DM Handle: Wolfsbane
Physical Description: Erik has shaggy brown-blonde hair, stands at 6’1” and 190 pounds. He is built around the shoulders and arms with heavy muscle, from tireless work days in the forest with his father falling trees, lean with wide shoulders.
Two thin scars stretch across his left shoulder and another across the back of his palm, for being a fool boy trying to be a fool soldier and get his bloody head taken off before his first battle, as his father put it retracting his offer of sword lessons. His once deep blue eyes have been replaced with the typical golden hue.
Main Weapon: Sabre.
Auxiliary Weapons: Bow, Axe
Age: 18-when turned, now around 22
Place of Birth/Raising: Andor (In the Caralain Grass)
Erik had always lived with his parents, Maethius and Coreinne, in a small farming community in the soft countryside running along the river Ivo. Maethius, believing his son to need the proper education of weaponry and skill, taught Erik the basics of sword, axe, quarterstaff and arrow. Having only friends residing a day’s travel in any direction, Erik would spend his time mastering the poses of swordmaster, flowing to another and another and another in time to his father’s instruction. Erik cherished the time he would spend in the front yard, stripped to the waist gripping his father’s sword, shifting from Parting the Silk then back to Wind over the Mountain then to Bend the Light, his father laughing and holding his sides as his mother berated him for letting the fool boy touch a sword. Never again... never again... It all changed that night. Everything changed that night.
The wolf raids had been scourging the farms off to the south for a near month now, and some of the farmers were already leaving for Caemlyn or Whitebridge. The thought of leaving with the tempuratures dropping already and his parents well-aged, was dismissed from his mind as soon as it came to him.
Although his parents’ settlement was neglecting a few hundred acres to be called a farm, Erik lost near a week’s worth of sleep guarding the two fat workhorses in the barn, Jeryn and Sheine. Sitting rigidly against the back of Jeryn’s stable, staring blankly at the large door at the end, Erik would practice telling the stories his father had told him when he was smaller.
“The fall of Cairhein was a bloody mess...” he started, eyes falling on the large lock hanging lazily beside the locking bar, as it always had. They had never had horse thieves in this part of the Caralain Grass, and wolves typically can’t open doors. If it wasn’t for the stories drifting down as far as the Black Hills - he’d be asleep with his worn books lying around him as he waited on his father’s fever to break.
But the stories were too awful to ignore.
Hay blanketed the floor of the barn and poked out of every crevice lining the wood walls, almost like it was growing out of the cedar posts. Erik remembered the day his father and uncle put up the barn, years before his uncle died in Tarabon; now his father was sick with a fever that wouldn’t break and the Wisdom from Haevin hadn’t arrived yet.
Erik’s head drooped forward, thick muscles around his neck slackening as he fought to stay comfortable and relaxed. He was tired and there wasn’t going to be any trouble tonight. Sheine whickered loudly, pawing her hay and turning in circles in her own stable. What now? Erik thought lazily, propping himself up with the long blade he now took on his guarding duties. Reaching the brown workhorse, he could hear a soft scratching against the outside of the wall. Very light scratching. Jeryn was still asleep, ears flapping softly as if he dreamed of swatting flies away, but his mate was another story. She bounced from one leg to another, eyes rolling up into her head as she whickered and whinnied loudly.
The scratching stopped.
Erik could feel every inch of him break out in sweat, even as his breath misted in front of him, watching the wall for a beat until he heard the soft sound of something moving along the outside of the barn towards the door. Pat -pat- pat went the slow walk of the...
Erik steadied his sword in his grip. Blood pumped against his temples, his vision swaying as it tried to focus on anything but the soft scratching now coming from the barn door.
Feet shuffling forward unsteadily, Erik neared the tall wood door much faster than he ever wished for.
Soft trickles of sweat stung his eyes, dripping from his chin onto his dark green wool shirt, wiping it away quickly still trying to not look away from the large wooden door. His brown leather boots dragged along the ground, disturbing the blanket of dirt and hay. Erik looked down on his sword - not his father’s any longer, his own - green hilted, worked with snaking wines along the crossguard and langet.
Erik stared coldly at the steel latch on the oak door. Erik could smell the woody odor seeping out of it, the dusty musk of the horses mingled with hay, a thick scent… almost… Erik knew what was outside the door; he could smell it as well as anything else since his senses became so… powerful, not three weeks back. Erik felt his hand drift from the sword hilt, it clasped onto the cold steel of the latch. What am I doing? Erik thought suddenly as his grip firmed and he pulled the old door open. The night, so cool and dark greeted him as the chill caught his breath.
The bright glow of the lanterns inside the barn halted at the darkness, but Erik needed no light to see. His eyes had also become more sensitive than before and they were... changing. His blue eyes now held a brown tinge on the very outer edge, almost a bronzed shade.
Erik looked down at the large creature before him. A wolf. Gray fur with traces of white spotting the mane and muzzle, but the wolf was by no means old and weak as large muscles rippled beneath its coat. Those great golden eyes, shining like the hilt of his sword, clutched shakily in his left hand, scared Erik more than the wolf itself. Strange. Thick age-old scars etched deeply along the side and back of the wolf. The soft marks of the ribs along the wolf’s sides were evidence enough why the wolves were entering farms. They were starving. Staring at the beast, Erik felt almost a calmness gazing down on the predator, like seeing an old friend after many months of absence. The wolf sat there, looking up at him with those bright golden eyes... hungry golden eyes.
Surprise. The image flashed through Erik’s head like the blow from one of his father’s quarterstaffs, almost an emotion translated out in his mind. Erik’s mind reeled.
Two legged? The image of a man standing straight with a knife and bow in either hands pulsed through Erik. It was the strangest sensation Erik has ever felt in his life. Emotions flashing through his head, but not his own but the wolf... impossible, nothing could do this, not even Heartsbane himself could.
Others like you... wolfbrother... You are... young, wolfbrother. That name, that image, felt right. It was of men and women all moving through the woods, all talking to the wolves, all with bright golden eyes. The images kept on flashing, but he could understand each one. It all made a strange sense to him... somehow. You can hear me... you can understand me? Erik thought quickly. The wolf sat there placidly, its soft breathing seemed to be in time with the wind.
We send for you... Those like you... come... Night's Howl.
The image, of Erik, perched atop a tall boulder set out in the middle of the forest holding his sword in one hand, crying out to a full moon... changed to a large wolf with gleaming bright teeth in the moonlight howling atop the same boulder, seemed right. Felt right.
The wolf turned its head to look inside the barn past Erik. Four-legged hard toes... It snorted. Not worth the trouble, Brother. Standing up, the old wolf leaped into flight and disappeared into the night.
Many weeks passed by, and Erik never told his parents of what happened that night or the nights after he met that wolf, Moon’s Gaze Over The Broken Rock. He never told them of his dreams where he would talk, and run with the wolves, of how he would forget he was a man and actually was a large wolf, howling at a pure white moon. Erik didn’t think he was going mad, or that he could channel like those doomed men from the stories. But something evil was going on and he knew it would soon to be time for him to leave his family, to save them from what he had become. His senses had become even more potent and his eyes were now a full gold, like the wolves he saw in his dreams. He had met more than Moon’s Gaze Over The Broken Rock, like Smoke and Broken Maw. Each talked of sending for him, of other people that could talk to wolves as well. Darkfriends, Erik supposed, although the wolves had said nothing of the Shadow or Heartsbane.
It was the night his father’s fever looked as if it might take him, his mother had spent the day making excuses to leave the room as soon as Erik entered. He couldn’t keep his eyes downcast all the time... and now she was out at Serine Bronie’s house waiting for the Wisdom and getting some clean sheets.
Erik placed a fresh cloth on his father’s forhead, went to his bedroom and got everything he’d need for a few days.. How long was this going to be? Am I ever coming back? He didn’t want an answer, it would be too painful any way. A few snares, some hard bread and cheese, couple goatskins of water, some bandages and flint, a hatchet and his heavy cloak, and he was gone.
The cold stunned Erik as he stepped outside.
I’m sorry mother, father, but this is the only way. He didn’t want to force them to have to turn their son in for being a Shadowspawn or Darkfriend.
Erik recited the note he had scribbled on the table before leaving. For how long? The thought burned Erik; nothing else could ever have mattered more than his family, and that was why he had to leave. For them, for himself, for the wolves, he had to leave. For three days the wolves had been asking him to leave his farm. Leave it all to meet these other Wolfbrothers in the forest, away from “two-legs”. I’m as mad as those male-channellers. Erik’s long cloak swished back and forth across his knees as he began walking, slower still as he left the light of his house and neared the tall trees.
“I pledge for you, mother... father... I will return. I will not die until I see you again.”
The first evergreen tree brushed Erik’s shoulder as he wept. For everything his life once was he wept, for what it could have been. For what it should have been. Gold eyes began shining out of the night, watching. Setting his large pack down, Erik looked down at the hilt of his sword jutting out of the leather bag. “Erik Jaryn Hammar is dead. Do you hear me Moon’s Gaze? Do you?” Knees buckling, Erik’s tired body slumped to the ground, hands dug into the ground as warm tears burned his eyes. “Do you hear me? He is dead to me and my family.” Erik whimpered. The soft soil crumbled, slipping between his fingers as he balled them into fists. He had never felt this angry before in his life, but this wasn’t his life any more. It couldn’t be.
“Who then is this residing in his body then?” a voice spoke softly out of the darkness. Golden globes shone out of the night, from a black hooded cloak.
“I am...” He remembered his name, the dream, “I am Night's Howl.”
2) The Last Few Years
It started the night Erik went looking for Gena, running into the Weaponsmith that his homesickness took him. The Stedding was paradise, was just about everything he needed to feel complete, but something still held him. Possesed him. Caralain Grass. He could feel the longing in his bones, he had heard of the Ogiers’ Longing from the story books his father kept in his study, and he could understand it now. He had a home in two places, but the sharp green grass blades, endless rolling hills, and his family. He needed to see his father again, just hear his rolling voice and see his mother - even if she wouldn’t look him in the eyes.
He needed them to know he wasn’t something of the Dark One’s filth, no, he had to make sure they knew their only son wasn’t Shadowspawn...
He hoped the Wolfkin would understand, they had to... He closed himself off from the wolves and slipped out into the night. The wind whipped his golden hair as he moved east, to the river Ivo, and home.
The blackened timbers lay strewn about, the green grass slowly growing back but the ground still showed where it had been burned the hottest. His home. His feet dragged as he moved beneath the water soaked broken trellaces and ash piles that had been, he stood where he had been born, moved to his room, to where the fire had started.
Serine Bronie had been the one to contact the Village Council first, telling them what Erik’s mother had told her about golden eyes and Maethius’ fever that would not break. She had been particulairly proud of that fact. The town had been whipped up into hysteria, fearing the motives and actions of Shadowspawn in the countryside. Soon, a rabble of the townsfolk made their way to the Hammar family farms, but it was Maethius and Correine that met their justice first. Serine made a great deal of emphasis on the fact that it was her husband who had taken Maethius’ head with his axe, which now stood in the Council Chambers.
Erik despised shedding blood, but the look she gave him when he pulled back the bandage from his eyes and a blind traveller’s eyes stared back with a golden shine that held the burning fury that scoured his soul, had been a great a pleasure. But hearing the soft whisper escape her lips as his blade bit deep between her ribs, he had seen chickens de-boned much like it, and spilling her oil lamp onto the floor felt so unbelievably right.
“The mother accepts you back, Serine Bronie, of Maeron...” She was your friend, and you turned her in you vile thing.
There would be a time for regret and mourning, but now is the time to be harder than oak, stronger than iron. The heat from the flames beat at his back as he moved back into the darkness, down the Ivo road, golden eyes blazing and silver sabre dripping glistening blood black in the moonlight.
“You are a remarkable man, for a blind one stranger.”
His voice was thick with a Kandoran accent, black hair to his shoulders and dressed in green silk that pulled tight around his chest. His dark eyes watched Erik as he stepped forward; the long cloak was still draped around his body but two long slashes in the thick cloth revealed minor cuts that had eventually stopped bleeding. He shrugged off the cloak and stood to face the Kandoran man, slouched on his chair, back turned to the roaring fire.
“Yes, quite remarkable indeed. You must have snuck by or killed close to twenty of my guards to have gotten this close, hmm? But you cannot think to best me in combat, you fool. I have faced Trollocs before you were born, and no fool is going to stand in my way, not in Caralain’s way. Now move along, before I run you through just because.”
Erik smiled a cruel smile. Was it Erik any more? Night's Howl didn’t know, but he did not let his uncertainty touch his face. “I care not for your dreams of raising Caralain from the dirt, Kandoran, or how you treat the townsfolk like mules,” his fist gripped the filthy cloth around his eyes and tugged it off, the man’s sick grin slid into a blank stare, “but you be the man who ordered my family’s death, who used them to place yourself in power, and it is your blood I hunger for.”
“But... No... You be Shadowspawn! I serve in the Light! I serve in the - Ahhhhhh!” Erik was upon him, with tooth and nail, ripping and biting flesh, but it was a bloody mess, the imposed Mayor of Brookside, moaning oaths that saw the glint of the Bronie axe as it swung down.
His blood tasted sour, tasted spoiled, but Erik spat it out even if it hadn’t curdled his tongue.
It was done.
Erik emerged from the town hall and staggered out into the main street, his senses clouded by the bitter hot smell of the man’s blood on his face, his hands, his tongue… An abandoned bucket sat there, and he hesitated only a second before dunking himself, the coursing cold water freezing his skin as he rid himself of the red filth.
He heard them, their footsteps nearing as he raised his head up from the water and inhaled through ragged lungs. Night still surrounded the town, a heavy blanket around the small one-storey buildings, except he had been fool enough to forget the torches around the town hall made him visible for anyone to see. He spun to see who it was, blade in hand as he caught the swish of dresses and the movement of long dark hair.
“Erik?” the voice was heavier than he remembered it, deepened but still melodious in her speech. “Erik is that you?”
“Deylene... “ She was beautiful, years had matured her soft face, but her face had a hardness to it as well - near the eyes.
“Light Erik it is you!” He moved his blade arm away as she rushed forward, her thin arms wrapped around his chest and tried with all her might to squeeze the life from him. “I’m so sorry Erik... Light, the things they were saying about you... What they did... I’m so sorry about your Da’ Erik.” She pulled her head back and looked at his blade rather than his eyes.
“You did it didn’t you? You killed Lord Loren, didn’t you?”
He just stared at her, until she looked up into his eyes.
“I liked your blue eyes better... Mother blessed, we have to get you out of here. We hated Loren but they’ll rip you to shreds if they see your eyes.” She looked around her quickly, yes, things had changed here. “Come. Now. My mother lives just North of here, it isn’t that far but far enough. You must come, your mother’s been...”
“What about my mother?” Erik gripped her by the shoulders. Light, open your mouth fool girl!
“She’s alive... Come on you wool-head, before the guards decide to rip you some more holes in your pretty cloak. She’s living with my mother, since...”
“Lead on, Deylene.”
Erik placed the last rock on Correine Hammar’s grave, and stood, wiping his eyes as they glinted in the sunset’s red glare. “Correine and Maethius Hammar, I return you to the Mother’s final embrace and pray you may find shelter in the Creator’s hand. It is done. It is done.” Six months he had been blessed to be with his mother before she too passed on. Six months talking, confessing, mourning, laughing. Deylene still wanted him to stay, even though she was expecting her first son with Baldrin in spring and a year married to the man. He had done enough in Brookside, in Caralain Grass, but this was not his home. Closure had been heart breaking, but he had it none the less.
Erik picked up his sack and cloak, and with a final look at the rolling hills of the Hammar farm, started into the woods. He opened himself up to the wolves, and felt himself breathe for the first time in a long time.
Hope nothing’s changed too much.
In the back of his mind, Night’s Howl was laughing.
Change is always inevitable.