Note: I plan on publishing this as it’s written through fictionpress.com or some other platform, so if you want to be surprised, this is your cue to leave.
I have occasional problems with keeping characterization consistent, especially if I don’t start with a clear idea in my head about who they are. This is an attempt to pin everyone in place before the story starts, in order from most important to least important.
Henry is a dark wizard, the adopted son of two dark wizards who tried to sacrifice him before deciding that they just couldn’t do it. At the heart of his character is the question about how to be good, and the distinction between “dark” and “evil”. His primary motivation is in trying to find his birth parents, which is really a proxy for discovering his place in the world, which turns out to be as a dark wizard of sorts, just how he was raised – dark, but not evil. He is one of the two primary characters.
Physical Description: Henry has curly blonde hair that he’s constantly messing with and light blue eyes. He has a slender build, in part because he doesn’t do much in the way of physical exercise (before acquiring a magical sword, that is). He has thin, deft fingers. He has a slightly crooked nose. He tends to move quickly, when he sets his mind to doing something. In a fight, he relies more on speed than brute strength, though also uses magic more than either of those. He tends to wear simple clothing, and has an affection for straps and pockets to keep his possessions with him.
Personality: Henry is smart and inquisitive. He’s sometimes too boundlessly energetic for his own good. He tries his best to do what’s right, but that’s not always so clear. He tends to think things through and then follow his plans. His primary fault is a desire for acceptance and love, and a certain bluntness that people can find off-putting. His primary fear is being abandoned.
Sofia is a princess, the youngest child of the king. She was the subject of a prophecy when she was young that has seemingly doomed her.
Physical Description: Sofia has long red hair that she tucks behind her ears and dark green eyes. She has skinny legs, and stands taller than most girls her age. She has a smattering of freckles across her cheeks. She walks with purpose wherever she goes, and acts as though she’d deliberated on what she’s doing even if she’s making things up on the fly. In a fight, she’ll stand at the back with a bow and arrow, but if she’s in the thick of it, she’ll go for fearless attacks at vulnerable places. She tends to wear light, breezy dresses, and goes barefoot whenever possible.
Personality: Sofia is brave and kind. She is taken by whims, which she tends to follow as though it were the only natural thing to do. She can be stubborn and brash, but she has a kind heart. Her primary fault is being insecure about her position in the royal hierarchy. Her primary fear is dark magic, but she has a distrust of magic in general.
Omake and Hirrush
Omake and Hirrush are Henry’s adoptive parents. The story begins as they’re about to sacrifice a baby (which is more played for laughs than horror). I haven’t quite decided what it is that they hoped to accomplish by sacrificing him, but it needs to have been something that you could almost believe is worth it – maybe some piece of complex magic that will ensure health and prosperity for everyone in their section of the kingdom. By the time the story proper starts (when Henry is a teenager and ready to set off into the world) they have come to accept that they aren’t willing to ever make that kind of sacrifice.
Physical Description: Omake is a large bear of a man with a thick black beard and thinning hair. Hirrush is thin and lanky. Their days of wearing dark robes are long past them, and they mostly wear workmanlike clothes that are good for doing the duties around the farm. Though they aren’t proper farmers, they do care for a number of animals, and have a large garden. They both tend to smell earthy – Omake like wood, and Hirrush like animal furs.
Personality: Omake and Hirrush have balanced against each other in terms of personality. Omake is the optimist of the two of them, while Hirrush is the designated pessimist. Omake is the talker, while Hirrush tends to stay silent. Hirrush is more likely to be cautious and paranoid, where Omake tends to take more risks and assume the best of people.
Rowan is Sofia’s brother, and the primary antagonist, though this isn’t revealed until perhaps halfway through the book. I’m slightly worried about not setting up this conflict early on, so maybe he’ll get a few viewpoint chapters as breathers every once and a while, to set up his turn and the primary plot in the second half of the book.
Physical Description: Rowan has a slender build and the same red hair as Sofia, though his is cropped short. Though he doesn’t know it until later on, he is only her half-brother, which I suppose means that their mother (long departed) must have had red hair for the common genetics. He has small eyes, and a languorous demeanor. His naturally pale skin is made moreso by his tendency to stay inside and bury his nose in books. He wears half-moon spectacles that get discarded once he’s used dark magic to correct his vision. Later on, he begins to transform himself with dark magics and becomes more powerful and fearsome.
Personality: Rowan is quiet and introspective. In a lot of ways, he’s a mirror of Henry. He never had the love of his father, and his mother died fairly early in his life. Though he doesn’t know it, he’s a bastard born of the king’s brother and the king’s wife, and this has caused a good amount of tension in his relationship with the king (actually his uncle, not his father). Rowan has a strong desire to prove himself, which never seems to go quite right. He has a strong sense of inferiority that stems from watching his older brother. Because he’s bookish and inquisitive, most of his efforts at proving himself revolve around intellectual pursuits, which never really please anyone. He comes to legitimately believe that he could do a better job running the kingdom (and he possibly even has a point, though I’m not entirely sure what problems the kingdom might have – maybe stagnation).
The Hunting Party
These are the secondary antagonists though the early part of the book. They consist of: Constance, a 90-year-old Foresworn Sister tasked with tracking down Henry, Miriam, a much younger Foresworn Sister who gets roped along into tracking down Henry after he comes to her orphanage, as she’s the only one that knows what he looks like, and Ventor, a High Rector tasked with bringing the wayward princess back the capital. They don’t start out together, but end up as travelling companions after running into each other and realizing that the two must be traveling together (which I think might be the end of the first act).
Constance is a old woman, short and stooped with grey hair and wrinkled skin. She also happens to be the single most powerful denialist known to Donkerk, though you wouldn’t know it to look at her. She could punch straight through solid steel, catch a sword in her bare hands, and make a running jump of a hundred feet. For these incredible powers, she has taken a vow of silence, a vow of chastity, a vow of poverty, a vow of purity, and a vow of austerity, all of which she’s kept faithfully since the age of 12. She is solid and unyielding, and stern insofar as her silence allow her to be. She speaks mostly in gestures and facial expressions.
Miriam came to the Foresworn Sisters late by their standards, at the age of seventeen, just a few years ago. She has taken the vow of purity and the vow of austerity, which marks her as a lesser Sister. She works at the orphanage that Henry was taken from, which is how she ends up mixed up in all this business. Because she hasn’t taken the vow of silence, she often serves as the voice for the higher Sisters within her area. She has few of the powers that come with denialism, both because of how short of a time it’s been since she took the oaths, and because she has taken few of the vows. She is thicker around the waist, and keeps her brown hair back in elaborate braids. In terms of personality, she is friendly and kind, but more tentative and indecisive than perhaps she should be, and defers to others too often.
Ventor is a member of the High Rectory, and tall man with an imposing musculature and a thick mustache who is bound more tightly with oaths than nearly anyone else in the whole of Donkerk. The most important of these is the oath of fealty to the King of Donkerk, which compels him to obey commands given by the King. Ventor is slightly unhinged, a man of great passions that he keeps tightly restrained. He wears a sacred armor given to him by the Rectory which he never removes, and which wicks away sweat and obviates any need for removal, which makes him far more formidable and has allowed him to take on more oaths than he would otherwise be able to. He doesn’t eat, but he still feels hunger. He doesn’t drink, but he still feels thirst.
By far the weakest part of the current plotting is the part between where Henry and Sofia meet up and head north, and the part where the crown teleports to her and they head south. I’ll hopefully have put together a psuedocode version of the story by the time November rolls around, but right now I’m thinking that Henry is going to find his birth parents and Sofia is trying to make her life a little less magical – that, or she wants to become part of the Foresworn Sisters in order to avoid part of the prophecy about her. That’s the most likely place that an important secondary character would be introduced.
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Pre-writing for National Novel Writing Month 2014, Part 3