Vilnjar, more affectionately known as Viln by those who feel comfortable enough with the man to nickname him, was born into a world of incredibly high expectations. His father, Deken, was a fierce warrior, the right-hand man of a warmonger, and before his son was old enough to form his own opinions and ideas about the world Deken began instructing him on the way of the warrior. Despite being barely old enough to make up his own mind, Vilnjar had very little interest in war, or any of the other so-called trials that make a man. He was a quiet boy, a boy who enjoyed mental challenges far more than the physical, and though his father scoffed at his love of books and stories, his mother Eornlaith promised she would support him no matter what path he chose to walk.
Of course, Eornlaith’s support came with a price, though she never said as much. After his father was executed and his mother fell into debilitating depression over the loss of her mate, Eornlaith began layering responsibility onto his shoulders and so began Vilnjar’s task of looking after his little brother, Finn. He was barely twenty when Eornlaith passed on to the Eternal Hunt to be with her mate, and left his ten-year-old brother in his care.
Caring for Finn was a responsibility he could not take lightly, even though Finn was adamant to prove he didn’t need looking after.
Vilnjar’s greatest challenge in this story is letting go of his responsibility to his brother, as Finn has come of age. Finn believes he no longer needs someone to look after him, but the reckless choices he often makes and his inability to take the world around him seriously continually deters Viln from letting go. He worries constantly that his brother will get himself killed and his promise to their mother will be broken. There comes a time in every man’s life when he must unclench his hand from that which he can no longer hold onto, when he has no choice but to live his own life and free himself from the burden of a responsibility that never should have been his.
To make matters even more complicated, his steadfast devotion to his mother’s wishes strengthened his bond to his younger sister, Ruwena, after Eornlaith’s death, but now that Finn has come of age, their sister doesn’t understand why Vilnjar won’t let go and allow Finn to walk his own path. Letting someone live their own life doesn’t mean you love them any less, or that you don’t care about their well-being, but Viln just can’t let go. Caring for Finn gave him purpose; if he lets go, what does he have left to define himself? How does he make a new life for himself?
I think out of all the characters in Edgelanders I find it easiest to relate to Vilnjar. I was the oldest of four children, and all my life my mother put the well-being of my younger siblings on my shoulders. “You’re the big sister,” she would say, “they look up to you.” As true as that may often be, it isn’t always felt, and this is something Vilnjar faces every time he tries to relate to his brother. The burden of care has driven a wedge between them, and the only way that wedge can be shattered is if they stop looking at each other through the murky lens of their mother’s expectations and accept one another for who they really are.
Edgelanders is coming very soon in print and electronic formats. Stay tuned to the site for more details about the characters, their stories and when you can grab your very own copy of Edgelanders!
*artwork by the incredibly talented Karein Williams. You can explore more of Karein’s artwork on Deviant Art.