an old ruin at Ridder Creek, using her rangers and other guerrilla forces and scouts to keep an eye out for Daric's approach so that the main Shornish forces would be ready to meet him. However, in a stroke of brilliance, Daric was able to sneak his army past Danni's web of scouts and hit her combined force of Rangers and Shornish soldiers at Ridder Creek. Despite a valiant defence, Daric's host had the advantage of numbers, surprise and morale, driving the Shornish out of Ridder Creek and resulting in a spectacular route. Dannielle was captured during the battle and she was submitted to terrible torture. She managed to escape after a few weeks of captivity, only just managing to arrive at Shornhelm proper in time to help prepare for the approaching army. Her return however was less as a hero and more as a pariah. The Hammer of Shornhelm, the one who had inspired Shornish victory during the first war, had failed them. Despite this, her rangers remained loyal to her, and thus she commanded them a final time during the Siege of Shornhelm.
While her own section of the wall initially fared well in the opening stages of the assault, they were overwhelmed by the numbers and ferocity of their opponents. While Danni fought atop one of Shornhelm's wall towers, a well placed trebuchet round brought the tower down, and so it appeared that the Hammer of Shornhelm was dead. However, against all odds, Dannielle survived the collapse, and seeing that the battle was all but won made her escape, fleeing through a gap in the enemy lines. Thus Dannielle Auraelyon was declared to be deceased, a major boon to the Northpointer cause, despite the fact no body was recovered.
The Hammer EnduresEdit
Despite Daric's victory over the Shornish, he found he was unable to sit entirely comfortably within his expanded domain. Though claiming the Hammer was dead, the lack of a body became a source of rumor and speculation, though always muttered behind closed doors. Daric's uneasiness proved to be founded within a year of his vassalisation of Shornhelm. From the villages of Daric's north, rumors grew of a mysterious wanderer, garbed in the cloth of a Shornish ranger, occasionally assisting those in need. The stranger called herself "Volendra", and while the individual didn't cause any discernable trouble or break the peace, something about her presence caused unease in the monarch, as though haunted by a ghost of Shornish Independence. This rumour then grew into an all more troubling one; The Hammer of Shornhelm lived. This was almost always shot down, by Northpointer and Shornish alike, dismissed as idle gossip, yet every so often the rumour would resurface. Little did they know how close to the truth they were.
In the immediate aftermath of Shornhelm's defeat, Danni went into hiding, disappearing into the Wrothgar for several months. From then on she took to wandering the wilds, both in the Shornish domains and in the lands of Northpoint's nobles. She took the fake name of Volendra and lived on the road, trying to make the wilderness marginally safer by dealing with bandits and wild beasts. She continued this life obscurity until she heard the news of King Daric's death. Fearing another war, Danni decided that it was time make her survival known and beseech the rulers of Shornhelm to remain peaceful during this period of transiton. The first place she made for was her home of Darguard.
Dannielle was trained in the way of the bow and the sword, the former originally for the hunt, and the latter solely for war. While rather formidable in either fashion she prefers archery to swordcraft, and her main strength lays in her keen aim, but when in melee she prefers to fight fast and light, using whatever means to defeat her foes. As the War of the North progressed she became more and more adept in leading men, particularly in the art of guerrilla warfare. She is a good rider but a mediocre cavalry-woman. She has great skill in tracking and stealth, both alone and when in command, knowing how to survive long stints in the wilderness and some basic herb lore. While she prefers to fight in light armour she has worn heavy armour on different occasions, though not as well accustomed to it.
Despite her larger than life reputation and descriptions of her gorgeous appearance, many are exaggerations. Though on the taller end of the Bretic height spectrum she is generally considered above average height. Far from having the curvaceous and buxom figure that many men lust for, Dannielle's body is taught and sinewy, her slender frame marred by a series of criss-crossing scars on her back, a permanent reminder of the terrible lashing she endured during her captivity.
While not having the great beauty of the women of court, she is by no means unattractive. Most people would perhaps describe her as pretty or cute. Hers is the simple beauty of a commoner. Her hair is dark brown, inherited from her father, though in certain lights it appears very ruddy, a reference to her mother's fiery locks. Usually while on the move her hair is worn in a single braid. When loose it falls in long waves that reach the middle of her back at it's longest.
She has inherited her mother's light green eyes as well as her pale skin, though there is certain agelessness about her; her look is perhaps of a person younger, while her baring is that of a person much older. Despite her somewhat common appearance she can look very beautiful when made up and wearing courtly attire, though she has seldom had the opportunity to do so.
Weapons and attire, miscEdit
She carries a well-made arming sword and a longbow, as well as a dagger with a wolf’s head on the pommel. She typically wears a sleeveless longcoat over simple tunic and a dark cloak to keep her warm and to break up her outline. She once owned a mail tunic but would only don it when direct confrontation is unavoidable, preferring to travel light and fight unarmoured. During the later stages of the Unification War, she was gifted with a supple leather cuirass baring the King's (and thus Shornhelm's) sigil, as well as a suit of plate and chain, though she only wore the latter once. She carries a quiver, pack and bedroll with her, slung over her shoulder or worn at her back. Despite her relatively poor cloth she possesses a fine silver ring with a green gemstone, the only reminder of her family’s once great past.
Described by some as over-cautious, Danni simply prefers to consider all options available to her before committing to an action. She is a firm believer of caution being the better part of valour. She is an extremely patient person, and will always try to see the good in every person or situation, but she often lets herself down - or is let down by others - and this makes her prone to bouts of melancholy. As a result, she is typically a loner. That is not to say that she doesn't enjoy the company of others from time to time, but mostly prefers to keep to herself. The lonely life of a wanderer suits Dannielle fine, giving her time to think and focus, though this also results in her either over-thinking or bottling up her emotions.
Having failed in defending Shornhelm from the Kingdom of Northpoint, she suffers from self-doubt more than ever, and which often leads to her second-guessing herself. Despite the horrors of the Unification War, she bares little ill will towards Northpoint, blaming herself more than her foes for Shornhelm’s defeat, and knowing that atrocities were committed by both sides.
Dannielle is fairly level headed and logical, and despite loving Shornhelm and her home of Darguard she accepts Northpointer rule, and sees little point in pining for the "good old days" (a stark contradiction to her attitude of her own self worth and failures, on which she often frets). Northpointer or Shornish, they are all brethren now, all northerners: one nation, one king (or Queen). That said, at the end of the day she is Shornish, and the duty to her people transcends the wishes and desires of nobles and kings.
As a result of spending most of her life either at war or preparing for one, she's never been adept in anything vaguely romantically related. She always made a conscious choice to never get too attached to a person on a romantic level. Since the death of Mage-Lord Connor, she's never looked for love elsewhere - loyal to his memory.
Leyla Auraelyon (Breton, 11) is the bastard daughter of Dannielle Auraelyon - the Hammer of Shornhelm - and Mage-Lord Connor Idenwae.
Concieved as a result of the last union between Danni and Connor before the latter fell during a raid gone wrong, Leyla's mother went to great trouble keeping her birth and lineage a secret. Unbeknownst to the rangers, the reason that Danni left was because she had discovered that she was with child and wanted to have the baby in secret. Knowledge that one of Northpoint's greatest foes had a child could be used against her if it fell into the wrong hands.
Despite the deaths of her father, mother and lover, there was still one person who Danni considered family - the woodsman Dietrich - who lived quietly on the southern border of Shornhelm with his Markish wife Feona. Dietrich was an old friend of Bertrand Auraelyon, the pair often going ranging together during their younger years, and was the closest thing Danni had to an uncle. So it was that she disappeared into the wilds to home of Dietrich and Feona to give birth, and Leyla Auraelyon was brought into the world in 4E 17.
With a war still to fight and having been taught nothing about motherhood, Dannielle left the infant Leyla in the hands of Dietrich and Feona, who already had a few largely adolescent children. As a result, the first two years of Leyla's life were spent without any contact with her birth mother. She was thus raised mostly by Dietrich and Feona, and had a kind upbringing, not disimilar from the kind that Dannielle had experienced, for Dietrich and Bertrand were similarly minded men.
After Northpoint was driven out in 4E 19, Danni tried to visit her daughter as often as she could, but often Leyla wouldn't see her mother for months at a time, and their reunions were all too breif. Further, she was never allowed to reveal who her mother was, remaining largely isolated from the rest of the world aside from the occasional visit to the local visit with her foster parents. While she was often frustrated with Dannielle as she could hardly ever see her, she understood that her mother was doing something important, though that didn't stop the occasional bout of blame. Leyla found her mother visited less and less, until eventually conflict flared up again with a second invasion by Northpoint, and then she didn't visit at all.
The next time Leyla would see her mother was after the Siege of Shornhelm. Despite her apparent "death", Danni was unable to remain with Leyla for very long, taking up the wandering life once again. Leyla was both glad and upset by this in equal measure. Visits from her mother came far less frequently after that; she hasn't seen her mother in over a year.
Personality and SkillsEdit
Like her grandfather, mother and foster-father, Leyla shows a similar sense of caution and wariness, though whether this is purely due to her upbringing or a trait passed on from her mother is unknown. However, there is perhaps a rebellious spark in her, something that she has inherited from her father Connor, though he was dead long before she was born. She too seems to be drawn to the wilderness but not a wandering way of life, turned away from it likely because it has kept her apart from her mother. She is - for the most part - a well behaved young girl, and sees value in honour and loyalty. That said, she's not above using her girlish charms to get her way. In many ways, she is a lot like Dannielle was in her youth, although she is far more blunt and forward than her mother ever was. She still enjoys however the tales of great knights and wizards, though she prefers to hear stories about regular people turned hero - a sign that despite her grievances, she still very much loves her mother.
Because of her upbringing, she has obtained a few skills aside from regular household chores. She's already started to identify the various uses of different plants and roots, such as identifying which you can eat and which you can't, which may lead into an interest in Alchemy. And, despite no one knowing her true lineage, there is no doubt as to whom she takes after as she has shown herself to be interested in and possessing some talent with a bow: clearly her mother's daughter.
Mage-Lord Connor left very little of himself in Leyla, drawing her appearance mostly from her mother. She has the same roundish face as Dannielle and similar facial features, aside from her eyes. Her blue eyes are a trait that she has inherited from her grandfather Bertrand, who's eyes shared the same colour and shape as her own. Her long brown hair is again a trait that her grandfather possessed. Her body is lithe and gangly, having yet to go through womanhood, and she stands at 4'7". All in all, she is a cute young lass.