Played By: CJ McNeal
Character Name: Yrsa
Known Skills: Archery, Divine, Herbalist, Hunting, Sarcasm Dealer
Notable Traits: Mostly quiet, sarcastic, and a bit flighty.
Relationships: Currently travelling with Stormjarl Einherjar
- Mother: Deceased (Unknown family)
- Father: Great archer and hunter, I look up to and admire him (Am I good with a bow and trapping? Not great, but I won’t starve)
- Brother: Set sail on a boat a few years ago, haven’t seen him in a while
- Grandmother: Herbalist and Sarcasm dealer (She was teaching me herbalism, first aid, and magic, but I still have a great deal to learn)
- My village was raided and burned by Grimward. I was was separated from my family and became a thrall in a Grimward village.
- Kind hearted, I help my people and the other thralls but become a bit of a handful when someone mistreats my people. My nemesis is a Grimward guard that skirts the line of abusing his power.
- Made friends with a bonded pair of Grimward, who taught me to work with chain metal.
- Rescued from my thrall life by a Stormjarl raiding party.
The youngest years
I was born into a small family one crisp winter morning. My father had thought that he would get another boy, but my mother and grandmother were ecstatic that I was a girl. I had one older brother who was 10 by the time I came around. He will tell you that he hated my existence but he always seemed to be around to help when I was on the verge of troubles.
Unfortunately, my mother passed on shortly after I was born so I only know her in the stories told by my family and some from around the village. I have heard that she has family a few days journey from here, but neither my brother nor I have ever crossed paths with them that we know of. We often heard that mother was beautiful and kind, but there is much mystery to her family as everyone seems to change the subject when we ask.
Father, how I longed to be just like him. To many he seemed cold and silent but those closest to him knew of his true depth. The way his eyes would soften and the corners of his mouth would turn up ever so slightly when something amused him. I got this look often as a pup, when I would pretend to be big, strong, and stoic like him. My grandmother would laugh so hard, and tell me that I inherited too much sass from her to be just like my father.
I remember sitting in hunting blinds with my father, he was so still for so long…it looked as if he had stopped breathing all together and turned to stone. After almost passing out a few times I learned that this was a skill I did not inherit from him. He did teach me everything I know about hunting, but said I was better suited for shorter trips.
They say my brother is similar to my mother. He longs to be near the water and tells father that he wants to be a great sailor someday. Apparently, mother had a fondness for water as well but, when she fell in love with Father, she settled for a pond in the forest. Father tried to teach brother the ways of hunting and trapping, but my brother’s heart is always on the water. In brothers 17th year, father finally allowed him to set sail on his first long journey. Brother’s eyes sparkled with joy as he left for the ship; I had never seen him happier.
Grandmother seems to radiate a warm peacefulness, and she is the binding that holds our family together. She has and endless knowledge of plant life; I am amazed at the way she talks about some plants as if they were her old friends. With my mother gone, she had been my teacher of all things plant and magic. Her quick wit and no nonsense attitude I love and admire her greatly.
The setting sun warmed my skin and the tall grass tickled my arms as I danced through the open field. A joyous evening of chasing fireflies had begun. Picking flowers to make a crown and singing softly to myself, I am truly at peace and happy. I hear my grandmothers’ voice whisper as I gaze across the fields’ variety of plant life trying to decide what to add.
“Remember pup, sometimes beautiful is dangerous; you wouldn’t want to get the oils from that one on your hands”.
I feel her spirit with me, guiding as I create the most beautiful and full flower crown I have ever seen. By now, the world is growing darker and the fireflies have begun their magical ball. The soft breeze blowing through the trees plays the melody as I float weightlessly through the carefully choreographed dance only the fireflies and I know.
The wind begins to blow harder and sounds like…
Suddenly, its morning and reality sinks back in for another day. I am in my glorious thrall housing (livestock adjacent even!) provided by [insert sarcasm here] “The Mighty Grimward”. I had already been here long enough to stop counting the days. One of the chickens has found her way in through a gap in the wall branches and decided to try to find a snack on the bookshelf.
“Nice Try girl, I think the rat got the last of the crumbs yesterday,” I tease.
I ready myself for the day and find myself getting lost in memories of home. There is a strong love hate relationship with home dreams. I love feeling as if I am home with my loved ones…It feels like a flaming blade through my heart because it was all stolen from me and I’m haunted by it every day.
I can still feel the heat from the fires they used to burn my village and I see the flames when I close my eyes. The smell of campfires take me back to the night I was dragged away from my everything, watching my family become silhouettes against the flames behind them. I do not know if it was easier being among the first taken from the village, at least I was able to see my family together one last time. I’m sure it would have been much harder to see how separated we actually were.
Grandmother was frail, and unable to make long journeys…I just hope whoever she went with cared for her…Gaia keep her safe.
And my father…
My father’s last words to me still echo in my mind. A great hunter with little emotion, it haunts me most that his voice cracked that night.
“Be strong, my child. The road might be long. The journey might be challenging and full of dangers. Take a rest, if you must, but never turn back. Your very next step could be your moment of triumph. Your very next battle could be your greatest victory. Keep walking my warrior.”
I could feel the tears start to well up in my eyes, the way they did that night I last saw him. I held them back that night for him and the family, the way I hold them back now for my people.
There is a nice breeze flowing through the window, but as life is now…it was a short-lived enjoyment. A familiar stench of body odor and stale ale rode in on the breeze. My eyes widened.
“Smell that, Girl!?” I say to my chicken friend. “Tubby is on guard duty this morning. Save yourself!”
I pick up the chicken and gently send her back through the hole in the wall. For a half second, I consider how much effort it would take to squeeze out of the tiny gap myself…but if I get caught that’s a headache I don’t want today. So I tie back my hair, straighten my dress, and ready myself for another Grimward day of cooking and cleaning.
I open the door slowly because I know my nemesis, Tubby, too well at this point. Maybe if he were friendlier I would learn his actual name, but he looks down on my people and I’m sure if he were allowed he would have fun torturing us. He does keep himself just on the line to where he doesn’t get in trouble, but sometimes he steps over when he knows no one is watching. Makes me want to knock his fangs out, but until I get that chance I just like messing with him.
The flat edge of Tubby’s sword slapped across the doorway just in front of my face. I raised an eyebrow and turned my head to meet his gaze. He looked annoyed, as was usual when he had thrall duties. He lowered his sword and leaned his face close to mine. He must have had a long night because the smell of ale was so strong; I think I ended up a little buzzed from the vapors. I held back the urge to vomit.
“You are always a thorn in my side. I’m in no mood for your trickery today, got it!?” He sneered.
I flashed a little smirk, “Why, I have no idea what you mean.” I poked the sword enough to move past it and walked towards the meeting area laughing to myself along the way. They had us meet in one spot and then escorted us to our stations as a group, they claim it is for our safety but I believe they are trying to make sure we don’t escape or cause an uprising.
I spotted a group of older Ulven women on their way to the meet up point; I recognized two who sometimes work cooking duties with me. Hilde reminds me of Grandmother and doesn’t get around too well either. The other women always try to help walk her, but they are all getting on in years and have some difficulties themselves. Most of them don’t have to work, but they ask any one of them and they will tell you they would rather keep busy than sit around and rot. I smile at the one who is currently helping Hilde, and she looks relieved to have someone younger take over. I wrap my arm through Hildes and pat her hand.
“Did you get a good meal this morning?” I ask her “It’s a beautiful day and you look ready for adventure.”
“Oh, you know I only pretend to be frail so they leave me alone” She laughs.
We make it to the meet up location and Tubby is shaking his head.
“Can you move any slower? By the time you get here, your shifts will already be over.” He barked snidely.
Hilde’s arm gripped me tighter in obvious frustration; she was definitely on the list of us who would gladly help make him disappear. I patted her hand again and winked when she looked in my direction.
“That’s enough! Get moving!” Tubby yelled so loud I bet the chickens all dropped their eggs for the day.
The other guard there just rolled his eyes; he was much younger and looked new. He took the lead and Tubby caught the rear, my guess is so he could keep me in his sight. Every time I looked over my shoulder, there Tubby was, glaring at me. I couldn’t help but laugh. He must still be angry over the fun I had last week.
We were in the work march and Tubby wasn’t paying attention. I broke off from the group as we passed vendor stalls in the market. I knew I had some time before they reached the main hall, so I walked around the market. My metalsmith friend, Ivar, and his wife, Hel, were out setting up their stall for the day. They were so friendly, I had a hard time believing they were Grimward. I grabbed the cloth from the top of their cart and draped it over the front of their stall like they did daily. Hel smiled from the front of the cart. I heard a whistle from behind me and turned just in time to see Ivar toss an apple my way.
“I see you got away from the fat smelly bastard again” He chuckled.
Ivar was the one who helped me break away from the group the first time. Tubby was in a particularly foul mood one day and he laughed as one thrall worker fell in the mud. I am still sure he tripped the poor guy. I was about to take down Tubby, when I felt a firm hand on my shoulder and suddenly found myself in the drapes of a market stall. I was confused and still ready to fight when a warm loaf of bread was shoved in my face. I am sure I had drool dripping down my chin. When I looked up, Hel’s kind smile was an instant calming force.
“You don’t want to do that, it won’t be long and your people will be free again” she said sweetly.
After that, they became good friends. They would always have some spare food for me, and sometimes more to sneak back for other thrall. Not that we didn’t get fed in the thrall unit, it just was never the freshest form of foods. In whatever time I could find myself, Ivar would teach me some crafty things to do with metal. I appreciated having something fun to learn, seeing as I had never been one for traditional Ulven woman skills and I was growing bored with Grimward working me on cooking duties. I was actually getting quite good with metal, even though I was not allowed those types of things in thrall housing.
Ivar taught me the way through the back alleys so I could make it back to the group before I would be called out for abandonment. Last week, for the first time ever, Tubby noticed I was missing and was livid when he got to the main hall. The Hersir happened to be in the area and laid into him for losing a thrall on a walk. I was getting a little nervous thinking of how I would sneak past this time, when a nearby window swung open. I took a quick glance in and saw Hilde, who winked at me. I happily took the opportunity to jump into the longhouse without passing by the perturbed guards. I swiftly blended into work sorting goods brought in from the fields and we could hear the Hersir yelling at Tubby telling him to go and find the missing thrall. The Hersir came barging into the room, demanding a head count. When the numbers came out correct he was a little confused, he mumbled something about an idiot and told the other warrior with him to “let him figure it out on his own”
Tubby was not letting me out of his sights today, so I happily continued to walk with Hilde to the main hall. I gave a slight nod to Ivar and Hel as we passed by and both of them chuckled a bit when they saw Tubby’s intense gaze on the back of my head.
The only part of the cooking duties I enjoyed were gabbing with the older women. They would tell stories of their villages and younger years. I would get lost in my head, picturing the stories as they were told. I would sometimes imagine I was snuggled by the fire with Grandmother again, listening to her weave stories as I drifted off to sleep. We were all homesick, but none of us spoke about it. Instead, we would try to lift spirits with jokes and stories of happier times.
Tubby and the newer guard were on watch. Tubby was spewing his tall tales, trying to impress the new guy. From the looks of it, the new guy knew better and ended up just nodding a lot. Guards typically did a few rounds to make sure we weren’t getting into trouble, but Tubby always took it one step further and would lean uncomfortably close over shoulders or would take his Seax out to stab a snack off the tables.
The blade of his seax pierced through the potato and into the wood table.
“This piece isn’t cut proper, maybe you should take more care prepping my food” Tubby taunted a woman maybe a little older than me. He then shoved the potato into his mouth.
She just nodded and went back to work as he chuckled to himself and strutted away.
Just as I was daydreaming about knocking his fangs out of his face, I noticed that he didn’t have his seax sheathed properly. A wicked smile must have appeared on my face because I heard Hilde in almost a songlike voice say:
“Someone has mischief in mind”
I smiled at her and as Tubby walked past me with a scoff, I used two fingers and his momentum to lift the seax from his belt without him noticing. I started using the seax to chop stew meat, I know the blade deserved better but this was a lesson. I looked at the other women, most were chuckling silently to themselves.
Just then, there was a commotion outside the door. Things are fairly predictable in this village and this sound was so new that we all froze and looked at each other. The door flew open and there stood the Hersir and two more guards. For a moment I thought I was in serious trouble, but the Hersir called over Tubby and the new guy. They spoke in hushed voices while we all quietly went back to our duties, trying to catch any part of the conversation.
Breaking the quiet, the Hersir yelled “By the Great Wolf! Who gave the thrall a seax!?”
I smiled as sweetly as I could muster and held back a laugh as Tubby got slapped in the back of the head.
“Oh! Is that what this is!?” I gasped.
I wiped the blade on my skirt and held the hilt up as the new guy smirked and took it from me. He might be cute if he wasn’t of Grimward.
Tubby was fuming, but the hersir told him to take a walk and sent him out. The two new guards stayed with the new guy and continued their hushed conversations.
“Something has them worked up” Heilde whispered. “Where wolf’s ears are, wolf’s teeth are near.”
We worked the rest of the shift in mostly silence, and were escorted back to our housing by five guards where there were typically only two. When we arrived, the guards barked at us that no one was to leave their housing units until we were told to tomorrow morning. There was anger on their faces, but their eyes showed a tint of fear. What could have them so worried?
I sat by my door, and listened to movement outside. It was eerily quiet, and occasionally I could hear whispers as guards briefly passed each other. There were so many out, I didn’t even realize there were that many in this village.
A light noise broke my concentration. It was coming from the hole in the wall. I cautiously approached.
“Oh Pup! I am so glad you are here!” Hels voice was so sweet but a little panicked.
“Kinda have no choice” I joked. Humor always helped me through tense situations, even if it wasn’t appropriate.
“Pup! Listen to me! Do not sleep tonight!…” She started
“What is going on!?” I interrupted.
“No time, you will find out soon enough. Just don’t sleep, stay alert, and take this.” She said as she slipped a long canvas wrapped pack through the hole.
“Hel, what if Im caught with this…you know what they will do to me.” I protested.
She reached through the hole and touched my cheek. “They wont” she smiled.
I held her hand as she gently pulled away. We both heard the guards coming. She quickly got up, pulled her dark cloak back over her head, and disappeared into the night. Why did it feel like this would be the last time I would see her?
I sat next to my bed so if someone entered I might have a chance to conceal the package that was given to me. I carefully unrolled the canvas. Inside was a beautiful bow, arrows in a quiver, a leather belt, leather pouch, some chain metals, chain tools, bread, smoked meat, and a note.
“Often times it is not numbers that wins the victory, but those who fare forward with the most vigor.”
I wrapped everything back up except some meat, bread, and the note.
Sitting by the door, I was determined to stay awake like I was told. The food helped, and I found a small stone that I repeatedly bounced off a wall and caught. Just when I thought I was going to lose the fight and fall asleep (Again, never been good at sitting in blinds and waiting) I heard a distant shouting. Was it my imagination or did I hear the sounds of fighting too.
Was it Mordok!? Did Hel give me a tools to fight then leave me!?
The screaming and fighting became louder and closer. I opened my door a crack to see what was going on, and sighed when I realized it wasn’t mordok. Opening the door further I got a better look…
Did I fall asleep?
Is this a dream?
Could it be…?
Then I heard it…”Stormjarl”
My eyes burned as I fought back tears…I was almost free…Ivar and Hel knew the raiding party was on its way, and they brought me a parting gift. I would never forget them, but I had to fight for my people. I equipped the bow and opened that door for the last time.
As I ran to the other huts to help gather the older Ulven, I couldn’t help but hope that Tubby would cross my path.
“Nice bow” Hilde’s voice called from behind me.
I looked at her in awe. With a sword in her hand she looked 20 years younger.
“Close your mouth, pup! I told you I only pretend to be frail so they leave me alone” She laughed. “Now let’s get out of here”
I laughed and shook my head.
We headed down the trail towards the battle when a movement beside one of the huts stopped us in our tracks.
“Where did you get weapons!?” a familiar rough voice spit out. I could feel the grin forming on my face, I guess wishes do come true.
Tubby and the new guy from earlier emerged from the shadows. Cracking his knuckles as he blocked our path, he hissed “Oh, you don’t know how much I am going to enjoy teaching you a lesson”
“They trying to keep us in, or are they what Grimward considers the best defence for the thralls” Hlide joked. “What are you thinking, pup?”
“My honor, and the honor of our people tormented here need to be avenged.” the words just flowed out of my mouth.
Hilde nodded at me, then looked up at the new guy. She pointed her sword towards him and gave him an unspoken ‘Are you going to be a problem?’ look. He seemed to know exactly what was going on, and he raised his hands and took a step back. Tubby scoffed and called him a coward, but the new guy just smirked, shrugged, and took a comfortable lean against a fence post.
“This is going to be quick and easy,” Tubby snarled. “Then I’m going to deal with you!” he barked towards the new guy. He inhaled deeply, snorting everything in his nose into the back of his throat then released a disgusting spit wad to the ground. I thought I was going to throw up, but I held it back and used it to fuel me in this fight instead.
Tubby started running towards me and I took a light jog towards him. I had a feeling he would come at me fast and hot at first, and he did not disappoint. As soon as we made it into striking distance, Tubby pulled back his arm and readied a punch. His fist came hurling towards my face, but I ducked towards the side and pushed his elbow so his punch follow through spun him a bit more than he anticipated. It gave me the perfect opportunity to use his spinning momentum to throw my knee into his fat gut.
Doubled over and coughing, he turned his face at me and I could see the fire in his eyes. He exploded towards me in a full screaming ball of fury. It seemed to happen in slow motion, before I realized what happened…my fist was colliding with the side of his face. He fell over backwards and was rolling on the ground screaming profanities and groaning.
“Hope you enjoyed teaching me that lesson” I stated flatly.
I felt Hildes hand on my shoulder “let’s keep moving” she chimed.
We looked at the new guy who hadn’t moved from his spot on the fence. He crossed his arms and chuckled “I was told my duty was to stand guard here, and thats exactly what I’m doing…standing…guard”. He just stood there, smiled, and gestured for us to pass. Damn cute Grimward.
Hilde and I started to jog down the trail when she held out her hand.
“This is for you, pup!” Hilde laughed as she placed a tooth in my hand. “Knocked it clean out of his head!”
Even if it was disgusting, I almost tripped from laughing.
We came upon the fighting and gave each other a nod that, even without words, screamed freedom!