Character Bios: Rafaela Loxwell

Steely, long serving captain of HGA November Squad. She demands strict control, especially over herself.

00012 Rafaella Loxwell

Rafaela Loxwell was born in 1968 into a wealthy Brazilian family. She lived in a secure, isolated mansion outside of Rio de Janeiro, where her parents had already planned out her life. They were both members in the Hidden Government Army, and their daughter was going to follow in their footsteps.

Rafaela had other ideas. Through a combination of teenage rebellion and a warm desire to help people less fortunate than her, Rafaela often travelled deep into Rio’s slums. She knew orphans lived on the streets, and wanted to help them any way she could. Rafaela gave herself the responsibility of taking care of them all.

She still has fond memories of the friends she made, though the memories are often mired by sadness. A lot of the children she met – some only a few years younger than her – disappeared without explanation.

Her forthright disobedience was not unsupervised, either. Rafaela thought she was being clever, sneaking in and out of her home while her parents were constantly busy, but over the years Rafaela realised that the Hidden Government had always kept a close eye on her. By the time of Typhoon of Fire, Rafaella Loxwell is Captain of November Squad and has been so for several years. She likes her position; because despite the heavily monitored military she belongs to, Rafaela is able to exert some control and influence to get her own way. She still chooses carries to carry responsibility, and to stand up against any opposition.

Loxwell may come across as mean on first impressions, but she always has the welfare and safety of everybody around her foremost in her mind. She does not abide by sloppiness. Sloppiness leads to mistakes, and mistakes can lead to trouble. She gives everybody a chance to prove themselves, and her ways of encouragement are brash, but fair.

The powers which made her eligible for the Hidden Government Army are remarkable. For as long as she could remember, Loxwell has been able to heal wounds with self control. This adept self control ability extends to every small function of her body; from maintaining steady heart rate and breathing, to forcing certain muscles to immediately overwork or relax through conscious command. She can force herself not to perspire, and control her own fatigue and hunger, holding them back with steady regulation. Her ability clearly plays into Loxwell’s formal, take-charge personality. She is a woman who can make herself relax, but refuses to. In fact, she rather likes staying constantly alert and on her toes.  She has massive responsibility after all, as captain of her squad.

In combat, Loxwell favours physical, close range attacking. She uses a unique sword, named Fulvia – named after the ambitious Roman political figure and the electromagnetic substance. A technological weapon powered by Thunder magic, Fulvia can be charged with electricity to cause shock and burn damage. Or may seem viol, but Loxwell prefers a job taken care of.

She rarely uses Combat Magic, or fire arms unless necessary. Loxwell’s sword is enough, and she expects her team to contribute. Loxwell’s prowess and command have see her offered many promotions to become an officer, but she consistently declines. The battlefield is her place, where she can keep a close eye on everyone and everything.


Advertisements

Author’s Notes #2: Into the Fire

Let’s talk about Typhoon of Fire, the sequel to Call of the Conjurer.

2016-design-copy

This book was always in the back of my mind. At the very least, I had drafted some of the major plot points as early as 1999.

Another prequel before the Bloodfest series really begins, Typhoon of Fire is a notable mark in the lives of the leading characters in the series. New soldiers Ace Mcdagger, Shimon Akasone and Tiffany Milich have been through a lot more combat since their graduation in Call of the Conjurer, and have enjoyed a gentle, serene tour with Sierra Squad ever since.

But things had to change.

New Setting

In retrospect, I would like to write more about the cast of Sierra Squad more. They get a brief look in during one of the Typhoon of Fire‘s flashback chapters, but the morose collective in November Squad and their head strong leader Captain Rafaella Loxwell were the more battered, despondent, colourful bunch to tell a story about. Newbies Ace and co – including plucky unlucky fellow “green” soldier Gill Pillson – are dropped into the ‘fire’ of the sweltering Malaysian wilderness and put to the test by their stern new captain.

Captain Loxwell is a marked change from Captain Mason in Call of the Conjurer. She is strict and intimidating, and doesn’t seem to understand the ‘fuss’ over Ace Mcdagger. He tries hard to impress, but not as hard as he should do. Tiffany shines at least; Captain Loxwell regards her highly as fellow woman in the military. It’s a highly pro-feminist attitude, and one I’m glad to encourage. Where Ace had Captain Mason beforehand, Tiffany is given a mentor in Captain Loxwell.

 

_20170405_071728

Captain Loxwell’s stern leadership brings a change to the group dynamic.

Several new components to the Bloodfest series lore are introduced in this book, including other branches of the Hidden Government Army and a better examination of the way Magic works. At the start of the story, November Squad have lost a large number of their team mates following an unprepared assault on black listed Hidden Government facility, only known as the “D” Laboratory. The blame for the failure is constantly passed around between the leading officers of November Squad and the higher command; the Air Force soldiers, who are introduced in this book as the secret armed force’s own “Eyes in the Sky”. The Air Force wield a lot of power and authority over the Ground Forces, which keeps November Squad as the respected underdogs. I love an underdog tale, and the Bloodfest series is full of them.

New Bonds

Ace’s desire to prove himself before Captain Loxwell is tested further with the introduction of his estranged cousin (or should that be strange cousin) Damian Hassler. The young lad is a handful. He’s arrogant, destructive, disobedient, and perhaps even insane; but he looks up to Ace as an older brother. It’s a new dynamic, creating a great duo pairing to coincide with Ace and Shimon, and Shimon and Tiffany.

In fact “duos” is a major theme of Typhoon of Fire. Close bounds form the story together, from friends, lovers, comrades and rivals. All the characters meet their match both good or bad in this book. Ace stresses over Damian, the lovers Shimon and Tiffany face relationship turmoil as they juggle duty and romance, Loxwell and her trusted ally Lieutenant Bordestein keep each other grounded. Even the villains and their motivations are driven by the common theme of “duos”. Trying to spot them all in the story will take some time.

_20170405_065820

A sketch of Damian, introduced to Bloodfest as a hot headed renegade / borderline psychopath (who you want to keep on your side).

The other major theme of the book is Hell – fire and discomfort, suffering and tragedy.  The river journey early on was the first part of the book I wrote, as a starting point for the visuals: the general colour palette and mood I wanted for the book. There’s a lot of orange haze and burned out decay, in-between scenes of vibrant green life. Admittedly I was heavily inspired by Apocalypse Now and other Vietnam war films for the setting – which in turn was based on the book Heart of Darkness. The Kalimantan region of Malaysia is beautiful and wild, but also dangerous and unfamiliar. When draped in a constantly fire scorched sky, it can be quite a daunting landscape. The jungle setting of the Kalimantan is also a far cry away form the clean comforts of Myrtle Beach in Call of the Conjurer. In the Kalimantan the soldiers are truly living – surviving – day to day on rations and requiring to be on guard at all times.

Malaysia is not the only backdrop to the story. The cast venture off all over the world, reaching as far as Canada, New York, Warsaw, and the Huayna Potosi mountain range in Bolivia. These soldiers do get around.

There’s another theme throughout the book – life, and whether ‘Life’ is always a wondrous miracle. Sometimes ‘Death’ may be the kindest alternative, but I’ll leave this interpretation to the readers. I’m not inciting an anti-life movement here, but I enjoy a skewed look on the world.

New Danger

A sequel needs to raise the stakes, but this book is still a prequel to what is to come. The main cast are still young and inexperienced, and their adversaries need to be a raised threat, but still not as bad as what may come in the future. Juggling this balance was an interesting challenge. The immediate antagonists; the mad scientist Dr Weiss and traitorous witch soldier Nathan Edgrech, are only human despite their dangerous capabilities. Dr Weiss is a man spoken about in legend, and Edgrech stirs nothing but contempt among his former comrades. He’s sick in the head and deviously cruel, but he can only fight dirty, which shows how much of a coward he is.

Even the early monsters encountered; the Mirezyns and Towermen, are relatively docile and easy to defeat. It’s when the story reaches a point-of-no-return around chapters 16 and 17 that the stakes are unevenly raised, and by chapter 20 all hell is literally breaking loose. The encounters are more visceral, mixing science, nature and magic in ways it should not. If Call of the Conjurer seemed tame on the horror aspect, Typhoon of Fire kicks it up a notch. It kicks its teeth out.

 

Tof Tree Monst doodle

Pen scribble of the kind of ‘living hell’ organisms in the story.

Overall, Typhoon of Fire is a story about challenge and change. There are several moments for the characters to take a breather away from the battlefield and relax. There are always moments of light comedy throughout (and some moments of dark comedy), but things tend to get harder before they get any better, and there is a tremendous tonal shift by the end of the story. I’m proud of how it came out, and preliminary reviews say it is better than Call of the Conjurer.

For the full experience, you’ll just have to read on.

Typhoon of Fire is available on Amazon Kindle right now.

Author’s Notes #1

 

A Reflection on Call of the Conjurer.

Book Cover 2016

“It is always fun to drop a bunch of people into a small room and see what happens.”

  Call of the Conjurer was released nearly two years ago and went through a number of iterations to get it just right. I realise how much more fluid I have become as a writer; ,y later books have required less editing. I have received plenty of feedback since then; I know my problems and plus points; what people liked with Call of the Conjurer and what they disagreed with. Overall, hearing opinions about your own work is amazing. Today, I decided to put my thoughts down on how and why the book was written in the first place.


Origin Story

  As I’ve said at the start of this blog, Bloodfest originated in the late 90’s as an amateur animated film about a bunch of soldiers fighting the Grim Reaper and his army of zombies for some reason. Back then it was just a bunch of eleven year olds spouting off funny lines (or what we thought were funny) and pushing a Lego coach into a crowd of plasticine zombies. The film couldn’t even be animated with a standard home camcorder. God knows I tried but recording 1/24 frames a second with only a pause button was impossible.

   I might look back with disdain, but it was fun. I can still recall the smell of modelling clay and red acrylic paint.

  The Bloodfest series stuck with me over the years as a collection of sequels, drawings and models, all improving over time. I had made (most of) an RPG based on the film and kept my mind afloat by coming up with short side stories. It might sound weird, but I wanted to hold on to this made-up world. Sometimes the real world doesn’t compare to the ones we imagine. You know what I mean?

  About 2010, after one joyful day playing through the entirety of the Metal Slug series at a friend’s house, I wondered how Bloodfest would fare as an old school arcade shoot-em up game. Something really Contra-like; pixelated violence where every-goddamned-thing explodes. It would have totally worked, and as I considered a plot I began to think about the origins of the characters from Bloodfest, which I had never really considered before. What was the first mission for the veteran, magically enhanced soldiers Ace Mcdagger and Shimon Arkasone, with their respective shotgun and sword prowess? What did they do long before the rest of the Bloodfest team came along, long before they faced the Grim Reaper and his zombies?

  For a game, Ace and Shimon would be players one and two, of course. And this origin story would have been how they met Tiffany Milich too. I needed a fourth character, and immediately pictured Captain Mason. The superior officer, someone who Ace would look up to. Mason was armed with a shotgun, to indicate the inevitable passing of the torch to ‘Shotgun’ Ace Mcdagger. Maybe Mason would have to be an unlockable, secret character. He would be too powerful, perhaps.

  Characters in mind, I envisioned a straight forward plot to keep things simple: there are monsters, shoot them all. In my mind the enemies would have to be straight forward and instantly recognisable. They would be humanoid monsters; medieval ghouls, perhaps. Occasionally a skeletal ghost or an orge shows up.

  I pictured the game clearly, and what would essentially become the second half of Call of the Conjurer. Video games in the 90’s usually started Level One with a hilly, grassy stage. Level Two is in the woods, or a misty mountain, or a factory for some reason. Level Three is the Water Stage and Level Four is the Volcano, obviously.

  For my Level One I imagined a cave; and I instantly remembered visiting the Valkenburg Municipal Caves a school trip in 1998. A warm, inviting cavern of carvings and Christmas lights. In my head I filled that location with ghouls and stuck a giant, tree ghost as the end of stage boss. The Waldgeist; a step up from the regular foes but nothing too daunting.

Waldgeist

Waldgeist sketch from 2010.

  The end of the story (which in my non-existent arcade shooter is Level Six) takes place in a haunted castle. Everything is chaotic; a red storm scrolls past the windows, the enemies are leaping from the ceiling and floors. There’s a boss rush, right before the final encounter with the most evil of all; a person. An unexpected instigator – a young woman, a teenage girl, perhaps, going full blown sorcerer and about to end the world.

  That was about all I had for the game for now. My brain shifted to focus on the actual story – because the first mission couldn’t be the start of things. Ace, Shimon and Tiffany needed training, and that was where Call of the Conjurer truly began.

  I was out of work at the time, only ever taking up short Animation jobs or contracted labour roles. I knew I wanted to do something more, and my confidence had reached a stage where I decided to write a Bloodfest novel. Instead of re-writing the old films, I thought it best to introduce Bloodfest to the world by starting right at the beginning, and set about writing “Bloodfest 0”, also code named “Training Days”.

Old character sketches from around 2010.


Initiation

  Right from the beginning I wanted to invoke that feeling we get when we start in a new place. The first day of school, college, work; being in a room surrounded by unfamiliar faces. It’s a moment of potential. You look around and wonder who all these people are, who you’re going to get to know; maybe some of them will become your best friends, maybe you’ll meet a lifelong partner, or an enemy. Maybe you’ll get to know some people quickly, drift apart, and get to know the others even more.

  Maybe you’ll stay distant and none of them will know you well, but it’s impossible not to learn a little bit about somebody new in a day, even in an hour.

  I felt this was a good starting point for the characters. The audience knows nothing about who these people are except for what is given to them, and more details filter in over time. It was a perfect way to introduce the world of Bloodfest – the set up or magic soldiers, working for a secret organisation who rule the world.

  We had always set the first Bloodfest film in the year 2012. Back when we made the home movie in 1996, that date seemed like a long way off – a time when futuristic technology might be readily available; when laser rifles and robots might be common place, but not so far into the future that everything is laser rifles and robots.

  I worked out that Call of the Conjurer would have taken place in 2003. That was a lot to look back on. The world was different 13 years ago, although it doesn’t feel that way. Back then, tablet computers and iPhones were less prevalent. People still used CD players… at least I did. I wanted the characters in the story to be using ordinary, time relevant equipment. Although it is suggested that the Hidden Government possess advanced technology, I didn’t think that recruits would have access to the best stuff right away, and the training facility seemed more homely and familiar with ordinary, every day items. I didn’t want the place to be flashy and alien, so it was all conceived to be rustic and plain, like an average office or public school.

  I did, at the same time, want to take the main two British characters away from home. I established the training base in America, because it seemed like the right place for it to exist. I also wanted to set it in a warm, welcoming location, somewhere that might feel like a holiday; a step up from the normal world, somewhere quite vibrant and well off. The east coast came to mind amd I eventually decided upon Myrtle Beach in South Carolina.

  I kept the cast to a minimal. There were a few who I knew had to exist; such as Lieutenant Baker to act as Captain Mason’s counterpoint, and Gretel Salneth to help Ace show his humanity. My preference of character creation is to envision them and go with that initial concept – it goes back to my ‘first day of work’ ideology; the people you met are already there. I don’t want to build a world where it seems like everybody has been placed purposely (unless the story calls for a situation like that). I would rather populate my stories with natural people, maybe even ugly and broken ones, than a selection of checkboxes. I actually feel that with Call of the Conjurer you could remove or replace a lot of the characters and the ending would always be the same – it had to be, it was written as a prequel, after all – but that would only serve to reduce the overall story. It could have worked with just Ace, Shimon, Tiffany as the recruits and Mason showing them what to do, but it would have been a very short book. I wanted to involve more characters. It is always fun to drop a bunch of people into a small room and see what happens. I think that even the most minimal, one line characters need a bit of back story or a vivid description. The other recruits, soldiers and civilian characters all developed organically. Again, I just went with initial ideas and eventually everybody settled into place. I quite like how the character Cheng takes a long time to open up, and you only really get to know him right before the end.

Various concepts for cover art.  


 

  Call of the Conjurer for me is a collection of ideas. It is potential; it is the first day at work where the job is selling the Bloodfest series to the general public. I hope it holds up to that, even if the going has been very slow. Writing the book was a great learning experience, and now it exists.

Character Bios: Leum Tollad

A large hearted medic and mage who talks little about himself, leaving many to wonder just how on earth he qualified for military service.

00010 Leum Tollad

Leum Tollard was born in Oklahoma, and has a well documented family tree. He is well aware of having Cherokee and Scandinavian roots, and has a keen interest in world history and culture.  Staying faithful to his family upbringing, Leum  is a devoted Unitarian Christian and has maintained a quiet, hopeful attitude throughout his life.

Leum is a soft, weebly sort of fellow. He has a light, ‘airy’ voice and a gentleness unsuited for the battlefield. He possesses the power of Healing Hands – the ability to mend wounds and treat small illnesses with his palms – and a strong affinity to Wind magic. Given his preference pacifism and obviously weight / health problems; the details of his Awakening and recruitment into the Hidden Government Army remain a closely guarded secret…

…By us.

Ever since the character’s creation for the original home movie in 1998, myself and James were in agreement that Leum’s backstory should remain a mystery. Small snippets will occasionally slip out throughout the series, but they will only serve to add more confusion.

Naturally, Leum clashes with team mate Damian Hassler frequently; the latter hurling insults about Leum’s obesity, positive outlook and haircut; while Leum quietly ignores him. He seems infested, even finding humour in the abuse, but no one is sure how he really feels.

Damian will admit that he likes Leum really. Everybody likes Leum. He is a natural healer who wishes to help everyone and stay upbeat, though Leum can be meandering and clumsy at times. Despite the occasional blunder, Delta Squad know they are lucky to have him around and will readily side Leum to support him.


Creation Notes:

  • In the original movie, Leum was more of a comic foil.
    He was really stupid, basically.
    That’s all been wiped away, and Leum in the book series in considerably smarter. He may or may not have a diploma in some kind of culture histories study.
  • I don’t know honestly.
  • Leum is a complete enigma.
  • Some of his backstory involves being part of a biker gang, being an Aid Worker in Africa, having a wife, and being an alcoholic.
  • He is twenty six years old during Typhoon of Fire
  • Leum has had the same haircut his entire life.

Interview with Hungry Monster Review

Today I am interviewed by hungrymonsterreview.com on Call of the Conjurer.

Book Cover 2016

“A World Where Magic Is A Natural Force”

Call of the Conjurer is a story about a group of diverse soldiers brought together to be initiated into magical combat. What was your inspiration for blending military fiction with magic and the paranormal?

Call of the Conjurer was actually written as a prequel to a homemade, stop-motion film some friends and I made when we were kids, way back around 1996. It was called Bloodfest, and it was mainly about a squad of modelling clay soldiers tearing through a Lego city full of demons and zombies. It would have been on youtube, if that had existed back then. Ultimately Bloodfest was just a weird little black comedy with minimal plot, although the whole setting and the characters stayed with me for years afterwards. It was when I started toying about with programming and began work on a Bloodfest video game that I started to give it more thought. The original story was a bare concept, and we had made the Bloodfest team far from professional – quite “Monty Pythonesque” in their quirkiness, so I had to ask myself: ‘Why was it up to this squad of soldiers to save the whole world from monsters? What made them capable to do such a thing?’ That was when I had the idea of giving them all super powers and magic spells. I wanted to make an RPG game, and to let players customise the characters with a selection of spells and abilities. I also thought more about the backstory, how the team were in service to a shadowy “Hidden Government” who deployed them to fight off extreme threats. Working on the world building to explain how and why the soldiers had magic; why their abilities were so rare and why there were monsters in existence, eventually led me to write Call of the Conjurer when I wanted to try self-publishing books. I decided to start from the beginning, and work my way up to writing Bloodfest as a novel. I never quite finished that RPG game, but maybe I’ll get back to it sometime!

I felt that the military jargon and tactics used was well displayed. What research did you do for this novel to get it right?

The main thing I had to research was what happens during military training, and then work that around the setting I wanted to write about. The military is something that has always intrigued me. In England we celebrate the heroism of those who fought in wars, and conflict is a big part of our history, so it is the kind of thing I’ve read about a lot over the years. I’ve also known a few people who have served in the British Army and United States Army, and one thing I wanted to get across in Call of the Conjurer was how these soldiers are just ordinary people with the same flaws and ambitions we all have. Bearing in mind the rarity of the recruits in the story – their magical abilities which are desperately sought after – the characters in Call of the Conjurer are granted more privilege than most soldiers would be given in reality. This allowed me to occasionally put the cast in relaxed situations where they could be themselves, which was important for building them up as a team who trusted each other, and letting them grow as individuals.

There is magic used throughout the story. How do you keep magic believable in your story?

For most of the characters in the book, magic is a startling experience to begin with but it eventually becomes second nature. Some of them had prior experience with it, and I wanted a world where magic is a natural force but being able to utilise it is a rarity. It is a mysterious power tied to genetics and human history, and the Hidden Government has an entire Magical Science department dedicated to studying the phenomena. Over the years these scientists have tried to quantify, categorise and explain magic; successfully turning it into a weaponised asset for battle, but like all fields of science their understanding changes with new developments. In this way I can make magic a standard tool for the soldiers who use it every day, but leave many mysteries and revelations to be explored throughout the Bloodfest series in upcoming books.

There are a lot of diverse and interesting characters in this novel. What was your favorite character to write for and why?

I wanted a diverse but small cast, and as Call of the Conjurer was written as a prequel, there were a few key characters that had to be included. I liked having this chance to re-establish characters like Ace and Shimon, writing about them several years younger where they were different people to how I knew them. Captain Mason was instantly a good character to write about. My aim for him was not to be a typical drill-instructor people might expect. He’s much kinder to the recruits (sometimes chastised for being so), but still has to be tough at times. He’s a warrior, and a powerful spell caster. He’s fatherly and considerate, though in private he is a very solemn individual with a huge burden on his conscience. His inner turmoil is a big undercurrent throughout the story, and becomes more impactful to the whole plot towards the end. I enjoyed writing Gretel as well. I wasn’t sure where she was supposed to go at first; how she would develop, but I wanted to write a character who is initially perceived as a snarky, aloof ‘Goth’ but actually has a lot of personality and depth. She’s full of surprises, and I’ve had a lot of feedback from people saying she was their favourite part of the book.

What is the next book that you are working on and when will that be published?

The next book is Typhoon of Fire, which is finished and in the proof editing stage right now. The story follows the surviving recruits from Call of the Conjurer several years later as fully fledged soldiers now on active duty. They’re on a mission in an arid setting, living rough and facing greater threats in hostile conditions. “Hell on Earth” is a big theme of the story, and the whole book is a strange mix of Vietnam War films and Dante’s Inferno. It is definitely grimier and darker than Call of the Conjurer was, taking away the safety nets and really pushing the characters into some difficult situations while expanding on the whole Bloodfest universe even more.


 

Character Bios: Sidney Gaterling

A quintessential geek fantasy. Most of the time Sidney is unassuming and meek, but when he gets his hand on a sword he becomes AWESOME – he can fight monsters, save the world and rescue the girl.

00003 Sidney Gaterling

A bright, resourceful chap born in the fictional town of Pattersfield, England. Sidney Gaterling spent most of his childhood happily being on his own. He comes from a lovely, ordinary family, but learned his life lessons at school from the other children – to be quiet and go away. This  might sound like the start of a super villain origin story – but Sidney decided to shy away from social situations and found contentment in being alone. Over the years he studied hard, earned a degree, landed a fancy job and lived happily ever after.

Of course, that isn’t how it usually happens. Introduced as the protagonist of The Sardonyc, Sidney is a Master of Magical Science Studies who worked for the Hidden Government’s Research and Development department. He was in effect a freelance scientist, bopping around the world when his expertise was required for ancient artefacts and rare types of magic.

One ordinary day he joined the Super Human Project as an analyst. The tl;dr of that event was Sidney having to learn how to fight for his damn life, and never speak of what happened there again.

“I have a degree in Magic Science. It’s a wonderful oxymoron.”

By the time of Bloodfest, Sidney is a 27 year old soldier he uses sword based magic, living on the sequestered, Hidden Government controlled islands of Pacoven. He is settled in this role, happy to play as a protector with unique skills amongst the ordinary military personnel, until orders from the top transfer him into Delta Squad with a bunch of hard, gravel crunching veterans. Ace, Damian, Shimon and the rest are a different breed altogether, and Sidney struggles to integrate into the group at first.

As a combatant, Sidney consistently puts himself in danger. He has an altruistic, noble attitude (particularly when it comes to helping women), and a humbling will to serve, which may be a result of low esteem. Sidney is often nervous around others, yet he doesn’t care about himself getting hurt or even killed in combat, and his valiance does not go unnoticed.

Sidney’s entire story revolves around fitting in; finding your place, being useful and being happy. He wants to do well. He is an old fashioned romantic, and wants to find love and have a good life. Sidney’s stymie is his borderline social anxiety disorder, stemming from childhood and a lack of stability in his adult life. He claims to be like being ‘alone’, as he is used to it, but that does not mean he is telling the truth. Sidney yearns to be accepted and approved of, but has trouble asking for it. He doesn’t want to appear needy.

Sidney never feels worthy, but constantly feels the need to prove himself. He is in his own way a wonderful oxymoron.

“Heh, nervous fella, ain’t ya?” Damian chuckled.

“I’m cautious. Anxious,” Sidney replied. “Have you ever been through New York or London during a storm?”

“You what?” Damian muttered.

“Imagine you’re walking through the busy, rush hour crowds and it starts to rain; everybody puts their umbrella up,” Sidney started, staring straight ahead. “But after a while, the rain stops, and maybe you don’t notice. You’re too busy thinking, because you’re always thinking about things. Suddenly you’re the only person walking around with an umbrella, and everyone can see you holding the damn thing. And when you do realise this, you feel foolish…” Sidney concluded. “…That’s how I feel most of the time.”

All in all, Sidney is painfully English. If someone steps on his toes, he apologises to them. But that is not to say he is a pushover. Sidney has no tolerance for injustice. He has had to learn things the hard way, and is ever on edge. Finding a comfortable balance is still Sidney’s biggest challenge, especially when he can’t realise how much he means to other people, and how much they worry for him.

Despite the quietness, the shyness, the meekness… Sidney will throw himself into the deep end to save others. With sword in hand, he knows he can do the right thing.

 

 


Creation Notes:

  • Sidney was named as a long standing reference to the Final Fantasy series, of course. Coincidentally my great grandfather was named Sidney.
  • He favours the sword in combat but wisely keeps a firearm on hand. His choice is the S&W 44. Magnum. It’s small but dangerous, and restricted to limited shots before needing to reload. Possibly a bit like him.
  • Sidney was a ‘Pattersfield Fox’ when he was young, an equivalent to being a Scout or Cub Scout.
  • He has a fear of drowning in deep water, and prefers showers to baths.
  • His surname, Gaterling, doesn’t have a lot of meaning. It is purely meant to invoke the image of a Gatling Gun and its mechanical functions.
  • Like all of the characters in the series, Sidney has a strong affinity to one of the classic / fantasy elements. In his case Ice; but to be more specific he has a connection to Outer Space, a theme that will become apparent and relevant as the series goes on. Perhaps there is a reason why he feels so out of place…