Orphaned at the age of six, Alaric has always known that he has to depend on himself if he’s going to thrive in Tonzimmel. Through hard work and stubborn determination, he graduated early from his orphanage’s apprenticeship program in the Tonzimmel First Security Force, and at fifteen, became the youngest full-fledged security officer in the TFSF. Now, at the age of twenty-one, Alaric is a level nine certified security chief known for his no-nonsense attitude, his drive for success, and his almost uncanny skill at knife-throwing. No one doubts that Alaric will go far in the TFSF…until he loses a bet and is forced to go on the Quest of the Unaligned, a journey through the magical kingdom of Cadaeren that will change his life forever.
Action Girlfriend: Laeshana acquits herself well against the fire-spiders and nearly manages to challenge the royal chancellor to a Wizards Duel. Forms an especial contrast with the courtly puffs Queen Tathilya keeps throwing at Alaric.
The Archmage: As an unaligned mage of the direct royal line, Alaric's magical potential is third strongest in the kingdom, after the King and Queen. After becoming an orah, he might be able to surpass even them, as orahs are in general more potent than regular unaligned
Detect Evil: After becoming an orah, Alaric can sense the concentrated evil of hoshek-magic. It's unclear whether this is unique to orahs, an ability of all mages, or a function of the royal line's connection to Caederan.
Happily Married: Alaric and Laeshana get married not long after the end of the book, and still seem to be thoroughly in love around a year later.
Hidden Backup Prince: Alaric was dispatched to Tonzimmiel to be raised as one of these for political reasons. Unfortunately, when his Muggle Foster Parents died, Alaric was pulled into the orphanage system and almost wasn't found in time. This is the main reason he starts the story with no clue as to who or what he is.
Knife Nut: Alaric is one of the best knife-throwers in the entire TFSF which allows him to defeat Gathim in the final confrontation.
Loophole Abuse: A particularly brilliant (in several ways) example near the book's climax. Alaric wants Laeshana to stay at court and marry him, however, the prince can only marry an unaligned mage, and only unaligned and ruahks are permitted to stay at court. Laeshana is an aesh. Alaric's solution? Use the magic of the Prince's Crown to transform Laeshana into an orah, who are technically unaligned and thus suitable for elevation to courtier and princess.
Phosphor-Essence: First occurs when Laeshana turns Alaric into an orah, then again when he is crowned Prince, then yet again when he returns the favor and makes Laeshana an orah.
Private Military Contractors: Tonzimmiel's First Security Force seems to be somewhere in between this and a police force. Alaric is a level nine member.
Ruling Couple: Laeshana/Alaric will probably become this once the current King and Queen pass.
The Wise Prince: Once he finally accepts his role as Crown Prince of Caederan, Alaric becomes a pretty awesome leader.
Wacky Marriage Proposal: Alaric proposes to Laeshana in a place outside space-time, right after transforming her from an aesh into an orah. She says yes.
Warrior Prince: Alaric kills a dragon, several hundred fire-spiders, and a hoshek all without any magic. For context, the last prince to fight a dragon was a full unaligned mage and was crippled for life, while the last time a hoshek surfaced he destroyed half the country before finally being defeated.
Though born in Cadaeren, Laeshana spent much of her childhood in Tonzimmel, where her fire-mage father and earth-mage mother worked hard to keep their magical abilities a secret. A fire-mage in her own right, Laeshana always considered herself more Cadaerian than Tonzimmelian. She chose to attend Cadaeren’s College of Magic rather than one of Tonzimmel’s technological institutes, and in the course of her research there, she outlined a new theory of magic. If it can be proven true, Laeshana is confident her theory will change the world. Until she can test her theory, however, Laeshana has been living in Tonzimmel, helping her father with his engineering business and getting to know a certain security chief named Alaric. If he is who she thinks he is, the future of an entire kingdom rests on his successful completion of the Quest of the Unaligned – and he’ll need a good friend to make sure he survives it.
Rags to Royalty: Cinderella style. Initially belonging to the white-sashes, the small caste of peasant mages looked down upon by the nobles of Caederan, Laeshana's hard work, native genius, and loyalty to Alaric allow her to become possibly the second-most-powerful mage in the world and win her the love and hand of Crown Prince Alaric.
The Red Mage: Both literally (as an aesh, she wears a lot of red) and metaphorically since after becoming an orah, she can use all four elements
Ruling Couple: Laeshana/Alaric will probably become this once the current King and Queen pass.
Suddenly Suitable Suitor: There is a law that the Crown Prince may marry only an unaligned mage. As an aesh, Laeshana is thus forbidden. However, when Alaric transforms Laeshana into an orah, the king and queen must admit that those are also unaligned.
Wrench Wench: Laeshana has traces of this in Tonzimmiel, where she and her father are highly ranked engineers.
The youngest son of a minor noble house of Cadaeren, Naruahn has always dreamed of doing heroic deeds like those written about in the epic poems of the kings of old. Unfortunately, Naruahn’s distractibility, exuberance, and lack of forethought led to one-too-many near disasters in his family’s castle, the last one involving a tub of oil, flying pigs, and some torches that really shouldn’t have been lit so early in the day. Shortly after the “bacon accident,” Naruahn was sent by Lord Oshamait his father to live at the Temple of the Elements, where he serves as an apprentice to the temple’s high guardian, Ruahklon. As such, the boy is responsible for helping Ruahklon keep the Prince’s Crown safe until such time as Crown Prince Alaric comes to claim it on the Quest of the Unaligned. Naruahn tries his best to do his duties, but he still can’t help but daydream about what it would be like to be a hero.
Nahruahn: I guess I’ll get married someday, but not for a long time, I hope! I wouldn’t even know what to SAY to a girl right now! I’d probably trip all over my tongue and wind up popping away somewhere by mistake.
Heroic Sacrifice: Attempts one of these when he challenges Gaithim to a duel of power. Naruahn knows he can't win the duel, but the magic of Caederan will force Gaithim to fight Naruahn and prevent the hoshek from casting magic on anyone other than Nahruahn until the duel is over. This in turn will buy Alaric time to reach the Prince's Crown.
Hero-Worshipper: To Alaric, almost from the moment they meet. Alaric finds this uncomfortable at first, mostly because he doesn't think he is a hero.
Keet: Implied to be a trait of all ruahks, but Nahruahn is particularly hyper.
From his youth, Lord Ruahkini was known to be the most powerful air-mage of his generation. Early in his career, his magical gifts earned him a place at court, where he quickly became Crown Prince Kethel’s favorite tutor. Officially, Lord Ruahkini taught the prince the advanced use of air-magic. Unofficially, and more importantly from Kethel’s perspective, Ruahkini taught him how to use his magic to pull off the most elaborate, stunning pranks in Cadaeren’s history. The tutor and his pupil became fast friends, and it was no surprise to anyone that when King Kethel assumed the throne, he appointed Lord Ruahkini to his advisors’ council. Now, decades later, Ruahkini is royal steward of Cadaeren. As such, he has been tasked with finding the missing Crown Prince Alaric and returning him to Cadaeren to complete his Quest of the Unaligned. Ruahkini is confident that he’ll succeed in his mission. The hard part, of course, will be finding Prince Alaric in the foul magickless hole that is Tonzimmel. But after that, it should be easy. After all, how could any crown prince be anything but eager to return to Cadaeren and complete the quest for which he has been destined since birth?
Dirty Coward: Uses Loophole Abuse to sidestep Laeshana's challenge to a Wizards Duel, and clearly terrified of fighting her. To give context, Ruahkini is the second-most-powerful ruahk in the world, a noble, and the Royal Steward of Caederan, and he's terrified of fighting a peasant girl half his age who's already worn herself out fighting fire-spiders.
The Ditz: Ruahkini has shades of this early on, making boneheaded mistakes such as sending Alaric through the energy shield without giving him the medicine to protect him from it, forgetting to give him the Sword Of Kings until Laeshana reminds him, and never giving him the instructions for the Quest.
Rich Bitch: Genderflipped, but otherwise pretty straight. He repeatedly rubs it in that he is the royal councilor while Laeshana is only a peasant, and calls her and her family traitors for moving to Tonzimmiel.
The Dog Bites Back: Gaithim became a hoshek as a direct result of Ruahkini's mistreatment (and that of the rest of the family to a lesser degree), and he succeeds in killing Ruahkini in a duel of power.
The Proud Elite: Somewhere between is this and thinks he's this. On the is side, he's incredibly rich, the royal chancellor, and apparently the second most powerful ruahk in the world (and the most powerful one is about a hundred years old and lives at the Temple Of The Elements instead of at court, so Ruahkini is practically the most powerful). On the other hand, he's not especially handsome (not ugly either, just average), is not particularly smart, and is incredibly obnoxious.
They Were Holding You Back: Claims that Laeshana is deliberately trying to sabotage the Quest in an effort to start the Civil War. Or non-deliberately sabotaging the quest by being a superstitious peasant. Consistency is not his strong suit here.
Too Dumb to Live: Challenging a hoshek to a duel of power ranks up there with slathering yourself in barbecue sauce and camping out in Dragon Canyon.
One of Cadaeren’s oldest noble shamais, or water-mages, Lord Deshamai remembers clearly what Cadaeren was like in the “good old days.” In his prime, Deshamai was a powerful force in Cadaerian politics, whose sage advice was valued by King Ambell and the court alike. That all changed, however, when Kethel ascended to the throne. His biggest mistake, Deshamai sees in retrospect, was not preventing the appointment of the young Lord Ruahkini as a tutor for the crown prince. At the time, since the lands of Lord Ruahkini bordered Lord Deshamai’s own, it had seemed prudent not to express his doubts regarding Ruahkini lest he jeopardize his relations with his neighbor. Since King Kethel and Queen Tathilya came to power, however, Deshamai has been forced to watch in horror as his advice goes unheeded, as traditions are overturned, and, in consequence, as chaos now threatens to destroy his homeland.
Charm Person: His secondary power as a shamai is the ability to influence the minds of others.
Heel-Face Turn: Initially, Deshamai is presented as something of a villain, mindbending Alaric, disrespecting Laeshana, and ready to start a war. However, he truly did only do these things because he believed they were the best for Caederan, and when he realized the truth, he apologized and then gave an epic speech in defense of Laeshana marrying Alaric.
Water Is Blue: Water and shamais are represented by the color blue in Caederian heraldry. As a noble shamai, Deshamai thus wears blue trim.
King Kethel and Queen Tathilya:
Their Majesties King Kethel and Queen Tathilya were never Caederan's most thoughtful monarchs. Even as a youth, then Crown Prince Kethel was infatuated with the magic of air, and at one point attempted to dismiss his shamai, aretz, and aesh tutors, replacing them exclusively with ruahks. King Ambell reinstated the original tutors, but he could not keep his son balanced forever, and after his death Kethell and Tathilya appointed exclusively ruahks to their new court. From there things proceeded exactly as any impartial observer could have predicted. The magic of wind affected the royal couple exactly as it affects all its aligned, augmenting their flightiness, distractibility, and general "air-headedness". More disturbingly, the imbalance in the royal couple has produced an imbalance in the land itself, causing Caederan to be plagued by cyclones, tornadoes, floods, earthquakes, and wildfires. The people of Caederan endure the royal couple's folly and pin their hopes on Crown Prince Alaric, but should he fail to make things right, Kethel and Tathilya might well find themselves facing the first civil war in two hundred years.
Balance Of The Elements: As a result of their bond to Caederan, the royal couple's magical use is reflected by the land itself. Thus, if the royal couple favor any one element, the entire country will be thrown out of whack.
Benevolent Mage Ruler: Subverted. Kethel and Tathilya are among the most powerful mages in their country, and benevolent enough, but they are too "air-headed" to make very good rulers.
Dishing Out Dirt: They have access to this form of magic, though they don't use it very often.
Dumbass Has a Point: For all their air-headedness, Kethel and Tathilya do occasionally demonstrate considerable political shrewdness. Example.
Fisher King: The royal couple's personal magical Balance impacts that of Caederan as a whole. If the king and queen grow imbalanced, the country is plagued with earthquakes, tornadoes, floods, droughts, and/or massive wildfires.
Happily Married: Kethel and Tathilya do appear to enjoy each other's company.
Making a Splash: They have access to this form of magic, though they don't use it very often.
Parental Marriage Veto: Kethel attempts to veto Alaric's betrothal to Laeshana on the grounds that Laeshana is a fire-mage, and the laws states that the Crown Prince must marry an unaligned mage. After Alaric uses the secret powers of the Prince's Crown to change the nature of Laeshana's magic, rendering her unaligned, Tathilya tries to veto the mairriage on the grounds that Laeshana is a peasant, which on top of being irrelevant isn't even exactly true. (Laeshana belongs to the Order of the Open Book, and members of that order are the social equals of the nobility, no matter their birth.)
Playing with Fire: The royal couple have access to this form of magic, though they don't use it very often.
The Red Mage: As unaligned, Their Majesties can use any of the four elemental magics.