Francesca Il Fortuna
The fastest draw in the north.
Francesca was born in Aurvesh – as an unwelcome bastard to local princeling, Ffar Wander, and a mysterious courtesan. Ffar soon abandoned the child, and she would have been exposed in the great forest if it hadn’t been for the kindness of Lord and Lady Mull MacCarbrey, who shamed Ffar for his callousness and took the bastard child into their home – the great tower of Caer Corwell, to raise as their ward. Francesca grew up in a the cold hearth of the provincial nobility, but spiritually warmed by a loving family – though she was rarely allowed outside of the tower, as she was considered a source of shame and ridicule by the townsfolk. She enjoyed a close friendship with her adoptive sister, Moire. Unfortunately, the years had not made Ffar Wander kinder, and fuelled by resentment and ambition, he plotted to destroy the Mull MacCarbreys, for they were the only check on his local power. At the age of thirteen, he launched a destructive raid on Caer Corwell under cover of night. In the chaos, Francesca was able to guide herself and Moire to safety, but was discovered by zealous townsfolk, who stole Moire back to her ’ rightful guardian.’ For the next couple of years, Francesca lived in the woods, stealing food and shelter where she could, living always in preparation for winter. One day, a carnival came into town – and Francesca eagerly assimilated herself under their gaudy aegis, establishing herself as an acrobat, camp follower, and general roustabout. At the carnival, she began to hear stories of another courtesan who had travelled with them to Aurvesh some fifteen years ago. Curiosity compelled her to stay.
The Carnival enjoyed minor successes on its mainland journey, winding slowly down to Carronne. Unfortunately, as it neared the city, the carnival train was attacked by local mercenaries, on the pretext of law enforcement. Quick thinking, and her new found martial skills led Francesca to quickly organise the camp followers to safety, and when the smoke had cleared, Francesca negotiated their safe passage into Caronne, though the price of that passage was their employment in a local brothel, run by the nefarious Madame Renee. Francesca rose through the ranks, based not so much on her carnal prowess, as her ability to relax, host, and entertain the Wounded Violet’s guests. Francesca was soon promoted to front of house, welcoming important clients and making them feel at ease; her non-confrontation style, easy manner, quickness to laugh – but crucially with, never at, the clients – and relaxed demeanour meant she accumulated much information of value – and more importantly, many friends in high places. The Wounded Violet was not a kind place to its staff- its prisoners, in reality – and as much as Francesca’s star waxed, she watched helplessly as many of the men and women whose lives she’d saved at the wreckage of the carnival, wane into despair and abject misery. Having secured her own position, she saw she had a responsibility – and quickly enacted it – misplacing a crucial and highly embarrassing document, whilst simultaneously implicating Madame Renee. No soon had the wizened Madame been removed from the premises, than with the tacit support of the city officials, Francesca was organising a refurbishment of the brothel under new management, freeing all who chose to leave. However, she was in no doubt as to the tenuousness of her position, and the extent it relied on the continued goodwill of those who knew she knew their secrets – so she placed her oldest friend, Simplicity Hartweed, in the role of Madam, and made plans for her own departure for Sanctuary – to at last pick up the thread of her own origin – and hopefully a stability and family of her own – that she’d left behind in Aurvesh.