Character Name: Brynja Blackpaw
Player: Sadie Raab
Born: August 239
Known Skills: Martial abilities focusing on shields and large-weapon fighting, instruction.
Pack Blackpaw is an anomaly among the Ulven race. We are fierce, proud warriors from Clan Nightriver, each and every one of us. Our farmers. Our merchants. Our healers. Above all, our Daughters, a group I am glad to be a part of. Most of the Ulven seem to think that, when we die, our spirit travels to meet the Great Wolf, and in that regard, they are correct. Where they start to drift from the truth is in what happens next. They believe that, if he has heard your name and you were an honorable warrior in life, he will invite you into his Pack to hunt with him for the rest of time. They’re deluding themselves. They perform their heroic deeds, then let themselves grow soft, complacent in their history. What they refuse to accept is that meeting the Great Wolf is simply the first step. You are called to challenge him to an honor duel. You are not expected to win, but rather show your skill and honor in battle. If he is impressed, then you will be rewarded with a spot in his Pack. If he finds you wanting, your soul is devoured, left to wallow in agony within his belly for eternity.
This is why the Daughters of Pack Blackpaw forego many of Gaia’s gifts, eschewing magical talents for physical ones. We still act as spiritual guides for the pack, but we do so by training their minds, souls, and bodies for that final duel. We are instructors, not priestesses. This is also why I am a Daughter of Pack Blackpaw. I am Brynja Blackpaw, and always will be. That is the name the Great Wolf will hear when my time is at an end, but it is not the one I was born with.
My birth name was Brynjolf Axhound, and my parents were thrilled. I was energetic and healthy as a child, and to them, I seemed happy. One evening shortly after turning four years old, however, we had a conversation they thought would be innocent, but changed our lives forever. “My son, tell me,” my father began. “What do you want to be when you grow up? A great warrior, who defends the weak? A skillful hunter, serving as eyes for those you protect? A sturdy farmer, providing for your community? Where does your path lead you?”
“Papa, don’t be angry with me.”
“I could never, Brynjolf. Why would I be angry?”
“I want to be a Daughter of Gaia.”
Silence fell quickly over the table, and lingered for what seemed like an eternity. When finally it was broken, it was my mother, ever compassionate, who spoke, addressing my father. “He’s just a boy. He doesn’t know what he’s saying. Leave it be, he’ll come around.”
I never did, though. For the next few years, I would play and speak almost exclusively with the young females in my pack. They were welcoming at first, eager for a new face, though I was gradually seen as an outsider as some of the older girls came of age and started to notice changes. It was at this point, around three years after that first conversation that I knew I needed to speak to my parents again.
They had watched my behavior, and knew this was no longer just a phase. This was a part of me that would never change. Clan Axhound is not known for their progressive views, however, and standing in defiance of the roles of a male or female would bring ridicule on both my family and me. As their only child, my parents wanted most of all to see me happy, so they agreed on the proper course of action. I was to be sent to Pack Blackpaw, deep in Nightriver territory. I would change my name, act and dress as the new person I would become. I could learn the ways of the Daughters without standing out due to my lack of a magical gift. I chose the name Brynja as a tribute to my parents, and we prepared to depart in the night without a word to the pack.
The day we arrived in Blackpaw village was the most bittersweet moment of my life. My heart was breaking because I knew that in a few short moments, my parents would leave forever. At the same time, I was rejoicing in the freedom I would surely find in pack Blackpaw, and was thrilled to finally live as Brynja. My parents hugged me a final time and sent me on my way.
When they first arrived, the humans struck me as an oddity at best, and a threat at worst. We, as most Ulven did, tried to exterminate these invaders as they arrived on our shores. As the initial fighting died down, however, many of the humans and Syndar displayed a level of honor in their fighting that I had thought beyond them. Over the years, they have earned my respect as a race, although there are many among them who seek to ruin that reputation. Now, with the civil war, the threat of the Mordok, the shadow of the hungry ghosts brought by the colonists, and Gaia knows what else is out there, who knows if I will make it out alive. I do know this, however: when my time comes, the Great Wolf will hear my name, and he will remember it.