Aesa maintains a blush of health, and can pass with little difficulty as a pale human – common enough in the north. She is undeniably beautiful; in the south, her coloring gave her an exotic look, while here in the north the same allure stems from her courtesan’s arts and a body untouched by weathering and unbent by hard labor. Physical Traits:
Aesa was possessed of a surreal grace even before her embrace, and the unnatural quickness of a Toreador has only intensified this. Her voice drips honey, the simplest movement is mesmerizing, and she has danced to seduce emperors. She is able to consume mortal food.
Although she doesn’t lack for strength or endurance, she knows herself no match for the power of a northman. She is small and thin, and often underestimated by those who tower above her, which proves occasionally frustrating but frequently beneficial. Personality:
Overcoming adversity to rise to power has left scars on Aesa’s personality. Although she rarely lets her temper show, she is swift to anger and slow to forgive, delighting in a slow, painful revenge or the quick, brutal domination of a foe. She values loyalty and is given it unquestionably by her warriors, but she has none that would be defined as friends. Aesa is best approached with respect and reason, and is a born capitalist: a deal is always to be struck. Mental Traits:
Aesa is clever and swift thinking; although no scholar or serious intellectual, she is respected for her mind as well as her grace. She is well educated and literate. A woman who has overcome the limits of gender, race and class, she is possessed of an indomitable will and charisma – a force strong enough to compel the proudest warriors to obey. History:
Born on the shores of the Dnieper about 75 years ago, Aesahildr was raised the daughter of a powerful Rus merchant lord and raider. Her upbringing was brutal and nomadic, mostly spent aboard ship and in small, temporary villages. Aesa thrived on the challenges and loved the deadly freedom of the Rus, blossoming quickly into a young woman strong of back and lithe of limb. Competition for her hand was already promising to be fierce when her father heard tales of the wonders of Constantinople, and saw opportunity. Turning his karfi south, he sought new markets and an ambitious match for his daughter.
Exotic, graceful, and possessed of completely unique coloring, Aesa gained quick interest within the legendary city. The keen competition between merchants for her favor also began to change her; she began to cast off the mantle of dutiful child and become an independent, ambitious woman.
It was then that her sire found her. Her exotic appeal was obvious, her potential as a work of art unquestionable, and her aspiration an easy lure. On a clear, warm evening a man of rank and fortune arrived on Audun’s step to bargain for his daughter and, unlike so many before, this offer couldn’t be refused. Aesa found herself not a wife but a courtesan, and never saw another sunrise.
For ten years she never left the man's palace, learning the arts of court, performance and politics first from Stephanos and then from a long series of tutors: men and women who would thereafter disappear across sea, or beneath it. Word of a Rus visit was stifled or discounted. Thus it was that, when she was finally introduced, her skills were far beyond those of her peers and bolstered by natural talent and exotic appearance. She was, predictably, a sensation at court – she worked her way swiftly through lesser nobles and officials, was snatched up by great men and briefly gained the interest of the emperor himself.
Inevitably, however, she learned the secret price of immortality and the fickle nature of the Toreador. As more Rus worked south, she became less exotic; although no less a courtesan – more, in fact, for she continued to master the arts of courtesan and vampire – her star began to fade. Also, her unaging nature became more impossible to ignore. Finally, after less than two decades in court, she took a rich, aged official as husband and retreated from the public eye.
She’d arranged her marriage well, however, and quickly found herself widowed and wealthy. She then turned her efforts to politics – both within the human court and the vampiric. She was not without success, but quickly felt herself hampered by her gender and a sire who found her at first to be useless baggage and then, increasingly, competition.
For the first time she truly began to fear for her safety. After one misguided attempt to assassinate her – a poor fool who didn’t realize her nature – she journeyed north to return to her people. She was recognized by her brothers and a few others, now elders of the clan: and she used her eternal youth and supernatural powers to convince them she had touched Valhalla and could grant them, as well, the strength and longevity of epic warriors. She returned to Byzantium with forty Norse warriors, a group of fiercely loyal, intimidating and capable troops that would inspire the later Varangian guard.
In the end, however, Aesa proved less fortunate at the subtle, slow intrigues of kindred than she had been inspiring lust as a courtesan. Not that she was incapable, which would likely have made her safer, but the success of a young vampire brought quick censure from one of the oldest courts in the world. In the end, it was her own sire that turned upon her. Stephanos felt every reproach toward her reflect upon his own pride, and every growth in her influence erode his own. Eliminating her promised to remove an irritation and curry the favor of the elders. This began a year long feud of strike and counterstrike, disastrous to both kindred. Aesa lost half her huskarls, while Stephanos watched both his newest protege and trusted seneschal beheaded.
Finally, fed up with the conflict and the chaos it brought, the elders forbid any further action by the kindred against one another and gave Aesa three months to leave the city. Although the appeal of becoming a courtesan in a new city – Venice, or Acre, or Alexandria – was very strong, her followers showed no interest to travel south and Aesa too felt the call of the land of her ancestors. An escape from civilization would also be the best way to avoid the influence of her irate sire.
After due consideration, she concluded that a careful expedition might gain power bringing civilization to the savage lands and therefore turned her fortune and time towards preparation. She would not rely on force of arms, but on technology and alliances, so she didn’t seek to gather more soldiers but instead recruited skilled craftsman with promises of opportunity and adventure, or simply purchased able slaves outright. Tools and bribes figured as prominently into her cargo as trade goods.
Months later her expedition arrived in the Baltic, mostly intact, aboard three small boats. She set her sights upon the village of Heior, a settlement of some few hundred that would provide access to iron and wood for her craftsman, the sea for trade, and abutted a cave-riddled cliff for security. During a feast she wove her subtle temptations around the jarl Nefgeir, a vicious man disliked by his people who ruled only through fear. Aesa lured him into grandiose brags, then derided him for his foolishness. Humiliated, the Nefgeir demanded a duel and Aesa herself granted it; the speed of her blade was enough to slay him easily. A brief fight erupted as a dozen kin and loyal huskarls sought to avenge him and take his place, but it was dealt with quickly and lethally. Within hours of arriving, Aesa was the undisputed jarl of Heior.
Weeks after that bloody night, she has solidified her control, set her plans in motion, and stands ready to step onto the stage of local politics. She has no intention to compete for leadership; instead, she seeks to present herself as an irresistible ally and an undesirable foe. Religion:
Aesahildr was raised in the worship of the norse gods, and has never cast this off despite the ire of Stephanos and thorough instruction on the teachings of christianity. This is not to say she is the most devout of followers, being a bit of a cynic, but she has legitimately concluded that she is now a valkyrie: for undeniably she chooses who lives, dies, or fights eternally for glory. Disciplines:
Auspex 3, Presence 3, Celerity 4Weapons:
Aesa has performed more than a few kills with her long, slender dagger, although she tends to rely on her speed or guile to set up a strike rather than melee skill. She routinely carries a sword – like those of her men, a fine example of Arabic metal crafting, and recently inscribed with enchanted runes – but wears it and her reinforced leathers mostly as a badge of authority; she has a rudimentary understanding of swordplay but little inclination to participate in toe to toe fighting. Skills:
A highly trained courtesan, Aesa possesses many skills in the arts including dancing, singing, instruments and conversation. She is a capable administrator, having run her own large household for many years before organizing her current expedition. Aesa speaks four languages: Norse and Slavic from her early years and Greek and Latin from her time in Byzantium. She is literate in the latter two, but has only a slight understanding of runic. She has a limited knowledge of skaldic arts.
Aesa came well equipped for her expedition. Three karfi contain trade supplies and tools, as well as 70 followers: mostly skilled tradesman, smiths and carpenters and masons, but also a score of veteran huskarls equipped with mail hauberks, helms, and fine steel weapons, enhanced by the power of a ghoul to make a small but devastating force.
She has recently taken control of the hall and town of Heior, a fairly humble village chosen for its natural resources – access to ore, wood and sea - rather than any role as a local power. Sexuality:
Aesa is bisexual, although she tends to favor the fairer sex, both for aesthetics and because they tend to have less illusions of ownership or control. A woman who has clawed her way to power, she revels in the taste of more and abhors the loss of any: she is strictly dominant. Note that while I’m hetero, I’m not averse to having Aesa play with men if it arises in the story. Associated Kinks:
Domination, humiliation, exhibitionism, orgasm control, whips. Ons/Offs:
Submitting is a definite off. Otherwise, I’m open to anything – read my ons/offs, and be assured that I will never be offended if you ask (actually, I tend to take it as quite a compliment).