About Lady Gabrielle d'Apcher
Lady Gabrielle d'Apcher is the daughter of Lord Thomas d'Apcher, Marquis de Margeride, and Lady Florianne d'Apcher, originally of House Eiredor. Her hair is a fiery red, which she often wears in a tangle of ringlet curls, as an accompaniment to the pale skin of her face. Her eyes are greenish-blue, and lie behind a pair of curved-rectangular eyeglasses. She carries an average-sized slender frame, though it is often masked by the clothing she typically wears. In keeping with the fashions of the Empire of Taldor, the outfits she wears are colorful and elaborate, a testament to her faith in Shelyn, and thanks to some magic, always kept tidy. She usually wears heeled boots, and seems to maintain balance in any terrain. She also always carries with her a ladies' fan, which she uses to keep herself cool on warm days, and she often gestures with it, as if it were a conversational aid. While adventuring, Lady Gabrielle brings neither weaponry nor armor, except for a modest longbow she uses for game hunting. In the past, the protective spells of others have been sufficient.
When she is not on an expedition sponsored by the Society, Lady Gabrielle enjoys mingling in the social circles of Absalom, preferring the extravagance of the society she was born into, with all its garden parties, theater outings, and masquerades. She is an avid reader of adventure novels, a student of cultures, an exemplar of etiquette, and an avatar of elegance. She appreciates rich, well-crafted things, like fine jewelry and exquisite meals, deriving a sense of value from the effort required to create something. Naturally, she avoids shoddily-made things, tasteless foods, dirty places, and especially people who have not yet developed a respect for anyone but themselves. Gabrielle is also an accomplished actress, volunteering in dramatic productions whenever she does not find herself called away by the Pathfinders. Though she is certainly within the culturally-appropriate age of marriage, she has never been known to engage in romantic contact, her previous attempts likely either too subtle in their nature or due to the serious, respectful natures of those she has felt an interest in since she began her time with the Pathfinders.
The Lady appears as a pleasant face in conversation, and is an intelligent contributor on many topics. She can be a very warm and generous friend to those who make the effort to be a friend to her, but she has little tolerance for others who do not. When Gabrielle feels slighted, the grudge she holds remains for an eternity. As a Pathfinder, she often examines situations for clever solutions, and makes sure to keep herself informed of the larger consequences of her actions. However, when other Pathfinders, most often men with inflated opinions of themselves, think they know better, she has no qualms about quietly smiling while they march themselves towards a rude awakening, feigning genuine concern for their well-being as they receive the lessons she believes they should have been taught at the Grand Lodge. Her cleverness does not imply cowardice, though: in desperate circumstances, Lady Gabrielle has found deep wells of courage within her, as her life experiences and her quiet faith in the vengeful Calistria have left her with strong reserves of willpower.
In her teenage years, she devoted herself to the Opparan theater, often acting on a volunteer basis for the grand productions her mother was always eager to sponsor. It was the least the producers could do for their most generous donor. Over time, Lady Gabrielle actually became pretty good at it, to the point where she achieved prima donna status for several productions. Of course, her status as the blossoming daughter of the Marquis de Margeride was only a benefit to the young diva, though she was too naive to sense that the attention she received was motivated by more than her stage prowess. It was this naïveté which led to the life she enjoyed all being taken away from her by the mother who had provided it for her. In the Gilded City, dreams given are always fleeting.
Though Lady Gabrielle makes sure to never speak of it, she did not become a Pathfinder by choice. Her mother's lavish parties, extravagant lifestyle, and frequent donations to Opparan opera, though typical of a lady of House Eiredor, generated expenses significantly greater than the March of Margeride's incomes. Not wanting to see her pleasures interrupted, Lady Florianne used her family connections to arrange a suitable match for her daughter, as a way of providing credit for the family's outstanding debts. Perhaps due to Gabrielle's youthful rebelliousness, or perhaps due to her total lack of desire for her match, the young lady would have nothing of it. So Lady Florianne found a different solution. Gabrielle's older brother Gerard, an officer in the Taldan Phalanx, had joined the Pathfinders years ago out of a desire to continue his expeditions across Golarion, and was already earning sizeable sums of gold from his adventures. By arranging for Gabrielle to become one as well, Lady Florianne ensured that if her daughter would not marry, she would at least earn a similar income for the family, and all without degrading herself by taking on a formal occupation. By sending her all the way to the burgeoning Lantern Lodge in Tian Xia, headed by Venture-Captain Amara Li, Lady Florianne also ensured that any social repercussions would be kept far away from home.
When she arrived at the Lantern Lodge, Lady Gabrielle became mystified by acrobats and martial artists, fascinated by both the physical empowerment and the grace and discipline of their movements and actions. Since she had never really spent time around common folk before the Pathfinders, she found her peers' oneupmanship and glory-seeking nauseating. Within the monastery, however, she found others who were interested in inner peace and self-improvement, not competition. Where she had first seen other Pathfinders who cared only about who was the strongest or fastest or mightiest, she quickly began spending all her time finding her own path to self-perfection, and found acceptance amongst her training partners. Gabrielle would never be strong enough to wield a sword, her social graces mattered nothing to the Society, and she had no knack for magic, but when surrounded by the calm of a Tian monastery, what mattered was the development of her own martial style. Due to her graceful movements and relaxed stance, as well as the smiles she started to display while in training, she was given nicknames like "Lady of Spring" and "Lady of Blossoms."
Several years ago, the Lantern Lodge expanded its influence into the Inner Sea region, and when Amara Li traveled to Absalom, Lady Gabrielle went with her, out of a desire to once again see the gilded city of Oppara which she had loved and lost. Since her arrival, Gabrielle has slowly worked to build her fame and fortune amongst the Society by assisting Lady Glorianna Morilla, a friend of the Society whose ideals Gabrielle could identify with. Though she sensed that Lady Morilla was genuinely concerned with structural reform in the Empire, she also knew that Glorianna's blood was that of House Morilla of Absalom, several generations away from a Taldan house. Lady Morilla, and anyone who continued to place themselves under her, would find their ability to influence the Empire inherently limited, no matter how many secrets the Morilla family's Guild of Wonders collected. Lady Gabrielle would have much more potential on her own, due to her status in the Apcher family.
When the Pathfinder Society expanded its activities into Varisia, Lady Morilla asked that all those Pathfinders loyal to her cause work to build up Varisia's own aristocracy in the image of the Empire's. In order to spread her own wings, Lady Gabrielle decided to be exactly what her mother was so good at: a patron of the theater. Except instead of losing gigantic sums by ensuring her place at the top of every donor list, she would be a producer, and would allow the Varisian elite to compete over their own hierarchy. This would create both the aristocracy Lady Morilla wished and the well-funded productions Lady Gabrielle sought. She enlisted the help of a few willing Pathfinders, and her production, a Varisian adaptation of the Taldan opera The Fangs of Ambition, currently continues to develop. Already she sees herself as a leader, as she has developed the ability and the ambition needed to direct her own house or her own flock of Pathfinders.
Lady Gabrielle's adventuring history is something she thinks little of, as it has mostly involved a lot of walking, a lot of sitting on boats, and a lot of killing. She has fonder memories of the submissions to the Pathfinder Chronicles which she has penned, because there she has been able to channel her creative energies and weave thrilling narratives of brave adventurers, and skip over the drudgery of cataloguing every hill climbed, coffin opened, and trinket found. Her Chronicles read more like adventure tales than expedition reports. Lady Gabrielle knows that the easiest way to generate interest in someone is to give a mere taste of her appearance and character, and leave plenty to the imagination. An interested mind can fill in the details in accordance with his inner desires. Thus, she has managed to generate quite a bit of attention from the Society, as well as the respect and admiration of fellow Pathfinders, without having to resort to boasting about her killing ability or her mastery of magic. She has no need to promote herself with words and deeds because she has already elevated herself in others' imaginations.
Lady Gabrielle does have one looming challenge ahead of her. Though she and her siblings have managed to send a great deal of gold back home, it has not been enough to hold off Lord Thomas's creditors forever. Believing that it was well past her time to settle down, Gabrielle's parents have told her to finally present herself for courtship and marriage, something she has no intention of doing. Instead of covering up her parents' debts with marriage and sentencing herself to as many children as her youthful body can manage, she would much rather decide her own fate by finding a way to claim the family title for herself. All she has to do is earn a large amount of gold, large enough to be able to settle the family's larger debts, and ensure that her parents have no other option than to let her quietly buy them out. Debtor's prison or a seizure of their holdings would ruin their reputation. In addition, she has to somehow convince her older brother Gerard to give up his claim to the title. As her brother has always been more interested in the far corners of the world than in the Empire itself, she believes that he will be easier to deal with than her controlling mother.
Adventuring has begun to take its toll on Gabrielle's soul. The whole business with the Lissalans has exposed her to terrible dangers, and all the violence required to overcome them has left her upset. She has noticed that as the murder increased, her fellow Pathfinders largely seemed to enjoy it more, as if violence was the objective instead of a last resort. All around her, she has seen eager explorers transform into bloodthirsty killers, a fate she will do anything to avoid. In her years of adventuring, she has yet to see any real motive driving the Pathfinders other than wealth, acquisition of magical power, and the out-doing of each other. This lack of motivation other than self-interest has left her with no loyalty to the Society, a feeling she has made certain to keep hidden. She has already planned her gradual detachment from the Pathfinders, achieved by building her own incomes, incomes which would allow her to live a life of comfort and wealth rather than one of danger and of always requiring more gold for endless expenditures on marginally-beneficial magical items. Lady Gabrielle seeks to trade the hazards of adventuring for the thrills of Taldan court, as she feels that she would enjoy herself plenty as the Marquise de Margeride. She would be content in knowing that her time with the Pathfinders was not a waste, as it enabled her to avoid a life of being stuffed away in some old country house as the demure wife of some baron from nowhere. All she has to left to do is to remain focused on claiming the family title for herself.