While he didn’t show up a lot, the Legends of Windemere wouldn’t have gone anywhere without Baron Arthuru Kernaghan. He typically only appeared in prologues with a few mid-book scenes until I reached the 12th book. Even then, he only got a little more action when compared to his agents and underlings. This presented a really difficult challenge because my main villain had to move events forward without being a physical presence to the heroes. Honestly, I think I did a good job here.
First, I should explain why this was an issue for those that don’t know. The Baron is cursed to remain locked in the chaos void, but he did manage to extend his prison to include a castle on the continent of Shayd. His crime was attempting to conquer Windemere and then declaring war on the gods, which included ascending to be the God of Destiny. Before he could cause too much trouble, Gabriel stole the title and power from him. This left the Baron as an immortal and he was imprisoned because he was now protected by the Law of Influence. The only way he could be killed is by the champions who would gain enough power to enter the prison and do battle. Although, the prophecy did get pretty muddled over the centuries. Doesn’t help that he was erased from history, so only a handful of people remember that he ever existed. Keep in mind that this is a very quick overview and I didn’t add the nuance.
It did work out better in my mind than in the game since that had the Baron as a powerful vampire. There was a curse, but none of that backstory as far as I knew. This made him a blank slate and I had to give all of his scenes enough impact that he was remembered by the readers and showed some growth. Another trick was having characters talk about him even in vague terms, so there was a mystery. Many times, the champions stumble onto a piece of the Baron’s past and get a more complete picture. It wasn’t always stable and I will admit that there was one area that came off as being ‘he said/she said/what?’ by the end of things. Of course, this involves a romance, which seems to be a subplot that is inherently messy.
Dariana, as stated in her own post, is the daughter of Baron Kernaghan and Zaria the Purity Goddess. At first, I had it that he raped her when he was the God of Destiny and that was where Dariana came from. Yet, I already had a villain like that and this made it hard for a father/daughter relationship that I wanted to show a little. Thankfully, I made it vague in terms of violation, so it turned out that Zaria exaggerated and it was more that she slept with him to protect the other deities. It was still kind of wrong, but then I revealed that they were actually married when they were mortals. Arthuru helped Zaria rescue the gods and her reward was ascending, which is what led to her creating the Law of Influence. It meant that he, who was not gifted ascendancy, could no longer be with his wife and that’s what started his dark ambitions. As I said, this was messy and it meant that I could never tell if they still loved each other or not.
Because of that past, I really couldn’t tell if the Baron became a sympathetic character or not. He was still a monster, but he had a lot of human traits. The desire to kill his greatest enemies in front of an audience was very mortal as was his attachment to Melanie and Raksha. Melanie was a girl he took out of a pack of demon snacks and transformed into a metal girl to play with Raksha who was a kitten that he turned into a monstrous pet. They would play around in a few scenes, but rarely incurred his rage and I can’t remember if they ever earned his wrath. They were still tools and agents to some extent, but he did show concern for their well-being. Still, I think this added some humanity to what was supposed to be an utter monster.
Can’t think of much else to say about the Baron. He played his part perfectly and I managed to flush him out with very limited space. Can only hope that most readers enjoyed his scenes.