Within the pages of Legends of Windemere, one character will always stand out to me as the wild card. The reason is because she was unexpected, but she also developed a really big love/hate relationship with readers. Some seemed to hate her more than Stephen Kernaghan who was an unapologetic rapist. Still, I stuck to my guns and didn’t kill her off and even gave her a solo adventure in Quest of the Brokenhearted. I did this because she had a story to tell. Now, I’m going to try to explain it in pieces, which means we’re stepping away from the regular structure. Let’s take a look at Kira Grasdon from beginning to end.
Origin: Who in All of Windemere Are You?
Keep in mind that the Legends of Windemere series is based off a Dungeons & Dragons game I played in college. I say this a lot and point out who in the cast is from that version. Kira Grasdon was never in the original game, the original write-up, or the original outlines. She was added during an editing run of Beginning of a Hero when I realized that I needed more students. So, Kira debuted in one chapter section as a spoiled, whining girl named Linny. Every few editing runs, I found that I needed something and I would plop her into that role. She sparred with Luke in one scene and was made to be a decoy in another. That’s when something odd happened.
Linny developed a good backstory since I needed her to be more than background and one-time comic relief. She was the heiress of a merchant company who has lived her life under the expectations of others. Prior to this adventure, she merely became whoever she needed to be in order to survive in her upper class world. It was actually the same ‘born into fame’ origin as Luke Callindor, but the opposite path. While he railed against it to remain true to himself, Linny used it to her advantage and nearly lost her identity until this story. The characters really hit it off and a romance blossomed, which led to the name of ‘Kira Grasdon’.
Unfortunately, I ended up having another problem on my hands.
The Hated Open Relationship
Before Kira entered the story, Luke Callindor was supposed to build a strong romance with Sari. Even though she was set to be kidnapped and comatose for a bit, they were going to be a true love tale. I always had trouble with this since it seemed too perfect and Sari was evolving differently in my head. Things became worse when Kira and Luke became a couple in the first book. It threw all three characters into a horrible meat grinder that I needed time to figure out. After all, Kira came off as love and stability while Sari had passion and excitement. A Luke who wanted to settle down would go for Kira while one that couldn’t shake the wanderlust would go for Sari. It was frustrating and my solution wasn’t clean.
First, I decided that this was not going to be a smooth and pretty relationship for any of those involved. There would be pain, confusion, and mistakes. Still, I needed to allow for Luke to be romantically linked to Kira and Sari WITHOUT it being an affair. This is when I designed the Bor’daruk culture where you are allowed to date multiple people before getting married. Once you’re hitched, you stay hitched because the punishment for divorce was exile. This is due to a period where rampant divorce was tearing the social fabric of the desert city apart. Anyway, Kira allowed Luke to follow this tradition even though there were protocols.. You’re main squeeze needs to be introduced to all of your other suitors and they get to have an opinion on it. Since Luke was traveling, he couldn’t really do this and here we have the problem. It wasn’t a good situation and was rife with mistakes, which made sense since these characters were young, immature, inexperienced, and one was a little broken.
Sadly, this would be a problem for many readers, but not until a character appeared saying he slept with Kira. It was in Allure of the Gypsies and she didn’t even appear in that book. I saw people wanted her to be killed off and insulted even though it was established that this was perfectly fine for her culture. A few people wanted Luke to kill the other guy or at least attack him, but he had agreed to this open relationship. It’s what led to him feeling like he could strike one up with Sari, which would go on to affect the relationships between all three. I see this as doing the following:
- Luke was made to think more about the kind of future he wanted and evolve in how he interacted with others.
- Sari was helped to heal a bit since it was a loving relationship. She also discovered how she got a better sense of fulfillment from loving connections that were closer to friendship than romance.
- Kira was made to see how the traditions of her family/culture, which she had practically been a slave to, had some major flaws.
This is probably the biggest part of Kira Grasdon when it comes to the main series, which is kind of sad. You might even see comments about this below. Back when the book came out, I noticed some people would only turn up if her name was mentioned. I’m still amazed at the impact she had, but I wish it was more positive.
Fate of Kira Grasdon
This post is getting long, so I’m going to sum things up. Honestly, I could probably make a whole week for Kira by touching on her origin, the open relationship issue, and the parts I’m about to go over.
Kira had an amazing evolution where she went from a spoiled heiress to a formidable warrior. Not being destined to fight the Baron, she found herself in a bad spot that would usually cause her pain. Much of her misery stemmed from this, but she continued fighting and pushing forward. I had her reappear with slight reinventions every time to show that she was training, changing, and improving when she wasn’t in the adventure. It started with her mastering her kusari-gama (chain and sickle) and then I had her come up with various combat tactics. She had the resources to get her hands on special equipment, which helped me flush out the artifact/relic system. Eventually, she was able to stand side-by-side with the champions in the final battle.
And then she fell from grace and entered her own adventure. Quest of the Brokenhearted was inspired by Castlevania and I had it sitting on the shelf since college. It finally worked when I put Kira into the adventure, but she always started as a shell of her former self. It became a story of life and death in that she wasn’t sure which one she preferred. Maybe I was too mean to Kira, but I find that she always surprises me and pulls out of it. The finale of her solo adventure is no exception.
(Hope everyone made it to the end of this one. Sorry that the middle section took up so much space.)