Norn of the North who Settled in the South
Background: Far Traveler
Armor Class: 13
Hit Points: 14
Speed: 30 feet
|16 (+3)||12 (+1)||14 (+2)||10 (+0)||14 (+2)||10 (+0)|
Skills: Athletics (+5), Animal Handling (+4), Survival (+4), Perception (+4), Insight (+4)
Tools: Tak (+2)
Saving Throws: Strength (+5), Constitution (+4)
Languages: Common, Giant, Orcish
Powerful Build: Lyulf counts as one size larger when determining carrying capacity and the ability to push, drag or lift
Mountain Born: Naturally adapted to cold climates and high altitudes
Unarmored Defense: When not wearing armor, Lyulf’s AC is 10 + Con + Dex
Equipment: Greatsword, 2x Handaxes, Explorer’s pack, 4x Javelins, one set of traveler’s clothes, a map of his journey from the untamed lands, a necklace worth 10gp that depicts the spirits of the wild, 5 gp
Rage (Bonus Action, 2/day): While raging, Lyulf gains the following benefits
- +2 damage with melee attacks
- Advantage on Strength checks and Strength saving throws
- Resistance to Bludgeoning, piercing and slashing damage
Great Sword Attack: +5 vs AC, 2d6+3 damage
Stone’s Endurance (1/rest): When taking damage, reduce it by 1d12+2
The Norn are an ancient race with very little known about them. No one knows how they were created or how long they have ruled the High Mountains. They trade with the outside world, but only with those who are a day’s travel from their own lands. The Norn may at one time have ruled all of the north, but they now stay in their wild lands.
Due to their proximity, only the Elves and Orcs of the north know much about the Norn. The Norn trade with both races for what they require, and only what they require. The Norn do not indulge in commerce like other cultures. They take from the land what is needed and barter with others for what the land will not provide. Some Norn have settled in with various Orc clans, but most of these Norn have a fire inside of them that craves adventure and excitement.
Conflicts with the Norn have been rare and unsuccessful. Even with their Dragon masters commanding an orc horde, land and animal was turned against the invading host. Packs of Dire Wolves flanked enemies through the forest, the sky darkened with flocks of ravens that pecked out eyes and clawed at faces, and leaders were found dead in their beds as Snow Leopards ravaged camps in the night. During each of these invasions though, the Norn would only push back to their borders. Only once in known history have the Norn marched from their lands to participate in a war outside of their lands, in what the Orcs now call the Gods War.
Lyuf was born the seventh child of Gale and Bodil. Bodil was almost to the end of her child birthing years at that point and the pregnancy was difficult for her. During a blizzard, a cry went up through the household that the child was coming. All six of Lyulf’s future siblings trekked out into the wild storm to find a healer and shaman to watch over the birth. Gale quickly rushed to the door as he heard a thump, expecting one of the wise women. Shouldering past him and into his home was instead a large Dire Wolf, covered in scars and fresh wounds. Before Gale could react and grab a weapon, the wolf had settled down at his hearth and pierced him with cold blue eyes. Cries from the back of the house caused Gale to abandon his guest and rush to help his wife. The next morning, Gale found the wolf dead in front of the fire, having expired in his sleep. Not knowing what sign or portent this could bring for his son, Gale named the child after the wolf.
Life in the Mountains
Like all of the Norn, Lyulf spent almost all of his free time outdoors. He was a skilled Athlete, partaking in the races and challenges at every celebration. His favorite of them all was rock climbing though. There Lyulf could find peaks tall enough to gaze upon distant lands and wonder what was beyond their borders.
He loved his home, but he never fit in there as his brothers and sisters did. Each of them had come into their animal spirits early in life. The Spirits of the Wild were both the protectors and partners of the Norn. With their animal spirits, the Norn gained qualities beyond their normal selves. His brother Kerr was built like a bear and easily won each drinking contest he entered. His sister Eir was unrivaled with a bow as her eagle eyes allowed her to put arrows wherever she chose. For Lyulf though, no animal spirit came to him. The closest he got was the sound of a singular howling wolf that carried up on the winds to his mountain peaks.
The Journey South
Finding an emptiness in living with his own people, Lyulf instead found purpose in traveling outside of it. The elders had grown worried. They said that the world was changing and great forces would come to bear. They needed to know what was happening outside of their lands so that they could prepare the Norn for what was to come. Seeking a chance to find his own path and perhaps glory, Lyulf volunteered.
With little on him other than the weapons and supplies he carried, Lyulf left the lands he had always known and traveled south. The lands the Norn and Orc claim are not paradises filled with food and ample opportunity. They are harsh lands that allow only those with the will and wisdom to survive. Without coin to his name, Lyulf had to find his own food and shelter as he crossed the lands. His skill in Survival allowed him to never go a night without shelter and always put food in his stomach.
Lyulf had left the Norn a skilled warrior, but it was the Orcs who taught him how to harness the fire inside of him into a Battle Rage. When he came upon an Orc settlement, Lyulf would usually stop for a few days in order to learn more of the people of the land. He came to know them as a hard working folk that valued honor (sometimes to a degree he could not understand) and were fiercely independent. One thing that the Orcs and Norn have in common though, is the love of battle. The Norn may train to fight with each other, but their true love is the hunt. Stories are told of the creatures of legend hunted by a family’s ancestors and most Norn provide for their family with the skill of bow and spear.
Orcs though, Orcs love to battle each other. In their society, only the strongest and most cunning make it to their top. To Lyulf, life as an orc seemed to be a constant game of dominance to establish oneself inside of the order of the pack. At first, Lyulf presented himself as a humble traveler who had left his lands to seek fortune. He did not seek to fight with the orcs and avoided conflict when Orcs challenged him to fight with them in the dueling rings. It was only after an elder Orc named Ogrumbu sat down at his empty table did he realize he had always been seen at the bottom by the Orcs. The elder orc’s laughter at his situation caused Lyulf to finally step into the ring. The two started to journey together on the way south, as Ogrumbu had a daughter to visit. Along the way, Lyulf was taught to harness the fire that raged inside of him during combat. Ogrumbu was a Berserker at one point in his life, a type of fighter which took the rage and unleashed it upon his enemies. With Ogrumbu teaching him every night under the stars and putting his skill to the test at each new clanhold they came to, Lyulf too started to control the fire in his heart.
The City of Two Rivers
“There must be something in the water up there to make you so big.” These are words that Lyulf still doesn’t understand to this day. These were the first words uttered to him as he entered Langstone Castle and continued his journey south. The water in his homeland was fresh and pure, almost frozen as it came down from the mountains around them. The water in the human lands though, tasted strange. The water of Two Rivers itself was just foul. Maybe it isn’t something IN the water that makes the Norn so big, but the pollution that makes all the Humans so small.
Two Rivers was something that Lyulf had never seen, much less ever imagined. Buildings built on top of each other high enough to blot out the sky in some places. Industry filled the city as ore is hauled up from mines, smelted and then crafted into valuable goods. The city itself never sleeps and the noise never dies, mostly due to the fact that there are SO MANY humans. It was impossible to fit in while moving around the city, or even fit since humans seemed to create such low ceilings for their dwellings. But Two Rivers is where he was meant to be, for now. The howling of the wolf had lead him to this city, and he wasn’t sure why.
Finding work in the city was hard. It wasn’t that Lyulf was uneducated, but what Humans and what Norns thought was important was very different. Plus, their language! Why have multiple words that mean the same thing?! Why have multiple words that sound the same but mean different things?! Why even speak though when half the things coming out of their mouths were lies or untruths. The Norn don’t lie. They’ve never felt a need to. The animals that inhabit their culture never felt the need to lie, so why should they? A wolf doesn’t bite a man and then claim to never have done the deed afterward. What is worse is that these humans are so BAD at it. It doesn’t take much Insight to see their waggling eyebrows when a deal is too good to be true or that they are trying to collect coin to bury their poor mother who he gave good coin to help bury THREE WEEKS ago!
Most would say that his insight should have saved him certain embarrassment, such as the night his dock worker co-workers sent him to the Gilded Rose. All he wanted was a bath, a bath that had crisp clear water. Working all day at the docks left the scent of foul water and dead fish in his nose. He realized his mistake when he walked into the main room and was met with a wall of shocked silence. He was too shocked to even explain what he wanted, as places like this didn’t exist in his homeland. It was only when a young boy had the wits to quickly fetch the madame, who entered the room with a concerned “oh my” that the spell was broken and Lyulf was able to explain himself. Much to his chagrin, Madame Gaisford invited him into the back room but was relieved when she showed him to large tub in a private room. He later understood that the perfumed water that filled the tub was what his co-workers thought of when he had told them of his wish. After that, Lyulf became a regular patron (though only of the baths) and sometimes bouncer of the Gilded Rose.
The Imperial Rose
Lyulf found that being a sometime bouncer of the Gilded Rose suited him just fine. Instead of taking money, Madame Gaisford allowed him to use the private room in the back after the establishment had closed down. It may not have been freshly melted glacier water, but it was enough to make him feel civilized again. Thus he worked every third night, watching over the patrons coming in and out. Maybe it was due to his size, but he found that those who were normally intimidated by him at first glance were also the ones usually looking to cause trouble. He would keep an eye on them, and it was easy to perceive them attempting to pick pockets or smuggle a weapon inside then they kept glancing his way. Most of the time a firm hand on their shoulder would cause them to exit quietly. For those who didn’t… he had no problems showing them why he was a highly paid dock worker who could easily toss around crates of goods.
It was at the Gilded Rose that he noticed Lillian. She was a regular, but only as entertainment for the main room crowd. Every 5th night she would set up in the main room and played songs for the house’s patrons. He rarely paid her much mind, as she normally played rowdy tunes that got the crowds drinking and celebrating life. It was during a very slow night she caught his eye though. With the room mostly devoid of patrons, Lillian started a slow tune unlike her usual fare. It was a quiet ballad that sang of mountains and oceans, of wide grass covered plains and thick lush forests. It captivated all those in the room and quelled them into silence. At the end, each person blinked their eyes as if they had all been waking from a dream. Polite clapping filled the room till a drunk in the back started to yell out, “That’s not what I came to hear! Sing the one about the Pirate Captain, the one with the big bouncy ti—” at which point Lyulf put him through a table.
After that, he started a friendship with Lillian. She wanted to hear more about his homelands and he just wanted to hear her sing. Not the tunes that she created for the crowds, but the ones she kept to herself. Those were the ones that were his favorites, he confided in her. It was over those songs and stories in a private corner that something was kindled between them.
Maybe it was because Lillian was is opposite that she so fascinated him. She had a skill with words that could easily match his skill with swords. She matched him in games of Tak, a game from his homeland that few in the city bothered to learn or become proficient with. While some may have seen such opposites as oil and water, they instead blended together perfectly to create a stronger whole. Lillian taught him more of her people and how to talk to those of noble status and he taught her how to fight against a stronger enemy when she used the needle she called a sword.
There was always a certain distance between them, and honestly, between Lillian and everyone else. Every night she would ply her trade for various nobles, either at luxury establishments like the Rose or at private events hosted by noble families. Though she put on pretenses of attempting to find a patron to support her, she always turned them down and played them off of each other. It was only after she started to invite him to come with her as a “bodyguard” and then interrogate him after for information did he learn what she was truly after. She was gathering information on the city and noble houses. While he was doing much of the same thing by sending reports back to the elders, his were full of what he saw happening in the city on a regular basis. Lillian on the other hand had wormed her way into the confidence of nobles and the privileged and was able to gather the thoughts and intentions behind what was happening. It was through her that he learned about the Sadana wresting control of the amber trade through any means necessary.
It was when one of Lillian’s adventures went horribly wrong that Lyulf truly knew how he felt about her. One night after an evening at the theater, Lillian and Lyulf were attacked by a pair of men while cutting through an alleyway. This was no simple robbery, as neither one of the attackers spoke before descending (literally) upon them. If it wasn’t for a shadow that blocked out the full moon, they may both have died. Instead they fought back to back, holding off the assassins until they could make a break for it and dashing through the back streets of Two Rivers. As they recovered from their wounds in a small safe house (really a shack), Lyulf realized many things. Fighting alongside her, no… for her, had allowed him to dip down further into his own power and do more than he had ever done before. He knew then that he would fight for her and even die for her, because in his heart he loved her.
Getting her to admit her feelings was a whole different matter. Lillian had spent almost all of her life wearing a mask and hiding her feelings from the world around her. That she could fall in love just seemed… silly. It took patience and quiet determination on both of their parts, but a few short months later they were married in a private ceremony.
Exodus from Two Rivers
Lyulf doesn’t speak about what made him leave Two Rivers. He is instantly on edge and suspicious of anyone from that city, but always eager to hear news from it. Rumors from certain gossip mongers in Ashfell would say that something dangerous befell the couple when Lillian was pregnant. Both of them arrived battered and injured when they arrived in Ashfell and Lillian had to be nursed back to health.
Settling in Ashfell
Lillian and Lyulf have found two very different places to be in Ashfell. Lillian has fallen back upon her musical talents as a bard and entertainer. This allows her to stay close to their home in Oldtown, as she spends most of her time raising their daughter.
Lyulf on the other hand felt the strong pull of the wild ever since arriving in Ashfell. Without the industrial city around him, the trees and spirits of the wild once again called to him. He is commonly found in the Greenwall, but spends much of his time out in the deep forests or rolling hills beyond the city’s walls.
He has found himself in no particular role, except maybe that of “problem solver”. The deep forests are full of eerie tales and unsettling creatures. Lyulf helps keep the foresters safe as they harvest trees for the growing city. His skill with animals has given him a kinship with the shepherds, especially since he is willing to watch over a harassed flock at night.
Lyulf would say that he is seeking to create a balance between the wilds and those in the city, but sometimes creating a balance means chopping the head off of a wolf who is preying upon those traveling through the woods.