Wife of Prince Harald Haaskinz of Sablestone
"Sablestone, Kern, Westheath, Glantri... What is the difference if I know where I am? Would the knowledge somehow infuse meaning, purpose into my existence?"
(Said to Lathan Aendyr, in a zzonga-induced haze)
A fading beauty in her mid-fifties, Asadel appears to be about forty, thanks to magical potions. A tumble of thick, wavy black hair (marred with streaks of gray), cloudy brown eyes, and dark golden complexion betray her Alasiyan roots. Formerly known for her up-to-the-minute haute couture wardrobe, Asadel these days does not seem to care much about her appearance, dressing up only for "tea" with Sir Lathan Aendyr or her rare public appearances with Harald.
Asadel was born in AC 963, the second daughter of Thyatian trader Adamo Ulleri and his Alasiyan wife Asalma. For years, the family struggled in poverty, as Adamo's investments collapsed one by one, seven year-old Asadel was hired out as help, to tend the fires of wealthy landowners.
But when Asadel was nine, her father's hard work finally paid off with a sudden windfall. Adamo moved his family back to his homeland of Caurenze. Asadel was awed by Glantri: its stunningly rich glitterati, exciting nightlife, and powerful wizards. But the wide-eyed young girl soon learned the harsh truth about her new home: She was not welcome among her father's circle of noble friends. Asadel had no magical ability—the kiss of social death in the magocracy.
Continually stung by rejection, Asadel left home at only fifteen, traveling across the Broken Lands with a Darokinian caravan, and finding work in Corunglain as the servant of a mercenary. The veteran fighter noticed (and was amused by) Asadel's interest in his skills, and offered to teach her swordsmanship. She proved to be a fast learner; in her brief adventuring career, Asadel acquitted herself with courage and skill against the humanoids of the Broken Lands. But when winter fell, Asadel's eye once again turned farther north, beyond the flat lands of her enemies. She was seventeen, and was homesick for Glantri.
Rather than returning to her father's home in Caurenze, Asadel traveled to the capital, where she was hired as a guard. One afternoon, while patrolling along Alexander Platz, Asadel caught the eye of a distinguished, middle-aged wizard dressed in the robes of a Great School master. Quickly, she averted her eye, but not before she saw the wizard smile appreciatively at her. Asadel couldn't help it: she grinned back, revealing the full beauty of her smile. Gesturing her over, the wizard introduced himself as Harald Haaskinz, Archduke of Westheath, and invited her to dine with him that evening at his city mansion.
Asadel was stunned. Speechless, she could only nod her assent, and quickly walk away. Back at her post, she bit her lip, astonished that such a powerful wizard (and important noble) would have anything to do with her! Asadel quickly, and practically, decided that His Grace must be after one thing only, to be interested in a common guard. But she would attend dinner anyway.
That evening, Asadel was pleasantly surprised at Archduke Harald's behavior. He acted like a perfect gentleman, and was even a bit chivalrous, and old-fashioned. He laughed at her old campaign jokes, and seemed enchanted by her distance from the magical elite. Harald and Asadel that night began an affair which spanned four years.
Asadel fell hopelessly in love with Harald. Settled into a new apartment in the City, she quit her job and plunged herself into learning the etiquette of Glantrian society, the ins and outs of the nobility and politics, and everything she could about Harald's positions as school Master and Archduke. She continually impressed him in their lengthy conversations; the couple often spent their weekends together doing nothing but talking. Asadel learned about (and sympathized with the family over) Harald's mad uncle Saghir Haaskinz, his friendship with the boisterous former adventurer Gerrid Rientha, his deepening tutelage under Prince Étienne d'Ambreville. Harald supported her through the deaths of her family in a tragic accident. To Asadel, Harald was her closest friend.
In AC 984, seemingly out of the blue, Harald proposed marriage. Asadel immediately accepted. The wedding was a fairy-tale confection of tulle and flowers, with various nobles in attendance. Twenty-one year old Asadel dared, in these happy moments, to dream that her life would be perfect from then on. Even through bad times (she suffered three devastating miscarriages in the years following their marriage), she knew that she had beaten the odds, and found happiness as a "mundaner." Using her husband's position (and his tacit support) to her advantage, Asadel fashioned herself into one of the most socially powerful mundaners in Glantri.
Asadel's happy picture was seemingly complete when, in AC 987, she gave birth to a son, Dominick. Both she and Harald spoiled the child shamelessly. But Dominick was a sickly baby, and nearly died of pneumonia his first winter. A dark cloud suddenly seemed to hover above Asadel's perfectly sculpted life. Dominick recovered as he grew, but the good times slowly ground to a halt. Harald's sudden political ambitions—surpassed only by his growing immersion in his magical experiments—dominated his time.
Ultimately, one night in AC 992, Asadel was tutoring Dominick when she heard a loud thud from Harald's laboratory upstairs. Defying previous instruction, she ran upstairs, throwing open the door. Harald lay on the floor, writhing in pain. His left arm was clutched against his body, withered and useless. Alarmed, Asadel would have sent for a physician, but Harald refused; in his great pain, he could only manage to be furious at her for entering his lab.
Asadel left the room, stung by Harald's rejection and terrified by his disfiguration. What evil forces had he tampered with, to evince such a horrible punishment? Secretly, she worried that her husband was experimenting with the same dark magic as his uncle, Saghir. Determined to save him from Saghir's awful fate, Asadel over the next few weeks continued to pry into Harald's magic. Already anguished over the practical loss of his arm, Harald reacted strongly. The couple fought more and more bitterly as the year dragged on. Asadel found herself estranged from her husband. As time passed and they grew apart more and more, Asadel finally learned that her marriage had always been, in Harald's eyes, one of convenience. Heartsick, she could do nothing but immerse herself in politics, and in raising Dominick.
But even Asadel's beloved Dominick was to be an instrument to be used against her. At age six, Dominick was tested for magical ability; the test failed. Harald was enraged beyond reason, and railed against Asadel, the "worthless mundaner." A second test proved Dominick's ability, but the damage was done. Locking herself in her toilette, Asadel slashed at her wrists with a dagger. Only the intervention of a faithful servant narrowly saved her life.
The incident triggered the final rift between Harald and Asadel; after Asadel's recovery, the couple hardly spoke. They appeared in public together only when necessary, which became less and less often after Harald attained the enfeoffment of Sablestone in AC 1004. Each maintained separate lifestyles; Asadel even took a lover for a time, but found no pleasure in the affair. She continued to be highly overprotective of Dominick, fearing what would happen to her should anything befall Harald's beloved son. This protectiveness at time bordered on paranoia, and in fact served only to push Dominick away from her, and toward his more "rational" parent.
After Harald was promoted to Grand Master of the Great School of Magic in AC 1010, he and his meddlesome sister Tereis Haaskinz conspired to leave Asadel, no longer the darling of the mundaner social scene, in charge of mad Saghir's care. Asadel accepted the duty with grudging compliance, though the thought of tending the psychotic necromancer terrified her. Saghir acted so abhorrently toward her, in fact, that she desperately sought help from her few contacts (under false pretenses). One acquaintance recommended zzonga, and introduced Asadel to Sir Lathan Aendyr, a purveyor of the tranquilizer. The drug worked wonders for Saghir, calming him drastically. It was not long before Asadel discovered the benefits of zzonga in calming her own nerves.
Most recently, Asadel has struggled with hiding her growing "flirtation" with zzonga from her family. Afraid that buying the drug on her own would mean that she is an addict, she steals from Saghir's dosage. Her usage is growing heavier through the years, especially recently: Harald has taken up publicly with a young mistress, further humiliating her.
Asadel is miserable, lost in the depths of her depression, and wishing she could turn the clock back to start again.
Personality & Quirks
Asadel is a barrel of bitterness and resentment. She never quite recovered from Harald's betrayal, and his harsh treatment of her when he thought that Dominick had inherited her magical inability. Her years of reactionary coddling of Dominick have also borne ill fruit, for her son considers her overbearing, and has pulled away from her. But, behind the mask of bitterness, Asadel is a deeply hurt and lonely woman, spurned by the one man she ever truly loved. She can find nothing better to do but to feel sorry for herself: a real life cinder-girl denied her Prince and her happy ending.
Web of Intrigue
Asadel is not addicted to zzonga, though she is well on her way down that road. She knows that Lathan Aendyr is the architect of her recent misery, but dares not brush him aside for fear that he will reveal the secret of Uncle Saghir—or, worse, yet, deny her the drug she uses to pacify the mad mage. And so, between fixes, Asadel sits and broods. She broods about Harald's deception, about Tereis' hold over Harald, and about Dominick's "abandonment" of her. Asadel resents everyone; but most of all, she resents Rowan Zarovan, Harald's lover. Secretly, Asadel plots to find a way to destroy Rowan in Harald's eyes, so that she may turn him away when he comes crawling back to her.
Combat & Skills
Statistics: 4th-level fighter; Str 12, Dex 13, Con 14, Int 13, Wis 15, Cha 12; AL N (D&D), NG (AD&D).
Languages: Thyatian (Glantrian dialect), Ylari.
Weapon Proficiencies: short sword..
Skills: reading/writing, blind-fighting, local history (Glantri), dancing, etiquette.
Asadel hung up her sword professionally years ago, but still practices with a trainer to keep in fighting shape. During the recent war with Ethengar, she itched to join the ranks of the defending Grand Army, but Dominick forbade her (She didn't dare ask Harald). Thus denied, Asadel slipped back into her bored, zzonga-laced lethargy. But, should her son be directly threatened, Asadel would not hesitate to fight to the death in exchange for his life.
Besides her short sword +2 of flaming, Asadel has a large collection of magical items, mostly gifts from Harald or his arcaner friends. There was a time she delighted in all these treasures, but she has come to realize that from the beginning, Harald had been bestowing these gifts on her to compensate or hide her sorry lack of magical ability.
"'Poor Asadel,' indeed! Really, that woman has nothing to whine about! She's the most undeservingly fortunate mundaner in all Glantri...well, aside from Richard d'Ambreville, that is."
(Princesa Carnelia de Belcadiz, in an uncharacteristically catty mood)
References: History of House Haaskinz
Author: Jennifer Guerra