Highborn & Aeon Blessed

Our Q & Ayl’gard – Part 3

 

Welcome to part 3 of our continuing Q & A series my good lords and ladies. That was probably one of the most British ways I could have opened these proceedings but the topic of nobility does play an important role for this post. Anyway, another question follows in the wake of your previous inquiries as we touch upon the subject of character development and my own personal bias toward the ones that I have created.

 

‘Do you have a favourite character you’ve enjoyed writing about the most?’

 

The characters that populate the genre of fantasy have a tendency to fall into specific groups or tropes that, whilst offering a sense of familiarity to the reader, have the potential to render them a little bland. Sometimes. You have your warriors, your roguish types, sorcerers, your nobles and peasants, the dark lords and heroes of destiny and everything that falls in between. These are some of the basic templates of what many have come to expect from those who dwell in the worlds of fantasy fiction.

From the pool of characters populating my own world, those that I enjoy writing about the most are the ones that I give permission to myself to really expand into something more unique and complex. They may begin as your typical, insert cardboard character variant here, archetypes but then I’ll dwell on them a little and pick out the ones that have the most to say and try to evolve them into something a bit more colourful than the bland grey they started as. It also helps to pique my interest if they happen to have powerful magicks coursing through their veins as well. Some of you may be able to tell but I’ve got of a bit of a ‘thing’ for magick wielders. Just a bit!

To coincide with this preference, I have found myself developing certain characters, mages, that also happen to be members of great Houses and powerful families. It is not a certainty that being a part of these Houses would guarantee being born into magick but it occurs within these realms with surprising regularity. Mostly because I made it to be that way but that’s the way I like it! One type of power combined with another can breed all sorts of intriguing plot lines. Amongst my populace, it is well known that being born into certain Houses increases your chances of acquiring the ability to wield magick. Specific elements in particular. I suppose with all that power, you may be inclined to wonder just how some of them rose to prominence in the first place.

Are you wondering about that? Hmm? You see, now I’m wondering if you’re wondering about that which I once wondered some time ago and that if you are wondering about it now then it makes me wonder that whether or not this wonderment was worth the wondering to begin with – I wonder! The word wonder has now lost all semblance of credibility and sense to me. It’s like saying the same thing to yourself over and over and it eventually just starts to sound like a nonsense word. Now I’m wondering which word you are thinking about repeating into oblivion. Dammit, let’s get back to the topic!

I’ll give you some examples of what I was previously referring to. Being born into the lineage of House Emberheart will vastly increase your chances of becoming a pyromancer. The House of Goram has a tendency to produce a high amount of stoneweavers, also known as earth mages. Like I mentioned previously though, it doesn’t guarantee you an awakening to magick as an Aeon blessed mageborn. However, within their bloodlines lies dormant power going back through the ages that originates from a time before written history. Several generations may come and go without a single mageborn child coming to power and of course, they are not the only ones able to wield these elements. You may have the fortune, or misfortune, to gain these abilities no matter where you are born. I like the fact that what makes some of these Houses special is that they have a history based not only political and economical dominance but also their increased likelihood to have mages born into their families. And you just know that they have taken advantage of the fact throughout their own histories.

To go back to the original question, I enjoy writing about mages and especially those who are born of a noble House. There is just something about utilising the complexity of the ruling classes and their varying agendas and having it interwoven with the arcane intricacies of the power of magick that appeals to me and thus I have written a fair amount of characters to this regard.

A few examples of this include Isabelle and Aeliana of House Emberheart, grandmother and granddaughter who are both pyromancers. Alden the Elemagus, current Arch Magister of the Aeon Citadel and a distant exile from House Lockewood. The Citadel is home to Luther, a stoneweaver from the previously mentioned House of Goram, along with his uncle, Guardian Master Aleksandr. There is also Elrik, one of the surviving sons of Baron Edrik Thorn, who is carving out a reputation as a powerful waterweaver and a strong candidate to one day succeed his father, though his is a tale tinged with grief and a great burden to bear.

So to sum up, if you happen to be someone who was born into the nobility of Ayl’gard with the power of magick at your fingertips then there is a good chance I’ll be spending a good amount of time developing you into a figure of prominence. Even characters that are remotely related to these lineages are of great interest to me such as the descendants of a fallen House that once produced some of Ayl’gard’s most powerful cryomancers, ice mages. They are so far removed from their birthright to the point where they aren’t even aware of their former prominence yet the fact that I, the writer, is obviously aware makes the connection oh so tantalising for me. They now walk a bitter road amongst a trail of frozen leaves, misplaced and far gone from a history steeped in ice and stone. Tantalising!

I would like to thank Ignited Moth for providing the question for this topic discussed during part 3. I certainly hope my response was satisfactory enough to sate your curiosity.

Conversations in the Sky

It is a warm evening in Amberfall as the rains wash over the city, blanketed by the glow of the setting sun. The Amberglow is full effect for everyone still walking the streets of city. Clambering road vendors hastily shelter their goods and tavern goers stand in awe with their ales at hand as Mithron’s gaze simmers through the rain drops causing a cascade of colour to fill the sky as the sun beams through the stained windows of the glass towers dotting the illustrious Glass Quarter.

‘It is so beautiful, isn’t it grandmother?’

Little Aeliana, a daughter of House Emberheart, is reluctant to climb in to bed as she stands on the balcony of her bedroom window looking up to the sky. The Amberglow doesn’t happen very often and she wants to take it all in.

‘It is my dear but I think it’s time you got back into bed now. You wouldn’t want your uncle to rile himself up into a temper again, would you?’

Lady Isabelle Emberheart, mother to the late Lord Lothar Emberheart, is sitting patiently on the edge of her granddaughter’s bed.

Aeliana sighs. ‘It doesn’t seem to take much for him to get mad these days.’

‘I know but try to remember, he is a busy man with much to do. Our baroness has taken up quite a bit of his time lately and it is his duty as the head of our House to see that we do our part to aid the war effort.’

‘The Dothylfar, they won’t be coming here will they grandmother?’ she asks as she clambers into bed, becoming quite cosy between her emerald coloured sheets.

‘Very doubtful. The war is far too the east but there is still much that needs to be done. It is not for us to sit idle whilst our countrymen fight valiantly to defend Ayrlaston.’

Aeliana pushes her sheets aside and sits up eagerly, grasping her grandmothers hand as she stares intently into her palm.

‘I hope they do come here.’

Isabelle is a little confused by her granddaughter’s odd desire. ‘Really? Why is that?’

With vigour in her voice and a prideful gleam in her eyes, Aeliana positions herself upright as if she were delivering a message to the people of the city.

‘Command the Silver Legion to stand aside and let the Bloody Horde march to the gates of Amberfall! Then they shall suffer the wrath of Isabelle Pyremane, the greatest pyromancer in the history of House Emberheart.’

Isabelle chuckles to herself as she ushers Aeliana back under the covers.

‘I see you’ve been listening in on meetings tended by grown-ups where little girls ought not find themselves. Anyway, I think your great, great grandfather would have had something to say about that proclamation my dear.’

‘Lucien Emberheart? I’ve read about him but I have seen what you can do. Those burglars never stood a chance when you turned the embers in our fireplace into a flaming wolf. They were so startled when you sent it charging toward them. It was spectacular!’

Isabelle gently presses her finger onto the tip of Aeliana’s nose. ‘You weren’t frightened?’

‘I was.’ 

Aeliana responds by playfully pressing her own finger onto Isabelle’s nose, giggling as she does.

‘But I always feel safe when I am with you.’

‘That is kind of you to say dear, however, I hope to never see you placed into such a dangerous situation as to have to do anything like that again. I would happily trade away all of my fire magicks if it meant you would grow up never knowing the horrors of this world.’

Aeliana looks into the misty eyes of her grandmother and smiles as Isabelle caresses her cheek.

‘I know but if the Dothylfar burst into this room right now, you would burn their bloody bones to dust, wouldn’t you? Wouldn’t you grandmother?!’

‘Aeliana!? Such language, you surprise me.’

Isabelle tries her best to give her granddaughter a disapproving grimace but she can’t help but smile at her exuberant attitude toward the line of fire magicks running through her House lineage.

‘You bloody bet I would’ she quips as they giggle to each other.

Aeliana squints as she looks out of her open window to see that the Amberglow amidst the gentle rains has all but come to an end. The sky is now almost pitch black but for the stars and a stream of purple light in the distance.

‘Do you know what my own grandmother once told me?’ asks Isabelle.

‘Don’t yell out whilst sitting in the court of the baroness and sit still’ responds Aeliana hastily.

‘They sound more like your uncle’s words to me.’

Aeliana nods with a huff as she has become all too familiar with that phrase.

Isabelle continues. ‘Once she told me, on a warm evening just like this as she was putting me to bed, that you can tell which of the gods are talking to each other just by looking up at the colours of the sky.’

‘Really!?’

‘Yes.’

‘Wow! The sky is purple and black so who is talking right now?’

‘Well, a black sky is to be expected. The sun has set over the Summerpeak Mountains after all. When the night veil shrouds the sky, the Aeons, Samaia and Ashyara, begin to talk to each other as they do every night. But we have a bit of purple on the horizon don’t we so who do you suppose has popped in for a visit?’

Aeliana thinks hard as she tries to recall her lessons about the gods and their influence upon the world of Ayl’gard.

‘Erm, is it Mithron?’

‘I’m afraid not. Mithron is the god of the sun so he only appears during the day. At night, he rests so that his sisters may rise. Have another guess.’

‘Is it Siroth? Lucrecia? No, is it Amon?’

‘Three guesses eh? Cheeky girl.’

Isabelle moves in closer as she points to the purple hue in the sky.

‘It is Lucrecia, she has joined her sisters for a little gathering.’

‘That sounds delightful.’

‘I dare say it is. Perhaps they will have tea and cakes.’

‘And raspberry jam on toast?’

‘And raspberry jam on toast.’

Aeliana pauses for a moment to think further about the last few nights and the colours she saw in the sky whilst trying her best not to become distracted by thoughts of tomorrow mornings breakfast.

‘Last night, there was a bit of green as the sun set I think. Who would that be?’

‘Green? That could only be Ysana, goddess of the rivers, the forest and all that dwell within.’

‘What if it is orange? Like it was last week when you took me to the Festival of Summers End?’

‘Ah yes, I remember that. Your uncle tried to scold me for letting you stay up so late’ Isabelle says with a knowing grin.

‘I reminded him of the time I took him to that same festival when he was your age. He soon shut up about it.’

Aeliana delights in the knowledge of her uncle’s childhood, which she has heard little about up to this point.

‘Regardless, orange means fire. It represents the roaring flames of the twin gods of war…’

‘That would be Kohnar and…. erm!’

‘Come on Aeliana, you know this. I mentioned them last week when I read to you that story from our library.’

‘Kohnar and Morighan’ Aeliana responds as quickly as her memory will allow.

‘Precisely. Well done.’

‘What if it is still a little blue? A deep blue like from the sea, is that Maellor?’

‘Excellent my dear. Using your good common sense, are we? That’s my girl.’

‘And if it is red, like blood, the sky is bleeding as Moloch has emerged from his eternal tomb. Is that right?’

Isabelle stops for a moment, rendered speechless by her granddaughter’s words as her skin prickles and the colour drains from her face ever so slightly.

‘Where did you learn that Aeliana? Answer me!’ demands Isabelle sharply.

Aeliana sinks slowly into her bed sheets. ‘Did I say something I shouldn’t have grandmother? I’m sorry.’

Isabelle embraces her granddaughter, wrapping her arms around her to reassure her whilst scolding herself with a sigh for reacting so firmly.

‘You haven’t said a word that I would consider to be wrong my dear. You just, what you said took me by surprise. The name you just mentioned, Moloch. It is one that I haven’t heard in many years.’

‘Cousin Tristan told me about him. That he was once a brother to the gods until he betrayed them.’

‘Your cousin is correct but that shan’t stop me having words with the little imbecile! There is a reason Moloch is referred to as the dead god. His name and everything that was once associated with him was buried, along with his followers, many thousands of years ago. By bringing his name back from the ether of the Hollow Plane, we breathe life into a dark, very distant memory. One that ought to be left forgotten.’

‘Spooky!’ says Aeliana with wide eyes.

‘One day, when you are much older, I’ll tell you all that I know of the Treacherous One. Right now, it is time to go to sleep.’

‘Very well grandmother.’

Aeliana jostles with the covers as she lays her head upon the soft pillow whilst her grandmother begins to dim the candlelight in the room, one by one.

Isabelle lays her hand upon her granddaughter’s head before she leaves. ‘Good night Aeliana. I’ll come and wake you in the morning. I’m taking you to the city market and we’ll pick up some of that raspberry jam that you like so much.’

Aeliana beams with a smile as she struggles to contain her excitement. ‘Can I ask one last question before you go?’

‘One last question. What is it?’

‘What does it mean when the sky is pink?’

‘Pink? Well, that is colour your cousin’s cheeks will turn once I’m finished slapping some sense into that dim-witted fool of a boy who thinks he can fill my granddaughters head with such nonsense.’

‘Is there a little pink in the sky right now grandmother?’

Isabelle walks over to the opening overlooking the balcony and gently closes the stained-glass windows before slowly drawing the curtains shut.

‘Why yes Aeliana, I believe there is.’

Whispers – From Fragment to Fiction

They are speaking to me again!

Who are they, those voices who whisper words to me across a veil as thin as thought?

Don’t worry folks, I’m not suffering from some severe mental deficiency that conjures an overtly passive aggressive yet oddly charming phantom version of me that is attempting to persuade me to plot the murder of a couple of vertically challenged, hairy footed fellas just because one of them has a shiny golden ring! I am of course referring to those voices that come accompanied by the conversations that emanate as a result of the effort you have put into your work as a writer of fiction. Or in my case, fantasy fiction. To create a world of fantasy and to populate it with creatures and characters can be a particularly satisfying process. Now I find that this world, Ayl’gard, which was once as empty as a graveyard with only a vague historical template in place is becoming busier and busier with each passing week.

It is a peculiar feeling as a writer isn’t it? To sit down and create a piece of prose where your characters are having a conversation with each other but through you. Without your words to bring life to a scene or a chapter, they may as well be banging their heads on brick walls in utter frustration for their inability to converse without the guidance of your hand to put into place their thoughts, feelings and echoes of intent. We provide that forum for their connections. I open the door for them, ask them to come in and I swear it is like I am merely a spectator sitting by the side, merely giving a voice or two to a situation that is unravelling marvellously before my eyes. All in my own head at first and then onto the page.

Did I mention that this is all very peculiar? But a good kind of peculiar. Not ‘Oh there he goes again staring through the neighbours windows with his pen and notepad looking for inspiration and smiling as they give him the finger whilst secretly disappointed they aren’t inviting him in for some tea and biscuits’ peculiar! There are plenty of opportunities to gain inspiration without resorting to pissing off the neighbours.

So who are they really, these fragments? Where do they come from? Are they figments of me, my imagination, because I often ponder the possibility that this world of fantasy I have created and populated with fictional characters is slowly acquiring some sentience. A life of its own. And such a notion, as ridiculous as it might seem to some, is absolutely brilliant to me.

Some regions of Ayl’gard are quieter than others when formulating ideas for stories, I will be the first to admit. Of the three continents I’ve created thus far, it is the cities and settlements of Gaiaden that have been the busiest. I’ve written a fair bit about the Middemire region and the Barony of Amberfall as some of you who visit here regularly will be aware. Not that there isn’t a mild din of voices coming from the other two, Terraden and Valleden. Maybe I have a subconscious preference for the people in Ayrlaston and Lochland just because they were the first to be crafted from the chaotic cauldron of whispers and words that is my mind. I think what brings me joy in this regard is that there is someone speaking to me from every corner of this world and it would be my utmost pleasure to be able to tell those stories. Some day.

Many writers amongst you will probably have some inkling of what I am referring to. All it takes for your characters to get chatty with each other is a few embers of imagination and those first few lines of dialogue on the page. For any of you who are just getting started for the first time with your character creation and might be uncertain as to how to proceed, just have a go and do as I suggested. Eventually you may just be filling your pages with conversation after conversation from characters beginning to take on a life of their own. In time, some of these fictional fragments may become fictional entities that will form the basis of your own story.

I don’t get the opportunity to speak with many writers face to face and so it is difficult for me to gain insight into the creative processes of others without delving online for verification of my own personal brand of weird. For the purpose of full disclosure, I am a little weird and I am completely fine with that. I think an element of ‘weird’ might actually be an unwritten, softly spoken requisite for being a writer of fiction.

How do you approach your characters and their development my fellow writers? I am intrigued.

Forged From Reverie.