Swan Maidens



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Created On 3 November 1997
Last Updated On 3 November 1997
Copyright (c) Simon E. Phipp 1997

History

When Valind ruled the world he had many children by many goddesses. One of these children was a daughter who was considered to be of incredible beauty, but was cold as ice and would not let anybody warm her heart.

Many suitors came and were rejected until one day a servant of Valind, the White Swan, saw the daughter and immediately fell in love with her. Each time he tried to woo her he was driven off with a flurry of snow and ice coming from her heart. In desperation he asked what was required to affect her. "All I can see is what you show others, show me what you are like on the inside" she replied, but the White Swan did not understand what she meant.

Soon after, Eurmal the Trickster and friend of Valindís kinsman came to visit the God of Winter and met the White Swan. "Why do you look so unhappy?" Eurmal asked and when the Swan told him of his plight, Eurmal offered to help. He took a sharp knife and carefully removed the skin of the White Swan, leaving only the raw and bloody flesh to be seen. "Go and show her your true self" he said, well pleased with his little joke.

The White Swan went to where the daughter of Valind was and showed her what he was like on the inside as she had asked, but she took one look and ran away in fear. Maddened with grief, the White Swan ran after Eurmal for revenge, leaving his skin behind. The daughter of Valind came out and saw the skin on the ice, so she picked it up and had never felt anything so soft or seen anything so lovely. She put the skin around her arms and back and turned into a great swan. Revelling in this new ability, she flew after the White Swan and took him in her arms as her heart melted for the first time in her life.

When Valind caught the two together, he banished the White Swan from his kingdom forevermore. But the White Swan always stayed as close as he could to his love and that is why Swans fly south in the winter and North in the Summer, trying to keep as close to the Ice Sheets as they can.

The daughter of Valind decided to take no other lover apart from her Swan and became known as the Swan Maiden. Soon, she bore a daughter, product of their love, and taught her the secret of the Swan Cloak.


Swan Maidens

These are the direct descendants of the Swan Maiden and the White Swan, descended through the female line, mother to daughter. They are normally found on or near Valindís Glacier or in Storm Lands. Usually, they are married to powerful demigods or Heroes, but may be found married to mere mortals.

Swan Maidens may attempt the Swan Quest to gain their Swan Cloak. If they succeed they can use the Swan Cloak to transform into a Swan at any time. However, they may not allow the Swan Cloak to fall into anyone elseís arms. This is often the cause of their downfall as any aspiring Hero may find a Swan Maiden and steal her Cloak away, forcing her to beg for its return. The normal price for returning the Swan Cloak is that of marriage, but some Questors will merely ask for sexual favours, advice on the Snows or HeroQuest gifts.

Swan Maidens may also worship the original Swan Maiden, spending a point of POW to gain access to her magic of Become Swan (3 pt reusable, allows the user to turn into a Swan for one hour). This allows them to become Swans even without a Swan Cloak. Only a few Swan Maidens advance further into the Cult and become Rune Priests, preferring to stay as initiates.

Where Swan Maidens are found living near civilised areas they are prised as marriage-potential and are often swamped by suitors. Sometimes they are promised to another while still a child, in dynastic marriages. Those Swan Maidens who live in the wilds, either on Valindís or Inoraís Glaciers or in the Mountains, are the focus of many HeroQuests to gain their favours in marriage as they are all incredibly beautiful with the palest skin, reddest lips and backest hair imaginable.

Many Wind Lords make the effort to marry a Swan Maiden at least once in their life, although this often results in their death by the Swan Maidenís family who do not take kindly to unwelcome advances. However, the risks are said to be worth it by anyone who has ever seen a Swan Maiden.