Born: 40,030BCE in the spring time
Place of Birth: A region in what is now modern day Russia
Age At time of Appearance: 30
Skin tone: White
Physical description: Stocky with broad shoulders and coarse features. Like all Neanderthals, Nen is built for endurance and power.
Personality: Compassionate and loving. Unless you happen to be a Cro Magnon.
Intelligence: Like all Neanderthals, Nen has a great capacity for memory. She is smart by the standards of her people, learning to hunt singly, make weapons and create fire on her own. When it comes to ingenuity, however, Nen falls behind the average Cro Magnon. Her clothing and weapons remain less refined, relying more on her own physical prowess rather than her weapons to bring down game. The ability to learn language is also more of a challenge for Nen. Neanderthal speech encompasses a limited vocabulary, supplemented by gestures and storytelling via artwork.
Languages: Nen speaks two separate languages. Her mother tongue is that of her own Neanderthal tribe, in which she is fluent. Her second language is that used by the Cro Magnon clans, a more diverse language than that used by the Neanderthals. Nen’s grasp of her second tongue is basic. She is able to produce only broken and halting sentences despite spending many years living among the Cro Magnon. Besides the fact this speech far more complex than the one she grew up with, Nen’s limited ability could also be attributed to the fact that she was being held against her will, further limiting her willingness to learn anything from her captors other than what was needed to survive.
Special Skills: Hunting, stealth, survival, endurance, compassion.
Favourite food: Oxen
Greatest Ambition: To see her son, Eldrax, again.
Nen was born 40,030 BCE during a time of Great Migration for her people. Her tribe’s ancestral territories originally lay within the boundaries of what is now modern day Russia. The encroaching ice sheets driving down from the North forced Nen’s tribe to leave their home and travel south to avoid the increasingly harsh conditions.
Nen’s father was the chief of the tribe. Her mother hailed from a neighbouring tribe and was mated to her father during a Meeting of Clans, a common tradition among the Neanderthal. Nen’s childhood family group was typically small with no more than ten members.
Nen’s most distant memories were that of constant travelling and sheltering in bone and hide shelters. She was five years old when her tribe finally re-settled in what is now modern day Eastern Europe. The territory included a large cave, which became the permanent dwelling for the whole tribe. The cave was Nen’s favourite haunt. She enjoyed the rock drawings within, which told the story of her tribe, and the fireside teachings that took place at the end of every successful hunt.
Nen learned well from her parents and other tribe members. She became adept in the art of making clothes and weapons for the tribe. She also learned the basics of hunting, though, as a female, she never led a hunt nor did she ever hunt alone.
As she grew, she became close to an adolescent male named Alok. Alok was the strongest of the young men in the tribe and favoured to become the next chief. Nen’s affections were returned by the promising young man and Alok swore to take Nen as his mate when he ascended to manhood.
It was during Nen’s adolescence when the first troubles began to touch her people’s adopted lands. A new tribe had arrived in the territory, travelling from the south. They were different from any men Nen had seen before. They were taller, leaner, faster and very cunning. Their weapons were more deadly than anything Nen had been taught to make, giving this new race an advantage in the field of hunting.
Nen’s father commanded the tribe to keep their distance from the new comers. They were not the Children of Eron and therefore it was forbidden to interact with them. Both tribes ignored one another for a time.
The advantage the Cro Magnon weapons gave, however, quickly began to have an impact. The Great Tusked One’s that had once been plentiful and provided the main source of food and resources for Nen’s tribe began to grow scarce. Without the large game, the Neanderthals began to know the pinch of hunger.
Confrontation became inevitable. The most hot headed of the Neanderthal warriors disobeyed their chief’s command to stay away from the new comers and began to ambush lone Cro Magnon gatherers in revenge.
Nen was fifteen years old when the Cro Magnon, enraged by the Neanderthals’ actions, retaliated in full force. Cro Magnon tribes are far larger than those of the Neanderthal.
In the fall of Nen’s fifteenth year, her tribe was massacred. Half of the family group were wiped out within minutes. Survivors of the initial attack escaped into a small gully led by Alok. Nen’s father, the strongest warrior in the tribe tried to hold off the Cro alone at the mouth of the gully while the remainder of his tribe escaped into the surrounding hills. Powerful as he was, he was quickly overcome.
Nen, seeing her father’s death blow, was filled with bloodlust and charged back at the attacking Cro Magnon against Alok’s protests. As a Neanderthal female, Nen possessed a strength equalling the Cro warriors themselves. Taking them by surprise, she managed to slay a couple of the attackers before they recovered their wits and overcame her, parting her from her spear.
At her enemy’s mercy, Nen expected to be put to death like the rest of her fallen brethren. A worse fate awaited, however. Restrained by several of the Cro Magnon warriors, she was brutally raped by the rest. During the ordeal, Nen saw Alok watching from the mouth of the gully. Her would-be mate did not step forward to help. Disgusted, he turned away, leaving Nen to her fate, leading the surviving members of the tribe to safety.
When the Cro Magnon eventually tired of their sport, they underestimated her strength and left Nen behind, believing she would perish. Humiliated but far from beaten, Nen tracked her family to their new shelter. When she found them, she was savagely rejected. In her tribe’s eyes, she was now tainted, a blemish on the tribe in the eyes of Eron. They could not allow such a curse to dwell among them. With tears in their eyes, they chased her away with stones.
Nen fled into the wilderness, frightened, heartbroken and alone. Everything she knew had been torn from her. For days she wandered and nearly starved to death, the smaller pray proving to quick for her style of hunting, a style adapted for bringing down much larger, slower game. At times she wished for death, remembering her humiliation and the look in her lover’s eyes as she was rejected from her family.
Nen was at her lowest ebb and preparing her soul for Eron when she was found by a group of Cro Magnon gatherers. They captured her and took her back to their camp. Nen had no strength or will to resist. The women of the Cro tribe nursed Nen back to health. She accepted their attentions sullenly, waiting for her strength to return so that she could escape from the hated people who had shattered her life. Her patience paid off and several days after her capture, Nen seized her opportunity to run for freedom.
A few lone Cro men attempted to stop her but were unprepared for her brute strength. The downed men, however, soon raised the alarm and Nen’s escape was blocked by the warriors of the tribe. Her attempt had failed. Worse, her actions only gained the unwanted attentions of the Cro leader. He was impressed by Nen’s strength and laid his claim to take her as his primary mate. None of the other men challenged their leader’s claim and Nen found herself mated to their leader. She suffered the attentions of the Cro leader bleakly. He was not a gentle man and showed Nen no affection.
In the days that followed her failed escape, Nen reluctantly accepted her fate with the Cro. She had nowhere else to go. Her own family did not want her.
Nen began to learn the Cro tongue and was eventually allowed on gathering forays with the other women. Nen chaffed at the fact that Cro women were not allowed to hunt, a duty reserved only for the men. Nen, nevertheless, watched their techniques carefully. Over time, she began a tentative friendship with a Cro woman named Thera.
After enduring several years with her captors, Nen discovered she had finally fallen pregnant to the Cro chief. The discovery was terrifying and Nen felt certain Eron would strike her down for her sin and the half-breed spawn she would produce. Such a thing could only be a curse.
Nen’s son was born during the summer when Nen was nineteen years of age. Love overcame all her fears. She could not find it in herself to reject him, even for her belief in Eron. The boy inherited Nen’s red hair and black eyes though his features favoured his father. She named him Eldrax, meaning ‘bear strength’ in her own tribe’s tongue.
The boy grew fast like a typical Neanderthal child. Nen kept him close to her, trying to teach him as much of Neanderthal lore as he grew within the Cro camp. Eldrax adored his mother bur was fearful of his father and his teachings. Nevertheless, even at a young age, he became extremely adept in his training, both in hunting and warrior skills. Nen looked upon him with pride, knowing he was a born leader. She hoped that with her guidance to balance his father’s harsh teachings, Eldrax would eventually take leadership of the Cro clan, a gentler leader that may eventually make peace with Nen’s own people, returning her home. Eldrax became her only hope for deliverance from the inescapable life she had to endure.
Nen’s hopes however, were not to be. When Eldrax reached the age of seven, the clan settled near a forest much further south than they had ever travelled before, an area of which is now modern day India. The forest was vast and foreboding, with strange trees and sounds. The chief named it a fell place.
At first the clan scouts and hunters were wary of this unknown territory. Huge wolves had been seen patrolling the borders of the trees and could be heard howling in the night. Nen’s sharp eyes had even spied what she thought to be people watching from the tree tops, small people with large eyes and golden skin, dressed in leaves rather than furs. She had never seen anything like them in her travels but her ancestors had passed down legends of magic tree sprites and named them Dryads. Nen decided these strange people must be the magic beings of the stories. She did not speak of what she saw to the Cro. She did not wish for another to suffer what she had.
Eventually, the promise of game overcame the Cro wariness of the woods. To Nen’s horror, Eldrax’s father decided it was time for the boy to undertake his first hunt and prove himself to the clan. The chief demanded that Eldrax bring back a wolf skin. Against his mother’s strident protests, Eldrax was sent into the forest with five other young hunters.
The chief ordered for Nen to be harshly restrained to prevent her from going after Eldrax. Once again beaten and humiliated, Nen waited for her son to come back. Her worst fears were realised when, days later, the hunting party returned without Eldrax. Nen’s heart shattered when she heard how Eldrax had been overcome by the fearsome wolves he had sought. The last his companions had seen of him, he had been severely wounded and was bleeding out in the woods. Knowing his fate was sealed and pursued by the wolf pack, the other hunters abandoned Eldrax and fled home.
Nen lost all hope in her existence following the loss of Eldrax. She did not eat and refused to move, despite the chief’s renewed attentions.
Then it seemed to Nen that Eron sent her a miracle when Eldrax walked back into camp three days after his disappearance. The boy was quite well and strong. The clan was in awe. Eldrax recounted the tale of being discovered by a Dryad to his father. Using a magic unknown to the Cro, the Dryad had healed him. Eldrax told of how he had waited until he was strong enough then, frightened and using a concealed knife, the boy had wounded the Dryad and escaped back to his clan and his mother.
Nen rejoiced, her spirits returning. She knew that she would not survive if she were to lose him again and could not tolerate the cruelty of the Cro clan any longer. She began formulating a plan to take Eldrax and escape from their imprisonment. She knew from past experience that attempting to escape unarmed was futile and began crafting a spear in secret.
The chief was enthralled by Eldrax’s telling of the Dryads’ magic and, to Nen’s horror, Eldrax’s father began concerted attacks on the Dryad tribes. Nen watched as the people who had given her her son back were dragged from the trees, only to become sick and die shortly afterwards.
But the chief’s new distraction created an opportunity for Nen to put her plan into action and escape with Eldrax. Late one night when all but the minimum watchers were awake, Nen bundled Eldrax into her arms and attempted to flee into the night unseen.
She was betrayed by Thera. Her tentative friend saw Nen taking Eldrax and guessed at her plans. She tipped off the guards who intercepted Nen on the edge of the camp. They ambushed her. Surprising them with her spear, she managed to kill one of the Cro but despite her best efforts to cling on to her beloved son, the guards dragged Eldrax from her. In front of the young boy, they attacked Nen. Murdering one of their own and trying to kidnap their next chief was an unforgivable act. Nen was forced to run for her life, dodging spears while the distraught cries of her son rang in her ears. She ran for a long time before the Cro finally gave up and returned to their camp. They assumed the Neanderthal woman would not survive on her own for long.
The Cro were mistaken. With a determination that she had not possessed before, Nen survived the wilderness. Fleeing north, she taught herself how to track and hunt alone, using her spear like a missile as she had watched the Cro men do, and eventually made it back to the lands of her people. She formulated a plan, hoping to persuade the tribes of her people to band together and return with her to destroy the Cro Magnon clan and take back her son. Nen hoped to make them see that Eldrax was not a curse and she was not tainted with Eron’s ill will.
She found her own family first. To her dismay, Alok had chosen another mate and had fathered several children. Nen tried to persuade them, to tell them that she bore no curse, but even her own family would not let her get near, so great was their terror. The men chased her away with stones. Nen barely escaped with her life.
Wounded and feeling entirely betrayed, she fled west, never to see her family again. She eventually found shelter in a cave within the foothills of a great mountain range, a mountain range known as the Mountains of the Nine Gods by the Cro clans and what are now the modern day Himalayas. There, she nursed her wounds. She knew now that she belonged to no one. She had no family and no tribe. She would live alone for the rest of her days.
Only one thought kept Nen alive in those dark days. A knowledge that one day, she might find Eldrax again and be able to rescue him. Clinging to that one hope, Nen continued to survive.
Occasionally, a Cro clan would pass by where she lived and Nen would sneak out to spy upon them, hoping to see her son among them. She never saw him and sometimes years would pass without Nen seeing another soul. The loneliness at times threatened to crush her and she considered ending her life, but the knowledge that her son was alive somewhere and might still need her pushed her through these dark times.
Nen was out hunting bear during one cruel winter when fate crossed her path. Cries of distress drew her and to her amazement, discovered the bear she had been tracking the day long trying to hook a woman out of a tree. The woman was dressed in Cro furs and Nen almost turned away to let the bear do what it would. The sight of red-gold skin and large eyes stopped her. The woman was Dryad. Nen crept in close and threw her spear, impaling the bear. She would repay her debt to the Dryad who had saved her son’s life by saving the life of this Dryad female.
Rebaa and Nen became fast friends and Nen found companionship and acceptance at last in the company of one who was as alone as she. Such was her love that she pledged her own life to the unborn child of her dear friend, evoking the tradition of her own people. Nen had come to accept in her own heart that she would not see Eldrax again and she did not wish for Rebaa to suffer the same fate. She vowed to protect Rebaa’s baby as she had not been able to protect her own.
Nen was killed by Cro at the age of 30 defending Rebaa as she gave birth to her own Forbidden son. She was at last granted peace by Rebaa in the knowledge that she had fulfilled her debt and her pledge to protect the baby, whom she named ‘strong one’ in her own tongue.
Through Nen’s sacrifice, Rebaa was able to return to her own people.
It is yet unclear as to what became of Eldrax or what would become of Rebaa’s son, Juaan. Time will tell the legacy that Nen left behind…