Alice Eymor was a key individual during the First Hycath War. She was a strong Baethla. Her spirit and resilience are greatly remembered as well as her enormous contribution to the war that posthumously earned her the title of Duchess of West Mercia. The title was passed on to her daughter Mered and stayed in their family for generations.
Alice was born in Coventry to Meredith Eymor; her father was Sigeweard Ryland, a road-builder and Hycathus from nearby Nuneaton who had been in a brief relationship with Meredith. Through her mother, Alice had Welsh ancestry.
Alice’s family were nobles in Coventry who had lost their standing after the invasion of Willem the Conqueror in 1069, when conflicts and rebellions were present throughout Mercia. Meredith, who had seen her male relatives killed in the conflict, co-founded an underground Hycath movement to avenge the misfortune of all the families who had faced a fate similar to theirs. From an early age, she put Alice through a strict Hycathic training regimen combining rigorous magical instruction with the importance of their Hycath heritage. This would instil in Alice a set of values that would place her on a path to restore the family’s honour.
In 1136 Robert of Gloucester recruited Alice to join his efforts in helping his half-sister, Empress Matilda (Maud) of Anjou on her quest of recovering the throne from King Stephen of Blois. Alice was instructed to recruit Hycathae from all over England to support them. Being a Baethla herself, Alice turned out to be an outstanding candidate who would prioritise the cause over anything, even her own family. She initially took Mered with her but, when it became clear that the trip would be more dangerous than she had expected, she left her daughter in Coventry with Meredith.
Alice travelled through Gloucester, Devon, Cornwall, Somerset and Coventry, recruiting numerous Hycathae and Hycathi. Whenever she moved to a new area, she would send coded letters to Robert, stating the amount of new recruits. According to rumours, she even met Gabriella Fitzwalter in Nottingham, but there is no documented evidence to support this.
In Lincoln, she met Lucy of Bolingbroke, who mentioned having doubts about Maud’s capabilities; this was partly because Maud was still in France at this point, while King Stephen’s power continued to grow. Lucy felt Maud needed to finish her business in France faster and deal with the greater threat of King Stephen. She warned Alice that entering the King’s territories would be dangerous, as they had turned more hostile over the years. Lucy sent two of the Hycathae in her community to help Alice on her mission.
In 1139 after setting fire to some of Stephen’s fields, Alice and her two companions were arrested and taken in for questioning in Cambridge. The two Hycathae were executed instantly, but Alice’s noble heritage made her a possible candidate to use for ransom, which saved her life. Unfortunately, the interrogation continued. The same year, Lucy broke into Alice’s prison cell using her Nyridia powers, ending up destroying the entire castle the prison cell was located in and everyone inside it. Some historians believe that Lucy informed Alice about Maud’s arrival in England at this point, but this has never officially been confirmed.