To pick up where I left off…
Grasta is the Alpha of Gron’s tribe. In the books, you only have Gryla to compare her to, but among Gandry Queens, Grasta is exceptional, almost freakishly so. Even by Gandry standards, she is massive at around eight feet tall. She has more fur than any other Gandry, covering nearly her whole body. If they didn’t live in a world where females were celebrated for their strength and size, Grasta would have been ridiculed and outcast.
As it was, she was able to usurp Gryla as Alpha without a fight, stepping into leadership of a fully-formed tribe with very little effort. This would have happened when she was in her late teens, by our standards of age. She was very young to be leading a tribe that size; normally a teenage Queen leaving her family would have to gather a new tribe from wandering males or tempt them away from their tribes to settle a new territory. Because of her age, she needed a lot of guidance, as she had no experience of ruling a tribe. While it was never explicitly stated between them, Gryla helped her out a lot with this, as she had around twenty years of experience of ruling that very tribe.
Another benefit of her size is that it prevented Grasta from ever feeling insecure, and instead taught her to be careful and sparing in her violence. As a result, she has made quite a wise adult. She is implacable in her decisions once she makes them and her word is law, but she listens to her people and is fair in her physical punishments. She doesn’t play favourites and always puts the good of the tribe first, like when she had to exile Troii despite knowing he was a good male and had no ill intentions. He just wasn’t cohering to the tribe anymore.
I imagine Grasta to be in her late-twenties to mid-thirties now. She’s got three kids, including a little princess, and five males in her court: her Prime Father, her stud, her toyboy who will become her stud when he’s old enough, and her two guards.
Her relationship with each of these males says something about her, I think. Her Prime Father I think of as her husband. She loves him, and in a lot of ways, he is enough for her, but they do not live in a monogamous society. I wanted their relationship to be relatably monogamous. She is infatuated with him, and he is long-suffering but patient and modest, because as far as she is concerned, she has to take other males. With the female-male ratio being what it is, a monogamous Queen wouldn’t be able to hold her tribe, the males want a fair chance of being Bonded/mated/chosen. So the Prime Father busies himself with his children as much as he can, and Grasta divides her attention between her males, but at the end of the day, he is the one she holds at night and the one she wants to go all the way with whenever they have sex.
The stud is her side-piece, her boyfriend, her tease. Her mistress, if there was a word for a male in that role. He is there just for her sexual pleasure, except for the times she lets him finish inside her to redress the imbalance of having all her children belong to one male. She makes this token effort to recognise that more than one male is supposed to have a chance to have procreate, but her heart isn’t that much in it. It’s enough to keep the tribe happy, however. He represents the greed that these reverse-harems allow, and the power imbalance in Gandry society where a Queen can Bond any male to her in any role for life, perhaps even against his wishes.
The toyboy one is meant to be problematic, as he was Bonded from outside the tribe, so he has no family with him, and is closest in age to Mruin more than anyone else. He is described as quiet, but he is shy and nervous, scared and insecure. He has been with Grasta for a while, but her other males are a fair bit older than him, and outside of the court are intimidated by a Bonded male. He has no one to talk to really. Grasta will only pay him real attention when he is old enough to perform sexually for her. It could be, of course, that he wandered into Grasta’s territory alone because he had nowhere else to go, so Grasta Bonded him in order to look after him and give him a home. Either way, there’s still a few years before it becomes clear what direction Grasta will take with him.
And then she’s got the guards. A big Queen needs a big court, especially since it’s a big tribe of roughly 30 members. The guards act as a trouble deterrent. They have the authority to step into disagreements that don’t warrant Grasta’s attention and keep the peace. They allow her to have some free time and live a life of her own, instead of patrolling and hearing grievances all the time. But they do also demonstrate that Grasta is capable of Bonding males in lesser roles that suit her, but which might not be enough for the males. That said, I imagine she would have picked males who would be honoured to serve like that. Kind of like Griss, just being trusted by their Queen is enough.
Gryla is not as wise or level-headed as Grasta. She definitely likes to use her clout to get her own way, but she isn’t cruel or selfish either. Her way of doing things is the more common in the Gandry, the “Queen’s way or the high way” way, and it works fine in smaller tribes than the one Grasta is currently ruling.
Gryla stepped down as Alpha when Grasta challenged her because she was getting on a bit, she’d had her family, and Grasta was huge. If she went peacefully, she would still be able to enjoy the comfort and security of a large tribe. She was also allowed to stay because her family was a sizeable chunk of the tribe. Gryla, Griss, Brur, Kranu, Gron, Mruin, and their sister, would have all left together. A tribe of 30 would have survived that just fine, going down to 23, but if you take away Grasta’s five males and three children, assuming the tribe was smaller 15 years ago, Grasta would have found herself in charge of a tribe that was smaller than the one she’d challenged for, with no experience and no one to help.
Gryla is very different from Grasta. She throws her weight around and uses the threat of violence to get what she wants. She likes to be flattered and adored, but she will allow herself to be corrected on serious issues, like when Gron stands up to her regarding Ruth. She is always ready to fight, and had to do it a lot in her role as Alpha. All this comes from the fact that she is just more emotional than Grasta, her emotions control her more. She fights when she’s angry, grieves when she’s sad, swaggers when she’s happy. She can be a pain in some situations, but she’s not a bad person.
Griss is her protecting force, keeping everyone else away from her, while Brur keeps her level. Griss creates the space, Brur is inside the space with her, and together they keep everyone happy. Gryla is not controlled or manipulated by them though, as they defer to her in all things, worship and adore and need her. She might punish them sometimes to assert her dominance, but it never hurts and they know she doesn’t mean it.
Griss was Gryla’s guard first of all, and as such, I wrote him to be noble, that kind of warrior stereotype, stoic, always looking for danger on the horizon, one hand ready to push Gryla to safety. He would have hovered over his kids and protected them like a hawk. I imagine he is older than Gryla, as he would have been in his prime when she was in her late teens and looking for a tribe of her own. He’s a physical guy. He worries, though he doesn’t let anyone know.
I imagine at first, he had a confusing relationship with Gryla. Her only male for a while, assigned to protect her, but she would have been young compared to him and struggling to find her place in the world and figure out how to be an Alpha, and she would have been scared and had insecurities and worries, but he wouldn’t have been allowed to take her in his arms to comfort her, just swear over and over again that he would protect her and provide for her. According to their society, Gryla outranked him, and while she would have had the size and strength, she wouldn’t have had much skill, so Griss would have had to struggle with helping her as he wanted to do without overstepping his boundaries. He’s so serious and emotionally closed-off as well, he would have struggled to communicate his desire to help through action alone.
Becoming a consort and mating with Gryla and becoming a Prime Father would have blown his young mind. I think Griss sees/saw his value as a fighter only. Being seen as more was probably what made him fall in love with Gryla outside of the Bond.
His relationship with Brur is a close one. They live the same life after all, and so much of what they do and what happens to them is tied up in one another. They have grieved for lost brother-mates and lost children together, and luxuriated in their Bond with Gryla together. They sleep in a sandwich with her, and have done for decades. But Brur is not a good fighter, not a physically strong male, so Griss may have been confused about his value at first. He was almost certainly jealous too, that Gryla chose a male so different from Griss, as if Griss had failed to provide something essential, as if she really preferred Brur’s type to Griss’. It wouldn’t have taken long for Griss to see that Brur filled Gryla’s emotional needs where Griss couldn’t, and Griss would have been grateful for that, and thrown himself into his protective, physical role all the more now that Gryla didn’t need him to be everything to her.
His relationships with his kids would have been as the teacher, since Gryla would have been the disciplinarian, and Brur the nurturer. Griss might have been emotionally distant at times, but he would have worried over preparing his children for adulthood, whatever their roles might be. Gron is emotional enough to understand what’s going on under the shell, Kranu only sees Griss as a restrictive, interfering force, and Mruin is too young to see him as anything other than a parent. But he loves them all anyway, even Kranu, because he can see Kranu repeatedly hurting only himself and his own actions, and all Griss ever wanted for his first born was to protect him. Griss probably sees a lot of himself in Kranu, and expected his eldest son to grow up to be a similarly noble and stoic protector, and after twenty-odd years can’t change that image in his mind, and so keeps trying to change Kranu.
Brur is the emotional caretaker of Gryla’s mates. In many ways, he and Griss mirror Troii and Kranu, except Griss is withdrawn where Kranu is aggressive.
He explained in the books that Gryla Bonded him to lighten her heart. I imagine she had been Bonded to Griss for a few years, was more or less established as an Alpha, and was settled into a governing routine that left her wondering what she was meant to do in her spare time, what she had for herself, and exactly what about this arrangement was meant to make her happy. Griss kept her safe of course, but she wasn’t happy very often. It all seemed like a bit of a boring grind. So she mated the tribe joker, a light-hearted, free-spirited charmer. It was probably a bit of a gamble on her part, as he was so different from both Griss and herself, but she wanted that levity for herself. In the beginning, Brur would have taken the task of cheering Gryla very seriously, and it wasn’t long before Kranu was born, and everything got better and felt complete.
Now that he’s older, Brur isn’t the joker so much as a pleasant, nurturing, soothing presence. He doesn’t get upset very often. He’s an optimist and that alone bolsters the mood of their little family.
At first, he was probably intimidated by Griss, a larger, stern, protective male who he would have known as a guard and disciplinarian. It would have taken a long time for the two of them to warm up to each other and grow close. But now they are as close as brothers, or husbands.
Brur would have been the shoulder to cry on to his kids, always encouraging them to tell him what was wrong, then getting either Griss or Gryla to sort it out. He would have been the homemaker. He is a talker, not a doer, and is rather ineffectual, but still vital to the family as he is the heart and safety of it.
Last but not least, Gron’s little brother.
Mruin is still young, which defines most of his interactions. He is about 16 or 17 in human age, I’d say. He wonders about things a lot. He wonders about Ruth and where she came from and what she is, he wonders about Gron and how he feels about her, and how it feels to be Bonded, and the nature of Bonding itself. He’s trying to figure stuff out before he becomes an adult, or so that he can become one. He wonders what his role will be and what he will do with his life.
He’s just at the age when he’s starting to break away from his parents. He wants a platform of his own to sleep on, he spends most of his days by himself as there’s no one his own age to accompany him. He feeds himself, though not as well as his parents would have him eat. In that respect, he’s just like a human teenage boy.
He’s curious but he has no answers and answers are not forecoming. He hasn’t been at it long enough to be frustrated and bitter like Kranu, nor has he settled like Gron and Troii before the series started. He is watching closely to see how these strange new Queens change things, and what that means for him, and about his society, and about right and wrong in his culture. Unlike any of the others, he has been introduced to humans during his formative years.
He is not stupid, nor violent. He is smarter than he is perhaps given credit for, and is poised to come to some interesting conclusions depending on how things play out with Ruth as his sister-in-law. He has not quite accepted her as a normal part of his life yet. He is still watching her, and he still has questions. He hasn’t accepted the role his society has given him yet either, he wants the reason for it first. He’s still several years from adulthood, but he has the potential to be another troublemaker, who breaks the mold of Gandry culture.