Throughout her life and just like her ancestors, Catina has always possessed deep black hair and eyes, never shifting towards different colors in her growth. She had average light skin, and nowadays generally made sure it stayed clean of blemish and dirt. Her hair was long and could easily fall down to her shoulders, but it was almost always tied up in a ponytail. Her figure was slim and toned, with an average oval face.
Her clothing or gear largely depended on her location, the time of day, or situation. While ruling or roaming the City, she abandoned the noble tradition of wearing a gown or dress, instead wearing brown cloth garments with an engraved ceremonial chestpiece over her upper torso. On the left side of her waist would rest her sword and sheathe, her weapon of choice being a bastard sword. In times of more diplomatic import, she added engraved gauntlets, leg-plates, and boots into the mix.
When sleeping or keeping to herself, she bore a comfortable white gown with a thigh-holster for a knife, too paranoid to sleep in simple undergarments. Generally speaking, though, her wardrobe was comparatively simpler compared to most nobles and even her own family.
Catina was a good-natured woman behind the walls, but when it came to politics and governing, she was very detached. She kept a clear mind and opinion for the sake of objectivity, putting the survival and thrival of her lands and family above the personal interests of the nobility. Unfortunately there were times when her anger surpassed her objectivity, and when it did, it was usually severe. She rarely shows mercy in the case of revenge, and when called upon to make a ruling in her court, she could be quite harsh when presented with sadistic or perverted criminals.
She was very caring with her family, largely responsible for taking care of her youngest brother, Cristian, and kept a good relationship with both of her brothers. She lived with them both in the Hollow Keep, their only other family company being their grandmother Sabina, and their cousin Waltir.
She was largely admired by the smallfolk, both for her beauty and charisma, though this contributed to the rift between her and the other noble houses ruling in the Kingsland. When off the seat of Caden she was very social, often walking through the city with a couple Hollow Guards and conversing with peasants or drinking in the taverns. This attitude and the recovery of Brand's economy post-rebellion made her somewhat of an idol to the citizens of Brand, something that she takes with a grain of embarrassment.
Catina was born on September 9th, 328 AC to parents Gabryel and Adriana Sewick, the pair's firstborn child. Catina's pregnancy came as a relief to House Sewick, the ruling couple of Caden had been thus far unable to sire any children. In most noble nations, a daughter would have been a disappointment, but with House Sewick's age-old cognatic inheritance, noble women inherited on the same terms as men. This policy saved House Sewick from a political collapse ages past, and because of it, Catina was the first in line to Caden and the seat of Brand.
Adriana was mostly responsible for raising Catina in her early childhood, due to the family's belief that family should be raised by family, and she did her best to impart a sense of compassion and elegance upon her daughter. While she certainly failed to make a Lady out of Catina, she instilled a sense of sympathy in her that would persist for her entire life. She spent most of her childhood an only child, and was struck with jealousy when she discovered that Adriana had become pregnant with another child, her younger brother Beniamin. For most of Beniamin's early childhood, Catina was cold and mean to her new young brother, struck with a childish jealousy of losing her mother's attention.However, at age 13, Catina's mother Adriana giving birth to Cristian Sewick, the world being thrust into perspective and the mourning pushed her to make amends with Beniamin, and the two formed a close bond in raising Cristian together. This is when Catina's father, Gabryel, took over Catina's education. Determined that Catina would not be stigmatized for being a female ruler, he had her trained by officers among Caden's Knights in combat, and ensured that the training was harsh. Spending all her time raising her youngest brother and learning to wield a sword or bear armor taught her patience and discipline, and more importantly hardened her in preparation to rule in a cold world.
At age 15, she was made an official squire of a high ranking Caden Knight, Sir Edryck Lane, who's sole duty was managing the guards of Brand's keep. As both a squire and page, she learned details of politics and intrigue in preparation for becoming a Duchess.
In her 17th year on the world, tragedy struck House Sewick with the assassination of Gabryel Sewick, Catina's father. This was a hard blow to the family, Catina silently wept through her coronation as Duchess in 345 AC, and sat stone-faced through her painting. Those behind the assassination were the noble House Hewell, who believed Catina would be a weak ruler and planned to overthrow her. However, House Hewell were discovered as the perpetrators when the assassin was caught and confessed, as opposite of what House Hewell believed, Lady Catina was merciless. The castle and town that House Hewell ruled over were revoked and given to House Lane, and the entire Hewell family(Father, Mother, Uncle, and Son) were executed publicly without last words or prayer.
This event came as a shock, but it was a useful display, showing Caden that Lady Sewick would be a firm and strong ruler. The execution was her first ruling as Duchess, and despite the harshness of rendering House Hewell extinct, she states to any who ask that she has no regrets concerning it.
The Espionage Laws
Though espionage in the realm was never truly legal, few laws directly concerned it and sentences against espionage could be lax, depending on the crime. Still in mourning of her father, the new Lady Sewick quickly drafted a new set of laws for Caden, with the help of Albyrt Ardelen and Saylon Hawthill. The Espionage Laws made the Caden stance on spies much harsher and colder. The Laws also established official citizenship and a more organized tax system within Caden. Though these laws greatly affected Caden's economy and tourism, they were christened the Epsionage Laws by Catina herself. Despite the initial anger at registration and searching, the peasantry grew to appreciate the Laws heavily, as they made Caden significantly safer and taxing more efficient and easier. They were finally published and enacted on October 12th, 345 AC. The acts are written as so:
Act 1. All acts of Espionage, Deceit, Bribery, Extortion, Blackmail, and Fraud without the express permission of Duchess Catina Sewick are hereby punishable by hanging from the neck until dead. Act 2. Entrance and departure from Brand will now be monitored and controlled by Caden officials, all who enter and leave will be subject to search and possible seizure. Tourists to the city must request a passport and go through the payment process outside the City. High nobility are exempt from this Act with specification from Duchess Catina Sewick or Chancellor Albyrt Ardelen. Act 3. Official registry and citizenship will now be enforced within the Dukedom of Caden, all families will be required to register themselves and their children with the new registration office. Taxmen will be replaced with Registration Officials, who will both collect the tax and register families. The only requirement of citizenship is residence within Caden for one year. Citizenship cannot be lost unless specially revoked in court.
346 AC Rebellion
Though a portion of Caden's levies raised during the war, Lady Catina had them tasked with defending the borders of Caden from invasion or sacking. Personally believing the war to be a lost cause, The Lady Sewick ensured that Caden would protect itself, though a contingency of Caden Knights led by Sir Waltir Sewick were instructed to join the war effort as not to give the House Dragomyr the impression that they were abandoning them. The war was considered highly damaging to Caden's economy, with the outskirts taking the worst of the hit. The Civil War caused a large lapse in trade caravans going in and out, almost halting the flow of currency entering Caden. Another effect of the war was the influx of bandits, a large, organized bandit faction only known as the Wayward Sun Warband rising up and building fortifications in Caden's more distant borders.
By the end of the war Caden ended up losing the region of Manewall as well as the large town within, Elorin. The Count of Manewall used the war to stage his own personal uprising, personally dealing with the Wayward Sun Warband (who Catina had refused to route armies to deal with), and rebelling for independence. The region was a small part of Caden, and was considered destitute and thus, Lady Catina Sewick deigned to grant Manewall its independence rather than spend more lives trying to keep it.
The Knights of Catina and the Hollow Guard
The war opened Catina's eyes to the fact that her new laws only served to make Caden safer from within. She realized that if Caden was to remain independant, it needed a stronger, more forboding standing army. Caden Knights were famed for their imposing armor and the huge black horses they rode, but they weren't strictly organized and were hardly a standing force on their own. Thus, Catina ordered the christening of a new knightly order to represent and defend Caden, known simply as the Knights of Catina. This order of Knights recruited both Knights and Man-At-Arms, organizing into almost a dozen combat units of heavily armored, mounted knights. However, a few of these units had other duties. Two units of the knights were charged with guarding Brand, and were trained to conduct the necessary searches of those who enter and depart from the city. The replacement of the City Watch with the Knights led to another decrease in crime, and made the searches almost impossible to avoid, as the Knight's physically barred entry until a search was complete.The last unit of the Knight's of Catina was a special unit solely designed to guard the Hollow Keep and District, christened the Hollow Guard, to be commanded by Sir Edryck Lane. The more distinguished or better trained Knight's were selected for entry as they were to be involved in keeping the nobles of Caden safe. Catina specifically had new gear crafted for the Hollow Guard, their equipment consisting of heavy leather with a hidden plate chestpiece beneath the torso cover. Their helmets were designed to look similar to executioner's hoods, and made so that you couldn't see the eyes of those wearing one. A special weapon-type was also commissioned for the Guard, known as the Hook. The Hook was made so that the head of the hook could be slipped around the neck of an aggressor quickly. If the aggressor attempted to yank his head out, the Hollow Guard could angle the weapon so that his neck would be slashed or stabbed by one of the interior spikes. The Guard also carried buckler shields around their backs, as well as two curved swords at their waists, as the Hook was more designed for controlling unruly citizens and intimidation than it was as a weapon of practicality.
Catina was very close and friendly with the rest of her living family, and she was unceremoniously named the Head of the house a couple years after her coronation. Her somewhat more distant relatives, her Uncle and Cousin, were both well employed and welcome within the Hollow Keep at any point. Sir Waltir Sewick, her cousin, was made the Knight-Lord of the Knight's of Catina in 8E 346, and Merril Sewick was the Count of Theirin, the largest county within Caden. Her relationship with her grandmother and two brothers was strong, the lot of them spent a good deal of time together in the Hollow Keep when she wasn't ruling.
The Lane family were prominent landowners in Caden, governing over the County of Newan, and were considered a syncretic house to House Sewick, the two families being strong and historical allies. Sir Edryck Lane was made the Commander of the Hollow Guard, and his brother Toryll Lane was the Count of Newan. Cyran Lane, son of Edryck, was the provincial governor of Theirin. Thus, while the Lane family was largely split apart in Caden, they were very influential within the dukedom, and well respected by House Sewick, especially Catina herself, as Sir Edryck Lane was once her tutor and trainer.
This small noble house governed no fiefs, rather it was a cadet house of House Sewick living within Brand's Hollow District. The head of the house, Albyrt Ardelen, served as Lady Catina Sewick's chancellor, and Catina held him with a great amount of trust and respect. The House itself was one of the few welcome within the Hollow Keep, alongside House Lane, and would often be invited to great feasts within the Keep.
Lady Catina's interaction with House Dragomyr was unfortunately small, and she had never personally met King Aegor IV Dragomyr, or his son Taeronys. Despite this, she held a highly fair opinion of them due to their reputation and the respect they commanded. King Aegor IV's instability and madness led to Catina keeping a wary opinion of him, but was careful to never to speak such things aloud.
Albyrt Ardelen, Chancellor of Caden
Albyrt of House Ardelen has served as Chancellor of Caden for roughly six years, and is considered to be an astute though apathetic man. Catina noted him as being detached from the world directly around him, as if his mind was always on other Kingdom's and nations and their relations with the dukedom.
Saylon Hawthill, Steward of Caden
Saylon Hawthill was one of the two more recent additions to the council, being hired to replace his father, Cedor, just a few months after Catina's coronation as Duchess. Saylon was a cheery man, who took his job with a grain of happiness, simply pleased to be alive. Catina considered him overly-optimistic and naive, but also noted that it made him more trustworthy.
Sir Venn Calyth, Spymaster of Caden
Venn Calyth is the only official Spymaster in Caden, the other Houses forbidden to employ one for their council. Unbenownst to most but Catina and her council, a fourth special unit of the Knight's of Catina was organized, one based in intrigue and espionage, headed by Venn. Venn was gruff and considered a realist, and took his job very seriously. Catina respected him for his uncanny ability to catch spies in the realm seemingly the day they arrive.
Sir Waltir Sewick, Marshal of Caden
Knight-Lord of the Knight's of Catina and the realm's Marshal, Sir Waltir Sewick advised Catina on all matters military, as well as occasionally teach her about them. Waltir Sewick was a loyal, determined man, who ensured that the Knight's of Catina did their duty. Despite being his cousin, Catina considers him a mentor, and holds him in high regard.
Catina's actions in roleplay will be chaptered here.