Winifred Aldysh Character in Golarion | World Anvil

Winifred Aldysh

(Taken from Interlude Two )   Winnifred Aldysh knew she was going to be killed one day. It was her destiny.   Fred’s father, Hesiod Aldysh, had been a Hellknight for eight years before losing his arm in combat. He came home to Egorian, the capital of Cheliax, and took over the Blacksmithing Guild to build weapons and armor. Never one to stray too far from discipline and combat, he maintained a strict training regimen despite his forced retirement status. He’d often stop by the various forges across the city and test the weapons and armor personally. Using his own sword, Warbreaker, he’d assault the freshly forged steel until he was satisfied it was worthy of being sold in one of his shops.   Once his business had produced a fair amount of wealth, Hesiod reinforced his legacy by starting a family to carry on his name. His marriage was one of convenience, with his only request being that his wife provides him with a child. A male child. But when she died during childbirth, Hesiod was willing to accept the sacrifice as long as she produced the son that would carry on the proud Aldysh name.   “Your daughter,” said the nursemaid as she presented Winnifred to her father.   Hesiod walked out of the room.   It was the nursemaid who named the child Winnifred, as Hesiod refused to acknowledge his daughter. His hired help tended to the child, cared for her, and taught her to walk, speak, and read. Hesiod paid for Winnifred to have the best because despite his disappointment he’d be damned if she’d be a failure on top of everything else.   Yet despite his coldness, despite his distance, Fred loved her father. She pushed herself to make him proud, to be worthy of the family name. She was twelve years old when Hesiod told her that she would follow in his footsteps one day. Fred assumed this meant that he expected her to be involved in the weapons and armament business.   “You will join the ranks of Hellknights,” Hesiod said coldly. “And you will not embarrass me.”   On her fifteenth birthday, Hesiod took his daughter to the Citadel where he had started his training. Where she would start her own training in a few more years. It seemed an odd birthday present, but Fred took it in stride. It was a present, not a reprimand or a lashing, and she was grateful. It wasn’t a night at the theater, but it was better than nothing.   Hesiod looked down at Fred. “Say nothing,” he told her. “Make no sound. Just watch. This will be your future.” The girl nodded and followed her father into the darkness.   Fred remained a step behind her father as they entered yet another darkened room. This one was much larger than the others they’d passed through, and it was lined with rows and rows of candles. Three Hellknights wearing similar black armor stood against a railing of some sort, looking down at something below them. Hesiod remained several feet behind the men, and Fred stood beside him. Her father shook his head and pointed at the railing. “No,” he told her. “They have agreed to let you watch the test.”   “What test?” Fred asked.   “The Test all must take before becoming a Hellknight,” Hesiod told her, making no attempt to hide his annoyance at being asked the question.   Fred slowly approached the railing. As she did so she heard a voice coming from below. Once she reached the railing, she looked down into what appeared to be a deep pit. The bottom was lined with white sand, with several torches lining the walls. Someone, a warrior judging by their armor and longsword, recited the Oath of the Hellknight order. Fred wondered if the test was memorizing a very long speech because the warrior spoke for several minutes and had clearly been going for quite some time before Fred had arrived.   What surprised the girl was that the warrior was a woman. A woman! Taking the test of the Hellknight! Listening to the conviction of her words, seeing the determination on her face, lit a fire in the young girl’s belly. For the first time in as long as she could remember, Fred felt hopeful that she might actually succeed at fulfilling the destiny her father had set for her.   As the woman’s speech came to an end, Fred watched her bow before the three men and place her helmet back over her short blonde locks. Fred wanted to wave to her, cheer something encouraging. But her father had told her to remain silent. Fred closed her eyes and sent the most encouraging thoughts she could at the woman in the pit below, hoping the warrior would feel them in some way.   When Fred opened her eyes, the woman had already drawn her sword and had lowered herself into a battle stance. She looked fierce and mighty, and Fred just knew she’d be practicing the woman’s stance all night once she was back in her own room. But who was she fighting? There seemed to be only one door in the pit, and the warrior had her back to it. So intent was her focus that she didn’t notice one of the men beside her reciting an incantation.   Suddenly, a column of fire erupted from the sand. Fred jumped back as the flames shot all the way out of the pit and scorched the stone ceiling overhead. The heat was intense. Was this a trap? Did the woman have to escape the flames? The roaring pillar of flame disappeared as quickly as it had appeared, but was replaced by another roar. And laughter. But not good laughter. A booming voice began to speak from within the pit, and it wasn’t the woman. They were speaking a language Fred recognized as Infernal, the language of Hells and Devils.   As intense as the heat had been, hearing that voice sent equally powerful chills down the young girl’s spine. Fred hadn’t understood everything the voice said, but she could make out the parts where the voice promised to claim the woman’s soul. Then, a war cry. The woman this time, her voice filled with fury and purpose. Her conviction melted the ice that had clutched Fred’s chest, and the young girl stepped back to the railing to watch the battle.   She hadn’t really considered what the woman might be doing battle against. When Fred looked down, the ice resumed its hold on her. She’d never seen one before, but any child of Cheliax knew a devil when they saw it. Big, red, and horrifying with its large claws and horns. It smelled of sulfur, and its eyes were filled with burning death. It moved with a speed that seemed impossible for something that large. Fred couldn’t imagine how the woman was going to defeat it.   The combat went on for several minutes. The warrior would not take a step backward, always advancing, always attacking, never letting the devil creature gain any sort of footing. But after a few minutes, Fred could see what the warrior clearly could not. The devil was toying with her. It smiled as she advanced, and flowed around her attacks, letting her sword glance off its scaled flesh. Fred’s hands were balled into tight fists as she watched the exchange.   Neither Fred nor the woman below saw the movement. It was as if the woman’s wrist simply materialized in the devil’s clawed hand. The snap of her wrist breaking was audible, as was the woman’s scream. Fred looked at the three Hellknights watching the combat, silently pleading with them to end this before the woman suffered any more injury.   Fred heard the crunch. Saw the hard looks on each man’s face, including the face standing back in the shadows. The sound of shredding metal. A wet scream. Fred saw her father staring at her, saw him pointing at the railing. She didn’t want to look. Didn’t want to see what she was hearing. Like most things in her life, this wasn’t about what she wanted, and so Fred turned and watched the devil pull the woman apart with a great deal of enthusiasm. It seemed effortless when it tore her chest apart, scattering her entrails across the sand while what little blood the woman had left in her body, bubbled out of her mouth. One of the men beside Fred finally dismissed the creature, allowing the woman to die in peace.   This was what her father’s birthday present was – a glimpse at her future.   Over the next few years, Fred continued to train. But with every sword stroke, with every spell she cast, it felt meaningless. No matter how good she was with the sword, or how powerful her magic became, how could she defeat a devil?   One day, Hesiod came to see Fred during her morning meditation. “I spoke with your instructors,” he said. “It seems that they feel you have learned all you can from them. Perhaps it is time.”   Fred looked at her father. “No.”   Hesiod’s face started to twist into an ugly mask of rage. Fred continued before he could say anything. “I have a beautiful sword that I have trained with for years. But it has never cut real flesh. Never tasted blood. Never been in real combat.” She watched Hesiod’s expression, ever so slowly, soften into one of begrudged understanding. She’d never seen that before in him. It made her want to cry.   “What do you propose?” he asked.   “I need real experience. I need to go out into the world and face the animals, the chaos and cut them down. Then I’ll be ready.” It took a great deal of control to keep the fear out of her voice. Desperation was a great motivator.   “Very well. Whet your blade. It will probably serve you well to separate the wheat from the chaff. But know this. You have a destiny, and it will be fulfilled. You will take The Test. You will join the Order. Do what you must, but know I will be watching. When the time comes, Thexan will come to retrieve you.”   She wanted to protest, but in the end, it didn’t really matter. The young woman simply wanted to see a bit of the world before she was butchered at the bottom of that sandy pit, taking a test that she could never pass, for a future she never wanted, to please a father who would never love her.   Fred traveled to Korvosa to train with the Order of the Nail at the Citadel Vraid. She was there for two days before meeting Argentus Blakely in Korvosa as he studied in the libraries of Acadamia. He told her about the phenomenon hovering above Riddleport, and it intrigued her. It seemed like something she should see before she died. So Fred grabbed her scrolls, booked passage aboard the Mighty Maiden, and off she went.   That chance meeting led Fred to a life of adventure. A life worth living. In such a short time, Fred had experienced joys and sorrows, faced monsters and intrigue, and met people she was proud to call friends. People she was proud to fight shoulder-to-shoulder with - the Guardians of Golarion  Unfortunately, Fred was struck down during combat in Riddleport. To honor her, the Guardians had her buried in the quiet down of Halashire, a few days ride from Riddleport. Thexan and his brother Arcaan arrived shortly after to collect her, but instead simply paid their respects before returning to Hesiod.   Sometime later, the Guardians would encounter two Hellknights in Riddleport who were coming to collect an arrested Arcaan. One of those Hellknights revealed themselves to be their formerly deceased friend Fred. She confessed that shortly after Thexan returned to her father, Hesiod used a sizeable part of the family fortune to have a cleric of Asmodeus return her to the land of the living. Even death could not keep her from her destiny. Now here she was, a Hellknight thanks to her father, but more importantly to the training and guidance she had received from Sir Godric and the Guardians.