Gaslight Gothic Zendula: Cast of Characters
King Perceval Astel is the very aging king of a country he helped to become great. But now it is the blacken end of a grimy industrial era and he does not recognize his own capital city. He worries how history will judge his regime which both helped push Zendula into the elite club of Great Divergence Superpowers but has also left behind a legacy of industrial brutalization and broken dreams. He hopes Eald and Mayor Black Theri Anthrope can push through his proposed Perceval Social Reforms over the opposition of the Robber Barons and the Morlocks. But his legacy might only be the grand Underground Train Network. Alas, he knows something about that Wyvern lurking in the moldering 2nd Age sewers which the brand new and ultra modern 4th Age urban train engineers don’t know about. And the aging king is also afraid that the road to hell, ie the underground railroad, is paved in good intentions. To be exact: his decision in 1857 to allow Muslim ‘refugees’ to come to Zendula. Those ‘refugees’ are now radicalizing —- dangerously.
Crown Prince Arthur Dagmar Astel is a gangly, maladroit geek of a Nineteenth Century nerd obsessed by mathematics, blueprints, engineering, and technology. He was raised by a Robota Teddy Bear and a fancy nanny addicted to Mother Miniver’s Miracle Elixir (molasses sweetened opium and gin). Things only got worse when the fancy nanny was fired and another nanny was assigned: a sentient Alpha Wolf. His Werewolf godfather Baron Dagmar’s drooling did not help either. The Werewolves of Utopia never could get it into their hairy heads that most people find Werewolves weird. No wonder ADA, as Arthur Dagmar Astel calls himself, has turned out weird. His excess of red hair and ungainly adolescence, aggressive nose and even more aggressive beard, erratic genius, ritual behaviors, and social maladroitness does not impress the ambitious Lady Allusia Elphberg of Ruritania who is eager to become Princess Royal and then Queen of Zendula — with — or without ADA by her side.
Lady Allusia Elphberg of Ruritania has the perfect face of an angel, reddish blond hair, violet eyes, and coyly simpering smile which the public adores. But behind that beauty lies a soul and mind of a ruthless schemer who is as skillful in wrapping Arawn green tinted bonbons in Arawn Green dyed paper tissue (the green dye as perfectly beautiful as it is perfectly lethal being arsenic) to give to Queen Connii. The coyly simpering beauty is also just as capable of ironing starch mixed with radioactive mithril dust which is also perfectly lethal into not one but two men’s shirts to give away to the two men who block her way to becoming Queen of Zendula. And ironing in the Victorian Age meant heavy irons heated over hot coals too! Lady Allusia alias ‘The Cat’ is one focused lady with one very focused agenda!
Godolphon Spencer Hood is the scion of a notorious pirate. He is also the last visible incarnation of the Hidden Pedigree: Elvedom. Elvish genetics tend to be notoriously recessive. But Hood more than lives up to both of his pedigrees. He is the Chief Navigator (Prime Minister) of Zendula but his majority is as precarious as his lust for political power is notorious. Hood wants to keep his bony rump planted in Logan Montforte Astel House (the 10 Downing Street of Zendula) by playing everyone off against everyone. Hood’s cynicism is both outraged and then seduced by Black Theri Anthrope’s Disraelite social reforms which might be cheap red meat for the disgruntled workers or else might actually be sincere. The chance to actually pass some genuine progressive social reforms is surprisingly alluring for such a jaded political animal. Pointy ears aside, Hood know The Havens is sitting on a powder keg of social strife as well as an ancient Wyvern in the moldering 2nd Age sewers. But the Black Eald might also be a black ally. After all, the Black Eald also famously boasted of killing a man in a street duel and claims a pedigree that trumps everyone for the throne of Zendula. And a man with a scar on his face and a nickname called ‘Black’ is not exactly an ally who can be trusted when one’s back is turned!
Hood tries to float a counter queen in the offering to Lady Allusia Elphberg in the lovely form of his own daughter Lady Flavia who is a politician and his political whip in the Upper Chamber of the Steering Committee. Like the Black Eald the Hoods also have a claim to the throne. The lovely Flavia ends up being nominated to be queen anyway but rues the day she wears the crown because the offer comes with the co-ruler: ADA. Does she live happy other after with the wrong man sitting on the throne? And does she plot the ultimate coup? The coup that might finally succeeds? A coup with a most unexpected doppelganger of all: the Robota double that ADA engineers to substitute for himself in those trying social events which he is so incapable of coping with? Even an engineering genius like ADA should not engineer his own doppelganger. ‘I cannot harm those I am programed to serve and protect’ might be the Primary Program of the Core (soul) but who does the Robota ADA serve? ADA? Or Flavia? And when push comes to shove who will the Robota ADA protect? ADA? Or the unhappily married Flavia?
Prince Puski is the larger than life incarnation of the Industrial Revolution he inhabits so brilliantly. The Elder of the Scion of the Bear is a brilliant businessman, inventor, genius, and genuine self made royal from New Terra Nova. He has done it all. He has engineered railroads and canals and steamships and telegraph networks and now airships. He has built magnificent bastions and donated them to the people of Zendula. He has built a corporate empire which has made him the 5th richest man in the world. He has introduced every sort of technological wonder including selling the first genuine solid chocolate bar to the eager worldwide public. But his final tragic invention is the Twentieth Century Bear Airship which is the prototype military airship to turn the skies of the world into the new battlefield. He is doomed to face off against his protege Captain Sakuragi in his flying submarine the Denko Tei.
Queen Maeve is the devious elected queen of the Horse Masters of the Great Gap. Her motto is one female voter voting exactly once — for her. Period. Queen Maeve is Machiavellian Politics incarnate. Her Ealdom of Zenroseda is infamous for past murders that approached genocidal and a lost talisman that might have spawned a dire curse on the Black House of Zenroseda. Both of her first and second husbands ended up dead under mysterious circumstances. Maeve’s present lover is Prince Puski but he refuses to acknowledge her Scion of the Bear. So neither Black Theri Anthrope or Bear Sherker are considered legitimate in Probate Court. So after her death her sons will only inherit her all but bankrupt ranch in the Great Gap prairie which is maintained by another ex lover who might also be the real father of the Black Eald. So Black Theri Anthrope cannot hope to inherit either Prince Puski’s title or his billions. The Ealdom of Zenroseda is land rich and money poor and the title of Eald is inferior to that of Queen or Prince. Poor Black Theri Anthrope is left a MERE Eald when Queen Maeve dies under mysterious circumstances at the notoriously magical Swanfleet about the same time the infamous mimic octopus monster Lir oozes up from the muck to move toward Ruritania to seduce or else be seduced by an uppity young lady who is also shopping for a upgrade of title.
Eald Black Theri Anthrope cannot inherit either his mother’s title of queen or his father’s title of prince so he goes shopping for an upgrade of title of his own. The title of crown prince to inherit the aging crown of King Astel which is up for grabs. King Astel’s son is ADA, a gangly misfit rumored to be both ugly and socially challenged. ‘Dogboy’ is rumored to be so dire the king is accused of hiding his misfit son away from public view which is why one ambitious princess thinks she can substitute a doppelganger for the unknown geek while Black Theri Anthrope schemes to sell himself as a better crown prince. His blood is just as royal even if he is a bastard. The Black Eald is handsome, smart, talented, and hard working. As a child he rode the last of the cattle drives to the railroad terminals of the Bloodlands. He once shot a cowboy in the middle of a dirt street of a cowtown. Despite his limp he can ride and shoot with the best. And to be frank there is a grudge involved as well. ‘Dogboy’ crashed into him during his childhood and left the Black Eald with a shattered kneecap and a limp. And the scar on his face is a mystery he won’t explain. But it all makes the black haired princeling ambitious. Too ambitious. Neglected sons often vent their lack of love in ambition and Black Theri Anthrope is both emotionally neglected and is now very, very, very ambitious. Is his campaign for social reform genuine or a gimmick to snare power? While ‘Dogboy’ is either missing, or substituted, or dead, or else simply a debauched wastrel, Black Theri Anthrope worms his way into the heart of the aging King Astel while his grand plan for the construction of the Underground Urban Train Network runs up against a Wyvern and a Wyrm. All as he sports a ravenously beautiful courtesan on one arm named Lady Machinatii who would do anything for her Black Eald —- including murder.
Bear Sherker is the handsome and brilliant younger son of Queen Maeve and Prince Puski. He knows he has no inheritance. While living at the local YPCA (Young People Celebeau Association) he agrees to poise for the first modern nude sculpture in an era where even piano legs were covered. He is sentenced for public indecency but is allowed to work off the punishment at Celebeau House as the aide de camp to Comes Zapt the Spy Master. This puts Bear Sherker right in the middle of every plot and crisis. Fortunately, the poor son of a rich prince and a manipulative queen has a collection of fabulous snuff boxes to indulge his only vice. While Black Theri Anthrope uses politics to fill the void left by the lack of love of two devious and ambitious parents who never found the time for their offspring, Bear Sherker has just became emotionally aloof. His emotional aloofness will have tragic consequences however.
Prince Albert Black Astel is the head of a minor royal house with a notorious past as historic traitors. Ironically, his mascot is the logo of a pink pig which he much resembles. Prince Bertie is flaxen and plump. He is a minor bureaucrat married to his former cook. Prince Bertie’s son is Rupert Hentzau Black Astel is also flaxen haired but much more dashing and handsome. He is a cavalry junior officer more involved in amateur horse racing, elite equestrian contests, fox hunting, and womanizing. He fancies himself the knave of hearts but his charming laughter and sly wit conceals a total amorality that is both honest and dangerous at the same time. He plays the cad with panache. But is it just an ironic act or the face of a honestly caddish bounder? Whose side is the sly cavalryman really on?
Lady Desiree Machinati is the scion of the obscurely elite sired outside of the green sheets of lawful intercourse. In short, Lady Desiree is a demimondaine at that delicious age and beauty. So why is she the present lover of the land rich and money poor bastard Eald Black Theri Anthrope? His income could not even buy her yearly purchases of extravagantly over the top couture, much less her jewels, opera box, racing box, theater box, polo box, townhouse, and tabs at all of the elite restaurants in the city. And Zenroseda is mortgaged to the hilt to finance the Black Eald’s election to become the Mayor of The Havens. What is the devious machination behind this ravishing beauty?
Rudolph Rassendyll is a second rate actor in Ruritania when Lady Allusia Alphberg meets him. She is being bandied to be the proposed Princess Royal and fiancee of the maladroit ‘Dogboy’. Rassendyll boasts he is such a good actor he could substitute for ‘Dogboy’ if she can provide him with enough information, a copy of the boy’s fingerprints (on a glass), and the chance to observe ‘Dogboy’ from a distance. But can any actor totally substitute for another? Rassendyll claims he is simply the natural doppelganger or double and can act his way into posing as anyone. But is he a natural doppelganger or else Lord Lir the infamous Mimic Octopus Monster?
Lord Lir long ago sold his soul for eternal life. He neglected to read the fine print behind the Black Glamour (black magic) of the potion. He also needed eternal youth and eternal health. He was arrested for Black Glamour after diverse murders of his daughter in law and grandchildren and was buried alive in a suicide well alongside his own dead son. Alas, he outlived the well and the city and the era and rolled like a rotting mass of maggoty putrefaction down to the Swanfleet which is the supernatural magnet for the paranormal of Zendula. There he rotted in the rotting mud that bottomed the fabled pristine lakes of the Swanfleet. Ghosts of his murdered grandchildren, the Children of Lir, swim as ghostly swans over his rotting head on the surface of the pristine lakes as he eternally rots in the mud underneath. All of this has left Lir with a lot of time to ponder as he rots. Black Glamour to distill eternal youth and eternal health could be brewed from the Five Treasures of Dagda contained in the Royal Collection which only King Astel, the Thiess Guards, and naturally the Crown Prince could access. And in the meantime Lir can enjoy his stolen position as the Crown Prince to physically and psychologically torture his victims into madness. Alas, one is a mentally unstable Mufti from India who has come to lead the small ghetto alienated Indian Muslim ‘refugees’ which leads to an act of unspeakable evil which births the ghost of a Banshee bent on revenge for her gruesome murder and premature burial.
The Genius of Arawn inhabits like a genii or ghost the Cosmati Mosaic which is the most ancient and dangerous talisman in existence. The Genius of Arawn is not the soul or the heart of that ancient god. It is just his brilliant brain. A brain which is now an organic Babbagetus computer. This is the kicker in the clause which two dabblers in black magic fails to notice when they break into the Royal Vaults to access the ancient and dangerous talisman to distill Black Glamour. The dangerous dabbling fatally backfires as black magic often does. And let’s not go into how that black magic also changed Gerry Riggins into Jenny Riggins or ADA into a feral werewolf. But the Genius of Arawn proves to be a seductive ghost for one particular dabbler who finds dangerous love with a dangerous lover on a dangerous talisman to be very dangerous indeed. Each night with the Genius of Arawn is paid for by a year of her life…… but the Crown Princess is too addicted to the seductive genius to realize it.
Mautha Rasvo is a Werecat from the Bloodlands. Her kin includes some of the notorious Chaneys whose muddy genetics included just about anything that can prowl the earth on two legs — or four legs — or wings —- or paws — or claws — or whatever else the Chaneys boasts of under a full moon. Grimakin and Puss are kin too. Werecats to be exact. And Werecats can be sexy. So can the Dhampirs who can compete with the Chaneys with gene pool peculiarities. ADA who is on the run from everyone plotting every sort of coup against him lands in the fire when he gets involved in the clan feud with the Dhampirs, the Chaneys, and the Gandillons who are Lycaon Were with a taste for cannibalism. Were never gets weirder than in the Bloodlands when ADA takes a dangerous walk on the wild side while cursed by Black Glamour to be a wild Werewolf. And did I mention the Thiess Guards who are eager to arrest all unlicensed and unregistered and untrained Were rogues? As a novice Werewolf ADA is leaving quite a bloody trail straight to him!
Black Rose is the leader of the Black Swans who swagger around the fog shrouded city in black punk garb. What is her agenda? And how does her agenda involve Lord Ruevan who runs the mysterious Megas Club? Why do both mysterious players seem to always appear exactly at the spot where violence, riots, and vigilantism break out? And why does Wolfe and Grimakin Dhampir reappear? And why is their kin Mautha Rasvo pretending she is merely ADA’s bodyguard when they are secretly married?
Links of Interest
Book 1: Walking In The Footprints Of Magic (coming soon!)
Book 2: The Prisoner Of Fate (coming soon!)
Book 3: The Face In The Mirror (coming soon!)