From costume to character
Only a few days, then it is time for me to go to Elfia! In case you don't know: Elfia is some kind of fantasy renaissance fair, the biggest in Europe. I go there ever year, always dressed up as something fantastical. Making costumes out of duct tape is fun!
I'll wear last year's costume: the winged phoenix lady. Hopefully, the weather will be much better this time. Anyway, I thought it was fun to share the development of this costume/character, since it is aSoE related.
This character was born eight years ago, when I made my first costume about a phoenix lady. I often pick a fantastical animal as costume subject and humanise it.
Since drawing and crafting the costume take a terrible long time, I could figure out who this character was. She got a name, Ankaa, after the brightest star in the Phoenix constellation, but it got changed to Anka'a, Anka, Ancaa and Ancaah. I think I'll go for the last one, but I wouldn't be surprised if it changed again. The phoenix was a shapeshifter, the queen of a colony of firebirds and, for some reason, harpies. Probably because harpies were shapeshifters too, making them look a lot like the phoenix character.
Anyway, proper character development happened when I had to make a contest entry about immortality and love. The phoenix wasn't born as an immortal fire chicken, but 'just' as a powerful sorceress, who couldn't be with her love because he wasn't of such noble birth. She turned into a phoenix after accidentally discovering a special kind of magic deep within her. She learnt how to circumvent death. Staying alive forever is a bit of a sad thing when you have to do that alone, but this newly discovered magic could be applied to other people as well. The phoenix and her boyfriend could live on forever together, outliving all those jerks who said they couldn't be together. Magic, of course, comes with a price. For every year the two of them live longer, someone else's years had to be stolen. Death everywhere! But they didn't care, they were happy.
Man, I hate my own old artwork...
During those years, the boyfriend grew stronger. He learnt magic, and since he was immortal, he saw himself as a god. That was not the kind of guy the phoenix had fallen in love with, and the two grew apart. Still, the phoenix kept him alive, for she couldn't let him go that easily. The boyfriend however would grow more evil and powerful, until he reached the point the phoenix had lost all her love for him and made an end to his immortal life.
That plot stayed with me for a long time with the idea to use it for aSoE. For that though, it needed heavy modifications, since almost none of the magic used here could work with that of the aSoE world. I guess that inspired me to give the character a costume reboot too:
That went out of hand; sure, I love how extravagant it looks, but no way someone in the world of aSoE walks around like he or she is celebrating carnival. Highly unpractical. There were more things that made me wonder though; for example, couldn't the phoenix be an old woman? Stories can use old grannies, after all, especially ones who are slightly evil, and a phoenix can go through all stages of life. So the phoenix turned old. Then was this problem with her immortality magic; why was she the only one in the world who has found it? To understand magic - especially the 'old' kind the phoenix grew up with - you have to be terribly focused; a stray thought can ruin everything. So she now has some kind of autism that helps her doing that, but also makes it difficult to interact with her. She also needed better motivation; why would you want to stay alive for so long? Well, maybe the phoenix is searching for a way to bring back that old magic, which has left the world of aSoE a long time ago. She is the only one who has this knowledge, and knowledge should never go to waste.
And the boyfriend? Well, I couldn't find a place for him, so he got kicked out of the story. Don't worry though, I have a replacement! A scientist who has found proof of this old magic, but doesn't get taken serious by his colleagues. When he searches for answers all by himself, he stumbles upon the phoenix.
So yeah, there is not that much left of the original character anymore. Still, they have influenced the story a lot. They are one of the reasons I have 'old' magic, since 'new' magic wasn't enough to explain everything, and I still have names like 'the boyfriend' and 'the phoenix' running around in my manuscript. Their legacy lives on!