Legends of Ardin
A half-elf cleric from an island known for the silver leaves on its shore
Ahna has short hair that falls to her shoulders in dark brown waves woven through with small feathers of bright orange and silvery-yellow. Her pale amber eyes are surrounded by pitch black face paint in the shapes of crescents and rain drops. These dark shapes are permanent, a mark of her devotion as a cleric of Ahmzanii. She is 5’7’’ and looks to be around 28 years old.
Typically in hide armor (incorporating aesthetic features of dark harp seal skin), Ahna wears anklets and bracelets made of fox fur and sea shells bound in silver thread which she never removes. Occasionally, she will weave into her anklets and bracelets strings of small spherical bells which ring quietly when she moves. When she wears shoes (which is rarely) they are thin and moccasin-like. The cloak she wears appears threadbare but is of exceptional quality and is nearly always on her person.
Ahna moves in daylight like a deer, gingerly and with a great sense care, her attentions on the path ahead and behind her, acutely aware of her surroundings. It would seem to some as though she were skittish or fearful of the world in sunlight but her eyes are firm and ceaselessly vigilant. In the dark of the night, Ahna is unmistakably graceful. More a cat than a lioness, her elegance is born of comfort and contentment, evidence of youth spent moving through shadows beneath an ever-changing moon. Though she rarely dances anymore, if she does it is in the hours of dusk or the middle of the night when it is darkest and the moon is at its height.
Ahna’s generally speaks in short, intentional sentences and rarely out of turn. She is patient and soft spoken, though she will not hesitate to speak up for something she believes in. Chief among Ahna’s skills is her perception and her keen eyes are always searching for answers, in people and surroundings alike. She is acutely aware of the feelings and behavior of others and is adept at remaining calm in tense or dangerous situations. Ahna is not a terribly trusting person (and it is evident in the wary manner with which she speaks) but for those who have her trust and keep it, she is unfailing in her devotion to them. Though she can be warm and generous, cheerful and loving to these people, her gaze betrays her unfaltering watchfulness. Ahna is rarely if ever, truly at ease.
Ahna’s holy symbol is carved from river stones expertly fitted together into a single shape, and fits in two cupped hands. Its central circle is a flat white pebble etched with a tear drop shape above a curved “v”; it is flanked with two other river stones, one light gray with dark streaks the other a darker gray with tendrils of paler colors, each crescent shaped with their curves facing away from the central circle.
Yvahnari was born of an Elven mother and a Human father on an island in the northern reaches of civilization among a people known as the Silaufeyjar (“The People of the Silver Leaves”). Her father, Zorin Aldrbein, was the son of a farmer while her mother, Valeina, was known to the Silaufeyjar as Ahmysine, “Lady of the Evening Star”.
Having lived for generations on the shores of the island, the Silaufeyjar know precious little of the elves that have lived in the underground caves, in grassy vales and around the volcano near the island’s center for centuries. When the Silaufeyjar were only just beginning to establish their civilization on the shores of the island, an elf, exiled from his own people, fled to the shores of the island where he found a group of humans struggling to survive in the unfamiliar and harsh climate. Styling himself Thyranos, “The Timeless One”, he offered guidance to the humans, showing them what crops would reliably grow on the island, how to domesticate some of the native fauna, and how to build sturdy shelters against the island’s dangers. He taught them elvish and performed (to the best of his own ability) the rituals of Synsenn, preaching to them of Qarros and Ahmzanii and calling himself Esste, the earthbound wanderer god of fire and the sky. He named them the Silaufeyjar for the silvery leaves that surrounded their settlement and they worshipped him as a god. For the Silaufeyjar, Thyranos’ longevity confirmed his divinity and they became unflinching devotees of their elven god-king.
Over the years, Thyranos began to sire children with Feyjar women, who gave birth to half-elf children whom Thyranos designated as high priests and priestesses of their people. Raised from birth in the ways of Synsenn and forbidden to marry or have families of their own (by Thyranos’ insistence for fear of diluting the significance of elvish blood), the children were treated as heirs and apostles of divine power. There were the Myy’alde (daughters of Thyranos) who were priestesses of Ahmzanii, and the Ajj’alde (sons of Thyranos) who were priests of Qarros and each child was marked with dark pigments to signifying their connection to the gods. The titles Myy’alde and Ajj’alde come from the names of the names of the children of Esste in Synsenn legend: Myyariéle, goddess of the moon, and Ajjenre, god of the sun. (Also from the Synsenn words for silver (“myyré”) and gold (“ajj.”)
Although the elven clan from which Thyranos had been exiled wanted little to do with the people of the island’s shores, those few elves who were exiled (three in total over many centuries) took refuge with Thyranos and his people. There the elven criminals were treated as gods in a great pantheon of long-living, mysterious divinities of the island’s climate and topography, ultimately answering to Thyranos himself.
Yvahnari (“Ahna”) was the second-born child of Ahmysine, a female elf worshipped as a goddess of the Silaufeyjar. Though Ahmysine took little interest in the child, Zorin was a young man from a large family and wanted deeply to be a father to his infant daughter. So when the Myy’alde came to take Ahna away, Zorin asked to be able to act as a caretaker of his daughter in the same way that the mothers of Thyranos’ children had been allowed to take part in their children’s lives as nurses. The elder Myy’alde agreed and Zorin split his days between his family’s farm and visiting Ahna at the Alde temple: singing her lullabies, playing with her, and sometimes falling asleep in the temple himself after rocking her to sleep. Eventually, near Ahna’s 3rd birthday Zorin became well known and liked among the Myy’alde, they asked him to be caretaker for the temples’ own gardens and farmstead, a position of honor among the Silaufeyjar, which he accepted readily, often bringing Ahna to the gardens while he was tending to them.
When Ahna was around 8 years old, a debilitating plague swept through the Silaufeyjar population, leaving many ill and some without the ability to walk (due to the illness’ damaging of nerve cells in the spinal cord). Ahna was among a hand full of the Alde to be afflicted by this disease and the only one to suffer the crippling effects of the sickness. After recovering from the fever, the Myy’alde healers informed Zorin that his daughter, like several others in the Silaufeyjar population, would never walk again.
Refusing to accept this fate for his child, Zorin began an intensive training regimen for the little girl, helping her out of bed after he completed his work in the gardens and farmstead, and helping her build up the strength in her legs—and her force of will—as he taught her how to walk for the second time in her life.
The next four years of Ahna’s life were spent between a chair beside the entrance to the temple and the gardens. While the other Alde children trained with blades and learned to fight hand-to-hand, Ahna spent her days sitting beside the temple, cheerfully greeting those who entered and watching the goings on of the town square: from there Ahna smiled and spoke to the people of the village in a manner that was unprecedented among the Alde and she became popular and beloved of her people who saw her as a beacon of hope in the adversity of her condition and a symbol of the power and resilience of the priesthood. After days among her people and amid her studies, Ahna spent her afternoons and evenings with her father in the gardens, where he guided her through exercises to help strengthen her muscles, training which increased Ahna’s endurance and gradually—through strenuous effort and resolve—allowed her to regaining the use of her legs. More than anything it was Zorin’s devoted care, patience, and stubborn perseverance that made Ahna’s recovery possible. When Ahna was once again able to walk, she rejoined her fellow Alde in their physical training, though the damage from the illness would leave her upper body very weak. Unlike her fellow priests and priestesses, however, Ahna was not just respected and feared, but beloved by her people.
Training as one of the Myy’alde, Ahna spent the later years of her adolescence, after regaining the use of her legs, in the wilderness of the island where the goddess’ influence was most acutely felt. In the wilds, Ahna learned how to live in harmony with the creatures and forces of Ahmzanii’s domain: how to navigate the territories of hostile animals, how to hide one’s scent in the sands of a river bed, how to travel by sunlight and moonlight alike, how to find fresh water and forage for berries, and how to kill only when necessary. During her training, Ahna showed a particular connection to the mountain streams of the island and trained mostly by the light of the moon, sleeping in the darkness and praying by starlight. When her training was concluded, Ahna received the name “Velyn azil’zen” (“Path of the Shining Stream”), a sacred name which specified her connection to Ahmzanii, based upon the belief that the Milky Way was the source of all rivers on earth and that the moon was its source (waxing when full and waning as it emptied into the Milky Way).
After completing her training and receiving her sacred name, Ahna was chosen by the elder Myy’alde to take part in the rituals of her tribe as a Memnor, (“dancer”) a position of honor among the Alde and one for which very few in each generation were chosen. Since the coming of Thyranos and the other Elves, the dances of the Memnor had dazzled the humans among the Silaufeyjar because of the innate grace of the Memnor—inherited from their elven kin and honed with training among the Alde. Only the most skillful and captivating of the Alde are honored with the role of Memnor. To the humans among the Silaufeyjar, the forces of nature moved through the bodies of the Memnor as they danced and in the powerful movements of their demigods, the humans among the Feyjar saw incarnate the natural world that moved ever around them. Having already earned the trust and admiration of the Silaufeyjar, Ahna was a natural choice and proved the most exceedingly graceful and capable Memnor of her generation, practicing constantly to live up to the honor of dancing on her own legs, which she had struggled for years to reclaim.
Upon becoming a Memnor, she was paired with an Ajj’alde named Veshor who was the son of Thyranos himself and linked to Qarros through his affinity for the sea and its great power. Intensely devoted to his priestly role, Veshor was keenly talented with a glaive. As devoted Memnor, Ahna and Veshor practiced together often and developed a close friendship, becoming nearly inseparable after only a few months in training. Once a week as the day drew to a close, the Memnor would dance before the Feyjar, their fellow Alde, and the elven “deities” themselves. Though it began as a ritual to beguile the humans with the grace of the elves, the Memnor of Ahna’s generation had come to regard the Dance of the Memnor as a performance in celebration of the bounty given them by their gods to reaffirm the peace and prosperity enjoyed by the community. Though the steps of Ahna’s dances were inspired by her devotion to the gods, it was for her people that she danced: to see their gratitude and awe and joy at her performance; and most of all to make her father, who stood ever among the Feyjar at the front of the crowd, proud. With Veshor by her side, the two became the most beloved Memnor in the history of the settlement. To the Feyjar, Ahna and Veshor danced like the god and goddess themselves: he with all of the uncontrolled power and distant tumult of the sea, and she with unpredictable animal ferocity and tenacity of one who has survived by her instinct and force of will. To her people, Ahna manifested the power of divinity in her dance and they looked her not only as an inspiration for her perseverance in overcoming her illness but for the beauty of her dance and the warmth and care with which she treated everyone, regardless of their lineage or position among the Feyjar.