Princess Athela, Regent of Slumber’s Grasp, is the second-oldest living member of her family (behind King Thenor). She has outlived both her parents and her children. She has shepherded the kingdom through thick and thin, welcomed its allies and cast back its enemies, and has upheld its laws – even those that keep her from becoming queen.
Athela’s father was Prince Galor, known as the Never-King. He did not have such compunctions regarding the well-being of his slumbering ancestor. Fortunately, he spoke too loudly of his plans, and his cousins banded together to overthrow and exile him before he was able to murder King Thenor. He died marching up the Glacier of Exile with those who supported him. Athela’s last memory of him – alive – was him ignoring her as he left. Her childhood was not particularly pleasant, nor was the day his shade began walking the valley again.
Her father aside, Athela’s family doted on her. Her confidence slowly grew as they supported her through her regency. She married Jako, a mayor’s son, and bore several children, first among them Voana of the Clocks. When Voana met her husband Selno, Athela believed that her time as regent was coming to an end, and she would be able to pass on the role gracefully in her old age. For a short time in her life, she was happy.
Then tragedy struck repeatedly. Voana, who would have been regent, died delivering her fourth child. Then, six years later, Selno died in an avalanche, along with their eldest daughter. Jako, her husband, succumbed to old age not long after. Her other children had long left Slumber’s Grasp for distant lands, and no word came from them. Now only her grandchildren remained. Athela stiffened her resolve and did her best to ensure that they were raised well, and the kingdom well-taken-care-of, until they came of ruling age.
Thus did things progress for the past dozen years. In the face of continued machinations from Sunset on Snow and the unexpected appearance of the Iron Queen, Athela balanced her duties ruling Slumber’s Grasp with her time with the children. It was a difficult act, and she does not feel that she was entirely successful. Kalestra has taken to her role as regent-expect well, but the other two show no signs of accepting responsibility, at least from Athela’s viewpoint.
Not long ago, Prince Jasper confronted Athela about Thenor’s unending sleep and sometimes erratic proclamations. The conversation turned into an argument, which became increasingly heated. When Jasper threatened Thenor’s life, Athela heard shades of her father in his voice, and warned him to watch his place. He stormed out, declaring that his place was on the throne. When it became clear that Jasper was raising an army, Athela had no choice but to declare him outcast. Her kingdom is now poised on the edge of civil war.
With the kingdom’s allies unwilling to come to her aid in this internal conflict, Athela is desperate for a solution.
Athela is a sharp-eyed old woman with pale skin and grey eyes. Long decades as regent have lined her face with concern and suspicion. Her hair is long and white in a braid down her back. She wears earrings of diamond and pearl.
Weary. Of all the difficult times Athela has seen, this is one that she sees no way out of. She will lose her kingdom or her grandson, and has not yet found the callousness to commit herself to one or the other. She holds herself together for the sake of her family and those who look up to her.
Intimacies: “My grandchildren” (Defining), “My kingdom” (Major), “Dead Galor” (Negative), “Turning Wind” (Positive), “Not every law that fails is bad”, “My grandchildren will not learn weakness from me.”
Princess Athela is a shrewd and quick-thinking woman with decades of experience leading Slumber’s Grasp. Her voice is clear and loud, and still sings beautifully. She knows not only Skytongue, but the high language of the Realm, and the “river-tongue” of the traders. In her youth she sometimes sailed on the freezing lake, and learned to swim there from her aunts.
Once she held sword and shield comfortably. Now her hands are too arthritic and her back too weak for such exercise. She has directed her guards in training exercises, but true war has not come to Slumber’s Grasp since before Thenor’s time.
- Dotti, maid and chief servant. Modest, slender, busy.
- Gungir, advisor from the farmers and fishermen. Bossy, religious, apologetic.
- Hetta, advisor from the sages and learned folk. Amiable, reluctant, helpful.
- Girt, keeper of the messenger falcons. Honorable, thoughtful, dramatic.
- How many of the citizens of Slumber’s Grasp still would follow her rule (and Thenor’s law), and how many would rather have Jasper as king?
- What will Athela choose if it comes down to a choice between Thenor and Jasper?
- Does Athela suspect that someone might be behind Jasper’s change of heart? If so, who?