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Old 10-11-2006, 05:02 PM   #130
Blithe Spirit
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Lalaith's character





WEAPONS: Like most women of her people, she carries a knife with a bone handle and carved blade, for household work, skinning animals and, in extremis, for protection. Her real, and very effective, weapons are a baleful glower and a reputation - which she is keen to promote – for having “the eye”.

APPEARANCE: Embla is an Easterling but she is sallow-skinned rather than swarthy, as are most of the Bairka clan. She has dark dank hair which would be beautiful if she ever combed it; green-yellow eyes, heavy brows and a forehead already lined by scowling. Slight and slim but with poor posture, she is much given to clutching her woolen shawl about her. She wears traveling dress - calf-skin britches under a felt skirt and waistcoat, crudely embroidered with wool, and a linen shift underneath. She wears gold earrings and bracelets studded with turquoise, and a ring of some value which she inherited from her mother.

HISTORY: Embla’s problems really began before she was born. Her mother Rind was a high-born member of the Bairka – a small but wealthy trading tribe of Easterlings who settled close by the Borrim. They were lighter-skinned, with straight long hair, and more matriarchal than their neighbours. Marriages among the Bairka were usually arranged with the consent of both partners and bigamy and polygamy was unknown.
Proud and willful, Rind took it into her head to marry a devil-may-care fellow named Hrapp. He proved a drunken and unpleasant rogue, and Rind, disenchanted with her chosen mate, had her little daughter fostered with her own powerful family. But when Embla was thirteen years old, her mother died and the cantankerous father reclaimed his child, quarrelling irrevocably with the Bairka in the process. All Embla’s promising marriage plans were dashed. Eventually, Hrapp agreed, for a modest bride-price, to send Embla off as a second wife to the Borrim envoy Khandr. Embla, unconsulted and unwilling, was furious. Nor were the Borrim very happy with the deal – they had hoped for an advantageous alliance with Bairka rulers and were unaware of the family quarrel. In short, Embla’s marital life began with negative feelings on all sides, and relations between all the three people involved in this ill-advised second marriage are, as this story begins, severely strained.

PERSONALITY/STRENGTHS/WEAKNESSES: Embla is a thoughtful, sensitive and observant woman and if life had treated her slightly better she might also have been quite a nice one. But her situation has made her extremely bitter, and she is prone to brood over real and imagined insults. She hates her rival, Briga, and has mixed feelings about her husband Khandr...she does not love him but she perversely dreams of turning his attentions away from Briga, and then having the pleasure of spurning him. She has not yet borne her husband his longed-for son - unsurprising given her cold and empty marriage bed.
While she is too proud to complain openly, Embla finds relief in lugubrious, portentous or ambiguously threatening remarks – the Bairka are considered skilled in foresight and she likes to exploit this to her advantage.


Lalaith's post

Embla stirred the fire and smiled to herself. It was not a very pleasant smile.
Briga, the senior wife - the hag, as she privately called her - had lit this fire in the hearth, and then told her to tend it. She, proud daughter of the Bairka, had obeyed - but she had her revenge. Small, unimportant victory, but sweet nevertheless.

Open conflict was not her method. After all, Khandr, her husband…she clenched her jaw in anger at this last word, now so empty of any meaning it had carried in her girlish dreams. In those days, she imagined she would wed according to the customs of her people. A hand-fasting with a young man of her own choosing, each cleaving solely to the other. Yes, in open conflict, her “husband”, Khandr would take, as always, the hag’s part.

When her worthless father had sold her into what she regarded as little better than concubinage, she was horrified. But she at least imagined her existence would be soft and pampered - that the ageing husband would dote on his new young bride. Inexplicably, her youth seemed to hold little allure for Khandr. Instead, he clung to the familiar, middle-aged comforts offered by the hag. His infrequent visits to Embla’s tent were due to his longing for a son, not for her nubile charms.

So, when ordered to sit by the hearth, Embla made sure her retort had nothing to do with the task at hand, nothing to which Briga could reasonably object. You will not choke on big words and pig fat, sister wife, she said grinning. The older woman was discomfited, Embla could tell, and puzzled. Was this perhaps a curse or insult among the Bairka? Then Embla gazed deep into the fire, rubbed her ear-lobes, touched the skin beneath her eye and muttered dark and obscure words.
Axe-time, sword-time, shields are sundered,
After the wolf do wild men follow.

Embla knew well that her people had a somewhat mysterious and even oracular reputation among the Borrim. And now this gave her great satisfaction – the older woman looked distinctly alarmed, and left the room hastily. Of course, it did not take much to unsettle or intimidate Briga at this time. None of the Borrim were comfortable in their current surroundings. None except Embla herself. She was used to living in an alien, hostile environment – she had, after all, been doing so since her marriage. In fact, she rather enjoyed observing the discomfiture of the rest of the party - her husband, the hag, and those two doltish hunters - watching them feel as unwelcome, as wary, as ill at ease as she herself had always been since she first arrived among the Borrim.

As for her menacing pronouncements….Embla smirked again. Many of the women in her family did indeed have the sight. She remembered well the gestures of the Bairka sybils, and the kind of words they spoke when their visions came upon them, and she knew how sinister they could be. But she also knew enough about the sight to know that her Eye – if she did possess the gift - was too clouded by hate and anger to reveal any real truths.


Last edited by Lalaith; 10-29-2006 at 12:00 PM.
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