Brynjar Grau-eck-Shanno is a widely known warrior among his tribe, the Eanian ice tribe of Northern Sarvonia, who rose quickly to the esteemed rank of warlord during tumultuous times. The most notable of his achievements was the reclaiming of the Eanian settlement, located in the northeast of the Eanian territory on the Icelands’ Coast, from the Tarkyn ice tribe. He is currently in a self-imposed exile from the Icelands, after the retaking of Eanin, and could prove a plethora of information on the life of the Eanian tribe.
Brynjar is roughly-hewn creature. Roughly one
fores, and two
palmspans in height, he
easily blends into the crowd of
Life in the south has melted the excess fat so essential to northern life,
pulling a strong relief to his already harsh, angular features. His face is
squared, soft curves pulled into hard lines. Most often he is a sour figure; his
thin lips are tipped downwards and bright grey eyes burn from under heavy brows,
accented by high cheekbones. Numerous wrinkles ring his eyes, heavy around the
bottom lids. His nose is wide, almost consistent in girth from bridge to the
thick tip. Dark brown hair falls in sleek sheets, braided and twisted in a
haphazard array, and provides a heavy frame liberally streaked with grey and
white. Even in exile, Brynjar keeps his face clean-shaven to mark his rank as
warlord. His skin is darkly bronzed in the face and hands, much more so than
other areas of the body. Many crossing scars cover his hands, heavy around the
knuckle area. There is also some scarring on the back of the head, causing some
erratic hair growth around it. It is impossible to miss the red, thick-lined
pinnip symbol on his throat.
Brynjar has tried to keep to his traditional dressing habits, but he has, out of necessity, adapted to the southern style of dress. The one article which he refuses to be parted with is the white bear pelt, which he wears much like a Santharian would wear a cloak, with one heavy, clawed paw thrown over the shoulder. He is partial to the elk hides of the south, finding a moderate familiarity in their textures, and has trousers fashioned from the skins. He has light tunics made from strange cloths that he is unfamiliar with. A close look may warrant a reminder of his northern, primitive origin by the weapons on his belt, crafted from antler and bone and stone rather than wood and steel. But it is the stone talisman and its red pinnip symbol that mark him truly as foreign.
The unfamiliar warmth of the south has done nothing to prevent Brynjar from donning his red and white war paints during the months of his homelands summer, but it is a rare occasion that he uses the charcoal-based mixture to coat around his eyes, since the glare of the sun in the south is greatly lessened when snow is not present year-round. The face is painted white, and a red handprint placed diagonally across it and excess red paint is used to coat the arms up to the elbow.
Personality. An aggressive, hard man, Brynjar is a trying person to be around. Time in the rich south has done nothing to quiet the untamed, instinctive nature of the man, and he still uses aggression as a fallback when confronted with things he does not understand or wish to accept. A naturally distrustful person, he has a disdain for anything unusual, or different. This has led him to leading a rather solitary life in the south, searching fruitlessly for a type of kinship that he knew in the north.
A careful observer may notice the grief that wears on him. It manifests in times of prolonged silence and distant looks when confronted with accusation and slurs that would usually be greeted with fists and bare blades. In the luxury of the south, he finds much time for reflection in the hours that would have been filled with hunting and battle and celebration.
Biography. Birth and Youth in the North. Brynjar Grau-eck-Shanno was born in a small cave as Brynjardyr Runol-fey-Shyu. The exact location can be estimated to a day’s travel north by sled from the settlement of Eanin on the eastern island of the Eanian territory. Four years later, his brother Bjorrar was born in the Eanin settlement.
Conflict was a common sight in Brynjar’s youth. The lanne was no stranger to assaults, living in the permanent settlement Eanin, for that was the way of the north, to take with strength. As all male children of the tribe, Brynjar was trained in combat and in the hunt. He learned how to track prey, craft weapons from antler and tusk and bone, and mark the change of the seasons.
Battle on the Ice. Fourteen winters past, Brynjar killed his first man - an Inlerin warrior - and earned his civil rights in a tribe war that had come late in the season, with the first ice. Between the islands, the ice was soft from the summer melt, too soft to wage battle upon. Many men from both tribes were lost to the depths, this included both Brynjar’s father, leader of the lanne, and the Lanrul of the tribe.
Weeks later, Brynjar reached his fifteenth winter and he, along with four others, was heralded into the warriors of the tribe with the Warrior’s Chant. The shaving of their hair marked a boy’s transition into adulthood, the new growth would make them men, and battle merit would determine how they wore it. They were branded in red, a strong-lined visage of a pinnip on the waves was tattooed on their throats.
Breaking of the Tribe. A warrior from Gourdynn was chosen to be the next Eanian Lanrul, and under his guidance those on the smaller western island began to prosper. Those to the east were not so fortunate, even under the leadership of a strong warlord in Eanin. They were under siege, in every direction other tribes encroached and raided small nomadic lannes and slew their kin. In the seasons to come, few children were born and fewer warriors were initiated to fill their desperately depleted ranks.
Contempt grew for the prosperous in the west, while Brynjar and the lanne lost their seat in Eanin to the invading Tarkyns and were forced to take to the ice shelf. The old went hungry first, and were given swift deaths by their sons. Then the women, mates and mothers, became scarce as the warriors tried to safeguard their future - boys forced to wear the mantles of dead men. There were only two boys left in the lanne, soon to be initiated as warriors, though they had done their duty as such long before those days. - They starved, and the west grew powerful.
The White Bear. For days at a time Brynjar would wander the shelf in solitude. Twenty winters, unmated with no heir, and too thin to survive the encroaching winter. The events on the ice would shape his future, and that of his tribe. It was far on the ice he spotted it, a cloaked pinnip and a late-born pup basking too far from their breathing hole. He was sure he could catch the cow, but so was she - the white bear.
The events of this day are passed on, orally by the women that keep the history:
“Dark, dark, Phobit did not
shine over our people these days. Aleshnir
refused to give Grau-eck-Shanno the bounty of her children, for he had
lost the seat of his father and it started new war between Aleshnir and
Zundefor. And as the child of Phobit
and Nechya stood witness to
Zundefor’s glory, Aleshnir slipped away into Asendin’s
cold embrace. In her fury, Zundefor struck down Grau-eck-Shanno with a
might swing of his paw.
An Icemut sled from his lanne bore witness to this struggle, and
bore Brynjar back to their small encampment on the ice. It was that day that
Brynjardyr Runol-fey-Shyu was given the name Grau-eck-Shanno, and known forth as
Whiteclaw, for the bone knife he used to strike down the
Warlord of the East. The night following the killing of the white bear, the carcass was skinned and set to roast on a spit and the pelt was given to Brynjar, as was his right by conquest. The warlord of the small lanne, friend to Brynjar’s late father, stripped the scruff from his face and named him warlord for his heroism.
The melting of the ice brought new life. The lannes of the eastern island began to come to the ice shelf to bear witness to the fur of the white bear. Brynjar’s impoverished tribe began to swell with new faces, young boys listening to the old women tell of the struggle against the bear and youthful warriors preparing for the battle season. It seemed that the east was beginning to finally prosper again, for game was plenty and the Eanians were beginning to recover from their drastic losses in seasons past.
War with the Tarkyns. The summers to come were red. Brynjar rallied his warriors and razed villages to the north, where Inlerins camped on the ice, and to the south, where Tarkyns had gathered around the conquered settlement of Eanin. By right of conquest, he took young women to bear sons, domesticated herds to feed warriors and pelts from the fallen, leather from their feet, to dress them.
The warriors began painting their faces differently from their kin to the west. They were white-faced demons, with red handprints smeared on their faces, their arms red up to the elbows. Along the coast, they passed like a storm, snarling faces and gnashing teeth. Their strongest foes were eaten on the battlefield, the heart given to the warrior who showed the most prowess.
The Eanians proved themselves a force to be reckoned, but their clashes with the Tarkyns proved a double-edged blade. For every scout party they took, the Tarkyns took Eanian slaves and livestock. As winter came, their skirmishes became more desperate, and no mercy was given. Neither side took slaves and spoils, just flesh and blood.
Meeting of the Lanruls. Brynjar was twenty two winters, and that summer he would witness his first Langral Meet at the side of a Lanrul who, before that Icebreaking, he couldn’t have put a face to.
From the wealthy settlement of Gourdynn on the west coast of Eanian territory, the Lanrul traveled across the territory. He hand-picked warriors of great renown, who would serve as escort and witness, as he made way to the meeting of the ice tribe Lanruls in Langral, a modest settlement in Aeidin territory. As the Lanrul walked across the territory, he heard many times of the tribe on the shelf and the man who killed a white bear with a white knife.
The Lanrul’s coming to the ice shelf was not met with celebration and feasting, but with dark eyes and sallow faces, slowly regaining their fullness. Food was still hard to come by, with the Tarkyns to the south harrying the coast and driving the herds south to their own settlements. It was in war paint the warriors of the lanne greeted their Lanrul.
Such open hostility would have been punishable by death, but the Eanians could not afford the loss of another warrior, especially by their own hand. The story of the white bear had spread from mouth to ear of slaves, taken by Inlerin, captured by Eanians, stolen by Tarkyns, all the way down the coast. The north respects strength, and other tribes would expect such a warrior to be at the meet. So Brynjar left the shelf and went south and west. The Eanians traveled in two groups, westerners painted with red and white stripes, and the easterners with red hands on white faces.
East of the settlement of Aeidin, the Eanians came upon Langral and laid their weapons outside her walls. Warriors in green and black and blue and orange and red stared in deafening silence, and the weakness of the tribe was displayed for all to see. They saw white-faced Eanians, whispered of by Inlerin and Tarkyn, and striped Eanians, and the displayed wealth. They saw white fur on the shoulders of two different men. - There they stood, Eanians. Divided. Weak. Prey.
The establishment of the ceasefire was marked by the sun rising to his highest point of the day, and the Lanruls and their warriors trekked from Langral to the hotsprings and washed the paints and dyes from their skin. For this summer they were not Eanian and Tarykn or Remusian and Tokarian, Vertan and Filmainrim, Santarim and Inlerin and Sarmanian. - For this summer, they were Icetribesmen.
Early Winter. The summer held a rare time of peace, but it would die with the coming of the snows. The Eanians were held together by strings, by the need for a false front of unity to ward off the attacks of other tribes. But the meet in Langral had sent a message to the other tribes, and the battle season would be long and red. No salvation would come if the east were to fall.
That winter, the Eanians of the east kept close to their ice shelf camp. That winter, the east prepared for battle. They fastened claws to glove and boot, wore the faces of animals upon their heads with long teeth and red-painted rocks for eyes. They would not survive through strength alone, and if they could not drive their foes back with spear and axe then they would do so with fear. The tribes came in force, Inlerin and Tarkyn and Faeron and Aeidin. - The east was ready to fall.
But as the second month of the season came, so did a bitter cold and snarling snows. Winter had come, with ice and wind and snow. Barely able to see a wison length ahead of themselves, Brynjar and his warriors dug furrows into the ice shelf around their camp, deep enough to trap even the tallest of men. Many fell victim to the traps, and more to spear and axe and knife in the white of an early winter. Those who didn’t fled across the ice, or starved upon it.
The early winter of that season would give them a summer without assault, a summer to wage war on tribes that dared not cross the ice paths to the island of the Eanians.
The Passing of a Mother. Twenty and five winters, Brynjar was a pride to behold. Winter came and the herds moved from the valleys south, and snow took his mother. There were no tears shed for her, for she was old and long past her childbearing years, another mouth to feed. Winter took an old woman, and brought a man from the far reaches of the eastern island, across the ice from the Aeidin settlement. He came in gleaming plate, with a train of slaves, astride the back of a great bull wison, offering gifts of good faith.
Twenty and five winters, Brynjar was a pride to behold. But as winter came and the herds moved south, the snow took his mother. There were no tears shed for her in the passing, for she had become old and was long past her childbearing years and she was just another mouth to feed. Winter took an old woman, and brought a man from the far reaches of the eastern island. He came in gleaming plate with a train of slaves, astride the back of a great bull wison, and offered gifts of good faith.
Summer of the Whale. The Icemelting came with a vengeance, where the ice receded further than it had done in over a century, by count of the wise women who held their legacy. With it came a white whale carcass, flesh rotting and falling from the bone. Some revered it, a gift of bone to craft into spear and axe and knife and go to war with Aleshnir’s blessing. Others said it was an evil thing, and the gods were in a fury, punishing the Eanin with a hot summer and rotten meat.
Brynjar set his men about the carcass to collect the bones. They crafted many weapons and talismans from bone, sewing strips to jerkin and tunic and boot and glove. But Brynjar felt the heat upon his mind, and he did not lead his men to war with their kin. Nor did he seek to reclaim Eanin. At twenty-seven winters, Brynjar took his first mate.
Re-Taking of Eanin, and Exile. The woman who birthed Brynjar’s firstborn was a southern slave with a solemn look and their union was affectionless. Brynjar held no grief at her passing in the childbed. At thirty winters old, Brynjar held his firstborn, a strong whelp named Bjornol. He thought of days to come, teaching his son to hunt the pinnip that was their lifeblood, to throw an ax and strike down a man. It was the birth of his first son that pushed Brynjar to war.
But the summer was fruitless and blood made the ocean run red. It took six winters for Brynjar to take Eanin. But the victory was hollow. The Tarkyns had slain his son, and his brother’s son, and many of his kin’s sons like thieves in the night. The Lanrul of the tribe, hidden away in Gourdynn while the east fought the Tarkyns, was struck down by a white bear on the ice in the Bay of Calnith. And that too was hollow.
Grief for his son and shame at what he had done to his tribe led Brynjar south, and he kept going south, and would keep going south, until there was nowhere left to go.
Man of Snow and Ice. In his exile, Brynjar wandered south. The north was frozen, and high mountain peaks that seemed so far away became closer and closer. He took painstaking care to venture far from any signs of settlements, passing across the vacant fields of Aeidin and into the small mountains that marked the border of the Tokarian territory. Along the far edge of the territory he skirted the river and headed towards to the Gathorn Mountains.
Reluctance set his pace, dragging slow and threatening to end him with hunger. It was like a sickness, pulling strength from his legs and resolve from his mind and he longed for familiar faces. A journey that should have taken a fortnight of swift travel had taken almost two moons. But the southern peaks of the mountains offered strange new sights: trees, as tall as him and a few that stood higher, bent and twisted by winds coming off the peaks.
Tracks wandered up the southward slopes, and he followed them. It was there, among the high peaks where no tree dare take root, that he encountered his first ‘southerner’. At first it appeared to be a small, pale child, hardly half his height, a round lump in heavy, fur-lined wool. Back to him, the child would be an easy target, up to the elbows in snow and prodding a network of uncovered roots. A head popped up briefly, observed some scratches on a skin and scratched some more on it. The child had an aged face, wrinkles around the eyes and a thinning dark head of hair. A girl with a woman’s face. Unknown to Brynjar, she was not a child but the gnomish botanist Eleanna Kalrinwenens.
He reached for his knife, but could he kill a child? An unarmed child like the boys in his lanne had been, when the Takaryns had slit their throats in the night. What would one more be? One more would be one too many. Brynjar retreated back into the valley, knife still on his belt. The woman-child was long from his mind.
Brynjar hunted in the valley, rich with game that dug through inches of melting snow to the awakening greenery underneath. He caught snow hares with sinew snares, and a fatty, thickly furred animal that tasted much better than the lean rabbit meat. Tracking another of these furred creatures with webbed feet, far from the cool snowcap-fed river it seemed to live in, he found the child again.
Or rather stumbled upon. In a terrified spurt, the creature had darted through a thick bramble, and crouched over, Brynjar followed. And there she was, stirring something in a small pot over a modest fire. He jerked his spear from the fleeing creature and jabbed its point towards her. The smell of stewing meat fogged his head, the lean rabbits he had dined on before he found the swimmer had left him hungry for fatter catches.
Eleanna set down her spoon and showed him her hands, a gesture even he could understand. Slowly, he lowered his spear. Then the sounds came, a rapid mix of grunts and rumbles that meant nothing. A second string, and then a third. She gestured to the skins in front of the fire, and ladled a scoop of her stew into a wooden cup and held it out. He stared.
Brynjar perched himself on his haunches, fingers still curled around his spear, a wison length from the fire. Eleanna lifted the spoon to her mouth, blew, and ate. He watched still, and nothing happened. Again she offered. He didn’t move. In the brush, a stick cracked under pressure, and Brynjar was gone, hunched low and moving swift through the valley.
This continued for weeks, mistaken encounters from over a stone’s throw away and glimpses at even further. Figures among trees, shapes among rocks. The second time he encountered her camp, she was slicing a fat swimmer into chunks for her stew. Their proximity had ensured Brynjar that she was alone, and no threat to him. But strange things were best kept at a distance.
He was about to disappear into the brush when she saw him. The little thing hopped up and scampered close, holding her hands out and repeating a single sound, over and over and over. And for a fleeting moment a strangeness overcame him, a question, did she know what the swimmer was called?
It was a small change that would lead to so many more. That afternoon, Brynjar sat in front of her small fire and ate her stew in his cold silence. The initial communications were, strained at best. The weeks that it had taken for him to become at ease with Eleanna’s presence were all but erased by this new proximity. He saw a child, harmless, but he was on edge.
Days passed before he would stay longer than the time it took to slurp down a rich stew, and many more before they could hold a conversation. If it could be called such, the heavy-handed gestures and frustrated expletives. But Eleanna was not so different from the tribeswomen, preparing meat and gathering herbs or berries. She pointed out shrubs and bent trees, naming them, and telling him of places where snow came for only a few moon turns and then was gone and places where it never came at all.
Brynjar wondered what they may look like, these strange places or trees thrice as tall as him. He couldn’t go home, no matter how bad his gut ached for the ice and the simple life he left behind. The only way to go was south, so Brynjar travelled with Eleanna and their conversations became almost coherent in broken words and confused phrases as they walked across the Heaths of Wilderon.
As spring began to fade, Brynjar found the heat of the southern summer almost unbearable. He was forced to discard his traditional pinnip clothes, and adopt lighter dress. It brought about his first interaction with a clearly non-human race - the Rhom-Oc. Eleanna acted mediator between the nomads, though Brynjar held fast to his axe and the orc settled close to the side of the massive warg. The elk hides were much thinner than those he was accustomed to, but the texture was familiar and the lightness astounded him.
It was after this encounter that Brynjar learned of Eleanna’s gnomish origin. This sent him away for many days; a man of the ice did not let the world into his home, especially if that world was female and non-human. What use did he have for tiny people or green men on black beasts? Thesickness in his gut made him turn northward.
But he returned. The months of travel in solitude were fresh in his mind, though long past, and even the company of this half-creature was more agreeable to facing the strange greenness of the south alone. Slowly, painfully so, Brynjar began to let tiny pieces of the south into his world of ice and snow, and the words came easier. Brynjar was able to relay patches of his life, settled in the foothills of the Imlith Mountains. Heavily edited, and vague, a complex world trying to fit into the language of the south.
Importance. Brynjar was a strong figure head of the Eanians of the eastern island in times of great prosperity and in great hardship. His conquering of the white bear, interpreted as a gift from the gods in Eanian lore, coupled with the lack of guidance from their Lanrul in Gourdynn, painted Brynjar as Lanrul of the eastern island in all but name.
This brought great prosperity to his lanne. Warlords of small lanne merged with Brynjar’s tribe, and so their ranks grew with an influx of warriors and young boys and mature girls fit to mate. It was also a means to the splitting of the Eanian tribe, those on the western island and those on the larger eastern island.
Instead of taking arms against his kin, as many would have supported, Brynjar set to reclaim the settlement of Eanin on the eastern coast, for his child. Though he conquered the Tarkyns and drove them forth from Eanin, many were lost and in his grief, he fled the Icelands.
Brynjar is a wealth of information. He has extensive knowledge of the Icelands, survival in the far north and the customs of not only his tribe, but information on other ice tribes from their conflicts. There is no telling what this knowledge may reveal, or how it could alter not only the lives of Santharians, but the lives of the Eanians and other ice tribes of the Icelands.
 Lanne is the ice tribe’s term for a minor clan with a tribe; every tribe is made up of many of these minor clans. [Back]
 Langral is the name of the settlement where the Langral Meeting occurs. Here the Lanruls of the ice tribes meet once every twelve winters and establish a cease fire for the summer’s battle season. [Back]
 Lanrul is the ice tribe’s term for the leader of the entire tribe, while leaders of the minor clans are called Warlords. [Back]
 Aleshnir is one of fifteen ice tribe gods, the sea animal spirit in the form of a white whale but not limited to that form. [Back]
 Asendin is one of fifteen ice tribe gods, the force of the sea. [Back]
 Asterlin is one of fifteen ice tribe gods, the force of lightning. [Back]
 Nechya is one of fifteen ice tribe gods, the female night goddess. [Back]
 Phobit is one of fifteen ice tribe gods, the male day god. [Back]
 Zundefor is one of fifteen ice tribe gods, the land animal spirit in the form of a white bear but also, not limited to that form. [Back]