Nikara Kalga Ereatha
Name: Nikara Kalga Ereatha
Alias: Nikki, Bloodmane, Mountainess, General
Role: Bodyguard, Vanguard, Volunteer Leader
Nikara is a towering woman, standing a natural 6’6" at 220 pounds. She has an amazonish figure, curvy and muscular at her height, with nothing really out of proportion. Her facial features are sharp and a little narrow, with dark blue eyes and long, straight, fiery natural red hair. Her natural left eye is missing, the socket left closed with brutal scarring on and around the eye. The rest of her fair and lightly freckled skin is marked all over with scars and blemishes, old and new. When in a relaxed setting or off-duty, she typically lets her hair down and loose, styled to cover her missing eye. When expecting battle, she pulls her hair up into a long ponytail or braid, exposing her left eye, while strapping on an armor plated band that fully covers her forehead.
Most people consider Nikara difficult to get along with, but most people don’t take the time to try. While on the job she is quirky at best, and abrasive at worst. Off duty she usually drinks alone and responds briefly and bluntly when addressed, and those who know her past generally just keep their distance. Despite this, she understands the usefulness of levity on the battlefield, often making light of bad situations and quoting numbered “rules of warfare.” Nobody really knows where these rules are from, but they range from common sense adages and sage tactical advice to silly bits of nonsense and things that are directly topical to the situation at hand, no matter how specific. She has a tendency to bark out orders, while rarely listening to the orders of others. Somehow, though, she always manages to make the most tactically sound decisions for a given situation, working best when allowed to act autonomously.One of her quirks that usually either aggravates or endears her to her allies and those under her command is her tendency to put herself in the most dangerous position in any situation. She is always the first to volunteer for a suicide mission, the first to step onto the front lines, and the last to leave whether a calm withdrawal or a rapid retreat. She will never suffer to see a fellow knight or an innocent put into harm’s way while she is safe. This has resulted in her accumulating a great deal of injuries over her tenure as a knight, and she’s found herself in a number of precarious situations as well, including capture. However, she’s always managed to pull herself out by virtue of her own strength and willpower…though her replacement eye tends to help. Despite her generally surly and off-putting attitude, the captain has a bit of a soft, maternal side that comes out from time to time. She genuinely cares for her fellow knights, and has been known to pull them aside from time to time to help them work through their personal issues with sometimes tough lessons and sage words. She is a firm believer that the Knights are greater than the sum of their parts, and that by working together they can accomplish the impossible. Nikara has a distaste for the feminine, mainly in appearance. She always wears masculine clothing, and rarely behaves in a stereotypically feminine manner. Pictures from her youth as a noble are nigh impossible to come by, but she keeps one locked up in her room. Few and far between are those who have seen Nikara in a dress and still live, until recent special events.
Equipment:Nikara wears a personalized version of the standard Captain’s armor on duty, preferring the attention drawing high visibility of its silvery plates. Her right arm is left bared but for a light gauntlet, to give her dominant hand more mobility, while her left is armored a bit more heavily, with a large heavy gauntlet large and thick enough to act as a shield when not using her own. She wears a worn and somewhat tattered Captain’s cloak over her armor, but does not wear a helm, no longer concealing her face as she did when she was a mercenary. It would never be said that she goes into battle lightly armed, as the Captain prefers to be ready for multiple scenarios. She still carries her old favorite blade, Lunaris: a brilliant and massive curved greatsword forged of Arcsteel, nearly a foot thick at its widest. She is deft with the massive blade, moving it with surprising speed and grace for its size, but still generally saving the weapon for large, heavy targets. She finds more use of her sword and shield, which she took up after joining the Knights, using most of her dwindled funds to have them custom made for her. Nikara takes point with a huge tower shield emblazoned with the Heart Crest of the knights, able to protect not just herself but others with its bulk, while in her other hand she carries a gorgeous runed bastard sword named Shi’nar, crafted for her by Ub’rick the Hammer, a Vulpine smith. Shi’nar is infused with Ub’rick’s mana, allowing it to attract, absorb, and redirect fire both mundane and magical. She also carries multiple daggers on her person for emergencies, with one on her hip, one in a boot sheath, and one hidden inside the bulk of her left gauntlet. Her left eye was replaced by a prosthetic devised by the Magistrix Neraia (see Knight #86.) The replacement is not functional as an eye, but acts as her ace in the hole. The surface of the eye is covered with several magical runes, and depending on their orientation the eye when it is opened can act as a magical focus, unleashing simple and inflexible but powerful spells fueled by Nikara’s will. For the most part they are simple elemental effects, with a couple of enchantments. While she does not wear it any longer, she still maintains her old armor from her mercenary days: an incredibly heavy and imposing suit of interlocking ebony plates, covered in sharp edges, dangerous blades, and short spikes. The armor served very well to conceal her identity, including her actual gender, with a full helm resembling some fearsome mythical beast, with a pair of forward-curved horns on the sides and narrow slits to allow for vision, albeit in a limited cone. She also keeps with her from these days her trusty Half-Nightmare steed, Sydney, a massive horse with eyes like dim coals, black hair, and a brilliant red mane and tail. He is the oldest friend she has.
Kinks and Sexuality:
Nikara generally comes off as a non-sexual creature. She seems to have no real personal kinks to speak of, and doesn’t seem to actively pursue romantic entanglements. She is not put off by the sexuality of others, but does not get flustered by things like nudity either. She seems genuinely happy to see fellow knights getting along, and is actually at her heart a hopeless romantic. After watching her fiance meet the guillotine and slaying a young necromancer she fell for as a mercenary with her own hands when he lost his grip on sanity, she’d settled with the belief that that sort of thing just isn’t in the cards for her.More recent events have seen Nikara with a paramour, and recent actions and efforts have brought out her dormant passions. This has sometimes made those who have known her for some time a bit uncomfortable, as she still has a tendency to speak rather frankly about everything.
Nikara was born to General Mikhail Ereatha, a prominent military commander in the kingdom sometimes called “The Great Mountain” for his huge stature and defensive expertise. Her mother died in childbirth. Her family, though small at this point, was considered nobility for a history of military service, but with Nikara as an only child and her mother dead, her family’s future was in question. With the kingdom in decline, her father simply never had the time (or, truthfully, the desire) to seek another wife. He lavished his daughter with affection, though, and did his best to make sure she wanted for nothing. She was well educated, and trained in etiquette, swordplay, and military tactics. Even at an early age she was presented as a lady and prospective bride, and though Nikara loathed the idea and simply wanted to be a soldier like her father, she played along with it so as not to disappoint him.
It was when she was 18 that the worst possibility came to pass. Her father, while returning from a peacekeeping mission, encountered a Dragon. He slew the horrid beast, but at the cost of his own life, as well as the men under his command. Disaster followed for her house, of which Nikara was the last member. The man she’d been engaged to was found guilty of treason and put to death. A massive fire broke out, destroying most of their property, and looters proceeded to clean the out of almost all of their remaining wealth. Thanks to angry families of the men slain under her father’s command, the Ereatha’s lost so much face that her chances of becoming a military officer herself went up in smoke. Finally, she took what little money remained and vanished.
As the kingdom’s decline worsened, the Ereatha family was quickly forgotten as simply another victim of the kingdom’s fall. The struggle to survive became more important than history. It was many months before Nikara returned, her identity hidden behind an ebony helm and her new pseudonym, Bloodmane. She became a lone mercenary, doing what it took to survive in this world, and very quickly gained a great deal of notoriety for her skill and brutality. She always saw a job through, but once she got her payment, that loyalty was just as quickly forgotten. She paid little mind to Heart’s early rise, only looking forward to the next battle, feeling as though she had nothing else to live for, and no other purpose but to fight. Bloodmane was soon regarded as greater than many soldiers combined, and the prices she commanded for service reflected this.
Eventually though, just as she reached a new low, her life finally turned around. The tale is best told in her own words, as she spoke to her closest confidant among the Knights, Magistrix Neraia.
_"I was on the road alone…of course, back then I was always alone. A rising warlord in the south had paid me a good bit to patrol his roads for a while…he expected some kind of imminent attack. Frankly, the guy was was totally paranoid, there was nothing even worth taking in his little shithole holdings, so I figured it’d be boring but easy money. It was my third night in that I spotted the Princess…she might as well have been traveling alone, it was just her and a group of four obvious greenhorns. I’ve never been too great at stealth tactics, but they weren’t exactly traveling quietly.
I just had to wait in the right spot, and it was easy to get the jump on them. Two of her guard dropped on my first pass, definitely out of the fight but not dead…the other two moved to protect her as I moved in for another pass. She drew a sword too, and I gotta say I was pleased to see it. The girl clearly knew how to use it, but those knights of hers were gonna put themselves in front. Not gonna drop any names, but I’ll be honest, they put up a pretty good fight. It didn’t last, though…I got the two of them out of the way, leaving just me and Heart.
“You know who I am, Princess? I think you should put that sword down and make this easy…I’m not looking to hurt you, not with the ransom I could get for a girl like you.” A small part of me was hesitant…not just from what was left of my conscience, but from that look in her eyes. I hadn’t seen fierce defiance like that in my life.
“Not a chance.” She raised her sword and moved in a flash, instantly putting me on the defensive. Not since sparring with my father had I experienced such a rush, such an intense fight. Her blade couldn’t really get through my armor too easily, so I stayed on the defensive until I figured her out. I adjusted my style to suit her moves and countered. It went back and forth this way for a while…I really couldn’t tell you how long the fight went, but we just kept learning from each other and adapting. We didn’t just learn how the other fought, though…it felt like we were holding a whole conversation with our swords. Excuse the cliche.
She finally figured out a weakness I couldn’t counter, though. I swung horizontally, and she ducked my blade, slipping in behind it and pushing the backside of my sword to push me off-balance. She ducked down into my helm’s blindspot…I couldn’t see her through my helm, not until her sword came up and right through the eye slit on the left side of my helm.
The pain was worse than anything I’d felt in my life, and with a quick flourish she sliced down and up, giving me this ol’ scar you see right here, making sure my eye was good and ruined, and flinging off my helm in the process. I stumbled back, consciousness briefly slipping as one of my knees gave out…I clutched a hand to my left eye, struggling through the shock and pain to look up towards her with my one good eye. Her bloodied sword was lowered. I’ll never forget that look of compassion in her eyes. It was strength. It told me that, as I was, I never stood a chance of beating her, that for all of my experience and talent, I could never win.
Then…then my conscience finally caught up with me, as I knelt there bleeding. I looked back at my life since my father had died, at all the things I’d done to fight, to survive. It was all so empty and pointless…my heart began to hurt almost as much my eye. I clenched my fists and lowered my head. “Go ahead,” I told her, “you win. Finish it.” I closed my eye and exhaled. I was ready to die. I felt like I deserved it. I sat there for what felt like an eternity…and I heard her sword being sheathed. I craned my neck up, and saw her extending a hand to me.
“I do know who you are,” she said as I stared at her offered hand. “Nikara Ereatha. Not everyone forgot about you, or your father. I won’t take your life.”
“If not my life, then take my service! Give me something to fight for…something just and right. I will pledge my service to you…it’s the least I can do to atone.” She smiled to me and nodded, and I slowly took her hand, pushing back to my feet. “I’m sorry about your guard…let me help you tend to them first.”
We helped the ones I’d incapacitated, got to shelter and did what we could for the time being. Only then did I allow myself to pass out from blood loss and pain."_Trust came slowly for Nikara, though her loyalty to ‘Princess Heart’ never wavered once after she joined her service. Those who joined after her didn’t have that same level of distrust, but she still generally kept to herself, and never discussed her past as Bloodmane. Her tactical expertise and natural leadership talents saw her placed as a Captain in fairly short order, where she regularly took command of volunteer and specialist groups for dangerous missions, rather than leading a regular unit. She vowed to herself to never be like her father. Her only standing order for anyone under her command was “you are not allowed to die before me.” It was not long after her promotion that she met Magistrix Neraia. Circumstances saw the two drinking together for a while, and eventually they were tipsy enough that Neraia had the nerve to ask Nikara about her eye and her past…and Nikara was feeling open enough to actually tell her about it. She had kept her scars and missing eye, not allowing them to be healed by the Clerics, as a reminder of her oath. The Magistrix, however, proposed an alternative to healing: an enchanted prosthetic that would serve to augment her combat abilities, while at the same time preventing the wound from actually being healed. She accepted the offer, but kept it largely secret from others. It would be her trump card in the future. A recent magical incident involving the interaction of a powerful mind-altering spell influencing her while battling a Shaiton has left her mind and presence in the world permanently altered. To those native to Endvale, her mind is scrambled and alien, and attempts to read her thoughts or communicate with her telepathically generally result in incredibly dangerous magical feedback, while attempts to manipulate her thoughts or actions with magic are unreliable at best. Additionally, she appears as a ‘blank’ on the tapestry of fate: attempts to divine or scry her invariably fail, and her direct influence is never taken into account in prophetic visions. She returned from an undercover mission to Veritas with a small mercenary troupe in tow, whom she uses most of her meager stipend as a Knight to keep on retainer now should she need them. They consist of Winifred the Arkazi medic, Gunther the Storm Giant archer, Vincent Simmons the Human vagabond, Laura Bailey the Human chef extraordinaire, Quincey the Mole Seed monk, and Vera the Shade illusionist. They are a somewhat rambunctious but loyal group, and would have followed Nikara even without the money. Not that they’d ever tell her to stop paying them…