So, I wrote this book a while ago called the Beast of Maug Maurai, and it had a few characters in it. Okay, it had a *lot* of characters in it. I’ve worked so hard on each and every one of these characters that I feel like I’ve grown up with them. Toilet-papered people’s houses with them. Been kicked out of New York City bars because of them. Destroyed people’s mailboxes with them. Gone on wildly illegal scavenger hunts that led to arrests with them. I’d make some more completely, absolutely fictitious metaphors that have nothing whatsoever to do with my actual youth but I’m not sure about the statute of limitations on vehicular assault and property damage caused by driving without being able to see. So I will simply say that I know these characters very well, but you, gentle readers, meet them with no real introductions. So, without further probing of my criminal past, here is a crib sheet of the characters in Grae Barragns’s squad:
Grae Barragns’s Standards:
Home: Maentrass Barony
Background: Grae is a brig in the Laraytian Standards, which is the professional army of the Kingdom of Laraytia. The Standards answer only to the king (currently Tharandyr Darmurian) and the marquesses (there are two in each of the six duchies). A brig is an officer rank, roughly between a captain and major in the U.S. or British armies of today. Grae’s father died as a hammer (sergeant) in the Standards, and Grae himself started as a trudge (private). Grae’s tactical skills, intelligence, and bravery on the battlefield have vaulted him into the officer ranks, a feat almost unheard of among commoners. The highborn officers of the Standards, however, are not keen on a commoner in their ranks. The political wrangling of these highborn officers has banished Grae to the fringes of the Standards. He becomes “The Headsman,” an officer sent out to carry out the orders that no one else wants. He leads his men on dozens of massacres, killing innocents so that enemies will fear the the Laraytian Standards. And with each massacre he leads, his soul blackens a shade.
Mullin “Hammer” Haerth
Background: Mullin is a hammer in the Laraytian Standards (roughly equivalent to a sergeant). He has been a hammer for so long that few people use his first name anymore. He is simply Hammer, and Grae believes him to be the finest hammer in the Standards. He and Grae are best of friends, despite being apart for the last five years.
Mollingsley “Sage” Tharke
Home: Hrux Barony
Background: Sage is a stout with honors in the Laraytian Standards (roughly equivalent to a corporal). He is also a specialist — a scout. The Standards have trained him to track enemies through a variety of terrains. He can also track animals, hunt, and survive in the wilderness. He is one of the most intelligent men Grae knows, although a bit unfocused. Perhaps worse than his lack of focus is his drinking, which has gotten worse in the years since Grae last saw the scout. Sage’s father is a successful merchant, importing sundry goods to Laraytia from the far kingdoms. Joining the standards was an act of rebellion for Sage, who has not spoken with his father for five years.
Background: Meedryk is a specialist in the Laraytian Standards. His rank is mantic, which is the third and final phase of a magician-in-training. His father is a scribe and historian, who pens books about the history of Nuldryn in his spare time. Mages sometimes pay Meedryk’s father to copy books on the craft of magic and Meedryk has spent his childhood “borrowing” these volumes secretly (and illegally) and reading them at night by candlelight. Although he is close to becoming a guilded magician, he is not happy. He spent his childhood listening to stories about the master mages of Old Nuldryn, dreaming of one day learning their secrets. But the secrets he has learned so far have disappointed him. They are nothing more than tricks with chemics (alchemy). He wants to know the true arts — that which the master mages call “transcendence” — but is afraid that such things might not exist.
Home: Hrux Barony
Background: Shanks is a trudge in the Laraytian Standards (similar to a private in the U.S. Military). He is also a criminal. Grae finds him in the dungeon of Gaer Froen, where Shanks was sent to live out his days. The big infantryman has murdered, raped and robbed. He is a tall and strong and greatly skilled with an axe, but has a cruel streak in him and is quick to anger. His lack of discipline and respect makes him a hard man to lead. He and Sage grew up together in Hrux Barony.
Home: Kingdom of Hrethri
Background: Jjarnee is a stout in the Standards (roughly equivalent to a private first class in the United States military) and a crossbowman. He comes from the kingdom of Hrethri (see map). Foreigners are allowed to enter the Standards if they choose, although they must speak and understand the Galadane language fluently. Jjarnee isn’t particularly fluent, but he is excellent with a crossbow. He is also good-humored, loves tasting new ales and ciders, and plays pranks on his squadmates.
Home: Blythfarn Barony
Background: Drissdie is a trudge in the Standards.He did not enter the world with great intelligence and became even less intelligent when a war hammer’s spike pierced his skull. He still bears the scars from the wound that almost killed him, and not all of those scars are physical. He is terrified of Maug Maurai and the dark tales that were born there. A priest once told him that “A smile is the armor of the meek.” So he smiles often.
Dathnien “Daft” Faldrey
Background: Dathnien is a trudge in the Standards. He fought in the Battle of Haux, against the Durrenian hoards, and witnessed atrocities there. The most devout of Durrenians are known to occasionally eat the bodies of their enemies. Dathnien witnessed this, and many other horrors. He lost his mind in the battle and was sent to a purificery — a place were the insane are treated (in barbaric ways). Dathnien was released back into service after a year in the purificery, although Grae is not sure that he should have been. Dathnien is quiet, unbalanced, and has strange theories about the purpose of life.
Background: Rundle Graen is a trudge in the Standards. He is a Lojanite disciple, which means he tries to live his life by the scriptures of the god Lojanwyne. Those scriptures, The Arms and The Endeavours, teach that men must be strong, savage in battle, and unflinching when avenging injustice. Rundle is gruff, quiet, and prone to violence. He has been disciplined twice for brawling with his company mates.
Mercenaries and Other Guests:
Home: Gri’Marche, in Kingdom of Gracidmar (see map)
Background: Aramaesia is the daughter of a Gracidmarian cavalry scout and a Sylanthian archer (Sylanthia is a region in Gracidmar known for producing the best archers in Celucia). Her mother, the archer, died when Aramaesia was five. But Aramaesia took after her and is a masterful archer. She is able to make shots that seem to defy explanation. Her father, Vreitagne, left the Gracidmarian military two years after his wife died, when he he had a vision from the goddess Ja’Drei. He became a priest of Ja’Drei and rose quickly in the church hierarchy, becoming a torchbearer (like a cardinal in the Catholic Church). Aramaesia grew up a devout disciple of Ja’Drei, and had her own visions, including one in which Ja’Drei’s prophet, Raeyn, pointed westward, over the Green Mountains that led to Laraytia. Within a month, her father put together an expedition to Laryatia for her and he traveled with her to Arryn Duchy. There, in Maug Tenrae, they established a camp to feed the poor and heal the sick.
Home: Kingdom of Eridia
Background: Lurius is from the Kingdom of Eridia (see map). He is not a soldier in the Standards, but a freeblade mercenary. Freeblades are known to be among the most skilled of mercenaries. He is one of the best warriors Grae has ever seen and makes a welcome addition to the squad. But he is also a mystery. Lord Aeren has deduced a few facts about him, but most of the man’s past is unknown. Grae suspects there is a great depth to Lokk Lurius, and a history that he’s not sure he wants to know. Lurius doesn’t speak often — about his past or any other subject — but bristles easily. And when he starts killing, it is difficult to make him stop.
Sir Jastyn Whitewind
Background: Jastyn was born the third son of a third son of a Duke. He has no hopes of ruling, or inheriting any sizable lands. He is a virtual unknown in the community, although he has started making a name for himself at tournaments, placing high in three of the last four. His brother is Knight-Protector of Tyftin. His uncle Waeryn Whitewind is the Earl of Tyftinshire. Another of his uncles, Kethren Whitewind, is the Count of Tyftin. Sir Jastyn trains rigorously for tournaments and hopes to one day become a Laraytian Lancer (the kingdom’s feared, elite cavalry). He fell in love with his songmaiden, Maribrae Endilweir, and made her his bloodwife in a moon ceremony — a secret, symbolic ritual that has no official weight. He has been promised to Lady Trissis Wyldfourge, whom he is to marry in two months.
Background: Maribrae is a songmaiden — a woman who attaches herself to a noble (often a knight) and records his or her accomplishments in stories and songs. Her mother, who was also a songmaiden, died at the Faur Folly Battle when Maribrae was thirteen. Maribrae attached herself to Sir Jastyn Whitewind, and fell in love with him instantly. Sir Jastyn made her his bloodwife and the two are inseparable. But Jastyn’s upcoming marriage to Lady Trissis Wyldfourge (a real marriage) makes her heartsick.
Lord Aeren Threncaneon
Background: Aeren is he nephew of the Count of Invaurnoth, Jervik Threncaneon. He serves as an assistant to the Erudite Lady Wyael — a sage of great renowned in the Galdane empire. Lady Wyael is the Old Kingdoms’s foremost authority on beasts and animals. She sent him to accompany Grae Barragns and his squad into the forest so that Aeren could gather information about the Beast of Maug Maurai. Lord Aeren is handsome and stylish. He is becoming an accomplished scholar, but his womanizing ways keep him from fulfilling his potential.
I hope this has been of some use to you. When creating each of these characters, I thought of actors that would best play them in a movie and pasted photos of those actors on their bio sheets. I didn’t put them here because reading is, itself, an act of creation. I don’t want to pollute your creation with my thoughts. On my own book. As odd as that sounds. But if you are interested in seeing the actors I chose for each of these, let me know. I might post them.
Have you read the Maug Maurai books? Let me know who you picture playing the roles. Would love to hear your ideas!