Name: Kathryn Karstark
Alias: Lady Karstark, the Lady Hand, the Hand, the Lady of Karhold
Height: 5’5” Weight: 140 lbs.
Age: 30 years
Hair: dark brown and curly Eyes: green
Skin: very fair
Appearance: Kathryn takes after her mother in the face, with dark hair, light eyes, and a slender, sharp jaw. Her body, however, reflects her father’s wildling blood, with solid shoulders, thick thighs, and a wide rib cage.
Markings/scars/tattoos: healed shadowcat bite on the left wrist
Sexual orientation: mostly straight
Statistics and abilities: Weapon of choice is a long sword. Usually fights mounted on a destrier. If unhorsed, she will fight with a dagger in the nondominant (left) hand. Kathryn is a skilled and respected commander, knowing all of the mechanisms and politics of war. She has had warg dreams but has never been able to warg an animal herself.
Family: her sister Cate, now a Stark by marriage, shares much in common with Kathryn and they grew up as close as sisters could be. the eldest daughter and heir to Karhold is Freya. She’s a tough girl of fifteen, trained by Ser Clint James in the courtyards of Karhold. She is a skinchanger, able to inhabit and control the minds of shadowcats. Freya’s gifts were the impetus to begin domesticating shadowcats at Karhold. Tabitha, the youngest Karstark, is much more inward than her sister. At twelve, she already knows and understands the politics of the seven kingdoms. She spends much of her time reading and pestering Grand Maester Laura. She is also a skinchanger, able to enter the consciousness of and control eagles. Lady Kathryn is very close with other members of her household and considers them family, though they have no blood ties.
Lovers: while the Lady’s many trysts to Eastwatch and Skagos have raised eyebrows in the past, she has no known paramours since arriving in King’s Landing.
Allies and enemies: A strong connection between House Karstark and their liege lord Stark was reestablished after Alys Karstark swore fealty to Jon Snow and Kathryn's sister, Cate, marries the Lord of Winterfell. Lady Karstark is strongly allied to the King as his Hand; a bond that was forged both on and off the battlefield. Historically, the Karstarks have had a vested interest in the Night’s Watch, being one of the houses closest to the wall, and have connections to Eastwatch-by-the-sea. Karhold is the closest mainland connection to the houses and clans of Skagos, which encourages trade and cooperation between Karstarks and the people of the island. Because of Lady Kathryn’s and Lady Alys’s marriages, their house has formed strong bonds with the free folk who were able to cross the wall before the long night. Enemies of the Crown or Winterfell will generally be considered enemies of Karhold as well.
Background: Lady Kathryn is the daughter of Alys Karstark and Sigorn, Magnar of Thenn. Kathryn chose to follow in her mother’s footsteps, marrying a wildling in order to keep the Karstark name and be the heir to Karhold. Traveling to Eastwatch with her mother after the castle was given to Tormund Giantsbane, Kathryn met a young wildling named Triden Bearchild. It was said that his mother and father were killed by an angry mother snow bear after they had hunted and killed her cubs; the snow bear took the boy from his parents, suckling him as if he were her own, until her own death by the hand of Karsi of the Frozen Shore. When Karsi found him, she took him back to her village to be raised with his own people, but the she bear’s milk and the roughness of her claws had stayed with Triden, making him a gruff and fierce young man. Kathryn asked her mother, who asked Tormund Giantsbane, and the young man rode with them for Karhold he next week. The two were betrothed and married within a year.
Kathryn took after her father more than her mother, preferring the sword to the needle. She had no siblings, so she often sparred with Triden in the courtyard, which contributed to the quickness with which she won him over. She taught him to fight with a castle forged steel sword, and her taught her how to skin and cook her own dinner. Triden Bearchild outgrew his childhood name when, on a snowy afternoon, he and Kathryn were attacked by a shadowcat outside the castle walls while hunting. The beast grabbed Kathryn’s wrist, and Triden did not hesitate, pouncing on the beast and wrestling with it. The shadowcat got Triden to the ground, pinning him, but Triden managed to free one arm and gutted the beast from abdomen to throat. From then on, he was known as Triden Shadowblood, for the way that he returned to the castle, covered in dark blood and wrapped in the pelt of the wild animal.
This was just one year before the war for the dawn began, a year after winter had arrived. Just before the white walkers led their undead armies across the Bay of Seals, Kathryn realized that she was with child. Alys called up for two horses, sending her daughter and her son-in-law south to White Harbor with gold for their fare to Braavos. Kathryn and Triden arrived in Braavos with no friends, very little money and no knowledge of when they would go home. Their oldest daughter, Freya, was born among the salt and stone of Braavos. Triden worked as a sellsword, coming home once every fortnight to drop off bags of gold and silver, while Kathryn would walk the grounds of the sealord with her child, watching the bravos dance and trying to emulate their techniques. When her baby was old enough to eat food, she got a job as the guard of a wealthy merchant, while the merchant’s wife watched Freya during the day. It was three years before they received word of their home from their friends, receiving a raven one day from Tormund Giantsbane. Alys and Sigorn had fought and died in battle, but Karhold still stood and their people were ready for them to come home. When they landed in White Harbor, they nearly froze to death, but they were happy to be home again.
Many wildlings were welcomed to settle on the lands near Karhold after the arrival of Lady Kathryn and and Triden Shadowblood returned, which caused some uproar among the commoners living in the area. Though they had fought side-by-side with the wildlings to defeat the Night King, many still lived with the antiquated fear of anything that came from beyond the wall. One day while on a hunt, a commoner with a bow shot Triden Shadowblood through the chest and was apprehended by other wildlings when he emerged from the forests and Triden did not. When Kathryn and her household guard found Triden, his mouth was full of blood and he could hardly breathe. They carried him back to the castle, but it was too late. Triden Shadowblood was wrapped with a shadowcat pelt and burned on a pyre, the wildlings erecting a small cairn in his honor in the spot where his pyre had burned. Kathryn made the man watch as she shoved a dagger into his wife’s heart and beheaded him while carrying her second daughter, Tabitha. No one in her keep dared to question to citizenship of the free folk again.
Kathryn is a loyal servant of the north, often riding to Winterfell to aid her liege lord with various tasks and visit with her dear sister. Even as Hand of the King, she ensures that she has frequent communication with her loved ones in the North and advocates on their behalf from the capital.