On Writing - Topic - Characters

  • Character Study: Aerika DuBay

    October 10, 2014

    Today brings us to the boisterous, short, temperamental, blue-eyed, blonde-haired protagonist of Fallen Throne. I honestly never thought much about her natural hair color, since it’s perpetually being dyed a rainbow of colors, but I have always felt she is a blonde at heart, or at least at her roots.

    Aerika has been a bit spoiled most of her life. Her mother wanted to groom her to be wife, to act helpless and require a man’s help, in order to catch a husband and live her days being taken care of. Her mother did not quite make that for herself, she felt Aerika could do better. So Aerika still has a lot of growing up to do, more reacting to her circumstances than controlling them.

    While appearing to the audience as a damsel in distress, there are great and terrible things in store for the eldest Dubay daughter. She has not found herself when we meet her, and she is still finding herself out by the end. However, the Aerika you meet in the next book will be quite a different girl than the one running around Fallen Throne.

    And then there is her unusual talent. I did not want her to be a majere. While I like the presence of magic, I feel it becomes too much of a crutch, as it can do anything. Even though Aerika has the potential for great power, it still appears to have limits. And I also wanted it to be something that came from within her, that she learned and practiced. She does not yet fully understand the extent of her powers, and as such, sees them more of a compliment to her fighting skills than a main form of offense or defense.

    Aerika is a bit of a knowledge sponge once Khristian shows her the world outside of how her mother raised her, and she’s only going to get more hungry as she sees more of it.

  • Character Study: Khristian Telpens

    October 1, 2014

    Khristian Telpens, the hero-in-works and thoughtful costar of Fallen Throne. It was a long process to figure out how old, or in this case, young, to make Khristian. I wanted this to be an adventure about kids, but I also wanted it to be at least remotely feasible. I use to wonder why kids in disney movies never had parents, but I realized it’s because no parent in their right mind would let a kid run around doing the things they do in those movies. Batman has to be a little crazy because no one else would take on a boy wonder for something that dangerous. I’m not sure why I felt 15 was the right age, but it seemed old enough for the time period where he could be seen as an adult, but still young.

    I feel like of the two main characters, Khristian is a little more fleshed out in terms of being fully developed. I had a lot of fun writing Khristian. Right from the start I thought of his speech peculiarity of not speaking in contractions. Little did I realize how often it was second nature to my typing. I think I made 5 passes on the finished novel making sure they were all gone, and to this day, I’m still not positive I got them all.

    Khristian has always done his best to help his parents out. Being the son of a watch captain is a lot what I imagine being the son of a police officer would be like. You’re friends don’t cut loose too much around you, they’re always a little worried you’ll report anything criminal they do, and everyone around you is always looking out for you. I tried to make Khristian feel a little sheltered in regards to knowing how the world works, but still made him hard working.

    Being in a time when school wasn’t a requirement everywhere, Khristian was raised thinking he would became part of the watch as well one day. While Khristian was fine with this course, he definitely was more interested in solving crimes than in the day to day affairs of keeping a city in check. He didn’t have his eyes on an administrative desk job. He liked to be out on the streets, talking to people and investigating crime scenes.

    Khristian has known Aerika since she was born, and grew up next to each other. He cares for her very much, and is willing to do whatever it takes to make her safe.

  • Character Study: Jenner Ripalst

    September 26, 2014

    Jenner, the debonair, swashbuckling, not-quite-as-mysterious-as-he-thinks-he-is leading man. He’s a taller man, well kept and always prefers to dress in the height of fashion, as long as it’s not too tacky. His acting and efforts to run the theatre keep him active and in shape, as well as years of studying swordplay. He’s confidant, forward and never at a loss for words.

    Born to rich parents, Jenner has never had a difficult life. In his early years, he often sought out adventure, be it in the forests around his home or on the deck of one of his father’s trade ships. Rather than aspire to be a city lounging dilettante, he found that the deep pools of wealth he had access to allowed him to see the world. He’s travelled all over Ramza and Ouran, and seen most of their sights. It was while away on one such adventure that he lost his father to pirates.

    He found himself at home for most of his late teens, helping his mother organize the family businesses and consolidating their wealth. Neither him or his mother had much interest in running a shipping company, so they licensed or sold off most of it. His mother retired from the social circles, traveling between their various vacation homes around the continent, while Jenner turned his focus to theatre. He found it much more fun to create stirring adventure and romantic landscapes than to venture out. And considerably more profit in it to boot. And his years traveling had left him with many friendships and contacts, a large group to draw from when recruiting talent to his playhouses.

    He spent the first few years in Balthwell, perfecting his craft under the tutelage of others. He was more than happy to bankroll a few failed endeavors, as the knowledge gained was well worth the loss in coin. It was also during this time he met Tracey, the man who would set his heart on fire, and still does to this day. I had originally planned to introduce more of Jenner and Tracey’s relationship in my second novel, but felt it would be unfair to talk about his character without mentioning it here, as Tracey is only mentioned once in passing in ‘Fallen Throne’. While Jenner is a horrible flirt and not above playing the lady’s man, it’s all a game to him, played as needed.

    Once Jenner felt his knowledge and pool of talent was sufficient, he set off to Caulment where he built the Royal Airline Theatre, named after one of his father’s shipping companies. Having had a lack of serious theatre, the RAT was an instant success, and continued to be, up until the day fate introduced him to Khristian and Aerika.

  • Character Study: Mao Tze

    September 19, 2014

    Mao is an elderly woman in her 60s, though still in excellent shape and all of her mental skills in tact. She keeps her wild grey hair bound with wooden pegs, and walks with a slight hunch. She lets little get by her and is both patient and understanding.

    Mao was born on one of the remote regions in Arcturus. Her mother was from M'lan, but left when she was a teenager, treated as an outcast by her parents for her disregard of religion. She traveled the lands, eventually settling in Arcturus, where she met a man who would become her husband.  He tinkered with mechanics and repaired steam-powered devices on the black market.  One day, while Mao and her father were out, the local magistrate learned of the family's experiments and seized their lands, executing Mao's mother.

    They fled to the Jeweled Isles in Ouran.  It was while on the run that Mao contracted the illness that would take her sight.  Her father doted on her constantly, teaching her everything he knew about mechanics and alchemy. He had taught her basic concepts when she was young, and later adapted his strategies as she got older and her eyesight left her completely. She had her mothers drive to explore, and much to her father's chagrin, she left Ouran to find her own place in the world when she turned twenty.

    First she traveled to M'lan, to meet her mother's family. She knew instantly why her mother left and while cordial, did not stay long. She did meet Jo'lin, who would become her husband. While Jo'lin cared as much about faith as Mao did science, they also cared equally for each other. They had five wonderful years together before Jo'lin was killed, mugged late one night for the change in his pockets. He had been the only reason Mao had stayed in M'lan, so again she set off.

    She first visited the mountains of Arcturus, and slowly made her way from village to village, learning the local delicacies, as she took to cooking, seeing in it many of the traits of experimenting and testing that she loved of science. What began as curiosity became the next fifteen years of her life. She learned a lot about life, about fear, as many of the arcturans viewed her as a witch, or majere, not understanding where her power came from. People were even more frightened when she explained it as common effects that any person could replicate. She had inventions that would spout fire from her fingertips, or allow her to hurl bolts of electricity. But she learned these were not held in awe as they had been in Ouran.

    She left Arcturus and returned to her fathers home in Ouran. He had passed two years earlier. Word had been sent to M'Lan, but she had not made her whereabouts known in the interim years. But she saw that he had received the letters she sent from Arcturus. She had never left a return address, for she moved around often, but all the letters had arrived. They were found amongst her father's possessions when he passed.

    A small inheritance awaited her, and she used it to perfect her inventions, making them lighter, more efficient. She also took a few classes in theatrics. She found humor in playing into the witch persona that so many arcturans had mistaken her for. She spent 3 years in Ouran before moving on again, this time to Ramza, the nation she had often travelled through, but rarely visited. She laughed inwardly at how many places the heavily accented, hunched over old woman she pretended to be was accepted. Your average townfolk was terrified of alchemy, but everyone loved grandma.

    It was during one of those visits that an old rancher, Gimon, fell in love with her, with the act. He was quite shocked when he learned she wasn't the woman he thought she was, but said he loved her all the same. And he liked the idea of traveling. So together, over the next 17 years, they saw everything Ramza and Ouran had to offer.

    But the world was not content, and one evening, riding back from town, bandits murdered Gimon as he was returning home. Heartbroken, Mao stayed at their home for three years, before wanderlust crept into her bones again. Before she felt good enough to visit her friends in Balthwell and Hallon's Hold.

  • Character Study: Dark Fey

    September 8, 2014

    While not an individual, the Dark Fey play a very important role as the antagonists of Hallon’s Hold. For many years, the Dark Fey engaged in a reign of terror for those that traveled between Balthwell and Caulment. A couple days journey by horse, and even longer on foot, many a caravan took it’s life in its hands, hoping they wouldn’t see the diminutive monsters as they huddled tightly around the campfire

    In the early days, fires kept them at bay, as they feared the hot flames. Some say that wherever the creatures hail from, fire is anathema to them, and it sears the skin right off like melting butter. But the fey realized they had strength in numbers, and so they learned to seek the flame, knowing a warm meal and valuables were waiting by the fire. Over the course of a few years, risk turned to suicide, as even the most heavily armored transport and guard retinue came under attack, the Dark Fey growing more and more bold.

    They are also a resilient lot. Their recent defeat may have sent them back to their burrows licking their wounds, but unless true effort is put forth by the residents of the hold, they will be back. Hallon would need to organize hunting parties to venture out into the hills surrounding the hold and root out any nests or broods. But the mountains are vast, and the holes dug deep, and the weather is not made for the likes of men.

  • Character Study: Umbrunzwe

    September 5, 2014

    Umbrunzwe is the youngest sibling of seven from the port city of Shil'meh located in the M'lan empire. He was raised in a large family that included his mother, father, his dad's father, his mother's mother and father, and six older sisters.

    All six of his sisters trained to be priestesses for the varying religions scatted across the Lanese pantheon. Holy texts littered his home and Umbrunzwe was well read from an early age. Thinking to follow in the footsteps of his siblings, Umbrunzwe read over many of the gods and goddesses his people venerated.

    He eventually found one whose teachings he felt strongly about. However, it was not one of his people, but of the northerners, known simply as, The One God. However, The One God was not worshipped anywhere widely known in M'lan, seen more as a folk tale. Aware that their son would not get the attention and knowledge he wanted in M'lan, his parents paid to send him to a monastery in Ramza where the One God was worshipped.

    It was there were Umbrunzwe found understanding and enlightenment, and trained his body and soul in the teachings of the monastery. To prove his devotion, it was here where he undertook a vow of silence. Hoping to let his actions speak louder than his words, Umbrunzwe left the monastery after many years to spread the word of the One God. He found his task more difficult than planned. People outside the monastery were very impatient, especially so towards a man who could not speak. They had little time for his acts, skits or pantomimes.

    Ever the optimist, Umbrunzwe travelled from place to place, town to town, spreading the One God's faith as best he could. It was at one of these small villages, where an act he was putting on was mistaken as an attempt at shoplifting, and Umbrunzwe found himself behind bars in the constabulary.

    It was there he met a bard named Havelin, who shared his love of theatrics, and also seemed to have a knack for understanding the signals and sentiments of the mute Umbrunzwe.

    Days later, released from jail, the two travelled together. Working as a team, the two were able to make a bit of a name for themselves, spinning tales and offering teachings, balancing Havelin's bawdy nature with the solemn praises of Umbrunzwe.

  • Character Study: Havelin the Charitable

    September 1, 2014

    Havelin is in his early 30’s, stands nearly 6’2”, and lanky with a bit of a belly paunch from too many beers. He has long wavy blonde hair and a curly mustache, with lightly tanned skin and grey eyes.

    Havelin is a man of simple tastes. Having grown up in the streets of Caulment, he set out at a young age to see the world. He left a bit earlier than many, and quickly realized he had no means to make a living on the road. He joined for a time with a traveling carnival that toured the more civilized regions of Arcturus.

    There he fell for the great Sophine D'chamant, a bard of renown who was as skilled spinning a tale as she was strumming a harp. It was love at first sight, for both the music and the maiden. While he couldn't charm her like he wanted, Sophine saw an aptitude in Havelin for telling tales, even if they weren't of the kind of content Sophine was used to.

    Eventually Havelin parted ways with the troupe. He made his way to Ouran, where he studied magic and song composition. None of the magic took, but he learned a great deal about melody. The uptight and proper nature of Ouran citizens disagreed with him, however, and soon he found himself on the road again.

    Now he had the knowledge of many of the countries best tales, and a lute under his shoulder. He tried his trade on the street, but found that the temperament of his tales was usually not to the liking of the law. He soon found himself on the run, from city to city, his sinful wit at odds with the wholesome beliefs of the tiny villages he made his way through. His pilfering wandering fingers did not help matters.

    One day he found himself sharing a cell with a quiet, contemplative man who would help reshape his world, and still is to this day. Umbrunzwe saw in Havelin the great spinner of tales that Havelin wanted to be. Havelin learned from Umbrunzwe the art of physical comedy, and the two became fast friends, though Havelin was quite unaware that the vigor Umbrunzwe displayed was but his personal way of worshipping his religion.

    They traveled together for many years, learning to understand one another, and finding new ways to deliver truth and comedy to the masses.

  • Character Study: Fatima Zhe

    August 27, 2014

    Fatima is only with us for a brief time. She is brought in from Jenner's acting troupe to train Aerika in the finer points of swordplay, tumbling and acrobatics. She's a diminutive woman in her early 40s, and hails from the southern wild Isle region of Ouran.

    Fatima spent her youth training at Tamino's School of Flickering Lights, but had to leave early to help her family tending fields at her home in the Wild Isles. A terrible monsoon claimed the lives of her family, and she left Ouran shortly thereafter, not wishing to continue the family business.

    She had a difficult time finding employment in Ramza, where she couldn't find an employer who wanted both her skill set and her moral code. While leaving a restaurant one evening in Caulment, Fatima dispatched a group of street thugs with relative ease who thought her an easy mark. This was observed by one of the actors at the R.A.T., who was highly entertained by Fatima's fighting style.

    Word of Fatima eventually reached Jenner, who had her audition for a play he was bringing to his theatre, and after putting the competition to shame, kept her on as a full time actor. This pleased Fatima, who never loved combat as much as she loved the workout it provided.

    Through the years, she eventually retired from the stage and stayed on as a trainer for newly hired acrobats and entertainers in Jenner's employ.

  • Character Study: Ripalst Mansion Males

    August 22, 2014

    So last time I talked about the women in Jenner’s life. Now I'm going to shed some light on the men. That would be none other than Carrensby Hornuldo, Gregory Knightsmith, and the man, the myth, the legend, Azt’ze.

    These men are cornerstones in Jenner’s life as much as anyone else. Carrensby was Mrs. Fensworth’s first hire when the family moved to Caulment. He is a gentleman through and through, has an eye for detail, and keeps a calm head at all times, being less emotionally invested than Madeline is, but caring all the same. Carrensby is a few years younger than Madeline, and takes great pride in his work, so much so he likes to brag a bit to his friends about it when he takes off for a drink at his favorite bar.

    Gregory and Jenner have been friends for a little over a decade, when Gregory came upon the man in the streets of Caulment, fighting a losing battle with his horse. Gregory let the untrained animal know who was boss, and then proceeded to calm the horse. He said he had never seen such a poor equestrian, and that he needed to learn Jenner the proper ways of the horse. And they have become close friends since.

    And then, the wise old Azt’ze. He has been employed by the Ripalst family in some manner longer than either Jenner or his mother can remember. Bought as a slave from the M’lan empire Azt’ze was treated as family. His skill in the kitchen gave him quite the reputation around Balthwell and the northern parts of Ramza. Azt’ze loved working around their kitchens so much that he asked to stay on when Jenner’s grandmother, Bea, moved in with some friends and told Azt’ze he was free to do as he pleased. He’s old, even by M’lan standards, and is always ready with a warm story and hearth for visitors in the mansion.

  • Character Study: Ripalst Mansion Females

    August 18, 2014

    Today I’ll talk about the head of the household, Madeline Fensworth, and the three girls under her tutelage, Jamie Follet, Melanie Cooks, and Rachel Dulce.

    Madeline is the voice of reason in Jenner’s life. She does her best to make sure he stays a responsible and thoughtful man, though it doesn’t always take. Originally she was going to be Alfred to Jenner’s Batman, but I realized i wanted a much more robust and lively manor, and since Jenner has no secret identity to keep from the world, it was very easy to make his mansion a warm, active place, with Madeline at the forefront.

    She’s been with Jenner all his life, serving with his parents before he was born. She is a prim and proper lady who keeps her greying hair in a tight knit bun at all times, with no strand ever out of place. Her appearance is impeccable and demands nothing less from those around her. She has seen Jenner grow up, patched him up when he gets hurt, and hands out lectures and advice when he needs it. The manor would probably fall apart if she ever left.

    I originally had much grander plans for the three maids. Love interests, back stories and general humor and entertainment to lighten the story. But I found when going back that I gave the maids a bit too much life, and the story at the Ripalst manor slammed to a screeching halt as it became the daily lives of maids.

    There were some interesting story arcs there, but in the end, it needed to be cut so Khristian and Aerika could get back on track. They each retained some of their character, but only Jamie retained much of her original arc. The other two lost most of their side stories. I do plan to have them visited again further down the line.

    While Fatima is in Jenner’s employ, and she has but a brief time in the story, I feel she deserves her own entry.

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