About Tiferet Odinsdottir
Aasimar (angel-blooded) skald (fated champion) 3 / marshal 1
Her arrival in Heldren:
The young, brown-skinned Taldane girl was standing at the edge of the town’s main square, clutching her mother’s gown as she peeked at Heldren’s latest arrival. Truth be told, hers weren’t the only eyes fixed on the blond warrioress. She was Ulfen, that was evident enough, and as such easily as tall or taller than the village’s most imposing men. Fair, too – all qualities that have traditionally made Ulfen women sure to invite more than a sideways glance from men all over Avistan. But this one was… peculiar. Her skin and her hair were pearly, almost evanescent. Despite the evening chill, she wasn’t wearing much in the way of clothing: just a scale mail protecting her torso and a double-slit gown, leaving her arms and her sandalled legs bare. A huge axe was strapped to her back, and if the sleek yet well-defined muscles chiselling her limbs were any indication, she was probably quite accustomed to swinging it in battle, too — a mercenary, most likely. Heldren had been seeing a steady flux of them as they were making their way to Zimar, with the rumours of recrudescing hostilities between Taldor and Qadira and all that. But on a closer look, her more striking features were probably her eyes: two silvery pools the colour of molten ice.
The girl must have stared a bit too long, or a bit too insistently, for the woman was presently walking in her direction, a jovial smile on her face.
“I didn’t scare you, did I? Oh, sure I didn’t! You’re a brave young Lady, are you not?” she said, crouching to look her young interlocutor in the eyes.
Amid the pleats of her mother’s dress, the girl tentatively nodded. Gently ruffling her hair, the Ulfen woman spoke a few words and with a somewhat flashy gesture, a silver piece was now floating in front of the child’s eyes.
”And a lucky one too, by the looks of it! Look what I’ve found – I suppose it’s yours, isn’t it?”
Eagerly grabbing her newfound treasure, the girl seemed to have overcome most of her shyness and was now smiling widely. ”Hey! You’re big, you know. And your eyes look funny! You’re not from around here, are you?” she retorted, blissfully ignorant of her mother’s chiding glare.
”No, that I’m most certainly not”, a genuine laughter accompanying the answer. ”Do you want to hear a tale?”
Once again, the child nodded, this time more enthusiastically. As the pale warrioress stood up and took a step backward, so did the girl move away from her mother as if to follow her. A concerned hand holding her shoulder lifted immediately as the older woman took a glimpse of the disarmingly honest smile gracing the foreigner’s features, a stark contrast to her military demeanour and imposing figure alike.
”So. Our story begins in the faraway lands of endless winter, where ancient creatures roam and the polar nights are alive with the gleaming of the northern lights.” In a theatrical gesture, she moved her arm in a wide arc and suddenly the air was filled with glowing orbs, dancing among the small crowd that was gathering around her. ”There, a stalwart folk lived and lives, ruled by mighty lords reigning over kingdoms big and small, from the majestic halls of Kalsgard to the remote clans inhabiting the steppes on the very edges of the eternal ices. It’s one of those clans that Guðmundr Snorrason was thane of. As every king before him, he had proved his right to rule by slaying a ferocious beast called a Linnorn, a dragon of the frozen wastes; still, despite his valour and prowess, he had spent the waning years of his life watching his fiefdom wither and diminish in the battles against the giants dwelling in the Crown of the World – and now, as old age was starting to claim him with no worthy heir in sight, he had grown increasingly concerned about the fate of his people.”
”Was he big and strong? As big and strong as you?” a child’s voice emerged from the crowd.
”Much bigger and much stronger. But you don’t have to take my word for it. Here, let him be the one to recount his own tale!” That said, she smiled mischievously while suddenly growing a whole foot taller, the muscles in her arms bulging out and, perhaps more noticeably, her delicate lineaments gradually morphing into those of a crooked-nosed, white-bearded huskarl.
Well, I surely hope Father never gets word I used his appearance to impersonate our lineage’s founder… she thought, the sudden realization preventing her from fully appreciating the chorus of oohs and aahs rising from the crowd.
”But if you are as powerful as you look, how comes those giants were giving you so many problems, Mister Snorth… Snurr… Warrior?” asked a boy.
”A worthy question, young one!” the apparition answered, his voice now deep and hoarse. ”For you see, those were no ordinary Frost Giants. No indeed! Those foul creatures had pledged themselves to the worship of the vilest of demons, a twisted creature whose mere name is enough to make your very tongue sour.” The chieftain’s expression turned into one of disgust as Tiferet drew her breath, a dramatic pause as she watched the faces among her audience growing tense with anticipation. “Kostchtchie! The kin-slaying, twisted beast himself! It pains me to say it, but against the abyssal powers his thrice-cursed clerics had bestowed upon our enemies, even our mightiest berserkers and shield-maidens stood powerless, moths consumed by an icy flame…” As orotund as it started, the sentence rapidly died off, its tone broken and dejected.
A loud sigh, and the narration went on. ”And so it was that in my sixtieth winter, I found myself cut off from my loyal guard, deep into Giant territory, and as I was beginning to feel the cold’s harsh bite gnawing deep into my flesh, lo!, there it was, a towering figure looming in the blizzard, standing right in front of me!”
”A giant?” another child stepped in.
”Ha! I surely thought so. But even as I held my axe in both hands, thankful for being granted a glorious death in battle, a thundering voice spoke to me” the ageing warrior declared, raising his hand and pointing it towards the crowd.
Arise, Guðmundr son of Snorri, and live to wield that axe against the hateful thralls of Kostchtchie! a booming sound came apparently from nowhere, causing many bystanders to apprehensively turn around, looking for its source.
”Who are you? I asked, and why would you care if I live or die?”
My allies have given me many names; my enemies even more so. Suffice to say you may call me Tolc, the Snow-Strider. Now listen: there’s a hidden path not far from here, one your enemy doesn’t know of. I will show it to you, and you will follow it until you are reunited with your clan.
”And what do you want in return?”
Tell your people of me. Tell them I have been watching their struggle against hated Kostchtchie. Tell them I have cast a pleased eye upon their indomitable spirit, unbroken by either ice or demon. But more importantly, tell them I have blessed them, and now stand with you in your fight. As sudden as its appearance was, the voice had now dimmed out, and with it, the old Ulfen warrior had also disappeared, the white-haired woman now occupying the place where he once stood.
”So did he get extra powerful?” “I bet he became a powerful magician!” “He did defeat the giants then, right?” a plethora of shrill voices asked in unison.
”Oh no. The boon Tolc bestowed upon the Heaven-talkers, as they started calling themselves afterwards – for it was soon clear that the Snow-strider was nothing less than a powerful Empyreal Lord, a mighty Celestial Sire in his own right – those boons, as I was saying, were both mightier and subtler. You see, in the years following that fateful encounter, every child born among them displayed some peculiar characteristics” she declared, a knowing smile on her lips. ”For starters, those same energies the Fiend Lord’s clerics have been pouring upon their parents, they found themselves all but impervious to. Tolc then taught them powerful rituals: how to enhance that same resistance by willingly exposing themselves to the elements, and how to harness the power of their celestial blood to unleash fury upon their enemies. Infused with this newfound might, this new breed of warriors was able to hunt the giants back into the Crown of the World up until their very icy fortresses; and indeed, it was Guðmundr’s own scion, Azrael Guðmundarson, who, in his sixteenth winter, slew his own Linnorn and then fought and brought down Kostchtchie’s champion, the Frozen King himself.”
An eerie silence has fallen upon the small congregation, until one voice suddenly broke it. ”You’re one of them right? This is why your eyes look funny — and you’re not cold even while wearing so little clothing” her original interlocutor stated, still clutching her silver piece.
”Well, first: that’s not a very polite thing to tell a Lady” arms akimbo, the Ulfen woman jokingly answered, feigning a frown. ”And second, good catch. Well, almost. As it often happens with those kind of stories, these events likely took place centuries ago – millennia, even – but it is said that even now among that particular lineage, Celestial blood runs strong. It was not uncommon for children born among the Heaven-talkers to display some of their ancestors’ qualities, albeit to a lesser degree. Aasimars, as we’re sometimes called.”
”And then? What happened next, miss Aasimar?”
”Their long-time enemies finally routed or subdued, the Heaven-talkers finally enjoyed peace. Never the largest or more powerful of clans, they were nonetheless much feared and respected due to their martial might and the power of their celestial patron.” She then sighed. ”At least, until the Witches came. But this is another tale, best left for another time”.
Not to mention it would be kind of anticlimactic to describe how our march against the Irriseni threat ended in defeat and desperation after but a couple of short, one-sided battles, proud warriors cut down left and right, fodder for the Winter Wolves... And now here we are, scattered around Golarion, forced to eke out a living as guards and mercenaries.
A veneer of sadness had fallen upon her, concealed by the rising darkness. Indeed, the hour had grown late. Her story now ended, the crowd was already dispersing, as the fires glowing inside the houses were signalling that dinner was about to be served. The streets getting empty just as the local tavern was filling, her only audience left was the dusky girl she originally performed that cheap magic trick to.
”Well, goodbye then, miss Aasimar. I hope next time we meet you’ll tell me the tale of how you defeated those nasty witches!”
”From the land of my ancestors, the northern wind sings to me of fights lost and won, of battles past and future” | Born and raised in Taldor, Tiferet has only known Irrisen as a name in the tales her mother used to tell her. And yet, the young Aasimar used to spend many a sleepless night dreaming of that fairy-tale land, picturing herself as the lone, heroic Valkyrie who would overthrow the tyrannic witches and restore the North to the Ulfen – surely, childish fantasies best to be put aside as quickly as possible.
”My body is my weapon. Like any tool, a singular blend of form and function; form defining function, yet function bending form to its will. A notched sword will always have a beauty a pristine one would lack; for an immaculate blade is just one none ever saw fit to wield” | Though their looks would have netted the Heaven-talkers comparatively easy lives as entertainers and companions among Avistan's elites, no descendant of Guðmundr Snorrason has ever accepted to stoop so low, instead opting to keep to their martial traditions even in exile. Tiferet is no different, a fighter at heart who has even grown somewhat vexed by the immaculate symmetry her blood has forced upon her – to the point she sometimes purposefully refuses magical healing just to add another scar to the otherwise perfectly smooth texture of her skin.
”Pay me and I'll swing my axe until the day ends. Show me someone weak to protect, a cause to fight for, an injustice to rectify – and I'll swing it until my arms have strength” | Keeping her people's ancient traditions alive while managing to eke out a living is no easy task, making her a mercenary by necessity rather than virtue. That doesn't change the fact that Tiferet is, by nature or nurture, a caring person with a strong moral compass. Many a lucrative job she's refused because of her values, while pleas coming from people in true need are often met with a sympathetic ear and a reduced fee – not to mention the many times she willingly put herself in harm's way for a complete stranger's sake.
”Let your deeds do the talking, and leave the words to the bards who will one day sing your story” | Tiferet loves the spoken word, and never more so than when it’s used to weave tales of heroism and valour. A woman of action first and foremost, she’s always felt the gift of language is a light in which great feats are celebrated and nefarious purposes uncovered and reviled, not a shadow for villains to conceal their intentions under. Thus, her charm mostly stems from brashness and natural magnetism rather than social posturing, knowing fully well that every wasted word she utters, is one word shorter her saga becomes.
Tiferet fancies herself a warrior and a poet, and her physique surely mirrors her ambivalent nature. Tall, fair, imposing yet blessed with an almost preternatural grace by her heavenly heritage, her frame consists of a bundle of slender yet powerful muscles wrapped in a feminine, shapely form. Other than her eyes, her Aasimar traits are subtle and hard to notice, diluted as they are by the century-long diaspora of her people: perfectly symmetrical features, a resounding, melodious voice, and – much to her annoyance – the virtually spotless texture of her hairless skin.
Just like her celestial blood prevents her from feeling but the bitterest cold, her northern ancestry makes her particularly intolerant to the long, humid summers of Southern Taldor. This fact, combined with the necessity of being constantly battle-ready, has led her to favour light, practical clothing – usually a thin linen tunic worn under the padding of her armour.
Decimated and driven out of their homeland in the aftermath of the Winter War, the Celestial-blooded Heaven-talkers are a proud, yet broken and scattered people whose numbers have been slowly but steadily declining throughout the centuries. Now, only a handful remain, mostly centred around the Taldane capitol of Oppara where they sell their services as mercenaries or guards, with only the selected few being sometimes hand-picked to serve in the prestigious Ulfen Guard. And yet, despite the clan being but a husk of its former glory, still they stubbornly cling to their ancestral traditions, passed down from mother to daughter in an unbroken line going back to a mythical time before their diaspora – a time when their men used to harness the power of their Celestial blood to fuel their fury in the battle against the demon-worshipping Giants inhabiting the Crown of the World, while their wives and sisters were trained as warrior-poetesses and keepers of the lore, Shield Maidens fighting alongside their beloved.
Tiferet's education was no different – only, without glorious battles, giants, demons, or (being an only child) even brothers to fight shoulder to shoulder with. Still, the battle lust, the sagas of ancient heroes fighting doomed battles against the Witches of Irrisen – all of this felt real to the young Aasimar, like a heroine of old who somewhat ended up living in a bleaker era. Determined to forge a story for herself, and with news of a military force gathering in Zimar in response to a recrudescence of hostilities along the Qadiran border, she decided to quit her usual, dull axe-for-hire jobs and leave Oppara altogether to offer her services on the front-lines – a path which would eventually lead her through a small frontier town called Heldren.