Iliya apparently met her end during the Battle of Yarathera in 1802 AS--over seventy years ago--but her body was never found and her death never confirmed. Rumours have claimed that she lives still, serving her Lady secretly and under assumed identities. In the summer of 1802 AS a veiled woman arrived in Matlisan bearing a document that made her sole heiress to Iliya's fortune. While the identity of this woman has never been firmly established some believe that Iliya did not perish in 1802 after all but instead returned secretly to her homeland under an assumed identity.
Iliya Hala Kuran of Matlisan was born in 1770 AS to Koryn Kuran (a merchant who inherited a small fortune and increased it dramatically through trade along the Golden Road) and Yasina Halisha, a woman originally of Salasharan extraction. Kuran was orphaned at a fairly young age, being all of thirteen. His father had been a caravan master in the employ of Imon Lisani, a wealthy man and member of the ruling Council of Matlisan. Lisani took young Kuran as a ward and advised him on the use of his inheritance. The two grew close, and on his twenty-first birthday the childless Lisani adopted Kuran as his own son and heir. By the time of Iliya's birth Kuran had risen to prominence as one of the wealthiest men in Matlisan. As sole heir of Imon Lisani he would inherit not only wealth and property but also a seat on the Council as scion of a ruling family; he became adept at exploiting the opportunities his position provided. Lisani died peacefully in 1779 AS, and Kuran, well prepared and trained for the moment, took his place on the Council. Iliya was 9 years old.
As a young child she was bright and precocious, with a curiosity concerning human nature well beyond her years. She was raised in an atmosphere of refinement and luxury and acquired a taste for the finer things in life. By her teens, Iliya showed an early but keen business sense, learning well the lessons of her merchant father and always observing. A believer in knowledge as a means to power, Kuran encouraged his daughter to learn a great deal concerning languages, history, trade, politics and other such topics. The girl took to her lessons immediately and quickly absorbed all that was offered her.
Always a beautiful child, Ilya blossomed into a stunningly beautiful young woman. She quickly realized that her appearance gave her a significant amount of power over men, and hence their money, lands and property. To this she added a magnetic and captivating personality; a feline grace to her movements; and a quick wit. By her late teens the young woman had earned a reputation in Matlisan as a socialite and coquette but was fast becoming known for her ruthless business sense and, using the money provided by her father and fleeced from her suitors, began to establish her own small business, catering to the beauty and vanity of wealthy Matlisani noblewomen. Never a fool, Iliya used her business (and the inevitable small talk and gossip that accompanied her visits to clients) to divine information concerning the business and personal secrets of many of her rivals. Thus she increased her own influence and began to invest secretly in the risky but profitable Golden Road caravans.
In 1789 AS she found herself at odds with Kulya Qorashar, an older Matlisani business woman. The elder outbid Iliya for a potentially lucrative share in a large caravan destined for a return trip to the furthest east. A fortnight later her young husband was found in an alley, his throat cut and valuables gone. At the time of the murder Iliya was attending a banquet with in her father's honour but Qorashar always suspected her involvement. She herself died three years later. Iliya was now a young woman of twenty-three, famed for her beauty and wit, and adored by nearly all.
Consolidation of PowerEdit
In 1794 AS Iliya's mother began to slowly weaken from a mysterious illness. Within a month she was confined to her bed, unable to speak. A day later she died. For Kuran this was a great blow. He fell into depression, neglecting his business empire and his social obligations. Relying on the compassion of his beloved daughter, Kuran began withdrawing from the world considerably, refusing to see anyone but his closest friends. During this time Iliya saw her opportunity and began whispering in his ear of untrustworthy allies and the need to trust none outside of family. She worked subtly and patiently and within a season he had proclaimed her his sole heir, neglecting his young son and the son of his concubine. Koryn died a week later. Iliya took control of his riches and property at the age of twenty-four. With his property came an inherited position within the Council of Matlisan--as heiress to the family fortune she moved into the influential and hereditary position of power without so much as a single word of protest from the other Councilmen. Doubtless, her now legendary beauty served to lessen such complaints from the otherwise all-male council. Additionally the dirty secrets and family shames she had uncovered through her agents (who gathered information under the guise of hairdessers and so forth) allowed her to easily silence protests.
By the age of twenty-five (in 1795 AS) Iliya began to grow bored. In her short life she had attained wealth, power and influence. Seeking diversion she used her talents to subtly sow seeds of discord among the men nearest her. When she turned her attentions to Samin Matli, a priest of the Temple of Rameth, she set the course for her future. Known for his strong morality and ethical conduct, Samin became Iliya's new project; she would tempt him into betraying his principles. Samin was a strong-willed man but Iliya was a master of her art. Slowly she planted a seed of lust within him and gently fanned it, never leaving a hint that his desires were anything but his. On the night of the Festival of Splendour, when Samin should have been leading worship in the Temple, he was instead finally succumbing to Iliya's wiles. Secretly, admiring eyes watched; one of Samin's assistant priests, Akina, was secretly a devotee of Kenetha and was delighted to find his task--Samin's fall--accomplished for him. But he too lusted after Iliya and he watched her hungrily.
Into the Service of the Demon QueenEdit
Akina had carefully observed Iliya's work from a hidden passage behind Samin's walls and knew well her skill. The following night Samin killed himself without explanation, so great was his shame at his weakness. While the death was publically attributed to an accidental fall, as a Councilwoman Iliya knew the truth, and secretly she gloated. The following day Akina presented himself at Iliya's home; she recieved him, intending to discover whether or not suspicion had fallen on her. Once alone he revealed himself to her in truth, casting aside his role as an acolyte and revealing himself as a servant of Kenetha. As he suspected, Iliya was pleased and accepted his offer to enter the service of the Demon Queen. In Kenetha she found a goddess that personified her seductive and manipulative ways and took to her service passionately. Her already considerable skills in manipulation and temptation were enhanced by instruction from some of the true masters and mistresses of the art; even the most skilled among her teachers found themselves falling under the spell of the raven-haired beauty. In 1796 AS she established a secretive, underground club that catered to the lusts of the idle (and bored) wealthy of Matlisan. Careful to never reveal her involvement, remaining always hidden, Iliya delighted in the debasement of her peers. It was whispered among her clientele that any lust, any desire, could be filled within the Deep (as the club was known) for the right price. Iliya was able to increase her already vast fortune in this way, and, discovering more of the darker side of her peers, was able to blackmail and manipulate her way into greater authority on the Council of Matlisan. The ultimate pinnacle--leader of the Council--still eluded her grasp, however. At some point in the late 1790s AS Iliya somehow met, and formed an alliance, with the necromancer Sulomyn the Black. What he gained from the alliance is unknown, but it is said that he would interrogate the spirits of the dead to gain her information she sought. Iliya had earned the favour of her goddess and was quickly becoming prominent among the hidden priesthood.It was not long before Sulomyn approached her with an offer. He planned to move against the Ashani stronghold of Yarathera and his old enemy, Kyriana Alqaviliya, now the Selviliya and beloved of the Ashani people. Key to his plan was the creation of a traitor within the Ashani stronghold and he knew that none had a greater chance of success than Iliya of Matlisan. Sulomyn's choice was a good one, and Iliya viewed this task as a challenge worthy of her abilities. Excusing herself from her duties in Matlisan, claiming that she was travelling due to her mercantile interests, Iliya made her way ultimately towards Yarathera. There, with the magic gained as a priestess of Kenetha, she concealed her true appearance and disguised herself as an Ashani woman. Iliya's work was successful and resulted in the Battle of Yarathera, in which Sulomyn was nearly victorious.
Her work complete, a traitor made and, presumably, slain, Iliya found a place on a high cliff from which to watch the battle unfold. There she was found and confronted by the traitor she had made, Elym sa-Selthera, for the knife she slipped between his ribs had not finished him. Creeping up, he stabbed her with her own dagger, and she was hurled from the cliff to the sharp, unforgiving rocks below.
Her body was never found, although blood stained the rocks where she fell.
When Iliya did not return to Matlisan at the appointed time, and indeed, no word was recieved two months later, the vultures began to circle. Iliya's fortune and property seemed up for grabs, and her business rivals licked their lips at the idea of dividing up her mercantile empire among them, for she had left no heir. The Council of Matlisan met to determine the fortune of her estate but, three days before their verdict was due, a mysterious and veiled woman arrived bearing a document entitling her to Iliya's fortune. The seals and handwriting upon it were genuine, and, grudgingly, the Kuran fortune was transferred to her. The hereditary seat on the Council, however, was offered to Iliya's younger brother, now grown to manhood.
While there is no proof of Iliya's death, or continued life, a cell of worshipers dedicated to Kenetha was unearthed in the city. Death or imprisonment was levied on each but their testimony contained descriptions of a raven-haired woman of incredible beauty who led their ceremonies and is known only as Lady Night.
Powers and AbilitiesEdit
Iliya was an absolute master of seduction, temptation and manipulation. As a priestess of Kenetha she showed exceptional skill with enchantments and exceptional resistence to being tempted or manipulated herself. She also possessed the magical abilities bestowed upon Kenetha's chosen priests and was strong willed indeed as she unflinchingly endured the presence of Sulomyn on several occassions.
Iliya's fortune was vast and consisted of property, shares in businesses and mercantile concerns, including caravans and ships. There is little she could not accomplish with the vast wealth at her disposal. As Councilwoman of Matlisan she wielded considerable influence over legislation, economic and military matters.