|SIGNY [ the dwarf mage ] (signyature) wrote,|
@ 2010-12-14 18:05:00
'cause i'm scared of the whole world
Signy looks much like your typical dwarven lass—shorter than humans or elves, and built stout, broad-shouldered, and solid. She's not muscular; in fact, she's probably a bit on the small side, even for her people, having had no martial training at all to stretch her muscles. She stands at about four feet, three inches, and overall weighs something around ninety pounds. Her hair is a light blond—for much of her life she wore it short, but since becoming noble she has been growing it out, ostensibly to wear in buns, which is a popular style among the upper crust of Orzammar. Of course, now, she's much less inclined to do anything with it, and wears it down or in simple braids.
Her eyes are brown; her face, round; her nose small and slightly upturned. She has a fresh face, pretty more for its youthfulness and expressiveness than any quality of specific beauty. She's also still pale as anything, as she was strictly an underground dwarf until very recently; when she gets sunburnt, she heals it immediately, and thus seems to be resisting a tan quite effectively. And then there is the brand. On one cheek, just below her eye, there is a dark brown tattoo. It looks a bit like a stylized "S" shape, and is fresh enough to still look a bit red and irritated. When she thinks no one is watching, Signy often pats at it, sometimes quite unconsciously.
She has only recently taken to wearing mage robes––not the traditional or hierarchical robes of a Circle Mage, but robes of more exotic origins. And specific, special tailoring, since mage robes in dwarf sizes have never been necessary before. As often as not, she still wears dresses; they are not as hard to find in her size, for one thing. It was only recently that she came into possession of a mage's staff again, having left her first one behind when she fled Dust Town.
For anyone who has an ear tuned to it, Signy's accent is pure Orzammar; she tends to talk quietly, but quickly, as her thoughts race and her words race sometimes even faster than that. Her hands are calloused from a youth spent training as a smith in Orzammar, and they are seldom at rest. Signy is always making or mending something, if she has the time and energy to dedicate to it.
GIRL I KNOW THE HALL LOOKS DARK AND THE STORM IT SEEMS SO SCARY
YOUR FACE LIT UP ON BEATS OF LIGHTING YOU START YOU START RUNNING
Signy is a bright, quick-witted woman; she is a quick study, although she picks up practical things much more quickly than theoretical ones. (For instance she is still hazy on what exactly the Fade is, but she can cast several spells quite well, and she has always been excellent with her hands.) She is shy of strangers, and this is even more true of human and elven strangers, at least as long as she is getting used to the surface and all these very tall people around her. When she first arrived on the surface, she was possessed of a lot of Dwarven suspicion about the surface—was she going to fall off? Was the sun going to drop one of these days? What by the Stone is this water falling from the sky?! and so on. Most of these fears have faded with time and experience, but she still hustles slightly when crossing large, open spaces, and regards new weather developments with fear. She’s also quite religious, but follows the tradition of her people in revering the Stone and the ancestors; she knows little about either the Chantry or the Chant beyond what she has been told or heard second-hand. She has an even temper––she gets snippy but seldom really and truly gets mad. When push comes to shove, however, she is stubborn.
Aside from nervousness, curiosity drives Signy; when she is not terrified, she wants always to know more about everything. Literally, everything; it is not merely in areas of her own interests that Signy seeks to learn more, but about nearly everything. Her work ethic is inherited from a hundred generations of smiths and craftsmen in the ancient thaigs; Signy keeps her word, keeps working, and if she can at all manage it, gets the job done. In many ways, she's happiest and feels safest when she's working; she never really grew accustomed to idleness.
She is often matter-of-fact with her feelings and her thoughts; she attempts politeness, but finds it goes awry rather too often for her tastes, when something factual but offensive just slips out of her mouth. She doesn't try to offend; she just speaks without thinking, sometimes. Her father used to accuse her of having a faster tongue than a brain, and this may not be entirely untrue. She can sometimes talk her way out of trouble--but she's liable to talk her way right back into it before long. One of her most noticable social talents is haggling with merchants--she learned this at her father's side. When she's comfortable, she loves talking and asking questions and then asking more questions; when she's nervous, she's very quiet, a trait that remains from her very shy, reclusive childhood.
Her time as a noble led to her developing a love of pretty things; she is mostly denied this, as a Casteless dwarf, but that doesn't mean that she doesn't long for a beautiful necklace or an elaborate gown now and then. She's still sensitive about being made Casteless--and feels some guilt that she cares more about the brand on her face than much else. She respects hard work, steadfastness, and monetary success; she cannot abide laziness, and feels uncomfortable with lawbreaking.
Prejudice––that dwarves are inherently better, and that caste matters greatly––is largely engrained in Signy's character, although much of it is implicit to the point that she never says it straightforwardly, these things are still a crucial part of her world. But they are dwarven prejudices, not surface reactions: she has no strong societally engrained feelings on elves, and thinks mages deserve freedom.
AND STILL A THOUSAND MILES LIE BETWEEN US AND WE'RE WAKING UP ALONE
WHAT IF I COULD CROSS A HUNDRED BORDERS THERE'S NO GOING HOME
Signy has seen more social mobility in her short lifetime than most dwarves experience in a century—and, all things considered, she has decided that she’s had enough of it. Born into the Smith Caste, she, along with her entire extended family, were raised to the nobility when her third cousin Dagna was voted a Paragon. She was made into a mage—a group which was briefly considered for caste status itself. Following the fallout of the first Dwarven Abomination, Signy has been branded Casteless and exiled as a danger to her people. Once on the surface, she was recruited by the Warden Commander of Ferelden, and is now a Grey Warden.
She doesn’t really want to think about how many footnotes and strikethroughs there are in her family’s entry in the Shaperate.
Signy was born a few years before the death of King Endrin Aeducan, and was raised in and above the shop belonging to her mother and father. They were both members of the Smith caste—her father, Orsin, was perhaps more suited to the life of a merchant, but her mother was a sword-maker and tinkerer of respectable skill. She was no genius, but Signovar was quite successful in her craft. She had apprenticed under two different master smiths during her youth, and to this day continues to brag about the compliment that Paragon Branka once paid to a dagger she had forged. (Signovar is actually notoriously vague about this compliment. In actuality, Branka, encountered during a craft fair that celebrated her ascension from the Smith Caste, looked at the dagger, grunted, and said something that could have been interpreted as “not too bad”. Signovar has clung onto this and used “Branka’s Favored Bladesmith” as advertising for years.)
Signy was the first and only child of her parents; as hard as Signovar attempted to conceive a second child, she had apparently received the only blessing of a child the ancestors saw fit to give her. On the whole, however, Signy was no disappointment; she was a quick, alert child, who had a natural knack for working with her hands. She was a bit shy, though—she had cousins and neighborhood children, but she preferred to stay in her parent’s shop, and once or twice, actually hid inside half-finished suits of armor when more gregarious family members showed up asking after her.
There was unrest during her childhood, of course: the death of King Endrin and the conflict over King Bhelen's ascension, and the Blight up on the surface. Of course, Signy was barely five at the time; she hardly remembers anything except attending a Grand Proving and sitting on her father’s shoulders. The city may have been worried, but she, at least, knew nothing of it.
One thing that even a five year old would notice, however, was the familialstrife. During the Blight and the troubles over Endrin’s succession, one of her cousins ran away from home. It was Janar’s daughter, Dagna. (To Signy, he had always been “Uncle Janar”, although he was certainly no brother of either her mother or father; he was actually her father’s second cousin, but such are the intricacies of family address). She have given up her Caste and her Clan to… well, in truth, nobody in the family was sure exactly what she’d given it up for. Some pipe dream about magic? Selling Lyrium at a heavy discount up-top, thanks to connections in Dust Town? It was rather clouded by rumor and speculation, and the young woman had not exactly left a long, explanatory letter. For several years Dagna was the white nug in the room: the thing that everybody thought about at family gatherings, but nobody spoke of.
And then, when Signy was sixteen, her third cousin came back: she came back with magic, and with mages. Dwarf mages. The news flew through Orzammar like wildfire, and everyone in the family who had been avoiding talking about Dagna for the last eleven years was suddenly talking about her as though she were the only person in the entire city. Once she had demonstrated power of the magic she could perform—and the truth behind her claim that she knew how to empower more of her race to do the same—Dagna was voted a Paragon of Orzammar. She was raised to the nobility, and founded House Dagna. And her entire family, even inconsequential third cousins like Signy, became the first members of that house. This, understandably, looked like a huge change on paper and in the records of the Shaperate. For Signy, however, the largest change to her daily life was that after a few weeks her family moved into the Diamond District. Her father stopped working—not that this was the best idea, but he, like many others of the family, felt that as nobles they no longer had to do anything for themselves. (The fact that Signy’s mother kept smithing was a problem, for some family members, at least, who felt it was “unbecoming” of a new noble.)
Despite the fact that Dagna’s experiments were still in their initial phases—and that nobody quite knew what would happen to a Dwarven Mage in, say, ten or twenty years (or even more than one or two years), when she offered the chance to undergo the procedure to citizens of Orzammar that she felt were deserving, many jumped at the chance. Even though the survival rate wasn’t wonderful (it ranks way above the Grey Warden joining, though) and the success rate was even lower, she had a wealth of volunteers, and chose those who seemed most deserving. And after a few successful creations—inductions, maybe, a better term—the new House Dagna started grumbling. They were her loving family. They had supported her through all of this (they conveniently ignored the fact that they actually hadn’t, for the most part). Would she give strangers magical powers over her own kith and kin?
After her family had whined and grumbled for nearly three years, the Paragon consented. At least, she compromised: if they found acceptable candidates among the extended family, she’d pick one to administer the lyrium treatment to. Signy’s parents—who had slowly been realizing there wasn’t as much money in lying around and being noble as they thought, previously—pushed her forward. And remarkably, though Signy still didn’t get out of the house much and hardly knew Dagna from anybody, the Paragon chose her. (Later, Signy would recognize that it was probably due to the fact that she didn’t seem to want to be a mage because it would get her invitations to exclusive parties, or grant her power to wield over others, but because she was genuinely curious about it.)
Actually undergoing the process was unpleasant—very unpleasant. Signy threw up about once an hour for more than a day afterwards, and was off her feet for a week. Perhaps it was because of her youth, or just a poor constitution. But, either way, despite the nasty side effects (most of which have faded, but she still experiences dizzy spells and nausea from time to time, especially when she exerts her newfound magical power), Signy had gained access to the Fade, and to magic.
Being one of a handful of dwarves who could perform magic, a member of the newest noble house (which, while celebrated, was the talk of the town for its poor, Smith-like behavior as often as for Dagna’s advancements and virtues), and a teenage girl all at the same time was a lot for Signy to handle. She threw herself into study, though, out of an eagerness to prove that even though their family had pushed Dagna into choosing her, she could be as good a mage as any of the others. It was also an outlet for her curiosity and her need to keep busy; Signy is a very energetic young woman, and can’t abide doing nothing. (She creates busy work for herself more often than not, if there’s truly nothing to do.) Her generic admiration of Dagna as Paragon grew into a genuine personal fondness and near-idolization, as Dagna took her and the other new mages under her wing, and taught them much of what she’d learned while she was at the Circle. Of course, she left out some details—like the fact that they were all technically apostates, as far as the Chantry on the surface was concerned. Most of the strife going on even now between the Circles of Magi and the Chantry were downplayed in Orzammar; the largest concern to everyday dwarves was the impact on the lyrium trade. Even though Dagna had exploited the beginning of the turmoil to gather more information and resources for her experiments, she seldom mentioned what had happened; many of her mages were only dimly aware that magic was feared and hated on the surface. She taught them what she knew of resisting demonic temptation, but it was paltry in comparison to a Circle Mage's education in the matter: perhaps Dagna was just a truly strong person, or she was over-confident that dwarves would not suffer the same issues as human mages did. Or she was confident that she’d only chosen strong-willed dwarves who could resist that temptation and that danger.
During the time between becoming a mage at age eighteen, and her exile at age twenty, Signy’s parents grew to depend on her even more; for money and support, but also for their own social advancement. By this point, Signovar had given up smithing almost entirely, at the urging of her House. Signy’s mother and father constantly pushed and prodded her to be “the best” of Dagna’s mages, even though she was far, far from the most senior or the most talented. (She wasn’t the worst, either: Signy put in a lot of study and work, after all.)
Shortly before Signy’s twentieth birthday, and less than four years after Dagna’s ascension to Paragon status, the first Dwarven Abomination was created. How exactly it happened, nobody is sure—certainly Vidar Aeducan, a cousin of King Bhelen and one of Dagna’s first pupils, is not talking. What is known is that he was in the Diamond District, near noon one day; suddenly, something malformed, hideous, and only vaguely dwarf-shaped burst out of the House Dagna estate and tore into the people on the streets. Perhaps he had been summoning demons, looking for an edge; perhaps it was a mere accident of chance and opportunity. Vidar is certainly not talking anymore. Nearly thirty dwarves, mostly of the noble caste, were killed or injured before the City Guards subdued the abomination.
Panicked, the Assembly voted that mages were more of a danger than a benefit and had no place in civilized Dwarven society. Or anywhere near any other good, true Dwarves. Although they were unable to officially touch the Paragon they had made, all of her scant number of protégés were declared casteless. They were stricken from the records of the Shaperate, branded with the mark of the Casteless, and sent into Dust Town in disgrace. The process was a messy, drawn-out, political conflict, like most things in the Assembly of Orzammar, with Paragon Dagna fighting every step of the way, and being overturned by the political machinations and games she had ignored during her stint as Orzammar's only living Paragon. Signy herself was dealt with relatively late in the process––being noble and of Dagna's own house afforded her some protection that other, lower Caste mages did not have. But it didn't help her in the end: like all of the other mages save the Paragon herself, Signy was branded, made Casteless, and sent into Dust Town. And Dust Town was not a particularly safe place at the time. Flooded with outcast mages, the slum exploded into violence not a day after Signy arrived; the Regime that controlled Dust Town wanted the mages killed, but they were drawn into in-fighting instead, in-fighting that Signy witnessed firsthand. It was supposed to be a friendly gesture, but she ended up a hostage of Belbere Bjyr while he sided with the outcast mages and made a play for control of Dust Town. It was a blood bath; fearing for her safety no matter which side won, Signy killed her guard and escaped for the surface. The duster who was guarding her was the first life that Signy ever took––with magic, and at all.
But the fear didn't stop when she reached the surface. She'd heard stories, but they had not prepared her for the reality. It was a confusing, chaotic place––and that was just Gherlon's Pass, the gateway to Orzammar. But Ancestors, there was so much sky! In her first few days she met a mercenary by the name of Imenry Barras, and hired her as an escort to civilization. Naively, Signy decided to make for the Ferelden Circle in Kinloch Hold, convinced they would have to take her in––and unaware of the Chantry's views on the rumor of the existence of dwarven Mages. A grim––very grim––fate would have awaited her there, had she not found the Grey Wardens instead.
More accurately, the Grey Wardens found her, and her companions. Signy displayed her magic, healing the wounds of an old acquaintance from Orzammar who had also been exiled, and when the Warden Commander realized what she had done, and what she was, he recruited her. It was not a conscription, but Signy's practical choices beside this were far and few; and it saved her from Templars and apostacy. The rest of the motley group that had assembled at Gherlon's Pass came as well––two to become Wardens, and the rest accompanied them to Amaranthine.
In Molioris of 9:45, Signy became a Grey Warden; almost immediately upon surviving her Joining, she was dispatched to Redcliffe to deal with what seemed to be the mounting Sixth Blight. Over the course of the next month, Signy fought Darkspawn and managed to learn to look up at the sky without quivering in terror. The reality of being a Grey Warden sunk in when she was confronted with ghouls who had to be killed in the Orchards surrounding Redcliffe. One of the Wardens who had undergone the Joining with her was killed by Darkspawn; reality and duty have been closing in upon Signy ever since, giving her some strength of purpose and certainty, but rendering her more quiet and pensive than she has been since arriving on the Surface. Once Redcliffe was secured, Signy and the rest of the group started back across the Bannorn for Amaranthine, to bring their reports to the Warden Commander once again.
I must become a lion-hearted girl.
FULL NAME: Signy
CURRENT AGE: 20
DATE OF BIRTH: 30 Verimensis, 9:25.
PLACE OF BIRTH: Orzammar
CLASS: Mage (No Specialization)
SPELLS: Primal, Creation
OCCUPATION: Grey Warden
CURRENT RESIDENCE: Amaranthine
FAMILY RELATIONSHIPS: Paragon Dagna (Cousin)
• Raised as a member of the Smith Caste, Signy studied her parents' trade for most of her young life; though she has not practiced smithing or forging since being made noble, she remembers many of the basics. On the surface, she's found working at smithies and forges to be a welcome distraction from the worries of life as Grey Warden.
• She studied some potion-making with Dagna, who had learnt it from the Tranquil during her years at the Circle Tower. She knows how to make potions with Lyrium--considering it's far more common in Orzammar than nearly anywhere else--and Deep Mushrooms, mainly, and regards Elfroot as something rare and wonderful.
AIM: ay ay ay alicia
EMAIL: solikearose [AT] gmail.com
PB: christina ricci