Leda was born to Lord Robert Selmy and Lady Gwyndolyn Yronwood of Harvest Hall, a land rich in agriculture and well-defended by the keep’s militia. While her mother doted on her, as they had no other children, her father was often distant. No great warrior himself, his focus on the quality of crops in Selmy lands bordered on obsessive, and the man would spend long hours poring over the bushels of corn and tonnes of wheat produced by those under his watch.
She was still young when her mother caught a fever, and with her passing went a measure of the young Leda’s innocence. Without her mother, the girl’s dark complexion rendered her unique in Selmy lands, an indication of the Dornish blood that flowed through her veins and the veins of the invaders for whom the Dornish Marches were named alike. Where the girl had been outgoing before, she now found it difficult to make friends among the other children of Harvest Hall.
The death of his wife and the troubles of his only child finally tore Lord Robert Selmy’s focus away from his crops and to the remains of his family. He started spending more time with the young Leda, and to distract the both of them from their potent grief he cracked open a tome detailing the exploits of Ser Barristan the Bold.
The tales of Ser Barristan became a nightly tradition for them. Even when important matters of the governance of Harvest Hall weighed heavily on him, Robert Selmy still managed to spend time each night reading of the legend’s exploits to his daughter. From this nighttime ritual were born dreams of winning tournaments, joining the Kingsguard, putting down rebellions, defeating pretenders to the throne in single combat, and traveling Essos that stuck with the girl for years to come.
When she was eight, Leda came to her father with a request. His stories of the great Ser Barristan the Bold had enthralled her, and she precociously brokered a deal with him: as long as she completed her studies, as befit the only daughter of a lord, she would be allowed to train in the courtyard. Both were happy with the arrangement, in Leda’s mind the training allowing her to follow along in her legendary ancestor’s footsteps. Lord Selmy saw it as a good opportunity to keep the adventurous girl to her studies and out of trouble.
The training led to Leda excelling at her studies, but the rigorous reading and recitation of facts and ideas to Harvest Hall’s maester was only out of a keen interest in getting down to the courtyard to learn from their Master-at-Arms, Ser Beric Lonmouth. He was the greatest knight she’d ever met and she trained diligently, first to the amusement of all observing, but soon to their concern. Even in the territories of marcher lords, where martial traditions were common, women simply weren’t supposed to approach swordplay with such zeal.
These concerns were voiced to Lord Selmy and, while he agreed, his attention was distracted from the issue by his courting of Lady Malora Meadows of Grassy Vale, a lady of the Reach. Leda had only fleeting contact with her new mother, finding the woman agreeable but not at all interested in martial pursuits. She didn’t hold Leda’s interest, and as Lady Malora’s belly swelled she spent less and less time trying to forge a relationship with the Selmy heir.
Though a cold thought, their mild relationship was for the best. Leda was spared another heartbreak, the loss of a second mother, when Lady Malora died giving birth to Leda’s younger sister, Lysa. Their father withdrew to his study with his second wife’s death, the vital part of his spirit vanished, and Leda was left once more alone.
She was nine and, while versed in the social graces and how to use them, far preferred to swing a sword. Her dedication was already showing off, and the girl was able to best the other boys her age. Even Ser Beric’s son couldn’t stand up to her, and with all the graces of a noblewoman Leda mocked their defeats.
As she grew, still sparring with Ser Beric and anyone else she could find on a daily basis, her father slowly returned to active life in the keep. Leda was picking up new skills befitting a knight, though the mentor and friend she had in Ser Beric warned her that she’d never be allowed to have the title. She could use her blade with proficiency when riding a horse; she could shoot an arrow; she knew her way around a suit of armor, even though her lanky form would not yet support the weight.
Still, Leda Selmy was the heir to Harvest Hall. Her father was resigned to the lonely life of one twice widowed and didn’t care to have his daughter and heir filling her head with thoughts of adventures and battlefields. He banned her from practice in the courtyard and indeed from practice with anyone in the keep. She was to become a proper lady, observing all the social graces as she was meant to be, and he promised that she would soon be married off to another lord of the Stormlands and thoughts of swordplay would be put to rest by the duties of motherhood.
As she filled out, becoming a young woman, Leda rebelled in every way possible. She wore boy’s clothes whenever she could find them, earning rebuke and heated words from her father. She snuck into the armory and stole blades, practicing in her quarters and tearing her drapes to tatters. In an act of rebellion, she even began to teach her younger sister the basics, but the pair was quickly discovered and the armory locked. Even that didn’t stop her, as mop handles stolen from the servants became her blades, doors and furniture and phantasms of her imagination her foes. Most boys raised as knights or lords could have gone out in search of honor, but she was trapped in the castle.
It wasn’t until suitors started coming to Harvest Hall seeking her father’s blessing for her hand that she made a choice. She had her mother’s Dornish beauty, an aspect she resented, and her father bided her to choose a lord quickly or else he’d do it for her. She refused, spitting angry words back at him, and a feast was set. At the feast, to which she would be required to attend, one of the visiting lordlings would be selected to become her lord-husband.To Lord Selmy’s fury and embarrassment, the only person who didn’t attend the feast was Lady Leda. She’d left behind her dresses and gowns, but had taken her jewelry, along with a pair of britches, a tunic, and a cloak stolen from one of the keep’s servants. And to the mounting shame, she’d broken into the sealed armory and stolen a blade, treated leather sized for a squire, and a bow. It was only to be expected when he heard that her horse was missing from the stables. The girl, now a young woman, set off across the Dornish Marches in search of the adventure so long kept from her, the adventure her blood whispered of through her dreams.
Perhaps she was reckless, perhaps she was innocent; she’d attended her studies well, and no matter what else could be attributed to her, stupidity and dullness of wit weren’t among them. Her journey was a cautious one, putting skills she’d only read of to use. Certain plants were harmful and certain plants she could eat, or use as medicine. Each of them was listed in one of the books she’d devoured, and she put each of them to use.
North and west she traveled for weeks and months until she reached the Riverlands, traveling through the back country that had become her home. Only the occasional stay in some small town’s inn was risked, a piece of jewelry traded for a night’s stay and fresh supplies. She knew her father’s men would be looking for her, even so far. The jewelry left at this town and that, matching what she’d taken, would spur them on. She merely needed to stay ahead of them, avoiding roads and bridges unless she truly had need of them.
Of course, simply running away wasn’t her goal here. Running wasn’t brave, running wasn’t adventurous. She needed stories, stories that she could tell and stories that could be told of her. She was here for bandits, the fiends that preyed on the weak and helpless of the Riverlands, on the merchants traveling the abandoned roads. She’d sworn on her blood that she’d delivery them justice, be it on the point of an arrow, the edge of a blade, or the end of a noose.
And hunt them she did, creeping through the brush and hugging the branches of trees, watching bandits pass by below or huddle around campfires in the distance. She was as careful as she’d been in avoiding her father’s men, and she knew her limitations. She was young and clad in leather armor, not a veteran of wars clad in plate. She hadn’t the muscles or experience needed to dance through a dozen bandits and emerge victorious.
Stealth and surprise were her weapons, and without the haste that would lead to death and worse, she managed to fell the bandits that strayed from their cohort and vanish back into the night. Only rarely did the girl manage to find a bandit far enough removed from his friends that she could test her sword, and in each instance the poorly trained bandits fell to her.
She traveled north as she hunted and slew, making her way from the Riverlands and their wet climate into the cold, barren north. She’d earned honor in her own eyes, fighting bandits, but now a subtler prey caught her eye. Could there be any more despicable than deserters from the Night’s Watch? Rapists and thieves, murderers and cutthroats the lot of them. Those that ran from their posts were forsaking a proud duty in defending Westeros from the Wildlings beyond the wall. It was decidedly harder to find them. They were scared and running, but knew that men of the Night’s Watch would be after them. They could only live if they escaped far enough south, and Leda intended to put a stop to their plans.
Her consolation in the days and weeks of hard work to find a single man, or two, or three, was that they’d had some measure of training, no matter how small. Stealth was needed sometimes, the deserters with bows picked off so that she could close with the deserters. They put up decent fights, and the girl was occasionally able to go toe to toe with two of them at once. They underestimated her without fail, taking her declaration of challenge with a leer and a jest to their fellows. Looks of surprise replaced amusement when she cut them down, with only one slip resulting in injury for herself.
But it was getting colder, the scar in her side where a spear had stabbed into her ached, and word had reached her that Ser Beric had been seen as far north as White Harbor. She’d done what she’d come for, hadn’t she? Her talents had been proven against the scum of Westeros, and with that triumph in mind she turned her horse south, riding to White Harbor.
The return to Harvest Hall was by way of King’s Landing, a boat taken for the first time in her life. It didn’t agree with the girl who’d grown up so far inland, who’d never been on anything more than a river barge. Open sea travel was horrible, and Leda spent most of her time below deck or leaning over the railings. And finally she was home.
Her lord-father met her with suspicion. Her lord-father met her with anger, and disappointment, but he met her with love. It had been two years since he’d seen his first daughter, and while the second was growing up to be everything he’d ever wanted in an heir – for she’d been named the heir with Leda’s disappearance – he’d still missed her.
Harvest Hall’s subjects welcomed her back with anything from a cold shoulder to a warm hug, and she slowly made a new place for herself at the keep. She didn’t often speak with Lord Selmy, his hair decidedly more grey than when she’d last seen him, but their sparse meetings were cordial. The greatest boon he gave to her was to not object when she resumed her training in the courtyard, matching wits and sword strokes with Ser Beric as never before. Lessons were given to her sister as well, though not often. Leda liked the idea of being the one to teach her, but didn’t want to set the girl down her own path for fear of raising her father’s ire once again.
Despite the lukewarm peace she made back in her home, something called to her. She ate meals with her sister, her father, his vassals, but her mind was increasingly absent. Sitting in a castle would never see her to her goals, never see her against all odds declared a knight for her talents, never see her joining the Kingsguard as had Barristan the Bold, and she longed to be out of her dress and once more wearing the armor that had very nearly become a second skin to her. The calling had come once more, and she could only answer it with a new adventure, something befitting her name and the legacy of Barristan the Bold.
It was over a meal that she made the announcement: she was leaving Harvest Hall, perhaps for good. Her sister was the heir, and would make a better one than ever she had, and no paramour or great cause was binding her heart. Grumbles echoed through the room, and they grew when Lord Selmy offered his weary approval. She’d left once and come back alive; all he asked this time was that she be safe, that she be careful, and that she return to him before he passed away. With tears in her eyes and a grateful smile on her face, Leda agreed and made her goodbyes.
Crossing the Narrow Sea to Myr was no easier than the journey from White Harbor to King’s Landing had been. Counting her blessings, at least she was better prepared this time; her father had seen fit to load her up with gifts suitable to her chosen lifestyle, and for that she’d given him such a hug that he’d complained. She had her horse, well fed and bridled for a greater heat than the Stormlands; she had rations to last a week, along with enough a couple of drakes for emergencies and enough stags to last her more than a year in the Free Cities; the crown jewel of the gifts he’d piled upon her were the sword, exquisitely crafted, the bow suited perfectly to her strength, and the suit of armor befitting a knight of her stature and assets. She was finally ready to follow in Barristan the Bold’s footsteps, as she’d dreamed of doing since she was little.
What she witnessed upon stepping from the deck of the boat, thankful to have solid ground under her feet once more, was entirely alien to anything she’d ever seen. Myr was sprawling, cosmopolitan beyond her dreams. White Harbor at least had felt like Westeros, large as it was, but the vast majority of her life had been spent in small Harvest Hall. There was so much to do, and here was where Leda’s journey truly began.
Myr kept her interest for a time, but after acclimating to the Free Cities as best she could, the black-haired young woman made her way north to Braavos. She’d heard of their unique style of swordplay, the water dance, and sought to learn its secrets. Could anyone in Harvest Hall say they knew the water dance? A year later, Leda could.
From Braavos she made her way south and east, delving into the Dothraki Sea. Her armor became cumbersome and her horse pitiful compared to the Dothraki stallions, so she replaced each. Her horse was sold, but despite her new armor more suited to the plains she couldn’t part with it, nor could she part with her straight, castle-forged blade when she took up the arakh.
East and east still she traveled, passing through endless leagues of the Dothraki Sea until she reached Slaver’s Bay, proud representatives of a culture so alien to the one that she’d been raised with. She hadn’t been in Meereen a week before the summons came to her.
Slaver Lord Obarak Musfahya desired her attendance and, curiosity and excitement together mixed, Leda went to Astapor. She’d dreamed of this stretch of the journey for months, of observing the Unsullied’s fighting style and incorporating it into the lexicon she was developing for herself.
Once more she was stunned by what she found, not simply an invitation to see the city, his city, but an offer to stay there. She was to train the Unsullied, men between the ages of fifteen and eighteen, in the art of defeating everything she’d learned in the west. Other quartermasters were taught her tricks and talents, and in turn they taught their soldiers how to best them with the spear and shield. Leda trained the slaves under her command, drilled beside them, and sparred with the other quartermasters with nearly every free moment.
Except for every seventh day, when she spent time with her new patron. She was the only free woman in the city, and Lord Obba the only free man. She’d heard stories of him in Meereen, tales of madness and cruelty and respect and greatness. What she found was a commanding man, late in his life, with an appreciation for the finer aspects of life. Art, literature, and philosophy were greatly valued by the man who was effectively King of Astapor. These days were spent recovering from the effort of those before, enjoying luxury, speaking with her host and learning of his vision for the city and its future.
It was a home, of sorts. Leda was well paid, stimulated mentally and constantly honing and expanding her techniques. She’d never been in better condition, and even the scar at her side was beginning to fade with the medicines available in Slaver’s Bay. Yet despite that and largely due to the comfort and accumulating wealth of her new life, her adherence to the pilgrimage that had stoked her entire journey was lessening.
Leda is a proud, driven woman, as any who meet her would readily agree. When a goal surfaces in her mind, the Seven help whoever stands in her path, for there’ll be no stopping her from achieving it. She could be seen as friendly, for indeed she’s eager to meet strangers in her station at Astapor, but any attempts to claim superiority over her, unless she truly knows herself beaten, are met with boasts.
Justice is an important ideal to her, but time spent abroad has lessened her belief in the strict codes of Westeros and given her valuable perspective. While she retains her memory of how to fit in to high society in Westeros, her wanderings and life in Astapor have seen fit to dismiss any notions of humility she might’ve clung to. In such a climate, with a castrated Slaver Lord on one side and his castrated army on the other, very little of the Westerosi modesty remains with the woman.
At four and twenty years of age, Leda holds all the beauty her mother had in her youth, with lush lips and high cheekbones. Her hair is black and kept long, of recent years braided, and her soft eyes are brown. Where once she had the pale skin more befitting her father's lineage and the wispy, full body of a proper lady of southern Westero, the sun of the Dothraki Sea and Slaver's Bay has tanned her skin, and years of effort have lent steel to her muscles.
At a tall 5’7, dressed in brown and tan leathers befitting the hot climate, and with enough skin showing that she doesn’t bake while training the Unsullied, Leda looks every bit the eastern warrior-woman. With her black hair, tanned skin, and brown eyes, the airy tunics, trousers, and dresses she wears on her days of leisure could place her as a beauty of Old Ghis, the heady scent of cinnamon hanging about her and the kohl outlining her eyes very much supporting the claim, though visitors from the west might claim her to be a full-blooded woman of Dorne.
Family & AssociatesEdit
- Lord Robert Selmy, Father, Lord of Harvest Hall
- Lady Lysa Selmy, Half-Sister, Heir to Harvest Hall
- Ser Beric Lonmouth, Master-at-Arms of Harvest Hall
- Lady Gwyndolyn Yronwood, Mother, Deceased
- Lady Malora Meadows, Stepmother, Deceased