Name: Salla Alliatar
Height: 5' 2"
Weight: 130 lbs.
Hair: black with touches of silver
Country of Origin: Cairhien
Description: Short and trim, Salla Alliatar would probably be quite a looker if long hours in sunlight hadn't given her skin the look and consistency of leather. Her hair is cut at shoulder length, and normally left hanging straight unless she expects fighting, in which case it's tied back. Salla's preferred weapon is a short sword with a targe in the off hand. For back-up, she uses four daggers, which she can either throw or fight with. As a final surprise for anyone who thinks her easy prey, Salla has a small spring-loaded knife attached to a bracer on her right arm. Though no good for combat, it has proven to be the downfall of many a would-be killer or forced lover. Emotionally, Salla is cool and logical, the type who will inevitably do something at the very last second because she's taking the time to calculate the odds. This has, occasionally, been the source of a few minor scars. It normally equals out in the end, though. In a staring contest, a wise person bets on Salla.
Salla never met her father. Or maybe she did. The way her mother and her lover carried on when he was away, it was very possible that the man who would be her stepfather was her father. That comes later, though. Anyhow, Salla was born the daughter of a weaver and a professional soldier in the city of Cairhien. Unfortunately for the professional soldier, Salla's mother had been having a rather long, drawn-out affair with a higher-ranking officer, and things in Cairhien being the way things in Cairhien are, well... Salla's father seemed to always be in the thick of combat, proving his worth until his tragic death. Salla's mother wasted no time changing funeral garb for a wedding dress, and she and the officer were happily married.
Salla's stepfather was, despite being a conniving Cairhienin, a decent and kind man, ever doting on his stepdaughter's whims. It washe who taught Salla how to read, her sitting on his lap as he would read to her- perhaps imprudently- from books written by great tacticians and generals. Of course, the effect that this had on a growing girl became obvious when, at the age of 7, Salla begged for a sword and shield of her own. Her mother protested. Her stepfather smiled and had a wooden sword and shield made up for her, and she began chasing the poor servants about the halls while her stepfather gave her tips. He didn't start actually teaching her to use the things properly until a year later. Perhaps a prudent wife would have used every trick she knew to keep her daughter from growing up into a sword-swinging swashbuckler, but Salla's mother had no idea what to do. Yes, she was out in the garden swinging a wooden sword at her stepfather, who was grinning beneath his whiskers as he deflected her slowly-improving attacks, but she was also doing her reading, writing, math, and sewing. There was nothing to do, as far as she knew. Salla's lessons extended to knives a couple years down the road, and by the age of 15, Salla's skill with the short sword and shield had surpassed her stepfather's, who had always been more of a knife fighter anyway. Her training passed to a young soldier, who ended up catching Salla's eye. Four years of training with him ended with a request by the soldier for Salla's hand. Salla's stepfather refused him, and he committed suicide. Already a coolly logical young woman, Salla's first reaction was to mutter, "Idiot. I would have run away with him if he'd asked."
Despite the protests of a fiance from the minor end of a minor noble house, Salla continued her working with knife, sword, and shield, as well as her readings into the tactics and stratagems of the successful generals. It was a long engagement and a short marriage; the wedding party was interrupted quite abruptly by an invasion of Aiel, who were after the head of a fool king who wanted a pretty throne. Salla knew very little about combating Aiel, and who would have listened to her anyway? She did what any smart soldier would do in the situation: she hid. Dashing off the dais, Salla leapt over one of the tables bearing wedding gifts and into the open door behind it, stopping only long enough to overturn the table against the lower half of the doorway. Slamming the door behind her, she began scrabbling about, trying to find something, anything she could use as a weapon. Clay bowls, kitchen utensils, a rolling pin, and a chair all worked their way into a pile. Then Salla began digging through the gifts. Bed linens, dresses, suits, table cloths... nothing practical to be found anywhere. Sure, there was a sword, but it was merely a decorative piece, and the handle broke off the blade when she tried to remove it from the frame. The only thing that she found that could be useful was a gift from her stepfather: a light steel bracer with a ring for her middle finger attached to a chain. The ring didn't fit all the way, only coming down just past the bottom joint of her hand, but that didn't bother her. As the sounds of battle from outside became louder, Salla's hand convulsed into a fist by instinct. The quiet snict from the bracer told her that she'd done something, and a glance told her what. Leave it to her stepfather to actually give her something useful. The bracer was a concealed blade, the ring operating some sort of spring system. Pulling the ring again, Salla watched the blade click back into the bracer. Practically useless in combat, the thing was obviously a last defense. If her stepfather had been there, Salla would have kissed him.
When the dust had settled, Salla stood back to survey the damage. Her husband of two hours was dead, his entire estate carried off. Her mother was nowhere to be found. Her stepfather was being called to help fight the suddenly-hostile Aiel. Of course, as a dutiful daughter, she should be at his side; if nothing else, she had better handwriting than he did. Serving as a secretary was not too much fun, but Salla had a head for the job; numbers, letters, requisition orders, they all made sense to her. It came to the point where Salla could almost predict what the troop movements would be by the paperwork floating across her desk. By the time the war was done, she could have been an adviser to any general. However, it was not to be.
Her stepfather's was one of the units assigned to protect the king. Unfortunately, they were placed on guard duty one rather fateful night, and a covert squad of Aiel infiltrated the camp. Salla's stepfather was, unfortunately, the first to notice one of them. He died quickly and almost painlessly.
Left alone in the world, Salla tried to make her own way. She was too old to train with the Warders, so she hired herself out as a mercenary. Through odd jobs, Salla worked her way around the system, first doing grunt work, then commanding small groups, then commanding squads. Fifteen years down the line found Salla in command of 100 mercenaries, living quite well in a profession that normally left people dead. Salla's crew sought out news of conflict, then immediately rode out to fight for the highest bidder. It was rare that they turned down an offer, and any offer turned down normally meant that Salla and her mercenaries would go to the other side. No one could say what would cause Salla to refuse a job.
No one could truly say what caused Salla to take up with the Band of the Red Hand, either. All that is known is that she actually signed on with the Band under her own free will, and most of her mercenaries joined her. Salla never gave any reason for the sudden change (though it had a lot to do with a steady paycheck). She was on the front line of the charge against the Seanchan at Bandar Eban, and she saw the strange sights of that battle: the armies in the mist, and the battle in the sky. Salla's intelligence was not ignored, either. After the battle, she was promoted to sergeant, then lieutenant, then captain. Shortly thereafter, she was promoted to banner captain and was an adviser to the current Captain General of the Infantry, and it wasn't too long after that captain general was promoted to Commander of the Band that Salla ended up as the Captain General of the Infantry.
Things were good with the Band. Salla trained the newest members in while increasing her own training. The paperwork was a bit much at times, but Salla could deal with it. It wasn't too hard to find which papers needed reviewing and which ones could wait; she normally made it out of her office by noon. Of course, Salla's relaxed position of Captain General couldn't last forever, and after the sudden disappearance of Commander Jaem Caran, Salla Alliatar heard her own name put forward for candidacy for Band Commander.