In the initial planning of Legends of Windemere, I didn’t have anything special for Delvin Cunningham. He grew into the tactical leader of the champions, the secondary peacemaker, and the kind of romantic interest of Nyx. This was unfortunate because he had a lot going for him in terms of character. A lot of world-building stemmed from Delvin, which is why I redid my plan to give him a book that focuses on his personal story. After all, everyone else had it while Delvin got his big debut at the end of Family of the Tri-Rune. So, he was overshadowed by Timoran appearing earlier and kind of came off as an afterthought. Was this because of how he was?
Oddly enough, I think Delvin’s initial laid back demeanor allowed him to be introduced in a more low key method. He proved himself as a character fairly quickly by showing that he could meld into the group without a problem. There wasn’t a learning curve with him because he could figure out the strengths and weaknesses of people almost subconsciously and adapt. Having been trained by Selenia Hamilton, he has a more standard fighting style than the flashier champions. Again, Delvin is more passive and patient since he’s about defense and looking for an opening. The only times he’s very aggressive is when Nyx is injured or he’s following Luke’s lead, which is something he quickly becomes aware of in the series. He probably came the closest to figuring out the cores and how they affect others before the final book.
Two world-building areas got boosted and flushed out thanks to Delvin. First, I called him the Mercenary Prince, which led to me creating the organized system of mercenaries. This was established by Selenia Hamilton, his teacher, before she retired to run her academy and hand over the Mercenary Queen title. I had it that there are the four ranks that are given to the most successful mercenaries, which tends to be agreed upon by the community. The Queen, King, and Prince were active in the series with the Princess only making a brief appearance. This means I’ll have to do more mercenary stuff down the road. She’s still a mystery to me though, but I have a feeling that I know who will be showing up with the title in the future.
The second area that I worked on was the Yagervan Plains, which is a huge chunk of the Ralian continent. Delvin came from this region, which is inhabited by wandering groups that follow various migratory animals. It isn’t part of the Serabian kingdom, so there is a stark break from forest and meadows to grasslands. Walls have been put in a few areas where there are more aggressive nomads since not all of the groups have trade treaties with their neighbors. So, Delvin is actually a foreigner because he was lost as a child when his family followed a herd into the icy region of the north. Bullies pushed him onto a piece of ice that floated away and he was eventually found by a ship. His story involves going home, which is difficult since his people are superstitious. Nobody looked for him because he was thought to be dead and they would mistake him for a ghost, which means they are being cursed. By the way, The Mercenary Prince is also where Mab from War of Nytefall makes her debut to create a crossover. Definitely a fun story that you should check out.
Delvin’s core was one of the most difficult things to figure out because he had similarities to Timoran in terms of behavior. I considered one being honor and the other loyalty, but that felt like Delvin was being overshadowed again. It was only when I put him on a solo adventure with his old crew of mercenaries that I got an inkling of what really made him tick. Friendship is a very important part of Delvin’s life. He doesn’t look at the champions or the Frozen Blades as simple allies and coworkers. They’re his friends. He makes strategies that will not put them in harm and he does whatever it takes to get everyone out of situations alive. Even the powers that awaken within him are more useful in helping others than strengthening himself. That isn’t because of how they work, but it’s how he functions. Delvin is the last one on his own mind when he is planning, so he puts friends ahead of him almost out of instinct.
A final note is that I still put Delvin in a category that is similar to Sari. I feel like I could have done more with him. Unlike Sari, who fought me on such things due to remaining broken, the challenge here was Delvin being very passive. It’s described as lazy early on in the series, but that isn’t the case. While Timoran would sit and listen to conversations, Delvin would sit and observe. He is always analyzing the world around him in case he needs to make a strategy. This forced him into the background fairly often because it really wasn’t in his nature to be running wild. Maybe I should say that I could have done more, but he wouldn’t let me?