Character Profile: Whitney of New Windsor

This is one in a series of profiles of characters in the Shine Cycle. The last profile was of Rebecca.

Whitney – Duchess of New Windsor, knight, and drum major of the Royal Marching band. Her preferred place in wartime is as a message runner, but she has demonstrated a nearly complete understanding of tactics.

A somewhat short, blonde woman, she usually keeps her shoulder-length wavy hair pulled back, out of her way. While she occasionally bows to the sentiments of her constituents and wears full robes of office, she normally eschews such formal garb in favor of much simpler and lighter robes that impede movement much less. This choice is because she prefers to move most places at a run or at least a fast walk, though her travel through the halls of government is usually at a slower and deliberate pace.

When the war began in 110 she was placed in an active infantry unit, where her superiors declared her to have demonstrated the mastery required for her sergeant’s stripes in her first battle. After another battle, she applied for a transfer to another position and was assigned to the message circuit. She spent three battles in that position on horseback, but following that she applied for less time-critical messages and carried them on foot to avoid being shot at. During the Battle of the Great River, she found herself the highest-ranking officer present (when the recipient of one of her messages was killed in front of her) and took command of the company, turning the tide of that part of the battle, but as soon as they rejoined the rest of the regiment she returned to her duties.

After the war, she entered the general/physical program at the Academy, graduating with honors in 117 and spending a stint conducting the Academy marching band. After her graduation she entered the Imperial Service and was placed as a field agent based in New Windsor, a town in the Twilight Kingdom. While there, she proved such a capable recruiter for the Imperial Service and the military that the government felt it necessary to establish a preliminary training school and a large castle there in 125. Whitney was elected to the town council a year later, and in 127 she helped to pass subsidies for industries contributing to the spacetime race. These two inducements caused rapid growth, and when she ran for mayor in 129 she was elected in a landslide and was immediately made baroness.

After her first year in that post she began a lengthy Academy correspondence course in politics and governance, which she completed just before the war broke out. When it did, she volunteered to take up her old position, but each possible post that opened up became unnecessary (due usually to the consolidation of forces) before she could reach it. After the war she was given a more permanent place in the peacetime message circuit on the frontier, but during the Reignalmia incident she was recalled to her barony, where she began implementing various measures to increase trade with both the surrounding districts and the rest of the Empire. When the King returned, he increased New Windsor to a county, and she took a short tour of the district to familiarize her with her new domain; it had the side effect of causing her popularity to increase drastically.

In 156, when Greyhawk was founded, she visited the city as head of a trade delegation from New Windsor and the surrounding counties, which won several key concessions in a very favorable agreement. The deal was so beneficial, in fact, that after the trade route was destroyed by piracy she offered to bear the whole cost of re-establishing that part of the route under a slightly fairer agreement, but she was foiled by the annexation and instead went back to her county and invested the money on industry improvements. Thus it was that a key hardware innovation that allowed distributed computing under communications near-silence possible triggered the arms race.

When the war began she was asked to raise two partial regiments of heavy irregulars. Training them took too long for them to do any good at Oceanus or Newfoundworld, but the regiment Whitney was with was pinned down in the Battle of the Retreating Evil, whereupon she orchestrated a series of very quick, very heavy attacks on the enemy line in several places while leading a lighter, more diversionary group in harrying the enemy to distract them (since they had been instructed to aim particularly for the leaders), where her tactics succeeded more than she had hoped, penetrating through the enemy line and capturing the enemy commander; she was knighted on the field. After the war she applied to the Academy again, declaring strategy as her concentration of study, and graduated in 169.

The next profile is of Danielle.


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