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The Secret History of Sun County: the Goldbreath family

The current head of the Goldbreath family is Vega's father Phaestus. He's in many ways the perfect Yelmalian: upright, honourable, teetotal, totally convinced that the purpose of "noble" families is to protect the land and the people, would never deliberately do an unkind deed, etc. Look at the types regarded as ideal Roman citizens and you'll get the idea. He's also an acolyte of Yelmalio: mainly an honorary title out of respect for his deeds in the past.

Naturally he expects the same from his children. He wouldn't dream of being cruel in any way, but total perfection 100% of the time is expected as normal, and certainly isn't grounds for praise. Oh, and showing affection is unmanly, even if he knew how.

The eldest child, Jovian, was born in 1580. He's not particularly competent or bright, and soon realised that he would never have any chance of pleasing his father, so he might as well please himself instead. Drinking, gambling, whatever looks like fun.

In 1583 the twins, Vega and Penta, were born,and their mother died in childbirth. Vega is the elder by a few minutes. From now on the children were brought up by a series of servants. Again, Phaestus expected perfection from his childrena t all times, but Vega and Penta could actually cope with this sort of pressure: just. Having each other for support may have helped. They both developed an obsession with perfectionism: second place in anything was never going to be enough. They also kept to their father's ideals of loyalty to the country. The point where they diverged was in how to apply their talents.

Penta went for the traditional Sun County female career, but taken to extremes. She devoted herself to religious affairs and acquiring a good husband. A naturally bright girl, she became a priestess of Voria on attaining adulthood (this is a "fast track" to Ernalda priestess). Arrranging a suitable marriage, and having her first child, would take more time, but in every other way she qualified as a full priestess of Ernalda very fast indeed, and her rapid elevation once the first child appeared was taken for granted.

(Incidentally to my mind what makes a good priestess, apart from the technicalities of lore and ceremony, is the ability to completely submerge your personality and hand over control to the relevant deity when needed. One of the main differences between the sisters is that Penta is excellent at this, whereas Vega will never hand over control of anything to anyone.)

Meanwhile Vega was going for success in a less traditional manner. When she and Penta were fourteen, they were sent to the Lhankor Mhy temple in Pavis to finish their education. Big brother Jovian was supposed to look after them, and of course messed it up. They ended up getting rescued by a bunch of Vingans, and it was them who gave Vega her first lessons in combat. (Well, who else could it have been?). In particular, one of the junior initiates, only about 16 herself, gave Vega a lot of help and support in those first few years. Kid called Kallyr: you may have heard of her. Quite how the Vingans managed to put up with Vega is a good question: at 14 she was arrogant, stubborn, and full of her noble family and its inherent superiority to barbarians. They supported the idea of a woman getting a foothold in the chauvinistic Sun Dome, but I suspect if all the initiates present had been normal Vingans she would have been given up as a bad job. Fortunately Kallyr was around, at 16 was nearly as annoying as Vega though in a different way ("they only out-number us 10 to 1, let's attack!"), and found the "ancient & noble family" line quite amusing. And, unlike most of the rest, she could identify with the perfectionism and insistence on being the best even if it meant practising twenty-four hours a day. They became quite good friends.

Once she was sure of success, Vega managed to pick a fight with her brother at a time when her father would witness it, and beat him. She then had some grounds for insisting that if Jovian was good enough to be a Yelmalio initiate, so was she. Yelmalio seemed to agree (spear mastery as an initiation gift). She then went on with her carefully planned strategy of taking all the militia duty she could get (making her popular with the blokes who didn't want to do it) and fighting duels with anyone who said anything derogatory. Some adventuring came into the picture as well, in her free time, usually with her Vingan contacts. [If you accept my story about Kallyr, we have an addition here. It was during this period that Kallyr did the heroquest that gave her her link with Polaris. I think Vega was one of her team. All of them got Polaris-related gifts: Vega's was an enhancement of her existing talent for strategy, logistics, and planning. And, perhaps, having being joined in a HQ Ring aided their communication later?]

Eventually Vega got notorious enough that she got into the Templars. One noticeable point about her career from this point onwards is how carefully it was planned. None of those duels were in the heat of the moment, the opponents were chosen for maximum effect.

Meanwhile Penta's efforts at snaring a worthy husband were paying off. Solanthos, not yet Count but already on his way to the top, proposed to her. (His lack of money, the life-style required of a Light Son, and Penta's dowry may have had something to do with this!). There was just one obstacle: Vega, as the elder, had to marry first. She had no interest in doing so, and finding her a groom was obviously going to be difficult even if she was willing to cooperate. However she did care a lot about her sister's happiness. When Penta pleaded with her to give her her chance, they had a long hard think about the strategic advantages of marriage as a route to the top. (The concept of love didn't occur to either of them!). Vega had heard that Invictus, already a Light Son, had expressed interest in her. "Target!".

To start with, she attracted a bit more attention by picking duels with his bodyguards (and winning, of course). Penta approved, noted Invictus's chivalric tendencies, and offered advice on the next step: "let him think he's rescuing you." Vega didn't really like this idea, but it seemed to work. After a few seasons of increased attentions and promotion, Invictus spoke to her father, who was delighted, and then proposed to Vega, offering her a life of luxury, no need for all this fighting and danger and hardship.... Vega revolted. She was still loyal to her sister, but this was too much. Shocking both her father and her suitor, she refused to marry except as equals, which meant she had to become a Light Lady first. There was no question of her technical competence for the role, but Sun Dome prejudices meant she would need a lot of support to get the promotion.

There was of course considerable argument about this. Invictus was persuaded to support her, her father supported her, once the position was made clear Solanthos suppported her (though grudgingly). The final, and possibly deciding factor, was the Lunar influence. In 1610 the Lunars had taken Prax, and their alliance was important. They supported the idea of a woman being able to rise to the top, and the Count yielded to their arguments. (Vega didn't actually like this too much, since most of her early opinions on the Lunars had been by way of Kallyr, but she knew better than to look a gift horse in the mouth).

So in 1611 Vega became a Light Lady. Invictus proposed again in public ten minutes later and was accepted. A massive joint wedding for both couples was arranged, and all the song-writers turned out slushy nonsense for seasons to come.