Iskierka

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Iskierka
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Iskierka
A head shot of Iskierka
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A head shot of Iskierka
A picture of Iskierka on the cover of the U.S. edition of Black Powder War
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A picture of Iskierka on the cover of the U.S. edition of Black Powder War
Iskierka gaining some capitol.
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Iskierka gaining some capitol.


Contents

Character Profile

Name: Iskierka
Date of Birth: 1806
Breed: Kazilik
Captain: John Granby
National Loyalty: Britain
Appearance: Red with horns, black-rimmed green "leopard" spots, and numerous steam-emitting body spikes; purple armor plates on belly; yellow eyes
Special Abilities: Fire breather
Status: Active


Biography

"Oh! Oh! They are attacking us! Quick, let us kill them!" - a newly hatched Iskierka, demonstrating her instinctive bloodlust.

Turkey, 1806

Iskierka's parents were Turkish Kaziliks, Bezaid and Sherazde, who guarded the palace of Sultan Selim III. The British Aerial Corps bought her egg and two others for 500,000 pounds sterling. The Kazilik egg was the most important one, which would at last bring a Fire breather into the British breeding stock.

Orders were sent to William Laurence in China to fetch the three eggs home. By the time he reached Turkey with Temeraire's crew and their guide Tharkay, the British embassy and the payment for the eggs had vanished. After a lengthy diplomatic impasse, it became evident that the sultan had received the promised payment but reneged on the agreement, likely at the urging of Lung Tien Lien. Temeraire and his crew seized all three eggs and fled, but the smallest egg and a young crewman fell to their deaths in the escape.

Eastern Europe, 1806

Instead of taking the remaining two eggs straight back to Britain, Laurence and Temeraire were ordered to remain in Europe and aid the eastern-front campaign against Napoleon Bonaparte. Temeraire told the eggs about the hatching process while "nurse-maiding" them through the next few months of military disaster.

The Kazilik egg hatched in partitioned Poland while Temeraire and his crew were fleeing from the French. Temeraire was reluctant to give up both his food and John Granby to the dragonet, and suggested that Ensign Allen could be more readily spared from his crew, but Laurence persuaded him to acquiesce.

The dragonet promptly accepted Granby but insisted on naming herself, which was apparently unprecedented in the Corps. The name she chose was "Iskierka", from a Polish folksong which a local girl had been singing nearby.

(The literal translation of iskierka is "little spark", an affectionate diminutive. The song may have been Bajka iskierki ("Little Spark's Fairytale"), a popular Polish lullaby by Janina Porazińska.)

As a hatchling, Iskeirka was very feisty and bloodthirsty. She challenged Temeraire over a cow when she was barely a day old (and was still small enough to be merely picked up between his teeth). As she grew, she had to be chained down to stop her leaping into battle. To her great delight, she was finally permitted to flame at pursuing French dragons during the escape from Danzig.

Britain, 1806-1808

Iskierka remained difficult to control upon arriving in Britain. After learning that Temeraire's platinum breastplate was bought with Laurence's prize money from taking the Amitie, she stole a fisherman's ship in hopes of gaining "capital".

Even before reaching full growth, she could ignite targets from 80 yards (twice the range of a Flamme-de-Gloire) and breathe fire for a full five minutes without stopping. However, she was not particularly mindful of its trajectory or anyone in that direction; her willfulness and lack of discipline sometimes resulted in injuries within her own formation.

Jane Roland used her full authority as an admiral to tell Iskierka that Granby might return to Temeraire's crew instead of remaining with a disobedient dragon. Iskierka agreed to follow even orders that she disliked, though she demanded that some of the orders should still be agreeable to her.

Iskierka became adept at winning "capital" while patrolling the Channel with Arkady and the other ferals, capturing many French ships as prizes. She earned enough money to build herself a pavilion and buy increasingly ornate gold-braided coats and jeweled swords for Granby to wear, rather against his own sense of decorum.

During the invasion of Britain, she and Granby were captured by the French due to her self-willed behavior. Afterward, Wellesley ordered Granby in her presence to abandon her if she repeated this degree of insubordination again. Iskierka was horrified, and became more manageable for the remainder of the campaign.

Allegiance and Australia, 1808-1809

Iskierka's brief period of obedience ended with the French invasion. She told Temeraire to give her an egg, wanting to produce a dragonet with the double abilities of fiery breath and the divine wind. Granby suggested that those traits might not necessarily combine in the way she hoped, but she would not listen. In any case, Temeraire was rather repelled by her proposition, and refused it.

Laurence and Temeraire were deported for Australia on the HMS Allegiance. Of her own accord, Iskierka took Granby with her to the Allegiance and proceeded to Australia with them. Temeraire kept her away from the three dragon eggs that had been entrusted to them by the Aerial Corps for hatching in the new colony. She took little interest when Caesar hatched and chose Jeremy Rankin as a captain.

Iskierka and Granby accompanied Temeraire, Caesar, their crews, and a volunteer work gang on an expedition into the Blue Mountains. Temeraire also took the remaining two eggs with him, one of which was stolen at the end of the first week; Iskierka helped his search for the thieves for two more weeks, then returned with Granby to Sydney to tell Tom Riley and other authorities the reason for the delay.

Iskierka and Granby rejoined the search party near a large salt lake, approximately a month later. By that time, the remaining egg had hatched out Kulingile, who was still unable to fly. Iskierka agreed to carry Kulingile for the next few weeks, until his air sacs unexpectedly inflated and he became buoyant.

The entire party remained together for the rest of their journey up to the Larrakia/Chinese trading post on the northern coast, then back again to Sydney.

South America

Granby and Iskierka accompanied Laurence and Temeraire as envoys to Rio. They were all nearly killed when the Allegiance was sunk en route. Iskierka, Kulingile and Temeraire had to fly for days, only to be captured by a French dragon transport ship. The French were attempting to marry the Incan Empress to Napoleon, who had just divorced his wife Josephine. The Empress's companion dragon, Maila Yupanqui, however took a liking to Iskierka. He was further impressed with her when she beat Manca Copacati in battle for he had not been defeated in many years.

Maila wished to sire an egg with a fire-breathing dragon. Thus it was proposed that Iskierka and Maila would mate and so should Granby and the Empress. Arthur Hammond was delighted that the English were able to propose a candidate to rival Napoleon. But Granby was mortified at being bred in this manner. He felt forced to confess that he was not interested in women, to William Laurence. While Iskierka did not see why it mattered and insisted she, of course, knew about his relations with Captain Little.

In any case, Napoleon succeeded in winning the Empress to his cause and the English dragons were chased out of the Empire. Though they were nearly killed several times (and once only spared through the intervention of Churki), Granby was relieved. And the ploy worked out well for Iskierka as well, who managed to make Temeraire jealous of Maila and convince him it was a good idea for them to have an egg together.

Japan, China, and Spain, 1812

After the shipwreck of the HMS Potenate near Nagasaki, Japan, Iskierka successfully produced an egg by Temeraire. It had a "splendid smooth pale-cream shell speckled with a very attractive pattern of red and violet spots, and one notable larger marking shaped roughly like a number eight", or "the shape of a cloud".

Laurence noted that the egg's shell was "unremarkable", but had "a tender softness not unlike the head of his nine-day-old nephew". He also said of it, "A remarkable egg...perfectly hearty, and the size prodigious...I am sure it will do very well; extraordinarily well."

After the laying of the egg, Iskierka accompanied Temeraire, Maximus, Lily, and the others of their covert from Japan to Peking, China. After learning of the death of Lung Tien Chuan, Temeraire and Iskierka's egg was left in Peking with the hopes that it might hatch into a new Celestial to be Prince Mianning's companion.

After finishing the Chinese campaign, Iskierka returned with the rest of the covert to the Peninsula, particularly Spain, to guard against an attack from Napoleon Bonaparte's forces there. On the other hand, Temeraire led a force of Chinese dragons north to Russia, to aid the Russians in their fight against Napoleon.

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