Following is a list of characters featured in the the Labyrinths of Echo and Chronicles of Echo novel series.
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Lesser Secret Investigations Force
The magical police of Echo. Tropes associated with the SI include:
Mage Killer: This is basically what the Secret Investigations are. Since most Magisters who return to Echo from their exiles usually come for blood, the SI's deployment often entails the use of deadly force. In particular, Juffin and Shurf are renowned for their mage-slaying achievements. The team's reputation usually is enough to end most cases when deadly force isn't needed with a hasty surrender. Unlike most examples, however, they use magic to combat magic—they just minimize its use.
Nonindicative Name: Despite the SI's full title of "Lesser Secret Investigations Force", there is no "Greater SIF"; their existence are hardly a secret to anyone (what they do frequently ends up a state secret, but they are no Secret Police); and the "Force" (the corresponding Russian term can be also translated as "Army") consists of less than ten individuals.
Oddly Small Organization: At the beginning of the story, it is just six people charged with enforcing the Codex within a vast city. By the end of the series, it's still nine persons strong.
Who You Gonna Call?: Regular police deals with regular troublemakers and untrained mages, but when something majorly supernatural happens or involvement of a strong mage is suspected, the SI is called in.
The protagonist of the series, currently holding the title and the gold-on-black garments of "Death in King's Service".
Author Avatar: Sir Max is an avatar of Max Frei, who is a fake persona of Martynchik.
Blessed with Suck: Max is an "Arbiter", which is incredibly rare in Echo. The last Arbiter is King Mönin, while our world has many more of them. Arbiters are BornWinners in regard to power, luck and intuition, their words actually shape reality on the Dark Side of the world. The downside is that all the wishes of an Arbiter, regardless how small, become reality - without conscious control over when, where, and under which circumstances this will happen. Death also considers Arbiters a prized morsel, and they are exempt from any and all ways to cheat., although the Keyifaya elves think otherwise. And from another point of view, specifically Max turned out to be one of the ultimate death-cheaters.
Brought Down to Normal: Happens to Max in Nests of the Chimerae, although an ancient wind falls in love with him, rendering Max a Weirdness Magnet. Also, subverted during his first return to our world in Volunteers of Eternity: he first thinks his life in Echo was All Just a Dream, but then decides to try out his magic powers and finds them in working order.
But Now I Must Go: Max escapes the Quiet City, yet finds himself incapable of staying in Echo. Max's very glance is now deleting objects from reality in Echo - he tells Juffin that only by chance he found it out staring at his bedroom's roof. Later Max will confess that the whole story was a cover-up - he simply was rejected by the world.
Cute Kitten: Max acquires two kittens who in his care grow up into magnificent "carpet tigers", Ella (female) and Armstrong (male). (Incidentally, Max named them afterElla Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong, though there's nobody to appreciate the reference in Echo. As common cats kept on farms are mean and lean, the general public of Echo assumes Max has imported a rare breed of cats and makes a beeline for the first litter, starting a new fad.
The Empath: While not a Healer, Max is capable of feeling and sharing the pain of others.
I Choose to Stay: Not that much of a choice, given how much Max likes his new home from the start.
Mind Control: Probably due to Max's Arbiter status, his Death Orbs, otherwise a reliable One-Hit Kill spell, instead turn people into obedient slaves. There is a small chance that they will function as originally intended, however, so Max always has to make sure there isn't a part of him that wants his target dead before casting this spell. As Death Orbs manifest the Arbiter status of Max, they also affect the undead, some landscapes, some EldritchAbominations and potentially Max himself. Once again due to Arbiter status, those under Max's control can perform feats beyond their power, beyond Max's power and sometimes simply beyond limits of reality.
Not Quite Human: One enemy versed in True Magic lore even dropped an offhanded "you better than me know he's Not Even Human" comment to Juffin. Aside of being an Arbiter and thus different from normal humans, elves, etc on a fundamental level, he also is a reincarnating phantasm, effectively immortal through people imagining him into existence again and again. It's not clear whether all Alternate Universe variants of Max fit this, but at least one more of them turned out to be or turned into an Alternate Universe variant of this entity. Both managed to reward humans directly responsible for their "rebirth" more than these people thought was possible.
Power Incontinence: In book two, Max acquires the ability to access Khumgat via any kind of doorway opened in the dark (or with his eyes closed). Then, in Labyrinth of Mönin, he exploits this power to find Gurig, and when they escape the Labyrinth, he discovers that every door in the real world now leads to another world for him. Notably, Melifaro never suffers from anything similar, presumably because he lacked world-hopping powers in the first place.
Unwanted Harem: The Khenkha tribe assumed Max was their lost king and dumped three twin sisters on him.
Wild Magic: How any magic tends to behave around Max. Juffin sometimes refers to him as "Wild Wind".
Sir Juffin Hally
The chief of SI (a.k.a. the Most Honorable Chief of the Lesser Secret Investigations Force) and Max's primary mentor.
Big Friendly Dog: Khuf, Juffin Hally's dog. Looks like a shaggy bulldog and lacks in size what he makes up in friendliness. At least borderline sentient and capable of telepathic Calls.
Professional Gambler: Juffin's skill at card games is legendary. He used to play for living and is now forbidden from playing in public places with money at stakes by royal decree. His fellow Kettarians who lead merchant caravans to and from Echo also earn their bonuses by playing with traders and tourists en route.
Professional Killer: Worked as one for a time. His real motivation was elimination of powerful irresponsible mages to stave off the end of the world. Also, his two apprentices in prequels.
Shattering the Illusion with a fair helping of Epiphanic Prison: This is Juffin's preferred teaching and motivation method - he does the shattering and watches those affected struggle towards their epiphany of the day.
After Max returns from the Swamps of Gugland, he tells Juffin that the Swamps made him doubt the very existence of Echo. Juffin answers: "Echo is your favorite illusion!", then makes some spell with a gesture, and Max is treated to a glimpse of whatever is the next layer beyond / beneath Echo.
Sparing The Aces: The reason Juffin couldn't bring himself to kill Loyso Pondokhva, the most dangerous Grand Magister of the entire Age of the Orders, who unlike ignorant majority actively worked to achieve The End of the World as We Know It, because Loyso demonstrated a small capacity for True Magic.
Transhuman: He was born as a normal human being (with a drop of werefox blood, but in Kettari it's normal). Shurf Lonli-Lokli with senses improved by the new personality, but no experience with them yet, perceived Juffin as something greater only "playing" human. Juffin is an adept of True Magic at the stage before having to withdraw from the mortal world, but after becoming noticeably changed mentally. For that matter, once he said about his wife "witches cease to be human very fast", as something beautiful on a grand scale, but immediately inconvenient—at this point she ate only on the Dark Side, but was still amused by a more worldly mage's confusion at this unnecessary revelation.
One of Juffin's two deputies in SI (the Day Face of the Most Reverent Chief; Max is the Night Face) and the youngest son of Sir Manga Melifaro. Referencing Manga Melifaro's Encyclopedia of the World in 8 tomes, Max will jokingly adress his colleague as "Ninth tome".
The Omniscient by being Blessed with Suck: Melifaro sometimes acts as a type 2, being able to accurately guess things from insufficient data. The suck comes from Melifaro having absolutely no control over triggering this skill.
Blessed with Suck: Kofa's ability to be where he needs to be isn't consciously controlled and has no regard for the well-being of the pursued.
Cursed with Awesome: The transformation caused by his father. His "fat gourmet" self gets along with people much better than the lean and mean one, seems to enjoy life more, and his willpower or abilities aren't affected. He also can switch the personality at will in case he tires of it — simply by changing the distance between himself and the Heart of the World.
Disability Superpower: Never sees dreams unless Max is involved and therefore has no capacity for True Magic. According to True Magic experts, this is what makes Kofa extremely competent at Plain Magic.
Involuntary Shapeshifter and Voluntary Shapeshifting in one: Humkha Yokh, one of the seven founding masters of the Order of the Seven-Leaf, enchanted his only son to improve Kofa's character and appetite. The resulting sir Kofa Yokh in Echo is in his default appearance an elder, wise, patient and jolly gentleman of somewhat round proportions. If sir Kofa leaves the vicinity of Echo, Humkha's enchantment fades and the world is treated to the original Kofa Yokh, whom Max described as a "Lord of the British Empire ... arriving at an Arabian royal court". The aptitude at shapeshifting seems to be hereditary, as sir Kofa can change his own and others' appearances at will, although the out-of-Echo Kofa dislikes doing so.
Merlin and Nimue: He and Lady Kekki Tuotli end up an a relationship, both professional and personal. It goes surprisingly well.
Red Baron: The seldom used epithet "Right-Bank Dragon" (from the time when he worked as the police chief of the right bank of Khuron, the river Echo stands upon). Consider that this nickname was earned during the Epoch of the Orders.
Retired Badass: Kofa considers his new job to be much more comfortable, as his old one contained such merry tasks as hunting Chiffa. Nonetheless it was Chiffa a.k.a. Juffin who had to evade Kofa by using True Magic.
Scarily Competent Tracker: Sir Kofa Yokh in his position as the Master Listener, and as Echo's closest approximation to a P.I. in the prequels. His ability is literally being where his current interest works best, and that includes tracking an otherwise unknown person just by wanting to arrest them.
Badass Bookworm: Collecting the knowledge in general and hunting for lost lore through the books in particular is his Call.
Big Friendly Dog: Drimarondo, the only part of the eponymous bequest Shurf Lonli-Lokli took to Echo from the Khotta county. When standing on hind legs, the size of Melamori. Fully sentient and capable of speech after imbibing some experimental potions.
Cannot Cross Running Water: Kinda. All adepts of the Holey Chalice have problems with ships and boats of any kind—the moment they step aboard, the ship's hull begins to leak and sinks within minutes. Shurf can prevent this from happening for a short time but prefers to Walk on Water during prolonged amphibious missions. This becomes a plot point in Sweet Reveries of Gravvi, when Max has to travel to Uanduk by ship and Shurf cannot come with him for this reason.
Hand Blast: Gloves of Death. The properly made left projects an almost unstoppable instant incinerating "snowball" of white fire. The right glove was made "merely" of a wizard's hand bitten off mid-spellcasting and paralyzes the victim instead.
Phlebotinum-Handling Equipment: Sir Shurf's protection gloves, designed to handle everything else while wearing two pieces of weapons-grade Applied Phlebotinum on his hands. Also, his fingernails are covered in the same protective runes as on the protective gloves (inked with an indelible ink) and another one he had to write on his palate with enough of poisonous ink to forever change his blood, but not kill him - so that the inside of his killer gloves doesn't kill him, too.
No Such Thing as Bad Publicity: In-Universe, Shurf was never expelled from the Order of the Holey Chalice, owing to the fact that his antics greatly improved the Order's standing even if he no longer answered to them.
Obfuscating Insanity: After helping him to get rid of the doomed unstable personality, Juffin advised him to play a charade of still being a nutcase randomly wandering around, making faces and killing other mages (which was the point).
Photographic Memory: Juffin offhandedly mentions that Shurf is able to recall, word by word, any conversation he has been privy to.
The Stoic: Shurf Lonli-Lokli's ability to keep a cool head is legendary. Max later learns that both the current Shurf and the Mad Fishmonger are mask-like aspects, and the true Shurf, as possibly seen on the Dark Side, is above that sliding scale.
That Man Is Dead: Deliberately self-induced, to prevent the ghosts of those murdered by his wilder, younger self from catching up with him.
With Great Power Comes Great Insanity: Shurf took the Fishmonger (keeper of holey fish bassins) job of the Holey Chalice Order and drank all the water in the bassins, taking up the power supposed to be ditributed to about 600 fellow order members. The things he pulled off earned him the "Mad Fishmonger" monicker, and that was during the Order wars. He pulled the That Man Is Dead listed above to survive some consequences and returned to his original name, Shurf Lonli-Lokli.
Action Girl: Thanks to her family background with the Order of the Seven-Leaf and her service in the SI, Melamori is an expert in combat Plain Magic (though, of course, not on par with Juffin, Kofa, or Shurf).
Can't Catch Up: It is eventually revealed that Juffin, Shurf, and even Max have the same Tracking ability as herself, which leads to a massive inferiority complex for Melamori and eventually, a self-imposed exile to Arvarokh (from where she returns wielding powers that nobody can even begin to replicate).
Star-Crossed Lovers: Max and Melamori. Max claims a mutual That Man Is Dead after Melamori returns from Arvarokh, saying that where two lonely kids were, now reside a wise burivukh lady and an Arbiter gone utterly crazy.
Waif-Fu: Melamori is unusually strong for someone her size and build, making her a formidable fighter even without her magic.
Absent-Minded Professor: He knows how many feathers each burivukh in his care has, but never notices such mundane things as a cup of kamra falling down because he swept it from the table with his clothes.
Berserk Button: Do not offend the burivukhs where Sir Luukfi can hear them.
True Sight: Luukfi's gift is to see things as they are. He can tell individual burivukhs apart and simply doesn't notice an elaborate magical disguise worn by Max. This is not a spell, but an incredibly rare innate ability, as Max is told that there is only one more person in the Kingdom of Echo possessing it.
Sir Skalduar van Dufunbukh
Master Escorter of the Dead (mortician of the LSIF). Technically member of the LSIF, he appears very rarely and never participates in any field work. A connoisseur of poetry.
The Nose Knows: Scenters are rare individuals with this power. Calling upon a Scenter is a viable alternative to calling upon a Master of Tracking, as Masters of Tracking have different limits and are vulnerable to several effects and countermeasures.
Scarily Competent Tracker: Numminorikh's family was strongly tied with the Order of the Clock of Backwarding Time. His mother held the position of Master Opener of Doors. Numminorikh learned from her, and with his ability to open and pass any door, including doors on the Dark Way and doors between worlds, exceeds at tracking beyond the capabilities of a Master of Tracking.
City Police of Echo
The ordinary, non-magical police force of Echo. Tropes common to them include:
Brats with Slingshots combined with Bayonet Ya: The Baboom slingshots are standard issue sidearms for police and non-magical criminals alike. Max finds them quite funny... until he sees them used in combat (explosive pellet hits tend to be messy). And when out of ammo, the slingshots are used as melee weapons - all 3 ends of the slingshot are sharpened to this end.
General Bubuta Bokh
The thoroughly incompetent police chief of Echo. Promoted to his current position due to the previous Chief's promotion to LSIF and as recognition for his commendable services during the War of Codex.
Cigar Chomper: After Max gives him a box of cigars he accidentally acquired for a present.
Large Ham: The big guy almost always have something to say — loudly and interlaced with profanity.
One of police lieutenants who first appears in A Ship from Arvarokh and Other Bad News. She is secretly in love with Kofa Yokh and eventually works her way up to the SI to become his assistant as the second Master Listener.
Order of the Seven-Leaf
Grand Magister Nuflin Moni-Mach
Successor to the Order's original Seven founders who has steered it through the War of the Codex and until present day. Nuflin is often described as greedy and paranoid. His telepathic Calls are barely noticeable - Max describes the feeling as having an extra thought, and only later noticing it wasn't his own. He abdicates in favor of Max or whoever Max chooses as a successor in White Stones of Kharumba.
Jerkass: He's not exactly a "good guy". Nuflin fought for Codex both because he understands the alternative all too well and because he was envious of the other mages when his own power was on the wane. He considers the old King his last friend, but we don't know whether they became friends before or after they became political allies.
The "chief witch" of the Order of the Seven-Leaf, though she rarely engages in politics like Nuflin. This is common for all Orders. According to Juffin, the only creature in the World of Rod with two Shadows. And the second one is Grand Magister's, powerful on par with a creator of a new magic tradition.
Cool Old Lady: She rivals Nuflin and Juffin in terms of power and effectively the Seven-Leaf's decision-maker in all things outside of politics.
Voluntary Shapeshifting: Lady Sotofa's default appearance is a nice and friendly white-haired lady looking like everyone's favorite grandmother. With a simple gesture, Lady Sotofa can shift to her juvenile appearance. Max describes the young Sotofa as utterly stunning.
Vain Sorceress: Inverted — according to herself, Sotofa looks this way because having all the young male adepts of the Order constantly Distracted by the Sexy is not interesting to her in the least, and obviously counterproductive.
Elder Magister in the Order of Hidden Grass. Left Echo to search for his order's voluntarily exiled Grand Magister. Father of Manga Melifaro, paternal grandfather to Melifaro and his brothers. Filo built parts of the house at the family's homestead, creating at least one bedroom with restorative and protective spells woven in the building.
Sir Manga Melifaro.
Former member of the Order of Hidden Grass. Left Echo for several expeditions and wrote the Encyclopedia of the World in 8 volumes from data obtained on his travels. Echo's foremost and sometimes only expert on various subjects. Sir Manga is bound by numerous oaths of silence - the information withheld from the encyclopedia would easily double its volume. During an especially dire situation somewhere on Arvarokh on his last expedition, sir Manga swore an oath "to the sky above" to never leave the Uguland province of Echo again if he was to survive, thus ending his career.
Firstborn son of Manga. Gentle Giant of the family, possibly due to ekhl blood.
Second son. Anchifa accompanied his father on the expedition to Ukkumbi, and there became involved with the rites of the Naval Hunt. The shamans of Ukkumbi "turned the wheel of his destiny" - Anchifa became something unheard of in Echo, a pirate.
Don't Fear The Reaper: After Anchifa started his career as a pirate and amassed a fairly large bodycount, Death herself (at least Anchifa claims the avatar to be female) made a deal with him, saying that it is not his destiny to serve her. Now Anchifa can suppress the fight instincts of his victims with a mere glance, thus avoiding unnecessary bloodshed, and in exchange Death sometimes looks at the world through his eyes and walks within him.
Forced Into Evil: He never wanted to cut anyone's throats and rob ships to begin with, just travel — nor, according to his vision, was it his destiny. Yet he couldn't do much about this, between being enspelled to become a pirate and acquiring such a reputation (and even more intimidating ability) that he almost never needs to fight anymore.
See his entry at LSIF.
Other residents of Echo
His Majesty Gurig VIII
The incumbent King of the United Kingdom, son of Gurig VII who won the War of the Codex. Described as pretty and fairly young, friendly and easy-going to a fault. Bisexual, as often seen with elves and elven descendants.
Compelling Voice: He does this only when necessary, and it's most likely not the Plain Magic, but —
Max: That's when I understood how the King differs from other people: I just couldn't contradict him.
Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass: He may seem nice, affable, even almost decadent, good pal to those who knew him from childhood, his "great accomplishement" is having his marshal of ceremonies to allow a little more hospitality for his guests... But as a crown prince, he was put through Training from Hell. If he ever thinks it's necessary, a natural-born ruler and competent mage with steel self-control and Compelling Voice pops up in an eyeblink.
Inadequate Inheritor: Gurig VII won a centuries-long civil war and reformed the Kingdom... This was given as an explanation of his son's desire to slightly expand the borders, if it's possible without unnecessary bloodshed, that is.
Proprietor of an inn named Armstrong and Ella (after Max's cats) and Max's girlfriend between A Ship from Arvarokh and Other Bad News and The Return of Ugurbado. Also, the only daughter of Loyso Pondokhva.
Artificial Human: Doubly so! First, she's a magical construct 'child' of a certain Magister, second, she's a personification of Max's wish for perfect girlfriend.
Sir Rogro Zhiil'
Owner of Echo's newspapers. Once rather popular and warlike young adept of Seven-Leaf, in the Era of Codex he only get to practice astrology.
Blood Knight: Retired. During the War of Codex, sir Rogro Zhiil' fought on the side of King Gurig VII and the Order of the Seven-Leaf. According to fellow combatants' testimonies, he was there not out of loyalty, but just for the thrill. Was kicked out of Seven-Leaf and into Holomi for using Forbidden Magic in a street brawl just a few days into the Epoch of the Codex, invented the daily newspaper out of boredom while doing time.
Da Editor: Subverted. Rogro is the editor and owner of Echo's respectable newspaper, "King's Voice", and unknown to the general population, also the editor and the owner of Echo's somewhat tabloid "Fuss of Echo". Yet he is a refined gentleman, a skilled astrologist — which in Echo is an exact mathematical science — and among the favorite lovers of His Majesty Gurig VIII, much to Max's surprise.
Propaganda Machine: What his media empire basically is. He's a rumour-monger, but also loyalist, very much. Most blatant use of it takes place in A Talkative Dead Man.
Sir Andä Pu.
Journalist for the "King's Voice" and poet. Grandson of ukkumbian pirate Zokhma Pu. Zokhma settled down in Echo as the chief cook for the Order of Green Moons, as the Grand Master of the order was very fond of ukkumbian food. Andä befriended Max and Max's cats as he barged into Max's home in a desperate attempt to get an article / interview after a foolish boast to pull said interview off. Emigrated to Tasher and started his own newspaper in comic format. Max later finds one of those newspapers on board of a Tasherian commercial ship.
Intrepid Reporter: Not really fearless, but he got to interview the "scary sir Max" and didn't chicken out, then acted well in a big encounter with the walking dead.
True Art Is Angsty: In-Universe (that is, according to Max himself), Andä's central message is "oh, why does no one love the so cute me?" Max also feels awkward because in his time wrote some poetry in the same vein, but of lesser quality.
His Majesty Mönin
An ancient King of Echo from the Age of the Orders.
Barrier Maiden: Actually, a Barrier Guy: King Mönin, the only known Arbiter in the history of Echo, was asked by the ancient time-traveling Magisters to exile himself to the inescapable Quiet City. The reasoning was that a prisoner's desire to get home is the strongest wish there is, and when coming from an Arbiter, it will ensure the continued existence of the world for him to return to, thus preventing the apocalypse. Max was brought to Echo with explicit purpose to relieve Mönin, but Juffin didn't expect the latter to escape just seven years after Max's arrival.
Grand Magister of the disbanded Order of the Water Crow, generally believed to have been the most powerful Plain Magic practitioner to have ever lived. Officially killed by the Kettarian Hunter (a.k.a. Juffin) during the War of the Codex, but The Shadow of Gugimagon revealed that he is still alive, trapped in a remote world that only Max can enter at will.
Affably Evil: Loyso is quite nice to Max, but harbors deep hatred for Normal People and was narrowly prevented from destroying the world for the small chance that it'd grant him godlike power.
The Archmage: Loyso is probably the grandmaster of conventional Plain Magic, but many other historical mages could have challenged him by less conventional means, such as True Magic (Juffin), Arbiter abilities (Mönin), etc..
Child Prodigy: Loyso literally learned to float before learning to walk. He is the strongest Plain Magic user known and the founding Grand Magister of the Water Crow Order. Younger Magisters from his Order often dispatched Magisters and Elder Magisters of other Orders, and Loyso takes the credit for destruction of Kettari, forcing the birth of a new world.
The Dreaded: Not only was he the most powerful practitioner of Plain Magic, his entire Order was this, as well, to the point where other Orders had to send entire teams of Elder Magisters to take down individual Junior Magisters of the Water Crow.
Empathic Shapeshifter: One of Loyso's innate powers, which he passed to his children (including Tekhhi), is the ability to always correspond to what his vis-a-vis expects from a great company, making it impossible to not like him (or rather, his current mask—custom-tailored to you).
For Science! with Beware the Superman: Loyso Pondokhva was the greatest Plain Magic talent among the generation of Kholomi High Royal School absolvents intended to destroy the ancient Orders to strengthen the King's position. Loyso and his comrades disposed of the ancient Orders and then went on to found their own Orders or to take existing ones over. Loyso (and his Water Crow Order) acknowledged the threat of The End of the World as We Know It, yet actively worked to this end, as he wanted to try grabbing the world's power, which is theoretically possibly for those witnessing the destruction. Loyso is later shown to explain his motivations to Juffin as coming to the conclusion that history is a meaningless repetition, the World's Heart inevitably drives the best and brightest insane (he did include himself), while those who aren't any good at magic are sad fools beneath his notice.
Tailor-Made Prison: Juffin spared Loyso Pondokhva by putting him into "a moribund crone's dream" and sealing the entrance to Khumgat. Loyso survives by funneling his power into prolonging the woman's life.