Tall woman, big sword. Fire magnet.


Garridan stands six feet tall. Lean/rangy in figure – she undoubtedly has curves, but she’s generally dressed either in her plate mail, or is ready to do so if required – you’re far more likely to see her in shirt sleeves and jerkin (or, frankly, stark naked) rather than in skirts. It seems probable she’s from a family and/or world where this height is fairly unremarkable – she doesn’t generally try to either conceal or utilise her height socially by stooping/looming.

More of an officer than a gentlewoman – and more of a legendary idiot, piss-artist & philanderer than an officer. It probably has to be at least partly a deliberate facade – if only because she’s somehow still not dead…

Mercurial in her demeanour, depending on the moment. She’s been seen to play the dumb grunt in front of Bastianos when pressed for information; be frankly psychopathic towards Lutheran when she encountered him on her home world; and be a chivalrous host towards Sail in the Garden. As for Michael – friend, lover, sparring partner? (Yes. All of the above)

She is rarely seen without her sword, slung in a baldric over one shoulder; her telescope, and what she refers to as an ‘opener’, which she appears to use when doing sorcery. This odd little weapon is around the size of a penknife, a vicious looking thing that she wields in her left hand – like a penknife, a short blade is pivoted from each end, and these fold inwards to be concealed/guarded by the handle – but unlike a penknife, the pivot points run across rather than through the blades, such that once concealed in a clenched fist, the blades point outwards from between the fingers.

She has recently claimed The Garden as her own domain – and is studiously denying that this makes her in any way a minor creation deity. Seems like such theological distinctions are important when you have a priest for a brother…


“Commander Saracen here closed proceedings, and I end my account, noting only that the Corporal was heard to lament – with a significant and imaginative degree of vitriol which I made no attempt to transcribe – upon the nature of the garb she had been provided with. It would appear that skirts and stays are not to the Corporal’s liking, regardless of the fine quality of the velvet – and a wedding ring even less so.” – Archivist Carridae, Academy records

“In retrospect it was something about her posture and the haughty distain she seemed to project. That she did not wince at the incisions as one would expect from a women of wealth, dressed as she was at that time in an austere yet expensive cut. Pragmatic, impatient, perceptive, with a piercing glare.” – Lutheran, Cold Graves & Warm Hearts


“A figure was approaching the shore, armed but not challenging…” – Nyx (Ushtabi), Waterways


“Susan spent several hours producing a rather striking silhouette of you and empowered it so that it would allow me to be able to contact you.” – Michael, Brass in your pocket


Main character image (in plate mail) taken from here


Serjeant-at-Arms Sylvia Garridan, Soldier-Scholar of the Academy.
Or is that Captain, now, under dead-man’s-shoes progression?
Or something distinctly more senior? That’s an unfinished conversation with Lucien

Garridan of the Garden.

Garridan ‘still figuring what her fucking title ought to be’ (direct quote from recent correspondence)

Garridan – Sylvia, if you prefer – was the third child of her family – sworn into the Academy when she was nine years old.

There’s a broad order to things when a family has any prospect of passing on wealth (without that, it’s catch as catch can, and nevermind the predictability of a career)

The eldest stays home – they’ll inherit, and they need to learn the business. That’s Katerina. Katya to the family.

The second generally serves the Church. For the Garridans, that’s Oliver, the elder of the twins. As Sylvia puts it though – even though they’re functionally of an age, there was never really any doubt which of them would enter which institution: “I always wanted to go play with swords, and find adventure. He couldn’t wait to get into skirts. Not even in the fun way, either!”

Which brings us to the Academy, and Sylvia, and all the other third-borns. And what it means to be a Soldier-Scholar. And why Scholar-Soldiers are something quite different (who may do irresponsible things like creating memory gardens) – but that’s a longer tale for another time.

Garridan’s impressions of others

Lutheran/Tomascal :

  • End of Session 3: Things get interesting when he and I meet. Not always good-interesting. He should probably stay further away than he does. He asks questions I don’t want to consider the answers to, and gets under my skin. And then (and now) – I hurt him. Not always on purpose – he just keeps being there at the wrong moment. Or maybe the right one, depending on your point of view. Damn close, right there when I stop being unconscious…which is a bit of a concern. Back in Valencia, I thought it was just that he wanted to bed me – but that was thirty years ago. Not so sure that adequately explains his continued pursuit – especially now that I understand more of just how damn old he probably is, what in the name of all the little dead gods kind of interest can I hold for him? But I have to admit – his name keeps cropping up. I guess the curiosity isn’t totally one-sided.
  • End of Session 4: Supercilious prick. Not Lutheran any more. Don’t think I’d quite clocked that til now. Better get used to it – need to find a way to work with him. That chat about my tattoos though? Oh, that did not work. Stupid idea. Over it.
  • End of Session 5: Has been looking out for me more than I understood – or maybe just more than I was willing to admit. More dangerous than I realised, too, if hunches are right. And if those hunches are right, and I’m right about what follows – well, things are going to get darker yet. Which is nuts to say, when he’s already hauled Sail and Pieter with him into Shadow. Nyx too – but she should know what she’s doing, right?

Michael :

  • End of Session 3: My very dear friend. Truly. A chance meeting, an openness & camaraderie I rarely feel. He said he would always be able to find me – but that was five years ago, and I’d not seen or heard from him since. And then he comes, with his hunters close behind him (again), into the Garden. And he destroys my tent (again), and off he goes (again). And then he does find me – and I him – in more ways than one, at Shatterlight. Sail calls it a confluence. I call it fucking awful timing.
  • End of Session 4: Why would you come back after I tried to kill you – he asks. Ah. Well. It does sound a little illogical to return, when you put it like that, doesn’t it? Bollocks. For a while there, I thought I could tell myself that I was being all clever and tactical, some feint-within-feint nonsense about needing him not to break for the good of us all. And I’ve no doubt that’s also true – because the moment you start thinking too hard about why you are taking each tiny action, you fall over your own feet – it has to be instinct first, and understand the cleverness when reviewing after the danger has passed. I told him some bare-faced lie about being merely cautious, not afraid – because he needed to hear that, and I needed to claim it, while I tried to learn how to make it be true. I think I got already it right when I kept it simple though: we’re scarred and scared. Turns out, if you write, and say, and re-affirm to one another, some dumb-arse thing like ‘better to be hurt than bitter’, the universe will turn round and test you on it. It is better, still, damnit.
  • End of Session 5: Yes.

’Sail :

  • End of Session 3: Right now, she’s a cock-blocking witch. And I told her so. Loudly. I…should probably apologize for that. Maybe. I do get along with her – but right now she’s just acting like she’s my mother – and the only woman who has a right to do that is dead. Don’t go home, says Sail, you’ll only get yourself killed and get blamed for everything; stop getting drunkenly naked with Michael, says Sail, there’s a ship for us to get on and he needs to go away with Drake and face his demons…
  • End of Session 4: Well, I did apologise. I thought we were good…she’s in her own comfortable place with books and scholars right now though. No…no, she isn’t. I’ve grumbled and growled at her, and she’d entirely sensibly backed off and left me to make my own mistakes…and I need to make sure she knows the ideas and theories and suspicions bouncing round my head, before I walk away.
  • End of Session 5: Oh, I hope you’ve found a way to summon the Gallowgate Lad, my friend, because it’s not where you left it. Otherwise we’ve lost your airship, and you’re heading out into Shadow in a rowing boat, with two veterans caught up in their own pasts, and a quiet man wielding a weapon from that same war, or is the weapon wielding him?

Nyx :

  • End of Session 3: Everyone else gets all cautious around Nyx. Someone mentioned Occam’s Razor to me once – she’s like that. Cuts straight through the bullshit and the grey areas to get things done, puts the lightest of touches on overladen balanced scales so that one side drops. I have a suspicion that I’m less cautious than others because her necessary & my necessary have been in agreement, so far. I don’t think I’ll be very successful at stopping her as and when we inevitably disagree…
  • End of Session 4: Note to self: when someone a few millennia old bursts into your bedroom with a couple of other people – and those people are looking exasperated, or practical, or whatever – and she’s looking…knowing?…don’t assume it’s just a been-there-done-that. Remember, she walks different paths to other people, sees different truths, different priorities. And maybe she was just seeing forward into a different room, where the bottle was broken. Maybe. She only opened the door, she didn’t actually intervene – did she? – but I’m sure Michael is stronger and faster than me…and then he wasn’t, thankfully. I told him it was because he was hag-ridden, not able to think tactically, but maybe there’s another explanation.
  • End of Session 5: Hope you know what you’re doing, Nyx. Because your Necessary just sent you out into the black, and mine was screaming to stay put. And I don’t think it was me being a coward – is it at all possible that returning to Finisterre has screwed with your inner compass?

Pieter :

  • End of Session 3: The one I know least about. He swore to Bastianos’ service. He’s going with Michael and Drake to…wherever it is they’re going. Those are just facts, not feelings – no emotional feeling one way or the other right now.
  • End of Session 4: Ah. The quiet man can voice an opinion. One I disagree on – but at least he can talk. Should make the time to talk to him – he’s easily overlooked, but that doesn’t mean he’s not just as necessary as everyone else, and I need to take the time to understand him better – he’s certainly not going to volunteer anything.
  • End of Session 5: Left it too fucking late to have that chat, didn’t I? Oh, Vala may have dickered and allowed me & Michael an hour to dally before we see her in Shatterlight, but I think she’ll be glad I’ve got that hour to get my temper under control – because not telling us that sword should stay in Gossamer was a seriously big deal, and right now I want to shake her!

And, mockingly describing herself : There are few constants among the many worlds we walk. But one is that there’s only one punchline to ‘What do you call a woman who thinks with her sword?’, and that’s ‘Whatever she damn well wants you to call her’. Any other response leads to more of the punch, and less of the line, see you?


The Shadow and the Flame caroline_s_walker