| Astalea Enarwyn|
Portrait by cut-box
August 6, 3 LC
Ambassador to the Apostolic Chancery
The Tempest Concilium
|“||The earth is rough and hard, and yet I know - Rough earth is where the reddest roses grow.||”|
–Dayas Theledrin, "Firefly"
The high elf Astalea Enarwyn - once known in Stormwind by her Common mononym "Halle" - has resided in and around Stormwind for over a decade now. Coming from a difficult childhood on Murder Row, Astalea has found many refuges over the years - religion, medicine, crime - under many different names. Currently she goes by the name Selene d'Argente, an expatriate half-elven Lordaeronian priestess. In this iteration of her life, she has fully embraced the faith, and seems to have settled down somewhat, though who is to say whether this conversion is genuine?
Early History Edit
Astalea was born on August 6, three years after the opening of the Dark Portal. Her mother Amara, a magistrix, was unmarried at the time and hailed from the venerable Enarwyn family of Tranquillien. While not a noble house, the Enarwyns had a long, rich history with the Farstriders, with many Enarwyns commanding detachments and achieving personal notoriety on the battlefield. The patriarch of the family, Yssendir, worked diligently to make the Enarwyn name as great in honor, if not prestige, as the established noble houses of Silvermoon, and so his great-granddaughter's birth out of wedlock was a source of great shame for the family. As such, when he discovered that Amara had begun studying the demonic magics of the invading Orcs, he exiled her and her young daughter from the family, stripping them of whatever security they had.
Amara and Astalea would spend the next few years staying with various friends across southern Quel'Thalas; these retreats would last anywhere from a few months to a mere couple of days. Amara's refusal to give up her studies into the fel quickly alienated her from all but the closest of her friends, and by the time Astalea was five Amara had exhausted all her resources and was forced to rent the basement of the Murder Row home of the returning Second War veteran Ballerion. At this point, Amara had been ostracized from the magisterial community as well, leaving her daughter to later speculate that Ballerion was paid in sexual favors rather than the little money Amara had left to her name. Ballerion was an unpleasant landlord, constantly angry or drunk - or both - but this period of Astalea's life would be relatively stable. It was at this point that Amara instructed Astalea to begin going by the pseudonym Haldriah Evergreen, in order to distance herself from her disgraced mother and keep her from the prying eyes of her family's allies.
Amara, lacking the resources to hire a tutor for Haldriah, would begin to teach her herself. This was a faltering process at best, as Haldriah's curiosity and impetuousness would often lead her to learn things she shouldn't. The first words Haldriah read were not Thalassian but Eredun off a scroll on her mother's desk. Amara, not possessing a library of Thalassian works, became reliant on a collection of poetry of Ballerion's to teach her daughter how to read. This collection of poetry - "Firefly and Other Songs of the Troll Wars" - was written by famous Troll Wars-era poet Dayas Theledrin, whose works would fascinate Haldriah for the rest of her life, even inspiring her later professional moniker "Firefly". Haldriah's intense fascination with his works would also inspire Amara to begin pushing her daughter towards an apprenticeship as a scribe. By the time Haldriah was ten, she was literate and running errands for the local scribe Alysseria, and by the time she was twelve she was officially apprenticed. This apprenticeship provided Haldriah with alternative housing, separating her from her mother for extended periods of time for the first time in her life; despite the initial feeling of loss, Haldriah soon found her life growing in ways she had not anticipated. Free of the circumstances and stigma of Murder Row and the oppression of Ballerion, Haldriah began to find herself a social life. When she was thirteen, she met a fellow apprentice named Eld’essoril, two years older than herself, with whom she struck up a deep friendship; by the time she was fourteen, she had become romantically involved with him. By this point he was nearing the end of his apprenticeship and she was not far behind, and the possibility of an actual life away from the shadow of her mother's exile seemed very strong.
Unfortunately, this was not to be. While the exact circumstances are not known - Haldriah thankfully was not present - on October 16 of the Year 18, Ballerion and Amara had a fight that became physical and resulted in the deaths of both at the hands of Ballerion's broadsword. Upon hearing this, Haldriah became distraught and cut off her relationship with Eld'essoril. Two weeks later she disappeared from Alysseria's home and departed Silvermoon, traveling south on foot. Originally destined for Tranquillien to confront her former family, she passed through the Elven city without stopping and continued south to Lordaeron, using the last of her money and finally resorting to begging to keep herself fed on her southward march. Her Common was passable at best, and she was often turned away by wary Lordaeronian citizens. She eventually made her way down to Tarren Mill, where she took shelter in the local church. The local parish father, Tomás Rosa, discovered her here, but rather than remove her, offered her sanctuary in exchange for performing menial tasks around the church. She eagerly accepted this offer, and over the next year and a half would begin training under Rosa in the ways of the priesthood.
Sister Evergreen Edit
Tomás Rosa was an unusual priest. A conscientious objector to the Second War, he refused to support Lordaeron's military as a healer or chaplain, instead remaining in his parish. He similarly objected to the Alliance Internment Act, believing it inhumane. Accusations of cowardice and treason abounded, but Rosa ignored them; he was beloved in his parish and felt secure in his position there. He firmly believed that the Light being used as a weapon of war was not only wrong but sacrilegious, and this belief was one he passed on to his pupil. Pacifism, tolerance, and a disrespect for authority were all teachings that were well and truly entangled in Haldriah's understanding of the Light. As she progressed in her knowledge of the Light, he began allowing her to aid him in more spiritual ways, helping him prepare sermons and events such as weddings and funerals. She was allowed to wear the white robes of the priesthood, though she had no official recognition from Lordaeron's Church. While Haldriah was never quite as accepted as Rosa - she was, after all, an elf in a rather backwater human town - she found a second home in Tarren Mill and became close to many of the townsfolk.
In the year 20, the Plague of Undeath swept Lordaeron. Many people in neighboring towns began to fall ill, and wizened corpses were wandering the countryside looking for prey. Rosa, foreseeing what would befall his parish, took those well enough and willing to travel and set off south to escape the Plague. Haldriah, only seventeen years old, accompanied him on this fateful journey. Their party was only slightly larger than a dozen people, and the long reach of the Plague continuously pushed them farther south, slowly exhausting their supplies. However, they made it as far as the Redridge Highway before disaster struck. A band of Defias thugs raided their camp early in the morning, demanding all of the refugees' supplies, and Rosa, unwilling to engage in violence to defend the camp, submitted. After stealing the supplies and killing a member of the party, however, the Defias leader, a man named David, dragged Haldriah aside and attempted to rape her. She would manage to draw the man's knife from his belt and cut his throat, saving herself but initiating a bloodbath as the rest of the Defias retaliated against the rest of the refugees. Haldriah fled alone, leaving Rosa and the refugees to their fate. She would arrive in Lakeshire a few days later, half-starved, but thanks to the generosity of the townsfolk would soon recover. It was here that she adopted the mononym "Halle", a bastardization of her old pseudonym Haldriah.
The Traveling Priestess Edit
The hospitality of Lakeshire was not infinite, however; they had their own bellies to fill and ultimately Halle needed to find a means to support herself. Her first thought was to join the Church in Stormwind, but they did not recognize her training as official and expected her to restart her training as an initiate, particularly given the unorthodox philosophy Rosa had espoused. Rejecting this offer, she instead acquired a horse and began retracing the steps she had trudged not that long before, delivering and collecting packages to and from Plague-infested regions no one else was desperate enough to enter. She became known for this among upstanding citizens and shady factions alike, and was paid well for her trouble. Whether by the Light's grace or sheer dumb luck, she survived these runs unscathed, and by the time the chaos of the Third War drew to a close, she had made a respectable independent business as a courier. The end of the war would put an end to this career, however, as more legitimate merchants capable of handling more sizable loads resumed dormant trade routes north, leaving Halle only with the client whose goods were too illicit to be trusted with legitimate merchants. Thus Halle the courier became Halle the smuggler, taking on the moniker she would use for years to come: "Firefly".
This transition was not as difficult as one might think. The routes were largely the same; in fact, many of her routes became more local, allowing her to make more deliveries in a shorter period of time. However, as her profession was no longer aboveboard, she began to adopt more of her old priestess persona, dubbing herself a "traveling priestess" who would travel from town to town sermonizing. At first her preaching was stiff and uninspired, a mere facsimile meant to hide her true profession, but slowly she fell into a rhythm and became something near what one would expect of her sermons nowadays. Her favorite places to preach shifted from church steps to bars and roadside benches, and her favorite targets from the good churchgoing folks to the drunkards and the lost. She became a friend to the friendless, sharing drinks over the good word of the Light, and occasionally an unmarked package destined for the other side of the kingdom. Her desire to remain independent of the criminal syndicates operating in the area - her distaste of the Defias remained strong - kept her operation small but ultimately safe from the notice of the Stormwind Guard for several years.
Her career as an independent smuggler came to a crashing halt with the arrest of a client in 35 LC. Phillip Thorn, an Outland-born alchemist known for making a Felweed concoction known as Orcblood, was tailed to one of Halle's dead-drops by the Guard and caught red-handed. Not only did this cost Halle one of her most valuable drop sites in the City. Thorn was desperate to make a deal to spare himself a long prison sentence in the Stockade, even if this meant ratting on his associates. Within a few days of his arrest, Thorn would brutally commit suicide in his prison cell, bashing his head against the cell walls until he hemorrhaged to death, but it was too late; most of Halle's remaining clientele bolted, unwilling to risk their own drop sites being compromised. Some even suspected Halle of being a rat herself, turning Thorn over to the Guard. A few isolated clients remained, but not enough to keep Halle afloat. By the time of the Legion invasions, Halle was broke, surviving off friends, charity, and brief romantic affairs, much as her mother had decades before.
Tempest Concilium Edit
In early 38 LC, Halle became affiliated with the crime syndicate the Tempest Concilium, soon becoming firmly entangled in its hierarchy; this, just as her independent illicit dealings were before, is not common knowledge. She maintained smuggling operations semi-independently from the Concilium, though she provided such services to them on demand. More often she was called upon as a medic. Most notably she was involved in a gang war between the Concilium and a rival consortium known as Ravenbane, during which time she participated in the interrogation and torture of two Ravenbane affiliates. Her involvement in this event remains unknown even to Ravenbane members, some of whom she developed acquaintanceships with afterward.
During this time, she had the means and impetus to maintain a more permanent residence in Stormwind City. She stayed at the inn known as the Hearth and Hind, becoming a regular sight not only at the inn itself but among its patrons and owners out and about. She also volunteered with the Allied Medical Group as a healer and was a common first-responder to medical emergencies in the City. These two circles, the Hearth and Hind and the AMG, often intersected. Most knew Halle for her colorful sermons, friendly chats with strangers, and the dark chocolate truffles always tucked away in her bag. She was a common sight in the city's taverns and Lion's Rest.
She had notably had one serious romantic relationship during this time, with a human doctor named Kallack Apollyon; this relationship began soon after her arrival to the city in the early spring of 38 LC and ended with his conviction for murder in the fall of that year.
As before, a poorly-vetted client proved to be Halle's downfall. A city watchman named Gregory had provided much of Halle's income in the months after Thorn's arrest, and she maintained him as a client for the next few years, delivering packages from Stormwind City to a drop site in Duskwood. After Apollyon and a patient of his were attacked, she confronted Gregory, believing him to be responsible, and instead discovered that Gregory was something far worse: a banshee, a Forsaken spy. Terrified, she turned to her friends at the Hearth and Hind for help, but they instead reported her to the Stormwind Guard, and she fled the city. The Guard ultimately dismissed the accusation as groundless, but Halle's flight was noticed by Gregory's handler and she was wounded in an ambush in Duskwood. After recuperating, she discarded the Halle mononym and disappeared from the kingdom around the time of the start of the Blood War.
Penitent Priestess Edit
Under the pseudonym Angelline DeVry Thomas, Halle fled northward into Lordaeron, taking shelter with a small religious sect known as the Holy Order of Tyr, which was attempting to revitalize the old Lordaeronian faith free of the corruption of the Scarlet Crusade and Forsaken. After a few weeks, however, the conflict in Lordaeron once again began to escalate, and the Holy Order's hold on their territory was slipping, and the woman now calling herself Angelline once again disappeared. She used her few remaining criminal connections to remain underground during much of the Blood War, namely aboard the ship of fellow smuggler Yssendir Dovesong. When the war began to move away from the Eastern Kingdoms, she parted ways with Dovesong and returned.
She has since adopted a persona similar to that of Angelline, albeit under a different name: Selene d'Argente. She claims to be a half-elven cleric from Tarren Mill and has documents supposedly signed by Bishop Tywin Ladekahn that proclaim her an ordained priestess of the Church of the Holy Light. She has changed her appearance in order to deflect casual suspicions of her previous identity, out of an overabundance of paranoia. Upon her return, she quickly integrated with the Church's new Apostolic Chancery, responsible for missionary and charity work.
Astalea is a rather odd but striking figure. She is of average height for an elf, with a slender, almost gangly build; she by no means seems out of shape but one would call her solid, lithe limbs thin or even sickly before they were called muscular. Her face is plain and wouldn't stand out in a crowd but it is hard to be in her company and not find her pretty, for her radiant jade eyes and dazzling smile if not her features. Her skin is pale and covered with a smattering of light freckles. She has a tattoo on her left arm: the sigil of the Church of the Holy Light engraved on the back of her left hand, the bottom of which is wrapped in a slender vine that curls up her entire arm and blossoms into a rose on the back of her shoulder. The vine is framed by elegant Thalassian script, though the words are small and hard to read for a distance (you'll have to ask!).
"Firefly" by Dayas Theledrin Edit
Oh tell me, Firefly:
Why flies your weary soul away from sleep?
The night is dark, alone your light does fly,
And ev’ry sight you see cuts you so deep;
I know the pain a wounded heart does keep.
My sweet sad Firefly:
A long and lonely vigil you have kept,
O’er darken’d places friends once came to die,
Where bones beneath us lie, silent except
The waters where our bloody tears were wept.
Fear not, my Firefly:
Look now, the blood stops not the river’s flow,
The dead do not – cannot obstruct the sky;
The earth is rough and hard, and yet I know
Rough earth is where the reddest roses grow.
Calm now, dear Firefly:
The night is your domain but day is nigh.
Alight, rest; I shall be your lullaby.