Aldar din Traviata
Character Name: Aldar din Traviata
Email address: quibby1[at]gmail[dot]com
Group: Atha’an Miere
Race: *see ‘Group’*
Eye Color: Dark brown
Hair Color: Black and silver, about 50% each
Special Features: Standard Sea Folk tattoos, 12 earrings (six in each ear), one tattoo of a ship sailing the clouds on his right shoulder blade, one tattoo of a bloody knife on his left shoulder, one tattoo of a wilted rose on his right forearm, numerous scars from combat, the most prevalent one running from his hairline, around the outside of his right eye, and down to his bottom jaw. Other Characteristics: Aldar is very quiet and withdrawn, rarely opening his mouth except to give answer to some question posed to him or to command those who take up arms at his command. Most would probably consider him moody or irritable despite his melodious bass voice. Physically, he is quite strong, and he looks like a man who has spent all his life doing physically challenging work of some kind or another. He is, however, fiercely loyal to whomever he serves, and will willingly put his life on the line for those he respects or loves. Neither group, however, is very large. However, once people get to know him, they discover the man’s quirky, slightly sadistic sense of humor, and his willingness to lend a helping hand or to just listen.
Weapon of Choice: Two cutlasses
Secondary Weapon: Ivory-hilted dagger
Tertiary Weapon: Hand-to-hand
Character History: “Aldar din Traviata, you have been summoned to swear your oaths before the heads of the Clans and before the Light. The Light willing, you shall be named Master of the Blades to the Atha’an Miere. Step forward and swear.” A few men glanced towards the far end of the ship, their dark faces revealing little of the nervousness that some of them felt. Some had been students of Aldar’s, some sparring partners, and Aldar had not been gentle. The soft footfalls did not sound threatening, but the man that accompanied them did. A determined look in his eyes, Aldar din Traviata strode towards the Sea Folk leaders and delegates. Across his well-muscled torso and arms, countless scars left their marks to speak of injuries both old and newer. Across his chest, a pair of bandoliers crossed to form an X, and from each one hung a cutlass, their hilts recently polished for this specific event. No one made any mention of the three tattoos on his body other than those found on every one of the Atha’an Miere. The bloody dagger on his right forearm, the wilted rose on his left shoulder, and the raker on his right shoulder blade that seemed to be sailing into the sun. Rumors spoke of pain in his past that brought those three about, though none knew quite what pain that could be. None tried to look him in the face, though most of those present were of a height with Aldar, and a few were taller. At 47, Aldar had not aged well, and the scars on his face coupled with the lines were not very flattering. The long scar from his hairline to his jaw that seemed to dodge around his eye and lips didn’t help. His dark eyes showed no sign of his age, though they carried a sense of confidence in ability and sadness. Aldar’s eyes always seemed to carry sadness. Reaching the gathered leaders of the Clans, Aldar quickly saluted them before he began. The words that he had to say had been drilled at him all night, though he had memorized them quickly. Aldar was not unintelligent. Holding out his left hand, Aldar drew the dagger tucked into the front of his sash and placed the blade against the palm of his hand. With a level gaze directed at every officiating member Aldar drew the keen edge of the dagger across his palm. Squeezing his hand closed, his blood seeping from out his fist, Aldar gravely intoned, “By the Light, my soul, hopes of rebirth and salvation, I swear to protect and honor all free souls. Life is a gift that I will cherish, and not take unless in defense of my People.”
Aldar din Traviata was always fated to live on the sea and die on the sea. Both of his parents were deckhands aboard an Atha’an Miere raker, the Sunray, one of the trade ships of the Catelar clan. The life of a seafarer was an obvious one for Aldar; his blood would allow for nothing less. As soon as he was old enough to work, Aldar began his service as a deckhand aboard the very ship upon which he was born. His early years were not terribly exciting. Any time that he was not working among the ropes and riggings in the masts was spent working with Boran din Atronos, the best-trained fighter on the Sunray. The man was about twenty years older than Aldar, and bore scars that were older than him, as well. The man was ambidextrous, was quite skilled at manipulating two weapons at once. As Aldar matured and became a bit more proficient in basic hand-to-hand combat and knife fighting, he began to show the same coordination, though to an astonishing degree. At the age of seventeen, Aldar was capable of writing two separate things with his hands at the same time. It didn’t take him too long to discover, though, that writing and working with swords were two different things… “Come on, Aldar! Concentrate! If those had been real swords you were holding, you would have taken your legs off!” Boran yelled. Dropping the two training laths, Aldar rubbed at his calves where he had managed to strike himself with both blades. Taking a moment to reevaluate the situation, Boran said, “Okay, let’s start simple: put one of those two weapons aside for now, we’ll concentrate on one hand at a time, then we’ll try to work both at once.” “Got it,” Aldar muttered in his deep, melodious voice, like the rumble of the surf breaking on the beach. Putting one of the training blades into a nearby barrel half-full of rope, Aldar positioned himself against his larger and more physically fit opponent… It would be another three years before Aldar was tested in battle. As the Sunray was leaving the docks of one of the Sharan ports and making for the open sea, the lookout on the mast screamed, “SEANCHAN!!” The whole ship was immediately alive and in action. Men and women armed themselves, the Sailmistress Jori din Saloser High Wave and the Windfinder Elona din Nitraco conferred with the Cargomaster Ablas din Derude, who would be leading the defense of the ship. By the time the Seanchan vessel had pulled near enough to the Sunray, those on board were ready for them. Despite how well the Seanchan were trained in battle, they were no match for the Atha’an Miere. “Aldar, stay close!” Boran yelled as the boarders rushed to meet the waiting Sea Folk in a flurry of steel and screams. Aldar was shocked by the abruptness of it all. There were men dying around him, and all he could do was stare in shock. Or until a man singled him out for death. The ferocity of the man’s attack was astounding to Aldar, and even his ambidexterity was not enough to keep the man from scoring several cuts to Aldar. The blade that suddenly appeared in the man’s chest was a relief to Aldar. Boran gave him a quick smile before turning back to the battle… and taking a blade to his belly. Aldar gave a cry of shock, and before he knew what he was doing, he had closed the distance between himself and Boran’s killer and plunged his knife into his chest. The man turned to look at Aldar, an expression of shocked pain on his face, and it was all that Aldar could do to stand and meet the man’s eyes. As if time had slowed, the Seanchan man fell to the deck of the ship, his eyes glazing over in death. His concentration was so great on this that Aldar never noticed the two women that appeared on the deck of the Seanchan ship until Sunray exploded beneath his feet, throwing him high into the air and dropping him into the sea. The Seanchan stayed only long enough to collect their survivors before setting sail again. Aldar, his wounds stinging from the salt water and his heart torn from what he had done, began kicking for the port. There had been another raker a week behind them; it would be dropping anchor here soon.
“It is agreed under the Light,” intoned the leader of the ceremony before nodding to Aldar to continue. With a nod, Aldar again spoke. “By the nine winds, and Stormbringer’s beard, I swear to search for he who will give us all the seas of the world, and when I have found him, to serve and obey the Coramoor so that he may bring glory to the People.”
Aldar pushed himself hard for the next 10 years of his life, working the blades like he had never worked before. In his mind, he always remembered Boran’s face, and the pain of watching him die worked like a scourge on Aldar’s mind, pushing him harder than anything else could have done. Every minute of his day that was not spent working the ship, eating, or sleeping was spent in training. Until one day, three years after the Sunray found his way home… Elysa din Bosien had caught Aldar’s eye when she had first began working aboard Seastrider. She was absolutely beautiful, with a laugh that Aldar could lose himself in for the rest of his life. Even better, she seemed to find Aldar and his constant work intriguing. She began to watch him as he worked himself, often making jokes at his mistakes. The two would talk during the breaks that Aldar would take only when exhaustion forced him to the deck. She made the days bearable, the first time that they had been in the years since the Sunray. Two years passed like this before Aldar and Elysa were finally and happily wed. As nice as it would be to say that Aldar and Elysa lived happily ever after, such is not the case. A sudden squall off of Windbiter’s Fingers five years later caught the Seastrider by surprise. As all hands on board struggled to make him ready to weather the storm, the sea began to beat against Seastrider with a fury. A sudden scream from the stern caught Aldar’s attention. Whirling about, he saw Elysa clinging to a rope, the waves beating her to the deck and threatening to pull her overboard. Aldar called another to take his place, and he ran to the stern, diving across the deck and seizing hold of his wife’s hand. With his other hand, Aldar reached for anything he could use to hold himself to the ship. “Aldar! Help!” Elysa screamed in a panic. “Just hold on to me! Don’t let go!” Aldar yelled back as he seized onto a rail and began fighting against the pounding waves. Another heavy wave washed over the deck, loosening Aldar’s grip on Elysa’s arm. Her panicked scream sounded again, and before Aldar could reposition his grip, another wave tore her from his hands and dragged her screaming into the wild seas. In a wild fit, Aldar ran to the side, but before he could leap in after his wife, his reason for living, the air around him seemed to harden. Craning his neck, Aldar tried to lock eyes with the Windfinder Voris din Malocen Sea Mist. “She’s gone, Aldar. Don’t waste your life going after her.” His face a mask of rage and agony, Aldar growled, “Let me go, Windfinder! Let me find her! If you loved Elysa even one tenth the way that I love her, you would let me go!” Voris looked hurt for a few seconds before she finally said, “Before she was your wife, Aldar din Traviata, she was my sister. Remember?” In his rage, Aldar had forgotten that. With that sentence, he hung limp against the Windfinder’s bindings. And he wept.
“It is agreed under the Light,” the leader of the ceremony intoned again. His nod to Aldar was unneeded. Solemnly, Aldar said, “Under the stars and above the waves, by the sky and water, I will not abandon the salt for the lure of farming off the fat of land, lest I be bound to the shore as do the land-men. On my word, I shall return by the salt coursing in my veins, never resting until there is freedom of the seas, when even the Islands of the Dead where the Seanchan dwelt will be known, and the Aryth Ocean be traversed by the People.”
For eighteen years, Aldar lost himself even further to learning the way of battle. His skill with his two blades soon grew beyond what his sparring partners could compete against. His nights were spent deep in the pages of books written by the great generals about the subject of battle. He was promoted many times, making it as far as he possibly could onboard Seastrider. He served as a Swordmaster there for 9 years. Even at that rank, Aldar never stopped working himself. It soon came to the point where he was forced to spar with five people at a time, then six, then seven. Battles against the Seanchan or any other pirate were rare, yet Aldar was always at the forefront, his loud voice shouting orders in the midst of raging battle. He could not outrun his past, though. He could not outrun the first man that he killed, the friends that he lost aboard the Sunray. He could not forget Elysa. It was the conclusion that he could not forget them that brought him to a tattooist. In one grueling session, Aldar had the man ink three tattoos into his skin. Starting on his shoulder blade, the man inked Aldar’s first choice: an Atha’an Miere raker sailing a sea of clouds and bound for the sun. On his left shoulder, the man inked an intricate dagger dripping with blood and tears. Finally, on Aldar’s right forearm, the tattooist inked a beautifully-rendered rose, its petals wilting, its thorns seemingly digging into Aldar’s arm. Carrying his three most painful memories for the world to see, Aldar left the man. It would be another nine years after that day that Aldar would receive a summons from a council of the Atha’an Miere clans. His forty-seventh naming day barely a month behind him, Aldar was brought to Qaim to speak to the council. “Your name is well-known to us, Aldar din Traviata,” the spokesperson said. “Every ship seems to carry tall tales of the exploits of great men and women among the People, but you are seemingly a legend in your own time. They say, for instance, that you defeated the fifteen greatest fighters in Clan Catelar at once. Is that true?” “No, it isn’t. It was only the seven best swordsman onboard the Seastrider,” Aldar answered honestly. He didn’t like this for some reason; these people seemed to be sizing him up, as if he were just what they were looking for. Aldar hated being sized up for what could turn out to be a noose. “If I may ask the council, what do you want with me?” The spokesperson only smiled…
“It is agreed under the Light,” the leader of the ceremony intoned once again. Raising his left hand in the air, Aldar opened his bloody fist and said, “May I be bound to the sand, forsaken from the World, if I ever renounce any word I have spoken here, on this Ship on this tide, on this sacred water. I pledge myself to the People of the Sea. May the embrace of the eternal Mother, who has bathed me in her gifts, eased me in my tears, and cleansed me of my mortal transgresses, come rest my soul in water.” “It is agreed under the light,” the leader intoned for the last time. A hand gesture waved two women to Aldar’s side, each one holding six heavy earrings. Reaching to his ears, they removed the lighter ones that he wore as Swordmaster and replaced them with the heavier ones that would mark him as the Master of the Blades to the Atha’an Miere. As the last two were clipped in place, Aldar smiled, twisting the scar on the right side of his face into a disturbing shape. On the ships gathered all around a thunderous cheer rose up, for once again, the Atha’an Miere had a Master of the Blades.