Shine Cycle Character Profile: Aerin of Aldaria

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

Aerin – Duchess of Aldaria, princess at large, knight, and bard. She consistently coaxes those under her into something approaching greatness, but always under-estimates her own abilities.

A striking woman of medium height, with thick auburn hair falling in waves to her waist. She favors formal robes and fashionable gowns in archaic color combinations.

Known for her cheerful diligence in any subject that has either caught her attention and interest or been assigned to her, and also for her eclectic range of interests, Aerin rose to mastery and prominence outside the field of bardic music slowly and, when compared to others who arrived at the same time as she did, late. Until she was made princess and duchess, she spent most of her “leisure” time in study, with an average of an hour or two a day keeping her combat skills sufficiently sharp. After that elevation, she at first found that her official duties left her almost no time for seeking to further any other ambition, and then as that burden eased returned to music as her chief leisure activity.

When she arrived, she applied to the Bardic College, but she as she had also volunteered for military service she was forced to put bardic studies on hold when she was sent nearly immediately as a non-commissioned officer to the Wild Mushroom Kingdom. She soon earned her sergeant’s stripes, and her unit was sent south into what would become Aquatia once the local situation was under control.

When the war was over in 112 she entered the Bardic College, graduating in 118 as a journeyman. She completed her tour in 125, having made a more thorough circuit of the Empire than most of her peers, and was named a Master; she entered the Academy immediately thereafter. Since she decided to specialize in all of the diverse areas of Power, strategy, and intra-Imperial politics, she advanced slowly in each of those concentrations.

She was about to complete her first phase in 140, when the war began and she was called up to active duty. Her unit was placed in Aquatia, where it saw little action, but during the campaign she developed an interest in international relations and in local issues. When she returned to the Academy in 142, she spent another ten years investigating every detail of those subjects she could, improving her physical training, and learning several languages and manners of speaking.

After her graduation from that phase of the Academy, she was taken as a squire by Mary in 153. Characteristically, she decided to throw herself into this, immersing herself in New Bethany local politics and bardic practice as well as preparing for knighthood; again characteristically, this took longer than most, and when war broke out Mary released her to separate duties, and she was assigned to a force going to Oceanus. During the end of that war she was knighted on the field of battle.

At this point, once the war was over, she looked for another way to improve herself or advance her career, so in 168 she applied to the Imperial Service for any suitable assignment. Since she seemed clearly overqualified for nearly every possible job, she was assigned to general analysis. Given her training, the output was of course excellent, but when she was granted seniority in 171 it became spectacular. She was transferred to team after team, each of which drastically improved, an effect which remained until months afterward.

During the First Inter-Universal War she led a team of analysts and engineers to try to repair Tsunami Cove. After the spectacular success of this operation, and in view of her long and varied service, Parliament voted to make her a princess at large.

Soon thereafter, a conversation with a friend reminded her of the large but sparsely populated rural district of Aldaria, which she had passed through on her tour as a journeyman bard. She visited there again, in her first real vacation in many years, and was dismayed to see it had fallen into general neglect over the past decades. When she heard that not even a single candidate had been found to stand for District Supervisor in the upcoming election, she decided to move to the district and offer herself for the position. After two successful terms, in which she prodded the other officials to reverse the trend of neglect and brought a few new businesses to the district, when she was re-elected again with the highest margin yet, the King made Aldaria a Duchy and her position permanent.

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