Illyria Ryker was the first of two children born to a Baron and Baroness of Calladahn. The family estate stood upon lush green earth far from Thrine, for though the family title allowed them a place at court, Baron Ryker desired a more natural upbringing for his children away from the political landscape. An elder sister to a brother who would one day inherit the family title, Illyria did not concern herself with knowledge of nobility but instead cared deeply for the boy, as well as the animals that freely grazed about their farmland. Gentle and pure, she found great solace in the creatures that provided sustenance for their table each day. Strong of mind even as a little girl, Illyria humbly asked her mother and father to allow her to approach the Temple of The Huntress, for she felt that as an apprentice she would find a home among those who loved the creatures as she did. Illyria hoped to one day become a Priestess within the Temple, and though at first reluctant, the Baron and Baroness eventually gave their daughter a hopeful blessing.
The Temple and Malcolm's Heart Edit
The Temple had become Illyria’s home, and she had vowed to devote herself completely to The Huntress in any way asked of her. She performed her duties with confidence and poise, the only distraction coming in the form of a young boy called Malcolm. When the High Priestess took in the homeless boy whose skills in the hunt were not easily matched, Illyria formed an instant connection of friendship. And so, each day Malcolm left the Temple to perform his duties, and he returned home often to find Illyria waiting for him, arms outstretched to receive his game before taking it farther into the Temple to perform the offering rituals with the guidance of those stationed above her.
For many years Illyria fought an inner struggle that became a battle between the duties of her station and the feelings she could no longer deny for Malcolm. As a young woman, Illyria now waited for their Huntsman with a quickening heart, and each night, as darkness fell at the entrance of the Temple, she found herself nervously awaiting his entrance into the flickering light of torches. Her arms still received his game, but her eyes were always intently focused on his, and as each creature transferred from the strength of his arms to the delicate nature of her own, their fingers and arms would softly touch for brief moments before she would nod and be on her way. It was as much of herself as she could physically give to him, though it pained her to both give it and withhold more.
The hunt was no longer a fruitful task, for time and time again Malcolm returned back to the Temple with nothing to offer The Huntress or Her followers. With lack of game came thoughts of a displeased Goddess, little nourishment, and an absent opportunity for soft stolen touches. The High Priestess of the Temple thought a willing sacrifice might appease The Huntress, and though Illyria too believed it necessary she was not prepared for Malcolm’s vocal announcement of offering himself. Illyria was tasked with preparing her love’s body for an untimely end. She dipped her shaking hands into paints and oils, and delicately dressed his bare chest with symbols and words for the night’s ritual. The High Priestess began the sacrifice, and once again Illyria’s inner struggle battled between admiration and desperation for both duty and love. Her love’s heart was gone from his breast, visible for all to see . . . his sacrificial death was near. When the High Priestess lifted the knife to pierce Malcolm’s heart, Illyria felt herself drawn to rise and stop it – even to embrace him despite the inevitable outcome it would bring for both of them. Though she could do nothing herself to stop it, a stag appeared – a great creature’s appearance that could only mean The Huntress had been satisfied. The High Priestess offered to return Malcolm’s heart but he insisted it remain disconnected from his own chest. Instead, he gave it to Illyria for her to keep safe; despite stolen glances and soft brushes of skin, it was the first time a gesture communicated the love one felt for the other. And, in Illyria accepting, she hoped it communicated her reciprocated feelings, for it was all she would ever be able to give back to him.
The Wolf and Death Edit
Illyria kept Malcolm’s heart safe . . . always. When it was not within a small casket she had fashioned herself, it was held in the warmth of her own hands. This was always true when the dreaded full moon rose over Calladahn, for her love had garnered the attention of a wicked beast of the forest, and nothing could stop the change occurring within Malcolm after the Big Bad had bitten him. Illyria had watched over him as the wolf nested inside of his soul, and though she prayed to The Huntress for aid in returning Malcolm to his human form it did not help. Even after the Lycan became part of him, Illyria pleaded with the High Priestess not to turn Malcolm away from the Temple. It was The Huntress, after all, who had cursed the Big Bad. Would it not be She who would see Her willing sacrifice with such a curse and eventually cure him? So he was allowed to stay, though within the Temple he would never again rest his head. Each full moon Illyria knelt on the soft earth outside her home, his heart in her hands, and a soft song upon her lips. He would return to her each time, and with his return came more faith and belief in the one who had the power to restore his humanity. It had all been for naught, for Malcolm transformed within the Temple under a crescent moon and began an act most violent. She was far within her home when screams and cries echoed off the walls. Illyria would never know what overcame her love, but when she found him covered in blood among the lifeless bodies of The Huntress’ followers she held her hands out for him with tears in her eyes. Malcolm moved toward her, her heart and body ready to embrace him and bring him back. Instead, Illyria felt life flee from her body, his fierce eyes the last image she would see before her eyelids closed for the final time.
Two-hundred years passed since Malcolm killed the inhabitants of the Temple . . . including Illyria. In wishing to find a way of controlling The Huntsman (now God of the Hunt), the Pantheon set about a plan to bring back Illyria. With the power to travel back in time before her death, Aethanryke the Forebearer gathered Illyria's scattered ashes and began her resurrection to the time right before her original life was about to end. Aethanryke explained His doings and what He would need from the now resurrected Illyria - a force to bring Malcolm to the side of the Pantheon. Though still susceptible to the Lycan curse, Illyria was given the place of High Priestess to the Huntsman, and with such gifts called him forth to the Temple for their first meeting in over two-hundred years. Though Malcolm initially thought Illyria's presence a trick of the mind - or a means to torment him - he eventually found truth in her familiar song. She now struggles to walk a fine balance of Priestess, servant to the Pantheon, and quiet lover, for though she dare not make her feelings known, the fact that she works for the God of the Hunt and loves him makes her duties all the more difficult.