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by Marco Dalmonte

(Belbion, Faña, the Grey Lady, the Inquisitor, Matera, Varellya)
Patroness of War and Conquerors, Patroness of the Heldannic Knights, Patroness of the Kubitts

Level, Alignment, Sphere: 23rd (Empyreal), N, Time
Symbol: two short swords crossed over a vertical spear or a black rampant lion on white field (the Heldannic Knights' standard)
Portfolio: war, conquest, victory, pride, honour, strength, feminine power, birth (only in Milenia)
Worshipped in: Cestia, Davania (Arypt, Brasol, Hinterlands, Meghala Kimata, Pelatan), Isle of Dawn (Ekto, Furmenglaive, Kendach, Redstone, Shadow Coast, West Portage, Westrourke), Hollow World (Kubitts, Merry Pirate Seas, Milenia, Oostdok, Stonehaven), Known World (Karameikos, Heldannic Territories, Thyatis), Norwold (Landfall, Oceansend), Savage Coast (Bellayne, Narvaez, Texeiras, Torreón, Vilaverde)
Appearance: a human woman of medium height with brown eyes and long brown hair worn in a single braid, wearing a red armour with scales of a red dragon, horseman's clothes and spurs on the boots, and carrying a pair of weapons always fastened at the belt (long sword or short sword and spear).
History: Vanya was a brave warrior princess of the Kerendan tribe, who lived in Davania around the VII century BC. Fleeing before the marching forces of the Milenian Empire, Vanya led her own people northwards, together with the ancestors of the Thyatians and the Hattians, looking for a refuge where the Milenians would not pursue them. When it was clear that the only hope lay beyond the ocean and that they needed to abandon their homeland, Vanya formed a battalion of brave soldiers, and with hit-and-run raids she delayed the Milenian troops enough to allow the three tribes to build the ships and to sail northward. This sacrifice cost her freedom, since the survivors of her warband were captured and enslaved by the merciless Milenians. After years of serving her hated enemies as a slave, Vanya was sent near the southern border of the Empire, in the Lower Arypt. Here she found an unlikely ally in a Milenian cleric of Khoronus, who admired her indomitable will and eventually fell in love with her. When her master threatened to kill her when she refused to submit to his sexual desires, the Milenian cleric organised her escape and followed her heading southwest in the uncharted wilderness. After days spent marching, they arrived near the coast where Vanya helped many Neathar tribes living here to withstand the might of the rakasta raiders. Thanks to her wits and military prowess, as well as to the superior knowledge she learnt from her Milenian captors, she taught her Neathar allies to build better weapons and armours and trained them in more efficient military tactics. In a decade she became the warleader of a large clan, and later the overlord of a whole coalition of tribes, building a fortress as her seat of power that would have later be renamed Vanya's Rest by the Heldannic Knights that discovered the keep in Lower Arypt. Once the simbasta threat was dealt with, Vanya convinced her allies to plan a massive raid against the northern Milenian outpost she fled many years before. This way she would have halted the Milenian expansion in the south and avenged all the years of slavery she had to endure. Vanya's troops obtained a crushing victory and the city was completely annihilated. Following this success, Vanya returned among his allies and in BC 586 she was proclaimed Queen Varellya (using the name the Neathar gave her, which meant "Victory"). In the following years she faced two major threats to her kingdom but she was ever victorious, until one night Khoronus appeared in her dreams and asked her to abandon her people and to follow him: only in this way she could have earned true immortality. Vanya abdicated in favour of her son and went on a quest, looking for an artifact to travel through time. Thanks to this artifact, she assured her dynasty a firm grip on the Kingdom of Varellya for the centuries to come, and after building the new capital of the kingdom turned Empire in the middle of the Vulture Peninsula (using a fake identity), she finally managed to become immortal in the Sphere of Time around BC 380, leaving her mortal body in the ancient fortress of Vanya's Rest.
From that moment Vanya became patroness of war and victory, and she extended her protection first over the Varellyan Empire, and then over the Thyatian Empire (founded by the descendants of her people, and therefore considered with a special attention). The last consequence of her machinations was the war that led the Order of Vanya to migrate from Thyatis and conquer the Heldann's Freeholds, thus establishing the new theocracy called the Heldannic Territories in AC 956. The Heldannic Knights were then guided by Vanya to find Vanya's Rest and take possession of the Star of Vanya, a priceless artifact the Knights used to improve their military might and impose Vanya's will all around the world.
Personality: Vanya is the perfect example of a person who lived by heaps and bounds. During her mortal life she launched herself without restraint in every war, battle, adventure, challenge, and even personal relationship. As an Immortal she sees with favour all those individuals who live their life to their maximum as much as she did. Vanya appreciates above all those followers who do not hesitate in front of the danger, but are prepared to test their faith and their force of will against impossible challenges. On the other hand, she despises cowardice and does not hesitate to punish the cowards and the traitors. For Vanya war is an art that must be appreciated, practiced and undertaken seriously. She believes in fact that war and conquest are the major forces that influence the history and culture of any society. War tests people's willpower and resourcefulness, where only the best survive to improve the world. At the same time, conquest stimulates progress, since it brings together different civilisations (the victorious and the defeated ones) and forces them to confront each other, mixing elements of both to generate new ideas, new possibilities and new paradigms. Vanya knows that war brings also destruction and desperation, and that if the conqueror is not wise the risk of cancelling all the benefits of the conquest with its dysfunctions (tyranny, abuse and indolence were the mark of the Milenian conquerors to her) are high. Therefore only those who master the art of war will be capable of choosing the future of the world, and for this reason she trains her followers to cover this role. Vanya does not like to maintain the status quo, since her vision of the world reflects her personality: ever changing and full of possibilities, much like any battle. She blesses the winners: she does not care the purpose of the battle, she just cares for victory and the glory that comes with it. Vanya shows no mercy towards the losers or the weak ones, and she does not care to promote kingdoms or laws that will eventually led to stagnation and therefore to indulgence and sloth. She encourages battle and war to strengthen her followers and shape healthier future generations, so that the more skilled (not just the stronger) will be victorious.
Remembering her distress under the Milenians' yoke, Vanya has never forgiven this lot and fights with passion against those Immortals who protect the Milenians (Halav and Petra above all), adding to her enemies Rathanos because of his male chauvinist pomposity.
Patron: Khoronus
Allies: none
Enemies: Rathanos, Halav, Petra, rivalry with the Eternal General
Classic D&D Stats:
Followers' Alignment: any
Favoured weapon: short sword and spear (allowed longsword, bastard sword, dagger, gladius and two-handed sword)
Clerics' skills and powers: free Fighting Instinct general skill; +2 bonus to two general skills among the following (not free): Alertness, Ride, Authority, Military Tactics, Courage, Danger Sens, Terrorise
Avengers' and Paladins' skills and powers: Lay on Hands, free Authority general skill
D&D 3E Stats:
Domains: Time, War, Strength, Courage
Preferred weapon: sword (one type to choose among: longsword, short sword and two-handed sword)
Sources: M1, DotE, WotI, HW, HWR3, SCS, CoM