Heroes and Zeroes
Zynndra was born into the noble Zollwen family of Rothbury. (See: Rothbury Family)
Her father, Lord Henrius Zollwen, the 6th Earl of Rothbury, was a stubborn man of tradition. Preoccupied with amassing wealth and the perception of others, his sense of self-worth was heavily tied to his position. His forefathers were commanders in the Royal Army, and as he followed their example, so he expected from his eldest son, Hendricks. The Earl instilled within his son his own brand of values… some of which were highly self-serving. As a result of this and always having his father's favor, his son became a carbon copy of him.
Frequently, her father would host other noble families, both of higher and lower rank. These nobles often traveled with their families, providing the children the opportunity to interact with others their own age. Hendricks was always aware of his "superior" position as heir, was always in his best behavior in front of adults. However, like his father, he tended to bully his peers from lower ranking families and ingratiate himself to those from higher ranking families.
Zynndra's mother, Lady Ellandra Zollwen, the Countess of Rothbury, was from the noble Elairyn family. As was traditional, her marriage into the Rothbury family was arranged. Though she enjoyed her privileges as a Countess, she often wondered what her life had been like if she had other options.
The Zollwen's second child, a daughter named Ellaria, grew up enamored with courtly life. Ellaria displayed similar behavior to her brother in displaying excessive flattery to noble children of higher rank, while with those of lower rank, she cultivated an entourage.
The Zollwen's youngest child, Zaurius, who was small for his age, showed kindness to all regardless of rank. However, as a quiet child, he was often ignored by his father, older brother, and oldest sister.
Zynndra was the third of the four children. As per noble tradition, her father's plan was to bestow his estate to his eldest son and commit his youngest son to the King's service, leaving the two middle daughters to be married off to bring prestige to the Rothbury name.
As a young child, Zynndra spent many hours poring over books in her family's library as well as exploring the estate and surrounding area. She eventually read every book in the library and requested more. Displaying intelligence beyond her years, she crafted detailed maps and catalogued the flora, fauna, features, and villages of her family's land. Her mother persuaded her father to hire a private educator, to instruct the children in mathematics and literature. With others her age, she would encourage them to explore… often returning home dirty, much to the dismay of her father. Zaurius would frequently accompany her on these adventures, pointing out new plants and animals to catalogue. The pair eventually crafted a guide to the locations and ecosystems of the Rothbury title, with elaborate illustrations drawn by him and precisely printed notes written by her.
Since she could remember, Zynndra could always recall her dreams, which were often vivid and elaborate. Even during an afternoon nap, the dreams would come. One day, in early evening, Zynndra awoke from a vivid dream set in a swampland on her family's land. Another child, the Duke of Avondale's eldest son, who was visiting the estate, was in the dream, in great peril. He had climbed a tree and appeared to have caught his foot in a branch.
Zynndra, however, did not feel like she was quite herself in this dream. Curiously, her view was very close to the ground. Then, completely involuntarily, she felt herself move, though she could not feel her arms or legs. Through the grass and up the tree trunk, she felt herself move. She was strongly aware of the presence of blood, though when the boy looked at her, all of his had appeared to have drained from his face.
Suddenly, she awoke. Breaking all protocol, as she grabbed her "adventuring gear" and descended the house's many staircases to the main hall, she called out her friend's name. He did not answer. She charged through the hall, scanning the room, seeing no trace of her friend. In front of the house, she saw her brother Zaurius, and called for him to "summon the apothecary, the doctor, and all the clergy – summon everyone!" Then, she ran to the swamp, alone.
She knew exactly which tree to go to. When she arrived, Allen's seemingly lifeless body hung from the tree from his foot. His ankle was twisted; the bone poked through his skin grotesquely. His shoulder was already swollen from venom. Thinking quickly, Zynndra pulled a length of rope from her pack and climbed the tree, tying one end of the rope to the tree above her friend, looping it under him, over the branch, and securing the other end. She then pulled out a small serrated knife, and began hacking away at the branch holding his ankle. Once his leg was freed, she wrapped a bandage loosely to cover the wound, climbed down, and gently lowered her friend to the ground. She then picked him up and carried him home, straight into the great hall.
Everyone in the hall paused and stared as young Zynndra, covered in dirt, carried her blond friend over her shoulders. As she kneeled to lay him down, Zaurius leapt forth to help. The siblings worked quickly to help their friend, as the rest of the children and adults stared in shock. Zynndra withdrew a rag from her pack and gently wiped her friend's face. He was breathing, quite shallowly, but still breathing. "He's broken his ankle and been bit by a venomous snake on his shoulder," Zynndra calmly stated, with the advantage of being able to have begun processing this situation far before everyone else. She began to wipe the blood from her friend's shoulder wound. "He was in the swamp. The snake was either a golden mindeater or crimson reaper." She lowered her face close to his ear. "Allen," she whispered, "was the snake yellow, or red?"
Using all of his strength to draw a breath, Allen whispered faintly, "…red…"
"This is good!" Zynndra proclaimed. "Very, very good. You'll be just fine." At that moment, the apothecary arrived. "Crimson reaper bite. Maybe fifteen minutes ago," she said to the apothecary. "The antivenom is in your bag, second inner pouch, on the left. In a red vial, of course."
The apothecary sprang into action, withdrawing a red vial from his bag and beginning to apply it to the boy's shoulder wound. "He's lucky. I heard there are two types of poisonous snakes on these lands. The yellow ones won't kill you, but they turn your brain into mush right away and you probably just wish you were dead. The red ones will actually kill you, but you got him here in plenty of time to fully reverse the effects." Zynndra smiled. She had come to this conclusion about local snake species a year ago, and was pleased to see that the social seed she had planted had flourished into "common knowledge". She didn't bother correcting the apothecary's use of the word "poisonous" instead of "venomous".
Word of Zynndra's heroic deed spread quickly through noble circles. Visiting nobility began interacting with her more often, pleasantly entertained by her conversational abilities. Some began to suggest that the King would find it more favorable if the Rothbury nobles committed Zynndra to his service instead of Zaurius as they had planned.