Sunday, November 4, 2012

Antigone Clover Merryweather

    A group of friends and I have been playing a fun game full of adventure and fantastical creatures: Dungeons and Dragons! I'm sure most people are familiar with the game, but it is a role playing game involving dice and imagination in which the players go on adventures led by the dungeon master. One of my favorite parts of D&D was making up my character. Her name is Antigone (An-Tig-A-Nee) Clover Merryweather and she is an elf druid. I wanted to be a druid because you can turn into an animal and you can have an animal companion! Every one in the group wrote back stories for their characters and I am sharing mine here.

Bad Guy Miniatures
Scenes from Our Adventures

    Antigone Clover Merryweather enjoyed a childhood full of mirth and raucous good times. She grew up with a great brood of siblings: six brothers and five sisters!  The Merryweather children were raised by their mother Althea Poppy Inverness Merryweather and father Alistair Coriander Merryweather. The Merryweathers were elves who spent most of their time in the safety of the wilderness, so it is no surprise that they had a great love for animals. But they had a particular affinity for the noble and playful monkey. Each Merryweather had their own monkey companion. When a Merryweateher child was around the age of three years, a monkey emerged from the woods to claim their little Merryweather. Antigone was especially lucky  because her monkey Theodore joined her when she was only six months old. Antigone does not even remember a time when Theodore was not faithfully by her side.
   The Merryweather family was a clan of curious wanders. From late March until Mid November, they travel through the vast forests from one Elvin settlement to another. Flexibility and a flare for showmanship was a genetic legacy of the Merryweather family. And they did not squander their inherent talents! Together they performed as a traveling acrobatic troupe. With the help of their equally nimble monkeys, they astonished onlookers with circus acts involving daring feats of acrobatic prowess. When Antigone was not performing, she enjoyed talking with the strangers she met on her travels. She was exposed to many different personality types and view points. Through her conversations, she was better able to understand the world through the eyes of strangers which helped her gain wisdom.
   During the Winter months, the Merryweathers would take a break from their travels and performances to rest in their secluded tree house, deep in the woods. Winter was a very idyllic time full of cozy nights by the hearth. They spent their days together baking, crafting, playing instruments and reading stories to  each other. Antigone thought her Winter days of comfort were funded by the hard work of her famiys performances. It was not uncommon for appreciative audience members to give them lavish gifts and money. But in fact, her comfort derived from a more sinister source. Her kindly and wholesome appearing parents were actually master thieves! When her parents were young, they were only petty criminals, causally pick pocketing from wealthy land owners who hardly noticed or cared for their missing valuables. But over time, the thievery became more ingrained in their life.  Partly because the excitement derived from thievery had a grasp over them like a sweet, sweet drug. Their nerves tingled with excitement at the anticipation of their next stealing expedition! Also, it could be a difficult and financially draining endeavor to raise twelve children, not to mention all the monkeys! Alistair and Althea didn't want to admit it, but they had grown accustomed to their comfortable lifestyle. They felt possessive over their lifestyle which made it easier to justify their thieving ways. So, as they grew older they stopped targeting only the obviously rich and instead stole from anyone foolish enough to be an easy mark. They also sometimes orchestrated elaborate heists on families known to have coveted jewels and other riches. Despite their own lack of morality in certain areas, the Merryweather parents tried to raise their children to be elves of integrity and compassion. Antigone never guessed at her parents slippery handed side project.
   One balmy night in late spring, the Merryweathers were camped by a riverbank. Antigone was on the brink of being a grown elf, and the stress of her impending adulthood kept her up at night. She had to decide if she wanted to continue traveling with her family or embark on a life of her own.  She could not fall asleep because of the stress so she went with Theodore on a walk while the rest of the monkeys and elves slept snugly in the tent. It was a full moon so it was easy to see as she walked through the trees and along the riverbank. She sat on a log next to the river and skipped pale rocks on the moonlit water. Antigones distracted thoughts were interrupted by the strong odor of smoke. Antigone stood up and looked around. In the dim haze of moonlight, she could see tendrils of smoke drifting above the tree tops. The smoke was coming from the direction of her family’s camp. She ran toward the smoke with Theodore clinging to her shoulders. The tent her family was sleeping in was engulfed with angry flames that devoured the billowing material of the tent. Standing near the fire was a group of seven orcs watching the flames with smug and satisfied looks plastered to their unattractive faces. One of the orcs, the tallest and most repulsive in appearance, held a large cage. The cage was jammed with her family’s monkeys. The monkeys screamed and shrieked and reached their fuzzy hands toward the burning campsite. Antigone was to late to save her family, but she tried anyway. She ran toward the fire which had expanded to the tress and plants around the tent. She tried to get past the burning trees but could not. The singing heat prevented her from entrance. She still has the scars of the burns on her arms and left cheek. The orcs noticed her and begun to laugh hardily as they watched the young elf flail against the sizzle of the fire. Antigone, knowing she could do nothing for her family, turned her fury on the orcs. She ran toward them, demanding to know why they had murdered her family. They smiled cruelly at her and talked in jovial tones to each other in their orc language. Antigone made a move toward the cage full of her familys monkeys, hoping she could save them, but the large orc pushed her away. She fell and hit her head on a rock which knocked her unconscious. She awoke to rain falling on her face and Theodore curled up beside her. The orcs were gone and the rainstorm had contained the fire. The only thing left of her beloved family were soggy ashes.
    Antigone thought she knew why the orcs attacked her family. Certain tribes of orcs believe that monkey paw soup is a delicacy that grants mystical powers when consumed. The orcs had seen her family and their monkeys and decided to steal the monkeys. But Antigone could not figure out why the orcs had to also murder her family. She thought with despair of her siblings, most of whom were still children! But Antigone knew that the monkey-paw consuming orcs were often the orcs with the least respect for the forest and nature. These cruel orcs probably derived joy out of murdering her nature loving elf family. What Antigone did not know was that the orcs had been hired by a wealthy family called the Cromwells. The Cromwells had recently been victims of a heist orchestrated by Alistair and Althea. The couple made off with bags full of rare jewels. Alistair and Althea had resolved they would retire after this final heist. The wealth gained from the jewels would provide for the Merryweather family for a long time. But the Cromwells found out who stole their jewels and hired the orcs to recover the jewels and to exact revenge upon Alistair and Althea.  The monekys were just an added bonus for the orcs.
    After the tragedy, Antigone was overcome by grief and despair from the loss of her family. She wanted  revenge against these callous orcs but felt powerless. She was just a small acrobatic elf with no skills to compete against the strength of an orc. She became so depressed by her situation that Angtione and Theodore descended deeper and deeper into the woods. Eventually, they met up with a group of apes. The apes were all different types of monkeys ranging from the common chimpanzee to the rare Ozionin flying monkey. They were all social outcasts amongst their own family and were shunned and expelled from their original clan. Together they formed their own rag tag monkey tribe. Although Antigone is no monkey, the other monkeys could sense that she understand them better than any other non ape. Antigone and Theodore were welcomed into the group. They lived with the monkey tribe for several years. Antigone was still very depressed and retreated into herself. But the simple life of the monkey tribe helped heal and revitalize her. She slowly began to appreciate life again.
  One day while wandering with Theodore, Antigone noticed another person in the woods. Antigone was quite surprised that she had never noticed the hermit woman living in close proximity to her monkey tribe. She was an old woman, but a woman still vivacious and exuberant. She was a Half Elf. From the trees, Antigone spent many days spying on the hermit woman. She lived in a small hut made of tree branches and leaves  She spent much of her time wandering around the forest collecting plants for potions or fruit for food. Antigone thought of herself as very sneaky and good at evading the notice of the hermit woman. But one day, the hermit woman sighed heavily. She turned around and looked directly at Antigone and Theodore hiding in the tree branches. “are you ever going to come out of those trees and introduce yourself?” the hermit said impatiently but with a hint of mischief in her tone. Antigone sheepishly came down from her hiding spot and the two became formally acquainted. The hermit was named Muriel Gloomwater. Muriel wasn't just an ordinary hermit, she was a skilled and practiced druid. Their friendship started out slow with light conversations and lunch together. But eventually the two women found out they had a common nemesis…the orcs!
  When Muriel was a young woman, her one true love was tortured and murdered by a pack of bored orcs. Muriel vowed vengeance and spent her life fighting against the orcs.. But now she was old and could no longer physically fight the orcs. She retreated to the forest to try and live a life of peace. But the old hatred still simmered inside her. Antigone could relate to the hatred because her depression had slowly been replaced with fury and a need to find justice for her slain family.  Muriel promised to help Antigone. But Muriel could tell that Antigone was ill prepared. Acrobatic skills could be helpful in some situations, but Antigone needed more practical skills. For years, Muriel trained Antigone in the ways of the druids. Muriel taught Antigone spells and archery. Eventually, Antigone felt ready to rejoin the world and to seek out and destroy evil doers. Her tragedy and time spent away from society  changed Antigone. She became a more somber and sullen person. She was more introverted with less trust for people and no drive to delight an audience through performances.

Orc that David Painted with Dice
My Figurine for Antigone along with Lucien. 
  Everyone in the group coincidentally made their characters orphans. There is something about fantasy that lends well to orphans. The orphan character often has an ax to grind, a good reason for wanting revenge and a loner mentality that can work well as a motivation for seeking out dangerous adventures against dragons and goblins . Because of our orphan link we named our adventuring clan 'The Merry Band of Orphans.' 

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