Shine Cycle Character Profile: Elaine

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

Elaine – Great-mage and a senior analyst in the Queen’s service in the Imperial Service. While she proved her courage and good sense on the battlefield more than once in the Fifth War of the Dragon, after the war her analysis of the events made her even more valuable and caused the Service to request that she not go onto the battlefield again. She agreed to their request, which was coupled to a job offer with an unusual immediate promotion, but took an immediate leave of absence to go to the Academy. In her studies there she discovered an affinity for the academic aspects of the Power, and a respectable (though not unusual) practical aptitude.

Elaine might best be described as a “Renaissance woman,” with wide interests in a variety of academic subjects (and not merely “academic interest”), but only ordinary “practical skill” in the “experimental” side of the various disciplines. As an instructor and tutor at the Academy, she spends much of her time meeting with and teaching students, mostly in her book-lined office.

A somewhat tall, slender woman with short brown hair swept back and tied behind her head. She favors an academic gown in an informal cut, but in wartime wears more-concealing formal robes with light armor underneath. Her brown eyes “somehow hold severity and fun at the same time.”

Soon after her arrival in the Empire, Elaine was struck by a strong inclination for adventure, and with no better ideas leaping to mind, she joined an army artillery unit as a spotter after seeing a recruiting poster. The company didn’t see much action, but in the few key battles that they did take part in, they performed with unusual effectiveness and efficiency. In after-action reports, her comrades credited her on-the-spot tactical suggestions and prior strategic-analysis comments as a principal cause of their success.

After the war, her commanders praised her so highly that the General Staff invited her to join a committee tasked with writing a strategic retrospective report on the war. As the meetings proceeded, she spoke moderately often, asking penetrating questions and offering insightful suggestions, so much that the veteran and senior commanders who led that committee were astounded even having read her earlier reports.

When that committee was dissolved, the army’s administrators offered her a senior analysis position. Because she wanted a better grounding in the Empire and its history and surroundings before taking up that responsibility, however, she negotiated a deferral to allow her to attend the Academy.

While at the Academy, she took courses in nearly every department, and well over a majority of the subjects, though she focused on courses to improve her understanding of the background of the present and the recent past. In addition to shining in the literature classes, and soaking up as much history and strategy as she could absorb, she discovered that she had a remarkable potential for the Power, and even a strong and generally correct intution for its theoretical aspects.

As agreed, after finishing her whirlwind tour of the history and literature curriculum, she began working for the Imperial Service. She continued to further her education in the rest of her time, however; after a few more years poking into the various corners of the Academy’s offerings, she began studying at the College of Mages.

Her career there took longer than some of her peers, as she was working nearly full-time for the Imperial Service, but she still advanced quickly through the initial levels. After she passed the tests that recognized her as a journeyman mage, she was invited to join the Academy faculty as a tutor and lecturer in Earth literature; her superiors in the Imperial Service, fearing that she would leave their department if they did not accomodate this opportunity, reduced her duties to allow her to take the position.

She continued studying the Power in the evenings, but did not advance to the level of master for over a decade, and it took her another decade to become a great-mage.


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