Shine Cycle Character Profile: Miranda

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

Miranda – Knight and journeyman mage. She is primarily known among the common people of the Empire for her keen literary analysis – when she reviews a work, no matter how obscure, she is carried without question in nearly every newspaper in the Empire – but the same quickness of mind that has made her beloved by the literati of the Empire has given her a keen grasp of Power theory that far outshines her strength in practical usage. To make up for that weakness she went through the most rigorous courses of study in the Academy that she could find and earned knighthood.

A tall, slender woman with straight dark brown hair falling past her shoulders. After her knighthood she wears a light chain mail shirt under her robes and carries a sword at her belt, but she prefers simple robes, most commonly in a deep red but also often in other bright colors, to armor. Her expression is usually some kind of smile, but that varies from a wry grin, to a friendly and welcoming smile, to a mischievous smirk.

Being of a gregarious and somewhat vigorous bent, Miranda is not well-suited to a “contemplative life.” But her interests in academic, and obscure, topics led her inexorably to a “life of letters,” despite the detour into the arts of war. She spends most of her time reading, writing, or in thought, but makes a point of walking about the city for at least an hour a day, both for exercise and to talk with the people around her. She also posts and holds formal office hours most days.

After she arrived in the Empire, when considering possible directions for her life there, Miranda was at first drawn toward the Church. She was deterred, however, by attitudes among its leadership that she, at that point, considered to vary between “traditional” and “archaic” (with some justice, as this was also some years before the Council of Capitol), and also by advice she received that she would be wasted on a purely contemplative life.

After a period of some months, she found a small publishing house in a town near the capital that offered her the position of its slush-pile editor. She remained there, using her little remaining time to build a her background knowledge of the Empire’s history, literature, and culture, until the publisher closed about five years later.

From there, she moved to a small literary magazine. At first she served primarily in an editorial capacity, correcting others’ articles and helping to determine what material to publish, but after a couple of years she began writing book reviews for the magazine.

A few years later, a series of chance conversations sparked an academic interest in the Power. She began researching it, and wrote an article on it for the magazine, but in the course of her investigation discovered that she had some slight potential as a mage herself.

After moving back to the capital, she took a partial leave of absence from the magazine to study at the College of Mages. Her individual ability was not strong by any means, which significantly limited what workings she could personally perform or take part in, but she found herself able to intuitively grasp and logically analyze the theoretical principles far better than her more-powerful peers. She continued in both theoretical and practical studies there up to the point where her power limited her, and then audited all the courses up to the journeyman level to round out her understanding of the theory, before returning her full attention to the magazine.

The following year, she stood for election to the city council. The margin by which she was defeated made it clear to her that her political views were still far enough out of the Imperial “mainstream” that she was unlikely to win an election herself anytime soon, but enough of her neighbors had been willing to read pamphlets and articles by and about her that she thought she might be able to change those “mainstream” opinions another way: she began a political column in the magazine, of which she was by then a senior and executive editor.

For about another year nearly all of her attention focused on her magazine and on other articles she was writing for other publications, she suddenly realized that her habits put her in danger of forgetting about the world outside “the literati bubble”; she hadn’t even spoken to her next-door neighbor in months. To counteract this, and to help keep her in good health, she began walking through the city every day, stopping to talk to friends and strangers alike.

A few years later, a reference in a book she was reviewing piqued her interest, and when she consulted a friend who worked in the Palace library, that friend recommended she look in the Academy library. When she did so, she happened to meet Elaine, whom she knew well under her former name before their arrival and whom she had come to know and respect by letters since coming to work on the magazine, though Miranda had not known that her professional peer and her old friend were one and the same. After helping her find the book she was looking for, Elaine encouraged her to take classes at the Academy in any subject that interested her. She began taking one class at a time, following her own interests and chance suggestions more than any of the official curricula.

About five years later, in a conversation with another friend, Miranda suddenly realized that she was feeling a growing ennui in her life. Initially prompted by that friend’s suggestion, she decided to invest some time in athletic pursuits beyond a mere daily walk. After a year of that, one of her instructors at the Academy suggests she try the more-challenging “knighthood training” curriculum at the Academy, so she began that, while still continuing to probe the recesses of knowledge in other courses.

Once she reached the peak of physical conditioning needed, she found that she had a knack for the weapons she is training with, and her keen insight and logical mind gave a similar advantage in the courses on strategy and tactics. When war begins not five years after she began her training, she hurried through the remainder of her Academy training, found a knight-master, and somewhat reluctantly headed for the war. At the front, she and her knight-master took a fairly minor part in several battles, but when her knight-master sustained a light but lingering wound, they were transferred to the rear for him to recover, which took nearly the remainder of that campaign.

On her return, she was knighted, and returned to her work with her magazine. Her experiences in the war left her with a more serious disposition, and some of her political opinions had gradually changed to be closer to those held by most people in the Empire. As these differences became apparent in her writing, her columns, which were already popular and carried in several other periodicals across the Empire, began to gain a yet wider and increasing circulation.

Five years after she returned from the war, she began holding regular public office hours.

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