Name: Valerisia Tostosias Sandestrin
Marital status: Married Haeldaran Sandestrin with 21
Strength in the Blessing (i.e. magic strength): very strong and deft
Family: Her husband is Haeldaran Sandestrin. She has a six-year-old son, Valaraedan. Her father, Rasidan Tostosias, died when she was twenty; her mother, Xaelisia Tostosias, is still alive. Her older sister, Farisia, is married to a noble.
Outward Appearance: Valerisia has long auburn hair with a distinctly reddish tinge. She usually keeps it in a braid. Her eyes are blue and her skin is pale, making her quite susceptible to sunburn. Her face is oval-shaped, with regular features which make her pretty but not beautiful. She`s a little taller than average for an Astorisian and slim. Her slender figure makes her look a bit younger than she is.
Personality: Valerisia is quite even-tempered and dignified. She cares deeply for her people and would do whatever necessary to protect them. Growing used to her role as Queen included learning to rein in some of her personality traits and keep a calm, unreadable façade whenever she is in public. It also limited her honesty and now she is rather accustomed to lying with a straight face and keeping things back which she once despised – however, she is still honest in private. She has also retained her sense of humour.
At times she can still grow restless, feeling stifled and chained by her position. It is one of her greater regrets that she never had a chance to visit other countries.
When Valerisia was born, the Tostosias family was one of the many that lived from fishing. She grew up playing at the wharves with other children and street urchins whenever she didn`t have to help her parents by gutting fish, cleaning or cooking.
From her seventh year, she went to one of the public schools; attendance wasn`t compulsory, but her parents said she ought to take the chance. Valerisia soon found that while she had no problem understanding what was taught in the lessons, she had trouble memorising it because she had no time to practice outside school – her parents needed her help and she wanted to spend some time with her friends, too.
Half a year after she had celebrated her tenth birthday, her circumstances of life changed drastically. Her younger brother caught a fever and died within two days. During the nightly vigil, a light from the statue of the Great One fell upon the two and they received the Blessing.
Rising to nobility changed much for her. They now had a moderate income, easily earned by using the Blessing. They could actually afford a servant for cleaning!
And now she was pressed by her parents to give more attention to the school. In the beginning, it was hard because she was unused to practicing and repeating everything over and over again, often also having to ask about things they had covered some time ago. During this time, she learned not to be ashamed at not knowing something and asking for an explanation. Worse, she also had to learn how to conduct herself properly. After half a year, her teachers began to compliment her and everything she learned seemed a great deal easier than it had before.
A few months after she had turned thirteen, she herself received the Blessing. Her parents were overjoyed and she began taking lessons in using the Blessing, slowly developing both strength and skillfullness.
With fifteen, she chose new courses at school, covering a wide range of topics that interested her, from the art of diplomacy to lore of other countries and economic welfare of a country.
It was a strange time for her; she had still retained some of her childhood friends, but had also made some among the noble children. The differences were fascinating to her; they spoke about different topics and they behaved in different ways. Sometimes, she slipped a little between it, accidentally using street language when talking to nobles or the other way round. As she became older, though, she learned to control it.
Once again Valerisia called upon the Blessing and Air filled the Aquamarine. This was rather dreary work she had done more often than she cared to count before reaching her full strength and learning how to wield it. Now, she only did it when a stone was as large as this one, requiring someone of her strength to handle to amount of Blessing it could store. It was almost relaxing, compared to the way her day had been so far.
Well, it was spring. That accounted for a lot; people got restless after the winter, the flu was spreading and all the semi-military actions which had been put to a standstill during the winter were slowly occurring again. Already skirmishes had been reported between Achonia and Sonorus. Astorisia itself had increased the border patrolling activities, to keep Achonia at bay.
Soon the first winter grain would be harvested, a welcome addition to all the fish she had eaten of late. Winter always depleted the food stores, reducing the variety. Fish was always possible to come by, a fact she sometimes hated.
It showed how spoiled she had become; there had been a time when she had been glad at having enough to eat at all. Not that people often starved in Astorisia, but it happened with the poor people who had no money for food, shelter and adequate clothing. Valerisia had begun trying to do something against it by ordering some places for these people built where they had lodgings and warm meals for free.
But those provisions were kept low, both because they did not have an infinite amount of money to spend on something that did not lead to gaining more money in the end and because she knew that if they were too high, they would encourage people to be less careful with their money, knowing they had something to fall back on.
There had been a time when she hadn`t had to worry about all this. Her childhood, of course. But also later, after she had received the Blessing and learned to use it, she had regarded all her lessons about the things nobles had to know as games rather than reality. She should have known better, when she realised how deep the Blessing bestowed upon her was, how much power she possessed. Still, the power had not meant she was treated differently – the depth of the Blessing could wax and wane; adjusting oneself to it just wasn`t worth the effort – and so she had only been really aware of it during her lessons or when she used it.
Of course she had been aware that she could do much good with this power, that the Blessing put her under the obligation to give back as much as she could. How could one give the Great One back any better than by caring for the people? But on the rare occasions she had seriously thought about her future, she had considered focusing on healing and using her power to keep Astorisia safe. She had not reckoned with the Great One putting her in a position that rather rarely forced her to use her power.
It was all Haeldaran`s fault, of course. Had she never met him… but that was ridiculous, of course. There were not that many people with the Blessing that she could have avoided knowing him without purposeful design. And only a small handful possessed as deep a Blessing as they did.
She had met him on her seventeenth birthday. It had been the official celebration of her coming of age to which all nobles had been invited as was customary. He was a year older than she and therefore didn`t take the same classes, but though she had never spoken to him, she had seen him before. And heard friends speak of him. Within three minutes, she had known what she had heard was true. It was easy to relax in his presence, almost too easy.
Somehow, they had gotten in a heated and prolonged debate about the subtleties of using the Blessing. Though they hadn`t found a solution, they both had enjoyed the challenge they were for each other and they had become friends. It had taken Valerisia one year to realize that she was in love with him. The memory still made her smile. She had been unsure back then, uncertain whether her feelings for him were strong enough to last a lifetime. Finally, she had decided it did not matter.
Astorisia wasn`t as bad as some other countries when it came to marriage, but for a noble to remain unmarried was unheard of. That she would have to marry had been a fact. And how could she have married someone else than the man who loved her as much as she loved him?
Shortly after her twenty-first birthday they had married. Being married had changed some things, but not as much as she had feared. Their relationship and their mutual understanding had only deepened. It had been a happy time, especially when she had become pregnant.
Half a year after her son`s birth, the widowed King of Astorisia, Daesonian, had died. After the ritual time of mourning, the question of the succession had been the one topic everyone talked about. Haeldaran and she had known they had a good chance to be chosen. Always having been the more ambitious of the two, he had persuaded her to actively wish for it.
And thus, in her twenty-fourth year Valerisia had been chosen and crowned Queen of Astorisia, a position she had by now held for five years.