On Character Relationships-Dragons and Treasures

Writing character-driven fantasy is challenging enough when human characters are being used. So, since ‘challenging-enough’ apparently equals ‘boring!’ in my life, I had to go and use dragons, immortals, witches and various beasties. The upside of that is some pretty cool characters. The downside of that is that my mind has stretched in directions I didn’t know could be stretched.

The relationships between the characters are relatively simple, at first glance. We’ll use Erotherimas and Rivareyt as an example. Erotherimas has been married several times, Rivareyt is his fourth wife. All the others died of old age or natural causes. Seeing as Erotherimas is immortal, this has caused some significant angst on his part, since he also has had to watch his children die. Of the three dragons in the story, he’s become the most human. He wants to be mortal, to die and move on. But he can’t. Immortals only die by someone else’s hand.

Erotherimas marries Rivareyt for cynical reasons. In the past, he married women that he liked, and loved. He did not meet Rivareyt until the wedding. He married her because she might improve his standings with Kortango’s expanding empire, and because he didn’t think he could possibly love a stranger.

Rivareyt has some pretty dark secrets of her own–and as I write this, I realize they are darker than I wrote, and will need to be colored a little–and she doesn’t know the meaning of love. Literally. She’s a shy, scared little woman with serious emotional issues and scars.

Erotherimas is a force of nature–also literally, as the dragon of Earth–and Rivareyt is the soft, submissive girl whose strength is so deeply buried that it takes the blunt force of Erotherimas to bring it out. And when he finally does, things get complicated.

There is an old concept in Shadow and Soul that I originally used to describe the relationship between Aleshan and Kasiris, before I even had the concept of Inherent: Glamargan and Valemos. The Glamargan is the treasure of a dragon… In living flesh. It is his (or her) mate or closest companion. Valemos is the possessor of that treasure, the dragon itself. As the dragons of Shadow and Soul are more of spiritual than physical nature, even the thinnest strains of dragon blood can develop this attachment.

A Valemos is absolutely centered around its Glamargan. Obsessive, controlling, protective, furious without the object of its love. Of course, most people would simply disappear into such overwhelming possession. But a Glamargan brings out the deepest levels of such concepts precisely because they do not disappear into the obsession. They are incredibly stubborn, difficult and independent. Put simply, they are the worst nightmare, headache, life-long love, treasure and goddess (or god) of the Valemos. Because of the exceptional power of the dragons, the Glamargan has to be strong enough to be a grounding point.

The downside for a Valemos–and where the concept gets tricky–is that the Glamargan pretty much has absolute power over them. The dragon will do anything for its treasure. Erotherimas starts a war because Rivareyt says he should. Aleshan, thwarted in his obsession, douses a continent in blood and eventually faces his worst fears, because Kasiris won’t come near him until he is in possession of himself.

Karamarog and Sviera have the same relationship, while Mortathes loses a great deal of potential power but lives longer because he refuses to give anyone that power over him. The old dragons are a dying breed because so many of them lost their treasures in the wars.

Such a relationship is very, very difficult to conceptualize. It is, in human terms, an unhealthy relationship. In immortal terms, all relationships border on that. But even by immortal standards, the Valemos is dangerous and undesirable. Karamarog kidnaps and ‘trains’ Sviera to be the witch he sees her to be, basically overriding her free-will for a while and holding her captive. Kasiris, the flip-side (although of dragon-blood herself) tears Aleshan’s soul to pieces in revenge for his attempted claiming of her.

Putting myself in that headspace is draining, emotional and disturbing. But obsession is one of the most powerful emotions, and gives the most powerful characters of my stories a weakness as vast as their power. When Sviera is broken, so is Karamarog. When Kasiris breaks from Aleshan, they both nearly die.

But in the end, it enables them to change the course of history… for the entire universe.


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