|Portrayed by||Michael Tintiuc|
|Affiliation||The Grey Tower|
|Affinities||Spirit, Air, Fire, Earth, Water|
Owen is Shienaran, but no one would guess that on meeting him. When he arrives at the Tower he is all awkward elbows, knees, and feet, but over the course of his training grows into his height (on the tall side of average) and his body (slim-shouldered, narrow-waisted, and long-limbed) with relative ease. He has an oval face graced with large brown eyes, elegantly arched brows, full lips that smile easily, and high cheekbones over a smooth, tapered jaw. He has allowed his hair to grow to the middle of his back and rarely restrains the fine, brown tendrils with more than a wide-brimmed hat or a quick flip of his wrist to pull it over one shoulder.
Owen is a talented creator in a dozen different media, and expresses himself with enthusiasm using all of them. He paints and draws, writes poetry, reads excessively, and uses stones as a concentration aid. He plays the flute passably, the harp with joy, and the guitar with a gentle touch and loving regard that he bestows upon nothing else anyone has ever seen.
He has an unconscious habit of twisting bits of his hair between his fingers and chewing on the ends when deep in thought. He can also spend hours with a sketchbook or a journal in his lap staring into the distance, only to abruptly lean over and begin scribbling furiously at the empty page as if he needs to release captured energy and inspiration before it escapes his grip forever. His hands and arms are frequently stained with ink, paint, or charcoal, although he is careful to keep his clothing clean and neat.
It’s easy to believe him weak or cowardly and even easier to dismiss him as an inattentive or idealistic dreamer. Between his appearance and his hobbies he presents no obvious threat to anyone…which may in fact be how he prefers to be viewed.
A man born in Shienar grows up with certain engrained expectations. He will hate the Shadow. He will learn to wield sword and axe and bow. He will learn tactics and strategy. He will live to serve, and serve to live. Honor is everything and peace a vague dream, pride is a sin and women are a mystery he can never hope to understand. Owen became aware of his failure to meet these expectations at a very young age.
“Sweetheart, no,” Kiza Andarin told him when she caught him at her vanity at four. He was utterly delighted by the rouge smeared on his cheeks and the lace shawl about his shoulders. He did not understand his mother’s disapproval and she would not explain. She liked the pretty things- why couldn’t he?
“Owen, you should be practicing your sword forms,” his instructor told him with the too-patient tone of a man who had said the same thing ten times before. Owen had just turned nine and was much more interested in exploring what happened when he squished white henpepper together with bluepepper. Despite their names, one made a deep blue-ish color, the other a warm yellow. Together they stained his hands green to the wrists. Later, a servant muttered curses under her breath while she scrubbed the color away. Owen watched the water turn green and thought that next time he wanted to try silverleaf. With the bluepepper it might make purple.
Owen was twelve. “You spend too much bloody time reading,” his father growled as he snatched a book away. “The Travels of Jain Farstrider? It’s time to cut the fanciful nonsense and live in the real world, boy. There are monsters out there and its your duty to fight them.” His son tensed, but Farrin just closed the book and set it aside. Even an angry Shienaran knew better than to mistreat books. “Up. Let me have a look at you.” His father passed judgment shortly after: Too skinny. Too soft. Too distracted. Hard work and concentration were the only cure. It was a relief to escape outdoors after even if he had failed the inspection.
It wasn’t that his parents didn’t love him. In truth, Owen thought it might be easier if they didn’t. His father played stones with him in the evenings and did not disguise his approval of Owen’s grasp of the game’s strategy, his understanding of political subterfuge, or his overall intellect as used in their conversation. His mother recognized his interest in art and music early and arranged for him to get tutors in the same, thinking to balance the swordwork he hated with the creation he loved. They were lesser nobility in a proud nation so they could certainly spare the expense, but he suspected she would have done the same regardless.
No, it wasn’t that they didn’t love him. They simply wanted more from their only child, and Owen could not give it.
He would never be a warrior, would never think of blood and pain without flinching, and would never understand the all-consuming duty and destructive passion that drove Lord Andarin out to fight every time the king called. The more Farrin pushed over the years, the more Owen pushed back. What had been an innocent game of avoidance in his childhood turned into a battlefield of wills in his adolescence.
The tension grew and so did the pile of sketchbooks and journals in Owen’s private rooms.
“What is your name?” The man in black asked, his single eye studying seventeen-year-old Owen like a wildcat stalking prey. He was huge, both tall and broad, carrying a mace in one meaty hand that probably weighed more than the Shienaran youth did. “I asked you a flaming question, boy.”
“I’m Owen, sir.” He felt inadequate for the first time in his life. Even his father’s rage and disappointment could be navigated with proper care, but this stranger -Rodric, Farrin had named him- filled the room with menace by simply existing. He knew that presence was what his father had hoped for, but not received, from his offspring. He felt vaguely nauseous at the thought. “I am Lord Andarin’s son,” he continued, hating the tremble in his voice. Everyone there knew what the black coat was and what the pins at Rodric’s throat meant. His nerves could be forgiven had anyone save he allowed it to show. Thankfully Farrin was not in the room to pass judgment.
“Owen?” The man tipped his head thoughtfully. “Andarin’s son. Well that’s bloody interesting.” Owen flushed hot, mouth falling open to say something that would probably have been unforgivably nasty. The Asha’man forestalled him. “How flaming long do you think you can stare at a bloody candle flame?”
The sheer peculiarity of the request was the only thing that pushed the adolescent to agree to the challenge.
“If you still wish to be a soldier, sign your name here,” the curly-haired man with the mischievous smile said. He was the Master of Soldiers of the Grey Tower, Owen remembered, feeling oddly blank as he recited the title in his head. “You have not yet sparked, you know. You can wait a year or two before entering if you wish.” As he spoke Jaryd indicated the correct place with fingers Owen had been covertly watching since he entered the room. The man’s scars were fascinating, the contrast between them and his graceful movement something the Shienaran could immerse himself in trying to capture in pen or paint or pigment for days on end if only the owner would allow it.
Owen gave a delicate snort and leaned forward to sign.
- Soldier (19 January 2018)