Lewellyn Bryse is one of the PCs and a 10th level rogue, 1st level shadowdancer in the Eyrion D&D campaign - the youngest (and, based on relative racial size, smallest) member of the main party.
Name: Lewellyn BryseRace: Human
Alignment: Chaotic Neutral
Deity: None observed; was raised by a priest of Phieran
Weight: 120 lbs.
Hair: Dirty blond
Appearance: Lyn is a remarkably small and lithe individual; a less favorable description would be 'runt'. He doesn't help this impression at all by moving in a half-crouch most of the time, as if ready to take off sprinting in any direction at the first sign of danger(which is, in fact, exactly what it looks like). He has shaggy, raggedly cut hair of roughly chin-length that looks like he cuts it himself with a knife - which, again, is truth in advertisement. His eyes are a surprisingly intense blue, though they tend to be too wary and darting to be considered attractive. The impression one gets looking at Lyn is that someone took a prey animal and made it human.
Personality: Having spent his whole life either being beaten, chased, hiding, or stealing, Lyn is an incredibly twitchy and paranoid individual - bordering on being a coward. He is accustomed to looking out for himself and having very little unless he takes what he needs, and thus tends to hoard anything he can get his hands on. This does, unfortunately, extend to loot...although as he tends to be the one to procure most of it, some of his selfishness could be said to be somewhat justified. That said, he's become more willing to share with the party as he's grown closer to them, and has never had the nerve to actively refuse to give them their fair share anyway - he'd rather relinquish some of his precious items than get in a fight.
Purely as a defensive measure, Lyn has a hell of a mouth on him. He talks himself up and frequently insults others; this is entirely to artificially inflate his own standing and impressiveness, and is a fully conscious display. He does it in the way a cat puffs up its fur when threatened to appear larger - Lyn is small, weak, and not much of a fighter, so he tries to make himself seem dangerous and intimidating in other ways. Mostly it just makes him loud and annoying, but it does tend to make him the (angry) voice of the party.
As the lowest possible rung on the socioeconomic ladder, Lyn has an ingrained resentment for anyone with wealth, education, or position enough to be considered upper-class - even upper-middle-class - and that goes double for nobility. His actual reasons for this distaste are conflicting; on the one hand, he has a solid mental image of soft nobles that have never had to fight or scrape for anything, and on the other he pictures them as conniving, corrupt backstabbers who can't say "the sky is blue" without lying. These two schools of thought don't entirely make sense when put together, but he's still very strongly biased against people better off than he is...which is basically everyone. (Though he does make occasional exceptions for those who prove themselves decent and don't look down on him for his deficiencies, like Aknier and Helmut.) Likewise - and for much more understandable reasons - Lyn has a distaste, almost fear for anything religious, and will actively avoid churches and priests if he has any say in the matter.
His last aversion - and perhaps a surprising one, considering the rough life he's led - is for killing, or at the very least the killing of intelligent, non-monstrous races. (He doesn't seem to have a problem with killing goblins, for instance, but he balks at humans, elves, dwarves, etcetera. Evil-aligned or hostile races don't seem to give him pause, since there's no reasoning with them.) He has an active aversion to killing unless it absolutely cannot be helped, and his influence has been strongly felt by the rest of the party. He struggles to keep even their most dangerous foes alive after they've been dropped, even if they've personally angered him in some way. This is in part a holdover from the days when he avoided all 'high-profile' crimes in his village, as this kept him from being pursued too hotly by anyone; he long ago learned the wisdom of making his crimes too small to be worth the effort of punishing. But it may also be attributed to some genuine compassion in him that he'd never openly acknowledge; he's capable of far more empathy than he owns up to.
As a result of having lived alone all his life, and never having any sort of family or friends beyond simply being familiar with everyone in his village - people who kicked him out of his village - Lyn is actually more emotionally vulnerable and clingy than is immediately obvious. (Lyn's tough front leads to him hiding a lot of things.) It didn't take him long traveling with the party to grow fiercely attached to them, to admittedly varying degrees with each member; much like his old village was his extended home, he's designated the party itself as his new home and family, and will jealously defend them from threats...to the point of uncharacteristic bravery, if need be. He's long since passed the point where he needed to be forcibly shoved to the front of the party to check for traps; now he does so out of active concern for the people behind him. More than that, having developed close friendships with the current party members seems to have made him more open and relaxed in making them; he took to Helmut faster than he'd taken to any of the initial members, and Yuukiko faster still as his resentful paranoia seems to given way to a calmer sort of wariness.
Religious Ideals: Lyn hates any sort of organized religion, good or evil, largely due to having grown up with an Phieranian priest who used to beat him for falling significantly short of his own Lawful Good ideals. If religion means getting beaten regularly, and denying yourself whatever you might want to do for some invisible asshole, then Lyn wants nothing to do with it. However, he's not familiar with many religions or deities, some of which would probably suit him far better than he realizes. Needless to say, Lyn doesn't even like Phieran, much less worship him...though given the risks he'll take and the things he'll do for his friends, he'd be surprised (and not exactly happy) at how similar to the Phieranian mindset some of his actions are.
Lewellyn Bryse was born in a small hamlet, to parents that (as far as he can remember) were entirely unremarkable save for doing two things: one, giving him a terrible name; and two, dying simultaneously when he was very young – too young, in fact, to comprehend or inquire into their fates. Likewise – and as far as he knows – he was left nothing by them, and has no other family. With nowhere else to go, and with his hometown being too small to have any sort of proper orphanage, he was sent to live with the elderly Phieranian priest of his village when he was no older than three…a man who made a point of never discussing Lyn’s parents, even when the boy was older and put direct questions to him. Lyn soon enough dismissed his parents almost entirely from his thoughts, and had no memories of them to trouble him.
The priest was a genuinely righteous man, and thus genuinely interested in giving shelter to an orphaned toddler; however, he was nevertheless entirely unsuited to raise a child, merely by virtue of beliefs and temperament. Phieran is a deity of pain, endurance, and perseverance, glorying in strength through suffering, and the priest was extremely devout in his worship. He showed his devotion to Phieran's ideals through his astetic lifestyle, believing strongly in the righteousness and strength found through the denial of worldly pleasures of even the most innocent sort. Lyn was a high-spirited young boy with entirely understandable inclinations to fun and play and toys, and found himself suddenly at the mercies of an unsympathetic guardian who forbid nearly everything he wanted to do. Childish rebellion was natural, and almost immediate. And while the priest fully expected to break the child to his own way of life in time, Lyn only resisted the harder he was pressed, having a streak of furious stubbornness in him that the old man never could have guessed at. And, as part of the priest’s beliefs was that to spare the rod was to spoil the child, Lyn would be sharply – and physically – punished for his rebelliousness, which only fueled it further rather than dousing it. A more classic clash of lawful versus chaotic could not have been intentionally devised.
The denial of any belongings of his own beyond basic clothing hit Lyn particularly hard, especially when he saw other children in the village with toys. As he had no legitimate way to get what he wanted, Lyn took to slyly stealing things that took his fancy…though, as a young child, rarely were such transgressions undetected or well-hidden, and only earned him sharper punishments for his sinful covetousness and childish law-breaking. This hardly lessened his determination, however – he quickly grew used to punishments, and shook them off quickly – and he simply tried harder to get away with the tiny crimes he committed. And, whenever he was successful, he was rewarded by having something that was his, his to keep, which was worth any amount of risk and any number of failures.
Still, such an unpleasant state of affairs couldn’t continue indefinitely. Either the priest or Lyn had to give…and Lyn was by far the more desperate. By the time he was seven, he had come to the childishly fierce decision to run away – but, perhaps warned by his frequent thieving failures, he planned it in a surprisingly cunning way. He slipped away late one evening, when he knew a wagon was leaving for another town, and stowed away secretly on it. His grudging gratitude toward the priest who had watched over him the past few years was liberally mingled with fear and loathing, and so the idea of being hauled back to him for inevitable punishment was a constant terror. He was determined to avoid that fate, no matter how far he had to go. He showed even more hints of resourceful cleverness when, at the next town, he hid away in a second wagon, headed for yet another town, effectively throwing off any potential pursuit.
Like Aladdin, Minus The Charm Edit
Of course, Lyn hadn’t truly known how hard it would be for an orphan child to survive, even in a small and sympathetic village such as the one in which he eventually came to rest. But he wasn’t too proud to beg, or to accept the charity that many a concerned woman offered to what soon became the town’s resident street waif. And street waif he remained; with the once-burned’s fear of the fire, he steadfastly rejected any attempts to give him a home, running away from the few particularly generous souls who attempted to take him in for more than a single night. He lived wherever he could hide himself away, by whatever he was given, and genuinely seemed to prefer that life to taking a second chance on anyone trying to raise him. And when he was truly desperate – or simply wanted something that no one troubled to give him – he fell back on his old standby, stealing.
At first, he almost solely subsisted on charity; he was too young and too inexperienced to manage any other way, and his youth and pathetic predicament were enough to spark generosity in most people. But, as Lyn grew older, he gained more skill and wisdom, becoming both more proficient in his thievery and cleverer in choosing his targets. He ceased having to settle for what was given, and began to simply take what he wanted – and the more familiar he became with the town, the better he was able to get around it, and the harder it was to stop him or to catch him. With few other pastimes and no other occupation, thievery became both hobby and profession, exercised and improved on constantly. By the time he reached his teens, he’d become a thoroughly proficient little cutpurse – which was fortunate, since his growing age and the increased nuisance he was becoming to the community (for the town was small enough to easily trace the disappearance of various things, whether or not punishment could be brought home to their resident perpetrator – and it often could not) had dried up much of the charity he had once depended on.
The truth was that Lyn had come to consider the entire village, tiny as it was, his home, and everything in it his extended property. He’d become as comfortable and secure in its familiar buildings and lanes as any man in his own house. He knew all the best shops and residences to steal whatever he needed; he knew all the best spots to hide; he knew the routines of everyone in the hamlet; he knew he could outrun all but the most determined pursuit, and he was always careful never to take quite enough to justify a determined pursuit in any case. Essentially, he’d grown complacent. Having found a pleasant niche, Lyn never considered the possibility of having to leave it.
The village, however, was less pleased by the general state of affairs. To willingly succor an orphan child was one thing – to have a resident thief skimming off of the coins and possessions of honest workers was far less palatable, especially once Lyn had grown old enough to apprentice himself in some honest trade of his own and yet displayed absolutely no intention of doing so. Sentiment turned gradually but inevitably against Lyn; likely he would have worn out his welcome far sooner than he did if his thieving over the years hadn’t been so carefully circumspect, avoiding any serious offenses and rarely taking anything that would be sorely missed. Nonetheless, by the time Lyn was seventeen, the town had lost its collective patience. Lyn had either not noticed the increasing hostility toward him, or he had been denying it to himself, but either way it still came as a painful shock when the town finally had him run down by proper guards and turned out.
But even then, the careful limiting of his offenses against the townsfolk did him one last good turn; though he was warned he would be arrested if he ever returned, he was nonetheless let go at the town limits without anything in the way of punishment or reprisal save for the banishment itself. Although to be suddenly exiled from the only place he’d ever considered home, where he’d spent years learning every face and every tiny alley, was quite punishment enough in Lyn’s own mind.
The Unwilling AdventurerEdit
Cast adrift and despondent – and oddly lonely, though he’d never done much actual socializing in his own village; but being around people he’d known for years, whether they ever spoke or not, had been a strange sort of comfort – Lyn picked a road leading away from the town entirely at random, making his way to the next nearest town and skulking about there in a rather aimless depression, being entirely at a loss for what to do with himself. It was in the middle of moping at a tavern – because moping is no excuse not to keep an ear to the ground, and an eye on people’s purses in crowded rooms – that he heard of a woman offering a reward for information on her lost children. Having very little in the way of solid funds(because it’s often easier to steal items than money), Lyn decided to investigate the job and the promised reward, only to find that it had caught more interest than just his own…and he’s been traveling with the other adventurers who accompanied him on that job ever since.
My Parents Are(n't) Dead!Edit
During the party’s adventures, a seemingly everyday encounter with a female ranger – who calls herself Bones – turned surreal for Lyn when she called him by the name ‘Caleb’, mistaking him for someone else initially…eventually revealed to be his father, whom Bones had known years ago. This would have been shock enough to Lyn, who hadn’t even known his parents’ names, but it went much further than that. Bones revealed to him that his parents had both been adventurers…and that she suspected they were both very much alive. Though Lyn was initially stunned by this realization, he soon declared that he didn’t actually care – if they were alive, then they’d abandoned him as their son, so they meant nothing to him as parents. Bones attempted to soften his harsh view of the matter, and hinted that she suspected that his parents may not be in control of their actions in some way, but for the moment Lyn seems determined to push the matter of his parents as far from his mind as possible – and, as he has (correctly) pointed out, rescuing the kidnapped boy they were searching for at the moment was their top priority.
But the rescue is long over by now, and Lyn seems no more eager to open up the subject than he was then…though occasionally he does seem distracted, and takes more notice than most when people being mind-controlled or people connected to the party are mentioned.
Now What, Genius?Edit
Following months' worth of adventures, the party made its way to the port town of Serendipity, having been tipped off that the cult had some business there. Very little about the town stood out as unique or suspicious, save a group of three travelers whispering amongst themselves in some sort of deliberately obscure code. Some inquiries revealed that the people in the group were Tera, a lady mage; Shadow, a sneaky and highly shady male, presumably a rogue; and Irene, a lady warrior. Lyn hadn't forgotten the names of his parents that Bones had given to him - Caleb and Irene - but waved the woman's name off as being little more than coincidence...until it was hinted that they might have connections to the cult. Then he began to sit up and take notice - especially when he observed that Shadow was a very short man with blond hair, and might very well be his father Caleb under another name.
Determined to get some answers from his parents regarding their behavior - both past and current - Lyn was taken rather painfully by surprise when Helmut declared he'd be splitting off from the group for a time to head back to his homeland, and Aknier simultaneously received an invitation to teleport back to his hometown for a meeting with his land's regent. Under any other circumstances Lyn would have gone with Aknier(Helmut's not wanting any company), but with his potential parents still to be gotten answers from, he argued fiercely to pursue them, and the party wound up splitting three ways, with Lyn, Ascha, and Yuukiko following up on Shadow and Irene.
They've followed the two to an old temple, within which Shadow and Irene have been discovered to be retrieving an unconscious silver-haired woman with small horns - from the sounds of it, the objective of a search they'd been on for some time. In the process, Irene nearly called Shadow by a name starting with C - in Lyn's mind, this has all but confirmed his suspicions that these are indeed his parents. He also overheard Irene start to speak of 'that b-', presumably meaning to say 'that boy', only for Caleb to silence her with a curt statement that nothing but their objective was important.
Lyn wasn't able to let them pass unchallenged, and so stood in their way and refused to let them leave without at least accounting for what they were doing - and in the process, he called Shadow by his supposed real name of Caleb. Shadow disavowed any knowledge of the name, though Irene has shown hints of distress and unhappiness at the way things are unfolding. Further, when Lyn spoke to her of Bones, she seemed initially confused, though there are suggestions that old memories might be stirring...
KRAVEN DIAMONDSHIELD: The party's dwarven cleric and, as far as Lyn is concerned, their resident lunatic. Kraven has a habit of doing dangerously insane and insanely dangerous things for no logical reason whatsoever, which makes him nearly as much of a liability to the party as his healing spells make him beneficial. Lyn doesn't even begin to trust Kraven not to screw everything up for them all accidentally...though he does trust the dwarf to have his back, oddly enough. (Or maybe not so oddly; Lyn has had more brushes with death than anyone else in the party, and each time it's been Kraven and his spells that have pulled him back from the brink.) He and Kraven often mock and insult each other, at at least once Lyn has had a chamber pot thrown at his head by the dwarf, but deep down they're very similar - despite their mutual harassment, they've each become deeply alarmed when the other is in genuine danger.
AKNIER: Aknier and Lyn have a rather strange relationship. Between the two of them, they're actually the most intelligent members of the party - though their areas of expertise run in vastly different directions. Lyn has an encyclopaedic store of street smarts and cunning to draw on, whereas Aknier's fortes are book smarts and arcane lore. Though Lyn looks down on formal education as a rule as being worthless and impractical - perhaps as a defense mechanism, as people with actual educations likely would look down on him - he has to grudgingly admit that Aknier's knowledge has come through for them all on more than one occasion, and that Aknier knows quite a few things Lyn has next to no idea about. (That, and Aknier has a general store of manners and diplomacy that Lyn is laughably short on.) Likewise, if Aknier is working on some puzzle or problem, Lyn tends to be the person it's most useful for him to turn to. With Ascha being on the quieter side, and Theroian and Lyn not getting along at all, Lyn tends to consider Aknier the other voice of reason in the party...when he's not embarrassing them all by being insufferably nerdy.
NAIYA: Lyn tends to not know what the hell to make of Naiya. For one thing, she's a girl, and Lyn has always been awkward and uneasy around women. He does tend to forget that Naiya is a girl in subconscious ways, treating her the same as he'd treat any male party member thanks to her acting like such a bro...but then she has a horrible habit of suddenly reminding him of her woman status and embarrassing the hell out of him. (See: Naiya going shirtless, Naiya banging Aknier.) Likewise, the esteem in which Naiya holds Lyn fluctuates more wildly than his relationship with any other member of the party; sometimes she's protective of him, sometimes she harasses him, and sometimes she wants nothing to do with him. Lyn, for his own part, generally can't decide whether to like Naiya or resent her, and swings back and forth depending on how she's treating him at any given moment...but, as with all party members, he considers her almost as family even when he's at his most bitter.
THEROIAN CSTIAL: Theroian and Lyn have, arguably, the most openly antagonistic relationship in the party. Theroian considers Lyn mouthy and frequently incompetent; Lyn considers Theroian insultingly ungrateful, and - though he'd never admit as much - is actually rather hurt by Theroian's seeming disinterest in his well-being, as well as the man's questioning of his skills. This was thrown into particularly sharp relief in a recent dungeon crawl where Lyn set off several painful and/or inconvenient traps in rapid succession, leading to his being harshly criticized and borderline ostracized by Naiya and Theroian. Having taken the brunt of the traps himself, Lyn was so bitterly wounded that he seriously considered leaving the party, and ran quite a few stupid risks before he calmed down(including putting on a cursed ring). While things have simmered down since, Lyn has hardly forgotten, and he hasn't patched things up since with Theroian as he has with Naiya.
ASCHA: In contrast to Theroian, Lyn and Ascha may be one of the more closely affectionate bonds in the party. As the Team Mom, Ascha tends to keep a particular eye on Lyn as the youngest and perhaps most immature member of the party, and she tends to be the most sympathetic to his not-particularly-subtle moods...moods the other members of the party are either too oblivious or too emotionally immature themselves to pick up on. Lyn is subconsciously aware of this, and consciously grateful for her tacit support, and he shows it in his own indirect, mildly awkward ways - when he uncovered a Ring of Blinking, a remarkably useful item that he'd looted from a viciously trapped chest, he actually offered it to Ascha rather than keeping it for himself. That Ascha is a girl doesn't seem to bother Lyn as much as with Naiya, likely because Ascha is less demonstrative about it - and also, perhaps, because they have a relationship most similar to that of real family, with Ascha being a very clear older sister figure to Lyn.
HELMUT STAUFEN: Helmut was the first man the party met in their first dream adventure, and very much the focal point of the party's first true bonding experience. With his entire family, and the supernatural forces working through them, trying to kill Helmut, the party had to work as a cohesive and effective unit to keep him alive, and they became fiercely invested in the endeavor. Lyn in particular went out of his way to look out for Helmut, actually suggesting Aknier cast protective spells on him at one point - whether this was due to Lyn's by-now well-known aversion to killing, or due to his vocal hatred for the backstabbing machinations of the nobility, it's hard to say, but Lyn is known for forming strong attachments quickly.
(Especially to people who give him a free dinner.) And there have been hints that the party's (well, mostly Kraven's) frequent gay jokes about Helmut, and in particular about Helmut in relation to Lyn, might not be entirely off-target.
Helmut has currently left the party for personal reasons, and Lyn seemed particularly distressed by his leaving. Further, Lyn's ring of invisibility seems to have vanished, at around the same time; it's to be assumed that Lyn may have lent it to a certain holy warrior.
YUUKIKO: The newest addition to the party, Lyn isn’t quite sure what to make of their new ranger just yet. As with all people he’s not particularly familiar with but is expected to work with(and, frankly, women in general), Lyn’s keeping a careful distance and, simultaneously, an eye on her. He doesn’t really have any objections to her thus far, although he’s noted the tension between her and Ascha and isn’t sure what to make of it. Of course, in any clash between them he’s likely to take Ascha’s side, simply from having known her longer and gotten closer to her.
MEEPO: The aforementioned kobold, whom Kraven in particular insists is Lyn's boyfriend. The party found Meepo on their very first adventure together, and he accompanied them through most of the temple they were exploring. Lyn and Meepo quickly became friends, largely over sympathizing with each other on how much of a lunatic Kraven was...though sharing a very similar mindset in terms of keeping their heads down and staying alive also helped significantly. Lyn made a special point in keeping an eye out for Meepo, refusing to let him come to harm, and Meepo actually repaid his concern several times by chipping in his assistance (however minor) in battles. Lyn went so far as to petition Meepo's fellow kobolds (who thought very little of Meepo) to treat him better, though this ultimately went nowhere - but he did give Meepo a small gem they'd found as a token of friendship before they eventually parted ways.
BONES: A female ranger the party met some time ago, who knew Lyn's parents and Lyn himself from his childhood - though Lyn had been far too young to have any memory of her in return. Owing an as-yet unknown debt to the regent Rolero, she served as a guard to his son Eliseo...which unfortunately bound her to assist and defend the necromancer, despite the fact that he is, in Lyn's words, "a nine-meter fuckstick". However, once the party defeated her - at her own insistence - she recognized she would be dismissed of her duties and offered the party what assistance she could in compensation. She was also the person to inform Lyn that his parents are most likely alive, and perhaps under an influence not their own...though, as of yet, Lyn doesn't know what to make of this. However, she seems to genuinely like Lyn and be friendly with him, and Lyn not only freed her, but gave her some leather armor. (Since, of course, the party had stripped her for loot...) She also gave Lyn her bow of her own volition, informing him it was his mother's and that his mother had wished him to have it. This is another thing Lyn is currently not thinking about.
HELLA JEFF: As far as Lyn is concerned, Hella Jeff is the most embarrassing packhorse ever known to man, and whenever they travel with him Lyn desperately tries to pretend the glowing pink pony is with some other adventuring group.
RASHA: The teenage playboy son of a bartender, who has been tending the bar himself while his dad is off being a soldier. A year younger than Lyn at the very most, Lyn was almost immediately sympathetic to Rasha's struggling with a band of thugs in his town, and particularly his tavern - especially when he learned that the leader of the gang was the regent's son, which meant that the villagers were largely stuck with their shenanigans due to - as Lyn would put it - "noble fuckassery". So, despite his own pragmatic and self-serving attitude, Lyn was one of the foremost voices in offering their services to Rasha in dealing with the thugs...and thus felt a degree of personal responsibility when the thugs kidnapped Rasha in revenge, which led to his pushing harder than anyone to get to the other boy before anything happened to him. However, since they did manage to rescue him, it all seems to have worked out in the end.
CALEB BRYSE: Lyn's father, status and whereabouts unknown. According to Bones, she and his parents did a lot of adventuring, and did jobs both savory and unsavory. Caleb in particular was mentioned to be a bit darker and more violent in inclination than Irene. Apparently Lyn strongly resembles a younger version of him.
There have been strong hints that Shadow, the shady rogue that Lyn's group is currently pursuing, is in fact Caleb Bryse. As he seems to be an icy, uncooperative jackass with no real feeling for Lyn or evident compassion for anything else, Lyn is even more unsure how to feel about this than he was before. However, he doesn't seem to want to kill Lyn offhand, which at this point is the only redeeming feature Lyn's seen in the man who is quite likely his father.
IRENE BRYSE: Lyn's mother, status and whereabouts unknown. According to Bones, she and his parents did a lot of adventuring, and did jobs both savory and unsavory. Irene was apparently a gentler, kinder adventurer than Caleb, less inclined to do the dirtier deeds that Caleb didn't balk at. She also is the only one to have displayed any known evidence of feeling or remembrance for her son, as she had instructed Bones to pass on her bow to Lyn if she ever saw him. It seems that Bones may have had feelings for her at some point...
There have been strong hints that Irene, the heavily armored woman that Lyn's group is currently pursuing, is in fact Irene Bryse. She seems quieter than Shadow, and has shown flickers of recognition - or at least seems to have been given pause for some reason - when faced with Lyn. Further, she seems more generally conscientious than Shadow, which fits with the profile Bones gave of them both. Lyn holds out more hope for her - hope for what, even he's not entirely sure - as she's the only one of his quite-likely parents who seems to spare a thought for him, and whose actions don't make him actively cringe.