A little bit of setup: This is a character — Jeep is her street name — for the tabletop roleplaying game Nightlife. At the beginning of our current game, she was sitting in a Kin-friendly bar drinking and listening to a Sidhe band play. Sidhe Bigwig enters and ends up singing along to an old-country dirge mourning all the things they’ve lost, which has quite an affect on most of the people in the room. Mostly this is me still trying to get a grasp on the character and her history, and wanting to get some internal stuff down that wouldn’t have/didn’t come out in actual role-play.
Damn the Sidhe, and damn their blasted song that brought faces from her past swinging violently to front and center. Brother and sisters at arms, the ones lost to war, and the ones left behind to pick up the pieces after; enemies who shouldn’t have been enemies; enemies who should never have been allowed to stand as long as they did; wars fought for noble causes, and wars fought for no reason. The decades slid past her mind’s eye, slowing only as they reached the beginning of her second life. They lingered there on the precipice, terrifying and taunting, then spilled over into the years she’d shoved aside longer than any others.
She saw the gentle face of a man young enough that the weathering still barely showed, but old enough that the horror and grief he held back was betrayed only by the crease of his brow and the twitch of his clenching jaw. Three children stood close to him, the oldest with her face pressed into his hip, refusing to look at whatever he was seeing; the second oldest cradling the third, a wailing infant, staring defiant and stubbornly forward, ignoring the tears that wet her ruddy cheeks. Next came the house, the one they’d built together; the farm they’d both worked until they ached and barely had the energy to make love; the family, all of them, his and hers both.
She shook herself out of the dark reverie and took a shaky swig from the beer in her hand, then swiped angrily at her wet cheeks. The tears came still. It was like she’d sprung a damned leak. She glanced at the rough man sitting at the bar next to her and realized with some surprise that he too was weeping. It almost made her laugh; almost.
It made her angry too, to have those memories unlocked unasked. She crushed down the impulse to throw her beer at the Sidhe man singing along in the booth nearby, the pretty one who’d drawn all eyes when he’d entered the room. The Wolf snarled inside her chest, and she knew that, for the first time in a long, long while, it would not allow itself to be sung into silence. Not for much longer anyway.
Conversation down the bar drew her attention away from her emotional wound-licking. Nasty creature afoot? Someone may need “taking care of”? She didn’t know these life-drinkers from Adam, but when they asked who wanted to come along, she threw her hat in. Better to cut the Wolf loose somewhere useful than have it run rampant somewhere she’d feel guilty about later.
I don’t remember much from my early life, and what memories I do have are made up of blurred images and vivid smells. I don’t recall how I came to live in the forest any more than you may remember being born. I was merely a cub; one shaped very differently from the rest of my litter, pale and bare of skin where they were heavily furred; but still one of them, one of the pack.
Time as you know it was nonexistent, aside from night and day. Hunt, eat, sleep, play, run: those were our hours; and once in a while there were the hours of hide and sneak, when the pack brushed against the unnatural presence of creatures shaped similarly to myself. They smelled terrifying and alien, the air trailing after them a sharp cloying cloud that made my nose burn. They had peculiar furs and moved about on only two legs, or on the backs of tall beasts that stunk of fear and smelled like food, or in moving caves that swayed on their odd rolling feet as they made their way through our territory on clear-cut paths. The Alpha always did his best to keep us well away from them, but we occasionally crossed signs of their passage. We picked through the scraps of their leavings, sniffing cautiously for disguarded foodstuff, and sometimes I would find strange objects among the refuse: a collection of leaves covered with markings and stuck together; an object, hard, but clear like water, that fell open when I nudged it and spilled an eye-burning, poisonous-smelling liquid that reminded me of the female creatures, and which made the others skittish enough to retreat; and once, a stone in the shape of a wolf, small enough to fit in one of my hands. That one I kept, carrying it back to the cave where we slept that season and burying it in a corner. My packmates avoided it until the smell of the creatures had dissipated, and then were simply dissinterested.
I would dig it up occasionally and look at it while the others played or rested around me. It was smooth gray stone, and the wolf stood alert, head up and ears raised and foward, tail down. I would run my finger over the texture of its fur, hard gouges in the stone’s surface, as if tiny, tiny claws had been raked across it. That was the first time I remember ever being truly curious about the tall walkers, that they might create such a thing, and I wondered how it was done.
And that’s the beginning of this character history-run-rampant. This started as a concept for a table-top roleplaying character, and has evolved into an exercise in trying to create a sympathetic anti-hero. We’ll see how long she’ll manage to stay that way, anyway. Stay tuned for more as I work on it.
I’m am a wild thing. I can save myself.
That’s what I kept telling them, but if they heard what I was saying, no one ever listened. I was just a lost soul, a creature to be rescued, to be redeemed and brought back to the bosom of civilization. No one ever asked what I wanted.
Not until him, at least.
The blurb inspired by some very cute girl-power art I found online, which in turn has inspired 1) a feral Gangrel Antitribu character for an upcoming Sabbat table-top game, and 2) the desire to write said character’s history (or a history based on the character) in long-form.
Watch for bits to be posted with the “Wild Thing” tag as I finish them. :)
“Have you ever seen anything like it before?” Chardra swung the beam of light at the grass, and it fell away in a sheet that smoked momentarily. An old woman sat next to her atop the hill. Graying blonde eyebrows rose in surprise, but her features remained otherwise impassive as she stared across the strange landscape. Snow drifted across sandy desert plains, and a rainbow-hued herd of horses appeared on the horizon.
Continue reading Chardra: A Vision
She had been ill, Tressa remembered, recalling in that distant, fuzzy sort of way you do halfway between dreaming and waking. The winds that blew in from the wylds had brought the Icewalker village ghostly voices and an ague that mysteriously affected only those with the Sight. She’d lain shaking from fever and chills for a week, but now found herself walking alone outside in the moonlight, expectation hanging in the air like the world holding its breath.
Continue reading Fever Dreams
I’ve never been accused of being a great man, so I might as well recount the adventures of one who was. Good thing, I suppose; he’d never do it himself. He was never that kind of person. He called himself Bowman Vance, and he was probably the only real friend I’ve ever had. My name is Noah. I was just a boy when I knew him, barely fourteen, but the night he ran, I followed him. When he discovered me hours later, he tried to send me home, even tried to scare me away. It nearly worked too. But I had seen what they’d done to him. I knew their secret. I couldn’t go back any more than he could.
The night we left Master Kota’s estate was a hectic one. Less than an hour prior to our leaving, the entire familial guard had made a failed attempt to overthrow the Kota line. Melias Quartain, the Sergeant of the Guard, had claimed proof that Master Kota was a corrupt noble, and that he was stealing from the town. Of the fifteen guardsmen, only three had been unsure: Bowman, one of his fellow archers, and a young swordsman. They had all grown up in the town of Jujira. Bowman’s own family had served the Kota line for generations.
By no means a stunning beauty, Callas was yet pretty in a that quaint way one might expect to find in the countryside. Her skin was smooth and tanned from a youth spent working and playing under the sun, and her hair, long and wavy, was sun-bleached to the color of harvest-ready wheat. Eyes that had been a muddy brown in her childhood had deepened with the years to a chocolate hue, and were rimmed by thick, dark lashes. Her father would have said she had inherited her mother’s soulful gaze. And if she had also got her father’s aquiline nose and strong square jaw, and his tendancy to purse her slighly-thin lips, who would notice? When she had occasion to smile, it lit up her battle-wearied face, and she glowed with it.
But Callas was certainly a product of her surroundings. Her years spent at war showed in the line of her body, taut and wiry, with a fluid grace and strong arm, and her hands were callused by the sword and plow alike. Under her Chosen’s sash, she walked proud and erect, having finally accepted what she was, and her dark gaze took in all around her with neither reserve nor apology for such sapience in such a young face.
She surged forward from the mob of her fellow soldiers, their hands shrinking back at the cry of feral rage tearing from her throat. And she ran alone toward the moving wall of abysmal black.
The formation behind her stood transfixed in awe at the sight of it, and as she neared the boundaries of the darkness, she raised her sword, and it blazed to life like a comet in her hand. At the first sweeping arch of it, the darkness shrank back, quivering from the flame’s touch like some wretched fog-beast. As Callas advanced into the opening her blade had made, the army behind her caught a glimpse of the armored force concealed within.