Diplomatic Aide, Poet, Historian
Sebastian Nod was born to an unassuming life. The second of three living children, his parents were simple back-country Cyrans with little more than the land they lived and worked on. Despite this, Sebastian was relatively lucky - both his parents were literate, and owned enough books and other written material to ensure that their children were also lettered. His elder brother, Johann and his younger sister Clarice both took to their education well enough, but Sebastian took to the arts, and especially to the written word, with a fervor and talent that his parents had not expected. Every moment he spent not at chores would be spent with a book in his hand - or, when he could get it, with ink and pen. This might have provoked teasing from his elder brother in another place, but in Cyre, where the arts were practically a national institution, it provoked jealousy and admiration in roughly equal measure.
When he was fourteen, Sebastian Nod entered a competition held by Lord Jon ir’Ambris, a rural lord and the largest landholder in Sebastian's party of Cyre. The contest was simple - each entrant submitted some piece of art - whether a display of magical talent, a written work, a sculpture or painting, or even more esoteric creative work. The winner would receive Lord ir’Ambris' patronage, access to a formal education by some of the lord's own personal scholars and savants and - if the applicant should prove worthy - a possible scholarship to one of Metrol's prestigious universities, as well as the unspoken but potent benefits of the connections a member of the peerage could provide. By hard work and talent, Sebastian managed to win the contest with an epic poem called Arcadia a beautiful and rather haunting story that blended elements of theology and Cyran national history, and formed the basis for Sebastian's most celebrated later works.
Sebastian was overjoyed, and he left his family for Lord ir’Ambris' estate. It was a bittersweet parting - his elder brother Johann had already left for the Cyran military, having joined as soon as he was eligible. His younger sister Clarice, a rather shy young woman, was currently engaged. His parents were once again left to run the farmstead by themselves, but Sebastian promised to visit. That he broken that promise is one of his more haunting regrets.
Sebastian was thrilled with the opportunities he received at Lord ir’Ambris' manor house - though a fairly pragmatic and salt-of-the-earth man himself, Lord ir’Ambris maintained a splendid library and a small staff of scholars, sages, artificers and arcanists, all of whom served as Sebastian's tutors at one time or another. He was also educated in the graces and manners of court, with an eye towards an eventual position in government. He even received a letter of introduction to his future employer, Chancellor Ir’Rayne. But the greatest bit of serendipity had nothing to do with his education at all - his introduction to Lord ir’Ambris' daughter, Violet.
What followed was a bittersweet affair that colored the rest of Sebastian's life. The two of them took to each other immediately - but both of them knew that it could never be anything more than a casual entanglement. Lord ir’Ambris, a deeply practical man, made it clear to both of them - privately - that their entertainments were acceptable - but any attempt to make it a lasting union, or the emergence of a child, would be far less welcome. Quiet comments were made about Sebastian's future prospects, and how he should manage them carefully. For Violet's part, she had no illusions about what her station and her duty to her family dictated.
Sebastian and Violet remained together through the course of Sebastian's education at her father's manor. When he traveled to Metrol to attend university, the two of them exchanged a dozen or so letters, and enjoyed one brief visit. When she informed him of her upcoming marriage to the young Lord d'Rivas, Sebastian was disheartened, but all things told he took it well - the bonds of infatuation had been softened by work and by distance, and he took a certain species of morbid pleasure from turning the entire affair into a series of rather well-regarded poems and songs.
It was while publishing one of these poems that he met Chandra, his future wife. Though a young woman no older than himself, Chandra ran a print shop that she had inherited from her father after the latter's early death. Having read the poems Sebastian had brought in for publication, she offered a number of suggestions - which Sebastian, being in a rather waspish mood thanks to his brooding heartache, responded with rather more vitriol than was his usual. This engendered its own heated response from Chandra, and the resulting noise complaint brought a stern warning from a constable that left the both of them suitably chastised. When Sebastian offered to buy Chandra dinner in recompense, she accepted, and the two of them began stepping out - much to the chagrin of Chandra's mother, who detested most artistes as shiftless and lazy. This contributed in no small part to Chandra's pleasure in Sebastian's company.
Meanwhile, Sebastian's star continued to rise professionally. He made it through the university with the assistance of both Lord ir’Ambris and Chancellor ir’Rayne, the latter of whom he began working for full-time upon his graduation.
His introduction to Cyre’s political upper atmosphere was something of a shock to Sebastian. For a young man who had expected to expected to be able to simply continue “doing his job,” the world of intrigue, back-room deals and favor-trading that suffused the halls of the royal palaces was more than a little disturbing. It wasn’t precisely that he hadn’t suspected it existed – The occasional unguarded comment from Chancellor ir’Rayne had given him a vague inkling of the sort of grease needed to keep Cyre’s political wheels turning smoothly – but to find himself involved in it was another matter entirely.
Sebastian’s first disreputable commission was a relatively mild one – he was asked to “enhance” a report from the Cyran Bereau of Internal Affairs – the head of which was one of Ir’Rayne’s allies - to emphasize the misdeeds of some of the underlings of Chancellor Ir’Rayne’s political enemies. Nothing was an outright lie, of course, nor did he even essentially alter the nature of the reports – but Ir’Rayne’s alterations helped ensure that several key functionaries in important mid-level positions were disgraced or outright removed. Sebastian rationalized this easily enough – none of the men and women were innocent of what they’d done (or so he was assured,) but his modifications to the language of the report had the dual effects of ensuring that Ir’Rayne’s enemies suffered the brunt of the fallout from the report, and that those of Ir’Rayne’s allies who had made it into its pages were treated with a relatively light touch. Ir’Rayne quietly praised him for his work, and predicted a bright future for Sebastian. It was a few months after the publication of this report that Sebastian received the first of numerous promotions.
This pattern continued to repeat itself for the next several years – While Sebastian spent most of his time doing what he considered to be his job, every now and then he would receive a request – “A little something special,” in Ir’Rayne’s parlance. Ir’Rayne’s requests were never anything illegal, of course – usually they weren’t even anything that seemed particularly illicit, at least on the surface. It was always a rewording, or an alteration to a piece of policy, a report, or something similar for Ir’Rayne or one of his allies – and it was always something that advanced the Chancellor’s political agenda and hindered his enemies. Sebastian knew it was just how the game was played – and after all, he still agreed with Ir’Rayne’s stances on most issues. What could be wrong about ensuring that he had the power he needed to put them into action. But still, such political wheeling and dealing had a corrosive effect on his professional pride. No matter how much he rationalized it, there was something sleazy about it. He did, however, draw the line at writing love-sonnets for the mistress of one of Ir’Rayne’s political allies – and an anonymously published cycle of poems lampooning the man appeared a few months after the request.
Of course, not everything was seed and corruption in Sebastian’s professional life, and his steady advancement up the professional ladder was primarily based on merit – although his “extracurricular activities” were undoubtedly vital in ensuring his notably swift rise. He drafted a number of brilliant speeches exhorting young Cyrans to sign up for military service, and each time the Queen delivered one of Sebastian’s firebrand speeches, recruitment rates received a noticeable bump. He also worked under Ir’Rayne on a number of secret projects regarding the establishment of safe-houses for Cyre’s foreign service, not to mention several unsuccessful bids to form back-channel alliances with Kaius – Despite Cyre’s constant innovations in the war, Ir’Rayne and Sebastian were both pragmatic enough to know that Cyre’s regular introduction of wonder-weapons was no replacement for a solid alliance, and that they would need more support and far more manpower if the dream of a reunited Galifar was ever to become a reality.
Sebastian also received much praise in the academic community for his treatise Galifar Cycle, a history of the unified kingdom with an especial focus on highlighting the legitimacy of Cyre’s claim to pre-eminence and stewardship of the Five Kingdoms. Though dismissed as overly partisan and highly idealistic by some scholars (most of them with their own well-known biases,) the work was well-received, and became a frequently-used text in Cyre’s universities for the few years it was in circulation before the Mourning. The popularity and patriotic content of the work also helped to further advance his standing in the eyes of the Chancellor, and within four years of his graduation, Sebastian was working directly for ir’Rayne as his immediate subordinate, helping to create the future of Cyre’s foreign relations.
With this increase in fortunes, Sebastian felt secure enough in his finances to propose to Chandra. He moved out of his own rather cramped and unpleasant apartment and into the rather spacious one over Chandra's shop. He even managed to convince his mother-in-law to take up residence with Chandra's sister. Life seemed to be golden.
Of course, things were no more perfect with his marriage than they were with his professional career - his inability to conceive a child with his wife continued to prove a bone of contention, and Sebastian began quietly squirreling away money from the sales of his poetry, songs, and other written work to pay for a consultation and magical healing, if the problem could be determined. He also began to develop a degree of disillusionment with his superior, the Chancellor. The more he worked with the man, the more he felt that the policies that Chancellor Ir’Rayne was encouraging the Queen to adopt were counterproductive - and perhaps even dangerous to Cyre's future. But Sebastian persevered, determined that he could change the system from within.
Meanwhile, the War raged on. Sebastian had always been aware of it - war was a fact of life for him, even in Metrol. He heard news of it daily. He would hear news of the deaths of this or that acquaintance from the academy, and he and Chandra would attend funerals. He helped write speeches and plans of action and diplomatic missives - but it was simply another part of life, as much a fact and facet of his existence as the city in which he lived.
He and Chandra continued in domestic felicity. It amused him to reflect, from time to time, that true love was boring. They had no need for hidden passion or star-crossed love. There was not even the bittersweet morbidity of his relationship with Violet. But for what it lacked in poetic inspiration, it more than made up for in happiness. He would reflect bitterly upon this after the mourning, and speak the old catechism of everyone who's ever loved and lost - "I did not know what I had, until I did not have it anymore." Backstory (IC)
"At the end of their lives, all men look back and think that their youth was Arcadia." -Goethe
Sebastian looked down over the hills, a long stalk of grass clenched between his teeth as he worked. The stub of charcoal was nearly gone, and he wasn't quite sure what he'd made of it.
" This is starting to get dist" A soft, throaty voice called to him. Sebastian glanced around the easel at the young woman looking up at him. She was seventeen, as was Sebastian - short, attractive in an appealingly curvaceous way that stopped just short of being voluptuous. She had a heart-shaped face, long, honey-blonde hair and bright green eyes, and a delicate little nose with a scattering of freckles across it. She stared up at him from where she lay on a blanket, wearing nothing more than a cloak of lion's skin that barely concealed her salient features. " inctly uncomfortable, dear heart. Besides, this thing is beastly hot. And it itches!"
Sebastian pursed his lip, sketching out a few more lines as he responded. " Sacrifice in the name of art, Violet!"
She stuck out her tongue at him. " You're the artist. Next time you can get naked and wrap yourself up in an itchy old skin, and I'll draw you!"
He snorted, then, figuring it was as good as it was going to get, he nodded. " All right, dear. That's enough for today, I think."
She began to stretch - incidentally making the lion skin fall from her shoulders - and he turned, blushing lightly. She chuckled slightly, and he heard her rise and begin to dress. " I really don't know why you're so modest, 'Bastian darling." She said in an airy tone. " It's nothing you haven't seen before."
He colored even more, and a nervous grin spread across his features. His voice was steady as he responded, though - " Well, yes... but this is different. This is for artistic purposes." She gave another warm little laugh, and he heard her swishing through the grass. He turned, and found her studying the drawing thoughtfully. After a silent moment, he asked. " What do you think?"
She turned to him, her expression cheerful. " You're a splendid writer, darling." She rose up onto the tips of her toes and kissed the end of his nose. He smiled somewhat ruefully.
" It's just as well, I suppose. It's not as if I could have displayed it. Your father would have my hide. He's made his... expectations extremely clear."
Violet waved a hand dismissively. " La, 'Bastian. You worry to much. My esteemed lord father, His Grace Lord ir’Ambris is just concerned that his pretty little patron-boy is going to do something silly, like trying to elope with his lovely daughter. I doubt he'd be concerned about something like this - it wouldn't be the first time a girl of my station has turned up in skins in an... 'artistic venture.'" she said, mockingly using the same terms he had to describe it that Sebastian had when he first proposed the idea. " And besides, if he thought you had something like " that in mind, he'd put more than just the one squad of guards to watching us.
Sebastian had to stop himself from looking around at that. He still hadn't gotten used to the idea of being watched night and day. Growing up on a farmstead had not prepared him for a life of patronage under a peer of the realm. Even less so for entanglement with his peer's daughter. The strangest thing was that, in defiance of all the conventions of romance that he had learned from stories, Lord ir’Ambris seemed to have taken the whole thing in stride - and after a stern warning regarding his firm intention that his daughter marry well, and an excruciating conversation about... "precautions," he'd left them mainly to their own devices - although the demands of his schooling under Lord ir’Ambris' personal scribes and scholars kept him busy most of the time, what free hours he did have were spent in Violet's company. As if to remind him of this, she punched him in the shoulder.
" You were woolgathering, dear heart." She chided sweetly.
He nodded. " Yes. Sorry. It's just... well, I'm eighteen next fall. Which means I'm bound for the university at Metrol." Violet looked at him, rolled her eyes, and shrugged.
" What's your point, 'Bastian."
" Well... that's it, isn't it? For us, I mean." She chuckled, draping his arm around her shoulder and snuggling up against his chest in a way he found irresistible - a fact which she used relentlessly.
Yes, dear. I know. I'm surprised we've lasted this long - when I was younger, I expected to be married by last year - possibly even a mother. She grinned up at him. " Fortunately for us, my father is significantly more picky regarding my potential husbands than he is regarding my lovers."
Sebastian turned his head away. Violet grew serious, and sighed. " You're too much of a romantic, 'Bastian. I knew it when I met you. And we both knew what... "us" was when we took up with each other."
Sebastian turned to her and smiled rather wryly. " Of course we did. We were fifteen, we knew everything. Now, of course, we know better." She couldn't help but laugh her throaty little laugh, rolling her eyes at him.
" Que sera sera, 'Bastian. I'm going to marry someone who will cement an advantageous alliance. You're going to go to the university and learn how to write a lot of very pretty things, some of which might even be true." She smiled whimsically up at him. " Life goes on. It's been good so far, there's no reason for us to think it won't continue to be."
And because he was seventeen, Bastian answered " I'm not sure if it could ever be quite as good without you in it." Although he was self-aware enough to blush as he said it.
Violet laughed again, but there was no mockery in the sound - only mild exasperation and gentle affection. " When you get to Metrol, you'll be saying sweet things like that to all the young ladies, and they'll be putty in your hands, 'Bastian. I'm just lucky you're a country bumpkin and I got to pounce on you myself before all the city girls got a chance." She paused, and deliberately changing the subject asked. " Did father get you that letter of introduction yet?"
Sebastian's face brightened with unreserved good cheer, and he began to speak animatedly. " Yes! It's more than I could have hoped. You should see the letters Chancellor Ir’Rayne has sent me - the man's a genius. The speech he wrote for Queen Dannel condemning the Thranish... it's like he writes in fire instead of ink! And he's already said that I can come and work for him when I'm not at study - nothing important yet, I'll just be doing clerical work and checking over minor documentation - but it's a foot in the door. He's even read the first volume in my " Arcadia cycle, and he's hinted that he might be interested in funding a limited subscription when I arrive next year...
Violet smiled up at him, her arm around his waist as they began to walk down the hill. The sun was setting, painting the valley wherein her father's hold lay in gold and red and purple. The little river that fed their lands was a ribbon of beaten copper, and she let herself be lost in the stream of her lover's words. Fall was coming, and though a year could sometimes be an eternity, they both knew that in this case, it was all too brief. Privately, she simply hoped she could take her own advice to heart - what would be, would be. As for the rest... well, that was up to them. For now, all the world was before them. And who could ask for more?
Therendor 3rd, 994 YK
Sebastian's eyes opened. The light in the room was gray, the air smelled mildly damp. Rain. Chandra's was pressed against his rather hirsute chest, His eyes flicked down, but he did not move, although he felt the urgings of nature prodding him to do so. In point of fact, he realized as he came more fully to wakefulness, it wasn't a particularly comfortable position even without those immediate concerns. Chandra had apparently clambered on top of him during the night, and the whole of her weight was settled across him. His wife was a fairly slender woman - but all the same, he was not a particularly large man. He sighed deeply, resolving to endure - but happily, the change in his breathing was enough to open her vivid green eyes. She turned her gaze up to him, and after a moment for her mind to awaken somewhat, gave him a sleepy smile. One slender finger traced delicately through the hairs of his chest, and her breath tickled rather pleasantly against his skin.
" Climbing in your sleep?" Sebastian asked in a light, teasing tone.
" You were thrashing around. I thought I would have to hold you down." She bantered back.
Sebastian nodded absently, his eyes suddenly distant. " There was a dream... not a nice one." He chewed absently at his lip. " I wish I could remember it."
Chandra huffed out a little laugh. " You're the only man I've ever met who wants to remember the frightful dreams and forget the good. I married a lunatic!"
He shrugged, not arguing the point. " Bad dreams make better stories. Nobody wants to hear about unmitigated happiness or fields of flowers. Even with so many shadows on the world, it's the darker stories that people like to read."
Chandra snorted. " That's because the fools who can afford to pay poets don't have to break their backs in the fields all day. They don't have enough trouble, so they go looking for it." Her smile turned slightly bitter. " Explains much about the world, eh?"
Sebastian nodded. " Probably. But it puts food on the table." He gave her a smile that slowly turned wolfish, and moved his head closer to hers. " Besides... my good dreams are not fit for public consumption."
Chandra gave him a coy look from beneath her lashes. " Why, husband... have you been having lurid visions in your sleep? I am shocked!"
Sebastian laughed. " Where was that modesty when we were courting? I remember a certain occasion at the Wheel and Crown..." Chandra put her lips to his, shushing him. They lay like that for a time, simply enjoying the fact of being in one another's company, until Chandra rolled away. He watched her, savoring the last of the slow, languid moments that would presently burn away like morning mist - then he, too rose and began to dress. As he did so, Chandra came over and stood in front of him, straightening the lines of his clothing, absently plucking a piece of fluff or a stray hair that Sebastian was sure was imaginary. He bore it patiently, knowing the futility of argument.
Satisfied, she took his hand and began leading him down the narrow corridor, her voice now more businesslike.
" Do you think you'll be home for supper?" she asked.
Sebastian considered the matter for a moment, then reluctantly shook his head in the negative. " Probably not. I've got two speeches and half-dozen pieces of correspondence I need to have completed before the week's out. We have to keep lines of communication open, even in these times." He said these last words in a pompous, windy tone that echoed the manner of his immediate superior, Chancellor Ir’Rayne.
Chandra giggled, covering her mouth with one hand and lightly pushing his chest with the other. " You shouldn't joke about that, dear. It's you do important work." But her tone and her smile didn't match the stern words. Sebastian sighed, running his hand over his eyes.
" I know. I just wish Ir’Rayne weren't so damn pompous - and that I could inject a little actual honesty into some of the missives I send. Every once in a while, I look up from the quill and ink, and I realize that men are dying while we quibble over minutia." He shrugged, feeling a weary malaise settling over him. Chandra said nothing, simply stepping in close and putting her arms around him. He put his arms around her shoulder and held her close, sighing. " Bah, but I'm getting as maudlin as that idiot Prosper. I swear, the man writes so much about the burden of life I wish he'd relieve himself of it. I don't mind a sad song or a bit of melodrama, when it's done right - but you'd swear cretin's never been happy in his life."
" It's a pose. But it has an appeal - to a certain sort of woman." She said, giving him a sly grin.
Sebatian looked back at her, unphased, and snorted. " Have you " seen Prosper, love? You're barking up the wrong tree if that's your choice to replace me in your bed.
She laughed, shooing him towards the door. " Maybe if you'd come home occasionally I wouldn't have to!" She responded cheerfully. " Now get to work before they arrive! I don't want you scaring them off!"
He turned smoothly, wrapping an arm around her waist and dipping her into a low bow, his lips sealed firmly on hers. For a moment, her eyes opened wide, then he felt her arms go around his shoulders. The kiss was sweet, and it lasted.
Finally, though, they both had to come up for air. Chandra grinned up at him, eyes shining. " You romantic sop." She accused, and Sebastian didn't bother defending himself.
He went to door, pulled it open, and turned back to say farewell-
And he was suddenly being shaken. The world came apart around him - not in the way a dream does, but with a great and awful tearing, as if he were being pulled through a space entirely too small to fit his frame. He screamed, once, as rents opened around him and terrible light poured through, burning him away and leaving nothing but-
The air tasted like ashes as he awoke - Too many fires. These thoughts filled his bleary head as he looked up, finding a big, brawny man with a flat, ugly face shaking him. Memories surfaced, and Sebastian stumbled up and out of the tent, stepping between the haphazard rows of huddled figures beneath thin blankets - or none at all. He stepped out into the murk of predawn and ducked into an alley between two tents to retch. It made him feel a little better. But then, that wasn't much of an accomplishment. Well, piss in the ocean - every little bit helps, he thought with a bitter smile.
The man who had woken him put his hand on his shoulder once again. Sebastian had to stop himself from grabbing the dagger at his side and jamming it into the man's eye in a fit of rage that would have been wholly out of character a few weeks ago. But then, nobody was who they were a few weeks ago. He wouldn't have needed the weapon then - but he did now. People had changed. Although Sebastian did sometimes wonder why he bothered.
Such a gesture would have been suicide, though. Rolf had been a mason before... well, before, and a practiced tavern brawler besides. He could have snapped Sebastian's neck without thinking about it. Instead, he steadied him, and gestured to an unmoving shape huddled beneath a think blanket at one of the spaces nearest the tent. It took Sebastian a moment to orient himself - to try to push the damnably real dream back out of his skull - and then he remembered what the silent figure indicated. He took a deep breath and nodded.
Rolf did most of the lifting, and Sebastian suspected he could have done it himself - But Rolf knew Sebastian needed distractions. Sebastian supposed he was a friend of sorts.
Idly, Sebastian wondered why he was still alive. The question really didn't hold much interest for him - but it was a curious thing. A man of faith might have taken it for serendipity. He was not a man of faith. He didn't understand how anyone in what was left of Cyre could be - not anymore.
It had been a stupid thing, really. A messenger had been called for, a messenger had been sent - a messenger had been lost. There had been no one else around to take the package of missives to the ambassador in Korth, and it was not something that could be trusted to just anyone. Really, it wasn't so strange - the War raging, everything of need had been in short supply, including manpower. So he had gone. He had done as he was bid. His still remembered Chandra, grumbling about having him away for the time it would take him to deliver the little bundle of documents. Teasing. Laughing, bidding him to hurry on his way and hurry back.
He shook his head, weaving his way around that memory the way a man might around a very, very deep chasm. He concentrated on hauling the dead man in his arms, and tried to forget what it had looked like, riding back towards Cyre and averting his eyes from that awful terrifying light.
He wondered, idly, if the flame had been silver.
They carried the dead man towards one of the pyres. They'd seen quite a few like them over the past few weeks - people who just didn't wake up. Disease and hunger had reaped bumper crops of course - but there were also those who were healthy enough in flesh, but who had evidently decided not to rise. They might have been sleeping. They might have been dreaming, Sebastian reflected, and his mind wandered back to that vivid, recurring dream...
" You going to the prince's speech?" Rolf asked in his customary clipped grunt, as the two of them set the body down in a neat line with the others.
Sebastian shrugged. " Didn't know it was an option."
" Always an option." Rolf grunted again, eyeing the line of shrouded forms.
Sebastian smiled sourly. " Aye, I'll go. I've got a bit more work to do."
" 'nother song?" Rolf asked, mild curiosity in his deep bass voice.
Sebastian nodded. The writing, like carting the bodies, was something to do. He reflected on what he knew about Oargev. He'd handled some of his Highness' correspondence, just as he had for most of Cyre's other ambassadors, but he'd never met the man personally. He didn't really have much interest. Still, As he eyed the bodies of the hopeless dead, he reflected that he did have his options. Maybe the prince would have some better ones.
Before the Day of Mourning, Sebastian was a bright, accomplished young man just entering the second third of his life. He was married, held and small but important position in Cyre's government as an aide to the chancellor for foreign relations, and generally enjoyed a quiet but productive life. He was also poet, author, and historian with several well-received publications to his name. He considered himself a man of learning, a man of culture - a man who served his country with quiet pride, and with his best natural talents. A gentleman in the truest sense of the word - a gentle man, living a quiet, productive life.
Naturally, that didn't last.
Sebastian accepted the prince's oath for a number of reasons - it was the most immediate way to return a sense of meaning to his life - he could both seek vengeance against whoever had committed this atrocity against his nation (and against him personally.) Beyond that, it was something to occupy his mind. And beyond that... there was a quiet, desperate hope that if he served well and faithfully enough, he might find some way for his Chandra, his wife, to be returned to life. He knows that this is unlikely, given the strain on Cyre's resources and the potential dissolution the nation faces - moreover, it is a deeply selfish goal. But love makes no exceptions for patriots, or for anything beyond its own consuming needs.
Sebastian stands upon a metaphorical cliff's edge - he has been divorced from his old life irrevocably - even if by some miracle he manages to return Chandra to life, there is no way he will ever resume the life he once possessed. He thinks he might be able to handle that. What he doesn't know yet - what he can't know - is what he will become. Beyond even being dispossesed, the entire community and social structure upon which his life rested is gone.
As a result, he's thrown himself into work with a will. He believes that the prince will find best use for him as a diplomat and spy - his training thus far makes him well-suited to insinuating himself into courts, and to interacting with foreign dignitaries. He'll have to pick up a vast number of skills to make the transition from desk work to field agent, but he's always been a quick study, and he's almost suicidally determined.
Sebastian's personality and outlook has been severely altered by the events of the Day of Mourning - and understandably so. But the core of his old self remains, though battered and scarred. He is still an endlessly inquisitive man. He is still outspoken and opinionated (often even moreso.) He is polite, urbane, and witty, with a sharp sense of humor - although admittedly, his attempts at humor run more towards acerbic commentary or black comedy these days. Above all, though, he retains an element of stubborn willfulness - he refuses to be broken, and he refuses to give up, either on his personal hopes or on Cyre itself. While he may appear as an unassuming aesthete or a minor government functionary, that will of pitted iron is probably the only reason he's still alive, and the only reason he could bring himself to take the Oath.
But despite his resolution to press forward and find some way to make a new life in service to what remains of king and country, he finds that the past will not leave him alone. Dreams of alarming potency and addictive, soporific sweetness haunt him - and he's going to have to learn to control them, before they learn to control him...
The most apt word to sum up Sebastian’s religious beliefs would be “dubious.” While he acknowledges that priests of the various gods and powers are possessed of remarkable abilities, he feels that most churches exist only to give a sense of false sanctity to a naked desire for power – and, especially after the Mourning, he presumes that the gods (assuming they exist in the manner that their worshippers claim) are nothing more than parasites. They clearly aren’t doing the sentient races much good, judging by the state of the world.
That isn’t to say he can’t have respect for people of a religious bent – even he would admit that many people with deep and abiding faith do great good in the world – people whose vocations lead them to make incredible sacrifices for the good of their fellow beings are admirable, no matter what source that conviction stems from. But he finds unthinking zealotry and an adherence to dogma without reference to a sense of higher purpose to be deeply repugnant. Sebastian is self-aware enough to recognize that there may be a degree of hypocrisy in this, given his own abiding patriotic attitudes, but he rationalizes this by insisting that he always tempers his love for his country with intelligence, common sense, and moral rectitude.
Sebastian does have certain sympathy with followers of the Blood of Vol. He finds their reliance on self-improvement and their belief in the ability of mortals to transcend limits and achieve greatness to be deeply enlightening ideals. Their fetishization of death and blood are more than a little off-putting, however, and his personal and professional duties have always kept him from investigating the organization more thoroughly. He has made reasonably friendly contact with one or two of their agents as back-channel negotiators in other kingdoms, however, and if he seeks religious aid in his pursuit of resurrection for Chandra’s soul, it is likely that he will turn to the Blood of Vol first.
What Rayne actually does believe in is hardest of all to define. He believes in his country, certainly, but not with religious fanaticism. He believes that people can accomplish great good through effort and through will. He believes in treating others the way he would want to be treated. He believes in love, and he is poet enough to believe that there is still wonder in the world, even after all the terrible things that he has been through. Most of all, he believes in creation – he believes that to create, to build, to make something out of nothing is the closest thing to true divinity that exists. If he has a larger purpose in life, it is to create things of lasting beauty and enduring meaning, things that will inspire others and leave the world a little better than he found it.
Sebastian is a rather attractive young man in his late thirties. He has high cheekbones, a strong jaw, and an open, pleasant face. Not especially bulky, he is nevertheless fairly robust - his work prior the Mourning was all behind a desk, but he grew up on a farm. He has thick, curly black hair and deep gray eyes, a winning smile and a rich, surprisingly deep voice. He customarily dresses in red, although lately he's taken to attiring himself in deepest black, with only red accents.
Chandra - Sebastian's wife, now presumed deceased. Chandra was a bright, vivacious woman of Sebastian's own age. Having lost her father early in life, she took over the print shop he used to run, leading to her fateful meeting with Sebastian. Hard-working, practical and driven, she and Sebastian were very much in love, and took a great deal of interest in each other's lives. Sebastian often helped her around the shop when not at his own duties, and Chandra was instrumental in helping Sebastian with his writing, serving as editrix as well as inspiration. The two of them ran in the same artistic circle, as many of those in Sebastian's fields came to her shop to have their printing done.
Obviously, finding some way to have Chandra returned to life is one of Sebastian's main motivations. He does not really understand the scope of such an undertaking, only that it is possible - and that's all that matters. His desire to undo the past has all the hallmarks of becoming an obsession. But then, he's a poet - and he knows that sometimes love really does conquer all.
Johann - Sebastian's elder brother by three years, the two of them never really got on very well - the bigger, more physically able Johann jealous of his younger brother's seeming good fortune, and Sebastian resentful of Johann's physical superiority. Johann enlisted in the army as soon as he could, and enjoyed a fair deal of success, working his way up to the rank of Sergeant. Sebastian does not know whether Johann is alive or dead, and - perhaps to Sebastian's discredit - he has been too occupied with other matters to attempt to find out.
Clarice - Clarice was the quiet, unassuming sibling, always out of the way when the boys were fighting. As with his parents, Sebastian has not met with her since he left home, although the two exchanged infrequent letters. Sebastian always felt more than a little betrayed by Clarice, since in her last letter she detailed how a missionary speaker had convinced her of the righteousness of the Silver Flame. She moved to Thrane to take religious vows, and Sebastian has had no desire to speak with her since.
Violet ir’Ambris - Perhaps the only bit of truly good news that Sebastian has recieved since the Day of Mourning is that his old friend, Violet ir’Ambris had survived. Her husband and father both deceased, she is the sole heir to no less than two noble families and now forms part of the Prince's inner council. Sebastian has only met with her once, but he was surprised by two things - one, how much the flightly, somewhat whimsical young woman had become a brilliant politician and two, how warmly he still felt towards her. The latter has made him more than a little uncomfortable, as he feels he should be dedicating all of his thoughts to Chandra - but Violet has been there for him, offering him comfort and support even in the midst of all of his other duties. She even recommended his services to Prince Oargev, helping to give Sebastian a new purpose in life. Sebastian is unsure how he should feel about what might come of all this.
Jorge and Marta – Sebastian’s parents. They haven’t been involved in his life for a number of years, and Sebastian’s memories of them are frankly idealized and very fuzzy. He remembers that his father taught him to value hard work and persistence, and that his mother taught him to read when he was very young. He remembers the scent of baking bread that seemed to follow his mother around, and the roughened feel of his father’s hand on the top of his head. He remembers his mother cuffing him once when he bit his elder brother. Mostly, he remembers that he loved them, and that they provided him with the kind of opportunities and home that most children never have. The more the years go by, the more he regrets his lack of gratitude towards them, and the way he let life get in the way of spending time with them.
As far as Sebastian knew, they were alive at the time of the morning. The lands where his parents farm resided and the ir’Ambris lands lie along the river, between what is now the Glass Plateau and the ruins of Metrol.
So, these are what might be called "personality seeds" - foibles and fractures that Sebastian might possess (You could also call it a catch-all section for tidbits that don't fit into other sections.) Despite the name, these aren't attempts to make him "Quirky." Rather, I'd like Sebastian to have the sorts of inconsistencies and personal idiosyncrascies that help a character feel a little more real - to give Sebastian the sort of uneven internal geography that distinguishes a more vital character from archetypes and stereotypes.
He won't necessarily demonstrate all of these - these are just ideas to help me when I start writing him in earnest. An application is just a starting point, after all - vital, but far from the whole of the thing.
Tarnished Silver - Sebastian has a deep and abiding dislike for the Silver Flame - he actually has a generalized distaste for religious zealots, but his distaste for the Silver Flame derives both from his private belief that Thrane or the Flame (they are functionally indistinct for him,) were involved with the Day of Mourning - Witness Thrane's unwillingness to occupy Cyre, he says. The church or its angelic servants knew something was coming - and they were either involved or did nothing.
Ghosts of things Undone - In a rather bitter twist, one of the things that Sebastian most regrets from his old life is one of the things that he's most grateful for now. He and Chandra were never able to have children, and although this was a source of friction between them, he's perversely thankful for it now. But lately, when he dreams, he's occasionally seen a little girl, perhaps nine or ten years old, who bears a curious resemblance to himself and his wife. But he's never seen her in waking life...
Why Did the Mourning Happen?
Sebastian blames Thrane for the Mourning, pure and simple. His deep personal loathing for the Church of the Silver Flame colors this explanation, and Sebastian is aware of that – but it doesn’t change his opinion or his feelings even a little bit. He is convinced it was some great and terrible magic called up by the Flame’s priests.
As for other explanations… well, Cyre was growing desperate, and it’s said that the mists of the Mourning poured out first from the royal palaces. Perhaps Cyre brought its doom upon itself – whether through research into a new weapon of its own, or through some decadent atrocity. Cyre, after all, had grown increasingly jaded and frenzied in its pursuit of the aesthetic extreme in the last days of the war. And wouldn’t it be ironic if they had gone looking a little too far afield, and found something else looking back?
WIP – NOT DONE
On Nobility: Sebastian has been associating with the nobility for more than half his life. He knows how to associate with them, and he’s grown comfortably enough to judge a given noble-born as an individuals rather than as members of their class. Although he lives much of his professional life among noble-born, there are many occasions where he feels his position as an outsider very keenly – a common-born man exalted to a position beyond what his station in life would normally permit, he understands noble culture intellectually, but not with the intuitive fluency of someone born to it. He is also occasionally envious and a bit resentful of the opportunities he simply can’t enjoy – but thanks to his education and position, he gets along fairly well with the nobility, although many members of the nobility treat him in a rather patronizing manner. When Chandra was still alive, she had rather more trouble dealing with the nobility– low-born, and without his degree of formal education, she was wildly out of place among the highborn ladies with whom she occasionally had to associate in her role as Sebastian’s wife. Sebastian never really thought about it much, however, except to empathize with his wife’s discomfort.
On Commoners: Though common-born, Sebastian’s work and tastes have more in common with the nobility than with the peers of his birth. This places him in a somewhat awkward “twilight zone,” wherein he feels alienated around commoners because his education and tastes are radically different from theirs, but likewise an outsider among the nobility because his wealth and fortunes do not place him in their league. For all that, though, Sebastian gets along fairly well with most commoners, at least in passing – though his education can make him sound pretentious from time to time, he doesn’t put on airs. Beyond that, his ability to empathize with commoners more aptly than the average nobleman has proven to be an asset in his job, as he can more accurately predict public reaction and judge what would please a crowd when writing speeches. It would be nice to say that it also gave him the ability to help determine policies that would help the bulk of Cyre’s people in real and definite ways, but the opportunity for such proposals was always limited at best.
On Both:Both of the above are fairly accurate... they've just been spun. Sebastian gets along well with members of either class, in that he can go to a noble's party and not embarass him, or walk into a working-class tavern and (probably) not get tossed out onto the streets "fer bein' a nob." On the other hand, he's something of an outsider in either setting. Among nobleborn, his dress, manners, and a hundred other little details (not to mention the simple fact of his name,) reveal him as "not one of us." How an individual noble-born reacts to that depends on their prejudices. Some people have sneered at him for his presumption, others embrace him for it (Violet, for example.) A rare few simply don't care, and try to judge him on merit alone. And then there's always those... wonderful individuals who consider him a "credit to his people."
Among the commoners, it's a similar situation, only in reverse - even if he were to dress down for the evening, his breadth of knowledge, his mode of speech, and the subjects he talks about all mark him out as a member of government. Again, how an individual reacts to him depends on their personal predilections and prejudices. Some people get pugnacious 'cause they think he's putting on airs. Some people get nervous, because they think he'll report what they say to someone of authority. Some people try to curry favor. And some commoners don't care, or even hope he might be a way to get their voices heard.
On The War: For Sebastian, the war was a fact of life. His friends and family served in the military, and the bulk of his job was either attempting to maneuver Cyre into a more advantageous position, or dealing the various political issues surrounding war, or writing speeches to bolster morale and increase recruitment. He never really saw the war as a good thing, nor as an evil one – it was simply there, and it was part of his job to help Cyre advance towards a rightful victory in whatever small way he could.
Now, Sebastian doubts that even Cyre’s ascendancy to a well-deserved throne could be worth the price he’s paid.
On the Five Nations:
Cyre: Better to have loved and lost, then never to have loved at all? Perhaps. But Cyre is not yet lost. We can bring it back. The Prince has said it, and so let it be - even if we have to win back our home with fire and sword. And any power that gets in our way can expect to have a hole put right through it.
Aundair: A possible ally in the reclamation of Cyre. Aundair has always treated its scholars with a fair degree of respect, which is admirable, and they were not as much engaged in hostilities against Cyre nation as some others, which is moreso. Sebastian also used to find dueling culture wonderfully romantic, and a fine subject for many lurid tales of love and loss and tragedy. Admittedly, his taste for such things has soured somewhat of late.
Breland: Breland spend a great deal of time and effort engaging in hostilities against Cyre in the last war, so Sebastian does not have a particularly high opinion of them - although the bulk of his actual personal distaste is saved for Thrane, and his feelings towards Breland were always relatively mild. The Brelish reaction in the wake of the mourning has done a great deal to heal this rift, and Sebastian feels confident that Cyre and Breland could become friendly nations - assuming Cyre survives.
Karrnath: Equal parts alluring and disturbing. The fascination with death and the dead was always vaguely repugnant to Sebastian - although lately he's had equally vague feelings of fascination, and even made some half-formed speculation. The military culture, like Aundair's duels, has a degree of romanticism, but less so than the dramatic one-on-one conflicts. Besides, Sebastian would have hated being forced into military service, so there's another reason to be glad he was not born there - as if the miserable climate weren't reason enough.
Thrane: If only their precious flame would burn a little hotter, they could all commune with it personally.
On Other Peoples and Powers
Zilargo: The Gnomish obsession with knowledge is something Sebastian can empathize with, although the incredible personal paranoia is not. Still, Sebastian is familiar enough with the world of espionage to understand gnomish culture better than most outsiders - although not well enough to impress most gnomes. Still, he's considered seeing if he could find a Gnomish master to instruct him in how to be a better agent, if that is what the Cyran crown needs. Then again, any master he could actually *find* probably wouldn't be one he would *want.*
The Goblinoids.: On one other hand, goblinoid mercenaries were key assets in the war, and he himself wrote a stirring speech commending their bravery against the forces of Breland and Thrane. And on the other, Sebastian finds the goblinoids as a people somewhat disturbing in their inclinations - though much of his distaste and distrust is saved for Darguun in specific rather than goblinoids as a group. On the whole, he tends to see members of goblinoid races as either “The good ones” or “The bad ones,” although he would doubtless use more poetic terms to describe the differentiation. The distinction is ultimately whether or not a particular creature or type of creature is useful or necessary, whether it seems to be human-like in temperament, and whether or not it proves hostile. He still finds himself uncomfortable around all but the most urbane of the goblinoid races, however.
Darguun: However useful and meritorious the service of goblinoid mercenaries, Darguun is a nation build on a legacy of theft, treachery, and murder - that's how Sebastian sees it, at any rate. The residents of Darguun won their land by stealing it from Cyre, and murdering its inhabitants. Even after almost thirty years, such debts should not be forgotten. If it were pointed out to him, Sebastian would have to acknowledge that humans have proven similarly treacherous in the past... but there's a reason such acts are considered monstrous things. If the residents of Darguun want to be considered peers of the five nations, they have a long, hard road to redemption - and given their slavery policy, they seem to be walking the wrong way.
Valenar: Like Darguun, they stole Cyran land and murdered Cyran people - refugees, no less. They have much to answer for, and Sebastian doubts that they will have much to say that he cares to listen to. They may prove assets in the retaking of Cyre, however, if they hold any guilt that can be manipulated. Reckonings can be had later.
On the Warforged: The Warforged present a difficult conundrum to Sebastian. On one hand, as a representative of Cyre, he is obligated to support the state’s official stance on the Living Constructs as state property – vital resources in the war, even ones capable of bravery and meritorious service, but ultimately tools for the defense of Cyre. And on the other hand, he has seen and heard too much evidence of the creature’s burgeoning independence. As a poet, a philosopher, and a dreamer, enslaving a creature capable of forming its own destiny purely because of the circumstances of its birth is abhorrent to him. Doubtless the question of the Warforged with give Sebastian a number of sleepless nights, if he is forced to confront it.
On the Monstrous Races: Sebastian grew up on his father's monster-stories about the Daughters of Sora Kell and their inhuman horde. As far as he knows, there's no reason to trust or treat with them. They're like goblinoids, except without possibility of compromise - and thus, they are one more in a world of dangers.