Thought I Owed You Something
May 13, 2012
Here’s a couple of characters that I’m working on for that steampuunky fantasy humor thing I’m trying to write.
Hope you like them!
Maliss, A City of Splendors (for it is presumptuous to say one is the only city of splendor) sat upon the great black cliffs of Coranell and had three of the grandest institutions in the Ossarian Empire – The Central Shipping and Receiving Station of Maliss, the Central Rail Authority, and the University of Causality and Narrative Studies. It is this last building, more of a campus of buildings, that draws the most interest in the city. It is a mishmash of competing styles, stuck somewhere between a stately castle and a bouquet of wizard’s towers that reach up to the sky like old and gnarled fingers. Scholars of all stripes constantly move about the university and the city that surrounds it, and Maliss is considered one of the greatest places in the entire world to study thanks to this proliferation of the educated. It is here that the most powerful wizards and magicians, as well as storytellers and scientists, have been trained in the last several centuries.
It was at the dawn of the reign of Empress Ossar that her eldest daughter, Henia, discovered that the world operated according to a peculiar set of rules. She discovered that what she had believed to be tall tales and myths were stories about real people from before the age of the great bards. Before people were trained to memorize the great histories. Before writing had been codified and set down by her people. She noticed that these stories, the peculiar cadence to the telling and how things were described, held a peculiar kind of power over her own world and her own life. At first she thought she had discovered a hidden form of magic, but as her studies continued she slowly realized that what she had discovered was the barest hint of the laws and rules that the world itself operated on. Many theories were proffered in those early days of study and there is still a tower dedicated to many of those early theories and the scholars that offered them. Some thought that the laws of the world were contingent on the faith and belief of those around them (which, in their cynical opinion, explained the apparent miraculous power of priests and holy warriors). Some thought that everyone was ladened with a heavy destiny that could not be avoided and histories in their way were ostentatious due to a pattern of resistance to destiny among the people of the Empire. In her twilight years, however, Henia discovered the true secret to the laws that they lived under. It was not destiny, nor was it faith. It was far simpler than that.
The world demanded a good story and, as such, the qualities and properties of the world warped themselves toward what will create the most entertaining retelling. She called this “Narrative Causality”. Since this discovery, the University has been bent toward codifying and understanding both the laws of storytelling and how those laws impact life as a whole. One of the earliest of the laws to be codified explained the correlation between discovery, explosions, traveling with heroes and other adventurers, and the height of towers. Thus the construction of the University itself, its formerly far-off location, and the reason why no matter what form of storytelling and narrative study that is explored in the University, every scholar is also a trained warrior and alchemist.
Why this is important to us, in the current point in this particular retelling of this peculiar story of this prophetic history is that from this school came two people. Two people very close to each other, hopelessly in love with each other and their work, who were instrumental to our hero finding her way to where she needed to be. They were Hasen the Bard and Darsella the Philosopher. Some say they are still these as well, though many think they have probably changed their names by now due to the events of the story and the requirements of the prophecy. For once a story is done and its final chapter is written, those characters are forever set aside. Adventurers frequently take up new names to be in new stories for this very reason.
Darsella was the older of the two. She has studied philosophy, ethics, and history for ten years. She is also an accomplished horticulturalist and a well-trained warrior with over fifty different weapons (for it is the position of the University’s philosophy department that in war as in debate use only the proper tool for any job). She frequently carries them all with her, as well, beneath a well fortified and perfectly organized cloak. Several men and women around the Empire have found out, personally, how quick her hands can be, how sharp her weapons are, and how adept she is at using them. Other than her cloak, she is fond of simple dresses in bright colors and interesting patterns. She wears comfortable moccasin style boots. Simple leather gloves. She frequently avoids hats.
Hasen is much stricter in dress and persona, though at a distance you could mistake them for twins in their cloaks – hers brown and his black. He is not quite as well armed as she is, carrying instead but three weapons. He has chosen more flexible weapons, adaptable to more situations if one is willing to pursue a singular fighting style of absolute complexity. Whlie the two put just as much work into their respective training, hers was specialized while his was flexible. Hers was diverse while his was focused. This is due to his studies – where she is a philosopher, an ethicist, a historian he is an anthropologist, a behaviorist, a mathematician. Between the two, they are a bard of cunning and complex collaboration. They are masters of narrative causality and fluctuations within the storytelling dynamic. They are highly sought after scholars among those who would make themselves heroes. Usually they turn away these hopeful upstarts.
However, certain things had come to pass that hadn’t been seen before in the narrative flows of the world. A Prophecy had come to them, a real prophecy, and it now drove them from their city of Maliss, up in the great hills of Coranell, jewel of the Ossarian Empire. It drove them down toward a city that was more soot than steam and more people than palace. It drove them toward a brusque guard of a small town with a name they did not yet know.