Jola is a young woman from the mountains of Lycadros. She has recently completed her 5 years' military service in her country's army, and is headed to Freistadt with the intention of joining the Red Legion.
Jola was born in the mountainous country of Lycadros, the second of four children born to Petyr, a mining foreman-type person, and Apia, his Medeiran wife. The two met in Freistadt when Petyr was passing through towards the end of his compulsory military service, and Apia was touring as part of a sort of traveling theatrical company. Unlikely a match as it seemed, Petyr returned to the mountains and crags with Apia as his wife, to go back to the life of a miner. The first few years of their marriage were rather rocky, but eventually, although even now Apia still sometimes misses the more luxurious and laid-back Medeiran lifestyle, things have become more settled between them, and they are both very committed to their family.
Jola grew up in the cold dry air of the mountains, in a small town called Tarn in the northwest part of Lycadros. Her family were full free citizens, a privilege bought for them by her grandfather’s service in the Forlorn.
When she was born, her mother was delighted – she’d always wanted a daughter she could dress up, spoil and pamper. However, even as a toddler, Jola had no use for dolls and dresses, preferring to play with stick swords, or mess about in the mud with other Lycadran children her age. The more her mother tried to groom her into a proper little Medeiran girl, the more recalcitrant she became. By the time she was seven, she had become the picture of the Lycadran tomboy stereotype. She enjoyed rock climbing, fighting, and most of all, hearing reports and rumours of the latest accomplishments of her country's military elite, the Forlorn. Her mother had long since abandoned any ideas of shaping her into a smaller version of herself, concentrating her efforts on Jola’s younger, more mild-mannered siblings, with some degree of success.
As she grew into adolescence she was found more and more often underfoot in local winesinks, trying to wheedle information about members of the Forlorn out of travelers, or soldiers returning after their five years’ service… Jola looked forward to her turn in the military more than anything. It was a chance to get away from the mines; to do her duty to her kingdom, and distinguish herself as worthy of her grandfather’s (and her uncle’s) legacy. She felt (although she never said so much to anyone) in a way that she had to make up for the rest of her family. She saw her father as soft and a bit lazy. His military career was best described as ‘adequate’ – and why else would he have married an overindulged Medeiran woman and retreated back to a relatively easy job at the mines? Her brother was a cripple, and her younger sisters seemed like to be ruined by her mother’s pampering; and that left only Jola.
She had never been the biggest or strongest child of her age (of this she was well aware!) but she did have certain other advantages – she was clever and quick, and she soon learned to make these things work – along with an unyielding stubbornness – to compensate for her lack of raw power.
She was happy and well-challenged during her five years in the army, but after her time was up, she was ready for some kind of change. Jola decided, in the end, to go with one of her squadmates, Lagos, to Freistadt, and join the Red Legion. She has no interest in a husband; the idea of military glory is much more appealing. She has heard rumors, after all, that Kadis himself was able to join the Forlorn without fathering a child...
Jola’s three siblings include one older brother, Hylas, now aged 24, and two sisters: Ressine and Nassa, 19 and 14. Hylas was injured during his time in training, and sent home with a nearly-useless leg. He is now apprenticed to a smith, so his prospects are brighter than the average cripple’s, at least. Ressine, to Jola's great shame, left Lycadros to live with their grandparents in order to avoid military service; and Nassa remains in the home.
Jola’s paternal grandparents are both deceased – her grandfather died in service to the Forlorn (although he was considered as such long before he actually drew his last breath), and her grandmother died when she was 10, after a protracted and embarrassing decline into senile dementia. Apia’s parents, Iago and Pena d'Equs see their grandchildren extremely rarely (except for Ressine), as they are not particularly inclined to make the trying journey into the mountains. Jola has only met them a few times.
Jola Xilos is about 5’6” tall, with broad shoulders (for a girl, anyway), and strong, well-toned limbs. Her skin is a golden-brown colour sprinkled with a handful of freckles, and she is of a somewhat less stocky build than many of her countrymen – both traits she owes to her Medeiran blood. Her dark brown eyes are large, almond-shaped, and slightly wide-set. She is not particularly attractive or ugly, although her eyes and her hair do call one’s attention. She is the only child in her immediate family to have the red hair otherwise so common to Lycadros – hers is thick, almost wiry, waved, and fiery red.