Thursday, April 19, 2012

Change Yourself, Change the World: Family is Family

Hey guys, big sexy Mr. T here. No, not that Mr. T; the fat white one. Okay it’s Rollo, let’s just go with that.

Anyway, I haven’t posted here in a while. Sad, but hopefully something that will change as I’m sure many of you have been desperately missing my posts (see: no fucks were given). I’m not returning with Inside the Koma or STFU (though one on the ME3 ending is sorely needed), but rather a new series called Change Yourself, Change the World. This series is a look at my D&D character, Canna Corbett and the different events that shaped her life. This isn’t a straightforward backstory into Canna (that you can find here), but rather a collection of scenes from her past to explain quirks about her character, and help explain who she is.

I want to start each entry with a little commentary about the piece. For example, this entry isn’t actually about Canna at all, but rather her Uncle Leon. See, Leon is a huge piece of Canna’s backstory as he’s her major inspiration and ultimately the reason why she’s such an angry person. I didn’t want to jump right into the events of his disappearance because the scene lacks weight when you don’t actually know or care who Leon is. That’s what this entry, and a few more future entries will help establish. I want people to see that Leon was an individual with his own flaws and strengths and not just a motivation for someone else. The major point of this scene is to get across Leon’s views on family and the wall, while at the same time hinting at the strong similarities Canna and he will have in the future.

Enjoy folks.


Today was a special day for Kaevyn and Jude Corbett as Kaevyn’s brother, Leon, would be visiting for the first time since the couple gave birth to their newborn daughter, Canna. This marked the first time the Corbett siblings had met in almost a year as Leon rarely had time to leave his post as guard for the human capital of Southgate, but when he heard his niece had been born he knew he had to come visit. Leon, like his brother, was well-built and tanned with large brows. The brothers shared their dusty brown hair and pronounced jaws, but the younger brother had a distinctively arched nose, matted down hair style, and a seemingly omnipresent smile. Leon had a way of radiating a jovial feeling as if there was nothing that could upset his attitude which had always been in sharp contrast with his older brother who was dry, stoic, and came off impassive. At first glance they were instantly recognizable as brothers, but those who got to know the two men would know they couldn’t be more unalike. Leon arrived still dressed in his chainmail uniform much to the chagrin of Canna’s mother who had gone through the effort of dressing up for the occasion. She’d be the first to blame herself however, as no one found Leon’s disrespect for formalities and lack of tact more repulsive than her. She didn’t know why she’d assume that Leon would treat today any different.

“No time to change, Leon?” Jude softly spoke in her all too common chiding tone. Visually speaking Jude was a breath taking woman for a commoner. She had strikingly vibrant scarlet hair, delicate features, and auburn eyes that gave off an assertive yet refined presence. Since having Canna she had started radiating an easing maternal glow, but most who knew Jude knew she was quick to state her opinion and not one to appreciate having it challenged. Still, she was friendly and courteous even in the face of what she considered to be an obscenely rude gesture as she didn’t hesitate to embrace her brother-in-law when he closed in for a hug.

“Yeah, sorry Jude. Thought about stopping home to change, but then I realized I didn’t really have anything nice to wear anyway. Compared to you I always feel like I’m arriving underdressed.” He chuckled after speaking, though he didn’t do it expecting anyone else to join in. Jude gave her brother-in-law a forced, but pleasant smile in response before the younger brother greeted his elder with a firm handshake. “Kaevyn, congratulations big brother! You’ve got two breath-taking women in your life now. I know guys back in the guard who’d give up their salary for the next five years to be in your position!” Kaevyn nodded firmly; appreciative, but casually reserved as always. Leon eagerly glanced around the room with a wide grin stretched across his face. “So where’s my niece at?” he said; voice brimming with enthusiasm.

“Right here.” Jude said as she returned to the room with her daughter wrapped gently in a soft pink blanket. Canna was only a few months old, but already resembled her mother in almost every physical way with soft delicate features and the same unique ruddy hue in her hair. The infant’s auburn eyes drifted across her familiar surroundings until locking in on the stranger with the comforting smile. “Careful” the mother warned, “she’s always fussy when she just wakes up.” After a momentary pause of hesitation Jude handed her daughter over to Leon who quickly cradled his niece with a look of bewilderment and amazement in his eyes. As a soldier Leon has been trained to always remain vigilant, but as he supported the youngest Corbett in his hands he felt his muscles relax for the first time in years. His tenderly watched as the infant reached up and tried to wrap her hands around the links in the soldier’s chainmail and experienced a feeling that no words could describe. However, as Leon was never one to dwell in silence he spoke the only thought that came to his mind.

“She’s beautiful.” He said earnestly with the hint of an almost skeptical amazement in his voice. “It’s a good thing she got her looks from her mother.” Leon chuckled slightly at his own comment and his brother allowed himself a slight grin. Others might have found Leon’s remark to be insulting; a back handed compliment or a cheap shot, but Kaevyn knew his brother’s teases were his unique way of giving compliments. Leon obviously thought nothing of it as he went right back to watching his niece without a second thought, but it was in that moment that the uncle and his niece met eyes for the first time. The two locked lenses and stared at one another for a moment that felt lost in time. The veteran soldier was used to judging a person’s character just by the look in their eyes, but this is the first time he’d seen so much told in so little. He gleaned an attitude from just this solitary meeting and it caused an experienced killer to quiver slightly for the first time in years. “She’s got strong, powerful eyes. That’s great…” Leon was known for always carrying his heart on his sleeve, but right now his bliss was never more evident.

“What’s that supposed to mean?” Jude skeptically responded, curious what Leon could possibly see to have made him so elated.

“Oh it’s her eyes. I mean you can always tell someone’s character by their eyes, and her eyes are strong. That’s a great thing to have in this world. It means she won’t be complacent in a world filled with oppression.” To Leon those words were an astonishing truth that signified great things for this child’s future, but to Canna’s parents it was an awkward statement coming from a man they both believed was too much of an idealistic dreamer.

“How very kind of you.” Jude said with a condescending smirk hidden by her hand. After letting the moment pass she attempted to salvage the conversation and hopefully veer Leon away from his bizarre insight. “I’m surprised she’s this calm. She’s always cranky after waking up.”

“Maybe it has to do with the armor. Maybe little Canna is envisioning herself in a suit of this. Think about it: General Corbett, the knight from Southgate who tore down the wall with her bare hands. Doesn’t the sound great?” His last statement elicited a small smile from the infant girl which was reflected in the soldier’s face. “She likes that idea! What do you know Kev, you got yourself a little soldier!” Leon’s tone suggested it was another of his teasing comments, but there was an unmistakable hint of pride in his voice that assumed he might not be entirely joking. Regardless, Canna’s mother shook her head at such a thought.

“She’s probably laughing at that silly face you get whenever you start dreaming about that wall. Honestly Leon, you’d do a lot more in life if you let go of such fantasies and focused on your own future more.” Leon was quiet, but kept up his normal carefree smile. Inside he wanted to retort his sister-in-law—his conviction was never stronger than when he talked about destroying that wall, but he knew his family’s opinions on the matter. They, like too many he knew, were complacent in a life bound with restrictions. They tried to continue life as it was and make do with the best they had available as if to ignore the darkened skies that left their homes covered in a ubiquitous shade, but Leon remained adamant that a day would come when humans would take back the lands they had stolen from them. He stood there in a conciliatory silence as Jude gently took her child back. Within moments of leaving her uncle’s hands the infant Corbett began to wail and squirm in her mother’s grasp leading to an awkward laugh from Jude. “I told you, she’s always fussy when she wakes up. If you’ll excuse me, I’ll go feed her.”

Jude quickly carried her daughter off to another room leaving the two Corbett brothers alone for the first time in years. Though their relationship wasn’t bad, the two brothers had so many different ideals that they rarely conversed outside of family matters, and before Canna was born Kaevyn could go for months without hearing any word from his little brother. Now that Jude, the personable component of the Corbett marriage, was gone the two brothers stood quietly in an awkward hush.

“So uh… how goes the forge?” Leon uncomfortably asked in an attempt to start a long running conversation with his brother, but Kaevyn, ever the soft-spoken stoic, just grunted in an apathetic response. Leon chuckled nervously to himself as he scrambled for another topic, but after coming up short he decided to talk about himself. “Things are going great with the guard. Found another bandit encampment the other day. Managed to arrest most of them too, so it was a pretty successful mission.” Leon waited for his brother to inquire about more details of the daring raid, but again he responded with a solemn grunt that killed the conversation right there. The younger Corbett ran his fingers through his hair and let out a sigh of exhaustion. Every day he put himself in life and death situations, but somehow trying to carry a conversation with his older brother was infinitely more difficult and stressful. Several more minutes of silence passed by before Kaevyn finally started up a discussion.

“Have you met a nice girl yet?” Though Kaevyn was the one talking, Leon knew those were Jude’s words.

“Nah, the girls in the city just aren’t really my type, Kev.” Leon sheepishly turned his gaze to the floor as he spoke. “And even if there were, I’m not much of a boyfriend type. Not many people want to spend their lives with a guy who dreams about going over the wall, y’know?”

“You could quit the guard. You could work with me at the forge for a few months until you can find a more honest line of work and then start a family of your own.” Kaevyn’s low but unimposing voice spoke those words far too nonchalantly for Leon’s tastes. Still, he choked down his strongest thoughts and instead responded in a far more civil manner than he truly wanted to.

“No thanks, Kev. I know you and Jude want me to work a more traditional line of work, but it’s just not who I am. I couldn’t wake everyday with a shroud of clouds blocking out the sky and just go to work like nothing is wrong. Wouldn’t want to raise a kid in a world like this either--it kills me just to know that Canna will grow up in a world where the Drow have taken her land, her gods, and her freedom before she was even born.”

“She’ll have a great life, Leon.” Kaevyn assured his brother. “She has two parents who love her and the Drow can’t take that. Throwing away your life against something you can’t fight won’t change that.”

Leon found himself quieted in the face of that argument. Kaevyn (or rather Jude) was not wrong in that assessment. Plenty of people had happy, healthy lives ever since the Drow attacked. It was certainly less than ideal with nearly the entire pantheon of gods being restrained and weakened to a fraction of their former power, but an army of the strongest militaries on the continent united under one banner were utterly crushed beneath the Drow’s power. What chance did one man (and an unspectacular one at that) have to make a difference against such power? This was not the first time Leon had faced this fact, nor would it be his last time, but he always came to the same conclusion. “Change is inevitable. Even if I do nothing, the status quo is going to change eventually. If I want to ensure that change is for the better then I need to make it happen myself. I can’t count on anyone else.”

Kaevyn sighed and looked at his little brother with heavy eyes. He could understand Leon’s desire for a better world, but he knew that the chances of Leon crossing that wall and coming back alive were slim to none. He had tried to sway his younger sibling for years, but the soldier’s conviction remained strong. Some part of Kaevyn hoped that seeing Canna might change Leon’s priorities, but that event confirmed his ideals more than ever. “If you had a family, you’d change your mind about that.”

“I do have a family.” Leon responded, looking at his brother with a comforting smile. Kaevyn grunted in approval, and once again the room became quiet.