Now that Tales of the Ravensdaughter Collection One is finished, and more importantly I’ve had a little time off to let my creative engine idle in neutral for a while, my natural urge to tell stories is once again popping back into my consciousness.
Up until now I thought I would next begin work on Tales of the Ravensdaughter Collection Two, because I do have some ideas regarding the series’ continuation. However, this morning I woke up with the hankering to tell Kreston’s backstory.
For those of you who have read Tales of the Ravensdaughter, Kreston Dühalde is the male lead, and what a wonderfully tragic fellow he is. Kreston was the captain of the Crimson Brigade of King Kemen until his unit was betrayed and sent to slaughter in battle. (SPOILER ALERT) Kreston vowed revenge and sold himself to the King of Shadows, master of the Evherealme, to gain the power to kill his enemies. He got that and more, and when we first meet Kreston, we know that he hears ‘battlefield voices’. However, as Tales of the Ravensdaughter progresses from Adventures 1-6, we learn that those voices aren’t just PTSD. I’ll stop here in case you haven’t read all the original 6 adventures yet.
But seriously, what a fun character, right? I love damaged men. If you haven’t read my novel, Gray Warrior, give that one a try and you’ll see what I mean. Kreston has a terrific backstory, from his preteen days when he ran away from an abusive family to join the army, to distinguishing himself in battle, to joining the junior officer corps, to rising to captain. Given the way Tales of the Ravensdaughter Collection One ended (wink if you understand), my heroine – Alerice – will address the Crimson Brigade’s betrayal in Collection Two, so it makes sense to write a spin-off collection called The Saga of the Crimson Brigade.
I only have a rough idea of each story, but as of this evening, January 15th 2023, these are my initial thoughts. I like the 6-adventure format for a few reasons, so here’s the Saga in that same format.
The Call of the Crimson Brigade – Kreston runs away from his abusive home. He was born a Realme Walker, but his childbirth was so long that it crippled his mother and his father never forgave him. His siblings all acted on their father’s cue, and the entire family ended up resenting Kreston from a young age. When the armies of King Kemen marched near Kreston’s family farm, he joined the luggage boys and never looked back. This story will also chronicle King Kemen’s need to form an elite regiment, given political pressures bearing down on him. He will appoint a trusted man, Avery Appenhold (I just made that up) as captain and let things take their natural course.
The Rise of the Crimson Brigade – Kreston is finding his feet in the army even as Captain Appenhold is building the Crimson Brigade into a unique fighting force. He notices Kreston and makes him an orderly. The Crimson Brigade will face their first few challenges, and though they’ve got a learning curve to master, it’s clear that these guys are going to kick ass!
The Pride of the Crimson Brigade – Kreston will undoubtedly prove himself in battle, and likely save Appenhold from death. However, this is also a good time to work in a hidden woman who’s hiding in the ranks. Sure, it’s a common fantasy troupe, but women have fought in men’s guise in many genuine conflicts, and it would be a neat twist if the ‘pride’ of the Crimson Brigade wasn’t Kreston, but someone else I can pay off later.
The Jewel of the Crimson Brigade – This is another great place to feature some other women characters. The third and fourth stories in a series can take a little license because they’re ‘hump stories’, so as long as they advance the overall plot, I can work in a few different directions. Also, in Tales of the Ravensdaughter – Rips in the Ether (Adventure 4) Kreston speaks of a girl he fell in love with. Her name was Michelle, and this is a good place for Kreston to make that connection. Kreston is also advanced to captain after Appenhold retires due to previous injuries. (I don’t feel like killing the guy just yet).
The Curse of the Crimson Brigade – The Crimson Brigade was betrayed, after all, so story #5 is the time to begin setting that up. King Kemen’s enemies are jealous of the brigade and want to destroy it. They corrupt the Field Marshal, even a Kreston is proving to be a superb captain. Now, being the evil writer that I am, Kemen’s enemies could corrupt Appenhold. He would not go willingly, so they would either have to take hold of his mind or break him mentally. Either are possible. Every man has his limits.
The Fall of the Crimson Brigade – Fans of Tales of the Ravensdaughter Collection One will recall that the Crimson Brigade had a lieutenant named Landrew. Kreston often mentioned him, and we briefly meet Landrew’s spirit in The Raven’s Daughter (Adventure #6). I am going to use this character in Collection Two, and his death will be a strong one here in this story. (Yes, I know. I keep killing good characters.) But when the Crimson Brigade tries to take a hill and is denied support, only Kreston and a handful of men survive. Landrew and the company die, and Kreston vows to find the King of Shadows for the power to take revenge. Kreston slays those to betrayed his brothers in arms, and will end the story vowing something to Landrew (not sure what yet) before turning to the waiting King of Shadows – for Kreston is now the King’s slave and can do nothing about it.
Folks, if you’ve ever wanted to be in the head of an author, I hope you have enjoyed this journey. Nearly everything in the post is a first draft. Give me until June 2023, and I may even have the new adventures ready.
Thank you all for reading, Erin.