|Portrayed by||Tony Thornburg|
|Affiliation||The Grey Tower|
Finn stands taller than average, with a lean body and a graceful air when he moves. He has an angular face with high cheekbones and a straight nose; his mouth is slightly downturned at the corners and framed by a neatly groomed beard and moustache that make him appear a few years older than he is. His eyes are dark, small, and narrow, with short lashes and brows that seem perpetually drawn together in deep thought or a frown. Straight locks of pitch-black hair fall well past his waist when loose; he usually keeps it tied away from his face in a tail, braid, or some kind of knot.
The tailored uniforms of the Tower trainees make Finn deeply uncomfortable, and this is evident in his movement even long after he settles at the Tower. He prefers to wear loose-fitting breeches and shirts in the common Seanchan style as a matter of both comfort and culture. Although he trains with Westlander armor to fill gaps in his own knowledge, he has painted his Seanchan armor gray and green to honor the Grey Tower and plans to continue wearing it once he has completed his training. He wears several thick gold rings on his fingers, several bracelets of wooden beads on his wrists, and silver studs in both his ears.
It does not take much to gather than Finn lost something or someone very dear to him; it’s apparent in his eyes, his demeanor, and even sometimes the tone of his voice. However, getting him to talk about himself or his past is next to impossible. In conversation he is more likely to ask questions than he is to make a statement; in classes, he is likely to watch in silence, then practice with fierce attention until he gets the concept right. He treats those of higher rank than he with a level of deference that makes most Westlanders uncomfortable. He is frequently puzzled or scandalized by the behavior and culture of the land that has adopted him.
His attempts to fit in occasionally have comical results.
The sul’dam came to test the young people of Elesmar once a year. Every man and woman between the ages of thirteen and twenty-five lined up in rows, each in their feast day best. The men stood together facing east, licking their lips and looking at the ground or sky; anywhere but at each other or the blue-clad women. The girls faced west and giggled and whispered among themselves, their fear and excitement building to near hysterical pitch.
This year would be the last that Finn’s age overrode six years of tenure as a soldier in the Ever Victorious Army. Assuming all went well, he would board a ship to the Westlands on the morrow. After eleven prior testings he knew what to expect; when the sul’dam stopped in front of him he dropped to his knees and bowed his head without a word.
He heard the faint click when the collar latched about his throat, and for a moment every animalistic instinct he possessed urged him to fight against the cage. Instead he stayed still, counting slowly as he breathed in and out. This is just a formality. I can’t channel. Over and over he repeated the mantra until at last the slender woman released him. She walked to the next man without a backward glance and Finn pushed himself back to his feet with a shaky sigh.
A flicker of movement caught his eye and he glanced up. His sister Meilen stood across from him clad in pale pink with her dark hair pulled into two thick braids. She had turned thirteen only a few days before; her childish glee at being old enough for testing could not be contained as she waited for the women to reach her. Be cautious, little sister. Of course she couldn’t hear him, but when two sul’dam paused in front of her, at least she was quick to kneel. Finn looked down at his hands, running his tongue over his teeth behind closed lips as he waited. Any moment now they would be done and he could watch her twitch and twist with impatience as she waited for the second test. Any moment…
“No. No! You’re wrong. Take it off, I’m not-!” Meilen’s voice rang out in the silence, outrage tinged with horror twisting her young voice almost beyond recognition. He heard flesh strike flesh and a breath later the young girl shrieked. The sound went on and on, high-pitched and shrill with pain.
Finn’s head flew up and he took an inadvertent step forward before his mind fully processed the scenario before him. The sharp crack of the staff on his chest barely registered as he stared across the intervening space. The glint of silver at Meilen’s throat, the dirt and dust grinding into her dress as she writhed on the ground. Mother paid a fortune for that gown. The brown-haired woman in blue who stood over her, a red handprint emblazoned on her cheek. She was speaking, but he couldn’t hear the words; it felt as if he had fallen into the sea.
Somewhere in his memory they caught bugs together, mud caked into their clothes and their legs skinny and bruised from many other such adventures. They played at war with sticks; he gave her rides on his shoulders; helped her climb the tallest trees; taught her the names of the giants who walked among the stars; showed her how to make a whistle out of a piece of grass. I have to take care of you and Mama, he told her when he signed the papers to join the army. I’ll visit, I promise. Pigtails bouncing, she ran to him when he came home to visit. He brought her toys and illicit candy, told her stories of Seandar, T’zura, Qirat, and the Court of the Nine Moons.
….She lay in the dirt with an arm reached out toward him and terror on her face. A woman built like a small ox leaning over her with a pleasant smile on her face. “See, isn’t that better? Behave now, I won’t have you embarrassing me again.” Meilen gave Finn a look that burned him to his soul, then pushed herself to her feet in silent acquiescence.
The sul’dam led her away like a dog on a leash as she chatted amiably with her companion. Less than a dog. Damane.
The trip across the Aryth Ocean had taken nearly four months and Finn had vomited an entire life’s worth of food over the edge of the ship in the process. It had been months since the landing, however, and he had regained most of the weight lost to the voyage. Anger remained, however. Anger and shame. Those emotions drove him to ask questions he might never have dreamed of asking when he captured Westlanders who wandered too close to the Seanchan camps. He learned that the people of that land had different ideas and freely spoke of them when asked. They seemed surprised at his curiosity, which piqued his interest even more.
He witnessed many more women become damane, and twice helped the sul’dam trap men who could channel. The sick feeling in his stomach grew with each new capture, multiplied as he watched each new face transform from anger, to fear, to outrage, and finally to defeat and despair. They are human. To be feared, certainly. Channelers had broken the world. Surely there were better ways to handle that threat than to collar them like beasts, however? The Westlanders certainly did not seem to have such an issue with them.
Eventually he got up the nerve to speak to one of the captured men. Between the shower of invectives and crazed babble the stranger threw at him, the warrior was able to gather that there was a place in the mountains to the east called Hama Valon. It was a city where people gathered to help each other, or so it seemed; it sounded vaguely familiar for some reason.
He turned to go, but stopped when he felt a hand on his ankle. “Kill me.” The man whispered. “I cannot…please. Please!”
“Mercy,” Finn agreed. He committed treason with the same deliberation he had sworn his vows; afterward he closed the dead man’s eyes, arranged him in a respectful position on the ground, and said a brief prayer for the stranger’s soul.
And then? Then Finn left.
- Drin (17 August 2017)