What’s my storytelling superpower and my writer’s Kryptonite?

Because I was away last weekend, I didn’t have a chance to cover my DIYMFA question of the week (QotW) and now I have two to answer (!)

Note, before I begin: superpower and Kryptonite come into play in this context with respect to the kinds of characters I create and the weaknesses in writing those kinds of characters. I have other writerly strengths and weaknesses, but I’ll limit this post to the questions asked.

QOTW 4: What’s Your Storytelling Superpower?

I’ve done the quiz three times so far, and it’s been Protector every time 🙂 Here’s what the result of the quiz says:

Your superpower is writing superheroes! Your favorite characters see their world in danger and will do whatever it takes to protect it and those they love in it. These characters may not wear spandex and capes, but they show almost superhuman fortitude in their quest to prevent disaster, whatever the cost to themselves. From Scarlett O’Hara to James Bond to Iron Man, you’re drawn to characters who stand up to the forces of evil and protect what they believe in.

Looking at the protagonists of my novels (so far) they are all protectors, to a one.

In terms of her series arc, Ferathainn (Fer), is ultimately going to heal the world (literally, the planet). She just doesn’t do it the way the spirit of the world wants her to 😉 In Initiate of Stone—by the way, I’m considering a change in title, but I’ll hang on to IoS in terms of discussing the book on this blog—Fer is out to avenge her friends, family, and the destruction of her village. In Apprentice of Wind, Fer defeats Yllel (temporarily); Book three sees her trying to stop a continental power struggle and war while trying not to become the god-killer her father has told her she will be; In book four, she helps to stop a civil war among the dwergen and liberates the dragons; and in book five, Yllel escapes his temporary prison, forcing Fer to confront the monumental task of healing the world, which will eliminate the threat of the mad god for good. It all revolves around Fer’s solution to god killing, which is what she faces from book two on.

She’s all about saving the world, to a greater, or lesser, degree.

Charlene (Chas), protagonist of Figments, starts out trying to solve the mystery of her father’s murder and ends up becoming a protector-mage, defending the balance between Earth and Regnarium.

Marushka runs away from a distasteful destiny (becoming the next Baba Yaga) but, once out in the world, struggles with her emerging powers and a shadow organization bent on the subjugation of all womankind.

Brenda, protagonist of my new adult science fiction (and yeah, I know it’s a genre stretch, but I have seen them out there), Reality Bomb, fails to stop a fellow PhD in physics candidate from conducting his experiment to prove time travel is possible. As a result, her reality is destroyed, and she is thrown into the past of a parallel reality in which nothing is the same, especially her alternate self . . . except that her former colleague is still working toward his fateful experiment and the destruction of another reality.

Finally, Gerod, protagonist of my MG fantasy, Gerod and the Lions, just wants to save his sister from the Child Merchants. He ends up convincing the king that he should outlaw the Child Merchants altogether.

All protectors. They each become larger-than-life characters and they each want to preserve something or someone. But . . . the way in which they preserve often involves changing the way things are, or are done. So they’re all a bit on the disruptor side of things as well.


QOTW 5: What’s Your Writer’s Krpytonite?

The elaboration of the question indicates that the writer’s weakness is often related to her greatest strength.

So I guess the problem for me would be that my characters, by virtue of their talents and abilities, might come off as too perfect to the reader, the stereotypical Mary Sue or Gary Stu.

Not to worry, my characters all have their challenges and foibles.

Fer fears she might become a monster because of her magickal talent (origin story stuff). She has to overcome the trauma she experiences from witnessing the destruction of her village and the murders of the people she loves. It’s some serious PTSD. Though she has to fight battles, physical and magickal, she firmly believes that killing is wrong and has to overcome a lot of self-loathing to come to terms with the reality that killing, right or wrong, is sometimes necessary to serve a greater good.

Charlene has been suffering from depression and insomnia since her father’s death and is obsessed with finding her father’s killer, which she sees as the solution to all her problems. She’s willing to lie and steal (literally—she commits a B&E) to bring the killer to justice. And when she learns that the murderer is one of her parent’s friends, that her mother might be involved, and that she’s the monster to her father’s magical Frankenstein, things get complicated.

Marushka, having been raised in isolation by what most people would understand as a supernatural serial killer and her sentient, chicken-legged hut, is just strange. She doesn’t know how to relate to people. She doesn’t understand body language or facial expressions. Her reactions are very clinical. She just wants a normal life, but comes to understand quickly that it won’t be possible for her, and not just because she’s inheriting Baba Yaga’s powers.

Brenda faces a unique challenge in the alternate reality she’s thrust into. She’s trapped inside her alternate reality self, a woman who is so different from her it shouldn’t be possible. Brenda first has to discover some common ground and a way to reach her alternate self without making her think she’s lost her mind before they can find a way to stop the time travel experiment from unravelling another reality.

Gerod is simpler. He’s small, and, as a consequence, weak, and this frustrates him to no end. Though he tries, he can’t protect either himself or his sister from the Child Merchants, only luck saves him, initially. He can’t rely on his parents, who sold his sister in the first place. Stubbornly, he follows the Child Merchants out of his village, but they are several men who know how to fight, and they have many more children than the ones they bought in Gerod’s village. A failed attempt at a night time rescue ends with Gerod fleeing through the woods . . . and right into the paws of one of the titular lions.

You could say I like being mean to my characters. They kind of have to become bigger-than-life to face the challenges I put in front of them.

My next chapter update will have to wait for tomorrow.

See you then!

How the magick works

Last time on Work in progress: I told you how I came up with my idea for Tellurin’s magic system, and the dark history of the craft.

But how does it work, you ask?  We all have Robert Heinlein to thank for that.

Ever read Stranger in a Strange Land?  Excellent, then you’ll know what I mean when I say “grok.”  You might even grok it 🙂

Grokking was what Martians did.  They raised Valentine Michael Smith and taught him how to do it.  When Val eventually came to earth, he started to teach humans how to do it too.

Grokking, is not just understanding a thing, it is understanding it in every way possible, through all the senses, emotionally, intellectually, physically, and sub-atomically.  Val could grok something so completely, it would cease to exist, having achieved its greatest purpose in having been so completely understood.  Yes, extreme grokking means understanding something into non-existence.

It’s not exactly the same thing, but sourcery and magick work in a similar way.  Sourcerors manipulate a thing by understanding its nature.  They understand a thing in its molecular structure, by its DNA, though they don’t call it that, and perhaps even to its atomic structure, but no further, and this understanding works on an instinctual basis.  No sourceror ever thinks in terms of modern science.  It’s just not a part of their vocabulary.

As I wrote in last week’s post, the source is a special kind of energy, but it’s still energy, and everything in Tellurin possesses its share.

Those born with a talent are also born with the innate understanding of how to use that talent.  The Agrothe magi have attempted to subvert those talents to their own ends.  They delay the expression of latent talents through their arduous initiation process and indoctrinate their students into thinking that their powers must somehow be “unlocked.”  If left to their own devices, anyone with talent could figure out how to use it on their own.  The Agrothe just want to ensure that the talent develops in an ethical framework.  Theirs.

Georges Merle’s The Sorceress.

As a child, the first creatures Ferathainn understood were the spirits of things: grass, flowers, rocks and trees all “talked” to her.  Because of this talent, Ferathainn understands the spirits of things well enough to evoke their qualities.  She can summon them too, though Aeldred hasn’t explained that what she’s doing is summoning.  He doesn’t want her to run amok.

With people, this understanding takes the form of being able to use thought speech.  Though she does not know it, Ferathainn can also read minds and project her thoughts into the minds of others.  Aeldred, not being a skilled mind-mage, has discouraged this avenue of Ferathainn’s development to the best of his ability.

Ferathainn’s understanding of spirits is also what makes it possible for her to excel at spirit travel.

Ultimately, her understanding of spirits will enable Ferathainn to master all of the elemental powers and talents, beginning with the earth, geomancy.  Hence, Initiate of Stone.

A note on source theft, farming, or poaching

As I mentioned last week, a person’s share of source is attached to their spirit or soul.  It’s part of what makes each person what he or she is.  Because of this, the soul and source may be called at the moment of death and taken by another sourceror.  This is usually accomplished by calling the source by its name, which for most people, is their everyday name.

Clever sourcerors have adopted source names, but these can easily be discovered by an adept mind-mage and so are no guarantee of protection.

In taking another person’s source, the sourceror risks taking not only the victim’s power, but also their personality and memories.  This can lead to insanity unless the sourceror can figure out a way to filter out the undesirable bits of the victim.

Waterhouse’s The Sorceress.

So … everything Ferathainn does is magic 🙂

Next week: a worldbuilding vacation.  I’m going to write about my most recent draft of IoS and what it’s taught me.  Stay tuned.

Mage or magus, magi or mages?

Last time on work in progress: The dull detailing of days, weeks, months, and years in Tellurin.

As promised, here is my theory of magic in Tellurin.  It actually starts about thirty years ago with me in confirmation class …

You may think confirmation a strange place for this, but I started theorizing things that had nothing to do with Christianity.  And you know what?  I was indulged, even encouraged by my instructors, two wonderful, open-minded people.  Shout of gratitude going out to Rick Shore and Marg Flath!  For them, it was healthy to question, explore the questions, and come to your own conclusions.

One of the things I theorized about was the nature of energy, consciousness, the soul, what might be termed miracles, and what might happen after we die … to me it was all connected.

In science (incidentally one of my confirmation instructors was also my grade 9 and 10 science teacher) we were learning that matter and energy were the same thing.  We learned about the laws of thermodynamics, including: energy can never be created or destroyed, but only changes form.

So to me, it wasn’t that far a leap to think that if we, humans, were made of matter (therefore energy) that thought, the soul, and all the wonderful things that made each of us uniquely ourselves was a kind of energy.  It couldn’t be destroyed when we died, it could only change forms.

So how does this relate to Tellurin magic?  Well really this species of thought contributed to both the magic and religious systems of my world, but here’s what I drew from my theorizing about magic: it could exist, just like any other kind of energy.  It would all be a matter of trial and error to figure it out.  It would be a kind of scientific experiment …

You may remember from my post about the cosmology of Tellurin that my interpretation of the big bang was that something within the homogeneous whatever that existed before the universe (I called it the One) recognized its independence.  In that moment, everything else within the One had to become distinct.  Boom!

But in my universe, not all kinds of energy are distributed equally.  The thing that recognized its independence (what became Auraya) carried more than its fair share of a specific kind of energy, and Tellurin, the planet, bore an equivalent amount.  That’s why the world has its own spirit and consciousness.

So Tellurin is a magic-rich world, and potentially any of the beings living on or in Tellurin can access that energy if they have the talent.  Talents are another group of senses that allow their possessors to recognise source and influence or manipulate it in specific ways.

Aside from Auraya, Tellurin, and the other gods of the world, everything holds its own share of the source of all things, or, simply the source.  In the people of Tellurin, this energy is bound to the spirit or soul.  It’s part of what makes them what they are.

When the primitive Tellurin first discovered their talents and their ability to manipulate the source, they called themselves sourcerors.  They learned in communities, experimenting with their various talents and expressions of source, categorizing and naming them as they went.

Along came a man named Halthyon Morrhynd.  He was actually an eleph from Elphindar, crossed over into Tellurin through one of the Ways Between the Worlds.  Incidentally, these Ways are just another expression of the source in Tellurin, a natural phenomenon.   If worm-holes could exist and function in a stable manner without affecting the matter and energy around them, that’s what the Ways would be.

Halthyon, as I’ve mentioned in a previous post, is a bit of a megalomaniac.  In Elphindar, he’d tried to stage a coup against the anathas, or council of elders, and institute a kind of magocracy.  The eleph called source in their world the kaides esse, or the powers that be.  Sourcerors were called kaidin.

The result of Halthyon’s attempt to wrest power from the anathas was that he failed and was ostracized, or made shuriah.  The eleph were the only people in Elphindar.  Ostracism was generally a death-sentence.  Elphindar has no gods either, only the kaides esse, and those in significantly lower amounts than source in Tellurin.

Elphindar would not satisfy Halthyon’s ambitions, but once he found the Way and made it through to Tellurin, Halthyon saw this new world as a paradise.  He instantly made the connection between the source of all things, the kaides esse, and the gods of the new world.  He understood that if he could find a way to contain enough source within him, that he could transcend mortality and become a god himself.

The source existing in the things around him wouldn’t do.  He’d have to expend nearly as much source in the destruction of inanimate objects as he would receive from said destruction.  The gain would be negligible.  The people though, them he could use.

So he found the fledgling sourcerors of Tellurin and taught them.  In time, they “grew ripe” and he was able to “harvest” them by killing them and stealing the source carried with their souls.  The way to do this, was to call the deceased sourceror by name, and thus summon his soul.

Sourcerors began to take source-names, secret names to prevent Halthyon from learning the name that could call their soul and source to him, but Halthyon was skilled at telepathy, and could discover their secrets.

As he waited for some of them to ripen, other sourcerors grew powerful in their own rights, learned what he was doing to their fellows, and mimicked the practice to accrue their own stores of source.

The brothers Kane and Jareth were two of these surprising sourcerors.  Kane was as obsessed with gaining power as Halthyon, but he was also concerned that Halthyon would murder him before he could get very far, so he started to develop defences, the chief of them being binding.

His early experiments were with animals.  He bound his soul and source to a creature, and if he was killed, so the theory went, his soul and source would remain safe in the beast.  These he called familiars.  Kane was a good scientist, and decided to test his theory after sharing it with some of his fellow sourcerors.

Unfortunately, the consciousness of the animal interfered with that of the bound sourceror, and the animal hadn’t the capacity to use source, and so quickly fell prey to the predatory sourceror.

His next experiments involved people who had no noticeable talent.  These he referred to as homunculi.  Sadly the same thing happened with them as did with the animals, and these too, he discarded as a failed experiment.

Then he started playing with constructs, which he called golems.  These experiments were never wholly successful.

In the meantime, Kane’s brother Jareth, whose primary talent was geomancy, or manipulating the earth element, conducted experiments of his own.  He decided that inanimate objects would make better subjects for binding.  There would be no consciousness to interfere with the bound sourceror’s, but this would necessitate having a partner who would be able to release and restore the sourceror after the death of his or her body.

Jareth’s experiment was much more successful than Kane’s and was widely adopted, even by Kane himself, but no solution was perfect.

Sourcerors like Halthyon and Kane, after killing another sourceror, would search out the partner, and torture them until they revealed the secret of unbinding their victim.  If the partner was stubborn enough, or faithful enough, to keep the secret, then they could simply be killed.  Although the murderer would never benefit from the source of their victims this way, their victim would forever remain trapped in whatever object they’d bound themselves to.

This is eventually what happened to Jareth.  Halthyon slew him in sourcerous combat and went in search of his partner.  Kane got to her first.  Laleina was not only Jareth’s binding partner, but they were also lovers, a relationship that Kane always envied.

Laleina wasn’t cooperative and would not divulge Jareth’s secrets.  Kane knew, to his regret, that he could not keep her alive.  Halthyon would eventually come calling and Kane wasn’t ready to face the eleph.  In a twisted bit of experimentation, Kane bound Laleina’s soul and source to one of his failed golems.  He’d noticed that metal tended to dampen the effect of source.

And so Laleina was trapped in the thing that would eventually become the Machine.

The sourcerous world continued along the same violent lines for centuries, but Auremon eventually decided that he couldn’t let things go on this way.

His idea was to voluntarily surrender his godhood, and his god’s share of source, to Tellurin, hoping that more source in the world would allow Tellurin to even the playing field among the sourcerors, and keep the power-hungry ones from victimizing the rest.

It didn’t work out as well as he thought.  Too close to one of the Ways Between the Worlds, he tore it open and half the population of Elphindar was sucked into Tellurin before the Way could be repaired by Auraya.  The sourcerors didn’t behave any differently, and Auremon had to concede his failure.

The only thing he could think to do, was to teach young sourcerors how to use their powers responsibly.  So he set himself up as a sage in a mountainous island off the western coast of the main continent.  Auraya created a great castle for him there, and eventually all sourcerors found their way to Auremsart.

Auremon taught ethics more than anything else.  It was the sourcerors themselves who thought that if they changed the names of things, that they could change the way people behaved more effectively.  So source became magick, sourcerors became magi, and they instituted a rigorous initiation process that would so instil Auremon’s ethical code into their students that there would be no risk of any of them becoming monsters.  They called their new discipline Agrothe, the followers of the code, in the old language of the land.

They policed themselves too, and started setting up schools of magick in other cities.  Business was booming.  And then Yllel came in disguise and killed his father.  Auremsart crumbled, became the Spire, and two kindly elementals from Elphindar resurrected Auremon and bound his spirit to the stone that was all that remained of his earthly home.

How the Agrothe functions in Tellurin at the time of the novel:

  • As soon as the prospect’s talent begins to manifest, training begins.  This can be anywhere between five and thirteen suns of age.  The prospect becomes an aspirant.
  • This period is one of intense theoretical and ethical training, highly structured, lasting thirteen suns. This phase of training does not guarantee initiation.  If evidence of cruelty or insanity is detected by the Master, the aspirant is taken to a mind-mage, and their talent crippled.
  • The aspirant is initiated.  This phase of the training introduces the initiate to their talent(s) in a gradual, disciplined fashion, and also lasts thirteen suns.
  • The initiate is apprenticed, gains some autonomy and is allowed to experiment in a limited fashion.
  • After thirteen more years, the apprentice could become a master in his or her own right.  If further training is deemed necessary, an interim period of guided practice could be instituted.  The mage operated independently, but under the watchful eye of their master.  This period could also last thirteen suns.
  • At any time, if the student decides, they can withdraw from training, once more having their talent crippled so that it cannot be used in an unauthorized or unethical fashion.
  • This is why most women, wanting a family and life outside of the Agrothe, never make it to initiation.

Aeldred sensed Ferathainn’s potential at the eleph ceremony of Shir’Authe, when she was only a day old and newly abandoned in Hartsgrove.  Her talent was prodigious and he began her training when she was four suns old.

Most aspirants only evidence one or two talents, the rest developing with age and experience.  Most full-fledged magi might have five talents at their disposal, but it will be the one or two that showed themselves first that will be the mage’s primary talents.

Ferathainn possesses aliopathy, or the ability to speak to the spirits of things, which in turn feeds into her talent at evocation and summoning.  She is uncommonly talented in mind magick, able to communicate through thought speech with those who do not share the talent, and can travel in spirit with ease.

Aspirants are not allowed to use their talents prior to initiation, but Aeldred does not want to lose Ferathainn as a student, so he allows the girl latitude.  Besides, mind-magick is not one of his stronger talents, and he cannot prevent her from doing what comes naturally to her.

He does not want to call one of his Agrothe brothers in for fear that Fer will be taken away from him.  Further, he fears reprimand for his unorthodox training methods.  For similar reasons, he has not prevented Ferathainn from becoming betrothed or married.  He feels that if anyone can balance a life of magick and domesticity, it will be Ferathiann.

He hasn’t explained much of this to Ferathainn.  He hasn’t even explained her talents to her.  In truth, he’s a little afraid of what she might become, and that his lenience may lead her to the forbidden ways of sourcery.

She will be the first Agrotha initiated in two hundred suns.  That’s too great a prize for Aeldred to resist.

Next week: Everything little thing she does is magick!

Have a great weekend everyone!

World info, or the boring stuff that worldbuilding sometimes entails

Ok, so now that I’ve announced that I’m going to bore you all to death, you can all run away and do something fun with your Friday nights …

Last time, on WIP (before we were so rudely interrupted by the outage): The history be done!  For now.  You never know, I may have to go back a write a novel about the past of Tellurin someday …

As I’ve mentioned often, I’m a pantser.  I start with an idea, I write though the first draft, then I go back and start playing.  I do character sketches first, then history, then I start getting into the systems.  This post is about how the world works.

In reality, I know that a world like this probably can’t exist.  It’s too convenient.  Everything lines up exactly.  But this is a fantasy people.  And these are the rules as I’ve made them.

Tellurin has:

1 sun, very similar to earth’s sun, a young ‘un.

1 sunspan (or sun) = 364 dayspans, or days (exactly 13 moonspans of 28 days a piece)

A day is 24 hours, an hour is 60 minutes, a minute is 60 seconds … Gotta have something familiar!

1 moon, large enough to have the thinnest of atmospheres, completely covered in ice.  Looks blue because of the reflected light from Tellurin.

1 moonspan (or moon) = 28 days

There are 13 moons in a sun and they are called:

Isto, Sein, Terza, Quade, Cinquo, Sexta, Septo, Octa, Ninte, Dente, Isten, Seinen, and Terzen

The seasons are:

Shoudranya, the season of spring forth (most people don’t use the old names—they’re considered “stuffy”) comprised of Isto, Sein, and Terza

Zaidranya, the season of the bright sun comprised of Quade, Cinquo, and Sexta

Mardranya, the season of leaf fall comprised of Septo, Octo, and Ninte

Vedranya, the season of storms comprised of Dente, Isten, Seinen, and Terzen

And here’s where my paganish leanings enter the picture.

The sun begins in Shoudranya when the rains stop and the growing things begin to spring forth again.

On the first day of Isto, the festival of Kiestaya the awakening is celebrated.  Imbolc-like.

On the first day of Terza, the festival of Anestaya, the engendering or sowing is celebrated.  Day and night are equal.  Somewhere between the vernal equinox and Beltaine.

On the first day of Cinquo, the festival of Huostaya, the early harvest, is celebrated.  The longest day.  Summer solstice and Lunassadh-like.

On the first day of Septo, the festival of Uistaya the second harvest is celebrated.  Day and night are once again equal.  Autumnal equinox and Octoberfest-like.

On the first day of Ninte, the festival of Sestaya the final harvest is celebrated.  This is when the final slaughter is accomplished.  Samhain-like.

Vestaya or the closing, the only moveable festival, is observed on the first full day of storms.  Occasionally it can even occur before the final harvest.  Remembrance day-like.

The last festival of the year is celebrated on the first day of Seinen: Reshtaya the turning.  The longest night, though no one living can tell with the persistent cloud cover of Vedranya overhead.  Winter solstice-like.

Ferathainn is born on Sestaya.

Each moon is comprised of four seven-day weeks:

Selneth, the full week; Gebbeth, the waning week; Kiereth, the dark week; and Ebbeth, the waxing week.

The days of the week:

Sunday, Moonday, Stoneday, Windday, Waterday, Fireday, Spiritday

The older names for the days of the week:

Zaides, Azures, Telles, Zephes, Auges, Flames, Spirites

A date might be read Kiereth Zaides of Cinquo (Sunday of the third week of the fifth moon).  This also might be more commonly called Dark Sunday of Cinquo.  Most people no longer remember the old names or bother to keep that knowledge alive.

This was one of the things that I had to know about my world.  No one ever states or writes a date in the novels.  This is just for me to be able to keep things straight.  I even have a document in Word that I’ve set up as a calendar, so I can keep track of when things are happening.

I actually enjoy stuff like this.  I’m that much of a geek.

More systems next week (I can hear the screams already), but these systems will be more interesting.  I’ll get into the magic system, and this will be a little bit more like a story than a list of stuff 🙂  If there’s room, I might even fit in something about the religions of Tellurin.

And if I can get my brilliant man to fix my scanner, I might even share my rudimentary map of Tellurin.

I plan a little worldbuiling holiday too.  I have things to share about my current draft and the bizarre way it’s panning out.

So there’s good stuff ahead on WIP.  Stay tuned.

Writerly Goodness signing off.  Have a fan-tabulous weekend!

The cadre … or should that be the cabal?

Whatever 🙂  The supporting cast.

Last week on Work in progress: I sketched out the baddies in my novel.

This week, I want to look at some of the supporting characters on the heroic side of things.  I haven’t done detailed written sketches of any of them, so this might be short and sweet!

We’ll start with Ferathainn’s family.

Selene and Devlin

Selene looks like Selma Blair … or vice versa

Selene was a child when her family and the people they were traveling with were attacked.  Only Selene survived, though injured, and was found wandering in the woods by Leaf and Oak, eleph brothers, who promptly took her back to their home in Hartsgrove.  The child could not remember anything, not even her own name.

Willow, sister of Oak and Leaf, named Selene after performing the ritual of shir’authe, the eleph way of foretelling the future of a child.  Willow knew that the girl would be a seer, a talent associated with the moon.  Selene seemed appropriate.

Years later, a young bard came to Hartsgrove.  He recited his poetry and sang his songs.

And John Butler would make an awesome Devlin

Devlin also collected stories though, and was particularly enamoured of the eleph.  Leaf was finiris, or a song master, and like a bard, finiris practiced not one, but as many of the arts as they could learn.

Though he moved on, Devlin returned often, using Leaf as his excuse, but spending more and more of his time with Selene.

Eventually, they married, but soon learned that they could not have children.  When a pregnant noble woman appeared, then ran away, shortly after giving birth, Selene and Devlin decided that they would adopt the child as their own, but they’ve never told Ferathainn that she is not theirs.

In Tellurin society, it doesn’t matter if a child is adopted or not.  The people who raise you are your parents, and fostering is a common practice.  It wouldn’t be a shameful thing if Selene and Devlin did tell Ferathainn, but they don’t.

Master Aeldred

Walt Whitman reminds me of Aeldred

The old mage was a wanderer.  He’d had his degree from the King’s university, but loved research and unearthing lore.  It was coincidence that he was in Hartsgrove the Sestaya that Ferathainn was born, but as a mage, he had the right to take part in the infant’s shir’authe.  He was simply pleased to take part in an eleph ritual.

The eleph could see nothing of the baby’s future though, except Leaf, who saw his astara in the baby’s eyes.  Selene immediately took exception to this, since Leaf was already over a hundred suns old.  It seemed perverse, and no matter what assurances Leaf offered, Selene could not be appeased.

When Aeldred finally took the baby in his arms, he could sense the power in her.  It was like nothing he’d ever felt before.  To those assembled, he merely said that the child had promise and that he might be induced to stay and take her on as a student when she was older, if she wished.

Aeldred is afraid of Ferathainn, though.  Afraid of what she might become and of his inability to control her.  This he never spoke of either, not even to his colleagues back in Drychtensart, who all wondered that he’s taking on a girl as a student.  Aeldred did what he thought was best for the girl, though, and taught her in the Agrothe tradition.  He does not gawk or wonder at her talents, though inwardly he quakes.  If she does not think she is special, if she submits to the disciplines of the Agrothe, then it is likely that she will not become the monster he fears she will …


Devlin loves Selene, but he always wanted a child of his own, and when Willow proposed a liaison, he was definitely interested.  Willow made it clear that she had no love for him.  Lust, yes, but that was a passing thing.  If she could get the idea out of her mind, she’d never have reason to pursue the bard afterward.

In an unusual move, Devlin and Willow approached Selene.  Devlin would only proceed with her approval.  Even more strangely, Selene gave her consent.

Willow hadn’t suspected that an eleph and a Tellurin could have children together, but was pleased to discover her pregnancy.  Devlin doted on his child and unofficially adopted her into his family.

Emma Stone as Aislinn

As she grew older, though, Aislinn never exhibited an interest in his music the way Ferathainn had.  She didn’t dance and she couldn’t carry a tune in a basket.  She was what we might call a girly-girl.  She loved sewing and making her own clothes, doing her hair up in fancy styles, and giggling and gossiping.

Unfortunately, her eleph features marked her as strange.  Parents didn’t take kindly to their children fraternizing with the half-breed.  She had nothing in common with either Devlin or Leaf, did not take an interest in Oak’s scouting and hunting, or in the kishida (eleph martial arts), and she didn’t like getting dirty like her mother, Willow, who spent her time either tending her fruit, or brewing, fermenting, and distilling it into alcohol.

Aislinn’s shir’authe revealed that she could be a bridge between the eleph and the Tellurin.

Leaf, Oak, and Willow

Brad Pitt with silver hair could be Leaf

These three eleph are shuriah, or outcast from their people.  Eleph society is very rigid and those that do not abide by the rules are ostracized.  In Elphindar, where the eleph originated, there were no other people.  Being shuriah meant death in all but a very few cases.

Tellurin is full of people, though.  It’s crawling with Tellurin (named for their land), but is also populated by other races: the okante, grunden, blinsies, and favrard.  The dwergen and dwergini live beneath the mountains.

Olivia Wilde as Willow

In the west, government is sparse and centralized in a few of the larger cities.  In between, people live largely as they choose.  So it was that Ashandrel (Willow), Duriel (Oak), and Faliel (Leaf) found a small community where they could live peacefully with their neighbours so long as they contributed to the sowing and harvesting at the area farms, and contributed to the livelihood of the village.

Leaf saw his astara, or soul lights, in Ferathainn’s eyes.

Orlando Bloom could be Oak

Only eleph are supposed to see them, and only in the eyes of other eleph.  Still, destiny cannot be denied.  He is even more mystified when Ferathainn sees her astara in his eyes, but he is grateful.  He would never have disclosed his feelings for Ferathainn had she not returned them.

Shia and the anogeni

Once, the anogeni were the hands of the mountains, the fingers of the seas, but eventually, they became their own distinct people.

They resemble pygmies in stature, but have large, child-like heads.  Their eyes are large and they do not have hair, but their ebony skin is covered in a kind of down.

The anogeni way is one of love.  Everything has a spirit, and they respect the spirit of every thing.  This is how they work what others might consider magick: they ask nicely, and usually the spirit is willing to help.  They shape stone and wood, and the core of their spiritual practice centres on twelve sacred plants, or askhiwine.  These particular plant spirits are very wise, and teach lessons.

Essentially, they are shaman.  The anoashki, or great mystery, is their grandfather, the living spirit of the world.

The anogeni find Dairragh after the fall of Gryphonskeep.  He is dead, but these remarkable people bring him back to life and try to teach him the anogeni way.

The anogeni are born with all of the memories of their predecessors.  Between that and the lessons of the ashkiwine, they have a great many prophecies, and Dairragh figures into a few of them.  So they determine to save him, and try to make him a champion.

Ella and Kaaria

Really, I should reserve discussion of these two figures until I talk about the deities of Tellurin, but they are part of the cabal that help my heroes, so I’ll say a few words here.

Ella is all that is left of the goddess Tryella after her brother tried to murder her.  Kaaria, an air elemental, and her sister Naia, a water elemental, rescue Tryella, after a fashion, but the best they can do for the wounded god is to put her into the body of an yrne, or giant sea eagle.

While she can still speak, nobody but Kaaria, Naia, and their other rescue, Auremon, can understand her.  She has a little prescience, and is very long-lived, but beyond that, she is mortal.  A Tellurin with a bow and good aim could kill her.

She’s been desperately trying to find some way to prevent her brother from escaping his prison.  If he gets out, everyone is going to suffer.  No matter what she tries, however, it does not seem to change the outcome.  Even Auraya’s attempts to raise the Kas’Hadden, she fears, will not be sufficient to defeat Yllel.

She does see the face of a girl, though.  Ella’s not sure whether the girl will play a role in her brother’s defeat, or if she’s not a greater danger altogether, but she figures that she will need all the help she can get.

Kaaria is helping her track down the girl, but when they do, it’s almost too late.  In desperation, Ella diverts Eoghan from his destination at the Well of Souls, to save the girl, and she and Kaaria try to prepare both Eoghan and Ferathainn for what is to come.

Kaaria and her sister aren’t native to Tellurin.  When Auremon tore the Way Between the Worlds between Tellurin and Elphindar apart, they were two of the beings pulled through it into Tellurin.  Elphindar was a dying world, and they were grateful to have a new home.

The living spirit of the planet spoke to them and has recruited them to help him bring back his original children, the akhis.  Ferathainn and Dairragh have a role to play in that drama too.

And that’s it for this week 🙂

I’ll be moving on to more legitimate world-building activities after this, I promise!

Have a great weekend.

Character sketches part 3: Dairragh McKillian

Previously of work in progress: Character sketches Part 1: Ferathainn Devlin and Character sketches part 2: Eoghan MacDubghall.

In the beginning …

Dairragh was pretty much what he is now, a young lord, but originally, he too, fell in love with my heroine.

You could have called Initiate of Stone Everyone Loves Ferathainn 🙂  Eoghan loved her, Dairragh loved her, even the character that became Khaleal (more on him and some of the other antagonists next week) loved her.  It was terrible. You’ll remember I was seventeen when I first came up with the idea.

Back then, after the monk left her to become the Kas’Hadden, Dairragh came into Ferathainn’s life and their fiery conflict turned to love, but she couldn’t quite get the kindly monk out of her mind.  At that time, there was completely different climax in the King’s City, what I’ve since renamed Drychtensart.

Instead of the potential Kas’Hadden (Eoghan’s brother Callum) being executed for heresy at the start of the novel, Eoghan as the Kas’Hadden is captured by Kane’s army and publically executed at the end.  Dairragh and Ferathainn try to save the Kas’Hadden, but Dairragh only manages to get in the way of the executioner’s axe, an enchanted thing, and die along with Eoghan.

Kane kept the souls of those he vanquished that version of the story, much like a voudoun priest keeps his fetishes.  Ferathainn escaped and had to try to figure out how to get the souls of Eoghan and Dairragh out of Kane’s collection of enchanted artifacts.

Enter Khaleal, who remorseful, repentant, and tragically in love with Fer (yes, this is why I changed this whole sequence of events … too saccharine) sneaks into Kane’s soul chamber and retrieves the two artifacts for Ferathainn to prove his switch to her side is genuine.

In the epic battle that originally ended the novel, both artifacts end up broken, and Khaleal makes the decision to house both lost souls until they can somehow be restored to human form.

Like Ferathainn’s original story line with trauma heaped on top of trauma, it was too much.  Moving forward, it would be too confusing, and the three-person spiritual chimera was too contrived.

How he evolved

First, I decided that Dairraigh couldn’t be a legitimate love interest for Ferathainn.  That didn’t mean I couldn’t play …

Thanks to a course I took on Renaissance Romance at the University of Windsor, I got an idea.  One feature of the pastoral romance was two siblings, separated from birth, discover each other again, and usually through a romantic near-miss.

So I decided that Ferathainn and Dairragh would grow attached to one another, only to discover that they were brother and sister.  Then to ratchet up the drama, I made Fer his half sister, fathered by his mortal enemy.

Halthyon Morrhynd (again more on him next week with my villainous gallery) is the author of every tragic event in Dairragh’s life, as he understands it.  Because Halthyon is a mage/sourceror (more on my magic system in a future world-building post), Dairragh has a hatred for everything having to do with magick, and when he first meets Ferathainn, he sees her performing magick.  This hatred also gives a little more pop to their story line going forward.

Love is a sub-plot/theme in my novel, and I decided that Dairragh needed a partner other than Ferathainn.  This gave rise to the people that became the anogeni, the hidden people.  When Halthyon, in the service of the Black King (another of my villains) destroys Dairragh’s home and gives Dairragh a wound that will kill him, the anogeni find him, restore him, and shelter him through Vedranya, the season of storms (again, part of a future world-building post).

One of their number, Shia, is his chief caretaker, and tries to teach him the anogeni way.  Because she is both his healer and teacher, Dairragh falls in love with Shia, but he doesn’t realize it until later.  Why not?  Because the anogeni are tiny people, and the physical impossibility of a complete relationship prevents him from seriously entertaining one.  This changes though.

The Sketch

Name: Dairragh McKillian of Gryphonskeep

Nickname: Dair

Birth date/place: 22 years ago in Kirksea

Character role: Secondary protagonist

Age: 22

Race: Tellurin (Eiran)

Eye colour: Dark blue

Hair colour/style: Black

Build (height/weight):  6’, athletic, 180 lbs

Skin tone:  Caucasian, but tans well

Style of dress: breeches and hose, tunics, as a young lord, he can afford his own armour, coat of arms: gold Gryphon rampant on a red field.

Characteristics/mannerisms: Grinds his teeth when irritated.  Anger management issues. Has an unbridled hatred for magi.

Personality traits: Stubborn and wilful.  Innate sense of nobility and the obligations of his class.  Values family and history.  By virtue of his station, he believes he is always right and he doesn’t realize he’s being self absorbed.  Frequently acts impulsively but is lucky.  All of this hiding a devastating insecurity.

Background: Dairragh is a descendent of the de Corvus line, and thus a person of power, but he hates magick and resists this part of his inheritance.  He is related to Ferathainn, the original Kas’Hadden, and Raven Margrove (who is actually his cousin, Nicolas de Corvus).

Dairragh is the only son of Killian and Aline.  He was born on the family estate of Tulach Daire (oak hill) for which Dairragh was named.  The neighbouring estate is Cúas (the den) and Eamon O’Faolin fostered Dairragh periodically at their other estate in Drychtensart while Killian fought for his right to Gryphonskeep. Killian’s father, Adair, did not think Killian deserving of the privilege of lordship or care of the Gryphons.

Dairragh was brought up as a noble knowing all of the privileges of his class.  His mother was from the Parimi lands and his parents’ marriage was arranged.  Aline never loved Killian and after Dairragh was born, she refused to attempt to have another child.

When Dairragh was still a child, she had an affair with a visiting mage (Halthyon Morrhynd) and became pregnant.  Rather than face Killian’s rage, she fled, found her way to Hartsgrove where she gave birth, then abandoned the child (Ferathainn) and returned to Gryphonskeep never speaking of what had happened.

This is when Killian became embittered and turned to abusing his son verbally and physically.  Aline withdrew and except for court occasions, drank herself into oblivion.

When Dairragh was 12 years old, Morrhynd returned and Aline willingly left Killian after years of misery following the sourceror’s last visit.  Killian became enraged, declared all-out war on Morrhynd and tried to retrieve Aline, who he thought of as his property.  He brought his young son with him to teach Dairragh about his obligations.  Morrhynd appeared to have holed up in an old fort with Aline, but when Killian breached the building, he only discovered Aline, dead.  Actually, it was the young Dairragh who first found his mother’s corpse.

This event entrenched Dairragh’s hatred of magi.

Dairragh loves the Gryphons.  They are his solace and he takes great pride in caring for and training them. Dairragh is an accomplished warrior, archer, and jouster.  He has competed in and won several tournaments.  He has also defended Gryphonskeep and its lands against bandits and other threats.

Dairragh looks forward to the day when Killian will cede lordship to him, but Killian continually finds ways to undermine Dairragh’s accomplishments and worth, and denies his son his inheritance.

In reality, Killian fears that Dairragh will be killed and he will lose his only heir.  He also fears that his son will prove to be more worthy than he of Gryphonskeep and its responsibilities.  Aline always loved the boy more than him, and the Gryphons respond to him better as well.  He doesn’t believe that Dairragh should get anything without a struggle.  Nothing won easily will be held dearly.

Internal conflicts: Dairragh is full of pride and a sense of self-importance that hide his deep insecurities about his worth.  He has to overcome this before he can care enough about others to become a true hero.

Shia and the anogeni try to overcome Dairragh’s hatred of magick and magi because only by learning to use the weapons of his enemy can Dairragh defeat him.  Dairragh is stubborn, however, and old enmities die hard.

When he first meets Ferathainn and realizes she is a mage, he hates her by virtue of her talent.  Eventually he comes to respect her talent, and begins to feel affection for her.  His growing affection becomes confused with lust, but when Dairragh learns that Ferathainn is actually his half-sister, he is thrown into guilt over his inadvertent but incestuous desires and has to find some way to deal with his feelings of hatred for Halthyon.  Ferathainn is his sister and the only family he has left, but she is also the daughter of his sworn enemy.

External conflicts:  The physical injuries that Halthyon gives him at the destruction of Gryphonskeep.


Halthyon wants to humiliate Dairragh and destroy him.

The Black King and Yllel seek to kill Dairragh because he is part of the force working to destroy them.

What Dairragh might look like

Again, my drawings of Dairragh are incomplete and I’m not satisfied with them.

My early inspiration for Dairragh was that character of Madmartigan, as portrayed by Val Kilmer in Willow (one of my favourite movies of all time).  Just give him a beard.

Which brings me to my second exemplar: Colin Farrell.  Dairragh is my world’s version of Irish after all.

That will give you an idea of Dairragh.

Next week: The Villainous Gallery

Until then, my friends, good luck and good writing!

Character Sketches Part 2: Eoghan MacDubghall

This is a continuation of my character sketches for my work in progress, Ascension, Book 1: Initiate of Stone.

Last week’s was: Character Sketches Part 1: Ferathainn Devlin

How Eoghan began …

Originally, when Ferathainn was named Rain, and went through half a dozen tumultuous life events, Eoghan was a nameless monk who found the blinded and wounded girl and nursed her to health again, weathering a toxic pregnancy and subsequent abortion in the process.  He fell in love with her, but she never saw him before he was called away by the goddess to become her champion/avatar.

Then I gave him the name of Arastian.  At that time, he was a grown man in his late twenties, and there were some cradle-robbing inferences that I wasn’t comfortable with.

Eventually, when I finally researched and chose Ferathainn’s name, I also decided on the Scottish version (or one of them in any case) of Ewen, child of the Yew.  I’m an unapologetic Celtophile!  (Especially after reading Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander series.)  He became a character younger than Ferathainn, and his love for her completely unknown to her, because she never regains consciousness while in his care.  I had to put a few more roadblocks in their way.

Now he’s a postulant monk, not even tonsured (achieved by the painful process of plucking, which he dreads) and at risk of being turned out of the Monastery of Aurayene as any time, a particular cruelty in a world where the season that equates to winter is actually a deadly season of storms.  He becomes Auraya’s Kas’Hadden, her hammer of light in another cruel twist.

Eoghan’s brother Callum was to become Kas’Hadden before him, but Yllel, the villain of the novel, conspires to have him executed for heresy before this can happen.  Auraya conserves the remnants on Cal’s spirit at the Well of Souls and when Eoghan reaches her, she forges the Kas’Hadden from Eoghan, incorporating Cal’s qualities, and a few other choice bits.

The goddess has to subdue Eoghan because he has qualities that she does not want in her champion, namely his love for Ferathainn, and basically traps him inside the fleshy prison of her avatar.  So he’s repressed and imprisoned, and it’s painful.  That’s the kind of goddess Auraya can be …

Eoghan’s story line is much more dynamic than Ferathainn’s, an imbalance I am striving to address in my next revision.  He is one of my favourite characters, though.  He has to be: he’s Fer’s love interest 🙂

The Sketch:

Name: Eoghan MacDubghall

Nickname:  none but he becomes the Kas’Hadden

Birth date/place:  14 years ago, Aurayene

Character role:  Secondary protagonist

Age: 14 years

Race: Tellurin (Alban)

Eye colour:  hazel, later blue

Hair colour/style:  Strawberry blonde, wildly curly.  This doesn’t really change.

Build (height/weight):  5’ 4”, slight, not muscular.  When he becomes Kas’Hadden, 8’ + and extremely well-muscled, an Adonis.

Skin tone:  pale and freckled, later golden.

Style of dress:  robes, cassock.  As the Kas’Hadden, hardly anything 🙂

Characteristics/mannerisms: none

Personality traits:  Desperately afraid of everything.  Self effacing to the point of having little personality of his own.

Background:  Born eighteen years the junior of two brothers to a spiritually devout public servant and his wife, Eoghan was largely ignored by his father and never knew his mother who died shortly after giving birth to him.  His father saw Eoghan as the means of his beloved wife’s demise.  His older brother Callum was the favourite, the one on whom all their father’s hopes depended.  Initially Callum hated Eoghan as well, tried to smother the baby, but couldn’t go through with it.  Surprisingly, Eoghan was the means by which Callum was able to heal from the wound of his mother’s death.

Callum became a soldier at a young age and was quickly inducted into the Sanctori but when their father died, Callum took holy orders.  Eoghan came with him as a ward of the Faithful initially, and early signs pointed to him following his brother into the priesthood.  He proved a fair illuminator, but asked too many questions for the comfort of his teachers.

Eoghan has been alternately ignored and protected throughout his life.  He is incredibly naïve and Callum’s execution nearly destroys his faith, but the war coming so swiftly on the heels of Callum’s death, Eoghan has no time to internalize his loss.  Callum was more a father to Eoghan than their biological one.  Eoghan is lost in every sense when Auraya calls upon him.

Ferathainn represents his only chance to find himself and choose what he wants to do with his life.

Internal conflicts: He’s been so ignored/protected/controlled he has no idea who he is or what he wants to do with his life.  When Auraya turns him into the Kas’Hadden, Eoghan finally has the physical power and presence to support his growing internal convictions but is prevented from exercising it on his own behalf.

External conflicts:  Auraya wants to use Eoghan to defeat Yllel and bring her word back to the people of Tellurin.  Yllel wants to destroy him as one of the few beings who could oppose the god’s escape.

Auraya.  To keep the Kas’Hadden compliant, she suppresses Eoghan’s personality.

Ferathainn can’t return Eoghan’s love because of her trauma, besides, he belongs to Auraya and she demands his total devotion.

Dairragh doesn’t trust Eoghan and doesn’t believe in the Kas’Hadden.  He can’t deny how useful the behemoth can be in battle, but isn’t sure what to make of him.

Eoghan attempts to protect Ferathainn from Khaleal, though she proves not to need his protection.

What Eoghan might look like:

I don’t have a drawing of Eoghan.  Sadly, I’m not very good at drawing the male figure.  So pictures will have to do.

When the novel begins, Eoghan is fourteen and hasn’t really hit his first growth spurt yet.  He starts to grow a sparse ‘stache and a few chin hairs that might optimistically be called a beard.  He’s got this unruly bird’s nest of strawberry blonde curls and a plague of freckles.  He’s a skinny, book-fed boy.

Though the hair colour and freckles are absent, I thought of a young Matthew Gray Gubler as a suitable physical analogue.

When he becomes the Kas’Hadden, he’s more like Chris Hemsworth (ala Thor) but has the physical dimensions of the Hulk.

And that is Eoghan.

Next week: Dairragh.

Ta-ta for now, my writerly friends!

Character sketches part 1: Ferathainn Devlin

Warning: this is a long post!

Last time on Work in progress: I’d discussed the starting point for world-building.  For me, character leads to story, leads to world.

So for the next bit

I’m going to share some of my character sketches.  Most of this won’t appear in the novel per se.  It’s mostly back story, but you’ll see how the plots and sub-plots evolved from my characters.

The seed of Fer

When I started my hand-written draft all those years ago (egad), in that first spiral-bound notebook (which I still have, thank you very much), the character and novel were both called Rain.  I’ve mentioned a bit about this in my various draft discussions.

She was born in the rain on the eve of what I then called storm season.  Also, her key incident (see K.M. Weiland’s post regarding the difference between the inciting and key incidents here), the destruction of her village, death of her loved ones, and rape, all occur in the rain.  So it was a metaphor for her plot and transformation.

Initially, I had a lot more going on with her.  Her trauma also included being blinded by a random lightning strike, being impregnated, and subsequently aborting.  Looking over those early notes, I realized that it was a bit much.  I brought the amount of drama back to what was still a fairly loud roar, and moved forward with that.

In future reviews, I changed her name to Ryane, and then had her choose another name for herself after the devastation of her village by rearranging the letters: Rayne.  Though I thought it was clever at the time, and that name stayed with the character through a number of abortive attempts to work on the project, but it wasn’t until after I picked up the bits and pieces of what might become a manuscript that I started researching names and decided on Ferathainn, one of several Irish words for rain.  That’s when she really started to come together for me.

The sketch

Name: Ferathainn Devlin

Nickname: Fer

Birth Date/Place: Almost 16 years ago in Hartsgrove, freetown of Tellurin

Character Role: Protagonist

Age: 15

Race: Tellurin … actually half-eleph, but she looks Tellurin and has no idea she was fostered/adopted

Eye colour: Green

Hair colour/style: Long, wavy, red.  Often tied back/braided.  After she receives the broken spiral brand on her forehead, she cuts her hair so that she has a thick fringe of bang to hide it.

Build: Tall, slim, but toned.  5’ 10”, 140 lbs.

Skin tone: Pale with freckles that multiply in the sun.

Style of dress:  Simple dresses with shifts beneath, sometimes with hose to accommodate her training in the kishida with Oak.

Characteristics/mannerisms: Plays her fingers about her mouth in thought.  Feels her teeth through the skin.  Chews her lips.

Personality traits:  Single-minded, stubborn.  Loves to learn and find new experiences.  Enjoys the feeling of accomplishment, and the praise that accompanies it.  Physical, active, but backed by intelligence and long years of training in the Agrothe magick disciplines.  Restrained by that same training, naïve, unworldly. She is eager for initiation because she knows she is capable of more than what Master Aeldred lets her do.  Raised Faithful and obsessed by the state of her soul.  She takes liberties that she can justify, but feels terrible guilt afterward.  Otherwise plagued by same issues and insecurities as all young women: men/marriage/sex/children, wanting to find her own identity/way, break free of her training and conservative upbringing, defy destiny …

Background:  Raised by Devlin Singer (Brythoni), bard, who settled down when he met his beloved Selene (heritage unknown) who was in turn raised by the eleph of Hartsgrove when her family was killed by bandits, a seer.

Devlin is fair-skinned and brown-haired man of medium build and with dark blue eyes.  Selene has black hair and brown eyes.  She is petite and doll-like.  Fer bears little resemblance to either.

Ferathainn’s birth mother is actually Aline of Gryphonskeep (nee de Corvus).  She had an affair with Halthyon Morrhynd and fled her husband’s displeasure when he discovered she was pregnant.  She found her way to Hartsgrove about the time of Ferathainn’s birth but would not say anything of who she was or why she had come.  After Ferathainn was born, Aline ran away and returned to Gryphonskeep. She never spoke of the child’s fate.

Aline is Parimi and is the parent that Ferathainn received her colouring and appearance from.  She is a woman of commanding presence: the flaming red hair, the flashing green eyes.  She descends from the de Corvus line, from whom the first Kas’Hadden was chosen.  Talent for magick runs strong in her family.

Halthyon is eleph and aside from her talent, she has inherited nothing from him.  She looks almost entirely Tellurin.

At Ferathainn’s birth, the eleph could not see her destiny (Ritual of Shir’authe).  Leaf fell in love with Ferathainn at once, saw his astara (soul-lights) in her eyes.  This freaks Selene out.  Willow was disturbed by the infant’s undecipherable fate.  Aeldred was able to sense her potential and determined to watch her.

Early in her childhood (just over 3 yrs), Ferathainn was precocious in the extreme.  She spoke with the wind, animals, and plants.  It was apparent that this was not the imaginary play of other children but a genuine communion.  She seemed to understand things other children, even eleph children, could not grasp.  It was at this time that she was dedicated to Aeldred, an elderly Tellurin Agrothe mage.

Aeldred is Brythoni, but descended from the Saxon.  He is in his seventies but even he has forgotten exactly how old he is.  He is a little soft tending to the portly.  Wild white hair and beard that he rarely pays attention to.  He is unkempt in general in that endearing, bumbling professor kind of way.  He has dedicated his life to research.  He knows about the sourcerous past of the magi, but is reluctant to expose Ferathainn to the more radical teachings of the sourcerors.  As he trains her, he fears what she might be able to do, what she might become, and withholds this vital knowledge from her.  He does not tell her how extraordinary her talents are.

Later, (approx. 11 yrs) Ferathainn was betrothed to Leaf.  She comments on the ‘funny lights’ she sees in his eyes and he practically faints 🙂  Tellurin aren’t supposed to see the astara.

Her life is largely proscribed by her training until The Black King’s army devastates Hartsgrove.

She learned Devlin’s talent for music and loves to sing and dance.

One of her rebellions was to get Oak to teach her kishida.

Devlin dotes on her.

Selene is more of a friend/big sister than a mother.

Aeldred is more of a parent than either of them, and that’s saying something 🙂

Ferathainn has one younger half-sister, Aislinn, who is daughter of Devlin and Willow.  Devlin and Selene are still devoted to each other.  Selene had foreseen that Aislinn would be an important leader and bridge between Tellurin and Eleph communities and consented to the liaison. Also, Selene and Devlin were unable to have children of their own, which was why they were so happy when Fer was abandoned in Hartsgrove. Devlin still craved and child of his own blood.

Internal conflicts:  Fer’s need for revenge, fostered by Yllel, drives her to track down and confront Khaleal, who she sees as the author of her tragedy.  Her preoccupation with sin grows as the number and severity of her transgressions does.  Ferathainn has been protected and restricted by her training all her life.  She has to find her inner power and unlock her true abilities to defeat The Black King.

External conflicts:  The twisted god Yllel seeks to subvert Ferathainn to his cause, or failing that, to destroy her because he sees her as a powerful piece on his mother’s side of their cosmic game of strata (chess).

Khaleal, as soul-slave to Yllel must attempt to destroy Ferathainn even though he knows she is the key to freeing his people of Yllel’s tyranny.

Dairragh of Gryphonskeep hates Ferathainn because she is a mage.  As his world is shaken, that conflict transforms into what he thinks is love.  Then he learns that she is his half-sister and her father, his mortal enemy.

Eoghan falls in love with Ferathainn but serves Auraya, who proves to be a jealous mistress.

Halthyon seems to serve Yllel and The Black King, but wants to find the child he’s never known.  She is the only person he considers worthy to be at his side when he ascends to godhood.

Vedranya, the season of storms.

What I think Fer looks like

This is my first attempt at sketching her, and I’ll have to warn that it’s unfinished.  Hardly any shading or detail, no inking to define the lines, and no colour (I like Prismacolor pencils, and blending them with turpentine when I really go at it).  It’s a basic pencil sketch, so as I thought, it didn’t really come out in the scan very well, but you get the idea (and no, Margaret, those aren’t flaming turds in her hands – she’s levitating stones).

When I’d finished the drawing and had a look at it, I immediately thought of two actresses: Scarlet Johansen and Angelina Jolie.

Now I’m not saying that Fer has to look like this, only that this was the image that emerged when I tried to draw her.  And now you know why I didn’t pursue a career in art 😛

Some people might think this a strange way to start world-building, but my process (so far) starts with my characters.

Let me know what you think and if this is of any value to you.