Character Sketch: (Old Man) Blue

Blue, the Fort City skeleton guard

The character sketches were a collaborative effort; a rough road map to understanding our characters. As we continued to co-write Charlotte’s Journey, this was a way to keep the “shape”, or a baseline, of a character in mind; so we didn’t create two competing arcs as we wrote first drafts.

Blue was introduced to give our party of adventurers a martial ability that neither Charlotte nor Raul posses. In some ways, he is the avatar of the barbarian hero that Charlotte so idolises, but he also makes it necessary that she practice her diplomatic skills by endlessly teasing Raul. Blue is really there for colour; he’s comic relief, deus ex machina, and occasionally a sounding board for a lesson Charlotte needs to learn. For all that, we still love him.

Keyword: Dusty

History:

Blue lived a long and very busy life as a member of the Fort City Royal Guard. He was a career soldier, and almost certainly held the position of a non-commissioned officer, but he was never in command. In defense of Fort City, its allies, and the laws of its empire, Blue traveled to many far off lands and fought in many battles. A consummate survivor, Blue lived through them all. Sometimes he was wounded, on occasion left for dead, but like any good revenant, there was no keeping Blue down. Eventually, his age kept him from serving Fort City in traditional ways, but his unwillingness to retire kept him in the army. He was shuffled from position to position until he finally landed a post in Vilnius’ family guard. Under Vilnius’ command, he served as a guard in the ancient outpost in the Cottonwood that Vilnius was using to experiment with magic. Blue was killed when Vilnius’ experiments failed… explosively. But since Vilnius’ experiment magically amplified what was already there, Blue, the consummate survivor, survived even death itself.

Physical Description

He’s a spooky skeleton. Duh.

More than that, though, Blue is a dry skeleton. No moldering corpse, he. Blue has clean bones and wears a careworn but still serviceable uniform. He polishes his breastplate and helmet nightly, so even though the fabrics and leather may be rotting away, he still shines.

Blue is also possessed of the faint-blue-glow-that-isn’t-there of magic. Things in Charlotte’s world glow slightly with magical energy, but the glow is just beyond the realm of the visible. In moments of intense emotion or when Blue channels the raw magic of the world, that glow will intensify.

It is also worth saying that some echo of Blue’s appearance seems to have survived his magical accident as well. Although his face is never more than a grinning skull, Charlotte can often see Blue wink, grin, grimace or raise eyebrows, all of which are impossible without eyes, skin, muscles, or really any face at all.

Personality

Blue is a bit of a trickster. In life, he probably enjoyed practical jokes quite a bit, and he understands implicitly how to get under people’s skin. He enjoys teasing almost as much as he enjoys storytelling. Blue has lived a very long and very full life, and as such, he is full of anecdotes and witticisms, stories and relevant details. He loves sharing them all. The trouble with that, of course, lies with his biggest defining trait (see below).

Blue is also loyal to a fault. His entire life was spent in service of Fort City, and he will defend the city and its representatives to the bitter end. This is why he is willing to help Charlotte—once he knows she is an ambassador for the city, some part of the magic that keeps him going latches onto that fact, and he commits his service to her guard.

Defining Traits

Blue’s sequential memory is absolutely destroyed. Whether this is a result of the magical accident that gave him his unlife, an amplification of some sort of senile dementia that existed prior to his present condition, or a natural degradation of the mind in his post-life, we will never know.

The upshot is that Blue exhibits behaviors that you would see in a person suffering from Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia. This is Blue’s largest defining characteristic, and has a number of important repercussions for his character. First and foremost, he will often be lost when it comes to the present action. He does not remember the mission minute-to-minute. He knows nothing of the tussle in the Cottonwood, and the Accord Sword has little to no importance to him; he’s there to protect the ambassador, and that is all he knows.

Blue loves to speak, and to share his stories, but his ability to access the appropriate words is faulty. Blue will often forget words, replacing them in sentences with non-specifics like “thing” or “whatsit.”

By contrast, however, Blue’s habit memory is in top form. Things that he has been doing for his whole life—like soldiering, shaving, or polishing his armour—are always accessible to him. In fact, when preforming these actions, his condition tends to revert. When shaving, Blue will not have trouble remembering his words, for example.

Blue is blissfully unaware of his condition. He does not know he is a skeleton. He thinks he is just an old soldier.

Abilities

Blue is a perversion of natural magic. Nothing else like Blue has ever existed before. It is Vilnius’ meddling that has led to Blue’s condition. As a profoundly unusual and strong magical creature, Blue has eerie powers to match his spooky looks. On occasion, Blue is able to harness the magic that has animated him to perform tasks that should be impossible, like holding his breath for an inordinate amount of time, or unlocking a cage with his finger (a ‘skeleton key’). In these moments, Blue is much more lucid and aware than any other, and he will literally glow with magic. These abilities are all magical extensions of his ability to survive any situation.

Blue is also an accomplished soldier. He can fight better than Charlotte or Raul (and, indeed, better than Charlotte and Raul put together). As such, he is the go-to character when martial ability is called for.

Blue can’t die. (Well, except for that first time when he did…)

Character Arc

Blue is a man out of time, and serves to support the narrative rather than drive it. His arc is secondary to the plot, and thus may not get much focus in the final draft. In simple terms, Blue’s arc is a redemption story not for the character himself, but rather for what he represents. Blue goes from haunting an otherwise abandoned cellar in a destroyed fortress to rejoining the Fort City Royal Guard. His story speaks of how the forgotten or cast aside members of society—those that suffer from conditions like Alzheimer’s—still have a role to play in society and can still contribute in meaningful ways.

Important notes on relations to other characters

There is something magic about Blue’s connection to Charlotte. Why does he remember, day to day, that she is Fort City’s ambassador, and why does he continue to follow her? The answer, I think, lies in his magical ability to survive. Haunting the basement was a life of sorts, but not one that was fulfilling or meaningful. For Blue, surviving means contributing meaningfully. He serves Charlotte because he has to. It is the expression of the survival of the essential loyalty that is central to his character, and overcomes his cognitive issues. Blue is subordinate to Charlotte, and treats her with deference and respect, but isn’t afraid of telling her when she is wrong or to speaking his mind. In his mind, its his job to use his experience to guide those who lead him.

Blue has an outdated and somewhat backwards view of the people of the Cottonwood, and as such, he does not treat Raul with the same respect he shows Charlotte. A running gag will suggest that Blue does not remember who Raul is, and Blue will usually call Raul “savage.” It is important to note that Blue never attacks Raul, and will usually accept his presence as a given, which might suggest that Blue knows slightly more than he lets on. The use of the word “savage” may (or may not!) be the trickster coming out in Blue.

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