Skuld Swallowtail is a character from Ex Libris Lucifer, an apprentice herbologist from Kandabetta. At age 13, she moved to the island of Aeterna to begin studying with her training Master at Qidan's hospital. She was allowed to join caravans as a traveling aide at age 15 so she can access the Library of Waxtide. Her goal is to become a field medic for the military, and if not that, a resident herbologist of a military hospital.
While quite accomplished at her studies, Skuld can be an idiot in all the places idiocy is not expected, earning her the nickname Numbskuld from her peers at the hospital greenhouse. She has a cheerful, forward-looking nature but has a hard time waking up on time. Starting tasks can be difficult for her. However, she works quickly and efficiently once the ball gets rolling.
Skuld does very little in the ways of a book mage. She rarely performs magic and most of her abilities seem to lie in translation and execution. Even then, she barely touches on them, saying that she feels better about doing everything manually because it helps her understand more of the process.
5'2" | 157cm
|Weight||115lbs | 52kg|
|Hair||Very Pale Green|
Skuld usually pulls her hair into a messy ponytail on the left side of her head, to keep it out of the way. Tasseled ornaments decorate both sides of hair and on her right hip, over her satchel straps. Like most citizens of Granea, she wears straps on her calves to hold self-inking pens. There are places on her belts for ink pots and paper tubes. She does not use them, preferring her satchel. For casual and travel clothing, Skuld sports a midriff top with a loose funnel collar and knee-length coat tails. Matching detached sleeves with decorative fish fin wings are secured to her upper arms, hosting pockets for her quick-reach herbs. She wears armored leggings on her right leg and a belt satchel on her left side, over dark-gray shorts. Her left leg sports a bandage that supposedly covers a burn she had in childhood. Her open-toed boots are armored and fortified against travel on rough terrain. The leather she wears is brown but her clothes are a mix of dark gray, white, and cygnet blue.
Skuld's studies in the field of herbology ties in closely with both nursing and field medic. She excels in this field, rivaling even full-fledged medics and her training master's peers, but her discipline is inadvertently slack and she has not taken the certification exam.
- Field Aid - Skuld can perform emergency medical procedures on an injury that may or may not require further work. This includes disinfection, stitching, dressing, cauterizing, and a variety of other fast methods to prevent a wound from worsening. Most of her supplies for this are readily available on her person.
- Botany - Most of her apprenticeship is spent working in Qidan's hospital. As such, she has learned to care for medicinal and non-medicinal plants, prepare them for use, and find wild plants judging by climate, terrain and other signs.
- Poison - Knowledge of herbal medicine comes hand-in-hand with knowledge of poisons from both plants and animals. Skuld is versed in both creating and treating poisons, as both are required knowledge for military field medics.
- Resistance - Skuld trains her personal resistance to poisons and illnesses regularly. Although this reduces her strength and endurance, she feels it is necessary to build a resistance to sickness and venom in her line of work. Most minor poisons will not effect her. Major poisons will usually have a reduced effect on her.
- Haggling - Skuld has above-average skill when haggling at the marketplace and can lower the cost paid for goods. She can also barter convincingly.
- Riding - Skuld has average equestrianism. She practiced a little because it would be required to know how as a military medic.
- Swimming - Because a lot of plants exist aquatically, Skuld has learned to dive and keep her eyes open underwater. She can stay underwater for approximately three minutes, which is still short compared to most islanders. (Clam divers can stay up to six minutes underwater).
- Field Chores - Skuld is both skilled and used to doing laundry and cooking in the field.
- Blowdart - Skuld carries blow darts in a tube that looks like a musical instrument but makes no sound. She uses them mainly to kill venomous snakes in order to collect their poisons.
- Dagger - Skuld houses throwing daggers hidden under her clothes for self defense. They can be used at close-range or at throwing range. Each of them are coated with sleeping poisons, enough to make a large man lose his strength and an average man immobile. She has a total of six. They can be retrieved and reused.
- Self Defense - Skuld knows a few basic holds, kicks and blows to fend off sexual harassment. Nothing major.
- Scribe - Skuld appears to exhibit no potential as a scribe.
- Translator - Most of Skuld's magical talent lies in translation, but even then, it still isn't much.
- Reader - Skuld is able to execute spell pages but she almost never uses her Reading. It seems, for the most part, useless due to no use.
- Bardic Arts - Skuld is good at memorizing songs and singing them. Her voice is average in quality, not at all professional, but has the tendency to touch the heart.
- Scent - Skuld has a very good sense of smell.
At the end of the war, Skuld would have been six years old. Her only memory from before then were streams of red across her hands. Soldiers found her wandering the burned countryside wearing no more than her long, matted hair. They took her in, clothed her, shared camp with her on the long march back to Waxtide. The very first words she learned from them were the lyrics to the song, "Bring fine ladies and a tankard of ale."
A field medic with a missing left arm took her to the first Night Market held after the war. She stood about as tall as his hips and clutched his remaining arm as the sea of legs brushed shamelessly by her shoulders. It was then that he said,
"Girl, I wish I could lift you up. There's a lot to see up here."
She let go of him, hearing that, thrusting her hands into a pair of boy's shorts too baggy for her. Something in the way he said it made her heart ache in a way she couldn't understand. They walked side by side in silence past the bards and the jugglers, the tumblers and the clowns. Not one of them could make her lift her face from the ground.
There stood a fallen statue at the end of the Waxtide market road. Half the body remained but no one quite remembered who it was of. She ran through the rubbled roads and jumped onto the granite pedestal, cracked as it was. Twice, she fell. On the third time, she felt a hand pushing her bottom from behind. It boosted her up as high as the medic could reach on his tip toes. She thrust out her hand, and suddenly, the marketplace seemed so small. The multi-colored paper lanterns that lit it and the music that wove through the streets like a thread... all seemed like just a single pattern in Waxtide's tapestry.
"Was there anything you wanted, girl?" He watched her eyes light up from below. When he grinned, he showed a missing front tooth. "Don't tell me you walked through all of that and didn't want anything. Children should have fun. Nobody else's got time to do it."
All he got was a shake of her head. It was all too complicated to her, what children should or shouldn't do, what people can or cannot do.
"Nothing? You don't want anything."
"But there's something I don't want," she said.
The medic threw back his head, his laugh a roar. Passerbys stared but he didn't seem to see. "Something you don't want? But what do you have? You don't have anything to throw away."
"Bastard, I don't want to be called 'girl.'"
The medic could not stop laughing this time. He grabbed her as she slipped down from her seat-on-high with the single hand he had, popping the girl neatly onto his shoulders, potty-mouth and all. That night, he named her Skuld Swallowtail and she became his daughter.
Skuld and her new father moved to Kandabetta where he started up an herb store and clinic. He taught her reading and writing one she could speak properly (without using 'hedgepig' and 'whore' as pronouns to refer to men and women). Once grammar schools were established by the central government, she did not have to enter a year late and could advance straight to the second year. They often went hiking to look for medicinal plants after the shop closed at night or went out while his hired assistant watched the desk. Raised on a diet of humor and learning, Skuld grew to become a bright, cheerful girl of 13, stubbornly walking in the footsteps of her father.
But that was not what he wished of her. The night she came home with a swallow on her arm, he saw the red ribbon of success around the bird's message. Even without reading the letter, they both knew that she succeeded in obtaining her apprenticeship. He cried for the first time since he lost his arm to a Montspur.
The Hospital of Qidan housed one of the largest greenhouses on Granea. Rebuilt after the war, it was remodeled to nearly doubled in size. Her training master set her up in the hospital dormitory alongside other herbology apprentices. Skuld was eager to make friends, but no one was quite content with her. Of all 20 apprentices accepted that year to Qidan's competitive herbology program, she was the only one who aspired to become a military medic. Medics died quickly in wartime. They treat their patients first and their immobile charges often pin them in place, unable to run. Military medics could not hold pacifist views. They were medics but soldiers first and foremost. In one hand they had the power to save. In the other hand, they had duty to kill... a hypocritical existence. Only then did it dawn on her. Her father's distress must have lain in that hypocrisy.
Yet she continued her resolve and sent it back in a letter by swallow. She worked hard (when she did not wake up late) and got her work done to the best of her ability (eventually), earning her a commendability award in her first two years. Every recess, she returned to see her aging father.
Skuld often asked him, "Old man, there anything you'd like from Qidan or Waxtide?"
He remembered well the words from that first night and returned them to her. "Bastard, I don't want to be called 'Old Man.'"
Leather Back Satchel
Skuld stores a change of clothes, some hygiene necessities, books and stationary in a back satchel that can be worn with a cross-torso strap or carried over one shoulder.
Skuld's belt satchel is split into two halves. One half contains her field medic kit and holds bandages, antiseptic, needle and thread, premade poultice, flint and tinder, and local anesthetic. The other side carries most of her field poison kit, including her harpoontail snake glands and barbs as well as trefodale extract. Her field poison kit comes with a 2-inch wide mortar and pestel that she keeps inside a 3.5-inch wide cauldron. Beside them, she stores her leather blowdart quiver with pre-treated darts. A vial of premade poison usually sits somewhere in the corner, alongside her disassembled blowgun. In the compartment on the flap of the bag, she stores bone spines, fine thread and thistle down, which she makes her blowdarts with.
Skuld keeps six throwing daggers on person. They are all only 4 inches long, 3/5 of which is blade and 2/5 handle wrapped in thread. They are usually hidden in her clothing and treated with sleeping poison. Her game knife is usually kept in a compartment in her right boot, beneath the plating of her armored legging. A snake fang hangs from a woven lanyard on its handle as decoration.
Skuld's father's name is Jotner, meaning "Giant." This is ironic because he is slightly shorter than the average Granean man.
Skuld is named for a winged servant of the gods, a Valkyrie who selects the fallen from battle. The name "Skuld" means future.
These are the words to the first song Skuld learned from the soldiers of the Alliance. Bring Me Fine Ladies and a Tankard of Ale