Pirates, Braids and Blood: [Belated] Character(s) of the Month: September: Charles and Simone Gray
I suppose you could call the husband-and-wife vampires Charles and Simone minor characters, but to me they fulfil a crucial purpose- they show in sharp relief the sheer stubbornness of Borns- stubborn and arrogant even to the point where it risks their own lives. Drawn to a fateful Council meeting by Virgil Valvayne in The Breathing Ghosts, the Grays are glamorous, sophisticated, and just a little mysterious- but woefully ignorant that they- like so many others- have been caught in Virgil’s webs of manipulation. We never learn where exactly they come from, what they are truly like, or how they’ve come to be together, but there is a more than a hint of exoticism about them- in a room of pale, poised, Caucasian characters with long back stories and intweaving relationships, they have coffee-coloured skin, almond eyes and- in the case of Simone- the lilt of a Caribbean accent. They do not seem to be connected to any of the other Borns, and yet there they are, pulled like a magnet into Virgil’s nest of lies and deceit.
As a couple, they are both the epitome of glamour- Charles wears neat, elegant clothes, and his wife has real gold sparkling in her long, sleek braids. Her hairstyle was inspired by Nina Simone’s version of ‘Pirate Jenny’, and the line: ‘You’ll see me coming out in the morning, looking nice, with gold in my hair.’ The song itself is great, but what really struck me was the visual dichotomy between the grubby pirate Jenny scrubbing floors for her masters, and her ascension as a golden, glittering pirate queen, ordering her masters to their deaths. I wanted to achieve this sense of wanton savagery beneath sophistication with the Grays- the idea that, under all their fine clothes, there is a wickedness to them, an instinct for blood and death that will not be quelled by any elegant scheme of Virgil’s. Their lust for blood is arguably one of the catalysts that rends the ill-fated Council apart, and sends them all into doom. Ambitious, exotic and luxurious, the Grays represent many common character traits of Borns, but- crucially-no self-awareness. They strut through Valvayne Manor, perfectly content within their own sphere, safe in the knowledge that all who meet them are beguiled by them and their remote, regal beauty. But when that charm fails, and their wild, violent nature is revealed, some of their control slips away…
…and the Grays find themselves suddenly, and irrevocably, vulnerable.
Character of the Month: October: Frost
Frost is the Blood Witch’s prisoner, his mind scraped raw by years of brutal confinement and near-starvation. He speaks in riddles which may serve a higher purpose than just pretty ramblings, for he is an old, old werewolf- old before even the first inklings of organized civilization, and he knows deep and powerful secrets- not just about the Blood Witch, and all her sadistic schemes, but also about the Dark Goddess, the creator of all vampires, and the ultimate destroyer. Chained, humiliated and abandoned, his white fur has darkened with grime and his muscles have all but wasted away- and yet, through his age and knowledge he still retains a core of power, and, above all, a sense of being. Even the Blood Witch herself is wary of him. But who exactly is Frost? What does he know? And, in the most desperate of situations, can his vulnerability be his only armour?