This piece is about an NPC in “Color of Dreams”, the campaign LARP I am co-GMing. It takes place some time during the previous session, but many miles from the action surrounding the PCs.
Helena Von Wundersplatt is 18, going on 19. She is blind, and has been for a few years since she was severed – blinded intentionally to prevent her from using magic. Helena is – well, was – a Dreamspeaker, a person with a brand of magic that had brought on a terrible, oppressive regime only two generations ago (and earned them the alternate name: Deathspeaker). In order to prevent this tragedy from repeating itself, the country has authorized Shapers (life-mages) to put out the eyes of any new dreamspeakers who appears.
So Helena is blind. But she was not always. Her father – the Duke of Wundersplatt – and older brother, are dead. Her mother is missing, presumed dead or captive in a blitzkrieg attack by an invisible army. Her younger brother is away at the old fortress of Corvaneschloss, facing an army three times the size of the forces he could muster.
Helena waits in the capital of Wundersplatt, surrounded by family and advisers, many of whom see only the tragedy of a little girl. Should her younger brother fall in the coming conflict, some far-flung branch of the Wundersplatt family is likely to rise up and take control of the dutchy. It is not clear what role Helena might be allowed to play in this new Wundersplatt. Her Uncle Leopold’s comfort rings hollow, for he -like so many of her other relatives- fails to grasp that Helena is as much a Duke’s heir as her brothers.
She sits at a window – more of an arrow slit really. After all, Brummbärheim is a fortress first and foremost, and the seat of power in the Duchy second. She turns her face to the sun, as if she might see out upon the forests of her homeland. But of course she cannot. In her hands, she worries a piece of dark clay from the Schluchtwald. In a flash of anger, she launches the ball of clay at the mantlepiece. A satisfying smashing sound tells her that she has destroyed one of her sculptures displayed there. They are but vain attempts to reclaim the painting with which she had once praised her wild homeland. Taken from her, like so many things. All for something she could not control. She growls, deep and low, unintentionally imitating her distant Aunt, Irma the She-Bear.
She frowns as she imagines her mother’s scolding. She swallows the grief that wells up inside her as she thinks of her absent mother. The only reason Helena did not suffer whatever fate Duchess Katerina Von Wundersplatt did was the valiant efforts of Persephone – a dreamspeaker Helena is deeply jealous of. For Persephone is unsevered. She retains her powers, and her sight, even if she has no home, and lives on the run. She is expected -no, allowed – to fight for what she believes is right. Helena is expected to stay out of the way.
For a heartbeat, Helena wishes her younger brother dead. She wishes their places reversed. She wishes she had chosen death over severing. She wishes she’d been allowed to choose. She wishes Persephone would fall to the Deathspeaker madness that her own blindness protects her from. She jumps up suddenly, runs across the room, and with a violent sweep of her arms knocks the remaining statues to the ground. They shatter on the cold stone floor, an apt metaphor for her own dreams.