Delmar, And Where He Comes From

So I’ve been working on a really cool fantasy series, complete with languages and all, for most of my life. The main guy is Delmar, and the girl’s name is Ajalia. I couldn’t figure out for the longest time what she really was, or where she came from, but I knew they both ended up together as young adults, and there was always a shadowy third figure, another man whose name I could never pin down.

Ajalia the Slave, Delmar the Inheritor, and Halez the Lost Prince

The whole story has always been a nebulous something-or-other, like a complete world that has existed at the edge of my consciousness ever since I started to try to write.

Luckily for me, it turns out that my training in theatre and classical rhetorical structuring opened up my access to my subconscious, and the world is now writable. I mean, I have written it, the first part.

Because Halez Has More Adventures With Them, After This Series

I self-pubbed the first section of the series last year? The year before? But as I said earlier somewhere on my blog, my editor (love you, Mr. Editor!), who is a genius, got upset at some emotional hiccups in another manuscript, and we had some very productive discussions about my shitty way of letting down my female characters.

Turns Out, I Repress My Females Once In A While

Anyway, Ajalia had the same problems that were showing up in this other book, so I pulled the entire series and am working on fixing up things now.

It’s so super exciting, because the framework is all there, and all I have left now is visual cleanup and repairing the structural damage to her characterization.

Sigh, etc.

Anyway, I promised to talk about Delmar, and where he comes from. He’s always been the clearest character, in my mind. Ajalia has powerful magic, but Delmar is more of the straightforward, innocent dude who learns that he really needs to stand up for himself and take up the mantle of protecting his people.

Delmar is a prince, of a sort, but without a kingdom, really. He’s the eldest child of a match between the disinherited crown prince of Talbos and the only daughter of Tree, the ruling dude over Slavithe.

Tree Is Called the Thief Lord, Because the Founder of Slavithe Stole Thousands of Slaves, and Became Their Lord

Slavithe is the original city, founded by a mass migration of runaway slaves, and shortly after Slavithe was established, the political shit hit the fan, and a lot of the ruling elite among them moved over a chain of black mountains and established a second city, Talbos.

Talbos and Slavithe depend on each other, as they’re mostly isolated from the rest of the continent, but both cities pretend the other doesn’t exist. They’re like uncomfortable symbiotic parties who trash talk each other at every opportunity, and feel superior and shit.

Talbos Is Much More Civilized and Formal

Delmar should technically be in line to inherit the ruling position over Slavithe, but he’s been scorned and rejected by his father all his life, because Delmar is good-looking and clever and popular, and so his mom and dad, being jealous, slimy, and unpleasant people, have half-starved him, and neglected him, and made him into a family clown. Delmar’s dressed badly, when Ajalia meets him, and his hair looks awful, and he truly believes that he’s too stupid to inherit.

Delmar has two younger brothers, and the second oldest brother, Wall (yes, that’s his name), is slated to take over Slavithe someday. Delmar, in the beginning, having swallowed the Kool-aid, and being a genial sort of person, thinks this is a natural and lovely outgrowth of his own stupidity.

Ajalia Gives Delmar A Haircut, Of Course

Ajalia shows up in the city, finds out who Delmar is, and gets to work on him. Delmar’s father isn’t too happy about this, and his mother . . . well, Delmar’s mother turns out to be a very powerful, dangerous sort of person, and Ajalia has to match wits with her.

But we’re talking about Delmar today. So on the one hand, he’s the eldest son in line for Slavithe, and on the other, he’s the firstborn child of the former crown prince of Talbos, and grandson to the current king (who is a very interesting person).

That King’s Name Is Fernos

Delmar’s father, the former crown prince, really wasn’t supposed to be trouncing around in Slavithe and seducing Tree’s daughter, and this led to Delmar’s father being banished from Talbos, and disinherited.

Luckily for Delmar, and for Ajalia’s sneaky plans for political takeover in both cities, the next in line for the Talbosian throne is a washout, and the king of Talbos proves amenable to persuasion on the topic of reinstating Delmar’s genetic right to the throne.

Because Delmar, When Cleaned Up And Given Moral Lectures, Is Awesome

There’s a long heritage of magic in Slavithe, and in Talbos, for both cities were founded by people who practiced nature worship and shaped the stone and earth. The peoples in both cities have faded in their knowledge of such powers, and most of the Slavithe priests can’t do magic at all anymore. The Talbos priests hide out in the black mountains, and many of them have been captured by the king of Talbos, who is doing shifty things about using magic in secret.

That’s all a very long and interesting story, but the pertinent part, for talking about Delmar, is that he is a joining point between the ancestral magic of both Talbos and Slavithe, and has a generational claim to the power of the prophet who founded Slavithe and the great leader who built Talbos.

The Original Thief Lord, and the Falcon Who Begged Magic From the Sky Spirits

Ajalia doesn’t believe magic is real, when she meets Delmar, but he uses his basic, rudimentary powers to save her life, and she wakes up to the reality of magic pretty soon after that.

My fantasy world is so cool.

Anyway, I have to go back to work now, but that’s a little bit about Delmar, who is eventually (SPOILERS!) the Lord of Slavithe, the reigning king of Talbos, and the prophesied Dead Falcon who ascends into the sky kingdom and restores balance between the spirit people and the land below.

SIGH

He also falls in love with Ajalia along the way, but that was sort of inevitable from day one, as her eyes are so intense.

You’re reading Victor Poole, and the third character in their group of adventurers is Philas, whose true name is Halez, the lost prince of the neighboring kingdom of Saroyan, across the sea.

 

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How To Be A Little More Like Philas

On extracting secrets from your characters.

A little while ago, I wrote a post about how to get your characters to spill their secrets.

Philas, You Liar!

My Saroyan drunk is afraid of hurting women. He’s a fuzzy love-bug wrapped in the guise of an acerbic alcoholic. And he is so, so cute. Just a lovely character. My favorite scenes featuring him are in books 6, 7, and 9, when he shouts at his peons.

What’s His Secret?

Well, Philas has a lot of secrets, but the deepest, darkest secret of all is that he loves a girl, and he’s terrified of all the other ladies in the universe finding out that he doesn’t care for them at all.

Wait, What?

Philas, being a gentleman in his heart, erroneously believes that women are shallow, cunning beings who want more than anything in the world to be loved. He, being a kind soul, attempts to steer clear of treading upon any woman’s vanity. When he falls in love (and he does in the Eastern Slave series), he is in a terrible fix.

I Don’t Follow; This Makes No Sense

Look, let’s just get Philas in here, and he can speak for himself.

Me: Hey, Philas. Everyone wants to know who you’re in love with.

Philas: I don’t love anybody. Love is silly.

Me: Oh, now, I think your wife would have something to say about that.

Philas turns very red.

Philas: Why don’t you go talk to Delmar? Or Chad.

Me: I don’t want to talk to them. I want to talk to you. All these people are trying to understand what your problem is, and why you’re lying to Ajalia.

Wait, Philas Is Lying To Ajalia?

Well, yes, yes he is. Let’s see what he has to say about that.

Philas: Who are you talking to?

Me: Well, I have this blog, and I’m writing about the book I’m working on. Sometimes I talk about the things I’m learning.

Philas: What’s a blog?

Me: Just tell me more about how you’ve been unwilling to say what you’re really thinking to Ajalia.

Philas: No.

Me: Why not?

Philas: Leave me alone.

Me: No.

Silence.

Philas: Aren’t you going to threaten me, or something?

Me: No, I like you.

Philas: Don’t write any extra books about me, okay? I know you’re thinking about writing some for Ocher, and maybe Mop, and I just want you to know that I want to live quietly by myself. I don’t want you to write about me.

Me: How about you tell me what I want to know about you, and I promise to leave you alone?

Philas: Really? You won’t bother me at all?

Me: Well, people will talk about you, and you might have to interact in other books, since you’re so important.

Philas: But you won’t ever write a book, and call it after me, or anything?

Me: Nope.

Philas: What about my wife? Will you leave her alone, too?

Me: I will leave her alone even more than you.

Philas thinks about this.

Philas: Well, I guess that would be all right.

Me: Now, why won’t you be honest with Ajalia?

Philas: I don’t want to hurt her feelings.

Me: Why do you think you’re going to hurt her feelings?

He laughs.

Philas: Well, it’s my fault she’s never been able to feel close to Delmar, isn’t it? She’s never going to forgive me for that.

Me: I don’t think that’s very fair. Delmar is the one who’s been rude to Ajalia all the time, and pretended she didn’t count. That wasn’t you.

Philas: Yeah, but if I hadn’t formed Ajalia’s expectations for relationships, she wouldn’t have put up with so much, maybe. She wouldn’t have let Delmar be so mean.

Me: She didn’t let him be mean. And she was never in a relationship with you in the first place.

Philas: I was so! There was kissing! I said I loved her! She said she liked my beard! That was a real relationship!

Me: No it wasn’t.

Philas glares at me.

Philas: I don’t like you at all.

Me: That’s fine.

Philas: You’re mean.

Me: Okay. I’m just saying that you think you’re really important to Ajalia, and she never loved you. She said so, didn’t she?

Philas: She was just trying to make me feel better.

Me: Do you want me to bring her in here, too?

Philas: No! No, she’d just say she didn’t like me.

Me: She does too like you. She just never loved you. She loves Delmar. You said yourself that you jumped in when you saw she was in love.

Philas: There are a bunch of people here! You can’t talk like this in front of other people!

Me: I can, and I will.

Philas: Well, that isn’t fair. I don’t like this.

Me: Do you think Ajalia is a liar?

Philas: No.

Me: Do you think she’s stupid?

Philas: No, she isn’t stupid! But your questions are dumb!

Me: So if Ajalia isn’t stupid, and she isn’t a liar, why don’t you believe her when she says that she isn’t hurt, and she doesn’t love you?

Philas: Because.

Me: Because why?

Philas: Just because, okay? She’s really nice, and no one knows how nice she is except for me, and if I don’t have a piece of her, and protect her, then maybe she won’t be okay.

Me: So you pretend to love Ajalia because you actually do love her?

Philas: I don’t love her like that!

Me: Yeah, I know.

Philas: I don’t think you do know! I don’t love her like that, and I never have! She’s better than everyone, and no one realizes how great she is, and Delmar—

Philas breaks off, and glowers.

Me: Yes?

Philas: Delmar really loves her, and he’s going to be there for her, and I feel left out, because everything exciting happens around Ajalia. I feel stupid, because nothing exciting ever happens around me. I’m a loser, I think, because otherwise someone like you would write a book about me. Ajalia got nine whole books, and I’ve had a lot of interesting things happen to me, but you aren’t writing about me!

Me: Well, you do lie and hide a lot when I try to.

Philas: Well, if you wrote about me, maybe you would find things out! You’re horrible to me!

Me: Would you like it if I did write about you?

Philas: Yes! Gosh! Why don’t you realize these things? I mean, really. Are you smiling at me? Stop laughing at me!

Me: But you just made me promise never to write any books about you.

Philas: Yeah, well, I want you to! So there!

Silence.

Me: Okay.

Philas: Okay, what? What does that mean? What do you mean, okay? Does that mean that you’ll probably write something about me now?

Me: Do you want me to?

Philas utters a garbled cry of inarticulate rage, and clutches at his hair.

Philas: That’s what I just told you! Why aren’t you listening to me? No wonder I didn’t want you to write about me, since you don’t seem able to listen to anything! You are being very rude!

Me: So you do want me to write about you.

Philas: YES! YES! I feel like I’m repeating myself. I’ve been saying the same thing for hours now!

Me: Okay.

Philas: What do you mean, okay? Does that mean you’ll write about me now?

Me: Will you tell Ajalia things?

Philas: Yes, fine, yes. I swear, I’ll cooperate and do all the things, unless you start being stupid and not listening to me. Then I can’t promise anything.

Me: So you won’t cooperate.

Philas: Well, it depends on you, doesn’t it!

Me: I  think it depends on you.

Philas: It is all your fault!

Philas storms away, but his bristling shoulders look rather pleased.

Philas Is Interesting

I like him, too. He’s got more layers than most of the characters I’ve gotten into. I built him out of some secret compartments in my mind, and his body is part addict, and part actor (I drew part of him from some actors I’ve worked over in the past).

In a lot of ways, Philas is still a mystery, even to me. I created a composite of energies that are real, but that I haven’t yet deconstructed completely. Philas contains seeds of self that I have yet to plumb deeply.

Why Does The Title Say I Need To Be Like Philas?

Philas is a contradiction; he wants attention, and beats it away when he gets it. The wonderful thing about him is that he is honest.

You Said He Was A Liar

Well, his lies are scrupulous. I think he is very careful not to hurt people. So he does lie, in that he does not actually tell what is real and true, and he is not upfront at first, but he attempts to live in cohesion with what he sees, at the time, as rightness. Granted, he is childish at times (and his idea of right is therefore often directly wrong), but I think he is quite lovable.

Are You Going To Write A Book About Him?

Maybe.

You’ve been reading a blog about writing by Victor Poole. Philas is featured as a main character in my books. May the guiding spirits of industry smile upon you this day.