I haven’t been sketching and drawing as much lately, being mired in so much work, both in and outside of school. But I’ve still been thinking, and I’ve been reading a lot. Every chance I get, I put in my Airpods and play one of my audiobooks. I’m currently going through an history obsession with the Plantagenet/ Tudor reigns, that truthfully started when I was still in high school and started reading historical fiction. I’m much more careful about what kinds of historical fiction I read now than I was back then, though, so most of my adult readings have been non fiction, history books by actual historians. I love it. When I think up stories for myself I often hesitate to make characters cruelly disposed towards the innocent and helpless, because I think: how could they? And end up spiralling into a backstory that justifies their motivations. But history has made one thing very clear to me, and that is that while the tropes of hero and villain are a constellation of changing values, traits, and ideals, and the goalposts on evil and good are forever shifting, people have basically been self- serving and ruthless for all of recorded history. And the course of ambition, so highly valued now as it was then, often involves a shocking amount of cruelty towards the less privileged. To write a villain, you often don’t need a complex backstory involving childhood trauma- not when good old ambition and greed will suffice.
Anyway, in the wake of all that reading and thinking, here’s how I see Jeorgil, with the circlet of silver around his head to mark his position as the head of one of the Nine- an office he will hold until he is murdered by Vedhav, and in which he is succeeded by his son, Jariq. He’s always been melancholy, because over the course of the years he’s come to realise that he once loved someone who was forced into hiding, and the memory of whom has been wiped from his mind in order to keep his Emperor’s secrets safe. This brooding, seemingly stoic man keeps many secrets himself; the fact that he is one of the Shadows, one of the five Illusionists who are the Empire’s premier spies, the fact that the Princess Vara is not King Vedan’s, but his daughter with Queen Isa, and that he knows what was done to his sister when he was a youth, and keeps his passionate resentment a secret until his death. Although he’s kind and gentle to those under his care, his family have often found that his warmth only goes so far- beyond a point, this man is unknowable, and retreats into solitude and reverie whenever his relationships with people are on the brink of deepening from steady affection into the fullness of love. For Jeorgil, this is part of the heavy price he must pay, in order to fulfil his plans, remain in the shadows, and do right by those he loved, to honour those once known, and long lost.