|Played by Lex|
"The Eye of the Phoenix" (s3ep8)
Though he is loath to admit it, Gwaine has the skills of a knight running through his veins. He’s been taught to sword fight at a very young age, always eager and willing to learn more. As his skills sharpened and improved over the years, he developed his own unique fighting style that distinguishes him over others. A skilled combatant, he is capable of taking on several men at once, though not without injuries to himself. His strength in battle is coupled with his ability to anticipate his opponent’s moves and respond in kind, making him an ideal warrior. He may not look it at first, but Gwaine is a smart man, at least when he has a sword in hand.
Even when without a weapon he is able to defend himself and fight back. Gwaine is skilled in hand-to-hand combat, practiced thoroughly during the several tavern brawls he’s been a part of. His raw strength and quick reflexes give him an advantage over others, though it sometimes isn’t enough to get him out without some broken bones. But Gwaine isn’t the best fighter in the land and knows that he can be beaten. When this happens he doesn’t mind taking the coward’s way out now and then. He can make fast getaways, running as fast as his feet can carry him and knocking obstacles in his chaser’s way. Though he can’t win all his fights, he certainly isn’t someone you’d want to mess around with.
His impulsiveness, however, is one factor that prevents him from being a better fighter. He has a tendency to act before he thinks, that is if he even thinks about what he’s doing at all. As a result he often runs head first into a conflict without much concern for his own wellbeing. He’s gotten several injuries from doing this in the past, but the man simply refuses to learn from his mistakes. He’s a vulnerable as any human, susceptible to injuries, disease, and anything that threatens his life.
Gwaine’s greatest weakness is, without a doubt, his enthusiasm for alcohol. He is often found in the local taverns drinking away his common sense, his combat skills, and his charms. This in turn has led to the fights and arguments when he unintentionally, or sometimes very intentionally, offends another patron. His fighting skills become sloppier when under the influence and the hangover waiting the following morning doesn’t help to improve matters.
Gwaine’s life and actions are dictated by a belief he’s held since he was a boy: that nobility is defined by what you do, and not by who you are. He does things not out of obligation, but because they are the right thing to do. It is not unusual for him to come to the aid of a stranger if they need help no matter the situation, be it a bar fight, a run in with thieves, or they simply need somebody to talk to. He won’t think twice about running into the heat of battle to help someone out, especially if he feels that it’s being done for a just reason, and partly because he enjoys a good fight. Don’t let his roguish looks fool you. Gwaine has a heart of gold and moral compass pointing in the right direction. Some call him selfless, others call him reckless. He enjoys helping others and greatly respects others who feel the same way.
Of course, his eagerness to help can land him in a spot of trouble. When he doesn’t think twice about helping others, it also means he doesn’t think about it at all. Gwaine is impulsive. He does what he wants when he wants to do it and won’t often think about its repercussions. If he sees some poor fellow or maiden being attacked by twenty well-armed men, you can bet that he’s already running towards them even if he may only have a wooden spear at hand. This impulsiveness also extends to social situations. He tends to be very blunt and direct, unafraid to speak his mind on a subject or, more likely, to tell somebody off. This causes friction between him and others, as not everyone is always pleased at his little inputs and snide remarks. It’s lucky for him that he is much more calculating while fighting, carefully deciding on what to do and how to move in order to win.
But none of this is obvious when you first meet him. ‘Senseless’ would be the first word to come to mind, most likely because you’ll have met him after he’s had a couple of drinks. Gwaine comes across as unburdened and untroubled, a vagabond with seemingly no plans for the future but not giving it any worry. He’s an amicable person, always greeting others with a smile on his face and a friendly handshake. Years of constant travel, hopping from one town to the next, will do that to you. He’s also very friendly towards women, being something of a shameless flirt. He’ll turn on the charm and his winning smile when a pretty woman crosses his path and treat her with the utmost politeness befitting of a true gentleman.
His optimism and cheery attitude carry on in all sorts of situations, including ones where they really oughtn’t to. But Gwaine is not one who likes to dwell on serious matters for long. When in a serious situation, he’ll try to diffuse the tension with his ever present sense of humour. It’s a valiant attempt to keep everyone else’s spirits up in a time of worry and dread, but often just comes across as annoying. The stress of a situation doesn’t seem to faze him. Instead he keeps his cool and refuses to show any panic he may be feeling. He’ll do his best to keep the smile on his face and reassure them that everything will be fine. People describe him as cocky that way, but he prefers the term ‘confident’ instead.
His cheery nature doesn’t go away the better you get to know him. In fact, it seems to increase. He’s unwaveringly loyal towards his friends and will go to great lengths to help them no matter the consequences. When there isn’t danger around, he shows how much he cares about them in other ways. The most noticeable of these is his teasing. He likes to poke a little fun at the people he’s closest to, sure that they know him well enough to not take it the wrong way. It’s all good-natured, of course, and never are his jokes cruel, insulting, or go too far. Annoying, yes, but never overly mean. Don’t worry, he’ll make it quite clear if he doesn’t think very highly of you.
But, no matter how friendly and open he is to meeting new people, Gwaine has his prejudice. He has a dislike for people of noble blood, viewing them as corrupt and power hungry. Unfair though it is, his opinion of you will automatically lower if he finds out you’ve got a title attached to your name. He believes that simply being born into nobility doesn’t make you deserving of its privileges. Instead he prefers to judge and be judged based on his skills and true character rather than by a family name. It isn’t until he got to know a certain Prince of Camelot that his views on nobles began to shift.
Gwaine looks like any other peasant you’d find on the streets, albeit a more built and roguish one. He stands at 5’11” with an athletic build and hands roughened from years of fighting and tough labour. This helps him look rather intimidating when he wants to be, especially when facing down an opponent. His easy grin and open expression, however, make him look very approachable all other times. His most notable feature is his hair. Dark brown and reaching the back of his neck, it often looks as though he’s just rolled out of bed and hurriedly ran his fingers through it before going on with his day. A scruffy beard completes his carefree and casual image.
Because of his humble lifestyle, Gwaine prefers to wear simple, practical clothes made of cheap fabric and leather. He favours the earthy colours, mostly browns and grays. His boots are tough and sturdy, perfect for when he needs to fight or get away from a sticky situation. He will always carry his sword around with him, hanging from its sheath around his waist. He never takes off a simple silver pendant and gold ring on a chain hanging around his neck.
He carries himself with an ease and confidence that is almost enviable to others. Always looking sure of himself, Gwaine hardly ever shows any signs of uncertainty or self-consciousness. He gives off the air of someone who doesn’t care what you think of him and will happily do as he pleases, thank you very much.
Born the son of a knight, Gwaine should have lived the luxurious life of a noble. However, fate had other plans. One day his father went off to battle for the Kingdom of Caerleon and never made it back home. Now widowed and her children fatherless, Gwaine’s mother went to the king to plead for help but was refused. The family was left penniless and now had to work hard to meet their needs. It was a hard fall, going from living a comfortable life to one of backbreaking work. But it was the only life Gwaine would know. When he was old enough he did what he could to help around the house, taking on some of the chores and doing odd jobs to earn a few coins. They were never in complete poverty, but lived a humble and simple life.
Though he never got the chance to meet his father, Gwaine imagined him to be a kind and just man, based off the stories his mother told him. When he learned the truth of what had happened before he was born, all images of grand and elegant noble men vanished from his mind completely. Instead hatred grew within him. He was angry at the king for turning his mother away, angry that his father’s sacrifice had been disregarded. That day he was convinced that all nobles were greedy and corrupt, undeserving of their titles. His grudge hardly dissipated as time wore on, and he never forgot the injustice of it.
Eventually Gwaine grew tired of life in his small town. He sought to explore more of the surrounding areas, see what the rest of the world had to offer him. He wanted to find excitement that chopping wood couldn’t give him. So one day, when he was old enough to, he bid his family goodbye and left home to travel around Albion, carrying only a few belongings in a simple leather satchel and a sword to defend himself with.
He went from town to town, village to village, never staying in a single place for too long. In order to earn money to support himself, he did odd jobs wherever he went and offered his services as a skilled swordsman to those who needed it. His travels regularly took him to the taverns, which he feels is the best place to get a feel for the town, meet some friendly (and some less than friendly) people, fill your belly, and rest his head for the night. Of course, the drinking part came naturally. Gwaine has found himself in the middle of several tavern fights, for almost every reason under the sun. As a result, he’s also been kicked out of several taverns, but that’s never dimmed his good spirits.
Though people often told him that he couldn’t live this way forever, Gwaine was content with his life. Sure, it was difficult to keep friends when he was constantly moving around, and once you’ve visited one tavern you’ve really visited them all, but never did he find himself thinking that life was dull. He would have been happy continuing on this way for a few more years. But, as always, things changed.
One day, while he was enjoying a cool drink in a tavern in one of Camelot kingdom’s smaller towns, trouble began to brew between two men and the resident thug. Not liking how the thug had treated the barmaid and admiring how the blond had stood up to him for it, Gwaine decided to lend his assistance. He fought on their side in the ensuing brawl, one that he admittedly initiated, taking the time to pause and introduce himself to Merlin while getting a quick drink. He became badly wounded when running himself into the thug, who had taken out a knife with the intent of stabbing the other man with it. He was knocked unconscious, and when he woke again he found himself in a stranger’s bed with his injuries treated. He learned from Merlin that he had been brought to the city of Camelot and that the king wanted to give him his thanks for saving his son, Prince Arthur. Gwaine vehemently rejected the offer, every good impression he had of Arthur fading away the moment he learnt of his title.
At first he wanted to leave the city as soon as possible, to get away from the prince whose life he unwittingly saved. But, after taking one look at Camelot in the early hours of the morning, seeing how beautiful it looked, he decided to stay around a little bit longer. He set off to explore the town, running across Guinevere in the upper town. As he always did whenever there was a pretty woman close by, he attempted to woo her with flowers and a few well chosen words. She gently rejected his advances, but Gwaine merely shrugged it off, not letting a little thing get him down. He ended his day by getting drunk in the tavern and having to be picked up and his tab paid off by Merlin. Perhaps it was because of the alcohol in his system, but Gwaine felt he could trust the other man and so told him of his true heritage. The two became quick friends, especially after the following morning when Arthur sent them off to polish boots.
When Merlin discovered the plot of two disguised assassins and snuck into their room to retrieve the evidence, Gwaine secretly followed him out of worry. It was a very good thing he did, too, as he was able to defend his new friend when they awoke and attacked. As a result, he was brought to the king and would have been sentenced to death had Arthur not intervened. Instead he was banished from Camelot and told never to return.
But Gwaine never was very good at listening to orders, especially from royalty. Surprised touched by the kindness Arthur had shown him, he felt that perhaps the prince was different from the other nobles. He snuck back into the city and entered the melee under a different name to help Arthur fight off the assassins, saving his life once again. Though he was grateful, King Uther refused to retract his banishment and Gwaine was again forced to leave. As he traveled away from the city in high spirits, he wondered when he’d meet the prince and his servant again.
He didn’t have to wait long. While engaged in yet another tavern fight in another distant town, Merlin came upon him to ask for his help. After helping him make a quick getaway, Merlin explained that Arthur was in danger once again. In order to complete his quest of obtaining the trident of the Fisher King, he was heading to the Perilous Lands, a place where few men had come out of alive. Gwaine agreed to help his friends and the two traveled off after him.
Just before the Fisher King’s kingdom, they came upon a bridge and its guardian. The guardian greeted them cordially, declaring that strength has arrived when he saw Gwaine. Unsure of what that meant, he shrugged it aside crossed the bridge into the lands. From then on he and Merlin followed Arthur’s trail well into the night and continued on in the morning. Standing at the top of a rock face, they eventually saw his figure from a distance fighting off wyverns just outside the castle. They headed in after him as soon as they could, and separated once inside to try and find the prince quicker. It was Merlin who found him first, with Gwaine catching up just in time to stop them from becoming a wyvern’s lunch. Arthur hadn’t been very happy to see them, which Gwaine found was a little ungrateful of him, but nonetheless he was glad to see that he was okay.
Things were never going to be so easy, however. Booby traps and triggers lay around the old castle, and they accidentally triggered one that forced Merlin to be separated from Gwaine and Arthur by a heavy stone barrier. Worried for their friend, they tried to find a way to undo the trap. Of course, Gwaine gave Arthur the honor of searching for the counter trigger in the bug-infested hole. It was another happy reunion when he managed to get at it, and after Arthur had found his trident the three began to make their way back home.
But as they reached the border into Camelot, Gwaine could go no further. The banishment issued by Uther was still in full effect. He bid his friends farewell once again, waving them off with a smile. When they were no longer watching it turned into a frown as he considered the truth in Merlin’s words from before. He was right. Gwaine couldn’t keep living this way. But he no longer knew anything else. He left for the south in deep thought, wondering if maybe it was time he found a nice town to settle down in for good.
Weeks after he’d said goodbye for the second time, Gwaine was drinking in another tavern when he felt the oddest sensation. He looked down and found to his horror thin, black cords had sprouted from the ground and grabbed hold of him. Instinctually, he reached for his sword to cut them off but it was too late. They dragged him off the barstool and through the ground, refusing to let him go. The rest was a blur until next thing he knew, he was in the unfamiliar town of Pandora, plucked away from the life he knew.