Writing character sketches without giving spoilers has been more challenging than I expected. I’ve tried to give current readers a richer glimpse into the world of Caledon without exposing potential readers to secrets they haven’t discovered yet.
“But what is the Dragon’s Fire?”
The million-dollar question. When Ciara is appointed Cosantoiri an Dragon Ar, she longs to know what the mysterious treasure is that she is supposed to guard. Not content to accept the title and ignore the details, Ciara sets out to discover the Dragon’s Fire and stirs up a hornet’s nest of trouble for her efforts.
Birthdate: June 16, 1198
Date of Death: 1274
Age at the time of this story: 19/20
Physical Characteristics: 5’5” tall, 120 lbs, straight blond hair, blue eyes, pale complexion
Titles: Crown Princess/Her Royal Highness/Cosantoiri an Dragon Ar
Ciara, the eldest daughter of Kerrion and Lillianna Muerren, is heir to Caledon’s throne. She has been betrothed to Adrian Zandor since she was four years old, and she expects that he will govern the country when they take power. Ciara lost her mother when she was three, and she was raised by nannies and governesses. Some of them were quite strict, and Ciara is accustomed to being told what to do and following orders. She is also quite comfortable with the dictates of her time and society: that men are leaders, and she should be subservient to them. She is close to her father, but Kerrion has not taught her how to rule, also expecting that Adrian will eventually govern the nation.
Ciara is an excellent artist and particularly enjoys working with egg tempera paints. She is a moderately-skilled horsewoman. Although not physically strong, she takes lessons in swordplay and enjoys the exercise. Ciara is timid by nature and easily swayed to bend to the will of others.
“I always thought the Dragon's Fire a myth—but apparently, I need to guard it? From what? Aren't its natural guardians far more capable than I, if indeed the thing exists? Cosantoiri an Dragon Ar—a title I never thought to bear.
“I heard sounds and saw lights in the south turret last night—a tower supposedly closed up to all of us. Mya says the castle is haunted, but that's a ridiculous notion. Isn't it? I want answers, but I don't know where to seek them. Most of all, I want to sleep. Perhaps the Mystics might give me something to help me sleep? They owe me that, don't they, after their peculiar ceremony turned my world upside down?”
Background Information—Caledonian law regarding ascent to the throne:
The throne is passed to the eldest son of the reigning king/queen. If he is unable to rule, his younger brothers inherit, in order of descending age. In the absence of sons, daughters inherit, again in order by age, eldest first. If there is no royal offspring, the throne passes first to siblings of the reigning king/queen, then to nephews, then nieces, always in descending order of age.
When a royal heir marries, his or her spouse gains equal rank and title (king/queen, prince/princess). The spouse’s power lasts only as long as the blood royal lives.
So Ciara’s husband will rule as king, equal to her, until her death, at which point, the throne will pass to their son(s), daughter(s), or, in the absence of royal offspring, to Ciara’s younger sister, Mya, and then to Mya’s sons or daughters, in that order.
A royal may not ascend the throne with ruling power until they attain the age of 16 years. If a prince or princess inherits the throne while not yet of age, a Regent will rule for the child. This Regent may be the surviving non-royal parent, another member of the royal family, or a trusted advisor. At the age of 16, the heir will be crowned king/queen. A Regent may also be appointed if the reigning king or queen is incapacitated. This Regent will be, firstly, the spouse of the king or queen, or secondly, the next heir to the throne, before the role passes to other family members or royal advisors.
A Regent has all the power of the throne, except the ability to change/write/disallow laws. They may make and cancel treaties, award titles, declare wars, pronounce sentences, etc., all according to the existing laws.
“What if there were a third path to the throne that did not involve either of Kerrion’s daughters? One far more powerful than a vow to a princess?”
Innovative and progressive, Adrian is always looking for a better way to do things, even a better way to become the king of Caledon.
Birthdate: February 9, 1188
Date of Death: June 25, 1277
Age at the time of this story: 30
Physical Characteristics: 5’11” tall, 177 lbs, brown hair, brown eyes, trimmed beard
Titles: Lord Zandor/Vassal of Southlee
Adrian Zandor comes of an ancient Caledonian family and is the son of one of the highest noblemen in the nation. He has been betrothed to Princess Ciara Muerren since he was 14.
Adrian craves power. Legally, the only way to claim kingship is by the hand of the rightful heir, but Adrian has been looking for a way around the law for years.
Adrian is a skilled swordsman, trained for battle. He loves dogs and dotes on his hound, Grymwalde. An intelligent, progressive man, Adrian is frustrated to see Caledon “stuck” in the past and would like to encourage trade and development. He is not fond of social engagements, preferring solitude to crowds, and he does not dance. He doesn’t have a lot of time or respect for Caledon’s ancient religion or her myths until he learns that one of the legends might be true.
“Everyone in Caledon has heard of the Dragon's Fire, but few have seen it—so few that most believe the treasure is nothing more than a faerie tale. Countless stories swirl around the Dragon's Fire, not the least of them the legend that declares, ‘He who holds the Fire holds the throne.’
“The treaty that binds me to the princess assures me the throne of Caledon, but I have a duty to the nation to determine what this thing is that Ciara has told me about.
“Still, the Dragon's Fire supposedly lies deep within the Sacred Cliffs, guarded by Aderyntan by sea, and Cythraul by land. I can't say which I would rather face: a winged monster who defends the waters with fire, or a swift and cunning demon who fears neither sword nor flame.
“What is truth, and what is myth? The future of the throne may depend upon the unraveling of this legend…”
Background Information—the Caledonian marriage treaty:
A marriage treaty is generally arranged by fathers or their representatives. The signature of the future groom may be affixed, but the signature of the bride is never required. Marriage treaties may only be broken by the signers or their legal representatives. The use of marriage treaties was not abolished in Caledon until the late 19th century, although few royals were subjected to them.
“Don’t let history write itself for you.”
The tagline for the entire series, Eric says these words to Ciara to encourage her to start standing up for herself—to take charge of a world that is spinning out of her control. His challenge starts her on a daring path that will launch 800 years of history and change their world forever.
Date of Death: 1257
Age at the time of this story: 24
Physical Characteristics: 5’10” tall, 180 lbs, blond hair, blue eyes
Eric Grenleigh is the son of the Archmystic and comes from a line of high Mystics that goes back for hundreds of years. Though he was trained from childhood in spells and potions, he enjoys boats far more than books. He has grown up watching his father perform ceremonies, cast spells, and spout Mystic dogma; he has seen where religion has power and where it doesn’t.
By his early twenties, Eric is disenchanted with the Mystics and regularly avoids their celebrations and rituals. He enjoys sailing and fishing, is good with horses, a good dancer, and skilled at building things. He is particularly fascinated with shipbuilding.
Eric is a practical, logical, unemotional person. He is a problem-solver and doesn’t have a lot of patience for drama or superstitious/religious hysteria.
“I thought the royals were trained to painstakingly conceal their emotions—the unflattering ones, at least. But I've never seen anyone look so bewildered and confused as Princess Ciara did tonight when my father held that torch over her head, called the blessing of Morrigan and the dragons down upon her, and named her Cosantoiri an Dragon Ar. I almost laughed aloud—and might have, had I not feared facing Father’s wrath for disrupting their sacred ceremony. The princess’ expression was so comical!
“Women are like cats—it's curiosity that kills them. Once she's had time to think about this, she's going to come to our village repeating her question that I didn't dare answer tonight: What is the Dragon’s Fire? I can't tell her. They'll slaughter me. But what if she commands me to reveal what I know?
“Besides, I've always been a fool for blue-eyed blonds…”
Background Information—the name “Grenleigh.”
Grenleigh is a combination of two Caledonian words, “gren” and “leigh,” meaning “green” and “meadow” respectively. The name originates far back in history when it was initially “an Gren Leigh,” or “of Green Meadow.” The serfs who bore the name labored in a nobleman’s fields and acquired their “surname” as such. Eventually, the “an” was dropped, and “green meadow” combined into one word.
Next month: Character Sketches from The Rose of Caledon!
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