Guest Blogger: John Wheeler
“Be on your guard,” Edward ordered those behind and beside him as he slowly rode forward, not to Sir Martin’s great pleasure. The man he approached wore a hooded cloak, pants, belt and boots all of charcoal gray and an ivory pullover shirt under it. A scabbard on his back, likewise charcoal gray with ivory trim, held a medium-length, double-edged sword. He was otherwise unadorned save for a ring on each hand and a circular clasp for his cloak at the neck bearing a strange sigil: a golden box with winged men on top, borne on golden poles and surrounded by twelve golden stars, all on a silver background.
At a gesture from the Duke, the rest of the column surrounded the man in a wide circle. Sir Martin and Eric remained where they were.
“Your men oppose me at their extreme mortal peril, young Duke,” the stranger warned.
“Who are you to oppose the rightful Duke of Lumina and his host?” Edward demanded. “Speak!”
“Your father was certainly right,” said the man with barely suppressed laughter in his voice and body language; he had relaxed his fighting stance by then. “You have about as much tact as a catapulted stone. He was always telling you, while you were yet a child, that you had to learn to please people once in a while. Too bad that people of your sort so seldom listen to such advice.”
Sir Martin blanched with rage. This man spoke of tact and he dared to be so insulting to the heir apparent of House Solaris?
“Hold, Sir Martin,” Edward ordered as the knight rode forward with his hand on the hilt of his sword. “This man wields words like a weapon of war. Since no one has yet killed him for his insolence, I would hear him further before someone does. How do you know of my father?”
“I’ve wandered the Fiefs of Sept-Ternia for many years now. I know each of the Fathers’ Houses and those who rule them for good or evil. I first met Duke William before you were born and found something of a kindred spirit in him. Although,” the man added wryly, “he was no more apt to listen to my advice about smoking than you were to listen to his advice about leading people.”
“Leaders don’t seek to please people,” Edward retorted. “They do what is best for those they lead, no matter the cost.”
“Yes, that’s how you always ‘talked back’ to your father. ‘Wise fool’!” By his tone of voice alone, it was the worst rebuke that the man could give to the Duke: a complete dismissal, if only for the moment, of Edward’s knowledge and competence. “Next to lack of knowledge of the Lord of the Realms, people like you who think that their point of view is the only right one are the biggest plague faced by those born of women.”
After seeing two recent character spotlights on this blog, the idea of presenting a sketch of my chief protagonist—Alain Harper the Undying Singer (to cite the most commonly used of his many names and epithets)—became irresistible. He is by far my favorite character in my Metacosmos save one only, because he represents everything I am and everything I wish I were, yet not without flaws and temptations. He is worth the price of starting my fiction over from scratch and in secret, until he’s really ready to present to the larger world.
The above literary sketch comes from Throne Wars, some fan fiction (incredible, there is “fanfic” out there about my Metacosmos) written by Jason Ward of Barbados and edited and expanded by me. The above artistic sketch is from Realmwalkers by E.V. Medina and myself (as Jack Shepherd) and features Alain interacting with Queen Faydra, one of E.V.’s secondary characters. (I flipped the original sketch because Alain parts his hair on the left, not on the right as originally drawn.)
In both sketches Alain wears his Cloak of Shadow, his Starblade Shalhevetyah, the Locus’ Ring on his right hand and the Steward’s Ring on his left hand. When he wears his Cloak with its hood up, he can disguise his identity from anyone and anything to any depth he sees fit, even to complete invisibility. Only his master the Hooded Man wears a like cloak and sword when necessary, in addition to a special ring that focuses even greater power than those Alain wears do. (And yes, the Hooded Man is my favorite character: Yehawweh the Undying Song, as Alain knows Him and His Father the Heavenly Emperor.)
Alain Harper is “the” Lightchild in the Metacosmos: an immortal being having an ENFP (in my Metacosmos, Ne’fi) personality type preference. As such, while not a classic literary “trickster” in my opinion, he is virtually the embodiment of Cartoon Physics. The secret and the limitation of his transcendent power—the White Hand—is called “the Need of the Hour”. He can do exactly what needs to be done exactly when it needs to be done, as empowered by and as subject to the Hooded Man’s sovereignty and will. This doesn’t always mean that he wins—he’s lost (temporarily) some very important conflicts, and more often than he likes, he’s been restrained by the lack of faith of those he works with.
If I were to pick a relatively well-known actor to play Alain Harper, it would be Alex Pettyfer. In earlier iterations of my character, Alain did grow up as normal humans do and in his teens looked much like Alex did when he portrayed a teen in Operation: Stormbreaker. Two action figures were made of Alex Rider, the role Alex Pettyfer played in that movie, and with the addition of a sword one of the action figures makes a pretty good representation of Alain Harper when he’s wearing the generic Deep Space Service uniform.
Ideally the uniform would be deep charcoal gray and ivory, not black and white: a reflection of the mixture of good and evil which is human nature and of the Divine Power which can dwell in a surrendered human, respectively.
Would a Ne’fi of Alain’s overall renowned compassion and purity of heart (“If Love takes no risks, Love loses its reason for being”) really be as “oppositional” as he sometimes gets, especially to people of Duke Edward’s NT temperament? Yes. That’s part of the “Shadow” side of the Ne’fi psyche and it’s something reflected in the deep charcoal gray of Alain’s clothing. One of his companions once called him “a lamb no lion in his right mind would want to face.” He is almost the worst enemy an evildoer could have in the Metacosmos—second only to the Hooded Man Himself—and not always the most comfortable friend to have around either. For all that Alain is highly intelligent across the board and will sooner try to outmaneuver you than outfight you—again as consistent with his Ne’fi preferences.