Thinking some more about Loriana’s story–

I mean, it’s not Loriana’s story. It’s her daughter Loraya’s story. She is the distant, powerful father mother whom Loraya struggles to live up to. I actually had Luke Skywalker and Darth Vader in the back of my head, though of course Loriana and Loraya’s relationship is completely different. Just that sort of father-son dynamic: the absent warrior-hero idolized by the child, then giving way to reality when they actually interact, yet ultimately the bond between them does hold and takes precedence over all else.

Of course, context does exist–that’s where I think a lot of “well, you wouldn’t say that if [character] were a [whatever]” goes astray. Yes, the father-son tension resolving in paternal sacrifice is… a thing, but sacrificial motherhood is a very different trope. And if you go there, you’ve–gone there. 

So, I decided that while Loriana’s love for her daughter certainly affects her conduct as they’re trying to escape the maze, she wouldn’t actually sacrifice herself for her. She dies fighting for their lives, not as a human shield, but simply because their enemies exhaust her. Loraya lives not because of the manner of Loriana’s death, but because she was never the target at all, and that moment of hesitation gives her the chance to completely lose her shit. And that’s disastrous

Ultimately, Loriana’s death leads to failure. Loraya is able to escape, but only by violating her mother’s express command not to reveal herself, and consequently she gets shut away. “Tragedy” seems overblown for something this short, but it’s certainly meant to be tragic.

On the flipside, there’s a similar dynamic between Arceptra and her mother(aunt) Ariana. Arceptra is a young, inwardly troubled protégée intended to follow in Ariana’s footsteps. And Ariana is an elite wizard–an Inquisitor, and a particularly powerful, hypercompetent one. So, Arceptra is in many ways very much daunted by her (as much as she ever is, anyway), while also resenting her for her perceived abandonment, while also looking up to her. And it’s not tragic–tense, sometimes bordering into antagonistic on Arceptra’s part, but there really is nothing tragic about it.

And somewhere in-between, we have the third pair, not much explored in the novel (and only a little more in the Loriana-Loraya story). There’s Princess Evadne, a warder whose magical passivity prevented her from succeeding her mother as queen, and her two oldest, magically powerful children–Lyssaré and Valandyr. Evadne is far more demonstrative as a maternal figure than either of the others, but unlike them, an inattentive parent by in-world standards. She spends her life consumed by guilt for her actions as a military captain in a very petty war, so much so that she can’t really see her children as they are. She’s not as tragic as Loriana or as ruthless as Ariana, but her choices are ultimately far more destructive. 

Fathers, by and large, are … not terribly important. The most significant one that comes to mind is Cordelain, the prince who married Arya, the Chosen One of this universe, hundreds of years earlier. He matters because he was the only child of Queen Cordela the Magnificent, and thus his descendants were heirs to both Arya and Cordela. Which, again… well. 

@crocordile asked:

writing meme, BEFORE THE BEGINNING

The andhar of children, fluid and chaotic, could not really be considered in the same light as the andhar of grown mages. It was not even entirely their own, fusing easily with those nearest to them. Scholars suggested that about half of all Elentian children formed a spontaneous bond of this kind, to a parent or parent of the blood, brother or sister, nurse or close friend. Regardless of the object, Elentian law agreed that it could not be permitted to persist; all bonds must be severed in childhood.

Princess Evadne knew this. Though she’d never bonded to anyone, her mother and several of her cousins had, and in due course been severed with no ill effects. It was both law and custom. And yet as she watched Lyssaré holding Val in her small arms, smiling happily into his face, something in her recoiled.

“Not yet,” she said; Val, still an infant, might be harmed by so invasive a procedure. Everyone considered this a reasonable point. The severing of the very young was often delayed for that very reason. By the time he was four and Lyssaré eight, however, the enquiries began again.

A good age, said the Queen; the Duchess of Kyristeia, subtler, merely remarked that the princess seemed very devoted. But Evadne, watching her little children together, could only say again—not yet.

At ten, Lyssaré was to begin her education at the Collegium of Athian-Llyrende, with all the other children of empresses and queens and great ladies. It must be done before then, Evadne promised herself. The law put down twelve as the absolute latest, and nobody had pushed it so far. But at ten, Lyssaré left promising her brother that her absence would not be so bad. They could still hear each other, even if they could not see, and though six-year-old Val sobbed when she passed out of sight, it seemed to console him.

Perhaps then would have been the best time; distance always weakened attachments of this kind. But there seemed a dishonesty in that. And so a year passed, and nearly all of another. Lyssaré’s twelfth birthday drew nearer. And so Evadne took her children to the pleasant estate she had inherited from her grandmother, to do the thing in something like privacy. It would be harder now; she had been foolish.

When the attack came and flames swallowed up her wards, she could only thank the gods for her folly.

queens regnant, part ii

continued from here

IX. He She Who Brings the Night

  • Lady Maurdith the Pretender, or the False Empress.

Lady Maurdith Ranar was a Nerocnan warlord who set out to restore the glory of the empire, rapidly building a following in her native Nerocna, and seizing the capital. After several years of securing her grip on Nerocna, she invaded the kingdoms along its southern border. Instead of punishing the recalcitrants who refused to fight for her, she used her strong gift of domination to brainwash them into it. 

Across the sea in Deria, however, she found that the Derians simply melted into the forests and relied on guerrilla tactics, or fled to Marelia. Regardless, few of them could be dominated. Maurdith simply marched the bulk of her army westward along the main road, well away from the forests, and puzzlingly sent the remainder back over the ocean. 

As she swept into Marelia, envoys to the overpopulated dragonlands of Trevalya sealed a secret alliance. In exchange for territory, the dragons backed the smaller portion of her army in a surprise attack on the Collegium of Athian-Llyrende, the last remnant of the imperial city. Maurdith simultaneously attacked Marelia’s heavily warded capital of Mairan. Both attacks failed (though with heavy fatalities), Maurdith was captured and executed, and the dragons sealed into Trevalya.

X. The King Queen of the Golden Hall

  • Queen Lyané of Marelia.

Lyané (or Liane) of House Deylar was only seventeen during Maurdith’s siege of Mairan. She was also deeply spiritual and peaceable, refusing to order her people to die in an unprovoked war, though she sent aid to Derians and welcomed them into Marelia. 

When Maurdith’s intentions became unmistakable, Lyané gathered what resources she could, sent her citizenry to refuges in the mountains, and summoned everyone with the least bit of warding magic to Mairan to strengthen the powerful wards established by Maira herself. Nevertheless, her advisors feared her youth and weakness of character might lead her to falter before Maurdith. 

As Maurdith’s armies approached, Lyané fasted, leading the people of the city in prayers for deliverance. But when Maurdith applauded her care for her people, and offered a bloodless conquest if she would surrender, Lyané defiantly refused, declaring that she would sooner die than betray her city and her people to anyone, much less a usurper and imperial pretender. Suiting actions to words, she bound her life into Maira’s Wall, massively amplifying the strength of its spells. Lyané’s great spell killed her within three days, but the wards held, and the soldiers and spells repelled Maurdith’s army until a relief column from Deria arrived. Maurdith never set foot in Mairan.

XI. The Sad Man Woman With a Box

  • Queen Arcenia V of Marelia, Last of the Seer-Queens.

House Cordell probably ruled Marelia more often than any other House, and certainly did so with the most success and popularity. As seeresses, little occurred that they could not foresee, and Marelia enjoyed unprecedented security under the last long Cordell dynasty. 

But the Cordell queens failed to foresee a sudden dearth of war-mages that cut across not just House Cordell, but all the Houses of the Blood. An inconvenience to the other Elentians, it proved a political disaster in Marelia, which had required its rulers to be adults with war magic to defend the realm since Lyané’s time. Queen Arcenia, who had married late and knew she would have no more children, searched the country for heirs, and at last found them in a pair of children within the unpopular, foreign-born House Lelane. 

She declared the children, Relena and Sairanyu, her heirs. Afterwards, some doubted the impartiality of her decision, as she had been married to an Andastal, relations of the Lelanes. She educated Relena and Sairanyu to be queen and king, and abdicated once they reached adulthood, unexpectedly (to others) dying not long thereafter.

XII. King Queen of the North

  • Queen Relena XIV, first of the Lelane dynasty.

The Lelanes of eastern Marelia claimed, quite fictitiously, to be descendants of the Nerocnan imperial princess Lalaina. The closest approximation this bore to reality was the fact that the Lelanes had been Nerocnan subjects before the unexpected accession of an Andastal cousin to Archmage of all the Collegia. 

The Archmage and all her family came from Khaer, a region in the Nerocnan protectorate of Nelacadium. Nelacadians were regarded as proud, thrifty, fierce, and emphatically not Elentian. Elentians despised the inoffensive Archmage, and they despised her Andastal and Lelane hangers-on still more. 

To make matters worse, the Archmage’s niece Katharis Lelane performed some unknown service to the Queen of Deria, and in return received a fortune and a Derian title. The family then managed to secure a Marelian title for the Andastals, and followed up that success by engineering a marriage between the Andastal heir and then-Princess Arcenia. 

As Queen, Arcenia raised House Lelane and House Andastal to the rank of Houses of the Blood, in order to render Relena and Sairanyu eligible as heirs. Fortunately, Relena proved a competent administrator in a time of peace and continued prosperity, and backed by the support of the merchants and people at large, faced no greater obstacle than the antipathy of disgruntled nobles.

XIII. The King Queen is Dead

  • Queen Adria the Lost of Marelia.

Princess Adria, only child of Relena and Sairanyu, was properly Queen Adria, as she ruled for five years. A bright, promising girl in her youth and gifted mage, she seemed likely to prove a good queen and further stabilize the new Lelane dynasty. 

Adria somewhat legitimized her position by marrying her half-Marelian cousin Valyssar Andastal, whose father was the adopted brother (second cousin by blood) of Queen Arcenia’s Andastal consort, King Lyssar. By marrying an Andastal, she avoided Elentian resentment of the marriages into which the Lelanes regularly pressured them, and moreover, Valyssar was devoted to her. Within a year, she had given birth to a daughter, Lyssa. 

But after an uneventful five-year reign, Adria and Valyssar vanished. Palace guards, royal soldiers, and even the Inquisitors of the Alayr failed to track them. Biomancers and andharists could not find any sign that they lived. Necromancers could not contact their spirits, or find evidence that they had died at all. They were simply lost, without explanation. Marelia was forced to appeal for a ruling to the Alayr-Justices. They concluded that by all available evidence, Queen Adria no longer existed in the world, and whatever her fate, a person no longer living must be considered dead under the law.

XIV. In the Hall of the Mountain King Queen

  • Queen Lyssa of Marelia, later called Lyssa the Mad.

Lyssa became rightful Queen of Marelia at the age of four, ensuring a long regency. Many nobles suggested that the crown should instead go to Queen Arcenia’s granddaughter, Aryala Cordell, Duchess of Kyristeia. However, Aryala–granddaughter to the Andastal king consort Lyssar, as well as Arcenia herself–refused to usurp her own cousin. Instead, she served as Lyssa’s principal advisor, and upon retiring from public life, was promptly succeeded by her daughter Arith. 

By Arith’s time, though, the once-popular and canny Lyssa had hardened into an unbending creature of habit and convention, influenced by a powerful conservative faction of her court, the loss of her husband, and the inability of her only child to succeed her. When plague in Nyalai drove the sick and/or starving into Marelia, the Queen’s party chose to consider it an invasion, and ordered Nyalai to recall its citizens or face military consequences. 

Nyalai did nothing, and Lyssa ordered her daughter Evadne to expel the Nyalains and send a clear message that Marelia would protect its borders. Evadne was horrified by the campaign and the celebration which followed it, and became steadily more sympathetic to the rival faction, while Lyssa’s popularity plunged through a succession of poor harvests. Ultimately, Evadne and her older children Lyssaré and Valandyr, the heirs to the throne, were attacked by a radical anti-Lelane group. Lyssa, subject throughout her life to occasional “indispositions” common among the inbred Lelanes, began to disassociate and hallucinate more and more frequently.

XV. Sons Daughters of War

  • The Princess-Regent

As Lyssa’s breaks with reality became impossible to conceal, and her immense empathic power consequentially dangerous, whispers began of another regency. Traditionally, the regent would be the Queen’s heir or the High Councillor. 

However, her granddaughter Princess Relena, the heiress-apparent, is only a child. Meanwhile, the High Councillor is Arith Cordell, trustworthy and competent, but head of the family which the Queen’s enemies wish to restore to the throne. Lyssa seems to have stabilized for now, but even the faithful Arith fears that any trouble could send her into a permanent decline, with no clear choice of regent.