Birthplace: South of Blandenberg, Farmland adjoining the village.
Current Residence: Mikona
When the war betwen M'Chek and T'Nanshi first broke out, records show that Dolf Wennson moved his family South, to a small farming region packed with displaced settlers from Blandenberg. The Wennson family disappears from records until Roger Wennson, Dala's grandfather, was tried and hanged after he was cought "stealing M'Chekian property" (most likely taking arms from the dead soldiers) after one of th many Battles of Blandenberg. Probably to avoid the stigma associated with the name, Wolfe Wennson, the eldest son, changed the family name to Wennen.
Wolfe was one of those all-to-common M'Chekian men who made up for their lack of control over their circumstances with extremely authoritarian control over their private lives. He was, however, not an overly cruel man. Wolfe was able to provide successfully for his first wife, Victoria, and his two children: Robin and Jacob. However, when T'Nanshi's army pressed further to the South during the Fall of 2073, Wolfe was forced to move his family South to one of the many "New Blandenberg" settlements set up for refugees. The crowding of the settlement, and loss of so many crops led to many deaths, and both Victoria and Robin Wennen passed away that winter.
In the Spring of 2074, clergy of Mikon arrived from Mikon in order to aid the refugees in the various New Blandenberg settlements. A young priestess by the name of Alcaria Torren was among a group who set up a small shrine in Wolfe's village. The following Winter, she and Wolfe were married, and that spring she gave birth to a daughter, Dala Wennen. From the testimony of villagers who knew the family, they were initialy well-cared for, having friends within the village clergy, and Wolfe, as always, worked tirelessly to provide for his family.
However, in 2079, things began to change. The village was considered well-established by the M'Chekian army, and so the Mikon clergy were moved to a more needy encampment. Alcaria was granted leave to remain with her family, but she no longer had time to care for the village's spiritual needs. The Church of Valok soon sent a representative to the village, hoping to capitolize on the general disconent the settler's had with the quality of frontier farming life. This particular representative, Lanse Gormann, was a domineering, and even outright cruel man, and the village quickly factionalized into those who followed him fanatically, and those who didn't, but were afraid to speak out against him for fear of reprisal. Stories say that Gormann's favorite method of correcting those who strayed from his teachings was to hang them by their arms from a tree in the village center and scourge them, while preaching of Valok's desire for discipline and strength.
Another notable feature of Gormann's fanatacism was his loathing of any practicioners of the arcane. Itinerant wizards would occasionally travel between border settlements, offering to aid villages with their spells in exchange for anything from mere lodging and food, to their choice from among the village's women. Whenever Gormann got word of the arrival of such a wizard, he would fly into a rage, and chase the interloper from the village with his longsword. Needless to say, it was strictly forbidden that any of the villagers own any materials on arcane magic.
Of course, as soon as Gormann established his dominance over the village, Alcaria Wennen was no longer able to preach Mikon's ways to the people. Her last attempt to preach to the people was interrupted by Gormann, who strode up to her, snatched her holy symbol from her hand, and began railing against the inability of Mikon to grant salvation to the people of New Blandenberg. After that, she fell into a sullen depression and seldom left her home. Wolfe, probably out of a feeling of impotence at having to watch his wife suffer, turned to drinking, and began to neglect his family. It was in this atmosphere of that Dala first began to experience life in refugee M'Chek.
As a child, it was obvious that Dala had an exceptional mind. Unfortunately, it was equally obvious that she had no intention to use it for anything. She would spend her days reading what few books were available in the village, but resisted all attempts by her father to send her to Mikona for a clerical schooling at the Temple of Mikon. Evidently, he wished for her to follow in her mother's footsteps. Her brother, Jacob was far more ambitious, but unfortunately very dull. Wolfe also had designs for Jacob to take over the farm and establish a family line in the village.
As Wolfe began to live more and more of his life in the bottle, and Jacob began to take on the farm work, young Dala began to wander the village untended. However, despite her later affiliations with the Church of Valok, she seemed to somehow avoid dealing with Gormann. None of the village's survivors seems to recall her ever being present for one of his sermons. Dala apparently continued to lead an aimless life until she finally found a subject that she was interested in learning.
It was a hot dry Summer in 2086, and many crops in New Blandenberg and the surrounding areas were failing. Through luck, and perhaps Mikon's smiling upon the family, the Wennens' farm was able to provide well enough that they didn't risk starvation, as did many of their neighbors. It was in this climate, that the village eagerly welcomed an itinerant wizard who promised to bring rain in exchange for a sum of gold. Of course, the villagers would probably have to scavenge one of the battlefields for this gold, but that virtually the only way to earn any gold in those settlements, and was quite commonplace. However, before the transaction could take place, Gormann heard that this wizard was in town, and came screaming from his home, longsword in hand. The wizard turned tail and fled through the Wennens' fields.
Several days later, some of the other village children later reported that Dala was seen reading "strange volumes." Those she was closer to claimed that she had found some arcane tomes in her field the night after the wizard fled that way. There is even one woman who claims to have seen that one of these books was filled with drawings of corpses, indicating that it was possibly a necromantic tome. Regardless of the exact nature of these books, it is clear that they detailed arcane magicks, and that the young Dala studied them diligently.
Her friends report that within a month she was able to invoke the most basic cantrips, a wonder for a self-taught mage. Soon after, however, she apparently stopped speaking to anyone about her new-found skills, and ceased demonstrating anything. She was, however, still studying, apparently moreso than before, as accounts find her sneaking from the village for days at a time, and often disappearing at night, and when she finally arrived in Mikona some years later, she was fully prepared to study the arcane, and didn't require the usual period of apprenticeship to learn the basic skills of wizardry.
In a village under the strict control of Priest Gorman, it is a wonder that Dala's studies lasted as long as they did. For two years, she continued her studies by night, and for two years, Gormann was unable to even bring her to a sermon, let alone discover her obsession with the arcane. However, it was apparently her brother who was her downfall. On this particular day in the Fall of 2088 Her father was drinking as usual, and her mother was shut up in the house. Jacob had been elected by the village to travel to Nelthrope Keep to donate some of the village's surplus supplies for the war efort. Dala had apparently shut herself in the family's shed with her books. Jacob was only a handful of miles out of the village when the one of the wheels on his cart shattered on a stone, and he returned to the village in order to replace it. Some of his neighbors were tending to the cart while he went to fetch some tools from his shed. Apparently the usually swarthy Jacob came running from the shed "as pale as a nymph's buttocks," and, "Telling us to watch the shed in case something tried to escape it, he ran off towards the Priest Gormann's home as fast as a thunderbolt."
"The Priest soon emerged, with Jacob following. Gormann ignored us and walked purposefully to the shed, his [holy] symbol held in front of him." What happened next is somewhat confused, considering the history. It is one of those strange combinations of fortune and misfortune that happens so often to propel a commoner onto the path to greatness. Apparently Gormann entered the shed, and soon emerged, dragging a disheveled Dala in one hand, and with several tomes under his other arm. He marched the shocked girl back to his home, while Jacob sent his friends home and retired to his own house.
Nothing further happened until the following day. That noon, the Priest Gormann emerged from his house, dragging Dala, now "bound at the hands and looking quite bloodied," to the center of he village. Gormann called for someone to fetch some rope, and people assumed it was to be another scourging. The usual crowd of Gormann's followers gathered. At that point, rather than proceeding to scourge the girl, Gormann burst into a sermon and began decrying mages, blaming them for "every evil that's befallen M'Chek." He then apparently made claims that Dala had been attempting to poison the village's soil so that the strength of Valok would be taken from them. He cried out to the gathered crowd that the only good punishment for such betrayal was death, and predictably, a majority of them agreed.
At this point, someone must have stolen back to the Wennens' home and given them the news, for Alcaria Wennen arrived to intervene on her daughter's behalf. All she achieved, however, was to recieve the brunt of a vicious torrent of words from Gormann, who even apparently managed to incite the crowd to begin pelting the poor woman with stones. A handful of villagers, led Alcaria, who now appeared "completely shattered," from the scene. With the crowd now whipped into a mad frenzy, Gormann proceded to "string the girl up. She dangled there for a few seconds before the Nanshi arrived." Of course the great irony is that the girl who would in her later career be one of the bitterest foes of T'Nanshi would owe her life to them.
The T'Nanshi assault on the village was in fact merely a small raiding party, but they quickly overran the defenseless village. Some 70-80% of the villagers were slain. Of Dala's family, only herself and her mother survived. Her mother, we presume, was present for the deaths of her husband and son at the hands of T'Nanshi soldiers. At any rate, when Dala and Alcaria Wennen arrived in Mikona some weeks later, with a handful of other refugees, the latter's mind was completely shattered by her experiences. She still lives in Mikona to this day, supported by her former allies in the Church of Mikon.
Dala Wennen vanishes from any records for some time. There's enough evidence to suggest she was studying at the library when she could, and scraping out a meager existence in the slums, on the very fringes of Mikonian society.
The Military Years
Dala's military career is covered well by her own memoirs on the subject. It is self-promoting, but amazingly accurate for such memoirs.