Shine Cycle Character Profile: Opal

This is the next in the series of profiles of characters who will appear in the Shine Cycle, my fantasy-series-in-preparation.

Opal is a knight and a royal adviser, listed high in the Queen’s service, in the Imperial Service. In the Sixth War of the Dragon she scraped together a brigade from the ruins of a battle gone wrong deep in enemy territory and brought it, and a large collection of captured enemy equipment, back to the Empire.

A tall, slender, athletic woman with short, straight blonde hair, she moves quickly and efficiently, wearing a light mail shirt under her robes.

In peacetime, when her practice is running smoothly, Opal is a pleasant, generally complaisant woman with neither enough nor little enough ambition to be remarkable. She works diligently, but not quite prodigiously, at both the work given to her and, on her own time, to maintain her athletic skills and physical condition. But under the stress and strain of war and of pressing deadlines, her courage and leadership shine through, and she not only redoubles her own efforts, she inspires those around her to hold fast and do the same.

History: On her arrival in the Empire, Opal found a local physician willing to take her as an apprentice and studied the Imperial style of medicine for several years. After that, she served as the local medic for a rural area for for a good long while. After a few years’ sabbatical, she returned to the countryside for another term in a different area, but not quite a decade into her tenure in that region, war broke out, and she joined a regiment drawn from the region as its lead medic.

While the regiment was mustering and undergoing basic training, she also went through elementary military leadership training, as well as arms training to bring her already-creditable skills up to the army’s standard. Then the regiment traveled to the front, near the border of the Dragon Empire.

The regiment participated in a few indecisive battles, but a few weeks after their arrival at the front, one morning the enemy line they were facing broke before them and started running, and the regimental commander, who had often stated his wish to be a cavalry commander, ordered the regiment to pursue them. The regiment followed the Dragon company all day, until it suddenly reformed and offered stiff resistance just before it reached a Dragon supply depot. Other Dragon troops came up from other directions, leaving them nearly surrounded, and in the battle the regiment nearly dissolved.

Opal and the other medics had been in the rear guard, and she had advised the rear guard commander to hold back, he held a fifth of the regiment back from the main body, and they escaped the ambush. Once darkness fell and the enemy troops settled down, they briefly met to plan where to reform what remained of the regiment the next morning, and most of them scattered to what shelter they could find for the night. She and her stealthiest comrades searched the battlefield for any survivors and the surrounding area for any equipment that had been abandoned by either side.

In the morning, the reformed company of Imperial survivors attacked and captured the Dragon supply depot. Opal directed them as they quickly packed up as much of its contents as possible to take with them, then they used its elevated position to attack the Dragon army that had ambushed them while using its fortified walls to shield themselves from return fire. This tactic proved so effective that within a few hours the army that had originally outnumbered their full regiment by more than two to one now had fewer survivors than half of their small company. They then used the depot’s communication equipment to send conflicting reports to nearby Dragon bases, before planting explosives to destroy it and break the road behind them as they left. They set off toward the Imperial border as quickly as they could while still carrying the captured equipment.

Near the border, they attacked the Dragon line from behind, smashing into it so suddenly that they nearly broke through in their first contact. This surprise distracted the Dragon army so significantly that when the main body of Imperial forces redoubled its attack, it nearly annihilated all Dragon troops in the area.

For her leadership in these events, Opal was knighted on the field in the first lull after she gave her report. In the rest of the war, she continued to show competence and cool courage even under fire, but nothing so dramatic as the earlier events. After the war, she was asked to become a royal adviser on medical and rural issues, but also continued her medical practice.

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