Lady Astrid Keith was a Mage Princess at the twilight of The Imperium. She was notable for her incredible skill in Aetherics research and for her leading role in The Episurian War, rising to the rank of Vice Admiral under the guidance of Admiral Cuthbert Horatio. After the war, she was forced into a marriage, arranged by her father Lord Clarence Keith II, with Statler Semokku, whom she conspired to murder with the aid of many of the other members of the Milgravian court.
Astrid's legacy is one of tragic failure, where despite her repeated attempts to change her fate, she could not escape living a life of bloodshed and brutal political maneuvering. Ironically, her attempts to ensure that future generations would not suffer her fate only made things worse for her and the people around her.
Early Life and Military Service Edit
Born to the prominent Keith family of Telrion, she was drafted to command her family's fleet during The Episurian War, where she rose to the rank of Vice Admiral. Astrid participated (involuntarily) in the genocide of the Dwarves of Kartak, the Episurian capital world, under the orders of Admiral Horatio. The horror of her crimes scarred her for the rest of her life.
After serving the Imperium in the Episurian War, Lady Keith entered into a politically arranged marriage to Statler Semokku. She would ultimately arrange her husband's assassination, leading to the brief but devastating Milgravian Succession War, in which the Keith family supported Lady Keith's daughter, Petra as Governor of Milgar. After the defeat of the Keith faction, Lady Keith fled Milgar and returned to her homeworld of Telrion, where she retired from political life to focus on a career in aetheric research. Some years later, Astrid reactivated her naval commission and rose to the rank of commodore in the Imperial Navy's Hybern Sector Fleet.
Astrid conspired with many in the sector, from the disreputable Kalimo Andros, to her fellow and then superior officer Roland Drumpf, and even the many races that lay at the sector's borders, in order to increase her personal authority. She was a chief architect of the assassination of Himmel Brahm and his bride-to-be Lena Adlith, as well as her rivals Judah Brahm and Inquisitor Serim Milosz, and on top of that led the resulting naval coup in the Hybern sector.
Astrid had been forewarned both about a plot of Ehrlai's to poison the guests as well as a teleportation disruption field around the event. She used an elvish agent to disrupt the anti-teleportion field and came prepared to deal with the poison. However, during the arrest attempt, she was unable to transport in sufficient forces to aid the capture and instead became embroiled in a firefight, in which Duncan was significantly wounded. Additionally, Filimon Connel, another high-ranking member of the Imperium, attempted to arrest her during the event.
Rather than fleeing as the firefight began to sway out of her favor, Astrid insisted that Duncan be evacuated before her. While waiting for her turn to be teleported away, she attempted to use Selene H. Veer's handheld teleporter to throw Filimon Connel into a wall, but his Teleport disruptor caused her to be thrown away from her guards instead. Shortly after, she was shot and killed by a lucky spray of fire from the An'drosse guards.
Astrid was a contradictory mess, driven often by a mix of political pragmatism, high idealism, and devotion to the people she loved. The trauma of being an unwilling participant in the Kartak Genocide never left her, and at first had reduced her to a mentally ill wreck. With the help of Duncan and her brother Clarence - and a push from her father to go to Milgar - Astrid pulled out of a depressive spiral and forged the horrors of her past into a grand cause: to tear down the corruption of the old imperium, and build a new Empire. This Empire would be founded not on belief in the power of the great families and the right of the Mage Dynasts as the heirs of Adalna, but on the egalitarian and meritocratic right of the Mage Princes - titles which would be restored to their old meritocratic definitions and opened to any race who could attain it.
Sadly, her past lent her a far darker disposition as well; being a top naval officer and an aethericist good enough to be reckoned with the top people of the empire left her very few tools with which to achieve her dreams that were not violent and destructive. The "Butcher of Kartak" had become desensitized to killing and felt no remorse in plotting assassinations or ordering the deaths of thousands in order to achieve her aims. This tendency became further entrenched upon the birth of her daughter, Petra; Astrid decided quickly that she could justify doing almost anything in order to ensure that her daughter would inherit a safe and prosperous position, hopefully in her new Empire.
Yet she never delighted in death, and did her best when she could to save those persecuted by the Imperium, often times working with foreigners (whom she also admired) in order to secure enough political power on the fringes to hide anyone she rescued. She greatly respected the most brilliant minds she encountered, and did her best to protect and work with such luminaries as Selene H. Veer, Gentila Katiche, Scarborough Maximiter, and Siebern (despite the latter two's dubious motivations and Ascensionist tendencies).
Astrid never respected the established social order of the Imperium and consorted with all manner of outcasts and foreigners (oftentimes engaging in passionate affairs to accompany her intellectual and political pursuits). Her hatred of family politics had always been a persistent part of her thinking because of her relationship to her father, but became enflamed by her experiences on Milgar to a burning hatred of the great family system and all of the senseless policies that fell out of it. Yet she felt a deep love for her closest relatives; she and her brother Clarence in particular were extremely close growing up, and though they differed on ideological position later in life, their shared childhood under their strict father Clarence II strongly bound them together as they faced the challenges of a crumbling Imperium. To Duncan, in particular, she was deeply loyal for all that he had done to keep her in one piece through the many years of their companionship. She respected him greatly and regretted the times that she ignored his advice - on handling the rebellions on Milgar in particular. Though she continued her libertine ways despite knowing that Duncan was not pleased by her constant flirtations, Astrid made it clear to him whenever she could that though she sought pleasure wherever she found it amicable, he was the sole commander of her heart; she would never leave him or order him from her side.
Lady Keith always wanted the best for her daughter, and did many unspeakable things in her name when she was growing up on Milgar. Ironically, the idealism that she passed to her daughter therefore placed Petra at odds with her mother - once she was of an age to realize what her mother had done, Petra distanced herself from the murderous aspects of Astrid's life. Astrid realized after her failure to give Petra the throne that she could not reasonably interfere in her life - yet that did not deter Astrid from working around and through Petra to achieve her ends. She was bound and determined to see things through to the bitter end, no matter her daughter's objections to her methods.
In the end, however, Astrid's wish to share her new Imperium with the people she cared about was too much of a weakness, and she sacrificed too much in order to keep them alive while achieving her dreams.