Brádach 'The Piper' MacShana
Male - 62 - Infantryman
Hard is the correct word to physically describe Brádach, and indeed is the one that most would use, for you do not get to be as old as he without living a full and violent life.
A full 6' 0” (1.83m) in height, though somewhat bowed by the weight of years, Brádach has never been what one would call 'imposing' – he is nowhere near as muscular as some, having retained his wiry body type throughout his life, corded and lean, like a coiled bowstring – but an life starting with farming and ending in the killing of others has given him the overall form of a gnarled oak.
This is seen most particularly in his face – haggard and coarse, like the side of a sea-facing cliff, weathered by age and climate – his wispy white hair worn to his shoulders but his beard always kept neat, framing his gaunt, almost emaciated, features.
What really draws the gaze though are the pale blue eyes beneath his snow-coloured brows, eyes that have seen so much and managed to retain there glimmer of mischief, there youthful vigour that the rest of his body can be said to lack, and a depth that any who peer into them experience for themselves – make no mistake though, as much as they may not seem so, they are the eyes of a killer.Personality:
This 'old salt', having seen and done many a thing in his time, is a pragmatic and down to earth sort of mercenary with a personality that matches perfectly. So much so that he will not take on challenges that he knows he cannot win but will also attempt to keep younger, and hotter blooded, fighters in line if they get out of hand. On the other hand he is also a teacher, with plenty of stories to tell and many lesson to teach, from the correct way to plant a seed to how to handle a dirk and a sword simultaneously. In his eyes any respect is earned and until others prove themselves then they will have neither his respect nor his affection. Lastly he is quite a reposeful man and usually speaks in his raspy tones only when he must or when he is first spoken to, though he will play his pipes anywhere and everywhere.
(Will probably edit this later)History:
Clan MacShana were once one of the pre-eminent noble families on the sparse shores of the Skerry Isles, having dominated the other families for well over a century before they were broken apart and descended very much into what they are now; mercenary warriors-for-hire that fight for the highest bidder.
Along with various other names, the MacShana 'brand' is known as one of quality and dedication, their warriors taking an oath to fight for their employers/paymasters until the bitter end and their skills at arms drilled into them with wooden substitutes as soon as they can properly grasp a pole – such was the life which young Brádach found himself flung into.
The life of Brádach MacShana, scion of a smaller cadet branch of the main clan, has been one of almost constant conflict. Training in both piping and warfare under the stern gaze of his uncles and grandfathers, possessed of many for they were an extensive family, he tasted his own blood in his mouth many times before ever being allowed to handle a sharpened weapon of metal.
Violence entered his life with cattle raids, standard enough when other resources were in short supply, and the plundering of your neighbours treasure, but soon took a turn that would see him whisked across the sea to Westar; having taken something belonging to a much more powerful clan, and knowing that it would mean his demise, his father sent him southward with a company of saffron-clad compatriots to live and die for whoever should pay them the most.
For nearly thirty years he served alongside his countrymen, their numbers dwindling away to almost nothing, before many of them decided to return home. For his own part Brádach could not, clan feuds were things that never really went away, and so he was forced to use his musical talent
to earn some coin and to have his more violent skills diminish to little more than tools for throwing drunks from a tavern or collecting money for debtors.
It was only in his later years that he fell in with the Fools, mercenary work nearly gone from Westar thanks to Adalamar the Second, but his death – and the conflict that was certain to come with it – rekindled the need for strong, brutal and savage men to ply their trade once more. Brádach had been one such man, and with a few years of building himself up again, he was confident that he could be again.
Now he unofficially makes himself the musician of the Company and even more unofficial 'keeper of records', unable to write or read but with a memory that stretches back beyond his lifespan, while being able to handle oneself in a fight is never a bad thing either.Skills and Abilities:
'Fighting' – Thought not what he once was, Brádach only made it through the 'violent years' of his existence because of what he was; although slower now in both personality and bodily movements, thoroughly when compared to the younger combatants, this has taught him to value technique above psychical might and to pick his fights carefully. Using an arming sword and one-handed axe in combat, more 'tribal' weapons than those used by many today, he possesses a proficiency in there usage that would surprise more than a few.Weakness(es):
In short, his somewhat mantra has become economy of movement and strength over most else, something that has kept him alive thus far.
Piping – The MacShana are known for two things; mercenary service in war, and being the descendants of a long line of pipers – so much so that a 'school' of piping even began in their home glen. Brádach is one such student of this hereditary art, carrying his war-pipes with him where he goes, able to play something that sounds like a cat being strangled to something far more melodic. The practice of playing has allowed him to keep a dexterity in his hands and fingers when others may have suffered crippling arthritis, as well as to sway the emotions of others in a way that mere words would not.
The telling of tales – Men of the Skerry Isles are not know as 'the silver tongued' for nothing, their quick wit and mental gymnastics amazing peasants to foreign rulers, and their stories...oh their stories! Used to entertain and to teach from childhood to old age, the tales of the Skerry Fae and the Black Shamala – a hound born of smoke and the size of a horse – especial favourites in the home country.
Brádach slid into the role of company storyteller with relative ease, the oral bardic tradition of his homeland seeing him well, nights spent weaving tales of cattle raids to rearguard actions – taken from life experience – being some of the finest of his life. From feasts to failure he has a tale, marching through a foreign land to victory celebrations, always something to tell. For such a quiescent man he certainly can talk!
Perhaps the most valuable part of his stories are the cautionary tales; stories or epics of battles lost and won, of advice given to him and others by their lowers and their betters, of past brothers-in-arms and days of olden glory and recent atrophy. He can neither read nor write, but with a keen mind he has no need.
He's old, that pretty much sums up his major weakness.
Brádach survived infant mortality, he survived the violent younger years, he then survived what many would call 'old age' (his forties and fifties), he has survived more than most will ever live to see in their lifetimes and not without consequence.
The cold bites and gnaws at him as it never did before, his bones aching and becoming stiff of a morning and freezing night, and – in spite of keeping himself in 'good shape' – overexertion is not something anyone can accuse him of any more. Though lack of breath and ill-eyesight have not yet
afflicted him, he suffers early symptoms of them both, unable to run with the pace that he once did, or to loose a ranged weapon...at all, really. Hearing, well, that has gone downhill a bit, his ears nowhere near as sharp as in the past.
Weak though he is not, age will catch up with you, and so he conserves or expends what energy he can, always bearing in mind that he just isn't the man he once was.
(May edit later)Equipment:
(The elderly gentleman on the right in this picture, pretty much.
Beginning with the flowing saffron shirt of his people, nothing really more than a golden-coloured smock with wide sleeves (useful for concealing weapon and plunder), it can be lengthened or shortened by the taking up or letting down of surplus cloth at the waist according to condition of climate.
In battle he wears a calf-length shirt of mail with a hood, old in design but well maintained nonetheless, and a simple brigandine
of leather over the shirt. A metal 'steel cap' protects his head and an old-fashioned hand-axe paired with a simple arming sword a used for close-in fighting. His (usually reddened) legs go bare for the most part, and his feet are held in by a pair of sandals – something not really worn any more outside of the older generation on Skerry.
During cold nights and on long marches he wraps himself in a mantle known as a brat
, a thick and triangular shaped garment that many compare more to a coarse and hairy rug than an actual cloak.
Lastly comes one of his most valuable items, and the only 'fancy' he allows himself, one which had been with him since he left his home, that being the set of pipes commonly known as 'warpipes' on Skerry. In most cases this is true, they can and are used for warfare as a form of martial instrument, but they can also be used for more melodic duties when outside of a battle or, should the opportunity arise, even for a dance.