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namemariska varrensdottir, stjärnvakt of hvalurstrond
place of birthhvalurstrond
currently innorthern isles
marital statusmarried to the job
face claimkeira knightley
Mariska was born to Varren, a gruff once-warrior who shelved his sword in favor of an oar and a net, but did not forget the feel of it in his hand or the training he'd received; and to Sigrin, a slight woman with a gentle spirit and delicate hands known for creating intricate weaves and embroidered patterns. They had nothing in common, save their love for each other and the daughter that bonded them, the only child they would have, though a single mouth to feed suited their means just fine.
Much to her mother's silent chagrin, Mariska took after her father from an early age. She reacted to the world with his brusque manner and none of his restraint until she was old enough to develop it, eventually learning to avoid the cuffing of her ears and admonishments of dónalegur that accompanied it... though, admittedly, sometimes only because she moved too fast for an elder's hand.
She did not necessarily seek it, but solitude did not bother her. She seemed as comfortable traipsing alone on the shores of Hvalurstrond as she was laughing or arguing or rough-housing in a group of other children, but what she looked forward to most was training with her father. Mariska spent hours being buffeted back, again and again, by his dexterous parries, the flat of his blade landing against her legs or back or arm to knock her clumsily to the ground. She came home often enough with bruises and blood and a wide, excited grin that her mother began making her clothes only from dark fabrics, for they better hid the signs of her fledgling competency as a swordsman.
Around her thirteenth summer, Mariska's gift of Seeing first came to light during such a sparring match with her father. He appeared before her as a single man, and then there was a sharp pain in her head and there were two of him, moving independently of each other. The experience was jarring enough to send her to her knees, and it was not until some time later that she, along with the counsel of those in the village who knew of such things, parsed out what happened and what it meant.
Despite no small amount of time and effort dedicated to training her "gift," it did not grow to any impressive power, and she grew impatient with the intangibility of training a mental gift when she'd rather be clutching a sword and shield. She never learned to trigger her visions, nor did she learn to keep them going for any particular amount of time; eventually, she stopped trying, learning to live with what was given to her. Mariska never wanted the Sight, and has at times resented it, but can begrudgingly admit that it has occasionally proven useful.
It's hard to say precisely when Mariska chose to pursue a life as a Stjärnvakt, but by the time she was appointed to their ranks at twenty-six, she had been working toward that goal for several years. She certainly was not interested for the title alone, since preening over rank and status is not a popular pastime on the island; no, the honor drew her attention both as a way to outpace her father as a warrior and make him proud and because of the deep affection she felt for her homeland and its people.
Mariska was chosen upon the retirement of another, having worked her way into the regard of Hvalurstrond's ruling house by shedding blood and sweat alongside many others keeping its shores safe. She knew she was not chosen for the more diplomatic tasks that sometimes came with the position, as her temper was ill-suited to political games and her sharp tongue would do little to unruffle feathers, but had been chosen for her ability to protect the island and for her loyalty to it.
Stubborn pride and determination may have convinced her she would become a Stjärnvakt, but there were things she could not predict. For one, that the other Stjärnvakt would become as family to her, a patchwork of different minds and temperaments that shared a singular bond and unwavering dedication to their goal; and for another, that she would be, despite her indifference, swept up in matters of the heart.
The man who claimed her affections - true affection, not a short-lived entanglement as she had experienced before - was endeared by her rough manners and hot spirit; indeed, he embraced them, never looking to rein her in or dampen her fire. So it was that she became with child, and faced the prospect of motherhood, a role she'd never thought to play before.
And then came the war. She had not expected that being a Stjärnvakt would mean leaving its shores for a war on the other side of the mainland, where she heard the Dragon's Spine loomed foreboding and endless. Yet it became her duty, and so the nine of them went - though only eight would come back.
Mariska experienced the loss of Gyda twice - for she had first Seen it, and then, unable to break through the enemy in time to prevent it, had seen it again. She emerged from war a weary person with ragged morale, wanting only to return home to the simple comforts of her life in Hvalurstrond.
Coming home to the island did not turn her hopes of a quiet life raising her child into a reality, for she discovered that, in her absence, the father of her child had taken up with another woman; and, worse, her daughter called this woman mother but regarded her with the wide, curious eyes children turned upon strangers. There were many protestations, from "I did not intend to love another" to "You never wished to settle down anyway" and, finally, a poor attempt at reconciliation, and perhaps the deepest blow: "You can still help us raise her!" But Mariska found that none of these unwanted words quelled her anger or her sorrow, and she cursed them both for their cruelty before mounting her horse to leave the situation behind.
She returned to focus on her duties as a Stjärnvakt with red-rimmed eyes and a hard-set jaw. Instead of soothing her war-wounds with the budding family she had unexpectedly begun to build, she turned back to those by whose side she had survived the war, quietly surveying the island for the first time with the eyes of a woman worried she had outgrown its harsh and comforting shores.
She also has limited precognition that she 1) hates and 2) has never learned to trigger. These visions come to her in real-time, appearing to her as though she is seeing two events at once. She's more or less used to it now, but it can still be confusing and disorienting as she has to figure out which event is happening now and which is happening in the future, as well as when the future event is happening.
When she isn't fighting or training, Mariska has a quick temper, little patience, and a sharp tongue. It's a combination that means she tends to barrel through the world, letting others know exactly what's on her mind without giving much thought to the delicacies of the human condition. She isn't the person you'd come to for a shoulder to cry on, but she is exactly the person you'd come to for tough love. She's a hot-headed, hands-on person who subscribes to a "work hard party hard" way of life, so you can probably count on her to throw back some pints as a way to unwind.
Mariska would first and foremost consider her fellow Stjärnvakt to be her friends, and then other Northerners. Mainlanders and foreigners will have to try a bit harder to win her loyalty, but it can certainly be done! She appreciates other people who don't sugar-coat the world and appreciates anyone who can take a punch without flinching.
Pirates, raiders, thieves, and traitors - the usual suspects for a Northerner - are on Mariska's list of foes. She also doesn't care for Clerics, though they don't have a foothold on the island anyway and so she only has short experiences running into them on the mainland. However, her short temper and brusque tongue have likely offended plenty of well-meaning and totally innocent individuals she's met along the way! She also doesn't have much patience for the lazy or undisciplined and isn't inclined to be charitable when it hasn't been earned.
Mariska rarely gives much thought to romance. She's never cared for the thought of being someone's wife but has had long-term involvements with men and women that could be summarized as relationships. She has a child with a man who's raising the girl with someone else, which she's actually quite upset about but doesn't think there's much to be done about it, since she isn't willing to give up her position in the Stjärnvakt to be a mother. There's room for other past and future stuff here, just let me know if you have any ideas!