Shine Cycle Character Profile: Angela of Glasscoast

This is the next in the series of profiles of characters who will appear in the Shine Cycle, my fantasy-series-in-preparation.

Angela – Princess-duchess of Glasscoast, mage, and Visiting Scholar. One of the Shine and Wild Empire’s most notable experts on emergency, Power-enhanced, and military engineering.

Angela is a slender, striking woman of medium height with straight light brown hair flowing past her shoulders. She prefers simple, comfortable yet functional robes, usually in gray or dark blue. A delicate but sturdy pair of spectacles rests unobtrusively on her nose, a pen is often placed carefully behind one ear, and she carries a surprisingly heavy bag of books, blueprints, and other papers, usually slung over one shoulder.

In the engineering community, the College of Mages, her demesne of Glasscoast, and the House of Peers, Angela is known as a diligent but charming and good-humored colleague or leader. Her close friends know her tendency toward overwork, and have helped her develop and maintain a less hectic and more healthy schedule and lifestyle. As duchess, she spends about half of each year in Glasscoast, a quarter in the capital, and a quarter visiting other districts to promote trade and defense improvements and learn about possible innovations.

Soon after her arrival, Angela learned that there were some significant differences in the practice of engineering between the world of her birth and the world in which she now found herself, even beyond the differences in local codes she had expected, and enrolled in the Academy at the next opportunity to study engineering as practiced in the Empire.

Her tendency to study to distraction rapidly pushed her ahead of her classmates, because of the Academy’s system of per-student pacing, but also interacted badly with her developing latent (but strong) metaphysical talent, bringing her to a minor breakdown. Her healer prescribed a week of complete bed rest and at least a month’s vacation, which she took in the seaside district of Glasscoast, in the Electrian Kingdom. While there she noted many untapped possibilities in its geography, but also the sad state of its maritime defenses.

On her return to the capital, she transferred to the College of Mages to learn to get her heretofore-instinctive use of the Power under control. She continued there until she achieved journeyman status, then transferred back to the Academy to finish her engineering studies.

After completing the Academy engineering curriculum and passing a guild examination, Angela returned to Glasscoast, where she put in a bid for a local government contract to improve a section of the port that was in drastic need of repair. When she began preliminary work at the site, it proved to be in even worse shape than anyone had thought, so she quickly designed some structures to prevent them from collapsing entirely before proper repairs could be made, then hired workers and used her own skill in the Power to put the temporary reinforcements in place.

After she and her workers finished the repairs and improvements she had proposed, she established a “consulting engineering practice” in a previously-abandoned building just inside the wall of the Glasscoast citadel, intending to practice her craft in relative obscurity while she learned about the world and about the Glasscoast area in particular.

But after only five years, she became very concerned when she realized that her work had been the only major repair or improvement to the infrastructure or defenses of the district since she first saw it, despite the somewhat-high tariffs and other taxes the district government levied. Discussions with her neighbors and colleagues persuaded her to seek political office, so she stood for and won election to the district council, and immediately began pushing her agenda of trade and defense. Over the course of her first two terms, the council and the contractors it hired made the necessary repairs to bring the district back to its nominal strength and its infrastructure up to the standard of the neighboring districts.

Even with those improvements, trade did not seem to significantly improve. And with the recent rapid advances in technology, she thought the district’s defenses seemed outdated. So, when the council, led by the mayor, voted against her proposals of further improvements, she stood for the mayoralty and was elected to the post. Her proposals for more ambitious defense and infrastructure improvements were passed the day she took office, and the construction was completed only a few months before the war began.

When the news of the invasion of Held arrived, Angela began the construction of two warships, one fairly large and the other much smaller. She prepared the designs herself, to include the most recent innovations she had read about in trade magazines, but consulted with the district’s shipwrights before hiring them to build the ships. And while she easily convinced the district council to make the district treasury bear most of the cost, she ordered that construction begin before she had secured public funding, since her firm could (if not easily) bear the cost and she felt the ships might be needed.

As it happened, the ships saw very little action in that war. They drove off a couple of small raiding parties, and saw a Dragon capital ship in the distance once, but otherwise lived in the ever-expectant tedium the district’s veterans said they longed for.

After the war, when she was re-elected mayor for the third time (her fourth term in all), Parliament voted to make the position permanent, and she was sworn in as Duchess of Glasscoast.

In the years that followed, she traveled to other coastal districts to explain the improvements she had made and continued to make in Glasscoast, to ensure that the Imperial coasts were as well-defended as possible and that trade continued to flow by sea. After a decade, over her objections, the Parliament named her a princess at large.

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