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Lesser Secret Investigations Force
The magical police of Echo. Tropes associated with the SI include:
- It Runs in the Family: Most of the LSIF members come from families inextricably linked to various Orders and are hereditary powerful mages. Kofa and Melamori come from the Seven-Leaf tradition, Melifaro's father and grandfather were both Senior Magisters in the Order of Hidden Grass, while Numminorikh (and Juffin, though it is less direct in his case) is linked to the Order of the Clock of Backwards Time, and Lonli-Lokli is a retired Magister of the Holey Chalice himself.
- 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. Justified in that it consists of best of the best, and that their main field of work is concentrated in the Capital by the very laws of the nature: they are tasked with fighting the magic crime, and as Plain Magic is naturally the strongest in the Heart of the World, most of it happens in one place — magic crime outside of Echo is usually petty and falls under the jurisdiction of common police.
- 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.
Sir MaxThe protagonist of the series, currently holding the title and the gold-on-black garments of "Death in King's Service".
- Amazon Chaser: With the notable exception of Lady Tekkhi (who is a demure innkeeper), Max seems to be exclusively attracted to women who can kick his ass if necessary: Melamori in Echo (see below), Alvianta in Nests of Chimerae (an landholder who regularly fights her peers in melee duels and sleeps with a sword always in reach), and Athena in My Ragnarök (the literal Ancient Greek goddess of war).
- Author Avatar: Sir Max is an avatar of Max Frei, who is a fake persona of Martynchik.
- Big, Friendly Dog: Droopy, Max's Wasteland Shepherd. Named by Max as a tribute to a certain white dog with long ears who solves crimes. Very protective of Max and at least borderline sentient. Already the size of a St.Bernard's dog as a puppy and now grown up.
- 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.
- Cosmic Plaything: Oh so much.
- 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 after Ella 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.
- Immune to Mind Control: Max becomes completely immune to all charms and illusions (including mind control) after being impaled by the King Mönin's sword in Dorot, Lord of Manukhs as the sword materialises again whenever any such magic is used against him, causing enough pain to dispel it... unless it doesn't feel like it on a particular occasion.
- Max also owns several other, lesser talismans that also dispel illusions ans charms, such as the Child of the Crimson Pearl and the ointment box from his very first case. What's interesting, is that most of these talismans protect him on "their own" volition, even though they realistically shouldn't.
- 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.
- New Powers as the Plot Demands: You name it, Max can do it (eventually). And then some things nobody knows how to replicate.
- 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.
- Ontological Mystery: It doesn't have much bearing on the plot, but in the background the question remains: what exactly is Max? Is he a human Arbiter from the world of Arbiters? Or an Eldritch Abomination, which plays at being human and, being a good player, fools even itself? Or somebody's Shadow? Or a phantom made flesh, like a certain lady? Where are some hints, but a definite answer is given only in the last book of the second series.
- Poisonous Person: Max got styled "Death in King's Service" after gaining the ability to produce venom in his saliva that is instantly lethal at mere skin contact to anyone but himself.
- 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.
- Unskilled, but Strong: See above, which is but one example. Max is one of the most powerful beings in the World of Rod, but is constantly baffled by his powers; misusing his abilities and getting screwed due to his mistakes and lack of experience are a frequent plot anchors in his stories.
- 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 HallyThe 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.
- Brought Down to Normal: Happened to him for no apparent reason in the Back Story—in fact, right at the height of his mage-killing days, when he had enough powerful enemies to populate a small country. He managed to evade pursuit, concoct a fake identity as a barkeeper and spent several years surviving (and brooding) until all his abilities inexplicably came back. He later learned that losing all of one's powers without any warning and then just as suddenly getting them back is a common side effect of practicing the True Magic.
- 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.
- Red Baron: "Chiffa" (after the local silver fox) when he pretended to be a Professional Gambler, then "The Kettarian Hunter" (after his hometown) when he pretended to be a Professional Killer.
- 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.
- Sink-or-Swim Mentor: In spades.
- 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.
- Uneven Hybrid: Mostly human with a bit of werefox blood.
Sir MelifaroOne 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".
- Barrier Guy: One of his tasks in LSIF is to be the Guardian — an anchor that helps the True Magic wielding wizards to return from the Dark Side.
- Heinz Hybrid: Melifaro is parts human, dwarf and giant, much to Max' amusement.
- Last-Name Basis: He doesn't have a name. He was born when his father was on one of his research trips, and couldn't spare the time to discuss his name with his wife (well, that's what Sir Manga says, his wife, on the other hand, insists that he simply couldn't decide and kept changing his mind), and in the end everyone kinda got used to the boy having no name.
- 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.
Sir Kofa YokhMaster Listener of SI.
- Big Fun: Thanks to his father's magic. Original Kofa was thin, lean and mean. And returns to that original state when leaving Echo.
- 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.
- Da Chief: In the Back Story.
- 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: Khumkha 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, Khumkha'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.
- Insufferable Genius: His original personality before sir Khumkha's magic, which drives almost everyone nuts. It seems that the only people able to stand original Kofa for any extended period of time are Max and Anchifa Melifaro (who can be similarly insufferable, so they kinda cancel each other out).
- 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.
Sir Shurf Lonli-LokliMaster Interrupter of Unnecessary Lives, currently holding the title and the white garments of "Truth in King's Service".
- The Ace: An incredible Plain Magic prodigy on the level of Loyso Pondokhva, and (in his current self) a very diligent and thorough researcher of magic and its fundamentals, not to mention the arguably best combat mage in the current Echo, he's generally the LSIF's designated point man and trump card.
- The Archmage: After the Quiet City and Nuflin's retirement in Kharumba, Shurf graduates from the LSIF to be the Seven Leaf's Grand Magister.
- Badass Bookworm: Collecting the knowledge in general and hunting for lost lore through the books in particular is his Call.
- Badass Bureaucrat: Sunglehandedly and effortlessly manages the whole LSIF's paperwork, and if not on a case or in the library, he's most frequently seen in his office surrounded by the heaps of writing tablets. When he leaves the LSIF, the everyone's first reaction is a joint moan that they'd now have to deal with it themselves.
- Best Friend: Pretty much from book one onward, Shurf becomes Max's closest friend and confidante in Echo—much to everyone's puzzlement.
- 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.
- Commuting on a Bus: After his promotion to the Seven Leaf Shurf kind of drops out of the main team, though still he joins them time and again — mainly because this lets him to escape the truly enormous heaps of paperwork hoisted on him in the Seven Leaf.
- Designated Point Man: Thanks to his nearly impeccable magical defense and combat awareness (as well as impressive offense), Shurf is usually the point man during the Special Investigations operations. And although Shurf is a less capable combat mage than Kofa or Juffin, his loss (however unlikely) won't bring down an entire operation like one of those two would, making him "expendable" to a certain degree.
- Eyes Do Not Belong There: After Time Skip, Sir Shurf gets one embedded into his glove. The way he managed to do it remains obscured.
- 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.
- Happily Married: Though she is never met in the narration proper in Labyrinths, Mrs. Helna Lonli-Lokli is mentioned to be the only person who can consistently bring out the Not So Stoic side of her husband.
- Huge Guy, Tiny Girl: Shurf is one of the tallest characters in the series, whereas his wife Helna is quite short—as a result their couple makes a rather comedic first impression on people.
- Implacable Man: Very, very few have ever escaped Shurf when he was going for the kill.
- Join or Die: How Juffin secured Shurf's cooperation. It was a Fate Worse Than Death he threatened him with, namely, leaving Shurf at the mercy of two undead Magisters whom Shurf doomed to a Fate Worse Than Death himself.
- 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).
- One-Man Army: the Mad Fishmonger might have mellowed out, but his combat skills haven't become rusty in the slightest.
- 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.
- Uneven Hybrid: Mostly human with elven blood.
- With Great Power Comes Great Insanity: Shurf took the Fishmonger (keeper of holey fish basins) job of the Holey Chalice Order and drank all the water in the basins, 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.
Lady Melamori BlimmMaster of Tracking the Hiding and the Fleeing Ones.
- 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).
- Armor-Piercing Slap: To Max after his Arbiter powers caused Melamori a nasty Bedmate Reveal.
- 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).
- Clap Your Hands If You Believe / All Just a Dream: Being the love interest of a True Magic user and a True Magic user herself, Melamori more than once finds herself waking up where she dreamt, not where she actually slept.
- Flight: Melamori was admitted into the burivukh society at Arvarokh and gained the power to turn into a burivukh herself.
- Put on a Bus: Her stay on Arvarokh between Simple Magical Items and Swamps of Gugland.
- Heinz Hybrid: Mostly human with elven and faff blood.
- Huge Guy, Tiny Girl: Melamori is not really "tiny", but when she dates the Arvarokhian commander Allotkho, Max observes that you can hide six Melamoris behind him.
- Scarily Competent Tracker: By having the Tracking gift.
- 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.
Sir Luukfi PentzMaster Keeper of Knowledge.
- 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 DufunbukhMaster 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.
Lady Kekki TuotliAnother Master Listener and Kofa's girlfriend. A former lieutenant in the City Police, she was recruited to boost the force's ranks soon after Melamori moved to Arvarokh.
Sir Numminorikh KutaMaster Scenter, who joins SI in Green Waters of Ishma. An eternal student, he preferred to hop from a university to university, until his love for miracles landed him in LSIF.
- Happily Married: Which is more-or-less normal for the LSIF in general, but Numminorikh is the only team member with kids. Two of them, in fact, the younger of which is a disaster in human form. Juffin initially was less than thrilled of this for moral reasons, but acquiesced later.
- 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.
- Starving Student: Averted, though not for any reason linked to him — he would've fit the trope (as he loves to study, but cannot be bothered to work), but his wife is a wealthy antiques dealer, so they're never short of money.
City Police of Echo
The ordinary, non-magical police force of Echo. Tropes common to them include:
- Badass Normal
- 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 BokhThe 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.
- Da Chief: A disruptive variety.
- Hollywood Tourette's: Played for Laughs.
- Kicked Upstairs: Well, more sideways. After the War Of The Codex was won, the last thing the old King and Nuflin needed was a charismatic and gung-ho general at the helm of the armed forces, so Bubuta got the Police post instead.
- Large Ham: The big guy almost always have something to say — loudly and interlaced with profanity.
- Modern Major General: As it turned out later in the series, Bubuta is actually quite a capable guy... as a soldier — he's just a complete failure as a policeman, as he got his current post in a completely political appointment.
Kekki TuotliOne 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-MachSuccessor 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.
- Ambiguously Jewish: Has a definite vibe of this. His accent, his anecdotal greed, his manipulative skills — are all very stereotypically Jewish traits.
- 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.
- Mr. Vice Guy: He's widely known to be anecdotally greedy.
- Yiddish As A Second L Anguage: His Odessa accent in the original.
Lady Sotofa HanemerThe "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 is effectively the Seven-Leaf's decision-maker in all things outside of politics.
- Voluntary Shapeshifting: Lady Sotofa's default appearance is that of 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.
- Involuntary Shapeshifter: On the Dark Side, lady Sotofa automatically regains the stunning young look.
- Really 700 Years Old: Lady Sotofa is about as old as Juffin, they grew up together in Kettari.
- Slap-Slap-Kiss: This is how Juffin and Sotofa describe their past romance back when they lived in Kettari.
Senior Magister Kima BlimmMelamori's uncle and the Master Keeper of the Wine Cellars of Iafakh. Has a somewhat competitive relationship with his brother Korva.
- Doting Parent: Well, doting uncle, as he usually sides with his niece, rather than with his brother, in their frequent father-daughter spats.
- He also frequently lets his niece into his cellars, though this is at least partly a way to keep the good relationship between the Seven-Leaf and LSIF.
- Wine Is Classy: Natural in his line of work.
Elder Magister Khumkha YokhOne of the Orders seven founders and Kofa's father, sir Khumkha shocked the Echo's society when he decided to retire and become an ordinary citizen, devoting his time to (magical) culinary experiments.
- Cincinnatus: When he decided to retire. The whole Echo then decided that sir Khumkha went crazy, and Kofa once offhandedly mentioned that the people weren't that off the mark.
- Mad Scientist: Apparently, his later years after leaving the Seven-Leaf were something of a more benign variation of this trope.
- Supreme Chef: If the Kofa's "portable kitchen" is of any indication of his own skills.
Sir Filo Melifaro.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 into 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.
- Bold Explorer: Has not only traveled every continent of the known world, but also wrote a Great Big Book of Everything afterwards (in eight volumes).
Babkha Melifaro.Firstborn son of Manga. Gentle Giant of the family, possibly due to giant (ekhl) blood.
Anchifa Melifaro,Second son. Anchifa accompanied his father on the expedition to Ukkumbi, and there became involved with the rites of the Naval Hunt, a tradition of ritual piracy. 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.
Melifaro.See his entry at LSIF. Mockingly referred as "the nineth volume" by Max with the reference to Manga's magnum opus.
Other residents of Echo
His Majesty Gurig VIIIThe 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.
- Royalty Super Power: The kings of Echo perform a weather control, fertility and prosperity ritual with a comb.
Lady Tekhhi ShekkProprietor 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.
- Temporary Love Interest: For Max, kinda. He and Melamori are Star-Crossed Lovers, but after they break up (and she gets Put on a Bus to Arvarokh, too), Tekhhi comes into play and (rather forcefully) starts a relationship with Max. However, in The Return of Ugurbado, she herself is Put on a Bus (so to speak), while Melamori suddenly returns in the very next novella, restarting a relationship with Max that lasts through the end of the series.
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 Kholomi 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 very much a loyalist. Being a King's lover also helps. Most blatant use of it takes place in A Talkative Dead Man.
Sir Andä PuJournalist 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.
- Hidden Depths: It's easy to dismiss Andä as an angsty yet presumptuous manchild who writes more checks with his mouth than his ass can cash in (as Max indeed often does), but at certain times, you just have to respect the little man, such as befriending Max, accompanying him to the Magakhon Forest, and ultimately taking a chance to fulfill his lifelong dream to move from Echo to Tasher.
- 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 he wrote some poetry in the same vein, but of lesser quality.
His Majesty MöninAn 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.
- Shrouded in Myth
Loyso PondokhvaGrand 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. Max has later released him and Loyso joined the quest to destroy the Dead Illusion worlds.
- 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.
- Mad Scientist: As much as it is possible in a magical world, but there's nothing that Loyso would refuse to prove his theories.
- Sealed Evil in a Can
- 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.
Grand Magister HonnaAn ex-head of the Order of Hidden Grass, to which a lot of successive generations of Melifaro family has belonged and the previous owner of one of Max's protective amulets, his headband. An adept True Magic user, he disbanded his order shortly before the War of Codex because "the World has changed" and doesn't need any orders anymore, and went around Walking The Multiverse in search of knowledge. He returned to the Echo Kingdom in All Truth About Us as a Truthful Prophet to prod the population to change with the world by his prophecies.
- Reasonable Authority Figure: He always was more about truth and science than the power, unlike the other Order Magisters, and has never controlled his people with fear, as a lot of his peers were prone to.
- The Rival: Nuflin considered him his bitterest rival and tried to upstage and destroy him at every opportunity. Honna on his part was more amused by it.
- Stealth Mentor: To Max at times.