It is said that dragons do not like surprises. In Tania, this axiom: Dragons and surprises and death, is often referred to with another – Dragons and their secrets… kept. For hating surprises as much as they do, the Court of Patriarchs has more than its share of secrets. Ora was a secret belonging to Ynt’taris, the Ice Patriarch. She was hidden in plainsight with one of Alerius’ most trusted and closest friends, Sai R’dar.
I am excited to reveal a portrait of Ora, by artist Piotr Tekien (right side). It has a fun cultural styling that will probably allow you to guess the region of origin the artist hails from. So, let’s review what we know about Ora Kell’Tayris. She was born in 1775 DAR. When she joined Malcor in marriage in 1802 DAR, she was 27 years old. Their son, Alauren, was born in 1803. Side by side is the same portrait by a different artist, Lukas Jordao on left side, who also did the Ynt’taris comic. I think they’re both stunning and beautiful. Lukas’ version focuses on Ora, the kind and loving mother. Piotr’s hits on the aloof and mighty priestess, the first ever, to serve Ice. The styles and presentations speak to different stories of Ora. It’s fun for me to describe characters in my books, and have artists put them into the canon. I’m sure you may imagine Ora differently than I do when writing her. I tell you this: writing Ora is easy. She speaks to me and words flow.
Early childhood. Ora’s parents are unknown. She was orphaned in the Baronies and wandered. With how obsessed Tanians are with the welfare of children, it’s miraculous she was not intercepted by the Temple, slavers, or waylaid and killed before she found her way hundreds of miles to the Great Bazaar in Morbatten and laid back on the fountain’s edge to watch the Overflight Festival. Dirty, starving, malnourished, gaunt, hollow-eyed children are so rare in Morbatten that no one really knows how to handle the situation. A guard tried to shoo her away, and Ynt’taris intervened. It is widely-speculated that Ynt’taris was watching over the child and Tiamat drove her to find the Temple.
Schooling. Ynt’taris placed Ora at Sai R’Dar’s estate with strict instructions to keep her safe and hidden from the world. Alerius and other rank members of The Circle encountered Ora at Sai’s estate and marveled that the Golem Lord had finally accepted a mortal into his household. When asked, Sai said what any good Tanian would say, “I was blessed with a child in need and will not fail the Queen in caring for this child of dragons.” Behind the scenes of her working as a servant, Ynt’taris and later Sai began teaching Ora. She had an insatiable appetite for ancient history and a knack for connecting history to current events… even if she only saw and heard about the events through Sai’s golems. When she reached nineteen, the last year she could attend the Coming of Age ceremony, Ynt’taris took her to Klenna where she tested highly as a priestess and a sage. However, the shrine cleric declared her unfit for Temple service. It was okay. Ora knew this would happen; Ynt’taris had arranged it. The ceremony confirmed what Ynt’taris already knew… Ora had what he called ‘the spirit of Alaura.’
Temple Training. In much the same way that Alerius trained Dar Tania out of the flow of Time, Ynt’taris trained Ora in the River. However, for the Ice Patriach, it is not a River of Fire. It is a river of icy mist flowing… and Ora thrived. With accelerated training and direct mentoring by Ynt’taris, she transcended within three years. To prevent any questions about loyalty, Sai arranged for Alerius to “accidentally” discover the transcended priestess. Though we do not know what was said between the patriarchs, Alerius agreed to hold Ynt’taris’ secret priestess and the two patriarchs, eventually joined by Spark, directly mentored Ora.
Ora became publicly known with her first official mission from the Temple, at Dar Shara’s command. Seek out a young paladin along the East-West Major, assess his worth, and if worthy, bear a child with him. Ora found two: Malcor and Calvin. Like Dar Tania falling in love with Sean 1800 years earlier, Ora fell in love with Malcor and was granted a dispensation to be married to him “for a time.” Though worthy, Calvin was not considered and later flunked out of paladinhood.
There is no Book of Ice in Tiamat’s scriptures. The ice matriarch fell at the conclusion of the Dragon Wars. Ynt’taris is alone. Tiamat’s Council of Mothers has an empty seat. Ynt’taris made no secret of his desire that the ancient sage Alaura ascend and take this vacancy. That Alaura died without children frustrated Ynt’taris to no end. It is clear from Tempe writings that Ynt’taris went to extreme measures to capture and revive Alaura’s bloodline. If there were a Book of Ice, it would illuminate how Ice is divinely expressed. Fire is well understood as tornadoes of flame, fire resistance and the application of heat in battle. Ora’s confrontation with Perdition showed a few of these differences that now serve as the initial entries into what might someday become the Book of Ice.
Like how Ynt’taris’ breath weapon is not ice, Ora’s expression of Tiamat’s power drains heat, life, and magic from its targets. In this way, it acts more like negative energy or even Shadow. The ubiquitous flamestrikes and firestorms, so characteristic of Tiamat’s fire priestesses, are expressed by Ora as multiple points of cold… so cold it changes local environments. In the same way that fire priestesses can channel divine fire, Ora is able to channel the expression of the cold limited only by her imagination. Other common combat spells used by clerics are expressed as cold. When tested, the goddess armor of an ice priestess manifested the same as it does for fire. Ora’s transcendence, similar to a fire priestess, veiled her in ice and mist. Her eyes, hair, and lips are touched by blue and silver. Instead of being wreathed in fire, she has a disconnected and aloof demeanor, that has nothing to do with her warm personality. The temperature drops the closer you get to her. If she stands still for very long, ice crystallizes and falls around her.
Living in a world of temperature, Ora suffers from heat. Like Alaura, Ora will likely withdraw more and more into the higher reaches of the mountains. Rumors swirl of a new Temple of Ice in the Shield Mountains, but they are just rumors.