Elsbeth von Sadab, 'Elle'
Elsbeth the Dragonslayer
Elsbeth is an unremarkable 5’6” tall. She is leggy and lean, albeit amply proportioned through her hips and bosom. Her hair is an unusual shade unique to her mother’s family, chocolate brown but with a strange burgundy sheen. Elle’s face is quite lovely: slightly slanted dove-grey eyes, a straight, smallish nose, full lips and rounded cheekbones.
Though Elle owns many fine dresses and wears them gracefully, this feminine wardrobe has largely been abandoned. Silk and chiffon gowns make no sense on a long journey. Instead Elsbeth dons men’s breeches which are sized correctly but tailored for a female form. Her shirts are usually button or lace front, fitted enough to make her look feminine and loose enough to give her free movement with her arms and shoulders. She favors muted colors; brown, green, grey, blue, and burgundy. Unless, of course, she’s wearing her new armor…
Elsbeth very much has a regal bearing and often comes across as cold, arrogant, or distant. This is only a disguise she learned as a child of noble birth. To those who know her and those of her station, Elle is a completely different person. She is genuinely kindhearted, always helping the sick or poor and forever bringing home wounded animals. Elsbeth is warm, honest, (sometimes a little too honest,) genuine, and very much loyal to her family. Even if she’s not fond of them so much on a personal level, Elle would protect her parents and siblings to the bitter end. She feels nearly as protective of all her smallfolk, seeing their well-being as her family’s most important responsibility.
The noblewoman actually enjoys many things considered ‘women’s pursuits’ like embroidery, singing, pianoforte, and calligraphy. Her greatest loves, however, are reading, horseback riding, and archery. She is quite intelligent but sometimes lacks common sense due to her sheltered upbringing. Her favorite color is violet and her favorite season is autumn. She dislikes sugary sweets, salt fish, white horses (too tough to keep clean) and small spaces.
Elsbeth von Sadab is the first born child of Count Ulrich and Countess Minerva von Sadab. Had she been born a male instead, she would be heir to the family’s title, riches, and vast lands. Since she was born a female, she was taught from a young age that wife to a rich and powerful man was the best she could ever hope for. That aside, she was doted on by both her parents for almost four years until her younger brother Vicktor was born. His arrival meant many things for young Elsbeth, not the least of which was being almost completely abandoned by her mother into the care of a nursemaid.
Weapons and Skills
There was only a year and a half between the birth of Vicktor and the birth of her second brother, Brandyn. Three years after that came her little sister Allaura, then a third brother, named Kristoff. Elsbeth and Allaura, having three brothers, could then have little hope of any inheritance.
In a family that kept growing, especially after sons were born, there was little use for a firstborn daughter. Her nursemaid, Gwendolyn, was a kind and loving woman who treated Elsbeth with as much love and care as her own daughter, Alayne. From the age of four to the age of thirteen, Elsbeth largely shunned her blood family. She felt her milk-sister was her only real sibling, resenting her brothers for stealing her kingdom and her parents from her.
Shortly after Elsbeth’s thirteenth birthday, however, things began to change. She started to have dreams, dreams of dragons filling the sky and a white-haired woman who battled them with powerful magic. Things like dragons and magic were gone from the world: the last dragon had died centuries before Elsbeth’s birth, and the handful of mages who could still tap into the world’s dwindling Mana pool were largely reclusive and isolated. So, although she had the same dream each night, Elsbeth forced herself to ignore it as nothing more than her sleeping mind’s flight of fancy.
Though up until that age Elsbeth had been a perfectly proper lady, the dreams seemed to awaken some sort of strange battle lust in the young woman. She asked to be trained with her younger brothers in the fighting arts. Though her parents frowned upon the notion at first, her persistent pleading eventually won out. She assured her mother and father that she wouldn’t forget her manners, station, or proper place in life. Elsbeth finally gained her victory when she told her mother that she was worried she couldn’t defend herself if push ever came to shove.
Much to her dismay, Elsbeth was untalented with a sword. Knives were no better. Not an axe or a rapier or a mace suited her. The first time she picked up a bow and arrow, however, the young noblewoman knew she’d found her weapon. It pleased her parents: archery was a fairly dignified and respectable sport even for women. They happily left her to her training, confident that it was a phase Elsbeth would outgrow.
Elsbeth didn’t outgrow it. For years she practiced, and the dragon dreams grew more intense as her skills as an archer sharpened. By the time she was fifteen she could outshoot Vicktor, who’d been practicing since the age of six. At seventeen, she was the female archery champion of the West Reach. Her aim was lethally accurate, her technique flawless, her talent and skill absolutely indisputable. Her parents, the Countess especially, started to become alarmed. Elsbeth was practically an old maid at eighteen, not just unmarried but completely uninterested in men as a whole… other than as archery tutors.
Though Elsbeth was remarkably lovely, and had no shortage of suitors, she was still unmarried as her twentieth birthday approached. She’d found artful excuses not to marry any of the men who asked for her hand: the bride-price was an insult to her, the man too poor, too old, too young, too fat, too thin. He had bad teeth or a foul temper or was too sickly or weak-willed. Her parents’ patience was beginning to wear thin, and her father told her that since Elsbeth had found no suitable husband from the willing applicants, she had until she turned one-and-twenty to find one she’d accept.
That, however… never came to pass. Three days after Elsbeth’s twentieth birthday, something happened that nobody anywhere could have forseen.
Elsbeth was standing in her solar watching the people and animals moving in the fields below the castle when she heard a sound that shook her to the very core. It was a scream, a roar, something beastly and huge and terrifying. Then a gigantic shadow fell across the castle, and Elsbeth suddenly knew how the rabbits all had felt as her hunting hawk had closed in on them. Every fiber of her being knew that this was a predator, an enemy that had been sleeping as long as she’d lived. Moments passed and the noblewoman’s worst fears were confirmed. That terrible shadow belonged to a creature not seen in Al’Vahaar for nearly two hundred and fifty years.
It was a dragon.
As she stared at the scaly hide when the beast passed over her glass room, something stirred in her chest. The screams she heard seemed to be distant and distorted, as if heard through water. The only thing she could focus on was the massive reptilian form, the roar that came from its slavering, sharp-toothed jaws, the gleam of its blue-black scales. Elle felt no fear, no horror, only a grim determination and a quiet knowledge that this legendary creature had come for her.
Elsbeth gathered her skirts in her hands and ran full tilt to her room. Fast as she could she shucked the fancy dress and tugged on her riding breeches, boots and shirt. She slung two quivers of arrows across her back and snatched her best, strongest bow off the rack. Then she ran again, as fast as she could towards the stables.
The keep was in an uproar. People running, screaming, crying. Armed and armored men ran in all directions, arming the trebuchets and gigantic wall-mounted crossbows that they’d never had to use against anyone. Elsbeth had no doubt that someone was headed to her room so that they could safely hoard her in the deepest, most secure chambers of the castle. They were far, far too late. Elsbeth had made it to the stables and was saddling her dapple grey mare with more speed than she’d thought possible. Moments later she raced out the closing castle gates, ignoring the protests shouted at her by the guards.
Her mare at a full tilt gallop, Elle flashed down the road leading away from the castle gates. She could see the dragon at the far end of the valley, and for a moment she could appreciate its beauty. The sun shone on its outstretched wings as if they were made of dark, deep water. Its cry was a base rumble with overtones she would swear would belong to birds of prey. It wheeled in the sky and came back towards the castle, and for the first time Elsbeth got a glimpse of its gigantic head. Scaly, massive and… about to spit fire.
The bluish-white flame was not like regular fire. Dragon fire was legendary but she’d no idea how much different it was from the orangey flames she’d been used to all her life. The beast was low in the sky, swooping down to scorch a field full of wheat and the poor peasant who’d been running for his life through the waist-high grain. A sound left Elle’s lips as the man was consumed by the ethereal flames: a moan of sorrow which morphed into a growl of anger and then a cry of fury.
She pulled an arrow from one of the quivers, notched it to the bowstring, set it in the cradle, and drew back. Her horse was well trained and galloped straight ahead when Elsbeth dropped the reins. The dragon closed its mouth as it passed over the field and when it swooped over the road, the noblewoman loosed. Her small bolt went straight up into the air and found its mark. She pierced a tiny hole in the great serpent’s right wing.
The beast didn’t roar, or hesitate, or even seem immediately affected by the arrow. It finished crossing the valley and wheeled back. When it turned to face Elsbeth again she knew that this dragon was looking right at her, and knew she’d taken a shot at it.
When those unearthly blue eyes met Elsbeth’s dove grey gaze, something happened. She was still in the same place but the horse beneath her was a huge silvery charger. Her clothes felt strange. The dragon was still there but somehow it had grown bigger and lost its blue sheen. She still had the bow in her hand and reached for another arrow… but the fletching was different. She notched and seated the arrow, but as she drew back something even stranger occurred. Elle felt an unusual energy, powerful and hot, course through her slender frame. It coalesced in the center of her chest before traveling down her arms. Suddenly, the arrow she held began to glow with something that looked like aquamarine smoke. She felt her fingers relax, though she hadn’t decided to shoot, and the arrow left her bow at an impossible speed with a trail of that blue energy behind it. The arrow struck the black dragon and there was an explosion of the brilliant teal light. The dragon screamed and fell to the ground in a smoking heap.
Then things righted themselves, and Elsbeth found that a mere second or two had passed. The blue-black dragon was still coming at her, her mare still running heedlessly down the road. Elle shifted the pressure in her saddle and the horse wheeled to the right so the woman could meet the dragon head on. She pulled a second arrow from her quiver, notched it, and as she drew back she got that feeling again… the unfamiliar energy building in the center of her being, just beneath the ribcage. She let it flow down her arms, into the weapon, and noticed that there was a faint crackling against the shaft of her arrow. Instead of blue smoke it was pale green, arcing and snapping more like lightning.
The dragon slowed in the air, pulling its head up and arching its neck as the gaping maw began to open. Instinctively, Elle knew that it was readying to bathe her in dragon fire. She aimed for the neck, where it attached to the dragon’s body, and let her arrow fly. Straight and true the bolt flew, and faster than she was capable of sending it with just a bowstring. The dragon’s mouth opened as if in slow motion, Elle’s eyes going wide as she saw the small blue glow forming at the back of its throat. Then the broadhead struck, and as the steel buried itself into dragon scales that green energy leapt from her arrow. Three huge green lightning bolts snapped down the dragon’s sides and center.
A cry of agony replaced the blue flame, which curled around the dragon’s teeth before guttering out. It sent a lick of pleasure and triumph down Elsbeth’s spine. The great wings folded and crumpled, and the dragon fell from the sky. It landed with a ground-shaking thud, sending up a cloud of dust and earth. With a backwards shift in her weight and the word, ‘woah’, Elle slowed her horse to a walk.
The dust settled as the noblewoman approached the dragon. She looked it over for signs of life but heard no breath and saw no movement from the creature’s ribs. Cautiously, Elsbeth slid off her horse and pulled an arrow from her quiver. She walked up to the massive creature’s head, shouting loudly. “Hey, dragon! Wake up, dragon!” It didn’t move. The beast’s tongue lolled out to one side, its eyes half-open. Slender fingers wrapped around the arrow’s shaft as Elsbeth stood beside her victim. Then she plunged the arrow’s head into the dragon’s bright blue eye. A small spurt of blood and clear fluid trickled down the dragon’s cheek, but the beast didn’t move. It was completely dead. With that strange energy and a single arrow, Elsbeth von Sadab had become the first Dragonslayer of Al’Vaahar in two hundred years.
Elsbeth stayed with her kill until a column of guards rode out from the castle, her father the Count at their head. She admired the beauty of the beast, its well-made form and terrible grace not lost on her. Elle knew without being told that the flesh was inedible, but that the scales, claws, teeth and bones should all be saved. The scales would serve as her armor, the claws as her knives, the teeth and bones would be crafted into her arrowheads. Because the other thing Elle instinctively understood was that this dragon was only the first… and there would be more to come.
Once the dragon’s carcass had been pillaged and the offal burnt, there was another uproar in the castle. This time it was the Count and Countess being furious with their daughter for risking her life so recklessly. She came clean about the dragon dreams, told them about her vision just before her arrow downed the beast, and about the green lightning she had somehow produced. It was only then that Elle was told her mother, Minerva, came from a family that had been Dragonslayers back in the time when dragons still roamed the land. They’d been some of the best in their craft, but when the dragons had died out and magic became scarce, they had gone back to being unremarkable nobility. Elle’s great, great, great, grandfather on her mother’s side had been the last to slay a dragon.
Count Ulrich, his wife and daughter came to the conclusion that Elle’s powers had awakened when she was faced with the dragon, and that there could be no denying it was her destiny to fight them. Try as she might, however, Elle could not replicate the feat of charging her arrow with that strange energy. For months she studied every book on dragonolgy and dragonslaying that she could find in the castle’s library. For all the texts she read, she could find nothing that helped her. Finally Elsbeth went to her father and asked him to help her find a mage. Only the world’s last magic users could help her now.
The dragon killed at Castle von Sadab was the first to appear that year, but two more followed shortly thereafter. One appeared in the far north, another to the east over the great ridge of the Holyspire Mountains. Magic returned to Al’Vaahar with dragonkind: healers throughout the realm were reporting that their potions and cures were working flawlessly. It quickly became clear to Elle that she’d gain no skill from moldy old books in the castle library. She needed a mage to help her learn the magic still sleeping somewhere in her soul.
There was only one mage who lived within a year’s journey of Elsbeth’s home. He was mysterious, reclusive, and known mostly for slamming his gates shut in the faces of any who went seeking his knowledge and skill. He was also known, however, for being one of the last three mages who was truly powerful. This man had been able to tap into the secret, hidden energy that had been building up in the world all this time, waiting to make its move. Surely now he’d be more powerful than ever.
Six months after earning her new title as Elsbeth the Dragonslayer, Elle set off for the mage’s keep. She could only hope that the tale of her first victory and the dragon-claw knife she brought as both proof and gift for the man would be enough to get her foot in the door. Elle turned twenty-one during her journey, but her natal day passed almost unnoticed. There was far too much on the noblewoman’s mind for the anniversary of her entry to the world to make much difference. All that mattered was that she fulfill her destiny as a powerful opponent to this reborn foe, and in order to fulfill that promise she had to convince the mage to help her.
Elsbeth needs only one weapon: her heirloom Dragonslayer’s bow.
This bow was handed down through her mother Minerva’s family for nearly four hundred and fifty years, but how old it actually is, nobody seems to really know. The wood is also almost impossible to guess. It has been identified as having been made in Endrell: an extinct civilization that once existed far across the Golden Desert. It is, oddly enough, jet black with a faint blue, almost metallic, pearlesence to it. The sinew has to be replaced and restrung as with any other bow, but the wood never needs any more care than a quick wiping down with a slightly damp cloth. There are runes inlaid in some sort of metal on the inside of the bow’s curve, but what metal it is the smiths in Ilyr couldn’t tell her. It is clearly quite old and enchanted. While anyone can string the bow, only Elsbeth can draw it… quite strange considering that her usual draw on her competition bow is about 46 pounds and the Black Bow, when measured, is slightly too long for her. In Elsbeth’s hands, however, it feels just right. The bow was a gift from her mother the day after she slew the dragon.
Elsbeth carries a knife crafted from the smallest dragon claw on her first beast. She now has nearly 400 arrows with dragonbone heads on them, a tip taken from the book Minerva found when retrieving the Black Bow for her daughter. She also owns approximately 200 other arrows with various heads and fletchings. The dragon arrows are fletched in goose feathers dyed pale green.
She also has a small, regular steel stiletto tucked in her right boot.
The noblewoman doesn’t wear her dragonscale armor often… mostly because it makes her look pretty damn legendary, if Elle does say so herself. It is crafted entirely of the blue-black scales that covered her dragon victim. The armor is lightweight, fully articulated, quite distinctly made for a female, and is completely impervious to standard fire. It provides better protection than any standard suit of armor, almost impossible to pierce. The helm is styled to reflect the dragon’s spiked head, though there is no faceplate so Elsbeth’s vision remains unimpeded. Though the thought has occurred to her more than once that she might encounter a dragon in her travels, she’s only ever seen the one and would feel a little ridiculous riding in an unobtrusive wooden cart wearing the suit.
Aside from her prodigy-level bow skill, her potential magic abilities, and a capacity for knife combat, Elsbeth is largely without battle skill. She is, as previously mentioned, a highly skilled equestrian.