The Arcanian Saga is currently an unpublished fantasy series written mostly by Dark Soldier. It encompasses several stories that started separately but eventually crossed over and have become inseparable. It currently consists of the five-part Arcanian Saga proper, A Vagabond's Tale, and Shades of Grey; other titles are in the works, but are on the back burner while I develop these. The stories are set on a fantastic world called Boram'ith. Unfortunately, the host website for the initial stories of A Vagabond's Tale has died. Fortunately, those were pretty bad compared to what they look like now, so you're not really missing anything.
Part 1, "Rowin's Quest," is straightforward fantasy, where the young idealist hero Rowin Baker achieves his dream of joining the Royal Knights of Arcania. He doesn't know that he's getting in just as the country is about to face its greatest crisis in twenty years: the mad black magician Dyphise Honzonoto is building an undead army out of the casualties of a foreign war, and he plans to march it on Arcania City to kill King Trian, the man who exiled him twenty years ago.
Part 2, "New Faces, Old Foes," begins three years later, and brings in most of the principal cast of my other work, A Vagabond's Tale. When Rowin manifests spiritual energy, his advisor Nayrene takes him halfway across the continent to learn how to control it from Falkyn. Meanwhile, Falkyn's nemesis, Kerad Dyilf, sets his sights on tearing down Arcania's power structure at the behest of Miah Honzonoto, High Priestess of Inaree and Dyphise's sister.
Part 3, "Prophecy's Fulfilment," skips a decade and a half to bring the story to focus on the next generation. Samantha and William Baker are following their father's footsteps and about to join the Royal Knights. In the process, they get split up when the secret master of Furindi and his minions kidnap William and use his buried resentment to turn him against his family and nation when they invade.
Part 4, "Quest's End," is the black sheep of the series. Anthrakkus, a demon imprisoned during the Divine War escapes due to the greed of infamous thief Iyanor Greenwyrm, and as it wreaks havoc in the west, Rowin, his friends, and his kids have to fight and stop it before it can move beyond Arcania and resume its path of destruction. It is currently the least developed and least coherent.
Part 5, "A New World," ends the story. Nayrene drags the party across the planes of existence to rescue her mentor from imprisonment. Meanwhile, Samantha falls in love with a handsome planeswalker... who happens to be the slave of the Devil Honzonoto, father of Dyphise and Miah. Honzonoto wants to destroy Rowin for killing his children, and plans to do so by killing Samantha and William.
A Vagabond's Tale is Falkyn's story. It takes place before/concurrent with Rowin's Quest. Falkyn is wandering the distant, mysterious R'itni Islands for his own reasons when he crosses paths with the spunky Li'na Sivad. After he thoroughly trounces everyone who tries to lay a hand on him or her, she insists on tagging along with him. He puts her through Training from Hell so she can keep up with him while he does odd jobs Indiana Jones-style. Meanwhile, an enigmatic man in black is following him. He reveals himself as Kerad Dyilf, a man Falkyn recognizes, and they fight a few times for reasons that I have to clarify so they make sense in the current continuity.
- When I get my undergraduate degree in game art and design from the Art Institute of Vancouver, I plan on developing a prequel game to A Vagabond's Tale to present Falkyn's history Assassin's Creed-style.
Shades of Grey is Kerad's Start of Darkness; its narrative runs concurrently with A Vagabond's Tale and New Faces, Old Foes. It shows us that he started as a scared, persecuted young man on the run. He crosses the continent, gaining his signature facial scar on the way, and forms the Quirky Miniboss Squad known as "the Outcasts." Under the direction of Elizabeth, an agent of Chaos, Kerad willingly commits a horrible deed to gain his Plot Device PowersTM. He uses those powers to go on a Roaring Rampage of Revenge against his childhood tormentors before going on to do his benefactors' dirty work, secretly (or so he thinks) fighting them as much as working for them.
The Arcanian Saga is quite Trope Overdosed. Here are the examples I've been able to extrapolate, by individual character first and then into tropes from multiple characters and the stories on the whole.
Characters by NameDo'kem Nupaji is a sociopathic dark elf, originally from the city of Caer Gwyllion. He was sentenced to die by surface exile for a capital crime he didn't commit. Narrowly avoiding the deadly rays of the sun, Do'kem made it to the Nation-State of Scar and the employ of KeanÃ© Kominda.
- Depraved Bisexual
- Full-Frontal Assault: From a society that values physical beauty.
- Knife Nut: Do'kem comes from a race of Knife Nuts; every dark elf carries a "lifeblade" so he will never be unarmed.
- Pūnct'uatìon Sh'akër
- The Unintelligible: Do'kem refuses to "dirty his tongue" with the languages of Men. Everyone who understands Elvish can engage in Bilingual Dialogue.
- Weaksauce Weakness: If sunlight touches any of his exposed skin (and he exposes a lot of skin), Do'kem will burst into flame.
Elizabeth is a vampiric agent of Chaos, sent to make Kerad Dyilf into Chaos's ultimate weapon. She has her own plans for him.
- Evil Is Sexy
- Manipulative Bastard: Elizabeth is doing her best to convince Kerad that she only has his best intentions at heart, in order to enthrall him and use him to her own ends. She can't break him, so she murders Malra to destroy his willpower.
- Red Eyes, Take Warning
- The Baroness
- The Vamp: Literally.
Falkyn is, for lack of a better word, a ninja. He has half of a "Brownstone Frown" scar (an inverse Chelsea Grin) on the right side of his mouth. Some of his pre-AVT back story will be expanded when I write and develop the AVT video game.
- Combat Pragmatist
- Dead All Along: His last mark had already killed him before his story begins. He's well aware, and doesn't mention it because he doesn't think it's important.
- Dual Wielding: A pair of knives.
- Fatal Flaw: He can't stay in one place for too long. He constantly wanders because he escaped the Afterlife and they're trying to get him back.
- Good Is Not Nice
- Hitman with a Heart: Originally a Professional Killer, Falkyn lost his taste for murder.
- Knife Nut: He's so much a knife nut, an Extended Disarming sequence is almost inevitable.
- Mysterious Past: Everything before the events of the "A Vagabond's Tale" game is unwritten.
- Obfuscating Stupidity: To keep a low profile, Falkyn usually wanders around acting like a drunken bum.
- Quick Nip: It may or not actually be alcohol. Either way, he certainly acts drunk.
- Shell-Shocked Veteran: A pretty youthful example.
- Thou Shalt Not Kill: Falkyn may wound, he may maim, he may inflict life-threatening injuries, but he does not kill... anymore.
- Training from Hell: Falkyn inflicts it on both Li'na and Rowin.
- Zen Survivor
Jon sar Makay is the "Barbarian Knight of Arcania." A monster of a man, Jon is the heir to the leadership of the Black Eagle tribe. He is in Arcania working off a debt of honour to Scott. He does not like city life, but tolerates it for the sake of his duty.
- An Axe to Grind: Jon's Weapon of Choice is a BFA.
- Barbarian Hero
- The Berserker: When he's fighting for his life or his friends, Jon can call upon the strength of his ancestors and become virtually unstoppable.
- Gentle Giant: When he's not fighting, Jon is surprisingly docile.
- Mighty Glacier: Jon, who tends to move slowly in all of his appearances, subverts it when he consistently outruns every other land-bound character. The subversion is justified due to his incredibly strong leg muscles.
- Proud Warrior Race Guy
Kathryn Arcan is the princess royal of Arcania. After the events of AS1, she marries Rowin. Yeah, she's not very developed or important right now.
- Distressed Damsel: Kathryn is utterly helpless when she gets captured in the first two stories.
- Princess Classic
- Took a Level in Badass: Before the Time Skip in AS3, Rowin starts training Kathryn how to fight. She later gets a Mama Bear moment.
KeanÃ© Kominda is a daemonspawn gangster in the Nation-State of Scar. Currently, he is the only member of the Outcasts who doesn't have any back story.
- Bi the Way
- Expy: I picture KeanÃ© looking similar to and sounding like Michael Wincott (Top Dollar in The Crow).
- Draco in Leather Pants: I predict this outcome, should Shades of Grey get published.
- Jerkass: This guy is a foul-mouthed, chain-smoking, self-important son of a bitch and I can't think of any way to make him even remotely likeable.
- Non-Action Guy: KeanÃ© actually describes himself as a certified coward.
Kerad Dyilf is the protagonist of Shades of Grey and antagonist of A Vagabond's Tale and The Arcanian Saga Part 2. Dark of hair and dark of mood, he believes he is the "Son of the Black Moon" who is supposed to destroy everything he touches.
- Cosmic Plaything: Kerad swears up and down that an entity he calls Fate is responsible for all the suffering he has gone through.
- Even Bad Men Love Their Mamas: Horribly subverted.
- Evil Cannot Comprehend Good: Kerad cannot believe that anybody could do good for the sake of it. Nobody does anything without a selfish motive in his mind. This train of thought contributes to several situations where he loses chances at redemption or understanding if he would just be grateful.
- It Is Pronounced "Tro-PAY": Keh-rahd Die-illif. He insists you pronounce it properly.
- Marty Stu: I'm ashamed to admit. Shall we count the ways I try to justify it?
- Badass Longcoat: When he wears it, he becomes more assertive, eloquent, and snarky. Without it, he's cold and withdrawn (and rather skinny).
- Byronic Hero: In Shades of Grey.
- Cool Shades: He wears them to hide his inhuman Technicolor Eyes.
- Driven to Suicide: Kerad tried to kill himself before Shades of Grey. He came very close to dying, but lived.
- Freudian Excuse: Because of his Abusive Parents, Kerad thinks male authority figures are actively malevolent and female figures are incompetent.
- Glowing Eyes of Doom: They telegraph every manifestation of his powers.
- In the Blood: Kerad is a distant descendant of the daemonic forces of the Fell Powers. The blood is so thin that his eyes are the only physical expression of his ancestry.
- Jerkass Façade: He wants to spare himself any more pain from people exploiting their relationship with him.
- Kids Are Cruel: Because of his otherness, Kerad's peers tormented him verbally and physically.
- Sdrawkcab Name: I get flak whenever somebody figures out that his name is my name backwards with some substitute vowels. I was stuck for a name, and because I was going to heap my issues on his shoulders, I thought I could do it better if I identified more with him.
- Technicolor Eyes: White pupils, black sclera, and metallic green irises. They're not supposed to be attractive, they're supposed to be extremely creepy. Kerad cannot express emotion through his eyes, so he always has a soulless glare.
- Touched by Vorlons: By making a Deal with the Devil, Kerad won a Superpower Lottery. He counts among his powers Deflector Shields, Flight, Ki Attacks, Super Speed, telekinesis, teleportation, and Mind Rape. Initially, they were New Powers as the Plot Demands, but I managed to get them down to a consistent handful. On the other hand, he has distressing Super Power Meltdowns owing to the fact that he's sharing the powers of a comatose Eldritch Abomination; the horrific side effects are bad enough, but if he uses his powers enough, that will rouse it from slumber...
- Villain Sue: Outside of Shades of Grey.
- Scars Are Forever: After coming back from the dead, Kerad is still scarred.
- Self-Made Orphan: Kerad murdered his father before Shades of Grey, and then his mother during it.
- Shoulders of Doom: I'm debating whether to keep the shoulder plates that Kerad wears on his coat because they make him look more intimidating (in his mind), or drop them because they make him look too much like Sephiroth.
- You Can't Fight Fate: Kerad alternates between this and Screw Destiny depending on his mood.
Malra Mytil is a half-elf expatriate from the grey elf citadel of Arddun Seren. She met Kerad on the filthy piers of Arcania City and went to Scar to start a new life. She develops an unrequited crush on him during Shades of Grey.
- Berserk Button: If you value your physical integrity, don't bring up her heritage.
- Broken Bird
- Curtains Match the Window
- Dark Action Girl
- Drowning My Sorrows: After Kerad dies, Malra crawls into a bottle until he comes back for her.
- Love Redeems: Malra's love for Kerad brought him out of his psychotic episode and grounded him (somewhat). She subsequently acts as his Morality Chain, until Elizabeth kills her, ruining their chance at anything approximating a life So Happy Together.
- Weapon of Choice: Blade on a Stick and Knife Nut.
Lady Nayrene is a relic of a bygone era in Arcanian history. She was part of the Mages' Council before the Interregnum, left this plane of existence, and wasn't heard from until Rowin found her over 150 years later. Despite having to catch up on a lot of history, she is one of the most powerful sorceresses in the kingdom.
- Black Magician Girl: Nayrene is primarily a diviner with a few blaster spells known.
- Ms. Fanservice: By far. The other girls are too inhibited.
- Stripperiffic: Nayrene's normal attire looks like something Shiranui Mai would wear. Averted for all the other female characters.
Rowin Baker is the protagonist of "Rowin's Quest" and a focus character in the rest of the series.
- Ascended Fanboy
- Gender-Blender Name: "Rowin" is an unconventional spelling of the feminine name "Rowan." So far, nobody has caught it out of text. In Part 2, Kerad responds to hearing Rowin's name thusly:"Congratulations; your name is officially the stupidest I have ever heard."
- Knight in Shining Armor
- Odd Name Out: Of all the protagonists of the Arcanian Saga, Rowin has one of the only names that would not be encountered in day-to-day life.
- Wide-Eyed Idealist: He gets over it about halfway through the first book.
Scott MacDougal is the Captain of the Royal Knights of Arcania.
- Badass Normal: Surrounded by a giant Proud Warrior Race Guy, The Hero, a Black Magician Girl, and half a dozen more individuals with exceptional abilities, Scott gets by with a sharp sword, strong arms, and stronger willpower.
- Belligerent Sexual Tension: Kerad and Malra are Twice Shy and insist She Is Not My Girlfriend. Their Love Hurts because they Cannot Spit It Out. Their Unresolved Sexual Tension gets resolved during Shades of Grey and they finally upgrade their relationship.
- The Captain: By rank, he is Captain of the Royal Knights of Arcania, answering only to the sovereign of Arcania.
- Knight in Shining Armor: His armor is slightly more tarnished than Rowin's, but he's still a paragon of virtue.
- Officer and a Gentleman: Scott keeps this countenance even in the face of Nayrene's teasing and flirtations.
In the Series
- Absolute Cleavage: Demonstrated in the attire of both Elizabeth and Nayrene.
- Anachronic Order: I write each scene when it comes to me, not necessarily in the right order.
- All There in the Manual: I have a lot of back story.
- Automaton Horses: Averted; all horses are either not ridden long enough or magical constructs.
- Badass Grandpa: Aghagolos, aka the White Wing, because he's a shapeshifted silver dragon.
- Bedouin Rescue Service: This saves Kerad's life at the beginning of Shades of Grey.
- Bittersweet Ending: AS1: Erica dies to fuel Dyphise's longevity spell and Rowin nearly dies fighting him. AS2: the einherjar army continues to occupy Arcania City after the climax. The occupation does not end until the next book. AS5: Honzonoto kills William and Falkyn finally goes back to the afterlife.
- The Chains of Commanding: Both Trian and Dion stand apart from the rest of the cast due to their station.
- Creator Breakdown: A lot of the pathos comes from my own issues projected onto my characters. I write scenes for Shades of Grey when I'm at the bottom.
- Good Scars, Evil Scars: Falkyn is a road map of minor (and not-so-minor) cuts. Kerad has a single line down his face and a self-inflicted one on his left wrist.
- Half-Human Hybrid: Dyphise and Miah Honzonoto (devil father), Iyanor Greenwyrm (green dragon father, obviously), Malra Mytil (elf mother).
- I Have You Now, My Pretty: Erica and Kathryn in AS1. Erica doesn't make it.
- Infinity +1 Sword: Rowin's sword almost qualifies: while it's made of almost supernaturally-strong metal, it's not really spectacular, just unique. Tyrfing, on the other hand, is a god's sword and can cut through any substance. Tyrfing is also an Empathic Weapon that does not like people of dubious morality. The black blade that Kerad carries for most of Shades and A Vagabond's Tale is also magically enhanced and empathic; in its case, the black blade is literally bloodthirsty.
- Love Hurts: Kerad and Malra beat themselves up over their mutual inability to just say those three little words.
- Katanas Are Just Better: Subverted when Kerad, enamoured of his katana, can't use it any better than either the better-trained, knife-wielding majority of the cast, or the knights of Arcania, who carry traditional European-style swords. Played straight in one scene in Shades when Kerad cuts through a pistol.
- Meet Cute: Subverted when Kerad meets cute with Chien: she starts to like him, and then he flips out on her, even after she sews up his face. She blasts him, he takes off, and the next time they meet, he's an antagonist and attached to Malra (with whom it's played straight).
- Mithril: The metal alloy currently known as "Rowinium" until I can come up with a justifiably better name, has properties similar to titanium in a Middle Ages setting.
- Monster Town: The Nation-State of Scar welcomes half-breeds and other oppressed peoples, but violently bars entry to any full-blood who gets near.
- MST: Because my first attempt at A Vagabond's Tale was so bad (I was in my early teens, too, Paolini), I found a partner and we gave the original thirty-chapter pseudo-epic this treatment. It's the only way I'll read it these days. Bonus for the victims being the cast of The Real Ghostbusters (my partner is a fan).
- Older Than They Look: Nayrene, Dyphise, Miah, and Aghagolos are all in the triple digits, but all look about a quarter of their actual ages for some reason or another.
- Quirky Miniboss Squad: Anti-Villain Kerad Dyilf, Dark Action Girl Malra Mytil, Non-Action Guy Keane Kominda, The Unintelligible Depraved Bisexual Do'kem Nupaji.
- Rescue Romance: After building a relationship throughout most of AS1, Rowin cements his status as Kathryn's hero when he rescues her from Dyphise's clutches.
- Royals Who Actually Do Something: King Trian X and Prince Dion both served in the army before ascending to the throne.
- Sacrificial Lamb: Sirs Joshua Albion and Mathew Tiernan. Like the woman Stuffed into the Fridge below, I tried to write them as interesting and sympathetic as I could.
- Schizo Tech: Justified because Arcania has sealed their borders to prevent foreign influence, maintaining a pre-Renaissance level of technology while the rest of the world has advanced to just before the invention of television.
- Sliding Scale of Idealism vs. Cynicism: Near the centre, leaning a ways toward cynicism. I am trying to infuse a sense of hope as I write. Shades, however, is entrenched on the cynical side.
- Start of Darkness: Shades of Grey for Kerad, and I have an early draft of Do'kem's.
- Stuffed into the Fridge: I wrote Erica Baker, Rowin's older sister, as likable as I could so the emotional punch that he feels would translate to the reader.
- Throw the Dog a Bone: Kerad and Malra's all-too brief love. After putting him through Hell, he deserved to smile for once.
- What Do You Mean, It's Not Symbolic?: Each chapter of Shades of Grey has an Epigraph about its theme. Some of them are from the Bible.
- Will They or Won't They?: Kerad and Malra, Scott and Nayrene.
- The Wise Prince: Prince Dion Dunbar Arcan. His experience commanding during the Furindian campaign made him Older and Wiser.
- You Gotta Have Blue Hair: Malra and Iyanor both have green hair (the former is half grey elf, the latter half green dragon), and Nayrene has very red hair. Everyone else averts by having normal human shades and styles.
- Alternative Calendar: The Arcanian Calendar is not completely developed yet. I still haven't reconciled the epoch of the calendar with the history of Arcania.
- Decade Dissonance: Most of the world is around pre-nuclear in development. Arcania and its neighbour states are firmly rooted in the pre-Rennaissance.
- Elves vs. Dwarves: Not quite. While elves and dwarves don't always get along, the dwarves were among the first to the aid of the elven nation during the Divine War.
- Our Elves Are Better: The goddess Arawn created elves from her own divinity. When Erebus murdered her, the elven population became "capped" at its current number because there's no more divinity to go around. The Divine War fractured them into Light/Grey/Dark factions, which all present a unified front against outside threats because their failure to do that during the Divine War nearly wiped them out.
- Light elves are clinging to their fading brilliance. They are not arrogant on principle, because they know that they are endangered and their own infighting cost them dearly in the early stages of the Divine War.
- Grey elves are locked in a perpetual siege mentality with orders to kill orcs on sight. Most of their citizens are still fighting the Divine War.
- The gods cursed the dark elves for siding with the Fell Powers: the life-giving light of the sun will destroy them. Their leadership damned them all by allying with demon lords and altering their physical appearances and abilities to adapt to the Underdark. For now, they are too busy fighting the horrors of the Underdark to be Card Carrying Villains.
- Our Orcs Are Different: The evil god Erebus altered his loyal humans into orcs in order to fight the Divine War. After the War, they were hunted almost to extinction and driven into the Blasted South. They breed true and some have figured out that they don't have to be Always Chaotic Evil.
- Vestigial Empire: The Samarquan Empire ruled half the continent before the Divine War, survived with most of its territory intact, and then collapsed after the rise of the unified nation of Xiang. Xiang, in turn, rose, grew proud, collapsed into warring states, and reunified most of its territory.