Growing up as the eldest daughter among many siblings, some would have argued that her place wasn't meant to be in the sparring ring or spending hours hassling perfectly innocent guardsmen around her father's estate about how to swing a sword (or, sword as she would often emphasize it in her youth). Certainly most Westerosi nobles would be in agreement. And by the old gods and the new, her father tried to enforce this for a while.
Clearly those lessons and attempts didn't take very well.
Jaerelar Caenlaeris - her father - would often joke in later years that he had three sons, three daughters, and one very feminine boy. As the third-eldest child she was spared much of the education and training that was dumped on her eldest brother's shoulders. The eldest, Vinyx, was expected to take over their father's place in the Iron Bank when he finally passed. That would come with a positive mountain of gold and riches, land to call his own, and of course every responsibility and burden that accompanied the office.
There was, of course, quite the debacle when she stopped entertaining suitors.
Her mother, Faeyysha Caenlaeris, had been the only one of her sisters who produced any children and there was always the pressure on her side of the family to provide heirs and names for the bank. How else would they keep the most powerful financial system anywhere running if they didn't supply people to run it? It was bad enough that her mother nearly ordered her to give up those less 'appropriate' things that she loved.
These were chiefly spending hours with Waterdancers by the mirrored pools, getting into fights, and of course detesting skirts and more fanciful 'appropriate' dress for a young woman of her station. The young men who would come to court her would either be put off by her passions and chosen hobbies, or she would push them away and insist to her parents that they were too pompous and soft.
Yet her father seemed to laugh and love it.
In fact he loved it so much that he paid for her to have an instructor.
Stallorno Stassyl was the sort of man you wanted to teach you how to make it in a sword fight. He had gray hair in a profession where participants often died young. And with a hefty supply of gold, he set about instructing her in swordplay. She would learn how to hold the sword as if it were an extension of her hand, how to twist and step to invite your enemy to drive their blade into open air, how to sweep feet, and other such things.
Eventually her father paid to commission her a set of blades.
A sword and a dagger, both made with the Valyrian steel of his homeland.
And with the sword he issued a challenge: any man who could get past his daughter's guard and cut her, would be the first to kiss her.
It goes without saying that even to this day - though less so - the sword has slashed more than one hopeful suitor or daring young man.
Along with many others. But those are other stories, for another time.
By Faith, Not Works"There is only the one god. What do we say to him?"
In Braavos, following the God of Death isn't the exception, but the rule. Its hardly a special thing for somebody from Braavos to say that they worship at the temple or that they had ferried a dying loved one to drink from the fountain for their final drink in life.
Being a mercenary, why wouldn't she?
The old gods don't seem to answer and the new gods are fickle.
Yet its much easier to trust and acknowledge the one god that had a play in everybody's lives. No worry about the god responsible for farming or for travellers. So many temples and names or faces to remember. Its much easier this way, in her mind. There's far less to keep track of, for starters.
There is only one god to worry about. And don't go praying to him too early.
A practice among some nobles is to decide what they pass on to their children in order of seniority. This meant that, in order, her eldest brother Vinyx would get the majority portion of anything her father could dole out to each of them. After him, the second eldest Mamorys would be given some of what remained. And if anything was left, Vaemyx would recieve it. But what would come of the women of the house? That was solved easily enough.
Once married, what good husband wouldn't care for them?
It left Rhaemys in an odd predicament.
No marriage, no propsective proposal, and by now many of the men her age around them had given up trying.
Clearly there was only one place for her to get her support. Her mother insisted that one way was apologies and more 'becoming' behavior, but at that point it was far easier to pay for quality armor, a good horse, and a place in a mercenary company - after she'd bloodied the captain's nose when he laughed in her face about a woman joining his company. She would work with them for the better part of two years, primarily in the Free Cities, and she'd come to enjoy the gold and the thrill of it all.
Sadly, they would commit one of the worst mistakes of an inexperienced commander.
Fighting the Dothraki.
To be fair, they were being given quite the hefty bit of gold for the job.
But Rhaemys - these days going by Caen - was the only one of the seventy of them to survive to see another day after one of many fights in the open plains.
From there she put the gold she had earned to work, along with what she had plucked from the corpses of her once living fellows. She'd see to making a troop of her own.
- Leather armor won't stop a sword so well, eh? Simple solution then, knight: don't be there when the sword lands. Caen was trained by some of the most experienced Waterdancers of Braavos and has since perfected and modified her style to suit needs based on experience.
- Oh you can spout off all the facts of some ancient battle some ancient king lost years ago? Fantastic. Really great. Meanwhile Caen can tell you waht to expect when roughing it in the march cross-country, what to do before and after any battle, and she is more than familiar with what its like to be keeping death only a sword's length away at any moment.
Connections From Home
- Despite the assumption that she must be on a bad footing, she's actually retained good connections with her family. As such if she were ever in a particularly bad spot she could ask for favors. And unlike their typical rates, much of this likely wouldn't come with the sort of legal loopholes and troubles that anybody else dealing with the Iron Bank of Braavos might incur.
Smart With Coin
- The way she was raised meant that Caen has often been a dab hand at managing money. She'll turn copper to silver, silver to gold, and gold to favors. It also helps when leading a mercenary company that she can budget and manage things so that her troops seldom feel the bite between jobs in the more - fallow - seasons of work.
Noble in Schooling
- Technically she is not a noble. Her family is exceedingly affluent - and powerful - but there is no crown to her name recognized by most nobles she would be dealing with. This can hit her the most where legality in places such as Westeros might be concerned. She also insists on not being referred to as a noble both to not be associated with 'blue blood' nobles or similar ilk.
Magic in Text
- While Valyrian blood can lead to quite a powerful level of magic and Essos is home to magic far more than Westeros, most of Caen's understanding is only in the academics of it. She has never capitalized on any inherent boons she might recieve for it.
- Years travelling on the road and spent fighting with death at the other end of a sword's length, she doesn't have much in the ways of frills or fancy attitudes. She's a woman who prefers simple words and making intentions plain. Its easier that way.
Prized Possessions"He who dies with the most toys, dies like a child."
The life of a mercenary requires one to travel light. As such there are only a scant few things which the Valyrian swordswoman holds dear - for one reason or another - that she ensures come with her wherever she goes in her travels as a mercenary.
Obviously she has more in the world than this - a tent, bedding, and other such things. But these are items that she ascribes a certain worth to beyond simple material. Trying to divest her of most any of these things is a fool's gambit at the best.
- Kiss-Me-Not, her prized Valyrian steel sword
- Light Rebuttal, a Valyrian steel dagger (often tucked within a vambrace or boot)
- A crossbow and bolts - should it ever be needed
- Leather and cloth armor, fitted
- A sigil of the Iron Bank, on a necklace
- Sweet Timber, her horse
Founding the Irregulars would come at a cost.
Chiefly it came with gold and travel, and trying to swing both the weight of who she was and what she could offer for work. But since they have begun to grow she has managed to amass a hundred soldiers to her name - to include her First Captain, the Babe of Caen. The two met when she was traveling between contracts of work and she had come across the young boy and his knight being jumped by bandits that had thought they would be easy pickings.
Sadly she had arrived a touch too late to save them both. The Ser had already been badly wounded and was slowly dropping from the fight.
She busied herself fighting off the bandits that still surrounded them as that old knight passed on title and honor and all those things the Westerosi sorts held so high when it came to titles like 'knight'.
When it was done she offered him pay and title: the First Captain of the Irregulars.
By Blood & By Coin"Remember, you can seldom choose family."
Much of the mercenary commander's family are alive and well. However they still stay in Braavos where they busy themselves with affairs of family and marriage. Not to mention the work that the men of the family all undertake in the Iron Bank at present with their father's name and their mother's family reputation ensuring a good measure of responsibility and pay for each of them in their respective offices.
- Jaerelar Caenlaeris, her father
- Faeyysha Caenlaeris, her mother
- Vinyx Caenlaeris, her eldest brother
- Mamorys Caenlaeris, her second eldest brother
- Vaemyx Caenlaeris, her younger brother
- Ahrelna, her younger sister
- Henala, her second youngest sister
- Daenaya, her youngest sister
- Stallorno Stassyl, her Dancing instructor and surrogate uncle