Years ago, back in my days on Ispar, and old Aluvian general of my acquaintance was fond of informing me of the absolute importance that patience held on the battlefield. He would often go into great detail recounting tales of commanders whose recklessness and rush to action cost their army an easy victory, or of small squads fighting against seemingly insurmountable odds but succeeding because of an attack executed at the perfect moment. “Jacinth,” he would tell me, “the limits of a man’s patience should only be measured in the number of breaths left in his body.” When I remember that nugget of wisdom, I can’t help but wonder what my general friend would think about the strange beings that inhabit this world and how his experience would apply to them. For instance, what would he think of Lady Aerfalle, a woman of apparent infinite patience but whose breath left her body long before any civilization I have known even came into being?
Aerfalle, along with Lord Rytheran and Prince Geraine, were among the “Firstborn”, the first and most powerful of the nobility of the ancient kingdom of Dericost to gain immortality by becoming undead. Soon after their transformation, other nobles joined them in their unlife, for a time Dericost was ruled in secret by a congregation of living corpses. However, a schism gradually began to develop among their ranks; one faction of undead, who called themselves “Lords of the World”, believed that they should come out of the shadows and rule the lesser people of the kingdom openly, while another, the “Winds from the Darkness” (among whose ranks were Aerfalle, Rytheran, and Geraine), argued that prudence was in order and that revealing themselves to the living would only bring disaster. Eventually, the latest ruler of Dericost, Sarvien, joined the undead and decreed that they would no longer rule the living in secret. Moreover, in an attempt to expand Dericost’s power and influence, he attempted to invade the neighboring lands of Haebrous and Yalain; thus began the Millennium War, the struggle that brought about the end of both Dericost and Haebrous, as well as the ascension of Yalain.
The Winds from the Darkness, who believed themselves above the petty squabbling of their brethren, escaped the lands of Dericost and so avoided the fate of their fallen kingdom. They made their way to Killiakta, ancient home of the Falatacot and the island we know today as Dereth, and established new holdings throughout the land. Lady Aerfalle made her home beneath a small volcanic island off Dereth’s northern coast, and when the Yalain eventually came upon what they named Aerlinthe Island and the riches it held, she amused herself by exerting her influence upon the unsuspecting Yalain through both subtle and mystical means. With her help, the master smith Hare Aralea won not only the title Governor of Aerlinthe, but his way into the arms of Lady Raina, wife of the noble who appointed him. Years later, when the armies of Bael’Zharon marched across the world, Aerfalle turned her influences towards her own people, convincing both Wind and Lord to combine their forces in order to combat this unholy foe; on the hills of Ayn Tayan, this alliance held the Shadows at bay for three days, allowing the Yalain to devise a means to overcome the Hopeslayer.
Though the last ten millennia have taken a similar physical toll upon Lady Aerfalle as they have on many undead, they have had little or no effect upon her shrewd and cunning mind. Even in recent years, she has utilized it to protect not only what remains of Dericost, but us as well. When the Shadows returned, Aerfalle once again worked to bring Winds from the Darkness and Lords of the World together to stand against the threat, and later on, she helped marshal a defense against the invasion of the Ancient Olthoi Queen. Interestingly, in recent years it appears that Aerfalle has decided that wit and prudence were not enough to see her will be done, as she has taken to using the souls of those captured and slain on her island over the eons to not only bolster her power, but also restore some of her physical appearance. Perhaps she perceives some threat in the near or distant future that requires such augmentation in order to properly face it. If such a danger does loom upon the horizon, there can be few more prepared to deal with it as she, for if the patience of the living can be numbered in breaths, the patience of the dead can be measured as infinite.