Remember, Reiters: knees behind knees, plow formation, fire before you hit them, blades out and never stop yelling.
Hell On Horseback
Alkaida Eufrosyne Stålhandske was practically born in the saddle. She was born during a war against Novgorod, and her mother, Colonel Eleonora Stålhandske was at the time commanding a regiment against Samogitian cavalry raiders in Revalland. Around this time, the Stålhandske family’s school of magic had been officially approved of as a school and she started practicing the magic of strength.
The Stålhandskes were simple frälsadel, nobles that were tax exempt because they armed cavalry for wars, but her mother’s capable leadership in the war that ended with Ingria being made neutral (which suited the Swedes fine) got her some attention when she was growing up on the Stålhandske homestead near Borgå. King Christina saw Alkaida as a capable young woman and paid for her education at the university of Uppsala. In addition to that, she made her a lieutenant in the Life Guards cavalry.
She fought in tourneys successfully, but always wanted to be faster, stronger and more resilient than she ever was. So she decided to Transform, a step most of her family never took. Afterwards, it was like her hands were made of steel.
Alkaida first held a command during the last war against the Polish-Livlandian Commonwealth, where she, along with her younger brother Torsten and the Archduke Åke Tott perfected new cavalry tactics. Tott was very much impressed with the aggressive attitude she showed counter-charging Polish hussars and her ability to break apart plate armor with a single blow from her sword. In addition to that, for some reason, the ill-tempered Archduke was able to get along with her quite nicely.
She got her moniker Hell on Horseback from some Polish cavalry commander who saw her hacking apart ten of his best Hussars single-handedly.
She was eventually promoted to Major General and served as one of the commanders of Tott’s cavalry during the invasion of King Gustav III and saw combat all over the northern Danubian Empire, cutting to pieces the cavalry of the Kaiser at the battle of Lüneburg and evicting the Reichsarmee from the northern parts of the Empire. However, when Tott was due to return to Ostland, he asked her to come along to take command of the cavalry regiment left in Ostland. She agreed, since she was tired of the dready life in the camps and needed a change.
She was reacquainted with the little brother, who now served as the castellan of Turku Castle, though they have never been really close. Her brother’s continual issues with the Archduke occasionally annoys her even today, since she thinks of her brother as sort of a prat: a highly capable prat, but still a prat. They are an odd pair of siblings in general: she is 6’7″ long, has prematurely gray hair and has muscles on top of muscles. He is 5’1″ and while he is very strong, he has a rather slender build and long curly brown locks.
She now commands the Nyland Regiment of Cavalry, which acts as a fire brigade for Tott whenever there are issues that need a military solution. While she went from commanding several thousands to commanding less than five hundred cavalry, she actually relishes her current tasks. She gets to know her soldiers personally and is allowed free rein by the Archduke to deal with threats and raids according to her own judgement. Last but not least, she doesn’t have to sleep in a moldy tent in the middle of a muddy field most of the time.
She is now fourty-eight years old and hasn’t married. She has in rather frank terms delegated the responsibility of keeping the family line going to her little brother Torsten. Torsten has not married either, at least not yet.
Beyond being a soldier, she enjoys the theater quite a bit and tends to visit Turku whenever there’s a troupe in town. Her old mother lives still on the family estate outside Borgå, but with the success of her children, she is now an old colonel with significant social status.
Alkaida Stålhandske as a patron for player characters
She is a rather straightforward ally for anyone wishing to keep Ostland safe. If someone else handles bandits or raiders somewhere, she doesn’t have to do it herself. She has some leeway in delegating tasks assigned to her by Tott to other people and often prefers to do so, whenever something looks like a problem that can’t be solved with a cavalry charge. This might mean she hires player characters to go scout the wilderness for bandit camps, rogue wizards, owlbears, troll caves and worse. Her main concern is to keep the common folks safe from anything that might come out of the woods or across the borders, be it natural or unnatural.
Having her on your side might also mean that a squadron of cavalry might turn up when it’s really needed by the players. Since player characters tend to get into trouble a lot, it might help out quite a bit.