Friday, April 30, 2010

Character - Brynwyn Elswyth


Note: Brynwyn Elswyth was one of my first Neverwinter Nights characters. I played her on the server "The Silver Marches", and later used her on a couple of other servers as well. She was a very energetic, spritely character, naive but good-hearted.

Despite her seemingly-unsinkable cheerfulness, she did have a bit of a tragic backstory:

***

The sky explodes with lightning, and for a half second the world is consumed with white fire. A wet, shivering elf takes refuge under an ancient tree. She sits with her knees drawn up to her chest, hugging her legs. With each crash of thunder she buries her tearful face in her knees.

She is young, but not a child. She is naive, but not stupid. She knows the thunder won't hurt her. But still, she is afraid. Every rip of thunder punctuates her existing fears.

"How did I get here? Why am I alone? Why did I stray so far?" She asks these questions softly, nestling closer to the scant shelter of the tree. The questions are rhetorical; she already knows the answers, but doesn't dare ask the real question, burning beneath her dread: "Why am I such a failure?"

Her mother's quiver lies in the mud beside her, half-sinking into the muck. She pats it with her hand, seeking the reassurance it provides. It is a symbol of both love and protection. Also beside her is a bow, but she has no love for the weapon. To her, it is the embodiment of death and failure, and she hopes to replace it with another bow soon.

Another clap of thunder, and again she buries her face. In the howling wind is her father's voice, urging her to be strong and chastising her to stop disappointing him. The familiar but heartbreaking reprimands actually soothe her, and the exhausted young elf soon drifts off to sleep.

And she dreams.

***

She awakens to the sound of furniture breaking. Brynwyn gasps, and sits straight up in her bedding. In the moonlight coming in through her window, she sees a huge form, smashing everything within reach. It is an orc, and its presence in her hut causes her confusion. She becomes vaguely aware of the commotion outside her window, the sounds of elves fighting off an orc invasion. Brynwyn stays perfectly still, too afraid to move or even breathe.

Brynwyn hears a scream. Across the room, her younger brother has awakened to see the hulking monster. Alerted by the cry, the orc turns and grabs the elven boy by his head, dangling him high in the air. With her brother in danger, Brynwyn finds a reserve of bravery and searches around the floor beside her, never taking her eyes off the orc. She stretches her fingers blindly until she finds the bow and a single arrow. She draws back the bowstring, aiming carefully but her arms shake. She only has one chance at this.

The orc's fingers encapsulate the elven boy's entire head, and the monster delights in hearing his pathetic, hitching screams. Brynwyn has no idea how many arrows it takes to kill an orc, but she hopes one is enough to make it let go of her brother. She aims for the creature's left eye, wishing she had more time to line up and steady her shot. With a quick prayer to Silvanus, she looses the arrow.

But her fingers slip at the last moment of release, and the arrow barely penetrates the orc's shoulder. It growls in pain, clenching its massive hands into fists. Her brother's head is shattered like an egg, and Brynwyn's own heart feels similarly crushed. The orc turns to face her, growling and snarling. She doesn't move as the orc moves towards her reaching out with its immense hands. She blankly watches the remains of her brother drip from its fingers. She no longer cares what happens to her. She drops her bow and lets her arms fall to her sides.

Suddenly, it howls in pain. It runs blindly around the hut, beating on the walls with its fists until it finally collapses to the floor, dead. There are several arrows buried in it's back. Brynwyn looks up and sees her parents standing in the doorway, bows in hand. Her mother looks at Brynwyn with concern. As she moves to comfort her daughter, her eyes fall on the headless body of her dead son.

And she screams.

***

Another loud thunderclap wakes Brynwyn with a start. The dream fades, as it always does. The memories still linger, still haunt her. The elf slowly realizes where she is... still sitting on the forest floor, in the rain and the mud, hugging her knees and shivering. She wishes she were home... but would not dare to go back.

She pulls her belongings closer to her, and huddles even closer to the tree.

And she weeps.



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