High Tides and Low Life
Lady Jamais Sices du Sices
The "Wit" of Montaigne
Age: Late Twenties
A tall, noblewoman in her late twenties, Lady Jamais (whose name means “never” — a bad joke her parents took too far) has a habit of looking down her nose at others — a trait which infuriates the older courtiers. But then, much of her behavior is designed to do just that.
When she was younger, Jamais aspired to be a scholar and tore through volumes of Théan history. When she wearied of that, she read the biting works of political satire that are considered some of Montaigne’s greatest national treasures. Since her older brother was expected to take over the leadership of the family, her father didn’t concern himself with her education. Thus, Lady Jamais grew up knowing little of mathematics, accounting, or statesmanship.
She might have gone on to become a historian, but her older brother died in a hunting accident as she was preparing to go away to university. Her father canceled her enrollment and began the wearisome task of teaching her the art of politics. Jamais hated it. She had no eye for math, and statesmanship held none of the fascination for her that history did. Her introverted personality had trouble dealing with the intrigues of court, and at first she seemed a colossal failure. Her father was convinced that she would ruin the family’s fortune at court.
Then one day, a nobleman made the mistake of insulting her in public. Instantly, she lashed out, and had the entire court laughing at him with a few sentences. His reputation was ruined — he had been bested by a girl who barely knew her way around court. He wouldn’t be the last.
Jamais found that her talent for ridicule won her many admirers, so she applied it more and more frequently, earning a reputation as the sharpest wit at court. Gradually, she became a much crueler person, not caring who she hurt as long as they weren’t politically powerful enough to ruin her. As one story tells it, she once humiliated a noble so completely at his own ball that he drank a cup of poisoned wine rather than face the court the next morning.
Since her first fumbling appearances, Lady Jamais has polished her wit to a razor-sharp edge. She can insult a noble without his ever realizing it. In fact, the insults she hurls often set trends among the other courtiers as they scramble to put a fresh spin on the crumbs she dropped the evening before. This doesn’t mean that she takes foolish chances. Lady Jamais has seen too many wits lose their position because of too sharp a tongue, and is careful to avoid the line between amusing banter and high treason.
In spite of this care, she has won few friends among the more powerful nobles — many of whom have been on the receiving end of her tongue. Indeed, Thérèse Rois et Reines hates her passionately. She sees Lady Jamais as an evening’s entertainment rather than a true noble, and despises the fact that Jamais has risen so far so fast. Thérèse herself worked years to earn the same privileges Jamais received within months of arriving at court. Thérèse would like nothing better than to destroy her.
After all, even a wit has to answer for her actions eventually.