Lord Sir Aeston
Lady Dame Areni
Lord Sir Gwen
Elder Sir Duncan
Elder Sir Da'oud
Sir Symir
Sir Kyntela
Dame Taliea
Sir Elouan
Sir Kyro
Squire Charlotte
Squire Hildegard
Squire Asharn
Squire Bree
Squire Isla
Lord Aeryk
Lady Aelise
Sir Cedric
Lady Fallon
Lady Damona
Lady Aderyn
Briar Rose




Lord Sir Gwen Stromgate

I have never considered myself to be particularly good with words, and I generally leave the talking to Lord Sir Aeston, if the truth is to be told. However, I am proud to share the tale of how I became a lord of Rhiassa, because any successes I have had in the past decade are surely because of the love and support that has been given so freely by my friends and family in the Realms. Someone wise once said that we should never congratulate or berate ourselves too much, because everyone’s choices are half chance. I believe that this is true of my life--there are moments of choice and decision that certainly have defined my path, but there are also many things that seem to have simply been fate. I endeavor, in telling this tale to you, to inspire you to embrace both your fate and your agency.

We cannot control where we come from, but for most, our childhoods mold our character and values, and these are the things that shape the rest of our lives. I was raised in the rugged north mountains surrounded by a loving family and close friends. My life was filled with the labors that are necessary to survive in such a harsh environment and we farmed when the weather was fair, and prepared always for the long winters that lay ahead. I learned early that hardwork and dedication were necessary to survival, but also that love and family are necessary for true happiness. I truly loved my family, and I enjoyed sharing in the fruits of our labor, despite it being the sort of backbreaking work that has the potential to wear out those who lack love and connection. However, despite it all, I was never truly content to live the same life day in and day out. I feared that I might never see the world or experience all that life had to offer. So although it pained me to leave them all behind, I snuck out one autumn evening with some supplies that I had been carefully hiding all summer long. I did not say goodbye, because I feared that I would not have the strength to leave, and yet, I knew my path lay elsewhere. I did not seek glory or fame, but simply longed to know, and see, and do all that I could.

I followed the night sky southward. As I traveled, I made many acquaintances, but failed to find any place where I felt the love and connection that I had felt in my home. Often I wondered if leaving had been nothing other than the worst mistake of my life. I questioned myself constantly, assuming that shortly I would have to return, empty-handed, and hope that my family would once again take me in. However, as is often the case with fate, right when I was ready to abandon the path that I was on, I happened upon just the thing to set me straight again. One evening, a companion I had met on the road and I happened along an open field containing a most curious sight. There were dozens of young men and women fighting each other with swords. They seemed to be doing so in high spirits, and so I walked over and asked their leader to explain what was going on. This was the first time that I met Aeston, and he seemed to me a most intimidating character. He explained that the young heroes were training so that they might defeat dangerous foes and prove themselves worthy. This was also the night that I met, rather fortuitously, those who I would someday regard as my best friends and countrywomen: Kyntela, Taliea, and Morgana. We became the closest of friends, and learned and trained under Aeston and later Da’oud for many seasons. As time went on, my friends and mentors convinced me to explore the greater lands of the Realms with them, and so again, I found myself facing my greatest fear as I traveled to the the lands of Creathorne with them for the first time. And again, as is often the case as my story progresses, I realized that fear of the unknown is often greater than the fear of the thing itself. Upon arrival, my trepidation melted away; I had finally found my place in the Realms. Slowly at first, and then more quickly, I found in myself a desire to be better, and that desire was nurtured by those who led Rhiassa. I asked to join the lands of Rhiassa formally in 1009.

It was during these times that I began to lose my way again, concerned with more mundane things that often distract us from our true purpose. Although I continued to fight with them and work to improve our country as a vassal for many years, it wasn’t until I watched my close friend Kyntela grow under her squireship to Aeston, that I realized that I too perhaps had the passion and potential to attain knighthood. I wavered many times, wondering if I was good enough, if I really had what it took to someday be called a knight. For you see, although it is clear to me now that Aeston had intended it all along, I was stubborn and refused to start my path of squireship until I knew that I was ready to throw myself headfirst into carrying myself as a knight. I have always believed two things: that anything worth doing is worth doing right and that people must become knights in their hearts before they can every be seen as knight by anyone else. These strongly held beliefs meant that I was slow to decide my path, but that once I finally asked to become Aeston’s squire, I was truly ready to dedicate myself to Rhiassa and the Realms.

Through my squireship, I learned a great deal about myself and the Realms. I learned practical skills like bridge building. I ventured into the far off lands of the Realms to help defeat evil wizards with Kyntela and Aeston and Rhiassa at my side. I finally learned all of the rules of the Queen of Hearts war maneuvers. But what I really learned was how to become a leader in my own right. In 1012 I became the feastocrat for Feast of Leviathan and started to learn how to trust in my own instincts. What’s more special perhaps, is when I realized that others trusted my decisions too. It was just a few years later that I became rather nostalgic for my old life, and for my family. I wanted to share with them my successes and help them to see that I had not abandoned our old life for no reason. They had instilled the values in me that had shaped my whole life, and through grit and determination I was able to act on those values. I wanted them to see the person I had become. It was under this mood that I decided that the time was right for my family to come visit, and at what better place than feast hall at Leviathan. So in 1015, I invited my first family to travel from the far north to visit me in the place that I had adopted as my home. It was a joyous reunion, and one where I was finally able to show, not through words, but through actions, that I was truly where I was meant to be. It was in front of my friends and family at that Leviathan that I was recognized as Knight of Rhiassa and as a Knight of the Eternal Flame.

Having these responsibilities now officially conferred on my shoulders, I redoubled my efforts to become the best version of myself possible, trying always to uphold the values upon which I was raised, and those that I had adopted in my oaths to my two knightly orders. Slowly but surely, I developed confidence in my own experience, despite the constant gnawing fear that I must be missing something, that I couldn’t possibly be good enough to act as leader for the men and women who had joined our Rhiassan family. I think that perhaps that is the untold story of leadership, that the struggle between confidence and self-reflection is both necessary, and often uncomfortable. If you lean too much in either direction, you are surely lost. Therefore, to me, knighthood is not a constant state of being, but rather it is something that is constantly evolving, and we evolve with it. And it was with this sense of evolution that I entered my current phase in these Realms. It was my greatest wish to become the next lord of Rhiassa, but I simply couldn’t bear the thought of taking that title if it meant that my best friends and mentors would not also be there beside me. To the untrained eye, it may appear to be a choice made out of fear, but I can unequivocally say that it was made out of love. Today I stand before the Realms as a lord of the nation that I love and now am called sister by the people I have long considered my family. But there is a moral to this (unfinished) story that I want to try to articulate before we part. I didn’t get to choose where I grew up, it was only through chance that I found these lands, I suffered moments of paralyzing doubt and indecision, and yet, despite all of these things, there were moments of great triumph and action and hard work on my part, and to ignore them is to spread a false narrative about the ways of the world. And so, I suppose the moral of the story is this: we don’t always get to choose our circumstances, but we do always get to choose how to respond to them. May you always make the choice that brings you the greatest amount of love and happiness in all of your endeavors.