Lady Shafallika, Master of the Desert Cavalry

Background

The nomads of the southern desert tell many tales of Lady Shafallika, but the one told most often is how and why she came about her invincibility. There are many versions of what happened that one might hear; listen now and you will hear the truth.

Lady Shafallika was a nomad princess, born to the ruler of the endless sands. When her father was dying of a pestilence, he whispered to her, “My hold on our people is only as strong as I am. To bind them to you, you must be strong as well.” Lady Shafallika became determined to gain such power that all the clans would bow before her. Her vizier told her of a little-known place that might give her the strength she desired, but warned her of a price – but of course we know how such things go.

To obtain this strength she rode into a riddle: a place of horror, but also an oasis of wonders. A place where no men or women lived, but untold thousands dwelled. Deep in the desert, in a tiny place where the burning sands blew, was a vast and lush oasis occupied by the Fair Folk. Lady Shafallika ate not of their food, and rejected their hospitality, asking instead for the chance to prove herself, to be granted the most fearsome of blessings. One of them spoke out above the laughter of the rest, demanding to know why they should do this for her.

She told them that the world had nearly forgotten them. They stopped laughing. She promised them that, if they helped her, their story would be known throughout the south – and if she went away empty-handed, or returned not at all, well… their story could simply die with her.

Lady Shafallika returned to her clan with stories of an incredible palace beyond the sands, and the fantastic inhabitants thereof. Each story she told was slightly different, which of course only encouraged the spread of the tale. She refused to speak the full truth to any but her father, who shook his ghostly head and quietly promised to give her better wisdom.

Since then, Lady Shafallika has led the desert cavalry to victory after victory. She never backs down, never parlays – and never loses. Her warriors spread The Thousand Tales of Shafallika in the wake of her conquest, as do her enemies. Many have approached her seeking mercenaries or marriage, and she rejected them all, though some she kept as advisors or lieutenants, including a young man named Multaniko.

When Multaniko informed Lady Shafallika of the demons that were hiding in Red Jade Canyon, she marshalled her two thousand mounted warriors and rode there with all haste. Her people have long swept the desert clear of evil forces, and this will be no exception. She has her suspicions as to how Multan came across this information – she knows that he is more than he lets on, but she also knows not to call a god’s bluff.

Appearance

Lady Shafallika 500

Lady Shafallika has light brown skin and large brown eyes. She wraps herself in the traditional head garb and robes of her people, so little else can be seen, save a tattoo that runs along the back edges of her temples.

Demeanor

Calm, clear-headed, and steely-eyed, Lady Shafallika is the very picture of a military commander. Her commands brook no disobedience. While she will listen to advice from those she considers wise or powerful, she lets no one decide for her.

Intimacies: “I must not lose my power, lest the nomads turn against me” (Defining), “My family and my clan” (Major), “The Ancient Enemy” (by which her clan means creatures of darkness, Negative), “My advisors” (Positive)

Abilities

As master of the desert cavalry, Lady Shafallika was raised on horseback and trained with a bow from childhood. She holds together the clans not only with her invincibility, but with clever dealings and an understanding of the ties that bind families and warriors. She reads High Realm and Firetongue, and while her penmanship is atrocious, she has a strong and compelling speaking voice.

Lady Shafallika is invulnerable to non-magical harm from outside her body. Poisons and illness can still strike her down, as can hunger and thirst, but neither blade nor bow nor avalanche will injure her. She can still be harmed by spirits, or by the charms and weapons of the Chosen, but she is greatly fortified against them. She is likewise immune to all fear and to control by Psyche effects or similar magic. She might be convinced to act in a certain manner by mundane means, but never by charm or sorcery, and she will never feel fear in any way.

These protections are in place only so long as Lady Shafallika does not back down from a confrontation that she has chosen. She need not accept every challenge thrown at her, but once she does accept, she cannot change her mind. On the day that she does, the Fair Folk will own her mind and soul, and she knows that they will wreak all the havoc they can with her, slowly and with plotting madness. Her closest advisors have deadly poisons prepared for that day.

Supporting Characters

  • Lord Sintallan, her ghostly father who advises her still.
  • Onyx Eyes Unbending, the Fair Folk noble who blessed her.
  • Bey Dassanatt, her aged vizier.
  • Lord Etlassiban, her husband, safely at home with her children and the child-mothers. Courteous, respectful, deferential.

Questions

  • Was that the true story behind her invincibility, or just another story?
  • What is the exact wording of Lady Shafallika’s deal with the Fair Folk? The end of a deal and its weak points often hinge on exact wording.
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6 thoughts on “Lady Shafallika, Master of the Desert Cavalry

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