Brian Westhouse in Dreamfall
|Voiced by||Ralph Byers|
|Other names||The Rolling Man|
A former journalist from 20th century Stark, Brian Westhouse has lived in Marcuria for 14 years. When Cortez first sent April to Arcadia, he told her to look up Brian when she wanted to come back. To find him, she has to discover his nickname (the "Rolling Man", because he rides around the city on a bicycle), get a job as a delivery girl from the Maps Merchant, and decipher some very complicated directions.
The Longest Journey Edit
"The promise of virgin territory, untouched by civilization, held great sway with me in my youth, as did the idea of a highly spiritual state of mind... I was a fool, of course, but who knew where my curiosity would bring me?" - Brian
Born in 1902 in Boston, Brian went to sea when he was 17, before ending up in Europe three years later. He knew Cortez as 'Manny Chavez' when he was working as a journalist in India in the thirties. It is possible that he met Cortez in the process of researching a story. The two of them travelled to Tibet, where Chavez saved Brian's life by pulling him out of a snowdrift in the winter (either January/February or December) of 1934. He then spent three months (until either April/May 1934 or March/April 1935) in a monastery before he finally travelled to Arcadia (at age 32).
It isn't clear how Brian managed to cross the Divide; he isn't a Shifter and he never explains what happened. However he did it, the journey cost him dearly. Brian was trapped in the Divide for the equivalent of "three hundred" years before he finally arrived on the other side (although apparently it didn't feel like any time at all), where he has lived in Marcuria for "about 15" years. As he tells April he's now 46, we can calculate that he has only been living in Arcadia for 14 years. If we subtract this the amount of time he lost in the Divide (275 years from 1934-2209), we are left with 261 years that Brian spent "in between".
Brian gives April several useful pieces of information during the game. He warns her that Arcadia isn't a "pastoral fairy-tale realm" and tells her that magic can be as dangerous as a gun. He also gives April Cortez's mysterious pocket watch. Apparently, 'Chavez' gave it to him before he went to Arcadia, saying that when his heart started beating again, he would know. When April fixes the watch, it enables her to return to Stark. When April is trying to find the pieces of the Stone Disk, Brian gives her a hint that sets her on the way to the island of Alais.
Brian seems to live a quiet, easy-going life in Marcuria, spending his time drinking, smoking and collecting maps. He was a fan of bullfighting and is outraged when April tells him that it is now outlawed in Stark. He is a practical man - he built his house himself, claiming it's "the only thing I ever did that I was proud of". The last time April sees Brian, the Tyren are threatening Marcuria, and he's more than prepared to defend his home with a gun.
The Monastery Edit
At the beginning of Dreamfall we see a flashback to the time he spent in the Tibetan monastery, where we see the 32 year-old Brian writing in a journal. Then the Superior Lama calls him (for some reason they speak Mandarin, which Brian understands) to a dais where monks are praying, preparing a ritual. It is possible to eavesdrop on two monks who are whispering nearby: they say that Brian is "open, eager", and that they should take heart – "the undreaming will be unleashed, and it will –" before they realise they are being overheard.
When the ritual is ready, Brian steps onto the dais and is lifted off his feet with blue energy streaming from his eyes, mouth and hands, very unlike a normal Shift. A moment later he appears in an eerie realm we later come to know as the Storytime. Disorientated, he meets the Vagabond, who treats him with surprise and disdain and tells him to go back the way he came, warning "it will find you". Brian has no idea what he’s talking about, but a moment later is attacked by the Undreaming itself and apparently engulfed by it. We do not see what happened to him afterwards, or how Brian eventually ended up in Arcadia.
Intriguingly, Brian crosses the Divide without his clothes, gun, bicycle, or Glenfiddich: all of which he has when April reaches his bungalow in TLJ.
Westhouse's Grand Tour Edit
The next we see of Brian in Dreamfall is when April meets him, now 56, at the Journeyman Inn. Much has happened since she last saw him at the end of TLJ. When the Tyren invaded Marcuria, Brian's out-of-the-way bungalow seems to have escaped their notice, and after a few days he was sober enough to realise what had happened. He was evacuated by a passing dinghy, and the shock of losing his home and being forced to flee seems to have galvanised Brian into sobriety and a reawakening of the adventurer's spirit within him. He also seems sobered in other ways, as he shows when he tells a suspicious April: "I used to think that fate and destiny was a load of hogwash. But I know better now. There's a reason we met today, April Ryan. But I don't think you have anything to worry about. If I'm here for a reason, it's to help you."
The captain of the ship that evacuated Brian gave him passage to Corescent, and from there he "hitched a ride" on to Irhad. From there he travelled south across the Great Ocean to the Southlands, where he visited the Bakshevan cities of Altaban and Monterba. He recounts to Benrime Salmin - a native of the Southlands - the story of a local companion of his who was tricked into drinking fermented pig's blood in a town near Altaban. "He couldn't stand up straight for three days!" Benrime simply replies with a derisive "Southlanders".
Brian did not even stop at the forbidding Southern Capes, but ventured on into the lands beyond the South Sea, "that are frozen through both winter and summer. The sun is as cold as the moon down there." He has even travelled through the Azadi Empire, and their holy capital city Sadir. As a human he was extended their hospitality and taught their customs, but as a man he was somewhat restricted. Nevertheless, he found the whole experience "highly...educational."
Indeed, Brian is vaguely cagey on the subject, and when asked by Zoe: "You've visited their continent?", he replies with the evasive "I've passed through, so to speak." He also refuses to be drawn into an argument on the issue of their occupation of Marcuria, remaining strangely neutral on the subject with Benrime. He says, "Whatever the Azadi have done here, they are not cruel or evil. They do put a lot of faith in their Goddess and their Empresses, yes. But it's heartfelt." He does make the observation to Zoe, however, that "What they're doing in Marcuria, though... It's certainly controversial. On one hand they brought freedom and peace. On the other hand... They've rounded up the Magicals, stuck them in a ghetto and God knows what they intend to do with them next"
He mentions to April that he was considering heading east across the sea again, to hunt with a Whalerider.
A Guide Edit
When Brian discovers Zoe will be travelling to the Dark People's City and their fabulous library, he aids her by securing a friend's Cloudship for transport on the condition that he can go too. In fact Crow says perkily that Brian is the best person to help him and Zoe when they need "someone wise" because "he’s got a beard and he’s an adult!" Having travelled all over Arcadia, Brian is drawn to the secretive Dark People, their ever-moving city, and their fabled library.
When they arrive, the White Kin is disconcerted by Brian – she says his presence is somehow familiar and gives her goosebumps. Brian apologises, but she puts it down to unfamiliarity with her human shape. He withdraws to peruse the library but is only a short distance away while Zoe and the White are talking, and witnesses Zoe’s disappearance. Brian appears unsurprised and only comments: "Most interesting."
This is the last we see of Brian, but there is much speculation connecting him with the attack on the White, the Azadi Prophet, and several other strange events in Dreamfall. We have only Brian’s word that he was travelling in the ten years since the Tyren attack. But aside from his comment in the Library and the attack by the Undreaming, none of his actions seem out of place. If he was telling the truth about visiting the Azadi Empire, though, this is one possible explanation as to how the Azadi heard about the troubles in Marcuria in the first place.
If we watch past the credits of Dreamfall, there is an extra scene of narrative. We are told that it is "Tibet, 1933" (not 1934, as he told April) and witness Brian collapsing in a snowdrift as he climbs a mountain. He seems to have given up, but 'Manny Chavez' appears out of the blizzard and helps him up, before the two continue on together. 'Chavez' tells him "time is a circle, and you are needed".
Intriguingly, in TLJ when April Ryan asked if Brian knew anything about the Draic Kin, he replied: "I try to stay out of the affairs of the Kin these days," (editor's italics), and refers to them as "damn beasts". This is hardly conclusive, but it does hint that a) Brian was aware of Cortez/Chavez's true identity, and b) that at some point he was somehow involved in the "affairs" of the Kin. If true, it throws an interesting light on this final scene, but his statement has never been pursued.
It is interesting to note that the 13th Dalai Lama of Tibet passed away on December 17th 1933, and predicted a dark time ahead for Tibet, which may be significant to the story.