From ‘Thoughts on the Primals – Malignant Divinity’ by Archon Niniri Niri
The patron saint of the Ishgardian heretics, also known as Harriers, Ishgard-born individuals who follow the whims of the Dravanian Horde. Lady Iceheart, or Ysayle Dangoulain, bore this mantle by infusing herself with the power of the Primal Shiva. A young elezen woman of Ishgardian descent, Ysayle was born in Falcon’s Nest, a town that became severely isolated from food supplies when the Calamity hit, and beset by a crippling, fatal cold. Ysayle and a number of others fled across the Snowcloak glacier in search of quite literal greener pastures but unfortunately the rest of her party died during the journey, leaving her the only survivor. She went on to settle in Dravanian Forelands, becoming a hunter as well as a tamer of birds of prey. One day she stumbled across the elder wyrm Hraesvelgr, where the art of the echo awakened within her and she saw a vision of the onset of the Dragonsong War, the betrayal of Ratatoskr. Ysayle, already disillusioned by the Ishgardian failure to save her friends by supplying Falcon’s Nest almost immediately became fixated on exposing the secrets of the Dragonsong War and in turn, ending it. She later rose to a position of prominence in the Harriers, and then went on to be shown the arts of summoning primals and imbuing them within oneself by an Ascian.
Lady Iceheart may have worn the aetheric shroud of Shiva, but the true Shiva lived a millennia ago, and was not a divine being or a holy saint like the heretics would later describe her as. Instead she was an ordinary elezen woman with great passion and kindness who went on to fall in love and become the partner of Hraesvelgr himself. The lifespan of an elezen is nothing compared to that of a dragon however, and so she grew aged in a blink of her love’s eye. She implored him to devour her, that their essences might merge and be together forever. He was reluctant but eventually accepted, and their example inspired man and dragon to make peace for centuries thereafter. It is commonly thought that the essence of Shiva’s divinity isn’t drawn only from Iceheart and the true Shiva, but also that of Halone, whose orthodoxy the heretics grew up immersed in. The Mover of Glacier’s icy influence may well have impacted their image of a feminine deity, leading to Shiva’s icy aspect. Shiva and the wider Harriers were based in the Akh Afah Amphitheatre, a stronghold whose name means ‘eternal circle’ in Dragonspeak.
The Lady of Frost’s Abilities – Shiva, influenced as she was by the war god Halone, was fully capable of creating and using various weapons out of ice, including a staff, sword and shield. Her control over ice was so profound that summoning ‘hailstorms’ with her staff was effortless for her, and when wielding a blade she was able to unleash an ‘ice brand’, named simply for ‘brand’ being a synonym of sword. While fighting her, the Warrior of Light’s compatriots testified to seeing and barely surviving such sights as ‘icicles impacting’ from the sky and the primal summoning ice golems known simple as ‘ice soldiers’. No technique used by Iceheart was more significant than ‘diamond dust’ in which she ‘deep froze’ her foes, then attempting to shatter them into smaller ice crystals commonly thought to resemble the natural frozen mist phenomenon called by the same name, diamond dust. Shiva was easily proficient in coating surfaces in ‘permafrost’ as well as forming ‘ice walls’ and ‘boulders’. Those who observed her technique ‘glass dance’ in which she summoned a bow of ice and fired it in a hail of miniature icicles theorized that it was inspired by her experiences watching hunters in Tailfeather.
Real World Basis – Shiva is very clearly named for the Hindu deity of the same name, a god who represents destruction and periodically destroys the world, before recreating it, a fact that could well be referenced in her aim to overthrow the Ishgardian government to build a new one. Shiva does have feminine avatars despite being a masculine deity, and is often depicted with at-least partially blue skin after consuming poison. Some have theorized that the name Shiva in a Final Fantasy context is also a reference to the word shiver, illuminating her icy nature. Similarly, ties have been made between Shiva and the yuki-onna, a pale-skinned, beautiful, feminine yokai of Japanese folklore who preys on people by draining their bodies of heat, and roams the mountains. Her appearance in FFXIV provides clear links to Catholicism and western/central European culture as much of Ishgard does, but she is difficult to provide any clear link to a specific saint or facet of the relevant cultures.