“Everyone always leaves in the end.”playlistName:
Inanna Aryon, also known as Snow-Hair-Ash-Skin, Brightmane, and Sujamma -- or just Ina for short.Race:
Windhelm, Skyrim. Appearance:
Of average stature for a female Dunmer, Ina measures 5’7” from head to toe and clocks in at a reasonable 130 pounds. While she does not possess the lean musculature of an athlete or the bulky strength of a warrior, Ina is used to long walks out in the countryside to forage for ingredients and she’s in fit condition, giving her a normal figure that neither understates nor overstates her womanhood. Her skin is the characteristic ashen grey of her people and relatively free of blemishes -- in part due to a strict skincare regime -- aside from a large and noticeable alchemical burn on her left shoulder and breast, which has discolored the skin into a lighter shade of pale grey. Across her collarbones, down the nape of her neck and below her eyes, Ina has a series of bumps that are the result of a traditional Dunmer scarification ritual. Other than that she has no scars to speak of, indicative of a life that has not been martial in nature.
The features of Ina’s face are shaped by her race as well. She has a strong brow with powerful, dark eyebrows to match, which slope into a nose that is prominent, but modest by Dunmer standards. Her perceptive scarlet eyes, supported by sharp and high cheekbones, display a typically elvish slant and spacing, and she enhances her heavy-lidded gaze with kohl for a supercilious and smoky effect. Two large, rectangular, golden earrings dangle from her ears as another touch of fashion. Her lips, slightly darker than the skin of her face, are full and soft, but her mouth is modest and Ina does not smile broadly very often, adding to the overall aloof and unphased impression she gives off.
Most striking, however, is Ina’s voluminous and wavy hair, which is a frankly alarming shade of pale silver and the source of many nicknames over the years. She has given up trying to tame the unruly mass of hair for the most part and usually only bothers to sweep the bouncing curls to the side, leaving them free to cascade down her left shoulder. If she needs to keep her hair out of her face for whatever reason, Ina uses two black wooden pins to tie most of it together on top of her head, but there are always several locks that evade capture. Ina takes pride in and good care of her hair and it usually smells of the coconut oil that she uses to nourish its lustre.
Her mannerisms can best be described as unhurried and unbothered. Ina grew up in poverty in the Grey Quarter and even though she’s picked up some more metropolitan habits during her time with the Synod in Cyrodiil, she still vastly prefers to be comfortable over presentable and has no qualms with sitting down on the floor with her legs pulled up or taking off her shoes to walk barefoot over a field of grass. Ina is often seen smoking the hackle-lo leaf of her native Morrowind while she works, the smell of which mixes with the perfume she wears for a rich, smoky fragrance. If hackle-lo isn’t available, she’ll resort to chewing or fidgeting with something instead. Never one to hurry while walking, she’s equally relaxed when sitting down and her speech, spoken with a husky and resonant voice, tends to be just as languid. After a few drinks, Ina becomes significantly more familiar and handsy in a casual, flirtatious way, and her normally stoic gaze gains a salacious quality.
Ina’s preference for comfort extends to her wardrobe as well. Her work as an alchemist and an enchanter requires a certain level of protection, so the only mainstay in her day-to-day outfit is a thick, sturdy coat woven from cotton and wool, dyed in the earthy tones that are characteristic of her culture. Beneath that, she wears simple tunics and trousers and often adds fingerless gloves, pants, a colorful sash around her waist and an equally vibrant scarf around her neck. When lounging around, however -- her favorite time of the day -- Ina is content to potter around barefoot in a single loose, flowy robe, if the weather permits, most often black, that may slip to reveal a little more skin. Not one for melee combat, Ina doesn’t wear or even own any armor, but she does have a spear on her person at all times. It doubles as a pilgrim’s staff for support on long hikes. History:
Inanna Aryon was born in Windhelm, long after the Red Year that had decimated her homeland and forced her grandmother and father, still a swaddled babe, to flee to the west and seek refuge in the land of the Nords. Her grandfather, Master Aryon of House Telvanni, had been a powerful and influential sorcerer, but he was killed by the eruption as he had taken to cataloging the Sixth House relics left behind within the Ghostfence after Dagoth Ur had been defeated. His death and the devastation wrought upon the land left his wife without status or fortune and she reluctantly settled in Windhelm, relegated to a tiny apartment in the newly-designated Grey Quarter, working as a seamstress while she raised her son by herself. On Ina’s mother’s side the same story played out, and so it came to be that her parents grew up together in the coldest, darkest city in all of Tamriel.
She was born many years later, an unexpected child at the twilight of her parents’ reproductive years, a miracle -- their little Ina. Azura had answered their prayers at last and seen fit to bless them with a daughter. Ina’s father toiled in the fields outside the city walls and her mother worked as a barmaid in the New Gnisis Cornerclub, and they were poor. The Nords who had taken the Dunmer refugees in had been kind at first but as the tensions between the Dominion and the Empire increased prior to the Great War, they slowly turned on the Dunmer in their city as well -- elves are elves, after all. Ina mostly remembers her father, the embers of his hackle-lo smoke reflected in the window as snowflakes drifted through the high and narrow streets of the Grey Quarter, the the elf’s own hair turning gray with worry. “Soon, I’ll look just like you!” he would say and run his hand through Ina’s silver locks, and laugh. But she could hear he was forcing it.
Things did not improve after the Great War. Ina had never really felt at home in Windhelm, or in the Empire in general, but she hated the Dominion just as much as anyone else, and yet her Nordic peers would treat her with scorn and contempt. To them, she was just another knife-ear. Ina learned to stick to her own people and developed a livelong aversion to Nords as a result. She would assault the small handful of Dunmer in Windhelm that had been alive before the Red Year with an endless barrage of questions about the homeland that they had lost, and her mother made sure to pass on every morsel of knowledge she had about the histories of their families and the culture of Morrowind. Ina learned how to read, speak and write in Dunmeris, how to worship the Reclamations, heroes and saints of the New Temple faith, and even how to dance and play the kwama flute in the old Vvardenfell tradition. Morrowind still existed, of course, decimated by volcanic fire and Argonian invasions but alive, and Ina dreamed of going there instead of wasting away in the black stone city of the Nords she hated.
That longing was made even more powerful by the nighttime visits of her ancestors, Master Aryon and his forefathers, in her dreams. These visions were accompanied by ancient memories of lost Balmora, Ald’ruhn, Vivec, Tel Vos, and all the other places that had been destroyed in the Red Year. Her ancestors spoke to her in riddles and poems as the snowfall outside her window turned to flakes of ash that fell upon her face. Upon waking, she always felt like a child of two worlds that belonged in neither one and resolved to travel to Morrowind, no matter the danger, as soon as she was able.
But her parents had other plans. Despite their poverty, they saved up every last septim that they could for the duration of Ina’s childhood and on her nineteenth birthday, they insisted on sending her to Cyrodiil to train in the magical arts. The talent of her grandfather ran strong in her blood and Ina had been conjuring small tufts of flame to banish the reviled winter chill and moving toys around through magic ever since she could walk, but there was nobody in Windhelm with the skill -- or the inclination -- to teach her properly. The College of Winterhold was much closer by, of course, but her parents did not trust a Nordic institute to give their child a proper education, so Cyrodiil it was. Ina was to study with the Synod and become a great sorceress. Not one to disappoint the hardworking parents that she adored and was immensely grateful for, Ina agreed and decided to put her plans of visiting Morrowind on hold. Besides, it was true that it would be much safer to go there only once she knew how to cast powerful spells.
But staying in Windhelm had become almost as dangerous as going to Morrowind. Racial violence between the Nords and the Dunmer had intensified over the years and scorn and taunting had turned into beatings -- or worse. One of Ina’s friends was stabbed and left for dead in the gutter over a minor dispute and the Nord responsible was never punished. Jarl Ulfric turned out to be much worse than his father once he ascended to the throne in the Palace of the Kings and he turned a blind eye towards the discrimination and hatred that the Dunmer were forced to endure. As Ina left the gates of Windhelm and set off on her journey to the Imperial City, she spat on the threshold and mouthed a prayer to Azura to curse the Nords into an early grave if they ever did something to hurt her parents while she was away.
Her time in the Imperial City, studying with the Synod, was a revelation. The multicultural society of the metropolis was a shock to her system at first. She wasn’t the only Dunmer student attending the Synod that year and she naturally gravitated towards them at first, but she was surprised to find that all the other races were just as welcoming to her. Her first interracial friendships were forged in the fires of exam stress and binge drinking -- she gained the nickname Sujamma, a strong Dunmer spirit, for her ability to drink anyone under the table, courtesy of her upbringing among Nords -- and for the first time, Ina felt that the world was not such a bleak place after all. The much more agreeable climate also helped and Ina developed a lifelong fondness for loose, flowy robes that allowed her skin to breathe. From some of the other women that she studied with, Ina learned how to apply kohl around her eyes to make their red color pop and how to take better care of both her hair and her skin so that both shone with a healthy gloss.
She was drawn to the art of alchemy and the peace and serenity she experienced in the dutiful, precise measurements of ingredients and their preparation, with only the sound of a simmering alembic and the grinding of her mortal and pestle for company. It became her specialisation, but Ina made sure to stay invested in a broad range of topics and schools of magic, and she achieved varying levels of proficiency in Destruction, Alteration and Restoration as well. Enchanting was another magical art that interested her but one that she found she had less patience for. It was added to her arsenal mostly for its lucrative potential as a business venture, but she never became an expert.
She maintained a string of relationships throughout her years at the Synod’s college, leaving a trail of broken hearts and satisfied lovers in her wake in equal measure. She dipped her toes in both sides of the gender divide during this time and ultimately decided that she had no firm preference either way. Ina was not willing to settle down with anyone and she was a capricious and mercurial partner, as young Dunmer women often are, but all of that changed after she graduated and she met Theros.
Having wrapped up her education and learned the magic necessary to defend herself during a voyage into Morrowind, Ina spent some time working as an alchemist in the Imperial City’s market to save up the coin she needed to fund the expedition. On the corner of the street where she had her stall, another Dunmer took up residence as a busker, performing songs and poems of his own composition. Many of them were funny and delivered with an easygoing charm that caught Ina’s attention, and she often found herself chuckling along to his lyrics and stanzas. His name was Theros and he was a wandering bard from Cheydinhal, she learned when they started having their lunches together.
It wasn’t long before they became lovers. Theros made more money with comedic songs that made light of current events, but his real heart was in the profound lovesongs and poems that he wrote in his spare time, and he performed them for Ina around a campfire on a hill overlooking the Imperial City, with nobody else but the stars above for company. The emotion in his voice and the tender strumming of his lute captured Ina’s heart in a way that nobody else had ever done. She discovered a hidden pain behind those words, no matter how much he tried to hide his demons from her, and resolved to soothe his tortured soul with the love he deserved.
Theros had never been to Morrowind before either, so they pooled their earnings together and bought themselves a place on a heavily guarded trading caravan that was headed for Blacklight. Both had a romanticized image of Morrowind in their heads and the two dreamers were terribly excited to finally see their ancestral homeland for the first time.
Arriving there was a rude awakening. Even though it was close to two centuries since the Red Year, Blacklight was still bursting from the seams with refugees. The city center, a marvel of Dunmer architecture that brought a tear to Ina’s eye, so reminiscent was of it of her dreams of old Vvardenfell, was dwarfed by the slums that extended far beyond the city proper. Ash covered everything, as Red Mountain had continued to smoke and rumble in the long years since the eruption, during which new waves of refugees had arrived as the Argonians had continued to harass Morrowind’s southern border. Great House Redoran dominated Morrowind’s politics and policies and Ina found a significantly more martial and pragmatic society than the the mysterious and wondrous realm that the land had been in her grandfather’s days. She learned that there were still secluded Telvanni wizards in their bizarre mushroom towers scattered throughout Morrowind, and even one on Solstheim, but was assured that none would have time for nor interest in speaking with her.
Instead, she and Theros traveled to the smaller coastal community of Rhun Huk on the shores of the Inner Sea, overlooking the smoldering ruins of Vvardenfell, and they settled there for a while and plied their respective trades. Theros continued to be plagued by sullen moods and dark thoughts -- his ‘demons’, as it were. They were the fuel for the poetry and lyrics that Ina found so beautiful, but his own mind playing tricks on him was draining for the Dunmer bard and he would lash out in irrational anger sometimes, of which Ina bore the brunt. Other times Theros would turn his back to her in bed and remain cold and distant for days on end. With patience and love, Ina always managed to get her lover back to his normal self in the end, and that made his moods bearable. She knew that he was not like this through any fault of his own. Theros explained that he had left home specifically to avoid burdening his parents with his problems, since they were proper ash-blooded Dunmer that did not, and did not want to, understand him. But Ina promised him that she understood him just fine and that she loved him just the way he was.
She got used to the strange conditions of life in Morrowind and developed a sense of belonging, surrounded by nothing but her people and her culture at last. She wrote to her parents and told them that life in Morrowind was still possible and pleaded for them to join her as soon as they could. Life in Windhelm had become even harder for the Dunmer. Tensions had increased with the Nordic resistance against the White-Gold Concordat prompting Thalmor Justiciars to prowl the tundra, snatching people up in the middle of the night and dragging them away to hidden dungeons. The Nords, in their xenophobia, had started accusing the Dunmer of being Dominion collaborators and even banned her father from working the fields outside the walls. Her elderly parents managed to scrounge the funds together, in part from money that Ina sent back home to them, and made the trip. They welcomed Theros as a son-in-law with open arms and the four of them lived together as a family supported by Ina’s alchemy and enchanting business and Theros’ performances on the town square. Ina and Theros talked about starting a family one day, when they would be finished with being young and were ready to relinquish their freedom. Maybe they’d have one more grand journey, an adventure, perhaps to see the fabled Summerset Isles or the cities and castles of High Rock, before then. But they were in no rush. Life was good.
Then, on a cold winter morning in Frostfall, Theros took his own life.
Ina’s world collapsed. She had always known that Theros was plagued by anxiety and depression, invisible specters that had no name in the society in which she lived, but his mood had seemed to be improving in the last few weeks leading up to his death. She read the note he left behind through tears and choking sobs and learned the heartbreaking truth: Theros had never believed his own worth -- he had never believed her when she told him. His demons had convinced him that he was nothing but a burden to Ina and her parents and that her love for him was nothing but pity. He had only seemed in better spirits because he had already resolved to kill himself and therefore relieve his beloved Ina of the terrible weight of his presence. She threw the note away and cried until she was sick, weeping into the fabric of her pillow, begging and pleading with Azura to bring her lover back, and pulling her own hair out because she had not seen it coming. She’d failed him, and he had abandoned her.
But there was no coming back from the dead. The demons had won, and Ina had lost. Her wretched tears subsided into a sullen silence. Her parents helped her track down Theros’ ancestral tomb and his ashes were interred with the rest of his family, but Ina could not stand to even be around the ceremony for more than a few minutes. She was heartbroken, angry and upset with herself for being angry, but mostly she was wracked by guilt. Ina blamed herself for not being able to save him. She blamed herself for not having seen it coming. And she blamed herself for the fact that a part of her dared to feel like Theros had selfishly betrayed her and left her to deal with the aftermath.
Ina and her parents returned to Rhun Huk, but life there had lost all of its appeal. It was as if Ina could only now see the ash-covered and hostile land for what it truly was: Morrowind was nothing more than a tomb for her people. She only remained there because she had a duty to take care of her aging parents, who were too old and weary to travel back to Windhelm. Suffering in silence, Ina did just that, turning into a shadow of her former self, a shell of a woman that was merely going through the motions. Until both of her parents, first her mother and then her father, slipped off into peaceful eternal slumber, one quickly after the other. Old age had claimed them.
Ina packed her belongings, grabbed her spear and burned her house to the ground, cursing the land that had brought her nothing but woe.
She wandered across Tamriel. wary of other people’s affairs and mostly keeping to herself. Bereft of her loved ones, Ina turned to the one and only constant in the world: the gods and her own faith. Through the arcane rituals of the Dunmer ancestor worship, she was able to commune briefly with Theros’ spirit -- just enough to sense that he was at peace now, wherever he was. Ina herself learned to accept through the teachings of Azura that everything that happened was part of the woven tapestry of fate, and ultimately served a purpose.
Over time, the pain of Theros’ passing lessened and she rediscovered a sense of tranquility and inner peace on the road as a wandering alchemist. Her work allowed her to take her mind off things and her travels gave her something new to discover each day. That way, the past couldn’t catch up to her, and if she always kept moving, she could never grow that close to anyone again, saving herself from experiencing pain and loss like that in the future. She had her happy memories with him, which became easier and easier to remember without feeling like she was drowning with every passing year, and drunken nights of revelry and easy sex with strangers kept her from being overwhelmed by her solitude. It would have to be enough.
Until a chance meeting with the wild and untamed Bosmer jaqspur Venwen during one of Ina’s yearly visits to Cheydinhal to quietly celebrate Theros’ birthday. An unlikely pair of opposites, the two two of them nevertheless become friends and headed out to visit Valenwood, Venwen’s homeland, said to be a magical land full of rare and exotic alchemical ingredients. The Dominion, whom Ina despised as much as the Nords or the even the Empire that had sacked her childhood home of Windhelm by that time, had kept her away from Valenwood until then. But under the guidance of a jaqspur… well, what could go wrong?Personality:
There are several sides to Ina. She has known poverty and discrimination, self-discovery and success, peace and domestic bliss, and love and loss. She has lived in xenophobic backwaters, bustling metropolises, rural countrysides and everything in between as a traveler on the road. All of these experiences combine to create the woman Ina is today.
Above all, she is reserved, aloof and collected. Ina doesn’t care much what other people think of her, as Dunmer often do, and also cares little for bothering others with her opinions of them. She is not unkind, and friendly enough in passing, but there is always an emotional distance between herself and the people she interacts with. Because she is so cool-blooded, Ina is slow to anger and she’d much rather shrug off any insults or threats than reach for her spear and her spells. In the same vein, she does not participate deeply in the joy or success of others, making jealousy a foreign emotion to her. She learned long ago that it’s best to focus on her own worth instead of comparing herself to anyone else.
That said, she is capable of powerful love and deep affection, but that door was closed after her lover’s death. That kind of emotional commitment comes with a risk of such tremendous pain and hurt that Ina can’t bear to experience that again. She had her happy years with Theros and those memories will have to be enough. Instead of emotional closeness, she seeks physical intimacy with attractive strangers, just like her Synod days, and keeps her lovers at an arm’s length afterwards. She needs to drink to loosen up sufficiently for that, however, and as such maintains a level of consumption -- from a glass of wine with lunch to a few shots of brandy after dinner -- that one can reasonably describe as functional alcoholism. The only other narcotic she indulges in is the smoking of hackle-lo leaf, which helps her focus during her work.
Ina possesses a dry, sarcastic wit that she applies liberally and without regard for custom or etiquette. She’s a pauper at heart, even though her time in the Imperial City has taught her how to take care of her appearance like a lady, and has no respect for wealth, birth or status. She judges people based on their character exclusively; that Theros, her lover, went through dry spells of inspiration and motivation where he earned little money didn’t bother her at all and she gladly made up the difference. She has a soft spot for sensitive souls, quite possibly because she has one lurking in the depths of her own heart. Not that she’d ever admit it to anyone, or even to herself. Even if people have fallen on hard times and done questionable things to survive, Ina will accept them as long as their hearts are in the right place.
The mundane tasks of alchemy that many consider tedious, preparing the ingredients and getting the brew just right, bring Ina peace and serenity and she spends most of her waking hours attending to her alembics and calcinators in silence. Predictably, she does not tolerate disturbances very well and is liable to become irritable when interrupted during her work. Outside of those hours, she can usually find time to make conversation with people and she enjoys drinking with strangers and listening to their stories, even if they are just tall tales. She becomes much more familiar and personable during such occasions and frequently ends up taking someone to bed afterwards, only to send them away again in the morning.
She is a pious and devout follower of the Reclamations, the heroes and the saints of the New Temple faith, but of Azura and Almalexia in particular. Ina maintains an active relationship with the gods and always makes sure she has the required incense and attributes with her for her nightly prayers, and lets the teachings of Almalexia stay her hand in revenge, preferring to err on the side of mercy when she is slighted. Even her carnal escapades are dedicated to Mephala with a quiet prayer; most of what Ina does is internally seen through the lens of her faith. It helped her a lot in processing the grief she has experienced in her life and she values it highly. Biggest Regret:
That she didn’t see Theros’ suicide coming, that she wasn’t able to prevent it, and that she wasn’t able to make him happy. Inanna’s Goal:
Ina can’t see a future beyond tomorrow. She doesn’t believe that she can ever truly recover from the loss of Theros, so Ina has abandoned her one-time dream of having a home and a family of her own. Now she merely wanders the continent in search of work and coin, which she spends as fast as she earns it in order to be comfortable. Equipment:
Steel spear: A simple weapon with an ironwood shaft and a leaf-bladed tip. It’s a foot or two longer than she is tall and Ina uses it as a walking aid for her travels as much as a weapon for self defense. She picked the spear because it is the simplest weapon to learn to use at least somewhat effectively, and its range keeps some distance between her and whatever it is that she’s trying to kill. Ina doesn’t like to use it much, but in Tamriel you sometimes don’t have a choice.Misc. Possessions:
Alchemy set: This travel-sized set of alchemy tools includes a mortal and pestle, an alembic, a calcinator and a retort, designed so that they neatly fit together in her backpack without taking up too much space or weight. She can’t brew potions as powerful or as plentiful as she can with a proper dedicated alchemy station, but at least this means she can ply her craft anywhere she goes.
Enchanting tools: This includes several soul gems and the ritualistic attributes needed to establish a provisional arcane enchanter. As with her alchemy, a proper arcanery would be best, but this will do when out on the road.
Alchemy ingredients: A selection of ingredients stored in various pouches, satchels and bandoliers on her person -- too many to list. Suffice to say that she has the ingredients on her to make most types of potions and poisons, and the vials and bottles to store them in.
Map of Tamriel: Comprehensive and up-to-date. The margins are scribbled full of notes made during her travels.Family and Associations:
Backpack: A sturdy netch-leather traveling rucksack she bought in Morrowind. It’s large enough to contain all of her belongings and she’s enchanted it with a feather effect to make it easier to carry.
Travel supplies: This includes a bedroll, dried foodstuffs, a water skein, some rope, a book and a tea set. Just the essentials, obviously.
Makeup: Kohl, coconut oil and various face and skincare creams, plus the ingredients to make more. One of the perks of being an alchemist.
Clothes: Several tunics and pants to wear beneath her coat, two black satin robes as loungewear or nightgowns, various scarves, gloves, pieces of jewelry and underwear, from practical to lingerie.
Money: Ina currently possesses 120 septims and an emerald that she keeps on her person to barter with in emergencies.
Bard’s notes: A selection from Theros’ sizable collection of unfinished songs and poems, left to Ina after his suicide. She reads them from time to time.
Telvanni pendant: An amulet that once belonged to her ancestor, Master Aryon. Their ancestral tomb was destroyed in the Red Year, but possessing the amulet allows Ina to have at least some connection to her ancestor’s spirit.
Kwama flute: A hand-carved kwama leg, one of the most popular music instruments on Vvardenfell once upon a time. Ina can play it well enough.
Family: Her immediate family is deceased, but she still has a few cousins and nephews in Windhelm.Favored Attributes:
Theros: Her lover and the mer she wanted to spend the rest of her life with. He took his own life.
Synod: There are still some professors from Ina’s day that continue to teach at the Synod, and several of her classmates have become researches and explorers with the organization.
Rhun Huk: Ina was a beloved figure in the coastal community as an alchemist, enchanter and a healer, and there are still many people living there who would consider themselves to be her friend.
Major: Intelligence.Favoured Skills:
Destruction, Enchanting, Restoration.Novice:
Alteration, Athletics, Spear.
Spell List: Flames, Fireball, Fire Rune, Healing, Heal Others, Magelight, Stoneflesh, Telekinesis.
“This world was never meant for one as beautiful as you.”