Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Age of Conan

This is a character background that I wrote during a short stint when I thought that I would play the Age of Conan MMO, as part of my Robert Howard investigation.  This was a great game for the first 20 levels, then fell apart.  I enjoyed the attempt to write in a fast-twitch mechanic (buttons for individual swings of your weapon had to be linked together into powerful combos, as opposed to the WoW action buttons that activate abilities), but the game ultimately failed in terms of content, twitchiness, and a little less gory graphical awesomeness than promised.  I named the character Iranon, with the idea that like Lovecraft's character, he spent his time wandering in a (digital) dream.  Ultimately, my chicken scratch was just an experiment in envisioning a character that I could tell stories about in my own head. Here it is:

Iranon’s father was Wulfhern, a warrior of Clan Grannish, and his mother was a Vanir woman taken as a child from a raided village.  His mother was gifted with the Sight, and traveled often in her dreams, awaking to tell strange tales of distant lands, or screaming with the emptiness of the outer dark.  His father loved her despite her strange gift, and defended her from those in the village that thought her cursed.  When Wulfhern was killed in the battle of Vanaheim, Iranon became the brunt of many jokes, his eccentric mother and red hair marking him as an outsider.  When at age 13 he killed one of his tormenters with an axe handle, the aggression stopped.  His mother was eventually driven to madness by her visions, and he booked passage to the south, hearing that the leechcraft of Aquilonia could heal the madness that afflicted her.  The master of the caravan was a Stygian spy, however, and sold his passengers into slavery.  Iranon was parted with his mother and sold to the south, forced to ply the oars of a stygian galley for two years.   At the age of 16, he dove overboard during a storm, and washed ashore on the southern coast.  Half-mad with hunger, wandered inland barefoot and in tattered rags.  He was ambushed by a Pictish hunting party, and killed several with his bare hands before taking up their copper axes against them.  This assault in the dappled light of the southern jungle drove his mind from him, and for weeks and then months he lived like a beast in the mud, slipping forth in darkness to slay beast and man alike.  He adorned himself in the likeness of a Pict, and slayed mercilessly, howling like a night gaunt.  He fed on roots and raw flesh, and humanity was lost to him.  
One day, with a pictish arrow through his thigh and a party of angry warriors behind him, Iranon came upon the stone walls of a trader’s city on the southern coast. The sight of men and women dressed in clean clothing, standing tall in the sunlight jogged his memory, and the madness left him.  He limped in to the city and lay in an alley, where he was found by an old Cimmerian man.  Iwah the Traveler treated his wounds and drew the fever forth from his veins, and his memory returned to him.  He worked on the docks, learning of the wide world from the talk of sailors and merchantmen. During this time, his hatred of Stygian slave-takers grew, and he vowed to avenge his mother and his countrymen. 
After earning silver enough to book passage to his homeland, Iranon arrived friendless and cold in Conarch village after years in the south.  At home once again in the mountains and taverns of his childhood, he recalled his love of the Cimmerian wilds.   Haunted by strange dreams, Iranon wandered into the wilderness, and learned to live among beasts as a man, hewing logs into a shelter and skinning his prey for their leather.  Though the madness of the southern jungles has left him, he dreams often of Picts sliding through the darkness, and keeps a wolf-skin pouch full of Pict teeth round his neck.  As the son of both a warrior and a mystic, he strives to walk a middle path.  He works now to understand his dreams, and has vowed to use the fighting-madness honed in the darkness of the south against the enemies of his homeland.   

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