Thursday 5 April 2007

Mirror Spock and Kirk.

Any Star Trek fans among you? Those of you who are will surely remember the classic episode “Mirror, Mirror”, in which the Enterprise crew meets with their doubles from a parallel universe. However, in this universe, the peace-​​loving Federation is replaced by an evil Empire, torture is regularly used as discipline, and Mr. Spock has a goatee.

Why do I ask?

Lest anyone think I take a perverse pleasure in inflicting the elf Imin on so many innocent and beloved characters, I want to take a moment to explain the real reason why I find him, Lar, and his other friends so much fun to write.

It may be clear to some of you by now that the elves have an “organizational structure”, for lack of a better word, that involves groups of four elves. You might also have deduced that it involves one elf for each of the four natures: earth, air, fire, and water.

In fact, every adult male elf will be part of such a team, called a dóshém, meaning roughly “four-​​company”. When there’s a job to do – for example, freeing Druze and Midra or incapacitating Malcolm–one of the teams will go.

Uncle Mustache and his three.

The four elves each have a rank of First, Second, Third, or Fourth, but according to etiquette all except the First are modestly called “the fourth” when speaking about them, unless specifying the rank is essential to understanding. Likewise out of modesty an elf would not refer to himself as anything but “so-and-so’s Fourth” unless he is an arrogant SOB.

The three elves who are on the team of a leader such as Sorin or Lar will be the highest-​​ranking elves in the society. That is why Vash decided that Osh had an equivalent rank to duke, since he was Sorin’s Second, and an English duke has next highest rank to king.

Anyone see where this is going yet? :-DLar's three.

I put no planning into the creation of Lar’s three team members. The day I took the pictures for Catan’s rape I used the Tombstone of Life & Death to randomly create three new male family members, used plastic surgery to give them elf ears, and that was that. Five minutes later I was taking pictures.

This was a case where the characters truly created themselves. One was a short and stocky little elf, always mocking, and vain despite being scarred.

One was a grim giant.

One was a grim giant.

And one was a burly elf who apparently had second thoughts as soon as he realized that Cat was going to die.

One was a burly elf.

After a bit of skeleton-​​stretching to get them as tall as they appeared in my mind, I ended up with this crew:

Mirror Alred, Cenwulf, Sigefrith, and Leofric.

I realized I had, perhaps accidentally and perhaps unconsciously, stumbled across a writer’s treasure: evil, twisted versions of four of my main characters. And they developed from there.

Imin is short but deadly with a sword, he is always joking, and he loves the ladies. Unlike Alred, his jokes are cruel and, to paraphrase Alred himself, while Alred thinks about ladies’ feelings, Imin is rather thinking about feeling ladies.


Llen, Lar’s Third, is tall and grim and silent like Cenwulf, but whereas Cenwulf has both an affectionate heart and a dry sense of humor beneath that layer of mummy dust, Llen is cold and cruel inside.

Llen and Imin.

Can you guess who Dartesas is? ;-)

Leofric is the only one of the four noblemen in the valley who truly has a dark side, so perhaps it’s appropriate that “Mirror Leofric” is something of a softie.


Of course Dartesas is no angel… as I recently said in a comment in answer to Verity, while he did not rape Cat that night, he was one of the elves who was raping women at the time Gils was conceived. He might have been Gils’s father.

I think Dasi and Leofric are the two that end up being the most similar even in their mirror versions. Perhaps Dasi is half-​​evil and half-​​good, while Leofric is half-​​good and half-​​evil. It made Dasi a fabulous character to write, as Leofric has always been, and I was sorry to have to kill him.

Finally there is natural born-​​leader Lar: Mirror Sigefrith himself.


I had not thought of him as such until I had the idea about the other three, so I hope there has not been too startling a change in his character due to trying to make him more like Sigefrith. I have always planned for Lar’s character to evolve. Perhaps he will grow to be more like Sigefrith over time.


In conclusion, I want to say that I’m trying to keep the level of pure, unadulterated evil down, at least where the kisór elves are concerned. I know the reaction from some of you has been harshly negative – though I realize the extemporaneous nature of blog comments makes nuanced impressions more difficult – but these elves aren’t demons.

I have been thinking about what can happen to humans in such situations: otherwise good men who are struggling to keep their race and their culture alive against an oppressor who is far stronger and more culturally/technically(/magically) advanced than they are. I don’t want to set off any political debate by pointing to any current or past conflicts in the real world, but I bet everyone can think of some examples. Good men in a long-​​running, brutal, borderline-​​genocidal war can come to do bad things.

Also, I have only touched on some of the things the khírrón have done to them so far, but they aren’t angels either. Remember Paul’s father’s reaction to learning his son had killed a kisór lady in cold blood, and keep in mind that Osh is particularly kind-​​hearted.

But inter-​​elven relations will be a topic for further chapters of the story…

Lar, Llen, Imin.